Diamonds to Hazleton native Joe Maddon, manager of the newly minted World Series champion Chicago Cubs. His prowess about all things baseball, including player psychology, helped the Cubs this week to finally snap a supposed curse that had denied the franchise the title for more than a century. Maddon’s leadership, however, extends well beyond Major League Baseball. He has capitalized on his success to try to soothe racial tensions in his hometown, emphasizing that black, white and Latino residents not only can co-exist, but also thrive by looking past stereotypes and recognizing each other’s strengths – much like players on a team. Here’s hoping that Maddon’s latest victory only serves to amplify his message and heighten the success of his Hazleton Integration Project.
Coal to twisted truck stop manager Michael A. Cunningham. The Scranton man, 35, was sentenced this week to up to 48 months in state prison on a robbery charge stemming from a heist he arranged at his own place of employment. Cunningham conspired with a man, whose name he apparently doesn’t even know, to rob the Petro Travel Center in Dupont. The man, who has not been apprehended, entered the business on Feb. 7, brandishing a gun and forcing a cashier to guide him to the store’s safe. Cunningham was on duty at the time and initially told police the gunman had hit him over the head with a baton. Cunningham’s evil scheming could have gotten someone killed.
Diamonds to the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center. It recently dedicated space within its Plains Township hospital as a Women’s Veterans Clinic, intended to provide specialized services to women from throughout its 19-county coverage area. Notably, about 30 VA employees did the work to create and outfit the clinic. Proponents of the project say the clinic will be more secure and provide more privacy for women seeking services such as primary care, reproductive health care and management for chronic diseases.
Coal to ex-cop Gerald John Cookus. The former Wilkes-Barre police lieutenant, now 78, pleaded guilty this week to inappropriately touching an 8-year-old girl while at a private residence. Cookus, who most recently had been a greeter at Plains/Solomon Junior High School, was ordered by the judge to have no unsupervised contact with minors. Sentencing has been set for Feb. 7.
Diamonds to Wilkes-Barre’s Riverfront Parks Committee. Hoping to provide more public concerts on the city’s River Common, members of the nonprofit group and their partners decided to pursue a $25,000 grant. They are encouraging area residents this month to help win the prize through online voting in the Levitt AMP Grant Award contest. Supporters can cast votes through Nov. 21 at this address: bit.ly/2fiVDxC.