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REMEMBERING 2012


February 20. 2013 12:05AM
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For the second year in a row, hurricane winds descended on the Back Mountain, causing widespread damage and power outages for many residents. In Harveys Lake, a bitter dispute about whether or not to move the borough's police department was part of almost every meeting in that borough for nearly a year and the termination of a legendary high school football coach had everyone in town talking.


Here's a month-by-month look at life in the Back Mountain during the year 2012:


JANUARY

The Knights of the Round Table program geared up for its second year in the Lake-Lehman School District. The program started last year as a way to honor Lake-Lehman alums and present students with examples of local leaders.


Lake-Lehman High School students took friends, family and fellow classmates on a culinary trip around the world. The humanities students participated in an international dinner as part of a class project in which they created a menu, assembled costumes and performed a skit to represent their choice of country.


Out of more than 900 entries, Wycallis Elementary fifth-grader Emily Bogdon was one of 22 students in the state to win the state Department of Transportation Aviation Art Contest. Bogdon's drawing depicted a girl holding a paper airplane as a real aviation craft flew above her. Bogdon said her father helped her develop the idea for the drawing.


Harveys Lake Borough Council adopted a $1,313,525 budget for 2012 without raising taxes. Instead, council members voted to forego their monthly stipends for the year to help eliminate a deficit. The seven council members are paid a total of $13,105 a year.


Liz Martin was sworn in as a Dallas Township supervisor and was appointed vice chairman of the board of supervisors.


Charles Youngman was sworn in as a first-time council member in Dallas Borough while Lee Eckert and Chris Matus were sworn in for another term.


Kelly Martin Johnson, of Trucksville, replaced Mary Jo Hromchak as head coach of the Dallas High School girls basketball team and Doug Miller, of Exeter, was named head coach of the Mountaineers boys basketball team after Ted Jackson Jr. resigned in November from the position he had held for seven years.


The Dallas School Board discussed an expansion of the high school schedule that would allow students to take on extra courses. Superintendent Frank Galicki said the board was considering switching from the four-period block-style schedule to a five-period schedule.


Chief Gathering LLC won an appeal to the Dallas Township Zoning Hearing Board for the modification of one of the conditions the board stipulated when it approved the company's application for a natural gas metering station in December. The condition Chief appealed, which was one of seven posted to the company's project, involved the construction and maintenance of a 6-foot high fence with barbed wire to be no less than 315 feet at all points surrounding the metering facility.


Friendly's restaurant, located at the intersection of Routes 309 and 415, closed its doors on Jan. 8 after 26 years in business


Rick Connors, of Bunker Hill Road, used over 18,000 lights to complete his holiday presentation and was awarded first place in the Kingston Township Holiday House Contest.


Bill Grant, a 26-year resident of Dallas Township, was named to the board of supervisors, joining Liz Martin and Frank Wagner. The third seat on the board was left vacant in December when longtime supervisor Phil Walter abruptly resigned.


A natural gas metering station would be located in Dallas Township as the zoning hearing board approved Williams Field Service LLC's request to build a facility off Lower Demunds Road. The facility, opposed by several local residents, would be located on 4.29 acres about 2682 feet from the Dallas School District campus.


FEBRUARY

The Dallas School Board voted to keep the position of head football coach open. The vote came two days after a lengthy hearing for former coach Ted Jackson Sr.


Students on the Wilkes-Barre campus of Penn State University in Lehman Township were mourning the loss of one of their own after the recent passing of longtime football coach Joe Paterno of lung cancer.


Jeff Box was sworn in a for a third term as Kingston Township supervisor but the appointment was a bit unexpected. Box didn't run for re-election in 2011 – not even in the primary. He won the seat left vacant by former supervisor John Solinsky after residents wrote his name on the ballot more than anyone else's moniker.


Lake Townwship was gearing up to become a member of the Back Mountain Community Partnership as members discussed the township's inclusion at a meeting.


Less than a month after leaving a career she held for 27 1/2 years, Marilyn Gregorski admitted she would be back at The Meadows Nursing Center in Dallas Township. She had been asked to help with Market on the Pond, the center's largest fundraising event. The 71-year--old doesn't like the word retirement and referred to her recent departure from her position as director of volunteers at the nursing center as a leap of faith.


Teachers in the Lake-Lehman School District adopted dress down days and paid $5 to wear less form attire to work every other Wednesday with the money funding book scholarships for graduating seniors as well as school functions such as the Last Knight Lock-In. Language arts teacher Cathy Wolfe started the program as a way to wear comfortable clothing to work while also paying homage to former Lake-Lehman employees and students. Each dress down day honors a deceased member of the Lake-Lehman family.


After more than 20 years of remaining anonymous, Sue Hand, of Dallas, admitted to being the Phantom Valentiner who secretly taped paper hearts on doors of Dallas businesses with the help of her family.


Longtime Dallas High School football coach Ted Jackson Sr. saw his career ended when the school board voted 7-2 to hire Robert Zaruta as the head coach for the 2012-2013 season.


Kingston Township supervisors adopted an updated comprehensive plan. After several years of working with consulting firms and the planning commission, the board of supervisors adopted a final version of the township's comprehensive plan.


Eleven-month-old Mia Ellis saw her father for just the second time in her young life when Dennis Ellis, of Dallas, a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps flew home after a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan. Four generations of the Ellis family, as well as close friends, were at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport to welcome home their favorite military man.


To honor the memory of Thomas E. Lynch, 18, of Harveys Lake, a senior at Dallas High School who died from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident in Dallas Township, the Thomas Lynch Scout Scholarship Fund was created to provide financial assistance to current and future Boy Scouts.


Twenty-two-year-old Beth Carey, of Dallas, participated in the Penn State THON for the seventh time. THON is a dance marathon that raises money for the pediatric cancer support organization, the Four Diamonds Fund, associated with the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. Carey danced with the Women's Club Basketball – the same organization that danced in her honor when she was a 15-year-old battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymph glands and bone marrow.


Elementary sports in the Lake-Lehman School District were suspended following an altercation between two Ross Elementary fifth and sixth-grade boys basketball coaches that escalated to a point of concern. Superintendent James McGovern was satisfied with the league president's decision as to what action to take against the adults responsible but would not provide details. He said the league would also develop a parents' guide, coaches' guide and a mission for the program.


MARCH

Due to overwhelming volumes, the Dallas Area Municipal Authority increased its recycling collection to every two weeks. Larry Spaciano, executive director of DAMA, attributed the increase in recycling collection to the authority's new single stream recycling program. Customers no longer had to seaprate materials like plastic, glass and cardboard, making recycling easier than ever.


The rivalry between the Dallas and Lake-Lehman high school swimming and diving teams got a little friendlier than one might think. The Lake-Lehman team, which started competing in the Wyoming Valley Conference in 2007, entered into an agreement with Dallas this year to utilize its pool for home meets.


Dallas Township received notice from the Williams-owned Transco interstate pipeline that two replacements of the line would begin in July and conclude in mid-September. Transco would replace a 2,044-foot section that runs underneath Hildebrandt Road and a 193-foot section that runs between Yalick Road and Highland Boulevard.


Though the Dallas Township Police Department's monitoring of seatbelts among minors was ending, Chief Robert Jolley said officers would still patrol around the Dallas School District campus. The department began patrolling the district campus in February to enforce aspects of Lacey's Law, which was signed into law late last year. Lacey's Law states that drivers under the age of 18 can be cited for not wearing a seatbelt. For adults, not wearing a seatbelt is a secondary offense.


Nine-year-old Jack Farrell, who played for the Knights in the Dallas Youth Basketball League, had a whopper of a game. His team won, 44-39, in the semi-finals against the Celtics and Farrell scored all 44 winning points. The Dallas Elementary School students' father, Mark, played ball in high school and college and reminisced about the time he scored 34 points on his own when Dallas High School advanced to the district championships in 1985.


The state Department of Transportation completed repairs on the Overbrook Road overpass earlier than initially expected. Concrete covering beams underneath the 72-year-old bridge fell onto Route 309 and the agency had planed to close a portion of Route 309 at night for two weeks to conduct the repairs. All the loose concrete was removed from underneath the bridge and replaced within a 10-hour period.


A Dallas Township supervisors meeting ended with the township's two fire companies exchanging heated words about disputed territories. Dallas Fire and Ambulance addressed the board about contested boundaries within the township after two former supervisors did not approve suggestions made by both the fire companies and Luzerne County 911.


Local governments and the Dallas School District were still footing the bill for the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in the Dallas elementary and middle schools, though costs have increased in difficult economic times. The year, the cost of maintaining the D.A.R.E. program at Dallas increased by nearly 25 percent, a cost shared by the district and the municipalities located within the district, which include Dallas Borough and Dallas, Franklin and Kingston townships.


The Dallas School Board approved changes to course offerings at the high school and middle school for the 2012-13 school year. At the high school, major changes included the addition of several classes to accommodate the opportunities made available since the completion of the new high school building last September. At the middle school, two foreign language courses offered in eighth grade – conversational French and introductory French would be eliminated.


With a new executive director, the month-old Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce was growing membership and gaining a strong foothold in the Back Mountain community and beyond. Clare Parkhurst, owner of Black Sheep Advertising in Trucksville, was hired as the chamber's part-time executive director.


Two municipalities in the Back Mountain were awarded grant money from gaming fund revenues for projects that would benefit the entire community. One of the big-ticket items to receive funding was the Back Mountain Community Partnership's plans for a regional emergency management canter was $975,000 was allocated toward that project. Harveys Lake Borough received $78,220 to renovate an unused recreation center for police department use. Council President Larry Radel said no solid plans had been put into place for the project and there were no plans to pursue it if the grant money had not been awarded.


The Kingston Township Board of Supervisors voted to join the Back Mountain Regional Emergency Management Agency. The agency, which also includes Dallas Borough and Dallas, Jackson and Lehman townships, was created in late 2010 as a formal agreement between emergency responders to work together in the event of emergencies.


The Dallas Senior Center closed due to safety and visibility concerns and local seniors were worried another center wouldn't come soon enough. The center was a tenant at the 22 Rice St., Dallas location for about 25 years. The building was once the site of the Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction and the surrounding grounds were used for firemen's bazaars.


Despite parents' requests, the Lake-Lehman School Board would not make changes to this year's academic schedule. A resolution to change the calendar was printed on the agenda for a board meeting but Superintendent James McGovern said it was removed form the recommended action list because of a lack of board support.


Gary Booth was unanimously appointed Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator to represent Lake Township in the Back Mountain Emergency Management Agency.


APRIL

The Dallas Post fooled its readers with an April Fool's edition announcing that former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning would take his career to a new level by traveling east to Misericordia University where he would play in the Cougars' first Division III football season.


Back Mountain emergency responders gave the new Luzerne County administration two weeks to resolve an ongoing dispute with county 911 officials before bringing things to a head with county council. Emergency responders from seven Back Mountain communities attended a press conference called by Harveys Lake Borough officials to make the public aware of problems they were having with county 911 dispatch protocols.


Andrew Duda, of Grasonville, Md., announced his hopes to preserve 17 undeveloped lots on Pineview Road that were owned by his recently-deceased brother, Paul, by creating a wildlife sanctuary that could be maintained by the community.


The Dallas Township Board of Supervisors mulled the purchase of emergency notification software to update residents during emergency situations. Alan Pugh, township emergency management coordinator, spoke about the Wireless Emergency Notification system (WENS) at a work session.


The Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce held its first business mixer at Eye Care Specialists in Dallas. More than 100 people attended the event which was held to celebrate the opening of the new Eye Care Specialists office in the Dallas Shopping Center.


Members of Harveys Lake Borough Council expressed concerns about plans to relocate the police department to Little League Road and a public hearing was scheduled to further discuss the issue. The borough receive a $78,200 grant from gaming fund revenues to move the police department from its current location on Route 415 to a former recreation building on Little League Road near the public boat launch and Lake-Noxen Elementary School.


Later in the month, Harveys Lake Borough Council members voted 4-2 in favor of the project to relocate the borough's police department. Council members Larry Radel, Boyd Barber, Frank Kopko and Amy Williams voted for continuing with the project while Michell'e Boice and Thomas Kehler voted against the motion.


Kingston Township officials, residents and businesses prepared for the start of the East Center Street Bridge replacement project – a project that had been 12 years in the making. The section of East Center Street between State Route 309 and Main Street would be closed through late October. The project would replace the bridge, widen the road and create a turning lane from East Center Street to the southbound lane on Route 309.


Lake-Lehman senior Matthew Gorski, of Shavertown, was the recipient of the Lake-Lehman Foundation's first John Peter Farrell Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, given to a graduation senior at the foundation's tea event, was named for Farrell who had served on the Lake-Lehman School board since 2008 and who died on April 15, 2011 as a result of a car accident on State Route 29 in Noxen Township.


The Dallas Post earned three of 24 Keystone Press Awards won by Impressions Media newspapers this year for news, feature and sports stories, photos and columns, special projects and design in 2011. Staff writer Sarah Hite captured first place in the general news category for her story about the 2010 Kingston Township Holiday House Lighting Contest. Photographer Bill Tarutis took first place in the Feature Photo category for a photo accompanying a story called Count & Care. He also captured an honorable mention for Sports Photo titled Huge win for the Mountaineers.


Dallas Township supervisors adopted a firearms ordinance that regulates the firing of guns in the township. Spurred by safety concerns related to gas line development, the ordinance prohibits the discharge of a firearm within 150 yards of any dwelling, house, school building, above ground natural gas facility or storage location, across public roads, in cemeteries or burial places, as well as on another person's property.


MAY

Rock Solid Academy, a budding K-8 Christian school in the Back Mountain, was set to hold its first open house and officials announced a more than $2,000 decrease in tuition rates for the 2012-13 school year. Head of School Mark DiPippa said Phase I of the school building project, which included construction of a lobby, front offices and a model classroom, was recently completed.


Misericordia University President Michael MacDowell announced he would maintain residency in Harveys Lake Borough with his wife, Tina, once he retires on June 30, 2013. The 12th president of Luzerne County's oldest college announced his retirement on April 19 after 14 years in the position.


The Back Mountain Community Partnership continued its discussion about plans for a regional emergency management agency building to be constructed in Lehman Township. Lehman Township was awarded a $975,000 grant from gaming funds on behalf of the partnership for the project.


Trula Hollywood, director for the Area Agency on Aging for Luzerne and Wyoming Counties, said requests for proposals were currently being sought for a new Dallas Senior Center.


The Dallas Foundation installed a sign in front of Dallas Elementary School off Hildebrandt Road to track the progress of its first major project – the installation of another sign. The group hoped to raise enough funds to install a state-of-the-art electronic sign on State Route 309 to replace the current sign that dates back to 1962.


Dallas Township supervisors told residents about new plans proposed by the State Department of Transportation that would remedy traffic flow issues on Upper Demunds Road. The new plan would feature a throughway from Upper Demunds Road through township property to State Route 309 which would have a traffic light at the intersection.


It was announced that former Dallas High School football coach Ted Jackson Sr. would be honored at a reunion of Mountaineer football players spanning his career from 1985-2011. After watching her husband coach youth sports nearly ever year since the 19702, Sandy Jackson said the family had had a difficult time dealing with the transition. She and her son, Ted Jr., were planning the reunion for May 27 at Irem Country Club.


John Miliaskas, of Dallas, was inducted into the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Hall of Fame at the PMEA Annual In-Service Conference Awards Luncheon in Lancaster. During his 35-year tenure at Lake-Lehman High School, Miliauskas repeatedly produced award winners in parade, concert, field show and indoor guard in competition after competition up and down the east coast.


Concerned about the effects that drilling mud spills may have on several wells near natural gas sites, Dallas Township residents and officials said they wanted the water tested. Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection and Chief Gathering/PVR Partners fielded questions regarding recent incidents during which water, containing bentonite clay, erupted through the ground.


Damp weather and a few dark clouds couldn't keep about 135 youths and their families from participating in the Sixth Annual Kids Fishing Day hosted by the Back Mountain Police Association at Frances Slocum State Park in Kingston Township. Ross Piazza, Back Mountain Police Association vice president, said the event is sponsored by local businesses and residents to provide a day of fishing and activities for children at no cost.


The Fourth Annual Spencer Martin Memorial Bike Ride for Habitat in memory of long-time devoted volunteer for Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity. Martin volunteered for many years at Habitat work sites and on the board of directors.


JUNE

Standing near a proposed hiking/bicycling trail route that would went its way between several tombstones in the Sacred Heart Cemetery off Dorchester Drive in Dallas, Mary Jean Tarantini, of Harveys Lake, urged families who have plots on the property to contact Diocese of Scranton officials and request the trail be rerouted away from ‘this sacred place. Tarantini was joined by more than 30 people collectively calling themselves the Concerned Families of Sacred Heart Cemetery. She said the group did not know about ongoing discussions for a potential trail right-of-way through the cemetery until reading about it in a newspaper last Decenber.


The Waterfront Banquet Center became a Nautical Night when 336 students attended the Dallas High School Junior/Senior Prom. Chloe Alles was selected as Prom Queen while Logan Bullock was named Prom King.


The Lake-Lehman Junior/Senior Prom was held at Genetti's in Wilkes-Barre with a beach theme and the venue was decorated with glass centerpieces that held sand and candles, shells, starfish and netting. Kyle Fine was voted Prom King and Lindsey Bennett was named Prom Queen.


Sandy Cooper worried she wouldn't be able to show respect for family members buried in the Chapel Lawn Memorial Park in Dallas Township as the flowers she buys for graves kept disappearing. The latest event happened on Mother's Day. A Chapel Lawn maintenance employee posted signs warning trespassers of video surveillance in an attempt to prevent flowers from being stolen.


Four new members were inducted into the Knights of the Roundtable during a brunch at Irem Temple Country Club. The program in its second year, aims to honor former Lake-Lehman students and employees who have had a positive effect on the community to inspire current students to become better citizens. Inductees included John Miliauskas, former band director; Joseph Lopasky, a standout football player; Ricky Bonomo, a former wrestler; and Brian Kelly, a soccer star.


Officials, community leaders, former constituents and friends mourned the loss of a long-time contributor to the Back Mountain, whether it was through his duties as state senator, a judge, an attorney or a friend when former state Sen. Charles Lemmond died on May 30 at the age of 83. Lemmond was a state senator from 1986 until 2006 when his protégé,Lisa Baker, took office.


Visually-impaired students in the Dallas School District got a chance to mingle with children from Scranton and have fun at their inaugural field day on the Dallas campus. Visual teacher Bridge Gavin coordinated with a friend from the Scranton School District to have visually-impaired students from that district attend the event.


Longtime employees of the Dallas School District said their final goodbyes at a school board meeting. Five faculty retirees with a combined 115 years of service were honored by the board and given the opportunity to talk about their experiences at the district. Retiring were Dallas Elementary kindergarten teacher Lucy Callahan, high school English and language arts teacher Candyce Fike, high school band director Todd Hunter, middle school librarian Louie Roberts and Dallas Elementary gifted instructor Linda Doughton.


The Dallas School Board approved its $32.9 million budget for the 2012-13 school year with calls for a 2.1 percent millage increase to 11.8052 mills. The budget also included a per capital tax of $10, an earned income tax of 1 percent split with district municipalities and an emergency services tax of $52, $5 of which is district funds.


All the squawking about raising chickens in Kingston Township came to an abrupt halt as supervisors voted against changing the zoning ordinance to allow the keeping of fowl in residential areas. Supervisors James Reino Jr., Jeffrey Box and Shirley Moyer voted against changing the ordinance while Gary Mathers remained the lone supporter. Resident Chris Mathers, of Trucksville, wife of Gary Mathers, championed the issue a few months ago and presented research on the topic for the board to digest.


Trinity Presbyterian Church, Irem Road, Dallas, marked its 50th anniversary on June 10 with more than 170 members and friends attending a special service of worship, remembrance and celebration.


It was all pomp and circumstance in the Back Mountain as the class of 2012 from Lake-Lehman High School received its diplomas on June 13 and the Mountaineers of Dallas High School graduated on June 15.


The Lake-Lehman School Board narrowly approved the budget for the 2012-13 school year which includes funds to develop a district-run daycare center, decreased health care costs for teachers and other spending strategies. The $26.8 million spending plan raises taxes to 9.27 mills, a 4.26 percent increase for Luzerne County taxpayers within the district.


Family and friends joined employees of Frontier Communications to host the annual Alex's Lemonade Stand at the Back Mountain Little League Field. The event raises funds and awareness for the battle against childhood cancer.




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