Times Leader Times Leader News Feed https://www.timesleader.com/news-feed Wed, 11 Apr 2018 03:56:59 +0000 Wed, 11 Apr 2018 03:56:59 +0000 Misericordia program plowing into the past to feed the future SHAVERTOWN — Centuries ago, the farmland now owned by Liza Rolland was plowed and planted with teams of horses.

This week, history repeated itself.

A pair of Belgian draft horses operated by Rich DuMond methodically pulled a one-bottom plow through the rich soil in preparation for a service-learning cooperative farm project initiated by the Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children Program at Misericordia University.

Dubbed FARMU, the program will use the 1-acre plot to produce fresh vegetables that will be given away for free to children and families in the region.

Katherine Pohlidal, director of the Bourger Women with Children program, said FARMU gives students a hands-on learning experience while also educating them about food insecurity.

“People who are food insecure don’t have access to healthy, nutritious foods or they can’t afford them,” Pohlidal said. “This program will help fill that need and will create a positive impact on the region.”

The produce, which will include kale, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, beets, chard, collard greens and melons, will be distributed through the Weinberg Food Bank, Bourger Women with Children, the summer Food-n-Fun @ the Park program in Wilkes-Barre, and summer lunch programs at local schools.

The first year of the project will involve 1 acre of the 5-acre site with hopes to expand to 2 acres in the second year with a maximum growth of 5 acres. Interns from various schools, including Penn State University Park campus, Cornell University and Marywood University, will be at the site throughout the summer helping maintain the organic farm to satisfy requirements needed for nutrition majors to become registered dietitians.

DuMond and tree farmer Andy Kalie, of Shickshinny, are serving as consultants.

Many lessons

Rolland previously used the site to raise vegetables for her own farm business. Every year, Rolland donated any extra produce to local food banks and said it was an easy decision to allow Misericordia to use the plot.

“There are a lot of lessons with this, including teaching students where our food comes from,” she said. “Using horses brings a sustainable element to the program, and we will plant vegetables that are abundant with the goal to feed 1,000 kids.”

On Thursday, lessons were being learned as soon as DuMond’s horses began rolling over the sod.

Misericordia student Diane Bennett said she is looking forward to having a role in producing food and helping the community at the same time.

“For me, it comes down to giving back to the community. The fact that we can learn from this as well is great,” Bennett said.

Student research

In addition to food production, FARMU will also be used for research projects by Misericordia students, according to Marianne Tucker Puhalla, staff writer for the university. The program also fits into the mission of the Sisters of Mercy, which emphasizes caring for the earth in a sustainable matter, Puhalla added.

That element is what compelled DuMond to volunteer his time and horses to plow the field. After the soil dries, he’ll return to disc and harrow the field in time for it to be planted next week.

“It’s important to remain connected to the land in a way that benefits the community,” DuMond said.

Revolutionary War patriot Thomas Lamoreaux originally cultivated the property for apple orchards in the 1700s. He and his son, John, also a patriot, are buried at the top of the pasture near the forest line.

Knowing the history of the farm also appealed to DuMond.

“Using draft animals to farm is a feasible way to live sustainably,” he said. “We’re coming full circle today by plowing this ground with horses again.”

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705551/misericordia-program-plowing-into-the-past-to-feed-the-future 705551 0 Sat, 26 May 2018 12:01:10 +0000 By Tom Venesky - tvenesky@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705551/misericordia-program-plowing-into-the-past-to-feed-the-future#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052518FarmU1.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052518FarmU1.jpg Ashley Peachey, a recent Misericordia University graduate, and student Diane Bennett discuss working on the FARMU project in Shavertown. https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052518FarmU1.jpg
Crestwood approves superintendent’s plan to place officers at schools WRIGHT TWP. — The Crestwood School Board this week approved a proposal by Superintendent Joseph Gorham to place qualified police officers at the Rice Township and Fairview Township schools to augment a security plan he wants to implement during the 2018-19 school term.

The board approved advertising for officers who will be on station during classroom time. The plan, however, must also be approved by Luzerne County courts, it was noted.

Besides the officers, Gorham outlined what he called Phase 1 of an initiative to increase security at schools. That includes having a single point of entry, enhanced notification and identification systems, and direct access to the police.

Gorham added that persons seeking to enter either school building will be required to show identification whether picking up a student or conducting business. Gorham said the systems and procedures “will happen immediately.”

In another policy decision, solicitor Jack Dean announced that a “Memorandum of Understanding” had been negotiated with professional employees in regard to extending the collective bargaining agreement to Aug. 31, 2021. The agreement also contained a clause by which the “Step By Step” academic program will be eliminated.

Dean’s announcement was greeted with applause and cheers from the teachers in attendance, although school director Joseph Kaminski believed the program had been effective.

Kaminski also took issue with Dean about comments he made that under the agreement, no programs would be eliminated.

Dean pointed out, however, that a committee will meet at the end of the school year “to review the academic progress of students who would have been subjected to the Step By Step program.”

In other matters:

• The board accepted the operating budget of the Wilkes-Barre Area Career & Technical Center.

• Directors voted to terminate “Employee 4487.” There was no comment about the individual or the reasons for disciplinary action.

• A recommendation to enter into an agreement with Mohegan Sun Arena for 2018 graduation exercises was accepted. The rental fee for the June 10 event was set at $4,500.

• During public comment, three Mountain Top area residents took issue with payments to Hunt Engineers for a survey report on the state of Crestwood’s school buildings; school busing contracts; allocations to special education and the implementation of curriculum programs.

• Gorham read a letter from Tom Bentz, a 1968 Crestwood graduate, who pledged funding to the various foundation groups of the district and encouraged the “restoration of a working partnership” between the education association, school board and administration.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705537/crestwood-approves-superintendents-plan-to-place-officers-at-schools 705537 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 11:14:45 +0000 By Tom Huntington - For Times Leader https://www.timesleader.com/news/705537/crestwood-approves-superintendents-plan-to-place-officers-at-schools#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_new_super3_faa.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_new_super3_faa.jpg Gorham https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_new_super3_faa.jpg
Court Briefs Man waives hearing

in molestation case

WILKES-BARRE — A man from Danville charged with molesting two girls inside a Salem Township office in April waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Friday.

Salem Township police charged David Warren McConnell, 55, on April 13 after he kissed and hugged a 12-year-old girl and groped a 13-year-old girl at his place of employment March 23, according to a criminal complaint.

Police were notified of the alleged incident by a school official at Berwick Area Middle School in Salem Township.

The two girls were interviewed separately at the Luzerne County Children’s Advocacy Center.

The 12-year-old told a forensic interviewer that she often visited her grandfather at a manufacturing business on Fowler Street after school and is accompanied by her 13-year-old friend. She claimed the grandfather gives them money to buy a drink at a store.

Both girls claimed they knew McConnell through the grandfather.

McConnell invited the girls to an office where he allegedly kissed and hugged the younger girl, and groped the older girl, the complaint says.

McConnell will now face charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors in county court.

Prosecutors withdrew a second count of corruption of minors.

McConnell, who had been jailed at the county lockup since his arrest April 18, was released Friday when his bail was modified from $75,000 straight to unsecured.

Alleged gunman

will stand trial

WILKES-BARRE — A Wilkes-Barre man who allegedly assaulted a woman and barricaded himself inside a residence on Lloyds Lane will face trial on related charges.

Shatik Dawes, 29, of Brown Street, appeared for a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Friday, where two counts of illegal possession of a firearm, and one count each of simple assault, terroristic threats, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, harassment and disorderly conduct were sent to county court.

City police allege Dawes entered a house on Brown Street, strangled a woman by her neck, and held a gun to her head threatening to kill her April 13.

Police said Dawes left the house and went to Lloyds Lane where he resisted arrest and ran into a house where he barricaded himself inside. A hostage negotiator eventually got Dawes to exit the residence without incident.

Dawes remains jailed for lack of $250,000 bail.

Man who blamed spiders

for stabbing to face trial

WILKES-BARRE — A Lehighton man who was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine when he blamed spiders for stabbing another man waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court this week.

Kevin Michael Hegarty, 36, now faces charges of simple assault and resisting arrest in county court.

Prosecutors withdrew counts of possessing instruments of crime and institutional vandalism.

Pittston police charged Hegarty after he allegedly stabbed Stoney Hayes inside a residence on Chapel Street on April 22. Hayes told police Hegarty threw a bed frame through his bedroom door and yelled “they’re in my closet,” according to a criminal complaint.

Hayes claimed he tackled Hegarty, telling him to calm down. Hegarty told Hayes to check his closet because “they are inside.”

Hayes said Hegarty grabbed a knife and charged at him, allegedly stabbing Hayes several times.

Police found Hegarty hiding under a trailer along North Main Street.

When Hegarty was arrested, he swung his arms, saying “get off me spiders,” the complaint says.

Teen gets probation

for using lost card

WILKES-BARRE — A teen from Shamokin has pleaded guilty to using a lost bank card to purchase items at a Kingston store.

Tyrese Jordan Derrick-Wilson, 18, appeared this week in Luzerne County Central Court where he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of access device fraud. Prosecutors withdrew a second count of the same charge.

Kingston police allege Derrick-Wilson found a wallet in the restroom of McDonald’s in Wilkes-Barre, then used a bank card in the wallet to purchase items at a store on Market Street on May 2.

Derrick-Wilson was sentenced to eight months on probation.

Pringle man waives hearing

WILKES-BARRE — A man from Pringle accused of soliciting sex from whom he thought was a teen boy waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court this week.

Michael A. Laton Jr., 33, of Hoyt Street, will now face in county court these charges: unlawful contact with a minor, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and criminal use of a communication facility.

Laton was arrested May 8 when he arrived at a location in Kingston under the belief he was meeting a 14-year-old boy for sex, according to a criminal complaint.

A state agent posed as the boy on a social media app where Laton allegedly solicited sex from the minor.

Kingston man must

serve probation term

WILKES-BARRE — A Kingston man who allegedly threatened two women with a cinder block pleaded guilty this week.

Joseph Reese Williams, 56, of West Union Street, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to three months on probation.

Williams pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor during a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court.

Prosecutors withdrew two counts each of terroristic threats and harassment.

Two women claimed Williams was highly intoxicated and threatened to shoot them outside an apartment building on West Union Street on May 13. They claimed Williams picked up a cinder block and threatened to throw it at his female roommate, according to a criminal complaint.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705524/court-briefs-27 705524 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 09:22:16 +0000 By Ed Lewis - elewis@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705524/court-briefs-27#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_David-McConnell-04192018.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_David-McConnell-04192018.jpg McConnell https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_David-McConnell-04192018.jpg
Ex-Wyoming mayor wants name cleared after police search WYOMING — Former Wyoming Borough Mayor Bob Boyer is hoping to clear his name following the search of his home by police last week.

“I’m reaching out to tell my story,” he said. “A guilty man wouldn’t do that.”​

A warrant behind the search focused on a state Local Share Account grant application proposed by Boyer when he was mayor on behalf of West Wyoming Hose Co. 1 Fire and Ambulance.

According to the warrant, police believe Boyer, who caters at the hose company, would have financially benefited had the $444,810 grant been approved by the state.

Boyer said that is not the case.

“The grant was intended to provide increased emergency service to area municipalities,” Boyer said in a recent interview. “It did not include any type of upgrade to the kitchen area.”

Boyer’s claim was bolstered by recent statements from current Wyoming borough councilman Mike Flynn and West Wyoming Fire Chief Matt Granteed Sr.

Flynn said he believed the grant’s intent was simply to improve emergency services to Wyoming and West Wyoming boroughs.

Further, Flynn said he felt that serving with Boyer had been an honor and that he would vouch for his character.

Granteed said the grant would have, in effect, provided a garage area for emergency vehicles and increased quality of emergency services for several municipalities.

“There was to be no upgrade to the kitchen,” he said.

Even if the proposed grant application had included an upgrade to the kitchen, Boyer said, it would not have exclusively benefited his business.

“I did the math, in 2017, I catered from the hose company nine times,” he said. “I wasn’t operating my business out of the hose company. I wasn’t storing food or equipment there.”

No charges have been filed in connection with the May 18 search of Boyer’s home.

Dominick disagrees

Current Mayor Joseph Dominick, to whom Boyer lost in November, disputes the ex-mayor’s reasoning.

“The grant clearly includes updates to the electrical, HVAC system and paving of the parking lot for the entire facility which houses the banquet hall,” he said in an email to the Times Leader.

“If one person decided to have their event at that hall because the parking lot is now paved and no longer dirt or because the building is being better cooled from the HVAC updates then Bob Boyer (the preferred caterer) benefits from this grant.”

Boyer not only said he believes that the search of his home was retaliatory, but that Dominick’s actions since being voted in have been less than ethical.

According to Boyer, Dominick, as mayor-elect, introduced a resolution in December authorizing an application on behalf of himself and councilman Mike Baloga for a $100,000 upgrade to the John Jude Bolin Park.

The only problem, he said, was that the grant included, without any bidding, a contract from Castle Construction, owned by Frank and Pat Kane, which documents from the bureau of elections show contributed $5,000 to his campaign.

According to Boyer, when questioned about the apparent conflict of interest, Dominick withdrew the resolution.

Dominick, however, takes issue with Boyer’s interpretation of the application.

“When I applied for the grant, I attached a proposal from Castle Construction which provided budgetary numbers for the application,” he said. “I understood the project would have ultimately gone out for bid.”

Political retaliation?

Boyer sees the investigation as an extension of last year’s bitter political battle between himself and Dominick. ​

“The affiant of the search warrant was Trooper Michael Mulvey, the son-in-law of Dominick’s campaign manager, Lynette Vilano,” Boyer told a reporter, holding a photo of Vilano speaking at a “Dominick for Mayor” event.

Boyer said during last year’s election season, it became apparent that Dominick “would go to any lengths” to win the race.

According to a Wyoming Borough police report from Oct. 22, 2017, Boyer had placed two signs in front of Choice Discount Cigarettes across from the Midway Shopping Center.

When the two signs went missing, Boyer reported them as a theft, according to court papers.

Boyer said a staff member from Choice told him the business had received free landscaping in return for allowing Dominick the exclusive right to put his signs in front of the store.

He also alleges Dominick has provided landscaping to several Wyoming businesses in return for the right to put campaigns signs on their property.

Again, Dominick takes issue with Boyer’s version.

“Mr. Boyer’s accusation that I arranged to have landscaping services performed in exchange for placement of campaign signs is baseless,” he said in an email.

Dominick also pointed out that Boyer never filed a complaint with the Luzerne County Election Bureau regarding his placement of campaign signs.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705522/ex-wyoming-mayor-wants-name-cleared-after-police-search 705522 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 09:01:14 +0000 By Geri Gibbons - For Times Leader https://www.timesleader.com/news/705522/ex-wyoming-mayor-wants-name-cleared-after-police-search#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Bob_Boyer.rotated-1.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Bob_Boyer.rotated-1.jpg Former Wyoming Mayor Bob Boyer shows a photograph to reporters while discussing a police investigation at his home last week. https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Bob_Boyer.rotated-1.jpg
Superior Court upholds woman’s murder conviction A state appellate court has upheld the third-degree murder conviction of Jessica Lynn Alinsky, who claimed she was denied a fair trial due to the prosecution’s suppression of evidence.

A Luzerne County jury convicted Alinsky in 2016 for the shooting death of her boyfriend, Matthew Gailie, 34, in his Hazle Township residence on Sept. 2, 2011.

Prosecutors maintained Alinsky, 34, of Shenandoah, shot Gailie at point-blank range and staged the scene to look as if he took his own life.

She was sentenced to 20 to 40-and-a-half years in state prison.

During the trial before Judge Tina Polachek Gartley, Alinsky’s attorney, Demetrius Fannick, called for a mistrial.

Fannick claimed Mark Reynolds, a blood-stain pattern expert, advised him that prosecution expert witness, state police Trooper John Corrigan, presented the Alinsky case as part of a 2014 police seminar in Bethlehem. Reynolds attended the seminar as an instructor and challenged Corrigan’s conclusions and opinions about the Alinsky case.

Corrigan testified during the Alinsky trial, but Fannick’s request to declare a mistral was denied.

Fannick appealed the conviction to the state Superior Court, claiming prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that would had been favorable to Alinsky, such as Reynolds’ claim that Corrigan’s report on the case was flawed.

Fannick was not able to call Reynolds to testify at Alinsky’s trial because Reynolds resides in Australia, and the court did not delay the proceedings to allow Reynolds to examine and issue a report on Corrigan’s findings.

A three-member panel of the Superior Court denied Alinsky’s appeal in a 12-page ruling issued Friday.

The appellate court also ruled Gartley properly exercised discretion in denying Fannick’s request for a mistrial.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705519/superior-court-upholds-womans-murder-conviction 705519 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 07:57:45 +0000 By Ed Lewis - elewis@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705519/superior-court-upholds-womans-murder-conviction#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_alinsky02.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_alinsky02.jpg Alinsky https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_alinsky02.jpg
Fireworks display in Forty Fort set for Saturday night FORTY FORT — Dunkin’ Donuts and May Brands have announced a free fireworks display Saturday in honor of America’s soldiers.

It’s set for 9 p.m. at the Luzerne County Sports Complex in Forty Fort. Parking for the event will be in the softball and soccer fields. Majestic Fireworks Inc., of Clinton, New York, is handling the display.

The rain date will be Sunday.

May Brands LLC is a local franchisee of Dunkin Brands, owned by Jay and Eric May as well as Heather Bower.

This is the 12th time the company has sponsored a fireworks display.

The franchisees own 12 Dunkin’ Donuts throughout Northeast and Central Pennsylvania. The Mays also own Pen-Fern Oil Inc. and Pen-Mart Inc.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705517/fireworks-display-in-forty-fort-set-for-saturday-night 705517 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 07:23:12 +0000 https://www.timesleader.com/news/705517/fireworks-display-in-forty-fort-set-for-saturday-night#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_ABJ-Fireworks.cmyk_.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_ABJ-Fireworks.cmyk_.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_ABJ-Fireworks.cmyk_.jpg
Change in Wilkes-Barre garbage pickups for Memorial Day WILKES-BARRE — In observance of Memorial Day on Monday, City Hall will be closed and there will be no services by the Department of Public Works.

Residents in the downtown and South Wilkes-Barre 1 neighborhoods with a Monday collection date will instead have their garbage and yard waste picked up Tuesday.

Recycling pickup for downtown and South Wilkes-Barre 1 will resume June 4. All other collection dates citywide will remain the same.

Beginning Tuesday and continuing through the Labor Day weekend, DPW’s summer hours will be from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705515/change-in-wilkes-barre-garbage-pickups-for-memorial-day 705515 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 07:08:42 +0000 https://www.timesleader.com/news/705515/change-in-wilkes-barre-garbage-pickups-for-memorial-day#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_WB-logo-7.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_WB-logo-7.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_WB-logo-7.jpg
District Judge Tupper recertified HARRISBURG — Back Mountain District Judge Brian J. Tupper was recently recertified as a member of Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System after completing a program conducted by the Minor Judiciary Education Board and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

The program, located in Harrisburg, is a week-long course designed to ensure that district judges remain current in legal topics and management techniques.

This year’s curriculum included: updates on the motor vehicle code, debt collection, homeowner’s association law and condominium law, landlord and tenant disputes, ethics, gang awareness, alternative dispute resolution, language access, dog law and animal cruelty, crash reconstruction, and strangulation law.

Pennsylvania’s district judges are required by statute to complete continuing education coursework.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705513/district-judge-tupper-recertified 705513 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 07:04:45 +0000 By Times Leader Staff https://www.timesleader.com/news/705513/district-judge-tupper-recertified#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Tupper.cropped.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Tupper.cropped.jpg Tupper https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Tupper.cropped.jpg
Luzerne County official examining gypsy moth spraying options Wright Township resident John Hargraves described his community’s battle against gypsy moths during this week’s Luzerne County Council meeting in an effort to obtain county assistance with spraying in 2019.

“We’ve got trees all over the place that are just in disaster. It is a big public safety issue. I’ve had trees falling on my deck,” said Hargraves.

The Walden Park development area had two power outages from trees that fell due to gypsy moth erosion, he said. Hargraves said he spent thousands of dollars on failed spraying treatments administered from the ground and was forced to cut down 20 trees in his yard.

“I’ve got one tree left out in the front yard,” he said.

Hargraves said he and a few other volunteers went door-to-door to set up privately funded aerial spraying of 350 acres at Walden Park and surrounding areas this year, but he believes county involvement would make the group spraying process more efficient and save money. Property owners in his neighborhood are paying $70 each for the spraying, he said.

County Councilwoman Jane Walsh Waitkus agreed to spearhead a committee to review options to ward off gypsy moth caterpillars that cause widespread defoliation, although county officials are not making a firm commitment.

County Manager C. David Pedri noted municipal participation and financing may be needed if a proposed solution requires local government funding.

“Maybe we can do things together,” he said, noting the county is 890 square miles, with sizable rural areas.

Prior program

The county had participated in a state gypsy moth spraying program in 2016 after a spring 2015 outbreak of the pest caused a public outcry.

However, the county did not sign up for spraying in 2017 or 2018, in part due to the need to tie up a full-time staffer almost entirely to serve as gypsy moth coordinator fulfilling the program’s cumbersome requirements.

County Operational Services Division Head Edmund O’Neill said the county’s decision to abstain stemmed primarily from thorough research concluding property owners would be better off securing spraying on their own. The state’s program contains more restrictions on the size of minimum spraying zones and permissible tree cover and egg masses, he said.

Citizens and community leaders still had to canvas neighborhoods attempting to drum up interest in participating under the state program, O’Neill said.

Private property owners covered the cost of the state spraying, which ended up at $55 per acre in 2016. The state sprayed more than 3,000 acres of private property in 28 municipalities that year.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees the program, required the spraying of a 500-foot buffer around each residence. Some property owners were interested but withdrew due to the cost.

The state is increasing minimum zones to qualify for next year’s spraying from 23 acres to 50, O’Neill said.

Few counties sign on

State spraying was performed in three counties this year — Lackawanna, Lehigh and Northampton — because the other 64 did not sign up, O’Neill said. Lackawanna and Northampton covered the cost of spraying both county-owned property and participating private residences, while Lehigh did not include private properties, he said.

The state ended up charging participants $27 per acre this year, but O’Neill cautioned it would have been significantly higher if more participated. The state does not pay toward the spraying, and the only offset that reduces the cost to private property owners is a federal subsidy that fell hundreds of thousands of dollars below the requested $500,000, he said.

O’Neill said the average cost for spraying outside the state program may range from $25 to $38 per acre — an estimate Hargraves characterized as too low.

Walsh Waitkus said she will meet with Hargraves, O’Neill, Wright Township Supervisor Matthew Howton and others to come up with a plan for council’s consideration because she does not believe officials can “keep kicking the can down the forest” in addressing the problem.

“I see them everywhere already,” she said of gypsy moths.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705510/luzerne-county-official-examining-gypsy-moth-spraying-options 705510 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 06:48:46 +0000 By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705510/luzerne-county-official-examining-gypsy-moth-spraying-options#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_walsh.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_walsh.jpg Walsh Waitkus https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_walsh.jpg
Former AG Kane loses appeal; convictions will stand HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania appeals court Friday upheld the conviction of former state attorney general Kathleen Kane for leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it, saying among other things she wasn’t entitled to use evidence of a pornographic email scandal in her defense.

A three-judge Superior Court panel rejected arguments made by Kane, who has remained out on $75,000 bail since her October 2016 sentencing to 10 to 23 months in jail.

The court turned down claims that all Montgomery County judges should have been prevented from handling her case; evidence against her was illegally obtained; she was the victim of selective and vindictive prosecution; and jurors should have been given certain information about grand jury secrecy rules.

The judges also denied her argument she should have been able to use evidence about a pornographic email scandal that involved the office she ran, or the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case that her former office prosecuted.

The Montgomery County district attorney’s office said it was pleased with the ruling and has not decided whether to seek the revocation or increase in her bail.

Kane, a Scranton native, may still appeal the conviction to the state Supreme Court.

Her lawyer, Joshua Lock, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Kane, 51, who had been the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, resigned in 2016 after being convicted of two counts of felony perjury and seven misdemeanor counts, including obstruction and conspiracy.

Her criticism of how the office had handled the Sandusky investigation at Penn State before she took office created resentment among some of the lawyers who had worked on it. After secret grand jury information about another case was leaked to The Philadelphia Inquirer, two former attorney general’s office prosecutors contacted a Montgomery County judge, leading him to appoint a special prosecutor.

The appeals court said Kane did not meet the legal standard required to have every judge in the county prevented from presiding in her case.

“The mere fact that some judges of a particular court may have some familiarity with a particular case has not been held to be a basis for recusal of an entire bench of judges,” wrote Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus.

Kane’s challenge of the special prosecutor’s appointment was previously denied by the Supreme Court, Lazarus noted.

“This is the law of the case, and as such, our Supreme Court’s finding … is final and binding on this court,” Lazarus wrote.

The appeals court decision concluded Kane cited “a plethora of specious reasons” in arguing she should have been able to use evidence of the pornographic emails, a scandal that rocked the state’s judicial community and the state prosecutor’s office in particular and led to the resignation of two Supreme Court justices; or the investigation and prosecution of Sandusky, who is appealing a 45-count conviction for child sexual abuse.

The two lawyers who contacted the judge about grand jury leaks, former state prosecutors Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo, were also implicated in the pornographic email scandal and played key roles in Sandusky’s prosecution.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705506/former-ag-kane-loses-appeal-conviction-will-stand 705506 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 05:52:10 +0000 By Mark Scolforo - Associated Press https://www.timesleader.com/news/705506/former-ag-kane-loses-appeal-conviction-will-stand#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_120521277-222c798d03264ff9a1158ab99b6fbe3e-1.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_120521277-222c798d03264ff9a1158ab99b6fbe3e-1.jpg In this Nov. 10, 2015, file photo, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane leaves after her preliminary hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown. On Friday, an appeals court upheld the conviction of the former state attorney general and Scranton native for leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it. https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_120521277-222c798d03264ff9a1158ab99b6fbe3e-1.jpg
Video surfaces of fight at Plains school PLAINS TWP. — A 40-second video of the melee inside the Plains Alternative Learning Center earlier this week shows a faculty member trying to break up the fight and the school’s resource officer being pummeled in the legs.

The video posted on social media appears to have been recorded on a cell phone by a student. It was initially posted on Instagram and then to Facebook, where it was approaching 100 shares as of Friday afternoon.

Plains Township police reported the fight Wednesday involved approximately 30 people. A teacher was injured and was treated at a local hospital, and a township police officer was punched in the jaw by a student.

Seven juveniles were taken into custody, police said, with three observed by reporters being escorted out of the school in handcuffs.

Township police Chief James O’Malley said Friday the Luzerne Intermediate Unit is handling the investigation. The LIU coordinates the school.

More than two dozen law enforcement officers responded to the building on West Carey Street.

The video shows two males getting ready to fight while a group of students surround them in a hallway. Once the two males go at it, they bounce off lockers and a faculty member jumps in to separate those involved and bear-hugs a student from behind while falling to the floor.

A school resource officer attempts to pull students from a pile and is kicked several times in the legs. A girl on the floor appears to get kicked in the head.

The video does not show the township police officer being punched.

The school serves area students who have had trouble performing in a traditional classroom setting.

LIU Executive Director Anthony Grieco and Plains program director Ron Musto did not return messages for comment Friday.

Earlier this year, David Royster, 18, a student at the school, was charged by LIU police after a female student alleged he molested her in a hallway. She claimed Royster shoved her to a hallway corner, placed his hand over her mouth, and molested her while saying he wanted her to have his babies, according to a criminal complaint.

After the alleged assault, she claimed Royster and his friends threatened her.

Royster faces two counts of indecent assault and one count each of intimidation of a witness or victim and corruption of minors.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/local/705476/video-surfaces-of-fight-at-plains-school 705476 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 02:41:30 +0000 By Ed Lewis - elewis@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/local/705476/video-surfaces-of-fight-at-plains-school#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052418SchoolRiot2.cmyk_-3.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052418SchoolRiot2.cmyk_-3.jpg Police leave the Alternative Learning Center in Plains Township after a fight Wednesday. https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052418SchoolRiot2.cmyk_-3.jpg
DA wants to reargue overturned drug conviction WILKES-BARRE — An attorney for a man whose drug trafficking conviction was recently overturned by a state appellate court is seeking his release from prison.

Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on a request by Public Defender Jonathan Blum to release 32-year-old Braemar Parrish.

But District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said Friday her office will request to re-argue Parrish’s case.

The state Superior Court on May 9 overturned a jury’s verdict that convicted Parrish on several felony counts of drug trafficking after a trial in January 2016. Parrish was sentenced to three to six years in state prison.

He was arrested by Kingston police during a traffic stop on Market Street on April 7, 2014.

During the stop, police noted Parrish, who stands 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 270 pounds, was seated in the rear behind the driver’s seat while a duffel bag filled with 250 heroin packets, loose heroin, packaged bags of methamphetamine, two scales and packaging materials was on the front passenger seat.

Police also found a .40-caliber handgun under the front passenger seat and a .45-caliber handgun in the console.

The driver of the vehicle, Pernell Riddick, 29, of Bethlehem, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and a single count of firearms not to be carried without a license. He was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison.

Blum appealed Parrish’s conviction to the Superior Court, which overturned the jury’s verdict and sentence in a 15-page ruling.

The appellate court found it would have been impossible, due to Parrish’s body size, to climb from the front seat to the rear seat in the short time it took the officer to reach the vehicle.

A felony weapons charge, firearms not to be possessed by a convict, against Parrish was held in abeyance — or made inactive — until the Superior Court issued the ruling. Blum is also seeking a court order to have Parrish found not guilty on the firearm offense as the appellate court ruled the handguns were located out of Parrish’s reach.

“A reading of the Superior Court’s unanimous opinion makes it clear that the issue of possession has been decided in (Parrish’s) favor, and that principles of law make it improper to try (Parrish) on the bifurcated charge,” Blum wrote in his motion.

Parrish is being held on a state parole violation due to the drug trafficking conviction.

Court records say Parrish, of Allentown, was sentenced for his role in a January 2003 homicide in that city. He has been released on parole several times only to be recommitted to prison for violations, according to records from the state Department of Corrections.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705473/da-overturned-drug-conviction-to-be-reargued 705473 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 01:37:59 +0000 By Ed Lewis - elewis@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705473/da-overturned-drug-conviction-to-be-reargued#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Braemar-Parrish-8-7-14-2.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Braemar-Parrish-8-7-14-2.jpg Parrish https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Braemar-Parrish-8-7-14-2.jpg
Misericordia teacher testifies on elder opioid abuse The opioid epidemic has generated countless headlines and news stories, but Bill Stauffer believes an important part of the problem is being neglected: Misuse of the painkillers by older adults.

The Misericordia adjunct social work teacher got a chance to voice those concerns at a U.S. Senate committee hearing Wednesday thanks to an invitation from Sen. Bob Casey.

“Opioid use has exploded in the United States, and Pennsylvania has been hit particularly hard,” Stauffer said Thursday. “But a population we haven’t talked about are older adults, one of the fastest rising groups in respect to issues related to opioids. One in three Medicare recipients are prescribed opioids and about 500,000 of them seem to be misusing them.”

Stauffer, who is also executive director of the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance in Allentown, said he created a course for Misericordia on the topic and found “the literature is very scant.” He speculated that may be “because of stigma or a lack of understanding,” or because “when people consider substance abuse they often think of younger people.

“Factor in that we in this country are trained to respect older people and it gets even harder to talk to them about substance abuse,” he said. “And sometimes I think people feel ‘as they get older, just let them go.’”

Unlike younger drug abusers who often turn to illegal drugs, “From what we can see, for most of the older adults the opioids are prescribed.” Which makes one solution obvious: The government or insurance companies should fund other pain management approaches such as physical therapy or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

“All those things should be considered,” Stauffer said. “It’s not that these medicines don’t have a use, they certainly do, and we need to make sure opioids are available for those who are in need of them.”

But the most important part of addressing misuse of painkillers by the elderly is to acknowledge the problem. “We start by talking about it,” Stauffer said.

“I applaud Sen. Casey for really focusing on this. I think calling attention to it so that it does get more focus is important, and we need to examine how we use federal funding to support older adults.”

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705468/misericordia-teacher-testifies-on-elder-opioid-abuse 705468 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 11:56:57 +0000 By Mark Guydish - mguydish@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705468/misericordia-teacher-testifies-on-elder-opioid-abuse#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_William-Stauffer-1.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_William-Stauffer-1.jpg Stauffer https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_William-Stauffer-1.jpg
Harvey Weinstein arrested on rape, criminal sex act charges NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein surrendered Friday to face rape and other charges from encounters with two women, wearing both handcuffs and a strained smile as officers led him from a police precinct to court.

“You sorry, Harvey?” came a shout from a throng of media as the once powerful movie mogul walked into a lower Manhattan courthouse, his head bowed with the cuffs behind his back. Asked “What can you say?” he mildly shook his head and softly said “No.”

It marked the first criminal case against Weinstein, coming seven months after the allegations destroyed his career and set off a national reckoning over sexual misconduct known as the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein, 66, was charged with rape and a criminal sex act as well as lower-level sex abuse and sexual misconduct charges, the New York Police Department said.

He turned himself in at the police station early Friday. With a hoard of media surrounding him, Weinstein lumbered into the police station wearing a blazer and carrying books including “Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution,” about the Broadway musical duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and “Elia Kazan,” about the famed film director,

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the criminal sex act charge stems from a 2004 encounter between Weinstein and Lucia Evans, a then-aspiring actress who has said the Hollywood mogul forced her to perform oral sex on him in his office. She was among the first women to speak out about the producer.

The rape charge relates to a woman who has not spoken publicly or been identified, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment when first contacted about the charges late Thursday, but has previously said that Weinstein has consistently denied any allegations of “nonconsensual sex.”

Evans confirmed to The New Yorker that she was pressing charges.

“At a certain point, you have to think about the greater good of humanity, of womankind,” she told the magazine.

Evans told The New Yorker in a story published in October that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his New York office in 2004, the summer before her senior year at Middlebury College.

“I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’” she told the magazine. “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had been under enormous public pressure to bring a criminal case against Weinstein. Some women’s groups, including the Hollywood activist group Time’s Up, accused the Democrat of being too deferential to Weinstein and too dismissive of his accusers.

A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks.

In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the extraordinary step of ordering the state’s attorney general to investigate whether Vance acted properly in 2015 when he decided not to prosecute Weinstein over a previous allegation of unwanted groping, made by an Italian model. That investigation is in its preliminary stages.

More than 75 women have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing around the globe. Several actresses and models accused him of criminal sexual assaults, but many of the encounters happened too long ago for any prosecution. Film actress Rose McGowan said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah, “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra said he raped her in her New York apartment in 1992 and Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008.

McGowan told the AP on Thursday that “the justice system has been something very elusive.”

“I hope in this case, it works. Because it’s all true. None of this was consensual,” she said.

The statute of limitations for rape and certain other sex crimes in New York was eliminated in 2006, but not for attacks that happened prior to 2001.

New York City police detectives said in early November that they were investigating allegations by another accuser, “Boardwalk Empire” actress Paz de la Huerta, who told police in October that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010. She is not one of the victims in the case on Friday; hers was still pending, officials said.

Authorities in California and London also are investigating assault allegations. Britain has no statute of limits on rape cases; some of the allegations under investigation there date to the 1980s.

Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein started his now-bankrupt company after leaving Miramax, the company they founded in 1979 and which became a powerhouse in ’90s indie film with hits like “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.” The Weinstein Co. found success with Oscar winners “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech.”


Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz, Jake Pearson and Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705464/harvey-weinstein-arrested-on-rape-criminal-sex-act-charges 705464 0 Fri, 25 May 2018 09:27:24 +0000 https://www.timesleader.com/news/705464/harvey-weinstein-arrested-on-rape-criminal-sex-act-charges#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_120516764-43d556c1b80040098a881dc578cb3856.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_120516764-43d556c1b80040098a881dc578cb3856.jpg Harvey Weinstein arrives at the first precinct while turning himself to authorities following allegations of sexual misconduct, Friday, May 25, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_120516764-43d556c1b80040098a881dc578cb3856.jpg
Teen charged as an adult in Hazleton shooting HAZLETON — City police arrested a 16-year-old who is charged as an adult after he allegedly fired at least five rounds at another man and later taunted the victim in a phone call Wednesday night.

Police responded to the area of Grant and First streets at about 6:40 p.m., finding bullet holes in a Honda Pilot and four shell casings on the ground.

While officers were at the vehicle, Juan Sandoval exited a residence and claimed a man he identified as Cherry La Para fired rounds at him from a handgun.

Sandoval claimed he was in the Honda when he was forced to stop due to the gunman standing in the road, according to a criminal complaint.

Sandoval said La Para is a Facebook name used by Deivy Noel Toribio, 16, of West Maple Street, Hazleton. Sandoval claimed he was friends with Toribio but has recently been feuding with him.

Sandoval alleged Toribio fired rounds from a handgun and walked away with another man.

As officers were speaking with Sandoval, Toribio called him saying, “You are in so much trouble right now, you’re lucky I didn’t kill you,” the complaint states.

Police went to Toribio’s residence in an attempt to arrest him. As officers surrounded the house, a man inside turned off lights and dropped a backpack from a second-floor window, police said.

Police said the backpack contained two handguns.

Toribio was arrested when police learned he was at a residence on West Diamond Avenue.

Police said they found .22-caliber ammunition in a bedroom.

Toribio was arraigned Thursday by District Judge Matthew C. Christopher in Luzerne County Central Court on three counts of simple assault, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of firearms not to be carried without a license and reckless endangerment. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $150,000 bail.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705418/teen-charged-as-an-adult-in-hazleton-shooting 705418 0 Thu, 24 May 2018 11:22:14 +0000 https://www.timesleader.com/news/705418/teen-charged-as-an-adult-in-hazleton-shooting#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Deivy-Toribio-FB.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Deivy-Toribio-FB.jpg Toribio https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Deivy-Toribio-FB.jpg
Crestwood OKs $40M final budget proposal; no teacher layoffs expected WRIGHT TWP. — The Crestwood Area School Board approved a proposed $40 million final budget on Thursday night that includes a real estate tax increase of 5.5 percent for the 2018-19 school year and no teacher layoffs.

The budget, however, has a deficit of $1.9 million — a situation that district financial director Albert Melone described as “difficult.”

“Although we still have 30 days to work on this, I don’t see the $1.9 million going away,” Melone added.

A final spending plan has to be submitted to the state Department of Education by June 30.

Real estate taxes under the $40,023,175 plan would increase to 10.3899 mills, with a mill representing $1 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Board President Bill Jones said that through negotiations with the Crestwood Education Association, an agreement had been reached on salary issues which resulted in enough savings to save the jobs of four teachers, who had been scheduled to be furloughed.

Solicitor Jack Dean announced that CEA’s officers also agreed to the extension of the current collective bargaining agreement until the 2020-21 school term.

Salaries nonetheless remain the largest line item in the budget: $17,098,165 plus $10.4 million more in benefits.

Overall, local revenue is anticipated to generate $22.2 million. State reimbursement has been estimated by Melone at $15.1 million, with another $411,135 expected from federal sources.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705415/crestwood-oks-40m-final-budget-proposal-no-teacher-layoffs-expected 705415 0 Thu, 24 May 2018 11:11:44 +0000 By Tom Huntington - For Times Leader https://www.timesleader.com/news/705415/crestwood-oks-40m-final-budget-proposal-no-teacher-layoffs-expected#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL042018Crestwood2-1.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL042018Crestwood2-1.jpg Dean and Jones https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL042018Crestwood2-1.jpg
Mega Millions – 05/25/2018 https://www.timesleader.com/news/lottery/705538/mega-millions-05-25-2018 705538 0 Thu, 24 May 2018 11:00:00 +0000 https://www.timesleader.com/news/lottery/705538/mega-millions-05-25-2018#comments LCCC sends off ‘special’ graduating class WILKES-BARRE TWP. — It wasn’t your typical graduation for Luzerne County Community College on Thursday night.

This one — on the heels of the school’s 50th anniversary — was “special,” said LCCC President Thomas Leary.

Another unique thing about this year’s commencement was that the graduating class included Ted Geffert, 82, of Mountain Top, who is the oldest graduate in the history of the college.

The former Crestwood superintendent received special recognition from Leary during the ceremony at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Geffert was awarded a degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS). He took computer courses over the years in an effort to learn more about the field.

The principal address was given by someone who is a college student herself. In addition to attending Xavier University, Ohio native Kilee Brookbank, 20, is also a burn survivor, philanthropist, and author.

“I’m sure you’re all probably wondering why you’re about to listen to someone who is your age or maybe even younger than you talk about life,” she told the graduates.

Brookbank suffered burns that covered 45 percent of her body as a result of a house fire in November 2014.

“Life can change in the blink of an eye,” she said about the experience.

Brookbank underwent many procedures at Shriners Hospitals For Children in Cincinnati. After being released, she began physical therapy and returned to school two-and-a-half months later.

“I think of myself as a burn survivor — not a burn victim,” Brookbank said.

She decided to help the hospital that saved her life by starting the Kilee Gives Back Foundation, which has raised more than $230,000.

Brookbank also released the award-winning book, “Beautiful Scars,” in 2016 and the children’s book, “ Digger the Hero Dog,” in 2018.

“Your scars are part of your story,” she said. “They make us more beautiful. They give us a story to tell.”

The graduate address was given by summa cum laude graduate and scholarship recipient Amy Alexandra Marcalle, of Hazleton, who will be pursuing a double major in English and sociology at Penn State after receiving her associate’s from LCCC.

During her time at the school, Marcalle said she came across a diverse group of students who included working mothers returning to class, those working more than two jobs, and immigrants looking to make their dreams come true.

She encouraged her fellow graduates to “knock on doors, chase opportunities, and find a purpose.”

“Once you find a purpose and you fight to manifest it, there will be no single enemy in the whole vast universe that will be strong enough to stop you,” Marcalle said.

She concluded the speech by energetically exclaiming in Spanish, “Si se Puede,” which translates to “Yes, it can be done.”

The Alumni Association’s Outstanding Graduate Award was presented to Shannen Brady, who completed a dental hygiene program at LCCC. The Outstanding Adult Learner Award, which goes to non-traditional students who attend classes on a part-time basis, was given to Janet Golaszewski, of Mountain Top.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705410/lccc-sends-off-special-graduating-class 705410 0 Thu, 24 May 2018 10:58:46 +0000 By Kulsoom Khan - For the Times Leader https://www.timesleader.com/news/705410/lccc-sends-off-special-graduating-class#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL-05252018-LCCC-grad-3-.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL-05252018-LCCC-grad-3-.jpg Thomas Leary, president of Luzerne County Community College, enjoyed talking to graduates prior to the school’s 50th commencement Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township. https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL-05252018-LCCC-grad-3-.jpg
Residents press WB council over crime, blight WILKES-BARRE — Fifteen months ago, members of the city’s multi-agency Neighborhood Impact Team swooped onto Hutson Street in response to residents’ concerns about crime and blight.

Neighbors from Hutson and surrounding streets appeared before City Council Thursday night with a desperate, angry message: Much more work is needed to make the area safe, whether that includes another NIT sweep or bringing in outside help.

“The police can’t be everywhere, and something has to be done,” Park Avenue resident Pam Elliott said, adding that like some of the other speakers she had grown up on Hutson Street.

“Excuse my mouth, but it’s become a shithole,” Elliott added emphatically.

The 2017 NIT sweep, which included members of the city’s Code Enforcement and Health, police and fire and Public Works departments, concentrated on the block of Hutson between Metcalf and Lehigh streets, looking for code violations and other issues.

Despite that, suspected drug activity and quality of life issues — including loud parties, open consumption of alcohol and parking violations — nevertheless continue, several longtime residents told council, saying they believe renters are behind most of the problems.

And in February of this year, two people were shot — one fatally — inside 77 Hutson St.

“The conditions on Hutson Street are absolutely deplorable,” said Denise Thomas, who lives around the corner on Lehigh Street, adding that renters have intimidated some older residents who dared to speak out.

“My 86-year-old neighbor will not leave her house, even to buy groceries,” Thomas said, adding that some residents “won’t sit on their porches for more than 10 minutes.”

Christa Koter, who said she owns the home where the fatal shooting took place, told council she has struggled to find responsible tenants because they are scared to live in the area.

“No one with values is going to look at renting property there,” Koter said. “How would you feel being a prisoner inside of your home? It’s not a great feeling.”

She and others suggested that much rowdy late-night traffic plagues the area, including visitors to a relatively new barbershop that moved there after problems in another neighborhood.

Council President Tony Brooks acknowledged that he had visited in response to such concerns, spending some time on Thomas’ porch.

“Last night, that place was atrocious,” he said of conditions around the barbershop.

City Administrator Ted Wampole assured residents that police leaders and Mayor Tony George are aware of conditions in the neighborhood and have had “extensive conversations” about appropriate responses.

“I know it’s not going to bring you a lot of comfort, but it’s on their radar,” Wampole said. “There is stuff happening.”

Wampole also took exception to suggestions that city zoning officials had turned a blind eye or improperly allowed the barbershop to operate there in violation of zoning regulations. And, he added, the city cannot prevent a business from opening if it conforms to existing zoning.

“We have to operate under the law,” he said. “We can’t make the rules up as we go along.”

Councilwoman Beth Gilbert urged residents to stay vigilant in the face of crime.

“Just keep calling 911,” she said. “I know it’s exhausting, but keep doing it.”

Wampole, who said he also plans to visit Thomas’ porch soon, echoed that theme.

“If you see something, report it,” Wampole said.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705396/residents-press-wb-council-over-crime-blight 705396 0 Thu, 24 May 2018 10:31:43 +0000 By Roger DuPuis - rdupuis@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705396/residents-press-wb-council-over-crime-blight#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Ted-Wampole-9.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Ted-Wampole-9.jpg Wampole https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Ted-Wampole-9.jpg
Court Briefs Man faces trial

in teen-sex case

WILKES-BARRE — A man from Wilkes-Barre charged by Nanticoke police with having sexual relations with a teen girl waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Luzerne County Central Court.

Jeremiah Corey Calk, 31, of North Sherman Street, will now face in county court charges of statutory sexual assault and corruption of minors.

Prosecutors withdrew charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and unlawful contact with minors.

Nanticoke officers allege Calk admitted to having sexual encounters with the teen. Police said the lewd acts occurred from October through the middle of January.

Vehicle-theft suspect

decides to waive hearing

WILKES-BARRE — A man from Exeter accused of stealing a vehicle from the parking lot of Wyoming Area High School waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday in Luzerne County Central Court.

Joseph Michael Dasilva, 28, of Penn Avenue, will now stand trial on a single count of theft.

Prosecutors withdrew charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, receiving stolen property and theft from a vehicle.

State police alleged Dasilva stole a 2013 Ford Fusion from the school’s parking lot May 8. The vehicle was recovered in Exeter.

WB man to stand trial

for alleged heroin sales

WILKES-BARRE — A man from Wilkes-Barre accused of selling 300 heroin packets in Hanover Township waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Luzerne County Central Court.

William Benjamin, 37, of Carlisle Street, will now face a single count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in county court.

Prosecutors withdrew a second count of possession with intent to deliver and criminal use of a communication facility.

Hanover Township police and the Luzerne County Drug Task Force arrested Benjamin after he allegedly sold six bundles (300 packets) of heroin in a parking lot on Carey Avenue on April 12.

Pittston woman pleads

to disorderly conduct

WILKES-BARRE — A Pittston woman who claimed Kingston police did not have the right to ask her for identification during a traffic stop pleaded guilty during a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Wednesday.

Dominique V. Petel, 40, of Riverview Manor, admitted to disorderly conduct and driving an unregistered vehicle. She will be sentenced at a later date.

Prosecutors withdrew charges of resisting arrest and four vehicle code citations against Petel.

Police said they stopped a Pontiac G6 on Grove Street due to an expired registration April 21. During the stop, Petel claimed police did not have the right to ask her for identification, according to a criminal complaint.

Police allege Petel cursed and screamed at officers.

Hazleton man waives

hearing in gun, drug case

WILKES-BARRE — A man from Hazleton arrested after Sugar Notch police allege they found a loaded handgun and a cache of drugs during a traffic stop waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Wednesday.

Antonio Cordova-Munoz, 40, will now stand trial on charges of illegal possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and driving under the influence.

Prosecutors withdrew 41 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, five counts of criminal intent to deliver drug paraphernalia and several traffic citations.

Inside a 2005 Subaru that Cordova-Munoz was driving on May 10, Sugar Notch police said they found a loaded .22-caliber handgun and a bag containing suspected methamphetamine, marijuana, acid, a grinder and a digital scale.

Police said they initially stopped Cordova-Munoz for several traffic violations on New Commerce Boulevard and Main Street. He displayed signs of intoxication during the stop, the complaint says.

Hanover teen is facing trial

WILKES-BARRE — A teenager on parole who ran from Nanticoke police and surrendered when he got tired waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Wednesday.

Michael Anthony Epps, 19, of Main Road, Hanover Township, will face a single count of flight to avoid apprehension in county court.

Police knew Epps was wanted on a state parole violation when they spotted him in the area of South Market and East Main streets May 14. He took off running and hid in shrubs in the area of 1 W. Broad St., according to a criminal complaint.

Epps told police he was too exhausted to continue to run and surrendered.

Electrocuted employee sues contractor

WILKES-BARRE — An employee of Sordoni Construction Services who was electrocuted while working at St. Jude Parish has filed a lawsuit against George J. Hayden Inc., the electrical contractors for the project.

Gene Zini, of Peckville, alleges in the suit filed in Luzerne County Court on Wednesday that he was electrocuted while working on a construction project at the parish on July 26, 2017.

Zini asked an employee of Hayden, based in Hazleton, if electrical wires protruding from a metal beam were active. When he was told the wires were not active, Zini raised himself in a scissors lift and was electrocuted when he touched the wires, the suit claims.

Zini suffered serious injuries, resulting in loss of wages and medical expenses. Zini has been unable to return to work, the suit says.

The suit was filed on Zini’s behalf by Scranton attorney Carl J. Greco.

https://www.timesleader.com/news/705385/court-briefs-26 705385 0 Thu, 24 May 2018 09:48:42 +0000 By Ed Lewis - elewis@timesleader.com https://www.timesleader.com/news/705385/court-briefs-26#comments https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Jeremiah-Calk-05082018-5.jpg https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Jeremiah-Calk-05082018-5.jpg Calk https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Jeremiah-Calk-05082018-5.jpg