Diamonds to Mayor George Brown and municipal officials for moving ahead with much-needed renovations to Wilkes-Barre City Hall.
As staff writer Jerry Lynott reported in Thursday’s edition, an excavator began work Wednesday behind the building on a project that will see a new elevator and stair tower added to the structure. Officials say the effort will provide a more dependable means of access to the four floors of City Hall.
Anyone who has had business at City Hall in recent years knows all too well the condition of the existing elevator, as well as the old exterior fire escape, which was deemed unsafe and removed in 2019. The elevator, meanwhile, has been prone to frequent breakdowns over the years. It is more than 100 years old, officials say, and finding replacement parts has been difficult and costly.
Last year City Council approved an amendment to a $52 million bond deal so what remained from the $4.4 million designated for the creek wall reconstruction could be used for capital projects. As a result approximately $1 million was available for the elevator and stair tower and other projects.
Butch Frati, the city’s Director of Operations and Deputy City Administrator, told Lynott that barring any problems obtaining materials and elevator parts, the project is expected to take six months to complete. The addition will include stone lintels above the windows and exterior brick designed to harmonize with City Hall’s historic features.
City Hall was built in the 1890s, a time when safety and accessibility standards as we know them had yet to be developed. That said, structures like these also were built to last, and to serve as a focal point of civic pride.
Too often in America, we have seen our historic structures demolished rather than adapted to meet evolving standards and needs. We are blessed in this area to have a rich architectural history, with distinctive structures such as City Hall and the Luzerne County Courthouse continuing to serve the community as they were designed to do over a century ago.
We can’t stress how happy we are to see the city making needed renovations to this beautiful building that are also in keeping with its design. This is how it should be done.
Coal to Seith Dawson and Arika Keiziah Han Dixon, who were sentenced to state prison time this week in a horrifying child abuse case. Investigators say Dixon’s 12-year-old son was subjected to beatings, humiliation and starvation, in one case punched in the eye for getting cereal when he was hungry. An examiner who interviewed the boy said he was “clearly a victim of child torture.” Dawson and Dixon pleaded guilty to several criminal counts in August. The pair are lucky they’re subject to state laws and not the vindictive torture fantasies of readers who spouted off on our story about the sentencing. Some of those folks deserve coal in their own right — or probably therapy.
Diamonds to Luzerne County officials who are holding a voting equipment testing demonstration in the courthouse rotunda starting at 3 p.m. today. We hope members of the community — especially those who have screamed the loudest about non-existent voter fraud — will take the time to check out the demonstration and learn some facts about the machines.
Coal to the person who has spent the last seven months hiding from accountability in the death of seven-year-old Gabriel Bierly. The little boy was killed by a pickup truck while riding his bike last March in Huntington Township. Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers this week offered a cash reward of $2,000 for anyone with information leading to an arrest.
Do the right thing. Gabriel’s grieving family deserves justice.
— Times Leader