Our View: Diamonds for Friends of the Osterhout sale milestone

People shop for books during the 41st annual book sale at the central branch of the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre last June. The 42nd annual sale is now underway. - Times Leader file

Diamonds to the Friends of the Osterhout Free Library, whose annual book sale is poised to reach a milestone during its latest run, which is now underway.

Over its 42 years of sales to benefit the library, the group will soon have raised $500,000.

“It’s incredible, when you consider we’ve sold books for $1, or children’s books for a quarter or 10 cents,” volunteer Elaine Schall told reporter Mary Therese Biebel.

The sale runs through next Saturday, June 23, but is closed on Sunday.

Book lovers can be assured there really is something for everyone, and the sale benefits a much-loved and valuable community resource.

And you might even find a hidden treasure.

“It’s like being at a garage sale where you never know what you’ll find,” Schall said, glancing at a table of vintage volumes that were printed in the 1920s and ’30s. “We’ve had people come back and tell us they’ve sold a book from our sale on eBay for $50.”

Coal to generations of Luzerne County government officials for managing to overlook the fact that a county-owned half-double home in Hazle Township has been actually occupied for 50 years by a family who wasn’t paying real estate taxes.

“I assumed it was OK because nobody ever said otherwise,” said Marilyn Bevans, who has lived in the half-double since she was born 59 years ago.

“I never received anything to say I must pay a tax bill. I never understood why I didn’t have to pay taxes.”

County officials said they would have no claim to recoup taxes from prior years because the county was the owner.

We’re not faulting Bevans. She had always heard the structure and one or two others in the tiny village of Jeansville were not taxed because it was a “homestead house,” possibly with some connection to nearby coal mining. It had passed to county ownership when she was a child, after her coal miner father had died and two trustees defaulted on taxes.

But the county seems intent on doing the right thing by her, at least.

The property was recently put on the county’s auction list, but county Manager C. David Pedri said he will ask council to consider removing the house from the list so it can be purchased by Bevans.

Diamonds to everyone who has pitched in on clean-up efforts at the Arena Hub Plaza and at damaged businesses along Mundy Street. That list includes Wilkes-Barre Township police and responders from Luzerne, Lackawanna, Columbia and Wyoming counties, along with 12 area fire departments, eight ambulance units, sheriff’s officers, 911 personnel and the Red Cross, among others.

Fred Rosencrans, Luzerne County’s 911 director, said right from the beginning of the tornado Wednesday night, the goal was to “control chaos.” We would say that officials succeeded.

Generous donors, meanwhile, kept volunteers refreshed and fed with so much food that the Red Cross did not need to spend a penny.

Diamonds to state Rep. Gerald Mullery, whose bill that would ban nicotine-based products and electronic cigarettes in Pennsylvania schools is moving forward after the state House passed it unanimously.

People shop for books during the 41st annual book sale at the central branch of the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre last June. The 42nd annual sale is now underway.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL062017BookSale-cmyk-3.jpgPeople shop for books during the 41st annual book sale at the central branch of the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre last June. The 42nd annual sale is now underway. Times Leader file