Our View: Festival is a win-win for everyone

November 3rd, 2017 4:08 pm

Diamonds to Wilkes-Barre Area School District for the seventh successful Harvest Festival held Friday at Heights Murray Elementary School. The festival is family help disguised with food and fun, and was a smart idea from the start. The district offers free turkey dinners, snacks, games, music and chances to win gift baskets, all while helping connect families to service organizations and businesses offering assistance with a variety of issues. Youngsters walk away with sated stomachs and stuffed swag bags while parents can talk to representatives from 40-some places such as Geisinger Health, Victims Resource Center and Commission on Economic Opportunity. It’s well documented that helping families get needed assistance and information can improve a child’s academic outcome. This event is a clear win-win.

Coal to Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino for the numbers being sought in a property value assessment appeal. This is not to begrudge the facility owners the right to question how much they are paying in taxes, but the gaps between what they claim the property is worth ($140 million), what it is assessed at ($152.5 million) and what Wilkes-Barre Area School District says it should be ($270 million) are so vast one can’t help but wonder what math is being used. We are grateful the casino came to this area, and glad the facility has succeeded well enough to expand, but can’t help but feel its apparent success warrants some less-costly compromise in deciding what a fair assessment should be.

Diamonds, along the same lines, to Luzerne County for pushing to clear the backlog of property assessment appeals. It would be better of there were fewer appeals all around, but they exist, and letting them drag on becomes costly because any refund is calculated from the date of the appeal, not the date the case was settled. Some of the pending cases were launched as a result of countywide reassessment in 2009. Getting these issues resolved is a common-sense way to save the county money.

Coal to voters who are not paying attention to Tuesday’s election. It is sad enough that in all but the best of year voter turnout is depressingly low around here and nationwide. It is truly disheartening when off-year elections get scant attention. The old observation still holds true: Local elections such as school boards and municipal officials really are where the proverbial rubber hits the road. If you were thinking of sitting this one out, reconsider. There is still time to conduct a little research on who’s running for what, and to make an informed decision come Tuesday.

Diamonds to those who do decide to run for local offices, particularly the positions that don’t pay a penny (think school boards) despite demanding substantial time. And while we’re at it, …

Coal to the persistent pattern of limited competition for many of the local races (think school boards again). If you care, consider seeking office in any of the uncontested races next time.

Khalif Wiggins, 6, dances during the Harvest Festival at Heights Murray Elementary School. 11/2/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_TTL110317harvestfest2-1.jpgKhalif Wiggins, 6, dances during the Harvest Festival at Heights Murray Elementary School. 11/2/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader