Our view: A sincere thanks to Buffett and Guard Insurance


An open invitation to Warren Buffett

Mr. Buffet,

You’re a busy man with a massive business empire to run, so the big news here may not even have blipped on your radar, but many, many thanks all the same.

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance has not only decided to stay here in downtown Wilkes-Barre, it has promised to spend more than $10 million in buying and renovating a centrally-located property that had been in a bit of limbo, and to bring about 170 more jobs to our little neck of the woods.

In a city that for too long became synonymous with “rust belt” decline — despite many efforts to re-invent itself — this is a terrific shot in the economic arm. Having your imprimatur behind it is a bonus, particularly because GUARD began here three decades ago. It is a homegrown success story, and the city and county are blessed to have it keep calling Wilkes-Barre as home.

So thanks, and here’s the invitation:

Consider coming for a visit. See the city your subsidiary is supporting. It’s a safe bet area officials and businesses would readily provide a grand tour at no expense to you.

Take in a show at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. The art deco facility’s fabled history — from glamorous movie house to state of disuse to rebirth thanks to community support, a fund drive and the dedication of recently deceased businessman Al Boscov — would probably appeal to you.

Have lunch at one of our smaller eateries for distinctly local flair — maybe a hot dog or a slice of pizza — and dine in the evening at any of several more upscale restaurants that have taken root in the downtown’s mini-renaissance. Maybe a movie, or at least a visit, to the downtown multiplex.

Spend a little time soaking in local artist Sue Hand’s sweeping homage to our coal mining heritage “The Anthracite Miners and their Hollowed Ground” in the lobby of King’s College on the Square, and peek into the “Rev. Josef Murgas” room holding artifacts from a local priest, artist and wireless radio pioneer. Come before Dec. 20 and you can also see the Andy Warhol exhibit in the Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University.

We have minor league sports, an impressive casino, an arena that draws national acts and lots of natural attractions from the water-carved rocks at Seven Tubs to the state park commemorating local legend Frances Slocum’s childhood abduction by Native Americans.

Sure, the hope would be that we could convince the Oracle of Omaha to consider further investment in our area businesses. Yes, there are many worthy charities that would eagerly accept a bit of the billions you’ve pledge to give away. And of course, it would be a real feather in this newspaper’s cap if you stopped by and offered a bit of insight to our editorial board.

But those would be potential perks for the area; they are not the goal of this invite. This really would be nothing more than a sincere thanks, and a chance to see the people and places you’re investing in.

– Times Leader