Diamonds to Wilkes University for continuing facility improvements that also improve Wilkes-Barre overall. The most recent announcement is mostly in the heart of the campus, with extension of the Gateway project across the quadrangle, but future plans include revamping landscaping around some of the school’s historic mansions dotting the campus along city streets. Diamonds, while we’re at it, to many improvements by other institutions that have benefited the city’s look, including King’s, Luzerne County Community College and Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre has become a fine example of the community benefit when municipalities and institutions of higher learning work together.
Coal to Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George and the city Police Union for yet again roiling the pot of city/union relations. The union has taken exception to George’s decision to send controversial commander Roy Foy back to his detective rank. Surely attentive residents had hoped the recent review of troubles in the Thin Blue Line by an outside agency signaled a turning point in this turbulent relationship. It’s been said multiple times on many aspects of this problem: Both sides need to figure out how to eliminate the acrimony and get back to the job of protecting the public.
Diamonds to the state legislature for considering a bill that would make it easier for adults exiting foster care to get a college education, a bill Luzerne County Community College President Thomas Leary supported in testimony before a House committee this week. The struggles of those stripped from family are well documented, which is why the county and the state have made major strides in trying to keep families together or reunite them when possible. Leary noted only about 10 percent of people leaving foster care go to college, and argued the reason is fundamental: They lack the security and backing of a permanent family. A little coal within this diamond to the representatives who penned HB 1745. They would require state-related institutions and community colleges to provide tuition and fee waivers for these people, but offer no state financial support in meeting the mandate. If they feel it’s a good idea to require the waivers, it behooves them to find some way to help the colleges and universities cover the costs.
Coal to the students and staff at the Luzerne Intermediate Unit Alternative Learning Center in Plains Township for what one student called a “beatdown” and another called a “riot.” To be clear, the school is intended to handle some of the area’s most difficult students, sent there because they have been proven too disruptive for regular classrooms, and the fact that there aren’t more frequent reports of violence may speak as testimony to a program that manages to maintain order. But the size of police response and the reported extent of student misconduct in this instance suggests it may be time for the LIU to take a hard look at staffing, physical layout and protocols in the ALC.