Diamonds to all those helping in the continuing recovery from the tornado that tore apart a swath of retail outlets in Wilkes-Barre Township. Considering how severely the 130 mph winds ripped into buildings at the Arena Hub Plaza, the response seems to have been swift and broad, the news from business owners upbeat. Local, county and state officials have all offered assistance. Doubtless one reason the recovery has been so quick is the good fortune in the twister’s touchdown timing. Hitting late in the evening spared us all from the trauma of loss of life such a storm likely would have wreaked just a few hours earlier. The damage runs deep, but so has the spirit of cooperation and determination as the region rebounds.
Coal to the Exeter Township Zoning Hearing Board for apparently missing a deadline for a hearing on Dr. Robert Dompkosky’s proposal for an addiction treatment center in the former Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School, with a small lump to Dompkosky himself for being less than up front about his plan. These sorts of things deserve serious public discourse, and Dompkosky could have done more to make that happen. But as things stand now it looks like the hearing board just didn’t do its job in scheduling a meeting to discuss a zoning variance, and if so that’s clearly where the biggest blame rests.
Diamonds to Luzerne County Judge William H. Amesbury for drafting an order that seemed to strike a good balance in resolving the Dallas teacher contract conundrum. Amesbury required negotiations five days a week, increasing to seven days a week if progress is not forthcoming, with the imposition of binding arbitration held in reserve. History suggests daily negotiations will be enough. It’s amazing what two groups at odds for years can do when forced to forfeit other activities until they reach terms. In 2009, the Crestwood School Board and the district support staff union settled an 8-year dispute in three days: Ordered to daily negotiations the Friday before Memorial Day, they reached an agreement that Sunday. That same summer, a judge mandated eight negotiation sessions every 14 days in a Northwest Area teacher contract dispute that was 4-years old. They settled in seven sessions.
Coal, while we’re at it, yet again to both sides on the Dallas teacher contract dispute. Each has made reasonable arguments — though it’s hard to forget the union’s bizarre decision to extend one strike past a maximum date determined by the state — but that’s proverbial water under the bridge. Just the fact that contract negotiations couldn’t get settled for so long without court intervention deserves some public rebuke.
Diamonds to the family of Phylicia Thomas for dogged pursuit of answers in the 2004 disappearance of the young woman. The family brought in a private firm with two cadaver dogs to scour the area where Phylicia was last seen. Their determination is as understandable as it is commendable. Like anyone, they want closure. Here’s hoping they get it.