Our view: Diamonds deserved for preserving farmland

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Diamonds to the Luzerne County Farmland Preservation Program — and for that matter, other similar programs that work to preserve land not yet despoiled by over-development. The farmland program preserved its 30th property, this one in Hollenback Township, since first implemented in 2000. As staff writer Tom Venesky noted in a Monday article, the program has saved 3,080 acres since then. There was a time when this sort of program was inconceivable — more than 60 percent of the Keystone State’s acreage was farmed in 1920. But post WWII the decline in tilled soil dropped steadily, falling below 30 percent by 1978. The problem: Once you lose farmland, you don’t get a do-over. And it is just common sense to preserve the land that feeds us, and health-sense to make sure fresh-grown produce is available locally regardless of where you live.

Coal to anyone meriting blame in the recent flare-up of problems between the Wilkes-Barre administration and the city’s fire department union. The issue is the value and cost of fire watches, or patrols, ordered by Mayor Tony George — he says they are preventative, the union says they area waste of money and manpower. The initial reaction here is to side with the union, though the saga has yet to fully unfold. But the deeper concern arguably is whether the city can afford another public battle between administration and union leaders. The lengthy and messy ado between George and the police union — though subsided, not yet fully resolved — is too fresh to open another wound with a different yet no less important public safety operation. Both sides would serve city residents best by resolving this quickly and amicably.

Diamonds to Wilkes-Barre Area School District staff and administration for forging the “Creative and Performing Arts Academy” in a relatively short amount of time on a pretty small budget. Superintendent Brian Costello showed off the revamped space to the Times Leader on Wednesday, and talked a good talk when it comes to justifying a new program that drew about 125 applicants before a single class was held, including students from outside the district. It’s too early to gauge the success or true cost of this effort, but the district deserves kudos for the attempt so far. There are plenty of studies that show students who engage in the arts tend to do better in academics, and after years of hearing about relentless cuts to such programs in the face of tighter education budgets regionally and statewide, this is a refreshing antidote to the trend.

Coal to both sides in the mayor vs. ex-mayor dispute in Wyoming Borough. Current Mayor Joseph Dominick clearly misused his personal Facebook page for borough business, but former Mayor Bob Boyer hardly stands untarnished as he pursues this issue. The whole thing is a textbook demonstration of how petty local politics can hold this region back by preventing us from really looking forward.

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