Pittston Township Fires Police Chief, Doesn’t Give A Reason

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pittston Township Board of Supervisors fired police Chief Robert Avvisato without offering explanation or naming a replacement Friday.

Vice Chairwoman Barbara Attardo and Treasurer Steven Rinaldi, the former chief, voted to fire Avvisato, while Chairman Joseph Adams opposed the move at a brief special meeting Friday morning.

Avvisato, a retired state police corporal, is accused of creating a hostile work environment since he took command in January 2013. He is set to go to arbitration with the township over the matter and denies the allegations.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/50029456/Pittston-Township-fires-police-chief-doesnt-give-a-reason

Housing Development Planned In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — In a few months, the vacant building on Dana Street that formerly housed First Hospital will be gone. A housing development is planned in its place.

The Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation is demolishing properties on Dana, Grove and McCarragher streets in the Rolling Mill Hill neighborhood with plans to donate the land to a Lancaster-based development company.

Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic plans to build 56 units of affordable rental housing in the area.

The properties include 133 and 149 Dana St., 66-68 Grove St. and 112 McCarragher St., according to Gerard T. O’Donnell, a consultant working with the Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation, which plans to demolish the structures.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/housing-development-planned-in-w-b-1.1724520

Lackawanna College To Convert Downtown Office Complex Into Clinic, Classrooms, Cafeteria

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a property acquisition that will change Lackawanna College and bring life to a long-languishing downtown anchor, one of the city’s largest office complexes, Adams Plaza, will become classrooms, a clinic and a cafeteria.

Officials expect to buy the deeply discounted, 110,000-square-foot, two-building complex, more recently known as the Scranton Center, in mid-August. The college has ambitious, evolving plans to renovate the inside of the buildings into classroom and office space, a campus cafeteria and a community health center, making the property at Adams Avenue and Mulberry Street a town-and-gown nexus.

Just steps away from the campus and visible from his office, Adams Plaza would be difficult for Lackawanna College President Mark Volk to ignore, even as he resolved after his 2012 appointment to eschew debt.

“We weren’t looking for another building,” he said. “But considering where the college is going and how we can better serve the community, we started to think it would be great if we could get it.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/lackawanna-college-to-convert-downtown-office-complex-into-clinic-classrooms-cafeteria-1.1724063

Speed Limit To Rise To 70 Mph On Stretch Of I-380

English: Interstate 380 northbound at the Inte...

English: Interstate 380 northbound at the Interstate 84 split south of Scranton. Picture taken by Chris Wilson on February 18th, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG — A stretch of Interstate 380 becomes an experiment next month when state transportation officials boost the maximum speed limit to 70 mph.

Another pilot will raise the speed limit to 70 mph on a 100-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in southcentral Pennsylvania. If all goes well, the rest of the 550-mile toll road system, including the Northeast Extension, could follow suit next spring, said Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton at a press conference on Wednesday.

On I-380, a 21-mile section selected for the pilot program will extend from the Interstate 84 junction in Lackawanna County to Exit 3 (Pocono Pines/Mount Pocono) in Monroe County.

“It’s about time,” said Elwood “Butch” Perry, a 60-year-old independent trucker who lives in Dupont. “They built the interstate system so you can run, not so you can crawl. … We live in a fast-paced society now. Everything has to be there yesterday.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/speed-limit-to-rise-to-70-mph-on-stretch-of-i-380-1.1723951

Study: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area Is Tops … At Being Unhappy

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SCRANTON, PA — Feeling a little down in the dumps?

Chances are you are not alone, according to a new study.

According to the analysis, co-authored by Joshua Gottlieb of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton region is the least happiest place in the United States.

Local psychologist Robert Griffin says there no need for a region-wide prescription for anti-depressants.

Read more:  http://timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news/50014789/Study:-Area-is-tops–at-being-unhappy

Wiz Khalifa Taking Under The Influence Tour To Camden / Scranton

Editor’s note:  Don’t necessarily agree with some of his activities but it’s cool to see somebody from Pittsburgh love their hometown and be proud of it.  

Summer is Wiz Khalifa time. His tune “Shell Shocked” is on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sound track. His new album, Blacc Hollywood, drops in August. And the rapper will take his third Under the Influence of Music summer tour through Scranton on Thursday and to Camden on Friday.

“I always wanted to make Under the Influence something to talk about,” says Khalifa, “not just the day after the show, but the rest of your life.”

He’s a Pittsburgh native. His 2010 hit “Black and Yellow” was a pledge of allegiance to the Steelers. “Eagles, Steelers,” he says. “You know there’s no competition. You already know about that.” But there is a Philly connection: his wife, South Philadelphia-raised Amber Rose. “My Philly girl,” he calls her. He and the model married in 2013 after their son, Sebastian, was born, and they settled in Canonsburg, near Pittsburgh.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20140724_Wiz_Khalifa_taking_Under_the_Influence_tour_to_Scranton_and_Camden.html#sQPxiIK8oCy2WyV3.99

King’s College Among Three Interested In Buying Former Springbrook Water Co. Building

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — King’s College has submitted a proposal to purchase the former four-story Springbrook Water Co. property in Wilkes-Barre from Luzerne County.

The county sought proposals from prospective buyers as part of an initiative to shed unused properties and generate revenue for the cash-strapped county government.

Three entities submitted purchase proposals by last week’s deadline, said county Purchasing Director Mark Zulkoski. County officials say copies of all proposals will be publicly released before county council votes on options.

John Loyack, King’s College vice president for business affairs, confirmed the institution submitted a proposal but said he will leave it up to the county to release of the offered dollar amount.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1538937/Kings-College-among-three-interested-in-buying-Luzerne-County-property

Arby’s Closings Leave Employees Jobless

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ashley Douglas was depending on her next paycheck from her job at Arby’s to catch up with her rent.

But the single mother of three children will have to find another way to pay her bills. Douglas, 29, of Wilkes-Barre, who worked at the Wyoming Valley Mall Arby’s, was among dozens of employees at six Arby’s restaurants in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania who lost their jobs when the businesses closed on Friday.

That was the same day the franchise owner’s Chapter 7 liquidation was approved in federal court.

“That was the only job I was working at for right now,” said Douglas, who is separated and raising her children, ages 7, 4 and 3. “I’m depending on that. I’m trying to find something else. I still owe my landlord the rest of the rent for this month … If I don’t get something to pay for my rent, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/302844/Arbys-closings-leave-employees-jobless

Massive Scranton Bust Highlights Flow Of The Heroin Pipeline

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Given a little more time, Dakeem Booker might have turned 2.6 ounces of heroin into $50,000.

The Lackawanna County Drug Task Force had other plans.

Mr. Booker, 28, of Scranton, was arrested last month at his Palm Street home and charged as a drug dealer. County detectives and members of the state parole office raided his home after a tip, detectives said. They found a digital scale, a revolver and countless wax sleeves stamped “Magoo,” a brand of heroin.

Scranton police have charged 713 people for dealing either heroin or cocaine since 2009, according to uniform crime reporting statistics.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/massive-bust-highlights-flow-of-the-heroin-pipeline-1.1722278

Web Petition Wants To Stop Sherman Hills Funding

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A post on the White House’s We the People website petitions the Obama Administration to cease Section 8 subsidies to the Sherman Hills apartment complex.

But before it earns a response from White House staff, it first must gather 100,000 signatures by Aug 15.

Readers on the Times Leader’s Facebook page were quick to respond when asked if they would sign the petition. Many readers commented emphatically that they would sign. However, the petition only gained 5 signatures in the same time period.

One commenter suggested tenants receive criminal background checks and drug tests.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1541121/Web-petition-wants-to-stop-Sherman-Hills-funding

Wilkes-Barre Pair Wanted On Drug Trafficking Charges

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two Wilkes-Barre residents free on bail on charges that they attacked police officers are now wanted on felony drug trafficking charges after police found nearly 1,800 packets of heroin at their Scott Street home, according to court documents.

The arrest warrants stem from a pair of raids conducted earlier this month on homes on Scott Street in which city and state police seized 1,779 packets of heroin worth $35,580, a .45-caliber Gock pistol and $9,000 in cash.

Police say three people were involved in the drug ring: Christian Caraballo, 29, of 1164 Scott St., and two of his girlfriends: Benita Placencio, 39, of the same address; and Juleisy Bienida Abreu-Peralta, 20, of 960 Scott St.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/w-b-pair-wanted-on-drug-trafficking-charges-1.1721399

Wilkes-Barre Police Chief: Sherman Hills Cameras Not Working

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Surveillance cameras in Sherman Hills did not record Tuesday’s shooting at the troubled apartment complex when two men were seriously injured, city police Chief Gerard Dessoye said Thursday.

Dessoye said the camera system, he believed, was “not fixed” as pledged by the complex’s former owner, Sherman Hills Realty Inc.

“(Cameras) couldn’t provide any details about the shooting,” Dessoye said, noting he has not seen any security enhancements at the apartment complex besides the installation of a chain link fence.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, stated in a news release that Treetop Development, which purchased the apartment complex from Sherman Hills Realty earlier this year, “repaired all cameras.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1536916/Dessoye:-Few-security-improvements-at-Sherman-Hills

Barrett Questions Security Measures After Latest Sherman Hills Shooting

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The shootings of two men Tuesday night at the Sherman Hills apartment complex raised questions for the chairman of city council about security measures to be undertaken by the new owner.

Bill Barrett on Wednesday said he would contact the owners for an update on how their plans compared to those of the previous owner that promised “large-scale improvements” worth $100,000 after a federal report found lax oversight exposed tenants to life-threatening security issues at the 344-unit complex.

The shootings happened less than a week after a city official said the owners were not planning on having “24-7” security at the complex that’s been the scene of violent crimes and a fatal shooting last November.

Police said two black men in their 20s were shot during an attempted robbery. The men were found in building 328 at approximately 11:30 p.m., police said.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1534466/Barrett-questions-security-measures-at-Sherman-Hills

Related stories:

Another shooting at Sherman Hills occurred on Wednesday night

http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1536765/Another-shooting-at-Sherman-Hills-occurred-on-Wednesday-night

 

Testimony: Luzerne County Transit Authority Employees Worked In Fear

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ROYALTON, PA — Employees at the Luzerne County Transportation Authority worked in constant fear of losing their jobs unless they fraudulently inflated ridership numbers, and the former chairman of the board knew about it years ago, according to testimony heard Monday.

Prosecutors began laying out their case against Executive Director Stanley J. Strelish, 60, and Operations Manager Robb Alan Henderson, 58, who were charged last month with conspiring to inflate senior citizen ridership numbers in the “ghost rider” scandal.

Both men, who are free on unsecured bond and remain suspended without pay, declined to comment following an all-day preliminary hearing held Monday before Magisterial District Judge David Judy. The hearing, which continues today, represents the first public testimony in the case.

Robert Turinski, former LCTA board chairman, testified that he suspected Strelish was inflating senior ridership numbers as far back as 2007.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/testimony-lcta-employees-worked-in-fear-1.1719124

Boscov: Mall Price At Sheriff’s Sale Probably Too High

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Department store owner Al Boscov is unlikely to bid when the Mall at Steamtown goes on the block at a sheriff’s sale next week, saying he anticipates the asking price will be too high.

The businessman has been unable to strike a deal with LNR Partners, the real estate company representing the mortgage holder, to acquire the mall but hopes to renew negotiations if the lender finds no takers for the property at the sale Tuesday, he and his lawyer said.

“At that point, it would be just as if we were buying a property in a private sales transaction,” said attorney Scott M. Esterbrook. “The (sheriff’s) sale is not the be-all, end-all. It’s one step in the process, and where we’re at today is we just haven’t reached an agreement yet.”

The mall entered foreclosure March 7 after owner Steamtown Mall Partners defaulted on a principal balance payment of $37.1 million due last July on its 2003 mortgage, setting up the sheriff’s sale. Mr. Boscov is a principal in Steamtown Mall Partners.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/boscov-mall-price-at-sheriff-s-sale-probably-too-high-1.1718214

Man Kidnapped At Sword-Point Friday Survived Earlier Wilkes-Barre Shooting

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, he survived a gunshot wound to the head. Now, he survived a kidnapping at sword-point.

Josue Vargas, 27, was kidnapped from his residence at 62 Hutson St., Wilkes-Barre, in the early hours of Friday morning and taken to a dark, vacant location where two men terrorizing him with a sword stripped him naked and told him they would kill them if he didn’t hand over his bank card, according to an affidavit.

Police charged Jhojan “Flaco” Guerra, 27, and Juan “Speedy” Hernandez, 34, with kidnapping, robbery and related offenses following their arrests shortly after Vargas explained what officers called “a disturbing list of events.”

The defendants claimed Vargas owed them money from a prior debt and knew he was just paid, according to police. The alleged kidnappers struck Vargas in the face to force him into the vehicle around 1 a.m., police said.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/man-kidnapped-at-sword-point-friday-survived-earlier-w-b-shooting-1.1717965

Glodzik Gets 3-12 Months, Work Release In Theft Case In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — “An unfair sentence by a timid judge.”

That was how defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. characterized the three- to 12-month jail term handed down against his client, former city towing contractor Leo A. Glodzik III, following Glodzik’s sentencing on theft charges Friday morning in Luzerne County Court.

County Judge Lesa S. Gelb gave Glodzik until 9 a.m. Friday to report to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, and declared him immediately available for work release. Sklarosky said Glodzik will appeal in the near future.

LAG Towing owner Glodzik, 43, of Wilkes-Barre, was the city’s exclusive tower for more than eight years, until May 31, 2013. That’s the day he was arrested on accusations of stealing $2,100 planted inside a Cadillac he towed four months earlier, believing the car had been seized from a drug dealer. The cash was bait money planted as part of an FBI sting operation.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1525405/Glodzik-gets-3-to-12-months-in-jail

Wilkes-Barre Resident Faults City For Condition Of Tennis Courts At Park

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA —The city has not scored any points with Thomas Lynn over the condition of the public tennis courts near his home in Miners Mills.

The five paved courts at the Bog Recreation Area haven’t been used in years for the sport. The nets have disappeared and weeds have been growing from the cracks that fracture the playing surface. The other public courts at the Barney Farms Park, close to where Mayor Tom Leighton lives, are in much better shape.

Lynn, a former U.S. Marine, moved to a house on Dewey Lane, a short walk to the Bog park, approximately 20 years ago to raise a family of two sons and a daughter. He’s committed to his neighborhood and has concerns about the safety of many of his elderly neighbors and his daughter who bought a house across the lane from him.

“The park was active at the time. Now it’s the bane of my existence,” Lynn said Wednesday.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1508995/Resident-faults-city-for-condition-of-tennis-courts

Man Shot After Asking Group Of People To Leave Wilkes-Barre Shopping Plaza

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A man hired to keep the parking lot clean at South Main Plaza was shot in the leg Thursday after he reportedly told people to leave the property

Jason Girton, who only knows the victim by his first name, Fletcher, said he spoke to the victim after he was shot.

Girton, of Mountain Top, said Fletcher was shot in the lower leg and was taken away by ambulance.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1510963/Man-shot-after-asking-group-to-leave-shopping-plaza

Northeastern Pa. Jobless Rate Falls

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA – Following a recent pattern, the unemployment rate in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market fell in May, but so did the number of people with jobs.

The 7.2 percent rate was down one-tenth of 1 percent from April and 1.9 percentage points from the May 2013 rate of 9.1 percent, the state Department of Labor and Industry said. But the region that includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties maintained the unenviable distinction of having the highest jobless rate in Pennsylvania.

Both the size of the labor force – people working or looking for work – and the number of people with jobs fell compared to April and over the year. So, while 6,100 fewer people were reported as unemployed than last May, some of them may have given up looking for work.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/business/1509561/Northeastern-Pa.-jobless-rate-falls