Luzerne County Council Must Decide How To Spend $16 Million

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

Luzerne County has $16 million in past-borrowed fundsavailable for capital projects, or $2 million less than officials had estimated, county Operational Services Division Head Tanis Manseau said Monday.

Manseau said he received the revised figure after the budget/finance division recently reviewed payments and outstanding invoices from the account.

County Council members called a special meeting tonight to discuss how they want to earmark this remaining funding because they’re supposed to adopt a capital budget by Sept. 1 under home rule.

Manseau emailed an updated list of suggested projects to council Friday night, but Manseau said he is working on additional revisions that will total around $14 million.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/50041470/Luzerne-County-Council-must-decide-how-to-spend-$16-million

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

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

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

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

 

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

Riverfest Flows Through The Weekend

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

She ain’t exactly a thrill ride, and she ain’t always pretty.

And in the past she’s been downright mean.

But the Susquehanna River belongs to the region, and plenty of people love her just the same.

Dozens of them kicked off Riverfest 2014 Friday with a kayak trip, paddling several miles from West Pittston to Nesbitt Park in Wilkes-Barre.

Read more:http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1479470/Riverfest-flows-through-the-weekend

Talk Of Wilkes-Barre Area Tax Hike Shifts To Needs For The Future

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA  — While the Wilkes-Barre Area School District budget committee continued to discuss a possible 2.9 percent tax increase at a Tuesday noon meeting — talk that prompted stinging rebukes from resident Sam Troy — the tone of the conversation seemed to shift from needing the tax hike to cover a 2014-15 shortfall to needing it to cover future costs.

Business manager Leonard Pryzwara noted the proposed budget sets aside 0.15 mills for debt service, and suggested an annual increase along those lines to cover future repair or construction costs. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value. The current tax rate is 15.22 mills. A 2.9 percent increase — the maximum allowed at Wilkes-Barre Area this year by state law — would raise the rate to 15.921 mills.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1472721/Talk-of-W-B-Area-tax-hike-shifts-to-needs-for-the-future

Wilkes-Barre Area Expands Study Of Buildings, Approves New Administrator Compensation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Proposals from companies willing to do a feasibility study of Wilkes-Barre Area’s three high schools haven’t even been submitted yet, but the School Board voted Monday to expand the study to cover all district buildings.

The board also approved a new agreement granting most administrators annual raises between $800 and $1,400 through the 2015-16 school year, an offer Board Member Christine Katsock criticized. She noted the preliminary budget, sure to change before final passage later this month, had a $3.7 million shortfall despite a proposed 2.9 percent property tax increase.

Fear of falling debris from loose facades prompted emergency fencing and entrance closures at Coughlin and Meyers high schools last month, and the board voted to put out requests for proposals for a feasibility study on either repairs of those buildings and GAR High School, or construction of a new high school.

A “pre-proposal meeting” with prospective contractors is scheduled for this morning.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1453620/W-B-Area-expands-study-of-buildings

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Sherman Hills Inspected Under New Owners

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — City code inspectors took a look Monday at how the new owners of the Sherman Hills apartment complex are managing the site.

Inspectors visited the apartments as part of a complex-wide round of reviews following the site’s purchase by a New Jersey company. Inspectors must review rental units before a new tenant moves in, at least every two years or if a property changes hands, said Butch Frati, Wilkes-Barre director of operations.

Sherman Hills Realty finalized the complex’s sale on April 10 to Treetop Development, of Teaneck, N.J., which paid $15.7 million for the property.

City inspectors visited last week and Monday and plan to finish today. They review living conditions and complete a checklist on each of Sherman Hills’ 344 units.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/sherman-hills-inspected-under-new-owners-1.1696736

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Resident Tells Wilkes-Barre City Council Of Heroin Sales In Park, Campsite Protected By Pit Bulls

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Before he addressed City Council on Thursday night, Donald Hosey warned that his comments would be unpleasant.

He’d gone to Mayor Tom Leighton and the police and was unsatisfied with the response to his reports that there is drug dealing in the city’s Riverfront Parks, Hosey explained on why he was speaking publicly to council.

“Right now in that river front park are two campsites of heroin dealers,” said Hosey of the Susquehanna River Watch.

He told council he’d been investigating the activity in the area of the Kirby Park Natural Area for the past seven weeks, taking down information, including names and phone numbers.

Read more:  http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1431688/Resident-tells-W-B-City-Council-of-drug-sales-in-park

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Volunteers Search For Answers For Sherman Hills In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Volunteers who have been trying to help residents of the troubled Sherman Hills Apartments complex in Wilkes-Barre met Saturday to review their progress and provide a sympathetic ear to those with complaints.

The gathering originally was planned as part of a walking tour of the low-income, crime-ridden development with U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, but volunteers said they received notice Friday afternoon that Cartwright was postponing his visit.

Cartwright formed a task force to address problems at Sherman Hills last year after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) threatened to withhold funding to the prior complex owner if it did not make safety and security improvements.

The complex received around $2 million in rental subsidies last year and was sold last month to Teaneck, N.J.-based Treetop Development for $15.7 million.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1415766/Volunteers-search-for-answers-for-Sherman-Hills

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Police: Wilkes-Barre Shooting Occurred After Victim Asked Motorist To Slow Down

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — After his wife had a dispute about her driving, police said, Tony Ransome settled the argument with a shotgun.

Ransome, 37, of 86 Hutson St. is charged with aggravated assault and other charges after shooting Josue Vargas of 62 Hutson St., according to a criminal complaint.

Ransome and a woman identified in arrest papers as his wife, Treasa M. Ransome, 38, fled the scene after the shooting around 10:45 a.m. Thursday, police said. Both were still at large Friday, and city police said Tony Ransome should be considered armed and dangerous.

Treasa Ransome is charged with helping her husband evade authorities. Her cellphone data put her around Philadelphia and Montgomery counties as of Thursday afternoon. When police called to tell her that her husband was a suspect in a shooting, she said she was near Hershey, but did not say exactly where and hung up.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/police-w-b-shooting-occurred-after-victim-asked-motorist-to-slow-down-1.1687251

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