HAZLETON, PA — Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon will be among the ribbon cutters Monday at the grand opening of a building he believes will help unify the community — the Hazleton One Community Center.
The community center, housed in the former Most Precious Blood Elementary School, at 225 E. 4th St., between Seybert and Hayes streets, is an initiative of Maddon’s Hazleton Integration Project, which he spearheaded to counteract a sense of divisiveness he detected in his hometown during a 2010 visit over the Christmas holiday.
Tension between ethnic groups seemingly had increased as the city’s Latino population rapidly grew over the last decade. The illegal immigration debate heated up around Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act ordinance, which would prohibit landlords and employers from renting to and hiring illegal immigrants. The law was struck down, but the ruling is being reconsidered.