Pack Of Teens Allegedly Hurl Rocks At Vehicle, Threaten Driver After Vandalizing South Wilkes-Barre Business

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A pack of teenagers allegedly pelted a vehicle with a flurry of rocks before threatening the driver with a lead pipe, moments after the group vandalized a nearby South Wilkes-Barre business.

Steve Taren, owner of Wet Paint Printing & Design at 152 Horton St., said he recently witnessed a group of about 10 teenagers bending and ripping up about $2,000 worth of shrubs along the length of the building. Last year, Taren, 57, purchased and revitalized the 100-year-old abandoned woodworking warehouse to house the new location of his graphic and design business.

Taren said he had seen the teens in the neighborhood before and believed they attended Meyers High School.

Kimberly Rock, who at the time was picking up her son, Wet Paint employee Brian Casbeer, witnessed the vandalism and pursued the group on foot in an attempt to photograph them. One member of the group, who Rock said ranged from ages 8 to 18, appeared to be carrying a steel or lead pipe.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153118080/

 

Motion To Make Leighton Pay ‘Gas-Gate’ Money Gets No Support At Council Meeting

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Thursday’s city council meeting featured one minute of agenda business followed by an hour-long free-for-all.

Council members, Mayor Tom Leighton, candidates in next month’s primary and members of the public sparred over long-standing hot topics — including a suggestion to sue Leighton to recover money Wilkes-Barre paid in fines for not documenting how city employees used city-owned gasoline.

First, council unanimously approved motions to suspend the city’s open container law for two upcoming downtown events: The Fine Arts Fiesta on May 14-17 in Public Square, and the Osterhout Free Library’s Rooftop Party at the Intermodal Transportation Center on Aug. 7.

The open-container suspensions “only apply to malted and brewed beverages and not to wine and liquors” and only to the sites and times of the planned events: The eastern corner of Public Square from 3 p.m. until close for the four-day Fine Arts Fiesta, and the rooftop and fourth floor of the transportation center’s parking garage, from 5 to 8 p.m., for the rooftop party.

Then the fireworks started with public comments in the packed council chamber.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/motion-to-make-leighton-pay-gas-gate-money-gets-no-support-at-council-meeting-1.1869350

Wilkes University Breaks Ground On $1 Million Campus Gateway Project

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Wilkes University is on a mission.

The product of a 20-member committee, the university’s Gateway to the Future Strategic Plan was launched two years ago to stake out pathways for meeting future challenges.

That proposal took a literal spin Thursday, as university and elected officials broke ground on a $1 million walkway project to connect the campus with the heart of downtown Wilkes-Barre, the latest endeavor in the six-year plan to chisel a traditional residential campus out of the Diamond City’s urban landscape.

Within the last year, the university has pledged more than $30 million in upgrades to the campus, including a $33 million science center and an additional $3 million in renovations to the University Center at 169 S. Main St., the future site of the of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news-news/153093061/Wilkes-launches-$1M-gateway

Cops: Edwardsville Man Stashed 95 Heroin Packets In His Anus

KINGSTON, PA — A man from Edwardsville removed a plastic baggie allegedly containing 95 heroin packets from his anus because he wanted to be “honest” with police, according to charges filed.

Dwight Ahmah Moses, 35, of Green Street, was arraigned Thursday by District Judge Joseph Carmody in West Pittston on two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and one count each of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $50,000 bail.

Police stopped Moses on West Market Street at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday after he failed to use turn signals when pulling away from the area of Schuyler Avenue. Police had watched Moses sitting in the car as a woman entered and exited within five minutes before the traffic stop, according to the criminal complaint.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153094429/

Luzerne County Officials Tour Historic Wilkes-Barre Train Station

Moments before a tour was to begin, Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority workers found two men dozing on sleeping bags inside Wilkes-Barre’s historic train station Tuesday afternoon.

The men were annoyed with the interruption at first, telling officials, “We’re napping.” They scurried away when workers ordered them out for trespassing. They were let off with a warning because they were homeless and insisted they had never been there before.

The tour was scheduled because officials are still trying to determine the structure’s fate a decade after prior county commissioners first discussed plans to save the former New Jersey Central train station at the corner of Market Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard.

The authority purchased the 6-acre property, including a strip mall, for $5.8 million in April 2006 using federal community development funds provided by prior county commissioners.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news/153025164/Officials-tour-train-station

City Of Wilkes-Barre Partners With Florida-Based Management Company To Enforce Registry Of Blighted Properties

WILKES-BARRE, PA — City officials on Monday announced an agreement with a Florida-based management company to maintain a database of the city’s ballooning number of blighted properties. The database will also allow residents to submit locations of abandoned properties on the city’s website.

The partnership comes at no cost to taxpayers, said Andrew LaFratte, municipal affairs manager.

LaFratte said Community Champions, formed in 2008, will receive half of every $200 registration fee the city gets when a vacant property is registered. An ordinance enacted in 2010 initially proposed an incremental charge for vacant properties, ranging from $150 the first year to more than $5,000 for a property vacant more than 10 years.

Community Champions will be charged with establishing the database and populating it with parcel data. Once the tool is live, LaFratte said, city officials will be trained on it. LaFratte said the entire process will likely be completed within a month.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153022937/Blight-registry-in-new-hands

Hazleton Alliance Predicts Revitalized Downtown With Strategic Plan Completion

HAZLETON, PA — If the strategic plan for the continued revitalization of downtown Hazleton becomes a reality, the planner believe Broad Street will again be filled with shoppers, students, employees and neighbors, bringing fresh blood, an improved streetscape and a much needed increase in economic activity.

The five-year plan, which outlines specific strategies for achieving goals, was finalized last week after nearly a year of meetings, surveys and pubic input.

Krista Schneider, executive director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, the non-profit organization which commissioned and coordinated the effort, credits its Board of Directors, area leaders and Hazleton residents for their support of the project and willingness to “think outside of the box” when it comes to the city’s future.

Schneider said the effort reflects goals directed by Pennsylvania’s Main Street Program, a four-pronged approach that includes organization, promotion, restructuring and design.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153007106/

Hundreds Of Heroin Packets, Gun Seized From Plymouth Residence

PLYMOUTH, PA— Police confiscated more than 600 heroin packets and a handgun during the arrest of three people Thursday night.

Police arrested Pedro Manuel Noriega, 41, of West Main Street, Plymouth, and Jason Demski, 32, address listed as homeless, when they allegedly arrived at a residence on James Street to deliver heroin.

Noriega allegedly had 125 heroin packets and Demski had nearly $500 in his pockets, police said.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152990273/

Wilkes-Barre Police Investigating Shooting

WILKES-BARRE, PA — City police are at a residence on Monroe Street investigating a shooting this morning.

Police were alerted to the shooting when a man arrived by private vehicle at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital at approximately 10:20 a.m.

Police and city detectives wearing body armor are at the scene questioning witnesses and neighbors.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/breaking_news/152984712/

Homeless Man Charged With Homicide With Fatal Stabbing At Interfaith Heights Apartments

WILKES-BARRE, PA — City police charged a homeless man with fatally stabbing a homeless activist inside an apartment at Interfaith Heights earlier this year.

Matthew Vantine, 27, was charged with criminal homicide in the death of 53-year-old Bryan “Hippie” Hogan.

Hogan’s body was found inside his apartment on Jan. 30.

Vantine said he didn’t kill Hogan, saying “He was a good man.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top/152959164/

Wilkes-Barre Residents Voice Concerns About Plan To Convert Sacred Heart Into 31-Unit Apartment Building

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A proposal to convert the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and School into high-end apartments drew the ire of several North End residents at Wednesday’s Zoning Hearing Board meeting.

Philadelphia developer Hysni Syla, a current Kingston resident, said he “came here to invest” in potential development sites like the shuttered school and church at 601 N. Main St. The former closed in 2011 as shrinking membership and a drop in priests forced the Diocese of Scranton to close the doors of the century-old church.

The proposal would convert the school into 31 units, while renovating the church into an art studio and rectory into four additional apartment units.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152948142/

Submissions For Wilkes-Barre Fine Arts Fiesta Due Saturday

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Wilkes-Barre’s 60th Fine Arts Fiesta “A Diamond in the Square” will once again bring a sense of culture and beauty to public square May 14-17.

Gary T. Womelsdorf, a board member and visual arts chairman, is busy preparing for the event’s adult and student juried art exhibitions and wants to remind artists that delivery of artwork is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Fiesta Central, Midtown Village, 41 S. Main St. near Katana Restaurant.

Any artist living within a radius of 100 miles is eligible to compete.

Artwork can be submitted and judged in six specific categories: crafts, graphics, paintings, photography, sculpture/construction and water color.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news/152894100/

Chief’s Letter To Larksville Home Raises Issues

LARKSVILLE, PA — A police chief’s “welcome” letter targeting a suspected drug den and prostitution house on Murray Street has apparently accomplished its goal.

The tenant, a younger woman, hasn’t been seen since, neighbors say. The constant vehicle traffic from a stream of visitors immediately ceased, they say. And the landlord quickly issued an eviction notice.

Larksville police Chief John Edwards last week delivered the strongly-worded letter to the 10 homes on Murray Street, but most on the small block knew who it was meant for: the tenant of 39 Murray St. and all her visitors.

Edwards vowed to zero in on the people suspected of illegal activity until they “are arrested and imprisoned, or leave Larksville Borough.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/chief-s-letter-to-larksville-home-raises-issues-1.1862664

Turkey Hill Customers Question Safety In Wake Of Robberies

When Turkey Hill comes to mind, most people think of flavorful ice cream and sweet iced tea. But in Wilkes-Barre, many mention the recent spike in robberies at the company’s stores before thinking of their signature snacks.

Since January 2014, city police have responded to at least 22 Turkey Hill robberies, 13 of which occurred in the last four months.

Frequent customers have not abandoned these stores, but some have questioned the safety during late-night hours.

Lisa Cummings of Mountain Top often visits the Turkey Hill on North Pennsylvania Avenue after work, but said she would probably not go to the store at 3 a.m.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/turkey-hill-customers-question-safety-in-wake-of-robberies-1.1862265

Arts Gallery Could Make Way For Downtown Wilkes-Barre Market

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A market may be coming to downtown Wilkes-Barre soon.

Arts Seen Gallery is being asked to move out of space at 21 Public Square to make way for City Market and Cafe, said Kim Kulagina, the volunteer operations manager of the art gallery, and Tamara Pilger, a stained glass artist at the gallery. Kulagina said landlord Rob Finlay, president of Humford Equities, told them the art gallery had to leave for City Market to move in and the market is awaiting a liquor license.

A source active with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said City Market and Cafe plans to open in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Discussions about City Market and Cafe opening downtown have been ongoing for a while and officials were looking for a suitable place, the source said.

City Market and Cafe, which has another location at Linden Street and Adams Avenue in downtown Scranton, offers eat-in and take-out prepared foods, a deli, bakery, grocery, dairy, frozen food, fresh produce, customized sandwiches and pizza and a vast selection of beer.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/arts-gallery-could-make-way-for-downtown-w-b-market-1.1861722

In Focus: Church Reaching Out To Sherman Hills To Be Community Partner In Wilkes-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Is there hope for Sherman Hills?

The bigger question — Is there hope for the City of Wilkes-Barre?

The Restored Church on North Franklin Street will do its part to try to revive the city’s morale and its pride, and eliminate its fear.

The church will hold an event — “I Love My City” — on Saturday, April 25 in the Sherman Hills apartment complex parking lot. All residents of the city are welcome with their children. The church hopes the event will serve as a catalyst for similar events to be held.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152853433/

Deadly 2013 Lands Wilkes-Barre On ‘Murder Capital’ List

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city’s bloody 2013 has placed it on a list of the Top 30 “Murder Capitals in America.”

The 13 homicides that took place in Wilkes-Barre made for the deadliest year in city history. The city was ranked 18th on the list.

NeighborhoodScout, an information website which compiles data on neighborhoods and cities throughout the country, used FBI numbers on homicides to create a list of cities with the highest murder rates. The report lists Wilkes-Barre as having 12 murders and does not include a case involving an accidental shooting, which the FBI classified as involuntary manslaughter.

The report says that until recently, major cities ranked among the dominating murder capitals, but this list is “populated mostly by middle-sized cities as well as smaller cities in close proximity to larger ones.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/deadly-2013-lands-w-b-on-murder-capital-list-1.1861214

With Crime On Their Minds, Concerned Residents Again Press Wilkes-Barre City Council On Rash Of Violence

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The topic won’t fizzle out.

Another city council meeting saw yet another gauntlet of pleas from concerned citizens about Wilkes-Barre’s recent rash of violence.

Council members spent most of Thursday’s hour-long meeting assuring residents that police and city administration were doing everything within their power to squash a three-week-long crime wave that produced six shootings, two deaths and six other injuries.

Council Chairman Mike Merritt conceded things will get worse before they get better.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152836901/Residents-press-council-about-crime

Gallup: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Well-Being Could Be Worse, But Not Much

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton area’s overall well-being could be worse, but not much.

The metropolitan area ranked 94th overall out of 100 communities in the U.S. in Gallup opinion poll “State of American Well-Being: 2014 Community Well-Being Rankings.”

The survey issued Tuesday compares how people feel about and experience their daily lives in five areas:

■ Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goal.

■ Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life.

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/gallup-scranton-wb-well-being-could-be-worse-but-not-much-1.1860711

Wilkes-Barre Man Charged With Ransacking Interfaith Heights Apartment After Body Removed

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Dominick Meininger told police he’s no snitch.

Meininger, 19, allegedly admitted to stealing wine and prescription medications from an apartment at Interfaith Heights after the tenant was found dead in the residence on March 10. But Meininger, of East Northampton Street, denied he had stolen jewelry and a television, according to charges filed.

Meininger was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Martin Kane on charges of burglary, possessing instruments of crime and theft. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $20,000.

The alleged burglary was not the first incident involving Meininger at Interfaith Heights on Coal Street.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152813436/