Two Wilkes-Barre Police Officers Assaulted By Drunken Driver

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A city police officer sustained a possible broken nose and another officer was punched in the face while arresting a suspected drunken driver early Sunday morning.

The incident happened on South Main Street near Ross Street when officers Daniel Roper and Erica Oswald stopped Steven Santiago, 33, for driving a vehicle without headlights.

During the traffic stop, Santiago exhibited signs of intoxication and was asked to exit his vehicle. While standing near the back of his car, Santiago refused to submit to a breath test, according to the criminal complaint.

Santiago admitted he consumed alcoholic beverages before he was stopped by police, the complaint says.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152641077/W-B-cops-assaulted-in-DUI-scuffle

Boscov’s To remodel Wilkes-Barre Store To Tune Of $1 Million; Work To Start In 2 Weeks

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Al Boscov said Tuesday that the long-awaited million-dollar renovation of the downtown store will begin in two weeks.

“We’ve had a slight change in design, and that’s the reason for the delay in starting,” Boscov said. “The project will begin on the third floor and the estimate remains at $1 million.”

It’s been one year since Boscov announced the plan to remodel the South Main Street store and customers and employees have been anticipating the project.

Last March, Gary Boyer, Boscov’s senior executive vice president/chief stores officer, said carpeting was going to be installed within a month, but the project never started. Boyer also said shoppers could expect to see brighter lights, new carpeting and flooring, freshly painted walls, some new features, expanded departments and maybe a few new shops.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-home_top-local-news/152531939/

Arrest Warrant Issued For Suspect In Sherman Hills Shooting

WILKES-BARRE, PA — City police overnight obtained an arrest warrant for Brian Keith Hayes, 23, charging him with critically injuring another man in a shooting in the Sherman Hills apartment high rise on Parkview Circle Monday night.

Hayes, last known address as 279 S. Washington St., is charged with attempt to commit criminal homicide, illegal possession of a firearm, reckless endangerment and two counts of aggravated assault.

City police believe Hayes, known as “Keefy Blood,” fired multiple rounds striking Brandon Eubanks in the neck and other parts of his body on the second floor of the high rise just after 8 p.m., according to the criminal complaint.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152526820/

Additional story: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152522507/

Turkey Hill Robberies In Wilkes-Barre Area Raise Security Questions

Sheetz, a popular convenience chain in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is open all night year round. Yet it seems rare that the chain’s stores get robbed.

The same can’t be said, however, for Turkey Hill stores in the Wyoming Valley.

There have been 10 robberies at Turkey Hill stores in Wilkes-Barre and Kingston since Jan. 26, of which three of those robberies happened last week.

What’s the difference?

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news-news/152453142/

Kingston Police Arrest Two Men For Turkey Hill Robbery

KINGSTON, PA — Police arrested two men from Plymouth on charges they robbed the Turkey Hill store on Rutter Avenue as Wilkes-Barre police are expected to file similar charges for a robberies at Turkey Hill stores in the city.

Police allege Robert Maurer, 31, and Richard Huften, 35, conspired to rob the store on Rutter Avenue early Wednesday morning.

The two men are believed to be suspects in the heists at Turkey Hill stores on East Main Street and Hazle Avenue Tuesday night.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152447932/

Three Wyoming Valley Turkey Hill Stores Targeted Overnight

KINGSTON, PA — Three Turkey Hill stores in the Wyoming Valley were targets of robbers Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Two stores in Wilkes-Barre and a store in Kingston were held up.

Here are the reported robberies by police in Wilkes-Barre and Kingston.

• Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., Turkey Hill, 335 E. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: A white man armed with an undisclosed weapon entered the store and demanded money from a clerk. City police considered the suspect armed and dangerous. The suspect is in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, thin build, fair skin, and wore a grey hooded sweatshirt, black jacket and dark colored jogging pants.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152424848/

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Among Most Indulgent Cities

Perhaps the Wilkes-Barre metro area parties too much.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area ranked as the fourth-most indulgent metro in the United States by the personal finance website badcredit.org. The website used data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and credit information from Experian, a credit reporting bureau, to analyze how indulgent residents are in 105 metro areas.

They looked at the obesity rate, alcohol consumption, number of smokers and the average consumer debt to determine the most indulgent metros. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro came in at No. 4

with:

■ 7.8 percent of residents claiming to be heavy drinkers.

■  21.5 percent who say they smoke everyday.

■ An obesity rate of 31.9 percent.

■  $28,974 in average consumer debt.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/scranton-w-b-among-most-indulgent-cities-1.1849010

NEPA’s St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Means Fun For Residents, More Work For Police

WILKES-BARRE, PA — St. Patrick’s Day is upon Northeastern Pennsylvania, which will include a weekend of parades and other festivities.

For law enforcement, it will mean more work than usual.

Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano was among the officials at a news conference held at the Lackawanna County Courthouse this week. Officials encouraged residents to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day safely and responsibly.

“As everybody knows, it’s no secret that that’s the biggest alcohol consumption day — at least in the city — is St. Patrick’s Day Parade day,” Graziano said.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news/152319939/

PennDOT To Resurface Another 110-Plus Miles Of NEPA Roads

The McDade Expressway in Scranton, Route 924 in Hazleton and a long stretch of Route 29 in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties are among area roads the state Department of Transportation has targeted for repaving this year.

The three heavily traveled routes are among 28 stretches of road in six Northeast Pennsylvania counties that PennDOT officials plan for routine resurfacing work this year. They’ll pay for it with new transportation funding from higher fees and gradually increasing gas taxes.

“PennDOT will be resurfacing about 110 miles of road this year,” agency spokesman James May said. “If we didn’t have Act 89, the number would be zero.”

Act 89 is the $2.3 billion transportation funding package the state Legislature approved in late 2013. PennDOT did have work on several larger capital pro­jects planned regardless, like the ongoing Keyser Avenue project in Scranton.

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/penndot-to-resurface-another-110-plus-miles-of-nepa-roads-1.1844646http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/penndot-to-resurface-another-110-plus-miles-of-nepa-roads-1.1844646

City Of Wilkes-Barre Swears In 10 New Police Officers

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A large crowd looked on in council chambers Tuesday as 10 new city police officers were sworn in wearing suits and ties and shiny new badges, but the message was sobering.

“There will be challenging times and scary moments,” said Rev. J. Duane Gavitt, the police department’s chaplain.

Police Chief Robert Hughes said the new officers are beginning a new call to service.

“There will be late nights,” he said. “There will be middle of the night call-outs. You are prepared for this.”

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news-news/152145029/W-B-swears-in-10-new-police-officers

February Was Third Coldest On Record

Last month was the third coldest February on record and it tied for fourth place as one of the coldest months ever in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The average temperature last month was 17.5 degrees as recorded by the National Weather Service at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

January 1918 was just as cold.

Only two other Februaries locally have been colder since 1901, when record-keeping started: February 1934 with an average temperature of 15.4 degrees and February 1979 with an average temp of 15.9 degrees.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/february-was-third-coldest-on-record-1.1841705

Moving Joe Palooka Monument To Wilkes-Barre Will Punch Up Downtown, Former Councilman Says

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Former city councilman Tony Thomas wants to bring Joe Palooka back to the downtown.

Thomas has started a campaign to move the Joe Palooka monument on Route 309 in Hanover Township to Wilkes-Barre at a site yet to be determined.

Thomas will sponsor a fall wine festival Oct, 9-11 in Kirby Park to raise funds to move the monument dedicated to the famous comic strip and its creator.

But there are several questions and issues that must be resolved.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news/152127259/

Report: NEPA Region Lags In Advanced-Skilled Jobs

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton area ranks near the bottom of the list of jobs leading the recovery that promise to revitalize the nation’s economy, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.

The Report, “America’s Advanced Industries: What they are, where they are, and why they matter” looked at those jobs in the nation’s 100 largest metros and ranked Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area 92nd.

These important jobs are leaving the area, the report noted, with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s employment in advanced industries falling about 2 percent every year.

Many terms have been used to describe the important sector: high-tech, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and now “advanced industries.” What makes understanding the sector more complex is that the field cuts across 50 industries from certain types of manufacturing and energy to computer software design and health care. A STEM job could be found just about anywhere, such as a computer programmer for a trucking company.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/report-nepa-region-lags-in-advanced-skilled-jobs-1.1826843

Wilkes-Barre Chamber Vice President Resigns

Donna Sedor, vice president at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber, has resigned to begin a new leadership career with the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, according to a letter chamber chief executive officer Wico van Genderen sent to board members.

“I fully support her in this move,” van Genderen said. “As I have said on numerous occasions, our future is our children.”

Sedor has worked for the chamber for 24 years. During her tenure, van Genderen said the chamber has witnessed several accomplishments such as the openings of business parks, the arena, major transportation initiatives and the downtown Wilkes-Barre theater project.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/w-b-chamber-vice-president-resigns-1.1826648

Wilkes-Barre Among Nation’s ‘Cheapest’ College Towns, According To New Study

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Tuition, books and direct spending aside, Wilkes-Barre is among the 30 cheapest places to go to college nationwide, according to a new analysis. The big reason: Housing is dirt cheap — about 30 percent of the national average.

Wilkes-Barre was 26th in the list, which was topped — or bottomed, cost-wise — by Memphis Tennessee, where the overall cost of living is 26.7 percent less than the national average. Don’t bother asking for the college town with the highest cost of living; the website that devised the list is, after all, cheapestcolleges.org.

Wilkes-Barre’s overall cost of living was 79.8 percent of the national average, But a look at the numbers under that percentage show we aren’t all that cheap in most categories.

Of six categories used to judge the cost of living, Wilkes-Barre is higher than the national average in four — miscellaneous, transportation, utilities, and groceries — and just under the national average (97 percent) in health costs. But, boy, do we make up for it housing.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/151499742/

Two Nabbed In Wilkes-Barre Drug Raid; Home Shut Down

Two men face multiple drug charges following a raid at a Wilkes-Barre home on Thursday.

Wilkes-Barre police and state police executed a search warrant at 284 N. Washington St. at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, police said in a news release.

Police said they found “distribution quantities” of cocaine, heroin and marijuana in the home and arrested Louis Soto, 25, and Brian Lulewicz, 30. The men were taken into custody without incident, police said. An investigation by city and state police revealed that the two men were selling large quantities of heroin and cocaine from the residence and were armed, according to police.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/two-nabbed-in-w-b-drug-raid-home-shut-down-1.1822054

PennDOT To Study Creating Northeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority

Northeastern Pennsylvania public transit riders may eventually take buses directly between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, rather than having to transfer to a different bus in Pittston to make the trip.

Lackawanna and Luzerne County officials envision new travel options — like a direct bus link between the cities — among many benefits of merging several mass transit agencies in both counties into a single Lackawanna-Luzerne Regional Transportation Authority.

The state Department of Transportation hired consultant HNTB Corp. to study the move, which would create the state’s third largest transportation authority. The cost of the study was not available Monday.

If it happens, Lackawanna and Luzerne county officials foresee having more clout to attract state and federal grant money to improve Northeastern Pennsylvania’s transportation network for buses, the region’s growing rail industry and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/penndot-to-study-creating-northeast-pennsylvania-transit-authority-1.1819613

Pizza Hut, Lone Star Closing Kidder Street Locations

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Two more national brand eateries announced on Monday that they are closing their doors.

One week after its Hanover Township restaurant closed, and following two years of disappointing sales on a national level, Pizza Hut announced that its Kidder Street location also will shut down this week.

And Lone Star Steakhouse, part of a chain that features a Texas-inspired menu, will close its Kidder Street location this weekend. Employees at the restaurant confirmed Monday that the restaurant would close permanently on Saturday.

No one at Lone Star corporate offices in Plano, Texas, could be reached for comment.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-local-news-news/151386496/

Drugs, Gun Seized In Wilkes-Barre Raid

The Wilkes-Barre Police Anti Crime Unit and the Wilkes-Barre Drug Task force raided a residence on Blackman Street on a drug warrant early Wednesday morning.

The raid was a result of an ongoing investigation targeting drug trafficking in the Rolling Mill Hill section of the city and its surrounding areas, police said.

The investigation revealed Julio “Cesar” Fortuna, 21, was dealing large quantities of high-grade marijuana from his residence and the surrounding streets, police said. Authorities raided 431 Blackman St. around 6 a.m. Wednesday and took Fortuna into custody without incident, police said.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/drugs-gun-seized-in-wilkes-barre-raid-1.1813789

Wilkes-Barre City Council Chooses New Chairperson

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Mike Merritt will lead city council in 2015.

The former vice chair and former council chair Bill Barrett traded places Monday, when the five-person council selected Merritt to take over as chairman and Barrett as vice chairman in consecutive unanimous decisions.

Merritt addressed the council at the conclusion of the meeting, promising to work with them to kept the city “moving in the right direction.”

The council also passed ordinances establishing the 2015 holiday and meeting schedules.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/50981547/