2 Arrested After Shots Fired In Wilkes-Barre Tenant/Property Manager Dispute

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Two people were arrested after shots were fired during a landlord-tenant dispute, city police said.

An investigation of a report of shots being fired in the area of 113 Blackman St. early Friday afternoon revealed that the incident stemmed from an argument at 64 Bradford St., which is located nearby.

Police said Tanisha Goggins, 30, of 64 Bradford St., and her guest, Nicholas Crooks, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, had been involved in a dispute with Goggins’s property manager, and that Crooks allegedly pointed a gun at the property manager.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/blotter-local-news-news/154057141/

Wilkes-Barre To Become Owner Of Hotel Sterling Site Today

Wilkes-Barre will become owner of the long-troubled Hotel Sterling site today, which is expected to provide the stability needed to attract a significant project at the landmark site.

CityVest, the nonprofit group that unsuccessfully tried to redevelop the hotel that once stood there, also has formally dissolved, its attorney said.

The Sterling’s unresolved ownership ended up before Luzerne County Senior Judge Joseph Augello this morning because CityVest filed a brief asking the court to oversee disbursement of its assets.

CityVest had obtained state approval to dissolve because it is out of funds and not pursuing more projects, said CityVest attorney George A. Reihner.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/154010217/

Leighton Asks Wilkes-Barre City Council To Approve Hiring Of Four Full-Time Police Officers

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Fifteen officers have been added to the Wilkes-Barre Police Department since Mayor Tom Leighton took office in 2004.

At Tuesday’s work session, Leighton asked Wilkes-Barre City Council to consider four more.

Leighton requested authorization to apply for a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program to hire four full-time officers. If the resolution and grant request are approved, the hires would bump the number of officers in the city’s ranks from 83 to 87.

The Wilkes-Barre Police Department had 68 officers when Leighton was elected in 2004.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153983229/Leighton-asks-council-for-4-more-cops

Individual Shot At Sherman Hills, Reportedly Being Treated At Hospital

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Police responded to reports of a shooting tonight at the Sherman Hills apartment complex.

The shooting was reported at 320 Empire Court in the crime-troubled complex.

Initially police could locate neither the shooter or the victim.

A Luzerne County 911 dispatcher confirmed that police, ambulance and fire officials were on site in response the report.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153819063/

It’s Official: Wilkes-Barre City Council Approves Agreement To Revitalize Public Square

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The first hurdle is cleared.

Wilkes-Barre City Council on Thursday unanimously voted to enter into an agreement for the rehabilitation of Public Square. Once the deal is signed, the National Resource Network — a federal organization that aids cities facing economic hardship — will begin the process of securing a capital funding plan for the project.

The agreement was approved 4-0. Councilman Bill Barrett was excused from the meeting.

The National Resource Network will not fund the construction but will assist city officials in securing the project’s funding through both private and public revenue sources. The $66,000 agreement will require a 25 percent match, or $16,500.

Mayor Tom Leighton said the agreement will be signed Friday.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153769631/

Potential Face-Lift In Store For Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square And Its Fountain

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Something’s shaping up on Public Square.
During Tuesday’s work session, Wilkes-Barre City Council will hear a resolution allowing city officials to enter into an agreement for the rehabilitation of Public Square, with the downtown hub’s long-defunct water fountain as one of the potential project’s main focuses.
Andrew LaFratte, municipal affairs manager, said the administration applied for a grant in December through the National Resource Network, an organization that provides assistance to cities facing economic challenges. The creation of the network was at the core of the Obama Administration’s “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative, enacted in 2012 to spark development in ailing communities with help from the federal government.
To be considered eligible for assistance, cities must have over 40,000 residents and must meet one of three criteria, including a 2013 annual average unemployment rate of 9 percent or more, a population decline of 5 percent or more between 2000 and 2010, or a poverty rate of 20 percent or more.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153665740/

Indicators Report: Economic Recovery In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Region Isn’t Stable

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, PA — Wages remain relatively low in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and both need to work on more consistent long-term job creation and growth, said Teri Ooms, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University.

Economic recovery in the two counties has been uneven since the recession hit in late 2007 and lasted until 2009. While the unemployment rate in the area has been dropping over the last few years, that was because those participating in the labor force decreased, Ooms said.

“The good news is labor force participation has finally begun to increase, more so within the past couple months,” Ooms said. “It is now at pre-recession levels, but the challenge we’ve had is post-recession. There have been too many peaks and valleys. We’re not stable.”

The region’s unemployment rate was among many issues Ooms and Andrew Chew, research analyst, discussed as they presented the institute’s 90-page Indicators Report for Luzerne and Lackawanna counties Thursday at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s convention center.

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Penn State Wilkes-Barre Grant Will Help Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Expand Business Services

LEHMAN, PA — Penn State Wilkes-Barre will provide a $50,000 block grant to the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce to expand business services in the Innovation Center.

The grant is the first step in acquiring funding to renovate a portion of the Innovation Center for the development of the Innovation Squared Project, including an entrepreneurial and business training lab.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre has become a hub for entrepreneurs, with the Innovation Center housing 14 businesses, Wilkes University’s Small Business Development Center and Wilkes University’s Allen P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise.

The Innovation Squared Project will continue to fuel local entrepreneurship with a multi-faceted program designed to create high-wage e-commerce jobs, revitalization of downtown and workshop, according to the press release.

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George Secures Dem Nod For Wilkes-Barre Mayor

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Tony George won the Democratic nomination for mayor in Tuesday’s primary election.

The four-candidate Democratic primary included George, 63, former Wilkes-Barre police chief and current city councilman; George Brown, 64, who retired from a career in business management for international companies and is a current councilman; Darlene Duggins-Magdalinski, 46, a community activist who founded the advocacy group “United We Stand Divided We Fall;” and Brian Kelly, 67, who retired from IBM Corporation as a senior systems engineer and currently works as an information technology consultant.

George will face off against Frank Sorick, 42, Republican, realtor and president of the Wilkes-Barre City Taxpayers Association, in the Nov. 3 general election. Independent nominees/candidates could also still join the general election race.

Democratic Mayor Tom Leighton is not seeking a fourth term for the city’s top position, which currently pays $84,779 per year.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/george-secures-dem-nod-for-w-b-mayor-1.1884847

Wilkes University Student Wins Democratic Nod For Wilkes-Barre City Council

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Beth Gilbert, a 20-year-old Wilkes University student, easily won the Democratic nomination for City Council in District C, saying voters wanted youth and change in city government.

And change will come, as three of the five council members will be new come 2016, along with a new mayor and a new controller, according to unofficial results.

Gilbert, who will be a senior next year studying political science and international studies, said she felt it was her time to seek political office.

“I didn’t want to wait four more years to run,” Gilbert said Tuesday night. “I’m young and I think voters wanted younger people, new faces, to serve on City Council.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/153590457/

Wilkes-Barre Area To Submit Plans For New High School

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board voted 8-1 Monday to submit plans to build a new high school by a July 1 deadline.

The deadline is when the state plans to impose a moratorium on the state PlanCon funding process for school construction projects. The board now has about a month to select a design option.

The district’s design team needs at least two weeks to finalize the submission to the state by July 1.

The design team of four engineering firms concluded a building feasibility study in December, and it includes a several options, such as building one consolidated high school for the entire district, keeping the current three-high school setup or building two new high schools and converting GAR High School into a middle school.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/w-b-area-to-submit-plans-for-new-high-school-1.1879788

New Charter Flight From Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International To Bahamas Announced

PITTSTON TWP. — A new charter flight from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport will whisk vacationers nonstop to Freeport in the Bahamas and back beginning in September.

Operated by Regional Sky, the initial flight will leave the airport at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 19 and return Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. Travelers will be able to purchase flight-only tickets for $552 or a flight and four-night vacation package starting at $977.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/153442394/

Progress 2015: Wilkes-Barre, Pittston Lead Charge In Revamping Downtown Ecomomic Atmosphere

Shopping outside from store to store has almost become a thing of the past in some areas. But don’t tell that to downtowns in the Wyoming Valley, especially Wilkes-Barre and Pittston.

Downtown shopping in both communities is thriving thanks to the advancements each city has made over the past several years. Couple that with the excitement and enthusiasm of business owners and residents and youv’e got a recipe for success. The success in downtown Wilkes-Barre starts with Public Square.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association President John Mayday, who is a resident of South Wilkes-Barre and does all of his shopping in the downtown area, said the excitement and enthusiasm is something he hasn’t seen before. And it can only get better, he said.

“New businesses are constantly moving in,” he said. “Our mission is to create the opportunities for our customers and residents to come downtown. They’re been absolutely well-received by the public.”

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Wilkes-Barre Mayoral Candidates Talk Crime

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The five mayoral candidates sat before about 200 citizens Monday evening in the ballroom of Wilkes University’s Henry Student Center to lay out their platforms and answer questions on their plans if elected.

The Wilkes-Barre Downtown Residents Association, a nonpartisan organization, held the two-hour long forum, the first of which to bring all city mayoral candidates together before the public. Eileen Kenyon, coordinator for DRA, said the association sponsored the event to give people in the area a chance to come and listen to what the candidates had to say.

“We have to elect a mayor, and we hope this will let them make an informed decision,” she said.

Each candidate gave a brief opening statement before association members moderated a question-and-answer session during which they broached such topics as unpaid pensions of city employees, how to attract wage-earning residents, their assessments of city hall and city resources, and crime.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wilkes-barre-mayoral-candidates-talk-crime-1.1875532

Wilkes-Barre Stabbing Suspect Arrested

A Wilkes-Barre man was detained in central Pennsylvania on Sunday following a motor vehicle crash for his alleged involvement in a double stabbing that occurred a few hours prior.

William MacBlain, 29, was taken into custody for reportedly stabbing his roommate, Howard Jakaboski and Jakaboski’s girlfriend Nicole Schneider on Sheridan Street early Sunday morning, police said.

According to an affidavit filed by city police, a report came in around 7:30 a.m. of a male covered in blood standing on the front porch of 77 Sheridan St. Police said his face was entirely covered from an apparent head injury.

The male victim, Jakaboski, told police that his roommate, MacBlain, entered his bedroom while he and his girlfriend, Schneider, were sleeping. Jakaboski said MacBlain began to stab both victims multiple times until the knife broke, according to a report.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/wilkes-barre-stabbing-suspect-arrested-1.1875356

Wilkes-Barre Shooting Victim Spoke Out About Drug House

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A mechanic who frequently reported criminal activity near his home was gunned down in front of his residence on Willow Street early Friday morning.

Neighbors reported hearing multiple gunshots just after 3:30 a.m. in the area of 62 Willow St., where police found the body of 49-year-old Donald Bachman Jr.

Bachman was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:25 a.m. by Luzerne County Deputy Coroner Tom Moran.

An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Mary Pascucci revealed Bachman died of multiple gunshot wounds. His death was ruled a homicide, Moran said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news/153245723/

Man Killed In Wilkes-Barre Shooting

A Wilkes-Barre man was gunned down early Friday morning outside of his home on Willow Street.

Donald Bachman Jr., 49, was shot in front of 62 Willow St. around 3:40 a.m., according to police and the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office. Police said a preliminary investigation indicated a confrontation between Bachman and someone he did not know led to the shooting.

Some neighbors heard multiple gunshots, but didn’t see the confrontation or shooter. Several said Bachman worked nights at the Martz Group and described him as a hardworking mechanic.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/man-killed-in-wilkes-barre-shooting-1.1873956

Stats Suggest Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Media Market Is Among Nation’s Most Racist

In the anonymous world of the Internet, people in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area and surrounding counties use the n-word in Google searches more often than most areas of the United States, according to statistics compiled by a top data scientist.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton media market — which includes Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania along with some counties in New York and New Jersey bordering the region — ranked 16th out of 196 nationwide for frequency of computer users searching the word, the data reveals.

Read the original study

Residents of the media market used the racial slur in online searches more than anywhere else in Pennsylvania except the Johnstown-Altoona media market, according to a study by a data scientist who gathered the information for a 2013 report about how racial animus affected the presidential elections of Barack Obama.

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Wilkes-Barre, Scranton Advance In The America’s Best Communities Competition

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have been announced as quarter-finalists in the America’s Best Communities competition.

Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel — the competition’s sponsors — today announced that the two cities are among the 50 quarter-finalist communities that now have six months to complete their revitalization plans and compete for up to an additional $3 million to bring their ideas to life.

America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition is a $10 million initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities. Each community will receive $50,000 to develop comprehensive strategies to accelerate the revival of their local economies and improve the quality of life in their communities.

“I’m proud to congratulate our neighbors in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre for advancing in the America’s Best Communities competition,” said Elena Kilpatrick, vice president and general manager of Frontier. “This is also a great opportunity for Northeast Pennsylvania as a region to benefit from everyone coming together to implement plans that will enhance the total Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.”

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/153200376/

Wilkes-Barre City, Township Police Join Forces With Smartphone App

Two local police departments have gone mobile.

The Wilkes-Barre and Wilkes-Barre Township police departments enrolled in a new smartphone application called MobilePatrol that allows users to receive police alerts on their phones and report suspicious activity, among other features.

Both departments announced their collaborative effort to utilize this application on Friday on Facebook, encouraging their followers “to assist (them) in this new progressive endeavor for community-wide information sharing.”

Law enforcement officials are able to set up an account to send alerts about recent police activity and share lists of wanted suspects, active warrants, missing children, registered sex offenders and current inmates in the local prison.

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