Wednesday, September 11, 2019

“W-B city council chair promises to prevent personal attacks by speakers - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader” plus 4 more

“W-B city council chair promises to prevent personal attacks by speakers - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader” plus 4 more


W-B city council chair promises to prevent personal attacks by speakers - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Posted: 10 Sep 2019 08:13 PM PDT

Wilkes-Barre city council chairman Mike Belusko Wilkes-Barre city council chairman Mike Belusko -

WILKES-BARRE — At city council's work session Tuesday night council Chairman Mike Belusko apologized for allowing a personal attack by a speaker at the last meeting and promised to prevent it from happening again.

Belusko said he will be more vigilant and would address it at Thursday's meeting when the public has the opportunity to speak.

"I felt that it's a violation of our rules as council and I let it proceed. I am not going to let it happen from now on," Belusko said. "I will be making a statement on Thursday. But I want to apologize to all my council members for not, for allowing it when I should not have. But I'm sorry and it won't happen again."

Belusko was the only council member to ask about an item on the agenda for the nonvoting work session, the request to purchase $40,202 in fire turnout gear from Witmer Public Safety Group Inc. of Coatesville.

Fire Chief Jay Delaney said the cost covers 13 sets of boots, pants and jackets for the new firefighters hired last month. One size does not fit all in firefighting gear, nor does it provide the protection necessary to do the job, the chief told council.

"When we're asking human beings to go inside a fire we have to give them the proper turnout gear," Delaney said.

At Thursday's meeting council will be asked to approve the purchase and the other agenda items:

• A resolution supporting Senate Bill 625 in the state Legislature that would allow municipalities like Wilkes-Barre to regulate the possession of firearms on municipal property.

• The second and final reading of an ordinance dealing with the treatment of animals, specifically making it illegal to leave an animal unattended outside in severe weather and in an unattended motor vehicle when conditions endanger the well-being of the animal.

• The reappointments of Barry Payne to the Planning Commission and Francis "Thomas" Collis to the Traffic Committee. Payne's term would run from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2023. Collis, whose term expired Tuesday, would serve until Dec. 31, 2023.

Wilkes-Barre city council chairman Mike Belusko

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Homeless man suspected of stealing steak, peaches, fondue - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Posted: 10 Sep 2019 08:11 PM PDT

Hill Hill -

NANTICOKE — A homeless man ran from Weis Market after allegedly stealing steaks, peaches, fondue and other items on Monday.

City police arrested Terry A. Hill, 33, address listed as homeless in Binghamton, New York, when he was found walking in the area of Hill and Slope streets. A backpack containing the stolen items was found nearby, police said.

According to the criminal complaint:

A shopper contacted police after noticing a Weis Market loss prevention officer chasing a man, identified as Hill, through the parking lot.

Police said surveillance cameras recorded Hill with a backpack inside the store walking in several aisles and selecting items. Hill then entered a restroom and was followed by a store employee.

The employee noticed Hill was inside the handicap stall and overheard what sounded like Cellophane being flushed down a toilet. Hill emerged from the stall and adjusted the backpack before leaving and exiting the store where the loss prevention officer began chasing him.

Hill denied he was inside Weis Market and denied the backpack belonged to him.

Police said the backpack contained steaks, tortillas, rice, garlic pasta, peaches and fondue, the complaint says.

Hill said he arrived in Nanticoke on Monday from New York and was going to his girlfriend's house but police said he was not able to provide the woman's address.

Police said a box of syringes was also found in the backpack.

Value of the stolen items was $57.52, police said.

Hill was arraigned by District Judge James J. Haggerty in Luzerne County Central Court on charges of retail theft and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $2,500 bail.

Working toward ‘a better Plymouth’ - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Posted: 09 Sep 2019 09:03 PM PDT

Adam Morehart details his group’s five-year plan for Plymouth. Kevin Carroll | Times Leader Adam Morehart details his group's five-year plan for Plymouth. - Kevin Carroll | Times Leader

PLYMOUTH — Residents, business owners and council members met on Monday night at the Wyoming Valley West high school cafeteria for the second of five planned meetings to discuss the revitalization of Plymouth in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.

"We want Plymouth to be a more authentic version of itself," said Julie Fitzpatrick, the executive director of PA Downtown Center. "We want to become a better Plymouth."

Much like the previous meeting, which was held back in August, Fitzpatrick was the main speaker of the evening, with a PowerPoint presentation highlighting some of the ways Plymouth could and should strive to improve.

At the last gathering, everyone in attendance was asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing how they felt about Plymouth.

The results of these questionnaires were shared on Monday: Words like "depressed," "rusty" and "outdated" ran across the projector screen, but also some more positive descriptions like "cooperative" and "hard-working" making their way in there.

Much of the program was focused on group activities. The first of these activities centered on where the townspeople saw Plymouth in five years, with citizens mentioning better infrastructure and cleaner streets as part of what they'd like to see come to Plymouth.

Bakeries, recreation centers and a permanent entertainment spot were among the suggestions made by residents as to what they'd like to see pop up in the borough over the next five years.

Before the meeting concluded, everyone was given a map of Plymouth and told to circle and point out what they thought comprised downtown Plymouth.

The buzz afterwards was mainly positive, with townspeople optimistic about the progress being made, and towards Plymouth's future.

"I think this is awesome," Plymouth resident Adam Morehart said after the meeting was concluded. "I think our town needs it…it's great to see people working together."

The remaining meetings are set for Oct. 7, Nov. 4, and Dec. 2. and all will begin at 7 p.m.

Adam Morehart details his group's five-year plan for Plymouth.

Reach Kevin Carroll at 570-954-8360 or on Twitter @TLKevinCarroll

Pennsylvania to launch online application for absentee ballots - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Posted: 09 Sep 2019 10:53 AM PDT

Boockvar Boockvar -
Wolf Wolf -

WILKES-BARRE — Gov. Tom Wolf says applying for an absentee ballot online will make the process faster and more accessible for thousands of voters.

As part of the governor's commitment to making voting more convenient, Pennsylvania is launching a new option for voters to apply online for an absentee ballot starting with the November election.

In August 2015, Wolf launched online voter registration. Since then, more than 1.4 million voter registration applications or changes have been submitted online.

In previous elections, voters' only choice was to complete a paper absentee ballot application and mail or hand-deliver it to their county election office for processing.

"This builds on the option to register to vote online which Pennsylvania launched four years ago and it will provide an easier way for people to exercise their right to vote," Wolf said in an emailed news release.

The mobile-friendly, online application site, at votesPA.com/ApplyAbsentee, will go live on Monday, Sept. 16 — the first day that registered voters may apply for absentee ballots for the Nov. 5 election.

"This online application is our latest innovation to make voting more convenient and increase voter participation," said acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. "The deadlines set in the 1937 election code have become increasingly challenging to meet, and the ability to apply online will cut days from the process."

When an applicant completes the online form, the information is forwarded directly to the appropriate county elections office for processing. Voters must still mail or hand-deliver their completed ballot to their county election office by the deadline, which is 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election, or Nov. 1, this year.

Initially, online absentee ballot applications will require a PennDOT driver license or ID number in order to be processed electronically. The department is planning an update by 2020 that will allow use by applicants who do not have a PennDOT number.

The state Election Code allows registered voters to apply for an absentee ballot up until one week before an election, which is just three days before the deadline to submit a voted absentee ballot. This year, the deadline to apply by paper or online is 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 29.

The system is currently accessible to all domestic Pennsylvania voters, and will be available to military and overseas voters by 2020.

Absentee ballots may be cast by individuals with illnesses or disabilities, individuals who will be away from their municipality on business on Election Day, and Pennsylvania students attending out-of-state colleges or universities, among others.

For more information on voting by absentee ballots, visit votespa.com.

Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Luzerne County borrowing plan set for presentation Tuesday - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Posted: 08 Sep 2019 02:53 PM PDT

Luzerne County Courthouse Luzerne County Courthouse -

Interest rates and other specifics of a proposed $35.14 million borrowing package will be presented at Tuesday's Luzerne County Council work session, the agenda said.

The borrowing would provide $20.7 million for a 911 emergency radio communication system upgrade, $1.8 million toward new paper-trail voting machines and $12.1 million to refinance high-interest debt, the administration has said.

Details were not included in the agenda packet and will be released in a handout at the session, which follows a 6 p.m. voting meeting at the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Because the county has been focusing on paying down inherited debt, the only new borrowing since the 2012 switch to home rule was $7.9 million for an energy savings project. As of June 30, the county owed approximately $272 million in principal and interest, records show.

Tuesday's presentation will be made by Harrisburg-based Public Financial Management, the county's financial advisor.

Repository update

Also up for work session discussion is the proposed sale of 24 properties in the repository, a pool of parcels that are available for purchase at any time because they did not sell at delinquent tax auctions.

Plains Township-based Northeast Revenue Service LLC, the county's tax-claim operator, submitted the sales and verified no buyers owe back taxes.

The purchases are all for $500. The proposed sale list is posted under the council agenda page at www.luzernecounty.org.

A list of repository properties available for purchase is posted at www.luzernecountytaxclaim.com.

County officials have pushed for repository sales because the county is semi-liable and serves as legal trustee for parcels in the pool, which contains around 1,000 properties and continues to grow as new auctions are held.

Tax claim

The administration said it is still reviewing recommendations for the next tax claim operation contract, which is why a recommendation was not on Tuesday's work session agenda as expected.

Northeast Revenue has been overseeing the county's tax claim collections since 2010, and its contract expires the end of this year. Three other companies also have submitted proposals to handle the work.

Infrastructure

An update on completed and pending county road and bridge projects also is planned at the work session, with cost figures and before-and-after photos of some work included in the agenda packet.

Council also will discuss a resolution to turn over county-owned Road 38, also known as Walnut Avenue, to Conyngham borough now that it has been repaired. County Manager C. David Pedri said municipalities willing to take infrastructure off the county's hands will receive priority consideration for repairs.

Division Street Bridge

Hanover Township officials last week discussed plans to award a contract to Fabcor Inc. to construct the new Division Street Bridge over Solomon Creek.

The company was the low bidder at $1.16 million, township officials said.

The county has earmarked $1.675 million in community development funding to construct the bridge, with plans to complete the project within two years, Pedri has said.

The original Division Street Bridge was demolished in 2014 after partially collapsing into the creek.

Hanover Township will act as project manager and accept responsibility for the bridge when it is completed, he said.

The county Redevelopment Authority has charged $2,280 for a 228-square-foot permanent easement for the township to construct the new bridge.

Voting meeting

Council is set to vote Tuesday on the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce request for a 10-year Keystone Opportunity Zone tax break extension on a troubled Wright Township property it wants to sell to Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services for a new construction project.

The chamber took possession of the contaminated 27.35-acre former Poseidon Pools property in the Crestwood Industrial Park in 1999 after the prior owner went bankrupt.

Luzerne County Courthouse

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

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