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View Full Version : Suprising Scranton & Wilkes-Barre PA
Aug 4, 2004, 1:37 AM
These historic cities in Northeastern PA have rich architectural historys dating from the affluent years of the anthracite coal industry, iron & steel, first steam railroads, first electric trolley (Scranton) etc. The rich folk hired renowned architects from New York, Chicago and Philly to execute designs and public works. Hopefully these fine old cities are about to reverse many years of decline.
Here's a mess of photos, seven pages in all captioned as "Scranton and Wilkes Barre" 1-7 in the following link plus other links, including a "Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Wilkes-Barre" contained within the link to the "W/B Chamber of Connerce" site. This'll keep you busy for a while! Enjoy!
Aug 4, 2004, 3:43 AM
Both are delightful cities with rich heritages located in a gorgeous area. It's really not fair that these great cities as experiencing such severe decline... especially while neighboring counties like Pike and Monroe experience the fastest population growth in Pennsylvania!
Aug 4, 2004, 1:24 PM
More Wilkes-Barre: here's a link to great skyline views....
Aug 5, 2004, 12:56 AM
And, more Scranton...while I'm at it.... nice city, Scranton.
Aug 6, 2004, 10:39 PM
Beer & Building fans...check out the history and PICS of Wilkes-Barre's Historic Stegmaier Brewery, located downtown!! A new use for an amazing 19th century building!
Aug 7, 2004, 9:08 AM
Its nice to see my hometown get some attention in tthis forum. I live right between WB and Scranton and lived here most of my life. Yes it is quaint here, this area is different then the rest of PA- we were settled by New Englanders in the Northeast Corner ofthe state and in WB and Scranton you could DEFINATELY feel the yankee vibe (and we drink CAAHHHHFEE and WAAAAATAH not KAWFEE like New Yorkers)
Unfortunately I need to get out of here- there isnt much future here. People here are clannish and rather indifferent to change. The DT's of both cities are very clean, neat, and safe bt there isn't much to do unless you like bingo and polka........ Of course there is plenty of ethnic Polish and Italian food around for those NOT watching their carbs!!! :)
Aug 7, 2004, 9:09 AM
BY the way I worked in that Stegmaier building for 3 years- It's really neat inside and out.
Aug 9, 2004, 12:55 AM
Nice to hear from you. I left the Wilkes-Barre Scranton area after college for several years in New York City...it was a more exciting life, yes ( I got to work for the NYS Urban Development Corp., a very interesting job in a dynamic organization..ultimately worked on Roosevelt Island Project), but the Northeastern PA community has more to offer than ever and the people, by and large are wonderful, generous and kind..a rarity in todays brusque, rude money-grubbin' world.
Sorry you aren't enjoying it more there. You've got almost 20,000 college kids there, a wonderful new 10,000 seat arena...lotsa shows..., the Penguins' great farm hockey team, the Red Barons (PHillies) in a great 12,000 seat stadium setting, the 20,000 seat Montage (ski area) concert venue for top national bands. Knoebel's amusement park ( www.knoebels.com)with two top rated wooded coasters, The PHOENIX is often in the top 10); you aren't far from New York or Philly and on and on. There's a lot to be said for recreation with the Poconos nearby plus Steamtown and its trains, the Dorflinger glass Museum at White Mills. The area's great all in all, but as a young guy, you might need a dose of BIG CITY, like I did.
PS I see that DT WIlkes-Barre is FINALLY getting moving with some projects including a 14 cinema-plex,with 28 loft .apartments and retail. Booyah!!!
Here's a link to that project...http://wilkesbarre.org/external/southmain/th1/index.html
Aug 9, 2004, 4:53 AM
donybrx... you hit it ... not only does the Scranton-WB metro have a lot to offer in itself... but its proximity to other great areas makes it an enviable location
Aug 9, 2004, 7:20 AM
Well thats all good if your lucky enough to find a job here - otherwise (degree or no degree) you end up having to choose between telemarketing, light industrial, certified nurses aide, joining the military, or sell avon
It depends on yout lifestyle too. Northeast PA is a very "color within the lines" life. If your eccentric or "different" in any way it is not easy to fit in.
Because of the sense of deep roots, Northeast PA (at least W-B or Scranton) are GREAT PLACES TO BE BORN AND RAISED. I wouldn't recommend then to outsiders as a place to move to. THE POCONOS, yes, but Wilkes-Barre, Scranton or anything in the blue collar anthracite areas-----NO!!!!!!!!!
If you like ethnic food HOWEVER of the Polish or Italian type, then come visit one of our many ethnic festivals (as long as your not on the Atkins Diet...lol)!!!
Aug 9, 2004, 12:07 PM
Well, I guess you won't be applying to the Chamber of Commerce for work....or maybe ostensibly the directorship. All things are possible, but a positive attitude helps thought a sense of reality is healthy too.
PS I wish I had some of that food here.. A Stookey's BarB Que (pork wet) would do my soul a lot of good today....unfortunately West Nanticoke os 7 hours west)
Aug 9, 2004, 12:52 PM
My parents grew up in the Blakley area. They eventually moved to upstate NY. I still have some relatives in the area, and our family reunions are held there. I love the accents in NE PA, but the taste of the water (at least in Peckville) leaves a bit to be desired. I hope the region makes a turn-around. Seems like the proximaty to many of the east coast population centers would be a great selling point for future investment.
Hope you don't mind if I post a couple pics from a trip last fall. Unfortunately I've deleted most the pics from my host, but here's what's left:
Wilkes-Barre (wish someone would salvage the old hotel area)
Aug 10, 2004, 3:57 PM
Scranton and WB are both cute cities and cozy as far as aesthetics warmly nestled in the mountains. It's more the proud, stubborn, provincial, yankee attitudes that get on my nerves sometimes. :-/
As for the chamber of commerce- they try to put on an optimistic front, but the commonfolk here take a lot of pride on being practical and realistic (the I TELL IT LIKE IT IS attitude can resemble pessimism sometimes) Optimism gets a condescending "gag me" attitude here.
If you wish to pursue BIG dreams- theres L.A.- If you wish for a practical, realistic, dietary fiber-like lifestyle, well we're the other extreme.
DONYBRX- Do you live in Maine now?????, cause even Boston is only 5 hrs away (closer than Pittsburgh) Stookey's BBQ is all over now- even downda' road from my house. But I wouldn,t call BBQ our specialty. For BBQ you may wish to go south of Hazleton into PA Dutch country.
New York city is about an hour and 45 mins depending on traffic...
Aug 13, 2004, 10:34 PM
Ex-Ithacan: Nice hearing your input. I like the pics, particularly the shot of Scranton from the Central Scranton Expressway that over- looks the old Lackawanna Station. Interesting to note, that among the buildings in downtown Scranton is the Scranton Times building which once had a very tall tower of polished aluminum 3 or 4 stories in itself. It was a standout on Scranton's then skyline.
As to saving the Hotel Sterling, you'll be happy to know that an organization has succeeded in getting rid of the previous owner (who allowed the building to fall to shreds) by processing his considerable tax delinquencies to wrest the property. The building has been secured against the elements and it is proposed for reclamation, hopefully as hotel or mixed use. The oriiginal, 7 story aspect is well over 100 years old, very very elegant spaces. The tower is newer, 1930'3 or 40's? and contains a luxury apartment on top. I think that the org saving it is called the Diamond City Partnership ( list of their projects appears ont the Wilkes-Barre chamber of Commerce website, I think). They are also proposing a riverside
performance area of some consequence and a Susquehanna River Museum in the area. They had intended to use the Irem Temple building and auditorium nearby ( a Moorish, style fantasy built by the Shriners with four minarets & a large auditorium (North Franklin Street)...neat bulding, but probably won't after all.
Aug 13, 2004, 11:30 PM
Thanks dony, great to hear the hotel may have a second life. There are so many beautiful old bldgs between the 2 cities. Scranton seems to be accomplishing quite a bit of rehab downtown.
Aug 14, 2004, 2:02 PM
Best yet photos of old Wilkes-Barre on the below link!!! I was elated to run across these. Check 'em out, city lovers! There's a great shot of the Hotel Sterling lobby, too. There are many more photos and much more info on the area, within the links provided in this 'site' both up top and on left hand columns. Have fun!
Aug 14, 2004, 2:15 PM
Sorry to ramble on, but these are exemplary pics of old Wilkes-Barre and should not be missed: http://home.epix.net/~captclint/local_scenes10.html
Aug 16, 2004, 6:57 PM
Actually to do the best justice to each skyline without a helicopter.
Wilkes-Barre it would be from the South St bridge or the Heights section, The challenge: Finding a public space to get those pics taken. I guess I'm not as gutsy or daring as I used to be. The South Street bridge also has this thin grail over it that blurs the view.
For Scranton its from the Scranton Expressway coming from the WEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just don't know of a comfy place to pull over unless I can find me a good friend in West Scranton to get the pics- This angle shows more grit - BUT it shows how big the city really is (or WAS....lol).
*******I have some pics- some good shots from a Mtn lookout by the mountain east of Scranton but have no server that allows hotlinking. If anyone is interested I'd email them. Wilkes-Barre too as well as some nature and mountain shots. I love taking pics.
Aug 16, 2004, 9:07 PM
looking good! PA cities look great to me, much like WNY.
Aug 18, 2004, 12:30 AM
LJinPA: I agree, those perspectives of the skylines of both Wilkes-Barre and Scranton are great. I also like going into Wilkes-Barre across the Market St. bridge from Kingston ( a beautiful bridge designed by the same firm (Lescaze?) that designed the Fifth Avenue library in New York City). It take you thru the portals of the bridge and into two blocks of tall buildings, both sides and then to Public Square...which opens out.
There used to be a wonderful view of the whole city from Rte 11 where it rises from Plymouth on the west Side to a bluff before descending into the "narrows'. However, with development of commercial buildings, the view has been miserably blocked.
If you go up E. Northampton Street all the way to the mountain top ( the route of the annual Giants' Despair race) in the winter, there's a rehab facility (once an FM Kirby mansion with a commanding view of the wyoming Valley especuially at night.
FOR those who've never been to the area, the two cities line a vast valley nearly forty miles long developed with towns and cities... a spectaular ribbon viewed from the air or from I-81 heading north from the Nuangola exit, then over the mountain to WB.
Or from I-81 south of Wilkes Barre around the Highland Boulevard exit, althouh new development below has obscured the distant dramatic view of downtown below in the river valley. Great nighttime views.
If I recall, there's a great vista of Scranton from Rte. 11 at the top of the hill descending down into the city's valley. Maybe you can clarify, LJ.
Aug 19, 2004, 10:13 PM
Try this: not sure I can copy/paste.... if not, go to this website, then click on "Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Wilkes-Barre...there's over forty marvelous structures, including the International Style former Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co. Bldg., now Blue Cross I think, a super example---9 story. there are descriptions of each structure plus architect's names....check out the Irem Temple moorish fantasy. Cheers
Aug 23, 2004, 11:17 PM
Heres'a a very important part of Scranton's industrial past. In combination with anthracite coal of both Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, railroad track production, plus first railroad (Honesdale), these cities were at the vanguard of the nation's industrial revolution. The iron furnaces still exist in part and are huge. If you go, visit Steamtown National Park in Scranton..be sure to take one of the old electric trolleys (turn of the century, 19th-20th) and the trollley will make a stop at the iron furnaces before continuing into an old 1+ mile long tunnel under a mountain. Way cool. There are also wonderful views of Scranton to be had. Ride the old trains from Steamtown. Really worth it. All downtown. ALso a coal mine tour not far away. Descend into the mine for a taste of the good old days????????
Aug 26, 2004, 8:49 PM
Oh God I've never been to half these places and I lived here almost all 27 yrs of my life!
I only go to Steamtown since they have the only Abercrombie in the area and a few other stores to shop. (Although Scranton is probably one of the few small cities to have such stores in their downtown)
Aug 26, 2004, 8:52 PM
thanks donybrx... looks like I have a Scranton-Wilkes-Barre vacation to plan in the near future.
Aug 30, 2004, 5:13 PM
Well this weekend (Labor Day is LA FESTA ITALIANA in downtown Scranton............
Aug 30, 2004, 11:17 PM
EVERGREY: you're very welcome. Thanks for your interest. I felt that these cities warranted some attention in these pages. Hope you'll get over/up that way. Check out the new air terminal U/C at Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Interrnational Airport ( Yeah, I know, "International" seems a stretch, but they have a customs set-up) It's located just off I-81 between Scranton and W-B;
I'll be headed over there late in September for the Bloomsburg Fair... a biggie in its 150th year.
LJ inPA: I've been to one Festa Italiana in Scranton. it was fun and very tasty. I've also had pizza in Old forge which lays claim to being some sort of Pizza capital, tho many claim that Victory Pig in Forty Fort has the best pizza.
I've been in San Diego all of last week; nice trip. Flat skyline.
Sep 1, 2004, 3:20 PM
Good news re: the rehab of the venerable HOTEL STERLING(Pictured previously in various locations within this forum):
Sep 1, 2004, 7:09 PM
cool...WB seems to be taking a turn for the better. very good news!
Sep 2, 2004, 1:02 AM
Wait! There's some more in store for Wilkes-Barre: A museum of the Susquehanna, concert venue along the river and an inflatable dam project. The museum website is under construction, but this link contains an interesting rendering from above.......
Plus Ed Rendell came with big checks for Scranton and some very flattering/optimistic words for the region known as NEPA
Sep 2, 2004, 2:00 AM
Wait! There's some more in store for Wilkes-Barre: A museum of the Susquehanna, concert venue along the river and an inflatable dam project. The museum website is under construction, but this link contains an interesting rendering from above.......
Plus Ed Rendell came with big checks for Scranton and some very flattering/optimistic words for the region known as NEPA
what's up with the Wyoming Valley Inflatable Dam Project? after taking a look at the website, the final planning and engineering for the dam was supposed to be completed back in 2000...has that scheduled been changed? or is the dam scrapped? i know a previous study for an inflatable dam over the Susqehanna at Harrisburg that began in the late 70's was scrapped recently due to environmental concerns.
also, the Susqehanna River Landing Project's website is a blank page.
Sep 2, 2004, 12:43 PM
Wrightchr: As noted in my previous message, the river museum website is "Under Construction" hopefully not for long, but....
As to the inflatable dam project, I claim zero expertise. Propaosals remain proposals until the shovel, or in this case, the balloon materializes. I suspect that anything to do with waterways will be more contentious than typical land projects.
I suppose this harkens back to the days when the Susquehanna was dammed somewhere south of Wilkes-Barre.
I believe there'a dam in the river near Sunbury still. Do you know?
Sep 2, 2004, 2:53 PM
^ i read that there is an inflatable dam near Sunbury, but i've never seen it on my travels. it sounds like a really good project though and could have numerous benefits.
Sep 6, 2004, 12:21 AM
I dug up some information and great pictures from Scranton's "Electric City Trolley Museum" including an explanation why Scranton is referred to as "Electric City"; I can say that it is well worth a visit and a trip on one of these old trolleys right down to the intense smell of electricity (yep) while on the trip.
Sep 8, 2004, 2:01 AM
Wow to think I almost moved to Scranton from Long Island back in the early 90s. The bank I worked for in NY, NatWest Bank moved its offices (and my job) from Long Island to Scranton. I drove all the way there for an interview...an interview!! just to transfer to the same job in a different city. Once I saw the city, the boarded up houses, etc. I drove right back home and never looked back. There's a lot of quaintness in that area of Pennsylvania...which is great if you like that 24/7! To think that was a decade ago. Looks like things have changed some.
Sep 8, 2004, 1:10 PM
SIMCITY: I drive from eastern Long Island to (west of!) Wilkes-Barre 6 or 7 times per year. My late mother continued to live there until her death. I still go. I enjoy the drive except for the Long Island Expressway and NYC traffic, of course, not to forget the bad (and aggressive) driving habits of so many NYer's. I enjoy returning to Northeastern Pennsylvania to check out signs of progress and there have been many but not at a rate that would quickly overwhelm and destroy the character of the place (unlike the collapse of the "Hamptons" area where we've suffered a transformation from idyllic rural place to nasty, McMansionville full of insta-bucks types. I still love the physical place, but ohhh the peeps!!!! )
Looks like Scranton's loss is Long Island's gain in your case. Good for you.
Sep 9, 2004, 1:05 AM
In conjunction with the above info about the Scranton Trolleys, here's an unusual link (below) to the now defunct Rocky Glen Park site; Rocky Glen was a so called "Trolley Park" an amusement park created for the purpose of creating summertime ridership for trolley companies since they lost riders during the summer months. In this case, trolleys from downtown Scranton would head to Avoca /Moosic thru the tunnel pictured in the Scranton Trolley Museum link ( pictured with n my previous post).
Next, if you connect to the link below and scroll (quite far) down, you'll see a B&W aerial photo with water and tracks. Look carefully to see both trolley tracks and a large roller coaster ( The "Million Dollar Coaster") running thru the middle of lake Rocky Glen. It's way cool. How i wish it still existed! Today's restored trolley museum ride will eventually make its way back to the Glen and a new visitor's Center. Moosic is the location of Lackwanna County stadium ( AAA Phiiles Red Barons) where Dubya spoke first after the Republican Convention in NYC.
Sep 11, 2004, 12:11 AM
RE" WRIGHTCHR QUESTION:
what's up with the Wyoming Valley Inflatable Dam Project? after taking a look at the website, the final planning and engineering for the dam was supposed to be completed back in 2000...has that scheduled been changed? or is the dam scrapped? i know a previous study for an inflatable dam over the Susqehanna at Harrisburg that began in the late 70's was scrapped recently due to environmental concerns............................
I received the following response from the WB Chamber/Commerce
..."Good observation on the dam timeline. Here's the scoop. Due to
bureaucracies at various levels of government the project is still
moving forward but at a more realistic timeframe. The 2000 timeframe was
a best case scenario. As it turns out it takes quite a bit longer to
fund and conduct the various levels of environmental and engineering
studies needed for such a project. Currently the project is under an EIS
review which should take the rest of the year. It's the final report
needed before permitting can begin on the project. Permitting will take
another year and engineering 6 months more until construction could
begin on the dam. So realistically construction could begin in 2007.
With regards to the riverfront improvements, they are fully funded to 30
million dollars and construction will begin next spring and last for two
Thanks for keeping an eye on us and we hope to give you a reason to
visit more often."........................
Director of Community Development
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry
Sep 11, 2004, 2:34 PM
^ thanks donybrx :D i'm glad to see the dam project and the riverfront improvements are taking place. i think it will dramatically change wilkes-barre.
Sep 23, 2004, 12:58 AM
Nature had a big surprise for Wilkes-Barre (Luzerne Co.) and Scranton (Lackawanna Co.) in the form of terrible floods from IVAN after the storm's trek to the north. Below is a link to channel 16 WNEP where you'll find lots of flood picture slideshows and some videos too from news chopper 16's travels around all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. he vids take some patience). The Bloomsburg Fair in Columbia county is to begin its 150th anniversary starting Saturday (BIG fair, attended by 1,000,000 more or less over 8 days. Although part of the fairgrounds were flooded, the fair will go on. I'll be there for sure the last Saturday.
And here's the link to the flood pics:
Oct 6, 2004, 3:37 PM
Bush's speech in Wilkes-Barre this morning prompted me to see if I could locate pics of the Kirby Center, an historic theater that began life as the COMERFORD and became the PARAMOUNT when I was a kid. I'm sorry the media didn't showcase the theater inside and out for a moment..it's a beauty..art deco...five lobbies. It certainly would have made the speech worth tuning into for such as me........ Damned if I can find interior shots, but i did find this link to exterior pic and history:
Wilkes-Barre has another fantastic auditorium: The Irem Temple, a masonic/moorish extravaganza. Here's a link to a picture:
Oct 8, 2004, 1:16 PM
Flash!! Scranton-based sitcom coming to the tube: The new Milwaukee?????
Oct 8, 2004, 2:13 PM
^ Kinda cool that Scranton could be getting a bunch of attention.
Oct 10, 2004, 8:41 PM
Historical info: New York City and Wilkes-Barre: first two cities to be electrified: 1883:......... Read on:
Oct 13, 2004, 10:47 PM
here's a link to a picture of a magnificent old theater that still exists in Scranton, the Ritz. I had no knowledge of this gem and cannot find more pics of it anywhere. Apparently, it had been 'twinned' but now lies shuttered. It would be terrible to lose a space like this one. Wish I had a billion$..............
"Sometimes I feel like the whole country is being run by Paris Hilton..." --------columnist Molly Ivins.
Oct 15, 2004, 12:44 PM
-Late news from WILKES-BARRE/ Wyoming Valley;
Wilkes-Barres Pocono Downs Race track going to Connecticut tribe?
-Restored Train Service from W-B to NYC via Scranton?
Oct 15, 2004, 11:45 PM
It's official. Pocono Downs race track (roughly 3mi. from center city Wilkes-Barre) was sold to the Mohegan tribe from Connecticut.
Interesting aside....for any history buffs, the northern tier of Pennsylvania..across all 300+miles, was once part of Connecticut, only to be re-attached to Penna. as a result of the YANKEE-PENNAMITE Wars.
Friday, October 15, 3:40 p.m.
Pocono Downs Sold
Pocono Downs Racetrack in Luzerne County is getting a new owner.
The Mohegan tribe of eastern Connecticut is taking over the racetrack. The tribe operates the Mohegan Sun casino.
The Mohegan Tribal Game Authority is buying the racetrack and five off-track betting operations in Carbondale, East Stroudsburg, Erie, Hazleton and Allentown.
A spokesperson for the tribe said when the deal is closed they will have the right to apply for a license to operate up to 3,000 slot machines at Pocono Downs.
Pocono Downs is currently owned by Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing.
Send questions or comments about this web site to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oct 16, 2004, 12:44 PM
Pocono Downs sale: More details; Huge purchase price, impressive, but what does this mean to the area?
Jobs, yes. Good wages? remains to be seen......
Traffic? Sprawl? A big change in typical 'Pennsylvania atmosphere'? Unfortunately, probably so.
THE TIMES LEADER
Posted on Sat, Oct. 16, 2004
Downs sold in $505-million deal
Sale includes track, off-track facilities and construction of slots casino
By JERRY LYNOTT
PLAINS TWP. - In what could be the biggest private investment deal in the region's history, a Connecticut Indian tribe has agreed to buy Pocono Downs and five off-track wagering operations and build a casino for slot machines on the racetrack property at a total cost of $505 million.
The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and Penn National Gaming Inc. on Friday announced a $280 million sale agreement for the betting parlors and the 40-year-old harness racing track.
The authority, which operates the 240-acre Mohegan Sun casino, resort and entertainment complex near Uncasville, Conn., estimated it will spend another $175 million to build and equip the local casino, which will open in early 2006.
On top of the purchase price and planned improvements, the tribe said it will buy a gaming license for $50 million to operate up to 3,000 slot machines at the Downs. The track is one of the 14 sites eligible for slots under the state's new Race Horse Development and Gaming Act.
The $505 million in planned investment dwarfs other recent economic development initiatives in Northeastern Pennsylvania. By comparison, the mostly taxpayer funded expansion of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport will cost close to $70 million and the Wachovia Arena was built for nearly $56 million.
The total outlay by the tribe tops the $475 million in government funds spent to build the Casey Highway in Lackawanna County.
The deal is the gaming authority's first commercial venture outside of casinos on tribal land, said William Velardo, chief executive officer of the gaming authority. The authority has invested in other tribal gaming enterprises in Wisconsin and Washington.
"We had been looking at a number of possible commercial transactions," he said. "It was the third one we looked at that we took somewhat seriously."
Penn National Gaming, a publicly traded company based in Wyomissing, marketed the Downs to comply with the state's new gaming law, which limits companies to full ownership of one slot parlor and a one-third ownership of another . The company said it planned to add slots to its thoroughbred track Penn National Race Course near Harrisburg.
"There was a great deal of interest in the property," said Eric Schippers, Penn National spokesman. The company would have preferred to develop the Downs for itself. But, he said, because of the ownership restrictions, it had no alternative but to sell it.
In a prepared statement, Peter Carlino, chief executive officer of Penn National Gaming, said, "We believe the Pocono Downs' employees, the horsemen, and the Wilkes-Barre region will be well-served through (Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's) ownership given its proven track record as a successful and experienced gaming resort operator."
That track record put State Rep. Kevin Blaum, D-Wilkes-Barre, at ease. A top priority for the sale was that the buyer be a good citizen, he said.
Blaum, whose district includes the track, credited Penn National with moving quickly with the sale. He said he was worried a delay would put the Downs at a disadvantage while Penn National proceeded with adding slots at its other track.
"It's very exciting news," he said. "Penn National has done what we asked them."
Plains Township Commissioner Ron Filippini said the host municipality stands to benefit greatly from the sale.
Under the state gaming law, the township will receive 2 percent of the casino's slots income, but it is limited to a maximum of half of the township's annual budget per year. With a budget of $4.4 million this year, the most the township could receive would be $2.2 million.
Filippini said the money would go to capital improvements in the township.
The sale still needs the approval of the state Harness Racing Commission. The matter might come before the three-member commission on Oct. 22, its next scheduled meeting in Harrisburg.
In 1996 the commission approved the sale of the Downs and two off-track wagering sites to Penn National for $47 million. It operated the enterprises as a wholly owned subsidiary of the company.
Penn National also owns horse racing tracks, gambling facilities and resort properties across the country and manages a casino in Canada.
According to an Aug. 9 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the total revenue for Penn National's Pennsylvania racing operations was $49.3 million for the six-month period ending June 30, with operating income of $4.8 million. The figures were down slightly for the same period in 2003.
The five off-track wagering sites to be purchased by the Mohegan authority are in Carbondale, East Stroudsburg, Erie, Hazleton and Allentown.
In Connecticut, the tribe has exclusive oversight of gaming activities and its revenues are not taxable under Internal Revenue Service laws. But Velardo said the Pennsylvania venture is not on tribal land. "All the applicable taxes apply."
Details of the gaming authority's plans for the Downs were still sketchy. Velardo said it's not yet known how many people will be hired to work at the casino.
The Mohegan Sun employs 9,500. They earn between $10 and $12 an hour and have a benefit package that includes fully paid medical, dental, vision and prescription drug coverage, company paid retirement savings plan, free meals, tuition reimbursement, paid vacation and tuition reimbursement.
Whether the same benefits would apply to workers at the Downs, Velardo said he was not certain. "We're really in the infancy stages" of what to do, he said.
Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7237.
Oct 16, 2004, 2:36 PM
More Wilkes-Barre: here's a link to great skyline views....
Oct 17, 2004, 12:50 PM
Thanks Halovet. However, I see that the link to the skyline pics in your post isn't workable. Therefore I'm refreshing here below from the original.
Oct 19, 2004, 12:14 PM
John Kerry is bringing his campaign the the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre this morning. This is the theater where "W" spoke on 10/6, the subject of my post having to do with the history of the Kirby which started life as the COMERFORD, an art deco movie palace. (see my 10/6 post above for a link to the history.
"W" will be arriving in Wilkes-Barre this Friday, appearing at the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes- Barre township adjacent ot the Wyoming Valley Mall. I've seen Elton John there. Much more entertaining. heh.
Oct 22, 2004, 1:26 AM
NEPA seems to be at the forefront of the focus on this years presidential election. I'm glad to see other areas in PA like Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and even the Midstate taking precedent. Bush was in Hershey this evening.
Oct 22, 2004, 12:28 PM
Yeah. Pretty amazing. Both candidates went to Scranton immedately after their respective conventions; then Bush held a
'friends/supporters' thing at the Kirby as did Kerry this week; Cheyney spoke at Wilkes University in W-B in a closed address; Edwards and Teresa Heinz have made individual area appearances too. I think Laura Bush might have swung by Scranton at some pernt. NEPA and Pennsylvania are being more hotly pursued than just about any state or region it seems.
Meanwhilst the area got good press as to regional rankings coming in at # 10 among nation's other cities in this survey:
Oct 23, 2004, 1:09 PM
Interesting idea: Hope it is money well spent.....
State funds will aid private property owners near downtown
By Heidi E. Ruckno , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Wilkes-Barre among first in state to get money from Elm Street program
Commonwealth officials were in Wilkes-Barre Friday to announce that $250,000 in funding would be available to private property owners near the downtown, courtesy of the New Communities-Elm Street Program.
The program, which comes from the Department of Community and Economic Development, gives qualified home and mixed-use property owners public money to make exterior improvements to their properties. No income requirements exist for program.
"Today is a great day for Wilkes-Barre," said Mayor Tom Leighton.
Jacqueline Parker, acting deputy secretary for community affairs and development for DCED, made the announcement in council chambers Friday on behalf of Gov. Ed Rendell.
"Wilkes-Barre is one of the first recipients of this money because of their commitment to improving their community," Parker said.
According to Parker, the Elm Street Program is a complement to the Main Street Program, which gives downtown properties public money to improve their facades.
Parker said the Elm Street Program is designed to do the same thing, with a concentration on the residential corridors that lead to the business districts in a particular community.
According to Frank Ike, deputy director of Wilkes-Barre's Office of Economic and Community Development, anyone living within a half mile of downtown Wilkes-Barre is eligible for the funding.
North, South River, Academy, West Jackson and Scott streets, Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, Hazle Avenue and Barnum Place and everything in between is considered downtown.
The maximum amount of money a single-family home can receive is $2,500. Multi-unit dwellings can receive up to $5,000. In either case, Ike said, the property owner must match the amount of public money received, dollar for dollar.
The funding will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the city hopes to help about 100 homeowners improve their properties.
"Anyone that is interested certainly should contact us, and we'll get to as many people as we can," Ike said.
City officials said the ultimate goal of Elm Street is to improve business development in the city and preserve its historic resources.
"We are thankful to Governor Rendell and his staff for their continued support for his initiatives to revitalize the City of Wilkes-Barre," said Leighton. "The Elm Street reinvestment grant program is the cornerstone of our initiatives to revitalize our residential neighborhoods."
According to the official press release, the Elm Street Program is part of Rendell's Economic Stimulus Initiative.
Rendell hopes that economic stimulus money will generate $5 billion in private development over the next three years by giving $2.3 billion in incentives. The Elm Street portion of the package has a budget of $7 million for the 2004-05 fiscal year.
©The Citizens Voice 2004
Oct 26, 2004, 3:23 PM
Terrific news! A sizable grant for the preservation of the HUBER BREAKER (coal processing) in Wilkes-Barre (Ashley borough). This is the LAST such facility of many that dotted the historic anthracite coal region of NEPA (the largest deposit of anthracite in the world outside of Alsace-Lorraine on Franco-German border).
Don't know about coal breakers, collieries and the like? Check the link below to the Huber breaker preservation effort + photos.
Too bad more of these structures could not have been saved as a living museum of the area's rich history.
Or if in the area, go see ECKLEY MINERS' VILLAGE near Hazelton. A restored enclave of 'company houses' which housed miners and their families.
Oct 26, 2004, 11:40 PM
Open the link below to see the Scranton Electric Building built in 1896; the sign on top of the building is being restored, covered with lights to once again proclaim Scranton "THE ELECTRIC CITY" because it had the nation's first electrified trolley system.
and, here's a link to a page showing a worker up on the sign structure, making preparation, whnever the rest of the needed money funds the completion of the restored sign.
UPDATE (10/27/04): the below link doesn't work as intended' it has been updated to the current issue of the Scranton Times. Apologies. Yesterday's issue had an interesting photo.
Nov 4, 2004, 2:02 PM
At long last, an inspired headline for Wilkes-Barre after years of inept mayoring, failed projects and too many misfires! Booyah!
None too soon, may it all occur and occur quickly for this fine old downtown. Read on:
Posted on Thu, Nov. 04, 2004
Leighton sees good times coming
Wilkes-Barre's mayor updates residents on development plans for the downtown, starting with lights.
By DAVE KONOPKI
WILKES-BARRE - It's nearly impossible for members of the public to see progress being made on paper, says Mayor Thomas Leighton. But for those who haven't seen the progress the city has made during Leighton's 10 months in office, that's going to change very soon.
Leighton shared that message with about 60 members of the Downtown Residents Association and senior citizen residents of Provincial Tower apartments on Wednesday night during a presentation at Wilkes University.
"People can't see all of the progress we've been making," Leighton said. "That's all going to change in the next 60 days or so. Buildings are going to start going up. Street lights will start going up.
"You're going to see a downtown that you're not going to recognize in two years. There hasn't been this much development in the history of the city."
Among the many projects discussed by Leighton were the impending new street lights, the former call center building on South Main Street, the riverfront park and street paving.
The infrastructure for the street lights is being put in place, Leighton said. He hopes the lights, which have a historical design, will begin being installed in early 2005, starting on South Franklin Street.
"It's not like going to Home Depot and putting in a new lamp," said Leighton said. "The engineering has started. You're going to see lighting in the downtown in the very near future. My philosophy is to take our time and do it right the first time. We're not going to make mistakes with the street lights. It's too expensive."
The city is also moving on finding a tenant for the former call center, an 80,000-square foot building, he said.
"It's being marketed aggressively and I get updates daily. We have to show people that Wilkes-Barre has a fabulous future. We have a lot of strong, solid leads."
Among the other projects Leighton discussed:
Development for the $26 million project is expected to begin in spring 2006, Leighton said. "It's been on the drawing board for a long time, but the funding is in place. People are excited about living, working and shopping there."
Paving has been completed on six streets that "needed immediate attention," Leighton said. Those streets are Twist Lane, Maiden Lane, South Street, Jenks Lane, Tannery Street and State Street. The paving of another 10 streets is under way.
Catch basin repairs
More than 150 have been repaired and an additional 30 are in the process of being repaired. Leighton said he was concerned about the city's liability if someone got injured or killed after falling in a catch basin, some of which are more than 6 feet deep.
"....Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war..." J. Caesar
© 2004 Times Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Nov 12, 2004, 5:33 PM
Scranton getting Corporate headquaters...slowly......
Southern Union opening delayed
By Stephen Daily TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Construction delays have pushed back the opening of Southern Union Co.'s new $10 million corporate headquarters building on Lackawanna Avenue to early next year.
Originally scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, the company said the building will likely not be ready for occupancy until March.
A delay in the arrival of steel and other materials, such as limestone and granite, are among the factors causing the holdup, said Southern Union spokeswoman Jennifer Cawley.
"They all combined to add up to the eight-week delay," she said.
Don Kalina, a partner at Clarks Summit-based Highland Associates, the building's architect and designer, said the biggest setback came from a delay in the manufacturing and delivery of granite from a contractor in North Carolina. Highland has since switched contractors.
Bad weather early in the construction phase also contributed, he said.
Some personnel will begin moving equipment in late December and early January and will continue until the building opens in March, Ms. Cawley said.
Southern Union is also working on clearing space for traffic. Since construction began last year, only one lane of traffic in each direction has been open.
"We've been discussing the traffic situation with the city, and hope to have an additional lane open within two weeks -- in time for the holiday shopping," Ms. Cawley said.
Southern Union, the parent company of PG Energy, will move about 60 corporate employees from its Wilkes-Barre headquarters by the time the Scranton office opens.
Its planned purchase of CrossCountry Energy, which comprises more than 10,000 miles of pipelines formerly owned by Enron Corp., could lead to more jobs after the deal is finalized in December, Ms. Cawley said.
©Scranton Times Tribune 2004
Nov 14, 2004, 8:52 PM
An update on the new casino/track plans for Pocono Downs Racetrack in Wilkes-Barre Township, now under the direction of Connecticut's Mohegan Tribe. Big bucks. some new jobs. Wonder what it will look like?
Friday, November 12, 2:50 p.m.
By Jon Meyer
Tracking the Slots in Pennsylvania
In one of the largest investments ever in our area, a Native American tribe in Connecticut is paying nearly $500 million to expand a horse track in Luzerne County into a track with a slot machine casino.
The Mohegan Tribe announced last month it is buying Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre Township for nearly $300 million. It plans to invest another $200 million to fix up the race track and build a slot parlor at the facility. The plan stems on state approval of slot licenses which is expected to happen in the first part of next year.
The tribe first ventured into gambling in 1996 when it opened the Mohegan Sun Casino in eastern Connecticut. Newswatch 16 went to see what the Mohegans have done there. When you arrive you find a giant indoor waterfall; corridors lined with shops and restaurants; a 10,000 seat arena; a towering, 34-story, 1,200-room hotel and gambling with two casinos filled with 6,000 slot machines and table games. Mohegan Sun is billed as the second largest casino in the world.
What started as a small casino in an old textile factory is now a resort employing 11,000 people. Mitchell Etess runs the facility. "When I showed up here, it was horrible. I remember driving up here the first day with my wife and thinking oh, my God, I hope someone here has some vision," said Etess.
The casino is designed with a Native American theme. The Mohegan Tribe benefits from most of the revenue. The place is built on its reservation an hour from Hartford. "One thing we have been here in Connecticut is a good corporate citizen. That's what we want to be in Pennsylvania and that area," said Tribe Chairman Mark Brown.
The tribe now estimates nearly 30,000 people a day visit the casino from all over the northeast, providing a tourism boost to what was a struggling area of the state. "This is a company that believes you have to have a good product and a good way of doing things. No matter what is built down there, (Luzerne County) I'm sure it will be consistant with the way we've done things," said C.E.O. Etess.
Marian Lynn and her friends visit from New Jersey frequently. She likes it better than Atlantic City casinos. "It's very comfortable here. It's bright, it's great and it's been a winning one for me too!" laughed Lynn. She and her husband are building a home in Pike County. We told her about the Mohegan plan to open in northeast Pennsylvania. "Oh, I'm excited about it. That's great!" she said.
The casino in Connecticut does have an elaborate design with the waterfall, paintings and sculptures. Will those be a part of the project at Pocono Downs?
"You may not see this size, but at least you come here and see the quality and what we can deliver," said Chairman Brown.
"I think if people were wondering down in Pennsylvania what the track will look like when the Mohegan Tribe is down with it. I think they can look at this place and see the vision and see the kind of things this tribe is known for doing," added Etess.
Tribe leaders plan 3,000 slot machines for Pocono Downs. They envision restaurants like at Mohegan Sun, bars, an entertainment venue large enough to draw well-known performers, plus improvements to the harness racing track. It totals near $200 million in construction.
"We clearly have already seen from people in Pennsylvania, whether it's elected officials or just people in the community, the outreach saying we like this idea and want to see you folks here," said Brown.
The chairman of the tribe is anxious to be a part of the Wilkes-Barre area and its revitalization. "If there are issues that affect the community, let us help be a part of it," the chairman added.
The new facility at Pocono Downs will create 300 to 400 new jobs that planners said will be family sustaining.
"In Pennsylvania I would guess 95% of the employees for the project will be from the local area," said Bill Velardo of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
"At the end of the day, it's those interactions between employees and guests that leads to the experience. The Tribe understands that. They believe in taking care of employees to our financial expense," said Etess.
Tribe leaders want their development in Luzerne County to grow, as has the facility in Connecticut.
"For our area I think something like this would be great because we traveled four hours to come here, have some fun and gamble so I think for our area it will be great," said Amy Fox of Dickson City. "Everyone we have encountered has been wonderful, very courteous, anything they can help us and do, it's been very accomodating. I think it will bring a lot to the area. If we can have some way to bring people to our area, the more the better."
The Mohegan Tribe expects the state to approve a slot license by next spring. The hope is to put a small amount of slot machines at the Downs then.
Designers want to have construction on the new casino there done in spring, 2006.
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Nov 15, 2004, 1:50 PM
The amount of farmland preserved in the county (WILKES_BARRE"S LUZERNE CO.) has topped 1,000 acres with last week's easement purchases of two farms by the Luzerne County Agricultural Preservation Program
Pennsylvania leads the nation in preserving farmland with 2,491 farms totaling 287,878 acres protected as of October.
Nov 17, 2004, 6:44 PM
The casino (racino)- I can see the lights and hear Pocono Downs from my house. It's right through the woods. This casino sounds like a good idea. People LOVE to gamble around here anyway and now they can keep the money here. W/O the racino they'll be gambling anyway. There's always a chuch bus around taking the old bob-shees and church ladies "downda' LANNIC CITY!!!"...lol
The election I was there the day Bush came to town- I didnt see Bush- but I saw the hoards of anti Bush protestors. Although Bush made gains in Northeast PA this year even in mostly democratic Hazleton, Kerry won the greater W-B/Scranton area BIG TIME. The only people that seemed to vote Bush here were pro-lifers. Irish-Catholic Democrats have been in charge in W-B since the New Deal with FDRoosevelt(and even longer for Scranton), and the voting pop. is largely Polish-American (the ethnic enclaves are traditionally the most democratic- going up to 75% to 80% for Kerry).
According to the Times Leader- people did NOT vote Kerry here because they loved Kerry- but more cause they couldn't stand Bush and mistrusted Republicans since the coal days. That seems SO TRUE!
Farmland Most of the farmland here is either by the river or in the Western County. The soil in Luzerne County is notoriously poor for farming which is one reason we were so industrial. To plant a garden here it helps to buy a load of topsoil...
Downtown WB I'm REALLY looking forward to the new streetlights- I always hated those tacky red ones from the 70's. I hope the new ones are the old fashioned ones- They'll be most appropriate considering the New England background of the area.
Abandoned coal sites any info you guys want on the Huber Breaker or abandoned mine sites guys let me know. My friend works for the conservation department and there are tons of projects to get rid of the ugly culm banks.
Nov 20, 2004, 1:42 AM
Here's a link to several Wilkes-Barre background tidbits..for a rainy day. I didn't know that Jets' coach walt Michaels was a Wilkes-Barrean..I did know about Ham Fisher, creator of the Joe Palooka cartoon strip,,then there was Edie Adams, Nick Adams (Johnny Yuma the REBEL in 60's TV) Lee J. Cobb. Scranton had a bunch of famed personas. Sen. Joe Biden, Lizbeth Scott, actress and more..later,
Nov 26, 2004, 1:16 PM
News of the upcoming "racino". construction to begin soon. Wish I had a rendering of the proposal. Hope it's respectable design at the very least.......
Future Pocono Downs owner: Construction will start in spring
By Tim Gulla , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Plains facility gets ready for eventual slot machines
Although the horses aren't running now, the future owners of the Downs at Pocono say everything else appears to be on track.
Closure on the $280 million purchase is expected by January, and plans to initiate $175 million in new construction and upgrades should start by April or May in order to get the facility ready for an April 2006 opening.
In addition, there will be a new leader at the helm of the harness racing track, and eventual slots parlor, in Plains Township when the sale becomes final.
On Monday, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, the arm of the Mohegan Indian tribe of Connecticut that operates the Mohegan Sun casino and is purchasing the Downs, named one of its executives, Robert Soper, as the track's new president and chief executive.
Soper, who has been at the Mohegan Sun since 2001, serves as the senior vice president of administration. He is responsible for managing the Mohegan Sun's human resources department, security and surveillance, the legal department and shops. Prior to this position, he served as senior attorney for the Mohegan Tribe.
William Velardo, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said MGTA officials will be meeting with Downs employees in mid-December to further discuss plans.
"We're really just hoping to meet everyone and answer questions that they have," he said. "Most employees are curious about the transition and the new company, and we're hoping to be able to answer those questions."
Asked about the possibility of other new faces on the management team at The Downs, Velardo said, "The management that's there now, we are excited about working with."
Velardo said Soper would develop an organizational structure and possibly add three more people to the management team by the spring.
The MGTA's plans - to purchase the track and five off-track wagering sites, obtain a $50 million state license to open a 3,000 to 5,000 machine slots parlor at the track, and upgrade the facilities - are expected to cost $505 million.
Although engineers and architects have not yet been retained, Velardo is expecting most of the upgrades will come in the form of new construction.
"The track itself isn't large enough to add the slot machine component as well as some additional restaurants," he said.
In a conference call with analysts last week, Velardo said the MGTA estimated $55 million to $60 million in annual earnings before interest, tax and depreciation from the facility. Based on market studies, Velardo said the MGTA is expecting annual revenues in excess of $200 million from track and slot operations.
In order to operate harness racing operations, Penn National's license from the state Harness Racing Commission will have to be transferred. The MGTA also will have to secure a slot license from the state's Gaming Control Board, which doesn't plan to organize until a series of meetings set to begin Dec. 14.
As of Wednesday, there's been no formal request to transfer the facility's harness racing license, confirmed Anton Leppler, executive secretary of the state's Harness Racing Commission.
Dec 1, 2004, 1:36 PM
Some great news and some painful news re: Wilkes-Barre's venerable Hotel Sterling. As indicated in the article below, a developer has been found for the 100+ year old original Sterling,
However it looks like the 14 story Tower addition (pictured in Ex-Ithacan's post on page 1 of this thread with the 7 story aspect
shown nearer the Market Street bridge (tower with eagle)) will be TORN DOWN!!! I hate this news. The tower was always visible from everywhere and made for a wonderful visual entrance into Wilkes-Barre when crossing into the city from the Kingston side of the Susquehanna.
The towers has a wonderful penthouse up top with exhilarting Wyoming Valley views. Sob........
The arch. firm of Bohlin, etc. mentioned in the article is the same firm that designed Bill Gates giant house in Washington state. It's in W-B since Bohlin (son of a former local Eberhard Faber pencil ompany exec moved there as a kid with his family.
***********************************Sterling gets developer
CityVest to do the job using millions in grants
By JON FOX
WILKES-BARRE - CityVest, the nonprofit corporation driving the rehabilitation of the Hotel Sterling, is no longer shopping the decrepit landmark to private developers, but is planning to take on the project itself.
"CityVest plans to play an active role through the entire development process," said CityVest Executive Director Alex Rogers.
Within 10 days, CityVest will name three design firms selected to compete in a 10-week design contest to create a final plan to convert the Sterling into premier residential, commercial and retail space.
That vision will focus primarily on the seven-story hotel building at River and West Market streets.
"That's the one with the historical and architectural significance," Rogers said.
Interest in a reincarnated Sterling has already begun to manifest itself, Rogers said. "The number of inquiries we have received from people waiting to live or work in a refurbished Hotel Sterling has vastly surpassed any of our individual expectations."
The 14-story brick tower added later to the Sterling will likely be razed because its floorplan limits renovation options, Rogers said.
The tower features narrow hallways, low ceilings and wide supports that pose significant design hurdles.
"Our current thinking is this comes down," he said.CityVest shifted gears from marketing the Sterling to developers to becoming the developer after receiving millions of dollars in state funding in September.
"The governor's award of $3 million made it clear that we had sufficient capital to complete the project," Rogers said Tuesday as he stood in the battered and trash-strewn Crystal Ballroom on the hotel's second floor.
CityVest bought the Sterling for $1 million and has spent slightly more than $400,000 of a $4 million loan from Luzerne County to secure the building, repair a leaking roof and conducting some preliminary architectural surveys.
With the state money in place, Rogers said CityVest has nearly $7 million, owns the hotel and no longer needs to find a developer.
Response from private developers had been somewhat tepid.
"The conversations never got so far along that we could tell if it was anything more than preliminary fact gathering," Rogers said.
Roger said CityVest has received design proposals from "blue chip" architecture firms interested in the design work, but declined to offer any names.
Peter Bohlin of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the local firm that designed the downtown canopy and the celebrated Apple computer store in Manhattan, says the firm has entered a proposal for the Sterling's renovation.
Whatever firm is selected will have 10 weeks to design a final plan.
Dec 2, 2004, 3:05 PM
Back to Scranton. Every little bit helps! .................
SRA Backs Downtown Developer's Vision
BY LYNNE SLACK SHEDLOCK THE SCRANTON TIMES
The Scranton Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday agreed to help a downtown developer obtain state money to renovate a building seen as an anchor to Wyoming Avenue restoration.
224 Development, headed by Jerry and Joe Ferrario, is partnering with Scranton Tomorrow's Main Street Manager program to seek a state Department of Community and Economic Development grant of up to $250,000. The money would be used to renovate 224 Wyoming Ave.
The SRA will apply for the competitive grant that would be loaned to 224 Development. Once repaid, the money could be loaned out again by the SRA for another project, said Paul Colaiezzi, Scranton Tomorrow executive director. The advantage of using the SRA as the lender is more flexibility concerning terms, he said.
Plans call for a historic renovation of the building's faade at an estimated cost of $100,000, Jerry Ferrario said. The project received a $25,000 matching grant from the city to help with the expense. Work is currently under way on the building's roof. Mr. Ferrario did not have an overall project cost.
The intent is to use the building for commercial development, including a small art gallery that has already committed, Mr. Ferrario said. The building has Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone status, so businesses can operate there free of state and local taxes until 2013.
Mr. Colaiezzi said most of the city's redevelopment so far has been focused on Lackawanna Avenue.
"This opens up Wyoming Avenue as well," he said.
The SRA also followed the city Planning Commission's lead by designating 123-125 N. Washington Ave. a redevelopment area. The commission at its October meeting declared the building blighted. The designation allows developer John Wolfington to seek tax incremental financing from the city, the Scranton School District and Lackawanna County, SRA solicitor Carl Greco said.
Under a 20-year TIF designation, Mr. Wolfington would pay the taxes owed under the current assessment but the tax increase expected from the improvements would be used to pay debt service on a $2.7 million construction loan. The estimated increase on the taxes is $314,000 annually.
The $16 million Connell Building renovation will include 79 one- and two-bedroom apartments, underground parking for residents, and retail space on the first floor. Besides the TIF, financing includes historic tax credits, and grants for infrastructure, faade improvements and remediation, according to the developer's proposal. Projected rent for the apartments is $1,200 per month, not including utilities.
Finally, the SRA authorized application for a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant to be used for the 500 Lackawanna Avenue project.
The $20 million project includes creation of an artist, caf and boutique enclave featuring a park, streetscape improvements and faade upgrades. The application is a procedural step needed to obtain the $9 million grant recently announced for the project by Gov. Ed Rendell.
Dec 7, 2004, 2:28 PM
None too soon!!!!!!!!!
2 city projects may proceed: Redevelopment Authority conveys parcels
By Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
A solicitor for the Wilkes-Barre Redevelopment Authority made two big announcements at Monday's redevelopment authority monthly meeting - both billed as important parts of the revitalization of downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Attorney Frank Hoegan told authority members that the land sales for the South Washington Street and South Main Street development projects have both been closed within the last 30 days.
This means the developers now own the real estate on which the proposed projects will be built and can proceed with construction, he said.
The land on South Washington Street, the future site of a state Department of Labor and Industry building, was transferred in November to South Washington Renewal Associates LLC, operated by local developer Alan Finlay.
The area along South Main Street, the future home of a 14-screen movie theater, apartments, retail space and underground parking, was transferred to South Main Street Redevelopment LLC before Monday's meeting.
Hoegan actually made the pronouncement to the authority only hours after the final documents were signed and exchanged between the parties involved.
The deed will be recorded at the Luzerne County Courthouse today, he said.
Previously, both lots of land were co-owned by Wilkes-Barre City and the redevelopment authority.
There are only several inconsequential post-closing documents that might need to be signed, Hoegan said.
The authority approved a motion to allow Chairman Bill Brace to sign any such documents.
"I think it's a big load lifted," Brace said about the transactions.
"I think it's a major step forward in the revitalization of the downtown," he said.
©The Citizens Voice 2004
Dec 9, 2004, 2:51 PM
Momentum is building in Wilkes-Barre???? Lets' hope this is just the beginning for a fine old town....also that the City fathers & mothers will hold out for the best projects that are well conceived and architected to return the city to an atmosphere of high quality, once imposed by the movers and shapers of the prosperous coal era..........................................................
In addition to the Hotel Sterling salvation, the Susquehanna River Museum, etc., the cineplex/loft apratment/ retail mentioned in previous post, two other projects are going ahead.....
( No architect's rendering appears in the ONline edition of the newspaper. If any In Wilkes-Barre notices and can scan the rendering, it'd be swell....)
Fall groundbreaking eyed for downtown office building
By James Conmy , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
An $8.5 million combination of brick, glass, steel and stone will erase one of Wilkes-Barre's biggest eyesores, city and redevelopment authority officials said Wednesday.
Sometime in the fall of 2005, those officials say a building rising three stories and invigorating the heart of the downtown will open as the new home for two state offices.
Work is under way on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry building. An architect's rendering of the building offers a glimpse of the 70,000 square-foot structure.
The building will house the offices of the Bureau of Disability Determination and Department of Revenue's state lottery. The 280 jobs will relocate from Wilkes-Barre Township.
It also will fill the infamous "hole in the ground" left on South Washington Street when a proposed movie theater complex flopped.
The Wilkes-Barre Redevelopment Authority last spring sold the site for $175,000 to Washington Street Renewal Associates (WSRA), the company developing the building.
Redevelopment Authority Chairman Bill Brace said the architect's rendering and site preparation, including the dismantling of the old theater's concrete footers, mark the beginning of the downtown's restoration.
"The South Washington Street project has been a sore spot for several years," Brace said. "The hole in the ground is becoming a viable parcel."
Alan and Rob Finlay own Humford Equities, one of downtown Wilkes-Barre's largest commercial property holders, and WSRA.
An injunction filed by Humford Equities halted construction on the old theater project in 2001. The company claimed the project infringed on the Wilkes-Barre Center, another one of its buildings.
The easement concerns and a concrete development plan made Humford Equities the only choice, Brace said.
Humford Equities is eager to have another property in downtown, Rob Finlay said.
"There was no progress the previous eight years," Finlay said. "It's nice to finally get in the ground and get some dirt moving. I'm sure this project will generate interest in coming back to the city to lease office and retail space."
Finlay credited Mayor Tom Leighton's administration for providing a cleaner, safer city. The service improvements, coupled with infrastructure investments, will bring people back to downtown, he said.
The Bicentennial Building, another Humford Equities' office and retail complex on Public Square, has leased all available office space, Finlay said.
Leighton commended Gov. Ed Rendell and his administration for recognizing the need for a state office building in the downtown.
"Without the cooperation of the state and local government, along with private developers, the project would not have come to fruition," he said. "This building will bring people into our downtown who will visit our restaurants and stores."
and, a 10,000 Square foot office building, per this link:
©The Citizens Voice 2004
Posted on Thu, Dec. 09, 2004
Dec 9, 2004, 11:11 PM
Scranton news.......The below notes the reinstallation of an enormous old sign on top of a tower in CC Scranton. I can't wait to see it lighted....Hope I can post a picture of it soon
Thursday, December 9, 4:35 p.m.
By Megan Dardanell
Historic Electric City Sign
People in Scranton will see something they haven't seen in years Thursday night and it's going to light up the city. The old Electric City sign will be re-lit, after decades in the dark.
Mary Ann Moran of the Lackawanna Historical Society in Scranton has a drawer full of old articles and pictures outlining the long history of the city's now famous Electric City sign above Linden Street on Courthouse Square. It was meant to symbolize the city's claim to fame, having the first electric powered street car in 1886.
Exactly when the sign went up is hard to nail down. "It's kind of a mystery. We know the building was built in 1896, built as the Board of Trade Building, the forerunner for the Chamber of Commerce. Then in 1926, the building was bought by the Scranton Electric Company," explained Moran.
Many people believed it was the electric company that installed the sign, but it was actually in 1916 that the sign was first lit. There is also a question of exactly when the sign went dark. The best guess is sometime in the early 1970's. That means there are a lot of people in the city, including Moran, who have never seen it lit.
Back in August the sign was dismantled and carefully lowered to the ground to make repairs in preparation for its comeback. Then last week came a sign that the day was nearing as the light bulbs were put in place.
Mary Ann Moran can't wait to see the finished product. "To see something so interesting as a sign lit up on the top of a building, that they've heard, talked about for years, but maybe haven't seen. Some people can remember it being lit. I can't. So, I'm looking forward to it," said Moran.
Dec 10, 2004, 1:24 AM
here's a little fun, takes some patience...It's the Scranton live cam..........you'll need to click on this link...and put up with the rain .... at least tonight
Dec 10, 2004, 2:38 PM
Here's a link to some pics of the Scranton Electric Building & sign:
I cannot find any pictures that I am able 'paste' so links will have to suffice, sorry to say. This link is also show other local projects like the new terminal at W-B Scranton "International" (? wel,l they do have a customs arrival section..lol) Airport, etc.
The Scranton Electric sign is a genuine throwback, a dazzler from another day......... it'll be well visible from the surrounding mountains and hills, perhaps even from I-81 since the Central city situates in a valley.........have patience with this link, or right click if necessary over the photo frame area to force the pictures to reveal....
Dec 10, 2004, 5:13 PM
Wilkes-Barre. Breaking details re: riverfront park development ...
Thursday, December 9, 5:45 p.m.
By Julie Sidoni
Waterfront Development Plan Gets Cash Infusion
Things are a little brighter in Wilkes-Barre tonight for the planners of a park project along the Susquehanna river. It's been on the drawing board for years and now new cash involved.
According to city and county officials, you'll see construction on riverfront park complete with landings and an amphitheater, starting in 2006. Now comes the announcement that funds from private donors are in the mix. "The feds have money involved. There's county money involved. We're going back to the state to get money involved but any time we can get private donations it takes some burden off the county as well," said Luzerne County engineer James Brozena.
A group called the Luzerne Foundation is the first non-government group to offer help with the park's multi-million dollar price tag. Its 225 Millennium Circle members have each given $2,000 for the effort. They're looking for more people to do the same. There will be a tribute to the private donors who helped at the entrance of the park.
Wilkes University student Jeremy Zuckero said he's happy to hear it. The Scranton native thinks Wilkes-Barre hasn't done enough to play up its assets. 'There's plenty of good things to capitalize on; the river, the colleges, the square. It's a good idea in general," he said.
"There's going to be a lot of construction. This is going to be a beautiful city," said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton.
Bids on the riverfront park project are set to go out next year.
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Dec 14, 2004, 2:38 PM
Excellent news re: The Hotel Sterling renovation: 3 high profile firms will take a 'crack' at it...2 from Philly, actually 2.5 cuz the Bohlin firm is in both that city and W-B:
3 firms to work on design phase of Hotel Sterling
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
The competition to give an old building a new life is about to begin, with the selection of three nationally known architectural firms to work on the design phase of the Hotel Sterling on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.
CityVest, a Wilkes-Barre based non-profit community development organization, issued a request for proposals to architectural firms throughout the U.S., and nine responded.
"From that group, we have selected three firms to participate in what we are calling a concept plan and design competition," said Alex Rogers, CityVest executive director.
The three firms are Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Wilkes-Barre (www.bcj.com), Bower Lewis Thrower of Philadelphia (www.blta.com), and Cope Linder, also of Philadelphia (www.cope-linder.com). All three were founded in the 1960s and have designed award-winning properties throughout the U.S.
Rogers advised going to the firms' Web sites to see samples of the projects the firms have worked on, including downtown redevelopment projects similar to that of the Hotel Sterling.
"The projects are what I would describe as very inspiring and creative re-use of older buildings," he said.
Rogers compared the redesign process for the Sterling to that for federal courthouses, where the government awards the design to multiple architectural firms.
"Given the importance of this site and the project, we wanted to encourage the greatest creative and design minds to develop plans for the site as they envision it," Rogers said.
The three architectural firms will now be tasked with preparing a concept plan, which must include a site plan, elevations, and floor plans.
"What we are asking these firms to do is prepare a detailed drawing for the site, consistent with CityVest plans for the site to be a mixed-use commercial and residential zone," Rogers said.
CityVest will have a kickoff meeting in early January, after which the firms will have a 12-week period to complete their work. The expense is capped at $30,000 per firm for all costs associated with the project.
There will be a public presentation of the three plans after the competition, but before the winner is selected. The chosen firm will prepare the final construction drawings for the Hotel Sterling, based on the completed design.
CityVest acquired the Hotel Sterling in November 2002. Since then, the organization has stabilized the building and its roof to prevent further decay, restored electricity, and conducted structural and environmental inspections.
CityVest also prepared drawings and specifications of the existing buildings, engaged Lincoln Property Co. to provide real estate development services, and raised capital for the revitalization project.
"In the overall budget of the project, we view this as a worthwhile investment, to develop a concept plan and drawings," Rogers said.
©The Citizens Voice 2004
Dec 14, 2004, 8:17 PM
And a little more news on the South Main St./ Northampton st. cineplex/loft housing/reatail project: finally, construction fencing!
Posted on Tue, Dec. 14, 2004
Now showing: Some action on W-B theater project
Placement of fence marks beginning on work to make demolition site safe.
By LANE FILLER
WILKES-BARRE - Contractors on Monday erected a chain-link fence along South Main and Northampton streets to keep the rubble in and the curious out.
The new theater project is under way with selective demolition coming soon - and the last thing the city wants is someone to get hurt.
The 14-screen theater complex will sit at South Main and Northampton streets and include parking and retail/residential space.
The placement of the fence marks the beginning of a very aggressive schedule designed to deliver the theater in time for a Thanksgiving 2005 opening, said Larry Newman, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry vice president of economic and community development.
"Environmental abatement is just about to begin, and that's one of the most difficult parts of the project," he said.
Five vacant buildings must be cleared of lead paint, mold, insulation and floor and ceiling tiles and be emptied of debris.
Then they must be knocked down, which would be easy - if they were completely knocked down.
"It's very tricky," Newman said. "We are demolishing the backs of the buildings, but not the fronts, so we can tie in the new buildings to the old facades.
"The soil is very tricky; it's never been packed down properly. And at least one building is filled with trash because it was party central for the homeless for quite a while," he said.
The buildings, from 62 S. Main to 78 S. Main, and the fence will hide much of the progress from public view, but Newman promised feverish if not visible activity.
And though Newman acknowledged that time is growing short, he said an opening date less than 12 months away remains the goal, circumstances permitting.
"Anyone will tell you this is an aggressive ambitious schedule, and there are a lot of variables, including weather, but we are still shooting for November of next year."
The fencing work comes just a week after workers began site preparation on the "theater hole," which will contain the state Labor and Industry building on South Washington Street, which will be home to 280 workers.
TIMES LEADER STAFF PHOTO/DON CAREY
New fencing signals the start of serious work at the site of Wilkes-Barre's new downtown movie theater. The project also includes parking and retail/residential space and is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving 2005--------------
© 2004 Times Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Dec 17, 2004, 1:42 PM
Back in time: Some old-fashioned civic laws: check out the "hokey pokey' thing......
Posted on Fri, Dec. 17, 2004
Out with the old - W-B laws, that is
City abolishes license fees onactivities such as butchering animals and collecting rags.
By LANE FILLER
WILKES-BARRE - If you own a street piano or a hurdy gurdy, now is your chance to make a killing.
City council recently updated license fees on trades and amusement devices in an ordinance that hadn't been touched since 1945.
Some fees went up, others were unchanged, and a whole bunch were removed as part of a housekeeping measure.
A look at those old fees conjures up a different Wilkes-Barre.
"A hurdy gurdy was a street organ, where the operator would have a monkey," said Wilkes-Barre native Curtis Montz, 93, remembering bygone days. "The monkey would come around with a hat and you would put in a penny."
For the privilege of operating a hurdy gurdy or a street piano, the city fathers demanded $2.50 per month.
The rules for places of amusement still exist, but the ordinance no longer singles out penny arcades, nickelets and "Edisonians" as needing to fork over a fee.
"Edisonian" machines allowed folks to watch simple films for a penny. Movie theaters were sometimes referred to as nickelets when admission cost a nickle.
In 1945, anyone who wanted to operate a trackless trolley paid the city $100 per year, but a street railway car incurred only a $50 fee.
"I remember when they were still on the square," Montz said of the electric trolleys, "and cars would have to circle Public Square for 20 minutes looking for an open parking space, one of the diagonal ones we had back then."
Companies producing steam heat paid $25 per year for every mile of pipe. Four types of street salesmen ponied up as well: Hawkers, hucksters, vendors and peddlers.
Before the ice cream truck came the "Hokey Pokey" men, fellows who sold ice cream out of carts for a penny and shouted, "Hokey Pokey, a penny a lump, the more you eat the more you jump."
They must have sold plenty because the city charged them 2,500 pennies per year for the privilege.
Whole professions have disappeared from the landscape during the intervening decades. Bill posting companies, paid to hang advertisements for new movies, stage shows or politicians, paid the city a $50 fee each year.
Slaughter houses, also known as abattoirs, dotted Wilkes-Barre, paying $100 per year. The last, a chicken-processing plant, closed in the 1980s.
"Curbstone Markets" operated day-to-day, forking over 50 cents per day to the city to sell their wares.
"I remember when the milkmen had horses, and glass bottles," Montz said. "and when the steam heat went away, an awful lot of folks had to put furnaces in their house."
Today, ice cream sits in the supermarket freezer, arcade games are played at home on TV, and the movie theater could be more accurately called an 'eightdollaret."
No one comes to the house to sell vegetables or buy rags.
But you can still board a carrier pigeon at your home or office. Just pay $30 per year for the license and have fun.
© 2004 Times Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Dec 19, 2004, 2:26 PM
--Look for Scranton on the tube soon..at least a televised facsimile.... lol------------------------------------------------------
Posted on Sun, Dec. 19, 2004
Scranton prepares for its TV debut as backdrop for "The Office"
SCRANTON, Pa. - Greg Daniels isn't from Scranton.
As far as he knows, he's never even set foot in the city.
And yet, the acclaimed television writer and producer thinks he can successfully translate The Electric City to the small screen this winter. As many of you already know, Scranton will serve as the backdrop for the upcoming American version of the hit British sitcom "The Office." "The Office: An American Workplace" will begin airing on NBC sometime in early 2005.
The idea to set the show in The Electric City came from Daniels, the show's executive producer and "show runner," the showbiz term for a sitcom's head writer.
A quick glance of Daniels' resume is reason enough to believe the show has a fighting chance of being funny, if not a bona fide hit.
An alum of Harvard University's famed humor magazine The Lampoon, a breeding ground for countless sitcom writers, Daniels has written for "Saturday Night Live" (where his writing partner was Conan O'Brien), "The Simpsons" and the long-running Fox animated comedy, "King of the Hill," which he co-created with "Beavis and Butt-head" and "Office Space" creator Mike Judge.
During a recent telephone interview from his Los Angeles office, Daniels, 41, said he was inspired in several ways to give Scranton the TV treatment.
"You know those Valentine's Day cards and Halloween cards you get when you're a kid?" said Daniels, a New York City native whose closest contact with Scranton has been a trip or two to the Poconos. "You'd turn them to the back and they'd say, 'Made in Scranton.'"
Turns out, those cards are produced at the Scranton-based Paper Magic Group. This is significant in that "The Office: An American Workplace" takes place at the fictitious Dunder-Mifflin paper distribution company (on the British version, whose reruns air on the cable channel BBC-America, the company's name is Wernham-Hogg).
"We were thrilled. We're so excited about it," said Karen Rickaby, a human resources specialist at Paper Magic.
She said a team of production people from the show met with officials from the Paper Magic Group several months ago to learn more about the business and gather details about life in northeastern Pennsylvania. "At first we didn't know whether to take them seriously. We made them show us all their credentials," she said with a laugh.
Another contributing factor to the show being set in Scranton was Daniels' reverence for the writer John O'Hara, who set many of his short stories in Gibbsville, a fictional town modeled heavily after another eastern Pennsylvania city known for its coal mining days - Pottsville.
In this respect, Daniels saw a natural correlation between Scranton and the backdrop of the original "Office," the English industrial town of Slough, located about 25 miles west of London.
"It seems to me that the people (of Scranton) have had an industrial history that's similar to England," he said.
"Also, it's close to New York, but not close enough that people would commute," Daniels continued, noting his assumption that most Scrantonians don't visit New York all that much, just like the residents of Slough don't often travel to London.
Finally, Daniels said, Scranton is "a great name. It sounds good." So that explains Daniels' reasoning behind picking it. But that still leaves an important question - How does he intend to depict Scranton?
It's no secret the city has been the butt of wisecracks on shows like "All in the Family," "The Sopranos," "The Simpsons" and "Friends." Daniels, who claims ignorance of TV's penchant for Scranton slights, said his representation of Scranton would be neither good nor bad, but "realistic."
Makes sense, considering "The Office" is shot in faux-documentary style and Daniels has taken pains to capture the look and feel of contemporary Texas with "King of the Hill." "King of the Hill" is set in Arlen, Texas, which doesn't exist but is largely based on a suburb of Austin. Daniels and the show's writers have all visited Austin to get the nuances of the area and its people right.
"It helps with the tone of the show," he said. "When you pick a specific place, you tend to use stuff that's true about that specific place."
While Daniels hasn't visited Scranton yet, he has every intention of coming here should NBC renew the show after its initial run. One of the show's stars, John Krasinski, traveled to the city a few months ago with a small documentary crew and shot the outside of the building where Paper Magic is located and the long-closed downtown bar The Office. Coincidentally, the two buildings are located right across the street from each other on Adams Avenue.
"Seemed like good karma," Daniels said.
Daniels said another camera crew will soon travel to Scranton for additional exterior shots.
"Do you have any suggestions?" he asked a reporter.
The city won't come up a tremendous amount in the show's first six episodes, but Daniels assured its presence will be felt. Through the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, the show has received a number of Scranton-specific props - newspapers, phone books, posters - that have been incorporated into the scripts.
For instance, in one episode, a character becomes obsessed with Red Barons Bobblehead dolls. In another, the office staff orders lunch from Cugino's in Dunmore.
"We found Cugino's right in the phone book," Daniels said.
However, since the taping of each show exceeds the standard sitcom length of 22 minutes, Daniels couldn't guarantee that those scenes will make it past the editing process.
One thing he can guarantee is a concerted effort to foster the kind of viewer familiarity achieved by "The Drew Carey Show" and its backdrop, Cleveland. That show proved beneficial to the Ohio city, which, like Scranton, was once a perennial entertainment industry doormat.
"We certainly hope people know it's set in Scranton," Daniels said. "It feels good to me to put it in Scranton."
We'll find out in a few months if the feeling is mutual.
© 2004 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Dec 21, 2004, 1:31 AM
A story about some very enterprising women with confidence in Wilkes-Barre's revivification (too much caffeine...)
Mansion buyers hope to preserve downtown 'gem'
By Denise Allabaugh , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
The five women who purchased the historic Wilkes-Barre mansion that formerly housed the Wyoming Valley chapter of the American Red Cross are weighing options for the building's future.
Pat Finan of Quinary Group, one of the five who purchased the building at 156 S. Franklin St., said the group is considering a plan that would turn the structure into an apartment building with office space.
In addition to Finan, the Quinary Group consists of Janet Flack, Mary Louise Faber, Maureen Straub and Kathleen Goodwin. Their goal is to revitalize downtown Wilkes-Barre, Finan said.
"We have been together for about one year now," Finan said. "We really got together to be part of the revitalization of the downtown. We are very interested in historic buildings."
Finan would not say how much it cost to purchase the Red Cross building, which was the former home of the Stegmaier family. The deed has not yet been filed in Luzerne County Court.
Plans for the building have not been finalized, Finan said.
"We're going to try to maintain it so that it is still be a gem within the City of Wilkes-Barre," Finan said.
Finan, a private health care consultant, is chairwoman of the Children's Service Center board and a member of the Osterhout Library board. She is the former president and CEO of Wyoming Valley Health Care System.
Flack is the owner of Janet Flack Interiors in Wyoming. Faber is a retired lawyer. Straub is senior vice president of First Federal Bank in Shavertown. Goodwin is an accountant.
"We are all dedicated to this area and we feel strongly the city is coming back," Finan said. "All of us are very active in the community."
On Jan. 5, the Wyoming Valley chapter of the American Red Cross will move from the former Stegmaier family mansion to a bigger location at 256 N. Sherman St. in Wilkes-Barre.
The new property was previously owned by Commonwealth Communications.
The Red Cross served the people of the Wyoming Valley from their South Franklin Street location for 51 years.
Mike Zimmerman, executive director of the Red Cross, said their current site measures 13,000 square feet, but only has 9,500 square feet of usable space and 18 parking spaces.
The new location on North Sherman Street has 17,500 square feet of usable space and 110 parking spaces, Zimmerman said. It will provide more space for the 19 paid Red Cross staff members and the more than 1,400 volunteers. It also will allow the Red Cross to offer more services, including blood drives and shelter for flood victims, he said.
The Stegmaier mansion was built in 1911 and designed by architects Knapp and Bosworth, said Jesse Teitelbaum, executive director of the Luzerne County Historical Society. It cost about $1 million to construct, Red Cross officials said.
The Stegmaier mansion sits next to several other historic buildings, which Wilkes University purchased. The former home of Frederick Weckesser, a top executive with the Woolworth Company, is next door to the former Stegmaier home.
Weckesser's home at 170 S. Franklin St. underwent many transformations through the years. It is now the site of Wilkes University's Weckesser Hall.
©The Citizens Voice 2004
Dec 21, 2004, 2:14 PM
Lackawanna County Stadium; naming rights available: current prospect...Jack Willliam's Tires for $5.3M, 15 year deal.
This beautiful smaller stadium is home to the Wilkes-Barre- Scranton Red Barons (originally the WB Barons as in coal barons) tripleA Phillies farm team. Iis located near Scranton at Montage Mountain, below the Montage ski Resort and a 20,000 seat concert venue (summer) that draws big name international bands.
Here's a link with great photos...
Dec 21, 2004, 2:18 PM
While I'm at it re: ^^^^^, here's Montage Mountain link with pics:
Jan 1, 2005, 2:57 PM
Slots parlors in PA: let the fun begin! Here's a look at Scranton businessman Louis DeNaples entry..and his problem....given his $25M purchase of Mt. Airy Lodge in the nearby POCONOS>>>
Pocono slots plan tainted
New owner of Mt. Airy Lodge linked to mob
By CHRIS BRENNAN
A Northeastern Pennsylvania businessman named in a 2001 federal document as having ties to organized crime purchased the defunct Mount Airy Lodge yesterday and has expressed interest in seeking a slot machine license.
The upside for businessman Louis DeNaples: He also has close ties to William Conaboy, a member of the new state Gaming Control Board, which will implement and regulate slot machine gambling.
The downside: Federal and state investigators, as part of a 2001 probe into illegal gambling, extortion and money laundering, linked DeNaples to William "Big Billy" D'Elia, the reputed head of the Bufalino Crime family in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Gaming Control Board, in its first meeting earlier this month, spent hours discussing ways to keep organized crime from infiltrating what is expected to be a $3 billion industry.
Gov. Rendell signed a law in July legalizing 61,000 slot machines at 14 venues across the state.
Conaboy refused to comment on the alleged connection between DeNaples and D'Elia.
Through a Gaming Control Board spokesman, Conaboy said he has served as DeNaples' attorney and considers him a friend.
"If and when Mr. DeNaples applies for a license to operate a gaming facility in Pennsylvania, or any other license under the jurisdiction of the Gaming Control Board, I will bring this information to the attention of the board and its counsel and seek their advice on how to proceed," he said.
Tad Decker, the board's chairman, said he doesn't know if the alleged links between DeNaples and D'Elia are true.
"That's going to be something we find out if and when Mr. DeNaples applies for a license," Decker said. "He's going to have a background check like anyone else."
An IRS criminal investigator and a State Police trooper from the organized crime unit in May 2001 submitted a 46-page affidavit to a federal magistrate to authorize several search warrants.
The investigators cited information from four confidential informants. They also described following D'Elia and another man, Sam Marranca, three times to DeNaples' office in Dunmore, Pa.
Among the allegations made in the affidavit:
• One informant, described as a gambler who paid part of his debts by acting as a cash courier, said all of the illegal gambling proceeds in Northeastern Pennsylvania go through D'Elia, who has strong ties to organized crime in Philadelphia and New York.
• That informant said DeNaples made "good will" payments to D'Elia. "D'Elia, for the payments received, would occasionally do whatever DeNaples needed."
• That informant said D'Elia sent him to DeNaples' home in October 1996, where DeNaples gave him a nylon bag and paid him $10,000 to take it to a restaurant in New Jersey.
• Another informant said DeNaples paid D'Elia to keep other mobsters away from his business.
"DeNaples and his company, Keystone Landfill, have been paying D'Elia 'protection money' for a number of years."
• A third informant said D'Elia has sold future rights to dumping at Keystone Landfill in Dunmore, known as "airspace."
That allegation is backed up in the 1990 Pennsylvania Crime Commission report, which described D'Elia as a "waste broker."
• A fourth informant tipped investigators to a 1997 meeting D'Elia set up in Philadelphia with Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and other local mob figures. Investigators observed the meeting.
D'Elia, who did not return phone calls, was not charged in the investigation.
New Jersey's Casino Control Commission last year banned D'Elia from Atlantic City casinos, citing his ties to organized crime.
The warrant did not ask for permission to search DeNaples' home or office. He was not charged with a crime in the case.
DeNaples did not respond to a request for an interview.
A D'Elia associate named in the affidavit, Sam Marranca of Forty Fort, Pa., pleaded guilty last year to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to 46 months in prison.
Gordon Zubrod, the assistant U.S. Attorney in the case, declined yesterday to say if there is still an active investigation under way involving the affidavit.
State Sen. Bob Mellow selected Conaboy for the Gaming Control Board. The connection between Conaboy and DeNaples is not a problem, he said.
"He's as honest as today is Thursday," Mellow said yesterday. "If there's a conflict of interest, he can always recuse himself. He doesn't have to participate."
Conaboy is also general counsel for Allied Services, a Scranton health care company. DeNaples serves on that company's board.
Conaboy also serves on the board of First National Community Bank, where DeNaples is chairman. Federal records show Conaboy made $95,960 last year by exercising options on 8,000 shares of bank stock.
Mellow, who has advocated for at least one of the slots licenses being placed in Northeastern Pennsylvania, praised the DeNaples' family as "very astute business individuals" active in charity.
"I'm sure if there's any impropriety, through a background investigation, it's all going to come out," Mellow said.
Mt. Airy No. 1 LLC, run from DeNaples' offices, paid $25,100,000 for the 1,200-acre Mount Airy Lodge in Mount Pocono, according to paperwork filed yesterday in the Monroe County Register-Recorder's office.
This is not the first time the taint of organized crime has caused problems for the Gaming Control Board.
Rendell's first pick for the chairman's post, Frank Friel, stepped down before starting after the Daily News revealed he helped an alleged mob associate from Philadelphia regain a boxing license at a Connecticut casino.
A company operated out of DeNaples offices, RAM Consultants, contributed $125,000 to Rendell's run for governor.
Rendell's spokeswoman, Kate Philips, would only say: "There are hundreds of people from across the state who supported the governor's bid for office."
© 2004 Philadelphia Daily News and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Jan 1, 2005, 4:38 PM
Local boy makes good: native of Kingston (the historic small city across the Susquehanna from Central Wilkes-Barre and home of notable private school Wyoming Seminary: I'm not sure this case is what I would want to be noted for... :)
Kingston native defending 'Baretta' star in murder case
By Tim Gulla , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach is far removed from his days growing up in Kingston yet he continues to carry a piece of the Wyoming Valley with him every day.
There's a smile in his voice as he talks about playing basketball, baseball, or attending Kingston schools as a youngster and he remembers the street names with clarity.
A lawyer who has made a name for himself with some high-profile cases, Schwartzbach now can be seen at the side of actor Robert Blake, who's currently on trial in Van Nuys, California, for the murder of his Blake's wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. Trial of the former "Baretta" star is on break for the holidays and will resume Jan. 4.
Schwartzbach, born in Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in 1944, grew up on North Dawes Avenue in Kingston. He hasn't been back to the Wyoming Valley, though, since 2002, when there was a 40th class reunion of Wyoming Seminary graduates. When he came back, he spent his time with lifelong friend Dr. David Greenwald, who grew up only a block away from Schwartzbach.
"It was a wonderful place to grow up," Schwartzbach said of Kingston.
"I frequently tell people the values that I learned, the values that motivated me to be the type of lawyer I try to be and always tried to be, were instilled in me both by my family and the values that I received growing up in a small town."
Though it may sound "trite," he said, "It's true."
Schwartzbach left the area to go to college in Pittsburgh and, later, Washington D.C., where he earned his law degree in 1969. He subsequently joined VISTA - Volunteers in Service to America - and was sent to Detroit to perform volunteer legal work. He later settled in the San Francisco area.
Since March, however, he's been spending most of his time in Los Angeles area to represent Robert Blake.
A recent experience reminded him of the peace and tranquility of his younger days. " I had my apartment broken into in Los Angeles recently," he said. "As a child, I never had a key to my house. The doors were always unlocked."
Reflections on his days in Kingston sparked memories of coal deliveries, milkmen, and people going door to door selling huckleberries.
"I'm very thankful I had an opportunity to grow up in that environment," he said.
Jan 6, 2005, 12:50 AM
Here's some more 'skinny' re: Scranton businessman Louis DeNaples, his purchase of Mt. Airy Lodge in the Poconos and the smell test facing the Commonwealth in selecting from among those who are expected to try to obtain licenses for slots parlors as soon as the mechanisms for choosing are in place....
This might be a good time to indiccate that Northeastern PA has quite a history with organized crime figures from years back..the Bufalino family etc. originally having to do with rackteering in the coal business: I wouldn't venture to say that Mr. DeNaples falls within the same context. We'll see how it plays out......
Posted on Wed, Jan. 05, 2005
Potential slots applicant shows what board faces
By John Sullivan and Mark Fazlollah
Inquirer Staff Writers
Louis A. DeNaples, a Scranton-area businessman who wants to build a gambling hall at a defunct Mount Pocono resort he recently bought, might test some of the issues that the state's new gambling control board will face as it awards slots licenses.
The board, which is not expected to receive applications for licenses for many months, would have to navigate many aspects of DeNaples' activities, should he seek one.
DeNaples has had ties to politicians, giving heavily to their campaigns; to a gambling-board member; and - law enforcement officials say - to a reputed organized-crime figure.
And he has a federal felony conviction for fraud from 1978.
DeNaples did not return calls Monday and yesterday seeking comment.
"If Mr. DeNaples decides to apply for a license, he'll face the same scrutiny as anyone else who applies," Nick Hays, a spokesman for gambling board chairman Thomas A. "Tad" Decker, said yesterday.
Former gambling commissioners in other states said that any gambling control board must consider all relevant information in determining the fitness of an applicant.
"A person's background, including criminal history, financial dealings, and reputation in the community, are among the factors that are considered by every and any gaming-licensing authority," said Carl Zeitz, a former member of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.
Zeitz, who would not speak directly to the DeNaples case, said that in New Jersey licensing decisions the standards of proof are substantially less than those in criminal courts.
"Evidence is given the weight regulators believe it should be afforded, unless there's something clearly disqualifying" an applicant, he said.
Pennsylvania's new gambling law stipulates that a criminal conviction automatically knocks out a slots applicant if the conviction occurred within the last 15 years.
Otherwise, the board must decide.
One of the members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board who might be asked to do so is William P. Conaboy, a Scranton-area lawyer with close personal and financial ties to DeNaples.
The two men have been friends for 25 years.
Conaboy also sits on the board of the First National Community Bank in Dunmore, Pa.; DeNaples is the bank's director and its single largest shareholder.
Conaboy has earned $95,960 from the sale of bank stock, according to financial records. He also has a home mortgage through the bank.
Long before DeNaples purchased the Pocono resort - the 1,000-acre Mount Airy Lodge - he was mentioned by insiders at the state Capitol as someone interested in seeking a slots license. Less than two weeks after the legislature passed a bill allowing slot machines at 14 locations across the state, DeNaples and Scranton-area accountant Robert Rossi organized Mount Airy No. 1 L.L.C., the company that purchased the lodge for $25 million.
Since the purchase, reports of DeNaples' organized-crime connections have come to light, including his alleged association with William "Big Billy" D'Elia, whom law-enforcement have identified as the head of the Bufalino crime family in northeastern Pennsylvania. But many of those allegations have been circulating since the 1980s.
Between 1983 and 1990, DeNaples' name has appeared in three Pennsylvania Crime Commission reports alleging some association between him and suspected mob figures.
In one instance, the commission cited the involvement of a mob associate, James Osticco, in attempting to fix a trial in which DeNaples and three Lackawanna County government employees were charged with defrauding the federal government. DeNaples and the three others entered no-contest pleas on April 5, 1978, to federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the government. Each was given a three-year suspended sentenced and fined, the Crime Commission said.
James Kanavy, a former special agent with the Crime Commission, said he remembered DeNaples. "Based on Crime Commission surveillance reports, during the time of the surveillance D'Elia went to DeNaples Auto Parts on an almost daily basis," Kanavy said in an interview yesterday.
In 2003, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission banned D'Elia from doing business with any casino in the state, saying he had ties to the mob, according to the New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement.
"D'Elia has been identified by the Pennsylvania Crime Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a soldier in the Bufalino organized-crime family of La Cosa Nostra, otherwise known as the Pittston La Cosa Nostra family," said Daniel Heneghan, a spokesman for the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.
D'Elia filed a response to the ban in which he denied the charges, but he did not fight them, saying instead he would apply at a later date.
Other alleged contacts that D'Elia had with DeNaples were detailed in a 46-page affidavit submitted in May 2001 at a federal court in Harrisburg. The information in it was gathered by an IRS investigator and a member of the state police's organized-crime unit seeking search warrants in a federal investigation into an illegal multi-state gambling operation.
Four confidential informants alleged in the affidavit that DeNaples made payments to D'Elia and that in return D'Elia would do "whatever DeNaples needed," according to the affidavit. The document provided no further details.
Another informant said DeNaples made protection payments of an unspecified amount to D'Elia to keep the mob away from his businesses.
The affidavit also said that D'Elia worked as an independent middleman selling space in a DeNaples landfill.
No charges were ever filed against DeNaples or D'Elia in the case from which the affidavit arose.
Phillip Gelso, a Wilkes-Barre lawyer who represents D'Elia, declined to comment.
For years, DeNaples has made substantial contributions to local, state and national campaigns, both Democratic and Republican, according to state campaign records. During the last four years alone, DeNaples, his wife and his brother have jointly contributed more than $1 million to political campaigns through a variety of entities.
They gave $184,000 to the Republican National Committee and the Republican Congressional Committee, and an additional $24,000 to the Bush-Cheney drive and other federal campaigns.
They have given $262,550 to state and local candidates through their D&L Realty, including $50,000 to Mayor Street.
DeNaples' firm RAM Consultants gave $345,000 to state campaigns, including $115,000 to Gov. Rendell. And in their own names, they have made $212,000 in contributions in the last four years to Pennsylvania races.
DeNaples' partner in the Pocono project, Rossi, has also been a major contributor.
In the mid-1990s, Rossi was a heavy contributor to the political action committee of Philadelphia lawyer Ronald A. White, who died last year after his federal indictment on corruption charges.
Rossi and two associates gave money to Rendell's campaign for governor in 2001, donating a total of $30,000 that year and another $30,000 the next year.
Kate Philips, a spokeswoman for Rendell, who has long been a proponent of legalized gambling in the state, said DeNaples is just one among many contributors to the $42 million campaign fund he used in his run for governor.
Rossi did not respond to a request for comment.
Contact staff writer John Sullivan at 717-787-5934 or email@example.com. Inquirer staff writer George Anastasia contributed to this article.
© 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Jan 9, 2005, 2:44 PM
NYC to Scranton (connecting to W-B) train service restoration? Not So Fast!
Train on Slow Track
The original date was 2005. For most of the last few years, it was 2006. More recently, it was 2007 or 2008, depending on who was estimating.
"I can remember back in 1991, when I came back to the area ... we were talking about it being up and running in two or three years," said James Finan, Lackawanna County's director of transportation, who left a federal job in Chicago to run the county's bus line.
Indeed, efforts to restore passenger railroad service inched along again in 2004, and the year ended with doubts about how much progress to expect this year or ever. The best guess during the year for the startup of service was 2010.
"For a lot of people, it's turned into an urban legend," said Wayne Meyers, the editor of the poconocommuter.com, a Web site partly for people interested in the train.
Planning blew past what some thought was a year-end milepost for submitting an application for money from the federal government, dollars needed if the project is to happen.
By the end of this year, according to two Lackawanna County officials on a bi-state planning committee, New Jersey Transit was supposed to submit an application that, if rated favorably by federal officials, would move the project into its preliminary engineering phase. Officials with the transit agency, which is overseeing development and would operate the train, said only an environmental assessment, a precursor to the full application, was to be completed by year end.
Neither is ready.
Still, despite years of slow progress, the push for the train is hardly off the rails:
Last year, New Jersey Transit nailed down a better construction estimate, $350 million.
By May, planners expect a completed environmental assessment. Sometime after that -- New Jersey Transit isn't saying when -- the agency will apply for permission to begin preliminary engineering, which is when project details are firmed up.
In a couple of years, most projects under construction across the nation will be completed, freeing up federal money for new ones, according to a lobbyist for new train projects.
And the local project continues to have a key advantage -- New Jersey or Northeastern Pennsylvania railroad authorities already control the 88 miles of necessary railroad right-of-way between Scranton and Port Morris, N.J. where the new train would meet existing tracks. Normally, land is acquired right before construction.
New Jersey alone spent $21 million to buy the Lackawanna Cutoff, a mostly straight 28-mile slab of right-of-way east of the Delaware Water Gap where trains will run the fastest.
With that kind of money spent, many find it hard to believe the project won't happen eventually.
Mr. Meyers said he thinks growing traffic congestion on Interstate 80 will force New Jersey Transit officials to get more serious than he thinks they are now.
"Frankly, I'm surprised they haven't made it a higher priority," he said.
Ken Hitchner, a spokesman for New Jersey Transit, said the agency is interested in seeing the planning process move forward.
"We're very serious about moving the process along and advancing this," Mr. Hitchner said. Beyond planning, he declined to rank the project's importance among the agency's other proposed railroad projects, except to say they're all behind a $16 billion project to build new train tunnels into Manhattan.
Supporters say a Scranton-to-Hoboken, N.J., railroad will ease I-80 traffic congestion in northern New Jersey as drivers from the Poconos switch to commuting by train. Supporters also say it will spur development and tourism along its path.
How much and how far west, though, is unclear. A ridership study completed last year estimated ridership of 2,800 per day by 2025, mostly from the Poconos. The initial estimates said only 45 a day would come from Scranton, something officials promised to review. Last August, the bi-state committee briefly talked about -- and then scrapped -- the idea of lopping Scranton off the trip because of low ridership.
Lackawanna County supporters excuse the low Scranton ridership estimate by saying it excludes leisure and weekend travelers. The county's ridership might also be depressed because some residents trying to save time would likely travel east to the first Monroe County train stop rather than back toward Scranton.
THIS YEAR'S PROSPECTS
Currently, there's only the May target for the environmental assessment. There's no schedule for submitting the application for approval of preliminary engineering or, more importantly, no certain date for the first train's departure.
Even when the environmental assessment is done, it is unclear how much closer to reality the project gets this year. Once the assessment is done, Mr. Hitchner said officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania will have to talk about committing dollars. Each state's share might be up to $87.5 million for construction plus operating subsidies because fares aren't expected to be enough.
A full-blown financial commitment isn't required before preliminary engineering, but the more committed the better, according to a federal government Web site. Mr. Hitchner said New Jersey Transit will want a firm financial plan before seeking approval for preliminary engineering.
Gov. Ed Rendell has publicly said he supports the project, but his spokesman said he is awaiting more definitive cost estimates before committing money.
At least Pennsylvania has a potential source -- roughly $2 billion approved last year for statewide economic development -- to help build the railroad.
By July 1, 2006, New Jersey will be out of money for new transportation projects, Jack Kanarek, director of project development and planning for New Jersey Transit, said in a recent interview. And raising new money will be tough in a state struggling with multi-billion-dollar budget deficits.
FINISHING THE JOB
The key to making the project happen is convincing the Federal Transit Administration of its worthiness. The agency must rate a project "recommended" or "highly recommended" to move it into preliminary engineering and keep progressing.
The rating depends on how much a project improves a passenger's ability to reach a destination, how much it benefits the environment, how efficiently it operates, whether the cost is worth the benefits, and how well a project supports existing development, according to the agency's Web site.
Once the project application is submitted, its future is hardly assured.
The good news is that by Oct. 1, 2006, all but four or five of the railroad projects funded for construction will be completed, said Jeff Boothe, a lobbyist for the New Starts Coalition, a group that aids new railroad projects. So money for building new projects is more likely to be available, he said.
The bad news is between 150 and 200 projects are in some phase of study or development and, he said, only 20 to 25 percent will "actually make it to construction."
Faced with stiff congressional scrutiny of its spending, the federal agency has worked hard to weed out projects it deems unworthy, Mr. Boothe said.
"I think FTA has, frankly, been too harsh for who gets in," he said.
Mr. Finan and Steve Pitoniak, two Lackawanna County members on the bi-state advisory committee planning the project, said they had expected an application for preliminary engineering by the end of 2004.
But, Mr. Pitoniak said, New Jersey Transit officials delayed in asking their board to allocate existing federal funding to pay the consultant developing the application.
"The money was not sent to the consultants for a couple of months, July and August. They didn't do the paperwork," he said.
Minutes of the committee's Aug. 12 meeting obtained by The Sunday Times confirm his statement, but don't specify its duration. At the meeting, a New Jersey Transit official pledged to speed up the process.
Mr. Hitchner denied the delay had to do with allocating money. He blamed it on a switch in the location of one of the proposed Poconos stations, which required a redesign.
He said only the environmental assessment was supposed to be done by the end of the year. Mr. Pitoniak disputed that, saying the assessment was due by the fall.
Mr. Kanarek blamed the confusion on a failure to properly communicate a timetable.
"I don't think we were specific enough on the schedule," he said.
But Jeffrey Stiles, a staff member with the project's consultant, Edwards & Kelcey, spoke optimistically about the project's progress at a Dec. 16 committee meeting. The assessment will likely find no significant impact on the environment. A finding otherwise could have delayed the project further.
"We've been a long time getting to this point," Mr. Stiles said. "It's ... finally moving forward.
Jan 10, 2005, 2:34 PM
News of progress re: the new airport terminal :
Airport committee to evaluate art proposals
By Denise Allabaugh , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Twelve people submitted art proposals to enhance the new $35.7 million Joseph M. McDade Terminal Building being constructed at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
The airport Public Arts Committee, consisting of eight members, will choose the best work.
"We're looking for something which represents the history and heritage of the region," said Chris Ries, an artist and a committee member.
The art budget for the new building is $120,000, said David Gilmore, associate principal director of design for Highland Associates, Clarks Summit, which handled the engineering of the project and led the call for artists.
"Right now, we are in the selection process," Gilmore said. "We had a call for artists, asking for submissions. We are reviewing the art and there will be seven finalists."
Those who submitted art proposals include Herbert B. Simon, Shavertown, sculptor; Charles Wells, sculptor; Hank Fells, Dalton, sculptor/painter; Claire Marcus, Bethlehem, textile fabrics; George Strasburger, Scranton, painter; William Chickillo, Dalton, pastels and charcoal; Jay and Mary Ann Paulukonis, Dalton, stained glass; Margie Cohen, Stroudsburg, stained glass; James Gloria, Bangor, acrylic on canvass painter; Steven M. Linden, Stroudsburg, and William Persteeg, Dalton, a ceramic artist.
Voting committee members, in addition to Ries, are Barry Centini, airport director; Al Brocavich, airport director of engineering; Dr. Catherine Richmond-Cullen, Sally Bohlin, Bob Curry, Shelley Pearce and Allison Maslow.
Ries said artists presented slides of their work, and the committee is looking for "something that may have multiple layers of interest."
Art will be displayed in several areas of the new terminal building, including the entrance plaza, the tunnel entrance, on top of the escalators, and in the main lobby, which will be located between ticketing and baggage claim areas.
"We're looking for a sculpture for the plaza and we are looking for mural art for the tunnel entrance," Ries said. "We're looking at the possibility of some stained glass windows and perhaps some sort of textiles or art work hung from the ceilings."
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport officials broke ground for the 127,000-square-foot new terminal building in October and it is 35 percent complete, Brocavich said. It is scheduled to open in the fall, he said.
HNTB Architecture of Washington, D.C., is the designer and Sordoni Construction is the prime contractor of the building, which will include a concourse with eight boarding gates. Six boarding gates will include passenger-boarding bridges.
The new building was named after Joseph M. McDade, Northeastern Pennsylvania's former long-time 10th District congressman.
It will replace the existing terminal, which was built in 1954 and renovated in 1980 and 1990. Yet, the Federal Aviation Administration did not approve the demolition of the existing terminal, which has a control tower on top, said airport director Centini. Airport officials are considering selective demolition, he said.
The main level of the terminal will include airline ticketing, ticket queuing and baggage claim and rental car counter areas. On the upper level, people can greet passengers arriving at the airport, eat dinner or a snack, or visit the newsstand, gift shop and business center.
The center of the terminal building, which will be the primary location for the art, terminates at the top of escalators, where there is a panoramic view of the mountains.
Ries said art and architecture would be integrated in the new "stunningly beautiful building" which has a "gorgeous interior."
"The airport will be an asset and a source of pride for the community," Ries said.
Planning for the airport expansion dates back to 1993 and construction began in 2001. A new 246,800-square-foot, four-level parking garage and new parking lots were completed. A pedestrian tunnel will connect the parking garage and lots with the new terminal.
Jan 10, 2005, 9:23 PM
If I were to say that Wilkes-Barre/Wyoming Valley pre-dated Hollywood in the movie making industry would you believe me????
Jan 11, 2005, 8:37 PM
Oay, here's a look at the Valley's (Wyoming Valley) date with film destiny in the borough of Forty Fort which is next to Kingston, across the Susquehanna from downtown Wilkes-Barre; (BTW they've been trying to get these and other surrounding boroughs to merge with Wilkes-Barre for some time, creating a larger city of maybe 150,000 or more, as the Valley has lots of peeps in contiguous developed communities. But, back to the film industry :)
Welcome to CinemaTour!
Forty Fort and It's Movie Family
Contributed by Thomas Alexander
Published on July 31, 2003
FORTY FORT: A BRIEF LOOK AT THE TOWN
Forty Fort, Pennsylvania. This odd-sounding little borough at the foot of the Pocono Mountains in the northeastern portion of the state actually got its name from the first forty settlers who built a fort there during America's revolutionary days. It became a borough in 1887. During the end of the 19th century and through the first half of the 20th century, Forty Fort was at the center of the coal mining industry. But, by the early 1960's, coal mining's heyday was over.
The Susquehanna River, which had flooded many sections of the Wyoming Valley on several occasions over the years, always seemed to spare Forty Fort. But that changed in 1972, when Hurricane Agnes turned its furious wrath on the unsuspecting citizens. However, the people of the community united, and today the borough remains as the crown jewel of the west side of the Wyoming Valley.
A SECRET MOST RESIDENTS DON'T KNOW
One very little known fact about Forty Fort is its place in motion picture history. In the earliest days of silent cinema, the emerging movie moguls had their offices in Manhattan, but did most of their filming across the Hudson River in New Jersey. Studios were built there and many "westerns" were actually shot in Secaucus. But as filming became more expensive and logistics more unmanageable, the studio heads were looking for a place within a morning’s drive from their swanky New York offices, that offered more scenic possibilities. Enter the Wyoming Valley and Forty Fort. Here was a region just a couple of hours from the big city, which had beautiful mountains with lush forests, a wide and winding river and an expansive, flat valley perfect for filming.
The Black Diamond Studio was among the first to set up shop in Forty Fort around 1910 or 1911. Silent one reel comedies were shot there. (It is very doubtful any of these epics have been saved.) The filmmakers were thrilled with the area's natural beauty and resources, plus their ability to keep budgets low. The Black Diamond Studio was built on Dilley Street, and some of the buildings still exist today as warehouses. Other smaller studios followed, and Forty Fort seemed to be at the center of a growing, albeit short-lived, movie industry. The long and harsh winters of 1912 and 1913 made production virtually impossible and the studio heads had no choice but to move to a location where the climate was more favorable. Of course that location was Southern California, and Hollywood was born. But it's interesting to consider that for a brief instant, the Wyoming Valley, and more specifically Forty Fort, was an epicenter of major movie production.
**** For more of the article******
Jan 13, 2005, 2:54 PM
Hotel Sterling renovation: 2 prominent Philly architects, 3 Wilkes-Barre architects compete and are psyched about this historic building! Hopeful signs, happily.......keeping my fingers crossed that they will redeem and save the 14 story towers section.
Architects competiting for right to perform renovations to Hotel Sterling
By Tim Gulla , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Carefully walking over the shattered glass and refuse that covered the floor of the Hotel Sterling's entranceway on Wednesday, architects and engineers began surveying the daunting task lying ahead of them.
Three firms - two from Philadelphia and one from Wilkes-Barre - have been given 12 weeks to put their creative juices to work in coming up with ideas for the rebirth of the historic building.
The winner, chosen after all of their ideas are put before the public eye, will be put to work as the full-time guide for the building's hopeful return to landmark status.
Though the hotel has seen better days, all of the firms' representatives said they were enthused about working on the project. "It's a phenomenal opportunity," said Steven Henkelman, a partner in Cope Linder Architects of Philadelphia.
From the first moment he saw the view of the Susquehanna River from the upper floors of the Hotel Sterling, Henkelman said, "You could see the marketability of that view." Moreover, Henkelman said he was fully aware the Hotel Sterling holds a unique status among local economic development officials, since its re-birth is being looked upon as a catalyst for more growth.
Alex Rogers, executive director of CityVest, a not-for-profit organization that purchased the hotel in November 2002, said nine design firms wanted to compete for the job. "We were enormously impressed," Rogers said of the response. "To have nationally known firms be excited confirmed the enthusiasm we have for this project."
Besides Cope Linder Architects, the board selected the Philadelphia firm of Bower Lewis Thrower and the Wilkes-Barre firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to compete. The three firms were selected based on their experience in urban renewal projects and their work on projects of equal or greater scope.
Though each firm will be paid up to $30,000 in stipends for their efforts, Rogers believes it's money well spent. Not only will CityVest get input from quality design firms, Rogers said, the results of the multi-million rehabilitation project should influence rehabilitation of surrounding areas.
Though none of the firms is ready to start talking about ideas, Bill Loose, a principal at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, believes the hometown firm has an advantage. "We have the strongest emotional attachment to what happens to downtown Wilkes-Barre," he said.
Michael Prifti, a principal at Bower Lewis Thrower, believes the Hotel Sterling project is a perfect project for his company. "We have been doing adaptive re-use projects for more than 25 years," he said.
It's hoped the Hotel Sterling can be turned into a multi-use building with retail and office space on the lower levels and condominiums and apartments on the upper levels.
Though most of the attention appears focused on the original portion of the Hotel Sterling at the corner of Market and River streets, CityVest officials said no decisions have been made yet about the future of the adjoining 14-story building upon which sits the Hotel Sterling rooftop sign. That building was not part of the original hotel but became part of the hotel later in its history.
Rogers and Judd Shoval, a member of CityVest's board of directors, said they told the architects about the design challenges associated with the tower, such as its small floor plan, low ceiling heights and absence of lack of appropriate heating, ventilation and cooling. But the only direction architects were given regarding the tower was to "think as creatively as possible."
Jan 16, 2005, 2:42 PM
Reasonably good news economically for the W_B/Scranton region: Below Philly, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown but moving up the list per this study comparing US regions:
Region shows some economic muscle
By Tim Gulla , The Sunday Voice
A Florida research firm's rankings of U.S. metropolitan areas' economic muscle show the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton region is not among the best. But it's also not among the 90-pound weaklings.
Rather, the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton region finished almost in the middle - 163 out of 361 - in the Palm City-based Policom Corp.'s annual "Economic Strength" rankings.
For local economists and economic development officials, the question becomes whether such a ranking is a matter of a half-full or a half-empty glass.
Steve Barrouk, president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, was able to see some positive signs in the ranking.
"There was a time we would have been at the bottom of a list like that," he said.
Moreover, the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton region was the fifth highest among the 14 Pennsylvania metropolitan areas to make the list. Lancaster, State College, Reading, York, Altoona, Lebanon, Williamsport, Erie and Johnstown all fared worse in the rankings.
And only five metropolitan areas fared worse than Johnstown, which came in at 356 out of 361.
Philadelphia, which came in at 51 nationally, was the top-ranked region in Pennsylvania, followed by Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and the Allentown area.
"I think it's very encouraging," Barrouk said. Though a middle of the pack ranking means there's a lot of work ahead, Barrouk believes it also shows the region has "turned the corner."
Austin Burke, president of the Scranton Chamber of Commerce, had a tongue-in-cheek reaction.
"Not knowing what methodology this firm is employing, our practice in the past is (to say) that any ranking that puts us in the top 10 in the nation probably has excellent methodology. Anything under that, there's probably something lacking in their data."
The "Economic Strength" ranking was created to study the characteristics of strong and weak economies, according to the Policom Web site. Higher ranked regions have "rapid, consistent growth in both size and quality for an extended period of time." Lower ranked regions, on the other hand, "have been in volatile decline for an extended period of time."
Though it's unknown how the data was weighed, the rankings were based on factors such as earnings, jobs, per capita income, the wages of salaried workers, non-farm jobs, retail jobs and retail wages. Also considered were any regional increases in financial figures related welfare and Medicaid, which would reflect a poor economy.
William Fruth, president of Policom Corp., didn't have time to go into detail about his findings on Friday, since he was out of the office and on his cell-phone. But when asked about the meaning of a 163rd place finish on the list, he replied, "It means your economic growth and consistency is just about average."
Is that surprising?
"It's probably telling us something we already know," said Dr. Anthony Liuzzo, professor of business and economics at the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University.
Jan 19, 2005, 2:18 PM
A second casino proposal; this one a little further from WIlkes-Barre (20+ miles) and deeper into the Poconos. $300 Million in connection with the Pocono International raceway.
Thing is, this will further the erosion of the Pocono region exponentially. For those of us who love cites but appreciate the need to also protect the countryside, it's questionable progress if approved...........
$300 million casino proposed in Poconos
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
The application for slot machine licenses hasn't even been drawn up yet, but Dr. Joseph Mattioli is ready to take a gamble.
Dr. Mattioli, the owner of Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Monroe County, has unveiled a $300 million plan for a 200,000-square-foot casino complex that includes a convention hall, shops and restaurants, and a slot machine parlor.
Pennsylvania's new gaming commission is allowing a total of 14 slots licenses, seven of which are designated for horse racing tracks. The Downs at Pocono in Plains Township, now owned by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, is in line for one of those.
Of the remaining seven, there are five stand-alone licenses that allow up to 5,000 slots machines, and two resort licenses, which allow up to 500.
However, two of the stand-alone licenses are reserved for Philadelphia and one for Pittsburgh, which leaves two stand-alone and two resort licenses up for grabs throughout the entire state.
The casino complex is contingent on Dr. Mattioli being able to obtain a stand-alone license, which he would prefer, but he has a plan B ready in case he manages to get a resort license.
According to the law, an entity is only eligible for a resort license if it has not applied for or been approved for any other kind of slot license, and if the facility is "a well-established resort hotel having no fewer than 275 guest rooms under common ownership, and having substantial year-round recreational guest amenities."
If Dr. Mattioli is able to get one of these, the convention center and half of the casino would be taken off the drawing board, and a 300-room one-story hotel would be constructed with a casino in the center, he said.
A selling point is the location: Interstates 80, 81, 84, 476 and 380 surround the Pocono Raceway, with state Route 611 to the east and Route 115 to the west.
NASCAR races at the track already draw thousands of people from Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.
Dr. Mattioli does not know what the state gaming board will require, so he is designing the facility to be adaptable. He has been studying the possibilities since the law was passed, and has spoken to experts in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Furthermore, Dr. Mattioli said he has plenty of land to build from the ground up, and water, sewer, and electric connections ready to go.
Dr. Mattioli realizes - and welcomes - the fact that he will have stiff competition in the region, as other entities in eastern Pennsylvania add to the odds against getting the four available licenses.
"We're going to try for it. No pun intended, but it's a crapshoot," he said.
Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples recently bought the former Mount Airy Lodge in the Poconos for $25 million, reportedly with an eye to getting a slots license for the resort.
The Lehigh Valley will also figure into the equation. According to the Morning Call, Northampton County so far has two definite sites of interest.
A proposal is being assembled by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owner of Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut, for a slots parlor and commercial development at I-78 and Route 412 in Bethlehem.
Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, has an agreement with BethWorks Now to include a slots parlor in a proposed retail and entertainment complex at the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant.
Lehigh County has nothing definite yet, but county officials are said to be eager to take advantage of the benefits from slots; Isle of Capri Casinos of Biloxi, Miss., is scouting for potential sites in the Allentown area.
Other factors that will come into play in the race for the four licenses are the regulations in the gaming law that will affect where they are distributed, such as rules governing how many miles from each other the licensed facilities may be located.
It is too soon to tell just what will happen. Nick Hays, spokesman for Thomas A. Decker, gaming board chairman, said the seven-member board met for the first time in December, and has to start from scratch. At this stage, the board does not yet have an office or staff.
"It's premature to say when they will be able to start accepting slots license applications," Hays said. "They don't even have an application drawn up."
On the one hand, the board has to make sure all the procedures are set up to be thorough and reliable, he said.
"But at the same time, they know they have to do it quickly enough so revenues from gaming can flow (into) property tax relief, economic development programs, and new investment in the horse racing industry," Hays said.
Jan 24, 2005, 4:28 PM
Coal Mine History: Tragedy.....
For anyone not familiar with northeastern PA's extraodinary anthracite coal past from coal baron wealth to coal miner penury, from urban dynamism to urban economic collapse, here's an article depicting a horrific event that brought the declining industry to its definitive, thudding end. The region has (had) the largest deposits of anthracite (hard, cleaner burning ) coal in the world outside Alsace-Lorraine. here's the tale of the end:
Posted on Mon, Jan. 24, 2005
Mass solemnizes Knox disaster
Water poured into the River Slope Mine, drowning 12 men. Sixty-nine others escaped.
By STEVE MOCARSKY
JENKINS TWP. - As Audrey Calvey sat in St. Joseph Church in the Port Griffith section of the township on Sunday, she thought of her father, as she has at this time every year for the past 45 years.
Calvey's father - John Baloga - and 11 other miners drowned on Jan. 22, 1959, as the frigid waters of the Susquehanna River broke through the ceiling of the mine in which they worked.
Although the 69 men who escaped and the dozen who did not were working in the River Slope Mine, the event is commonly known as the Knox Mine Disaster because they worked for the Knox Coal Co.
Calvey and others in the community attended a memorial Mass at the church on the day after the 46th anniversary of the tragic event. They heard Deacon Jim Cortegerone recite the names of the 12 miners during general intercessions, and the Rev. Hugh McGroarty recite them again during a Eucharistic prayer.
"I remember this day as if it was yesterday," Ann Pierson said after the Mass. "I was (pregnant with) my son, walking down the street and they stopped me and said you can't get through, the water just came out of the Knox. I looked down the bank and saw the whirlpool where the river broke through," said Pierson, who was 34 at the time.
The Mass was the third in a series of four events planned for this past weekend to remind people of the disaster. A vigil Saturday morning near the site where the river broke through the mine was followed by a panel discussion on the event Saturday afternoon. Another program featured the Donegal Weavers performing their song "The Knox Mine Disaster" and the reading of excerpts from the book "Voices of the Knox Mine Disaster" Sunday afternoon at the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton.
Calvey's was one of the voices that were literally recorded for the book, written by Bob Wolensky, Nicole Wolensky and Ken Wolensky, said Bob Wolensky, who sat next to Calvey during the Mass.
After the Mass, Calvey again recalled that fateful day and its aftermath.
"I was 14, going on 15. It was very traumatic. And still today, sometimes when I think about it, all this brings it all back," Calvey said, standing in the frigid wind near a stone memorial to the Knox miners on the church lawn.
Calvey said her older brother Donald worked to support her and her mother after their father died. They had a rough time getting by until they started receiving survivors' benefits. Her mother was disabled and couldn't work.
"The mining company treated us terrible. The owners never even came to say they were sorry," Calvey said.
Steve Mocarsky, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 459-2005.
TIMES LEADER STAFF PHOTO/AIMEE DILGER
Audrey Calvey, the daughter of Knox Mine Disaster victim John Baloga, looks toward a monument erected on the lawn of St. Joseph's Church in the Port Griffith section of Jenkins Township to honor her father, other men who were killed in the cave-in and those miners who survived.
MEMORIALIZING MINERS AFTER A TRAGEDY
A plaque erected by the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission outside St. Joseph Church in the Port Griffith section of Jenkins Township sums up the Knox Mine Disaster. "The mine had been illegally excavated beneath the Susquehanna River at the direction of the Knox Coal Co. When the force of the ice-laden river broke the thin layer of rock, over 10 billion gallons of water flowed through this and other mines. This disaster ended deep mining in much of the Wyoming Valley." A cold granite slab stands next to the plaque as a "Memorial to the surviving miners and those men entombed in the Knox Mine Disaster." Those who died include:
Benjamin Boyar *
Dominick Koveleskie *
Daniel Stefanides *
* The spellings of names of these men names appear as provided by "Voices of the Knox Mine Disaster" co-author Robert Wolensky and local historian Bill Best. They said the names as they appear on the monument - Benjamin Boyer, Dominick Koveleski and Donald Stefanides - are incorrect.
Jan 26, 2005, 1:06 AM
Jobs announcement tomorrow AM: 100's of jobs! Rendell coming to town to announce.....hmmm.....Always good news.......
Tuesday, January 25 6:03pm
New Jobs Coming to Luzerne County
Governor Ed Rendell is scheduled to make a visit to Northeastern Pennyslvania Wednesday morning. His office won't comment on exactly what the announcement is, but Newswatch 16 has learned that hundreds of jobs are coming to Luzerne County, an area hit hard by the loss of a number of jobs.
The economic boost is coming to the Crestwood Industrial Park in Wright Township. Governor Ed Rendell is set to appear at the complext Wednesday. A township official said a new company will soon sit in the park, bringing with it 200 manufacturing jobs.
Jobs headed to the area is a big plus. It's been a rough year for manufacturing jobs in Luzerne County. Techneglas shut its plant in Jenkins Township last August. The closure cost nearly 700 workers their jobs.
New Dana Perfume Corporation announced in November it would close its facility in the Crestwood Industrial Park, cutting 150 jobs.
No word on the name of the company headed to Luzerne County, what workers will manufacture, or what the jobs will pay.
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Jan 27, 2005, 11:49 PM
Arrrrrhg...the big news per the announcement above^^^^ isn't a bust, but not as big as hoped....
A TORTILLA FACTORY!!!! hahahahahahhahah
Well, jobs are jobs and there is an intitiative to bring high tech, higher wage jobs to the area and Wilkes- Barre might become a fully 'wired' downtown with fiber-optics running through the old central steam heat system......Tortillas. Who'da thought?:hilarious
...One issue: Cities like Wilkes-Barre give a lot of incentives, especially financial to bring jobs in....sometimes companies take advantage big time....TJ Maxx brougth an installation to Wyoming Valley last year, promising good paying jobs for locals in exchange for $$$ advantages, abatements, etc.. They opened, but also brought along a majority of hispanic illegals from elsewhere instead, reneging on their stated intent, then crying racism when those left holding the bag complained and filed legal protests. No one was fooled... TJ Maxx eventually had to make good, as it should have!
Tortilla-making plant to open in Mountain Top
By Tim Gulla , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
A Mexico-based company's food products subsidiary will use a new plant in Wright Township to supply corn and wheat flour tortillas and nacho chips to grocery stores and eateries from Maine to Virginia.
Irving, Texas-based Mission Foods, which is owned by Mexico-based Gruma SA de C.V., purchased a recently built flexible-use building from Mericle Commercial Real Estate and has launched an aggressive schedule to get its newest food products plant up and running by May 1.
The company said it will initially hire about 100 people for its production line and as many as 232 people within three years as more lines are added. The company didn't release wage estimates but said the pay will be "competitive."
Though the state put together a $6.7 million financial package to lure the company to the region, Mission Foods President and CEO Jairo Senise said the oversized ceremonial checks he received Wednesday were not the only reason the company chose Wright Township.
"We found the environment was welcoming of a new company," he said.
He also lauded the way state, county and local officials were able to mobilize to get the project moving forward quickly.
Though Senise declined to name the other locations his company had been investigating for its 16th production facility, officials from the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry said Wright Township had been one of more than 20 communities in the running.
The company ultimately narrowed its list to just two communities, and Wright Township won out over another location in New Jersey, said Steve Barrouk, chamber president.
"Gruma could have gone anywhere," said Gov. Ed Rendell. "Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut were all bidding for this site."
Rendell credited the state's economic stimulus programs and the region's strong workforce for giving Northeastern Pennsylvania the edge.
Barrouk also credited the fact Luzerne County had an almost ready-to-use site.
"Most companies are moving very quickly and don't want the lead time," he said.
Though some changes needed to be made to the site to accommodate food production, Charles Lung, a construction manager at Gruma, said the pre- constructed building gave Mission Foods a year to 18-month head start.
Total costs to buy the property, renovations for food production and the production line equipment will be about $33 million, state and local officials said. The financial package put together by the state included a $5.8 million low-interest loan from Citizens Bank and $865,000 in state grants.
Senise said Mission Foods wanted a new plant in the Northeast so it could better serve customers and deliver products more quickly. The next closest plant is in Georgia.
Senise said the company's new plant is a long-term investment.
"We came to stay," he said. "We came to expand."
Dave Durden, Mission Food's vice president of sales for the Northeast, couldn't give expected production figure for the local plant but said consumption of Tex-Mex food products has been growing at a rate of 25 percent per year.
Though the jobs will be considered skilled labor, Senise said prior food production experience won't be necessary because all workers will be trained.
Jerry Burgess, manager of the state Department of Labor and Industry's CareerLink offices in Luzerne County, said CareerLink will be handling applications, though some details still need to be worked out. Mission Foods will also post job opportunities on its Web site.
The addition of Mission Foods to the local manufacturing sector comes about one month after another Wright Township manufacturer, New Dana Perfume Co., closed its doors and put about 200 people out of work.
James Bond Agent 007
Jan 28, 2005, 1:54 AM
donybrx, do you live in the Bronx, or Wilkes-Barre? ;)
Jan 28, 2005, 1:36 PM
eastern long island.
James Bond Agent 007
Jan 28, 2005, 5:19 PM
Feb 10, 2005, 1:26 AM
Not much news in NEPA (Noprtheastern PA) but this just in.....regarding further development of Montage Mountain, an actual mountain along I-81 bewteen Scranton & Wilkes-Barre, which has been transformed, now includes the skiing complex, 13,000 seat stadium, 20,000 seat outdoor concert venue for national/international acts in the summer, office buildings, 20 cinema complex, golf course, upscale housing, etc.
Now, comes upscale shopping:
Wednesday, February 9, 4:00 p.m.
By Megan Dardanell
What's Coming to Montage Mountain?
There are plans for an upscale shopping center in Lackawanna County. Newswatch 16 first broke the news Tuesday night. The Shoppes at Montage shopping center is slated for a ground-breaking on the mountain this spring.
Construction equipment and a clearing of land on Montage Mountain are signs of things to come here. An Ohio developer confirmed his plans to building an upscale shopping center on a 50-acre site off Glen Maura Boulevard.
The web site for Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate shows examples of his centers around the country, with stores such as Ann Taylor Loft, Williams Sonoma and Talbots. The name for the development is The Shoppes at Montage.
Montage Mountain has already become known as an entertainment stop, with the stadium, skiing and the theaters, and as a place to eat with restaurants Johnny Rockets, Ruby Tuesday and, most recently, Trattoria Bella. People said adding shopping to the mountain is a perfect mix.
Cathy Linker of Shavertown and her friends work on Montage Mountain and heard about the plans. "Christmas time would be great to come here and shop. I go to Tannersville once in a while on weekends but it would be much nicer to have it (shopping) right here," she said.
The manager of the Trattoria Bella said more traffic could only be good for business. "I think it's great, fantastic! We built the restaurant hoping the area would grow. Within the last ten years, everything's grown, the stadium, Cinemark to the surrounding community," said Leane Pace.
The plan is to grow some more. The proposal still needs Moosic's approval but construction is set to begin in the late spring or early summer, and stores should be ready for shoppers in the summer of 2006.
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Feb 15, 2005, 2:02 PM
This is just terrific news...and fun. Soon possible to take an old fashioned electric trolley from downtown Scranton to Lackawanna County Stadium to see the AAA Red Barons ...or anything else... going thru a one mile long tunnel in the process...under a mountain.....
Very fitting for the city the had the first (or 2nd..after NYC??) electric trolley system in the nation...and you won't get stuck in traffic after the game...!
County-run trolley could reach stadium this baseball season
By Chris Birk TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
MOOSIC -- After almost a two-year wait, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons fans could be taking a trolley to the ballpark by summer's end.
Plans to connect the Steamtown National Historic Site with Lackawanna County Stadium have been in the works since October 2003, when Gov. Ed Rendell promised $1.5 million in state aid to boost tourism at Montage Mountain and throughout the county.
The trolley line now runs from the historic site to Stafford Avenue and on to the Lackawanna County Visitors Center. Next week, the county Stadium Authority will decide whether to extend the final 1,800 feet from the center to a proposed platform and trolley shed, which would house the cars for restoration and maintenance.
The building would include information about the trolley system and its history, and offer passengers the chance to watch real-time restoration. The restoration building is slated for a sliver of the ballpark parking lot near the left-field wall.
The last leg of trolley line would travel along Montage Mountain Road and wind down near the media and season-ticket holder entrance.
"It's not going to hurt attendance," said authority member Anthony Lomma.
"The whole idea is the city and the county trying to promote tourism, entertainment and sporting events."
The entire trolley project, with a price tag around $2 million, won't require the spending of any new money. The county is using $1 million from a planning construction account created a few years ago specifically for the project, said Harry Lindsay, head of the county's Strategic Planning Department.
Once that money is spent, the state matches with $1 million, he said.
The installation of electrical equipment on the track line from Stafford Avenue to the visitors center alone was bid out for $767,940 in September 2003.
Planning officials envision a trolley shed ultimately standing 177 feet by 50 feet, taking up about 50 parking spaces near the wall. The enclosed structure could house at least nine trolleys; the county has only two fully operational cars right now, said Mr. Lindsay.
If the Stadium Authority approves the project's completion at its scheduled Feb. 24 meeting, Mr. Lindsay said he'll push to get construction bids out in March and start work in April. The job is expected to take four to five months.
The Red Barons' season kicks off April 17 at home against the Norfolk Tides.
©Scranton Times Tribune 2005
Feb 26, 2005, 6:41 PM
Local boy makes good! I ran across this (below)item in the Philadelphia Daily News..I don't watch the reality show involved but was happy to see someone form Greater Wilkes-Barre find success.....Others from the region who had some fame include actress/singerEdie Adam (lily Lake),actor Lee J. Cobb, Dallas, PA, actress Lisbeth Scott (Scranton), Nick Adams (Nanticoke..TV's 1960's Johnny Yuma, the "REBEL" series, Jack Palance...nearby Hazleton and others too numerous for my lazy self to find & recount..*yawn*. Oh, back to this news...sorry gang, for the one or two people who actually follow this thread..it's the only news right now:
Posted on Fri, Feb. 25, 2005
Smalltown designer wins big on ' Project Runway'
By REGINA MEDINA
Lehman, Luzerne County, Pa. Population 3,200.
A teensy town, for sure, but take it in when you're passing through. It's home to newly crowned it designer Jay McCarroll, Wednesday night's winner of the Bravo reality show "Project Runway."
Howard Kocher, Lehman's police chief and an assistant zoning officer, couldn't help but crack up over the news. "Lehman's the cultural mecca of the United States right now," he said.
Jay, dubbed "The Wild Card" by the show's Web site, beat 11 other aspiring designers to win a photo spread in Elle magazine, a mentorship with the Banana Republic design team and $100,000 to launch his own design line.
In a phone interview yesterday, the Philadelphia University graduate said he was "stunned, speechless" to have won.
"I couldn't believe what was happening to me, I was like Kelly Clarkson," he said, referring to the "American Idol" winner.
Friends and former teachers were happy about Jay's triumph.
"We're all just so thrilled for him," said Celia Frank, assistant professor at Philadelphia University's Fashion Design Department.
Jay saw the show's finale last night with his family in Lehman, 124 miles north of Philly. He was offered party invites, but he opted for home.
"I wouldn't have had it any other way. My family is my support system and my root base," he said.
And the Lehman townspeople couldn't be prouder of Jay.
Charlene Cook, co-owner of Cook's Variety Store in Lehman, placed a big pink poster sign, complete with green shamrocks, in the store's front window.
"To Our One And Only Project Runway Winner, Jay McCarroll. Congratulations!"
"We're very proud of Jay. Very proud," she said.
"He was in the Lake Lehman School Marching band and everybody [in it] is so close-knit," said Cook, whose store was featured in the finale. "When you're in the band, you're family. Everybody... knew he was going to do it."
Lehman's small-town atmosphere was cited by one of the show's judges, fashion designer Michael Kors, as the inspiration that allowed McCarroll to create his 12-piece collection. When Jay returned home to Lehman to design, there was no New York fashion scene to contend with. Just Jay's inner voice, his instinct, Kors said.
The resulting collection, which he named "Stereotype," included color-coordinated earphones on all the models and a heavy use of quilts. The quilt influence, he said in Wednesday's episode was, in part, due to his sister and her hobby.
His Philly friend Amber Mowery, said last night that Jay was one of the most talented people she's ever met.
"It's definitely his time now. Finally.....
© 2005 Philadelphia Daily News and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Feb 27, 2005, 2:10 PM
Is your home heating oil wrecking your budget? how about coal...here's some food (er, fuel) for thought:
Posted on Sun, Feb. 27, 2005
Heating with coal pays off
By RENITA FENNICK firstname.lastname@example.org
As far as Linda Houser is concerned, coal is still king.
The West Hazleton woman has been using coal to heat a 12-room duplex for 16 years and swears she’d never switch to any other fuel source – even though burning coal means having to dispose of ashes.
“Believe me, it’s a lot easier to take out ashes than to come up with the extra money for gas or oil,” Houser said. “I’m thrilled to death that we stayed with coal.”
Houser’s home is among the 5,248 Luzerne County households that use coal for heating. That’s 4.1 percent of all residences, ranking the county third in the nation for coal consumption.
Those figures may change a bit if the observations of Gary Magdon and Donald Streit are accurate.
Magdon, who owns Country Fireplace Showroom in Dupont, estimates sales of coal stoves have increased 70 percent this winter, mainly because of recent price increases in oil, natural gas and electricity.
“I know it’s because other fuels are so high,” Magdon said. “I get people in here who say they are paying $600 a month for heat.”
Some local coal dealers say they have encountered few problems acquiring coal this winter unlike the situation in neighboring Schuylkill County where 13.4 percent of the households use coal to heat their homes. Some dealers there claim a lack of coal production has forced them to ration coal to existing customers.
“It runs in spurts, sometimes we wait three to four hours, sometimes we’re waiting seven hours to get (the coal trucks) loaded,” George Racho, a Hazleton coal distributor, said. “In the beginning of January, it was worse than it is now.”
Paul Chervy of Chervy Fuel & Heating Co., West Nanticoke, said the shortage in Wyoming Valley was short-lived.
“For one week, back when it was extremely cold in the middle of January, there was a shortage,” he said. “But we haven’t had any trouble with supply since then.”
There have been no problems with supply at Streit’s Coal Delivery, Butler Township, though the demand is on the increase.
“We haven’t had to turn anyone down even though we’ve noticed a substantial increase in customers over the last two years,” said owner Donald Streit, who has been hauling coal for 26 years. “A lot more people are putting in little stoves to supplement heating costs and quite a few are going to coal to heat their entire houses and businesses.”
The main reason for the regained interest in coal is financial, Streit said.
Since one ton of coal generates the same amount of British thermal units, or BTUs, as 182 gallons of oil, coal is about one third the cost of oil, he said.
Locally, oil is hovering around the $1.90 per gallon mark, which is costing oil users about $345.80 for the same amount of heat generated by a ton of coal.
The price range for coal is $110-$135 a ton.
Coal production for both the hard anthracite and the soft bituminous is on the rise nationwide and is expected to continue to increase during the next two years, according to federal statistics.
December’s total coal production of 96 million tons was a 4 percent increase over December 2003, according to the January Monthly Energy Review, the latest update released by the U.S. Department of Energy. The federal agency estimates coal production will grow by 3.3 percent in 2005 and an additional 2.3 percent in 2006.
Magdon said many customers – like Gene Menchi – who gave up on coal decades ago are giving the old black diamond another chance.
Menchi bought a $2,800 coal furnace to heat his large, A-frame house in Moscow, Lackawanna County, and estimates he may save as much as $2,000 on heating costs this winter. He said his 2,400-square-foot home has an open design with 30-foot ceilings.
“Before, I used oil as my main source and my bills were approximately $300 a month and I froze,” Menchi said. “I went to coal and it’s 70-degrees-plus in my house. I have a dual feed burner and only use one and it heats the whole house. I wish I did this 10 years ago.”
Menchi said he used a coal stove about 15-20 years ago but replaced it with an oil furnace.
“I just hated it,” he said. “I was turned off by the dust and the dirt. But, coal stoves have come a long way. They’re practically maintenance-free. I have to take out the ashes every two days, but living in the country, it’s no problem to get rid of them.”
The economical aspect of coal plus the improved quality of today’s coal stoves and furnaces are reasons more people are turning to coal, Streit said.
His company sells what it calls an oil-treated coal; it’s sprayed with a light peanut or vegetable oil to make it cleaner and more efficient.
Coal prices have remained steady through the years, said Christina Kassa Russo, an employee at Casey-Kassa Coal & Well Drilling Co., Laflin.
The family-owned operation processes coal but got out of the mining business several years ago, mainly because of the high costs associated with acquiring permits for digging, bonding and blasting, Kassa Russo said.
Many coal haulers purchase their coal from a dwindling number of mine operators.
“There’s not really a shortage but it is getting a little more difficult to get,” said Nancy LaNunziata, an employee at Hudson Coal Co., Inkerman. “It’s not as easy as it has been in the past. We get our coal from different areas, wherever it is available.”
Houser of West Hazleton said the price of coal has increased by about $10 since she moved into the duplex in 1989.
“It’s a bargain, definitely,” she said. “We were just talking about it the other day, how we couldn’t afford to live if we had gas or oil.”
And Menchi is on a mission to convert his friends.
“I will never go back to fuel, that’s a promise,” he said. “I am trying to talk all of my friends into going to coal.”
Streit sees another reason for locals to reconsider their heating source.
“My biggest thing is: Why don’t people support anthracite? All those mines are locally operated and the money really does stay in the local economy. It’s a way to keep jobs in the area.”
These are the counties with highest share of households using coal for heating:
Schuylkill County, Pa.: 7,975 households (13.4%)
Lancaster County, Pa.: 7,993 (4.4%)
Luzerne County, Pa.: 5,248 (4.1%)
Dauphin County, Pa., 2,473 (2.3%)
York County, Pa., 2,211 (1.4%)
Northampton County, Pa.: 1,100 (1.0%)
Lehigh County, Pa.: 814 (0.7%)
Prince William County, Va.: 752 (0.7%)
Westmoreland County, Pa., 884 (0.6%)
Berks County, Pa.: 741 (0.5%)
Here are some Web sites that offer information on coal mining and energy statistics:
Renita Fennick, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7
© 2005 Times Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Mar 2, 2005, 2:56 PM
Gulp!..Let's hope they mean it.......
R/C Theatres still committed to downtown W-B project
By James Conmy and Tim Gulla , Staff Writers
Plans to operate a 14-screen cinema complex in downtown Wilkes-Barre remain solid, despite the operator's decision to sell more than a third of its movie houses.
Maryland-based R/C Theatres is selling seven of its 18 theaters to the nation's largest cinema operator, Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group, for $31 million in cash.
Yet the president and chief executive of R/C Theatres said the asset sale will have no impact on his company's plans for Wilkes-Barre.
"I just feel almost a part of Wilkes-Barre," said J. Wayne Anderson. "It's a mission I have to make sure that project is complete and up and running."
After the sale, R/C Theatres will have 103 screens at 11 cinemas. But it also plans to open new theaters in Gettysburg and Winchester, Va., raising the company's roster of theaters to 14.
"It was a business decision we made," Anderson said of the sale. "It was good for us; it was good for Regal."
Anderson said the locations being sold were profitable.
"That's what made them so attractive to Regal," he said. "They (Regal) approached us and made us an offer we couldn't refuse."
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, through its subsidiary development corporation, is constructing the theater project as the cornerstone for the revitalization of the South Main Street business district. It will span an entire block of Northampton Street between South Main and South Washington streets.
The chamber's president and chief executive, Steve Barrouk, was not caught off guard by the sale announcement. Anderson called him last week to tell him about R/C Theatres' plan.
"It (the pending sale) has absolutely no bearing whatsoever (on the South Main Street project)," Barrouk said.
Anderson reiterated R/C Theatres' commitment to the city during the call, Barrouk said.
"Regal made him a great offer on those locations. He took it. But he said he's very anxious to pursue and complete the Wilkes-Barre project as are we."
Anderson believes the sale will not impact R/C Theatres' market presence.
"Each market stands on its own," Anderson said. "This business is about relationships. We still have the relationships with the studio executives."
The Associated Press reported the sale includes theaters in Carlisle; Pinellas, Fla.; Culpeper, Va.; and Baltimore, Eldersburg, Frederick and Hagerstown, Md.
©The Citizens Voice 2005
Mar 5, 2005, 1:37 PM
More downtown action in the offing..this one should appeal to worldwide fans of Planters Peanuts (for which Wilkes-Barre was home)....any forward progress is a good thing...sorry I don;t have apicture..it's a terrific building...including the statuettes of Mr. Peanut along the entrance & and on the surrounding wall....Mr. Peanut...the guy in the costume...scared the hell out of me as a kid when we'd encounter him on Public Square downtown...lol
W-B selling Planter's building to developer
By James Conmy , Staff Writer
Wilkes-Barre City is in the midst of a shell game that will produce much more than peanuts.
City officials are expected to sell the Planters Peanuts building to a developer next week for a $230,000 profit.
The city purchased the 632 S. Main St. landmark from Altria Corporate Services Inc., in June of 2003 for $100.
Council needs to authorize the $230,000 deal with Cross Continental Realty Inc. That vote is expected at its March 10 meeting.
"This is how we're rebuilding this city - making good business decisions and profits," Mayor Tom Leighton said Friday. "It's just the language, not the terms (holding up the deal). The plan right now is to have something in writing for council next week."
Councilwoman Kathy Kane predicts the sale of the 89,000 square foot structure will be ratified by council.
"We've been working on this for quite a while and it is long overdue," Kane said. "I'm glad this project will breathe new life into that end of the block. I think the people down there deserve some sprucing up too."
"We've been working on this deal for several years and it is good to know we will have development on both ends of South Main Street," Leighton said, agreeing with Kane.
They were referring to the first block's South Main Street project, including a 14-screen movie theater complex.
Cross Continental Realty and the city have done business in the 600-block of South Main Street before. The company agreed in 2001 to purchase the adjacent Shapiro scrap yard from city officials for $150,000.
Cross Continental Realty planned to build a strip mall on the Shapiro site in 2001. A subsequent feud with former Mayor Tom McGroarty, however, put the project on hold.
"The (Planters) building will be used to expand a planned development on the Shapiro site," said Attorney Gene Roth, who represents Cross Continental Realty. "The deal is close."
Roth declined to elaborate on Cross Continental Realty's latest plans for the expanded development.
City officials have been briefed on the plans, but only would comment on the imminent deal.
"All parties worked hard for a fair and equitable agreement," Assistant Solicitor Bill Vinsko said. "I am sure the culmination of this project is going to benefit all parties, including city residents."
The city will use the $230,000 windfall on other economic development projects, but Leighton declined to discuss specifics.
"We have a lot of things going on," the mayor said. "This could be a local match (on a grant), but it will be used solely for other economic development."
Â©The Citizens Voice 2005
James Bond Agent 007
Mar 6, 2005, 3:50 AM
Since this thread seems to have become a 1-man operation, I thought I'd add this for a little variety, since I happened to have stumbled across it. ;)
The Business Journal (Minneapolis/St. Paul) - 12:41 PM CST Friday
Cardinal Glass plans factory in Pennsylvania
Cardinal Glass Industries Inc. is nearing a deal to build a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania.
The Eden Prairie-based glass manufacturer is in talks with local officials in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for a glass fabricating facility, according to a report in Friday's edition of The Citizen's Voice, a daily newspaper based in Wilkes-Barre, Penn.
Roger O'Shaughnessy, CEO of privately-owned Cardinal, confirmed for the paper that a deal was in the works but declined to specify what type of glass the plant would produce or how many people it would employ. O'Shaughnessy said that a decision on the new plant should be made in the next two weeks.
Cardinal, founded in 1962, had about $500 million in 2003 sales. It has about 4,500 employees. In 2003, the firm launched an aggressive national expansion of its manufacturing capacity to support window and door makers such as Bayport-based Andersen Corp., Marvin Lumber & Cedar Co. in Warroad, and Pella Corp. in Pella, Iowa.
Maybe some of the glass from this factory will be used to build skyscrapers in NYC and Philly. ;)
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