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  #901  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2006, 5:35 PM
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^^ Thanks EX-I.....seems pretty much along the lines of a few other recent interviews/ accounts that I've read/ watched. .......
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Up the road a piece in Wilkes-Barre here's some promising news for Downtown: A building doubled in value in eight months..... a reason to celebrate for sure, but not to uncross those fingers quite yet....

Posted on Tue, Nov. 21, 2006
Official hails W-B building’s sale
Structure by new theater sells for $395,000 only eight months after being bought for $200,000.

By JERRY LYNOTT jlynott@timesleader.com

WILKES-BARRE – The nearly doubling in selling price of a downtown building may be an extreme example of the effect the city’s revitalization is having on property values, a chamber official said Monday.

The former American Furniture building on East Northampton Street sold for $395,000 on Nov. 9, eight months after an Allentown developer paid $200,000 for the property, according to data from the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds office.

The new owner, Sterling Ventures LLC of Great Falls, Va., plans to lease out the property, which is located across the street from R/C Wilkes-Barre Movies 14.

“I think we’re seeing speculation,” said Michael Lombardo, acting president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry.

Other property sales have seen more moderate increases, Lombardo said.

He acknowledged that the interest is “based in reality and some confidence” created by the downtown revitalization that includes marquee projects such as the theater complex, the Barnes & Noble college bookstore and other private investments such as Club Mardi Gras and the Campus Square Billiards.

A call to Ron Coleman, who purchased the property in March with plans to create a food court and café, was not returned.

A press release from the new owner said the purchase is an investment in the future of the downtown.

Gary Pan, president and chief executive officer for Panacea Consulting, said its sister company, Sterling Ventures, will refurbish the façade and interior and lease the property as a restaurant, retail store or office space.

Panacea formerly employed 110 people in a folder service operation for the Social Security Administration at Courtright Street in Plains Township. The downtown building purchase is in line with Panacea’s philosophy of investing in the community where it does business. The company had made donations to charitable organizations and encouraged employee volunteerism, the release said.

The chamber has not dealt with Panacea or Sterling Ventures, Lombardo said.

Its focus has been talking to others about coming downtown.

“We’re at what I call the second round of talking to potential clients,” Lombardo added.

Those conversations are different from the initial ones. “It’s a less of a sell,” he said. “It’s less the upfront show why you need to be there. I think they’ve already figured this out.”

The chamber is working on “trying to finalize some leases at the theater,” he said. The timeframe to complete that is July of next year.

The numbers in the American Furniture building are high, but they need not price people out of the market. “You’ll always have extreme cases,” he said. “If someone really wants to come, we can find them space.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7237.
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  #902  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2006, 2:29 PM
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^ Well that brought a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart. Not the price doubling, but the fact that the downtown turn-around is for real. Way to go W-B.
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  #903  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2006, 4:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Ex-Ithacan
^ Well that brought a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart. Not the price doubling, but the fact that the downtown turn-around is for real. Way to go W-B.
This will really make you smile! A letter to today's NY TIMES having to do with the re-use of the wondrous Saarinen TWA Terminal at JFK suggests that the terminal be salvaged, but be removed to a smaller airport.....such as...........(drumroll, please) ITHACA!!!

Dare one hope.......
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  #904  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2006, 11:48 AM
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^lol, Ithaca only has 2 airlines serving it, 13 departing flights a day, and only 2 gates. Unless they put it up as a museum, might as well go to a place that can really use it. Ithaca gets mentioned in the wierdest places (and no, I did not write the letter). btw, I loved that terminal. Had no idea they're getting rid of it.
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  #905  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2006, 2:07 PM
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13 departing flight, eh? Any arrivals? heh....spooky.....
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  #906  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2006, 2:33 PM
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Nope, everyone's trying to leave town before the snow starts.
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  #907  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2006, 2:33 PM
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speculation....

Philadelphia's WHYY (NPR) on Thursday interviewed a political scientist with questions about PA's power - more? or less? - in the new Congress. The scientist noted that Scranton's congressman's seniority will place him at the head of the House committee that oversees the stock market, and that Wall Streeters may attempt to please him by signing on to the Wall Street West project.

I cannot reveal the source of this info, but there is talk presently underway about relieving East Coast airport congestion by constructing a cargo-only airport on excess acreage currently held by the Tobyhanna Depot.
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  #908  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2006, 8:11 PM
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I cannot reveal the source of this info, but there is talk presently underway about relieving East Coast airport congestion by constructing a cargo-only airport on excess acreage currently held by the Tobyhanna Depot.
Oh be a sport...tell us...c'mon....

This is an idea been kickin' around for some time...along with Hazleton's efforts to create the cargo-port at their municipal airport instead of Tobyhanna or W-B/Scranton International...........the Tobyhanna notion makes some sense, certainly as much as a Hazelton location...although both are in higher elevations subject to earlier and more frequent cold, freezing.....

On a separate note, I just got home from Philadelphia....had a chance to drop into Jefferson U. (since I stay a block or two away a the Loew's) to see the Eakins painting that is under siege by Mme. Walton. It is magnificent...no question about it. I see that pressure to keep it in Philly is building.... I'd forgotten that Ms. Walton had already raided NYC ofr one of its great treasures.....
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  #909  
Old Posted Nov 27, 2006, 4:13 PM
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speculation

Sorry, Dony, but the news was presented to me as hype, so I assumed it was new news and a project that was underway.

My source was my recruiter for a position in Scranton having to do with the new med school, and perhaps he was trying to lure me into relocating to Scranton with talk of exciting things underway in the area.

Regardless, I'm moving there in January.
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  #910  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2006, 12:19 AM
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Well, it seemed exciting for a minute...heh....no need to apologize, at all.

Your'e really going to Scranton in January, eh?......I applaud you....and wish you the best....
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  #911  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2006, 4:19 PM
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Greater Wilkes-Barre: Ethanol plant slated at old Foster Wheeler facility..not everybody is happy about it....

11/22/2006
Despite opposition, businessmen to move forward with proposed ethanol plant
BY COULTER JONES
STAFF WRITER

A day after the public first heard of Northeast Ethanol and its plans to construct an ethanol facility at the Crestwood Industrial Park, residents are still demanding answers of the newly formed company. Its proposed facility could be operating on the contaminated ground formerly owned by Foster Wheeler by summer 2008.

“They’ve got a lot of questions to answer, as far as I’m concerned,” Barbara Chamberlain said after Monday’s meeting at Crestwood High School.

The proposed facility would operate 365 days per year, churning 50,000 bushels of corn per day into ethanol, using a process similar to making grain alcohol. The corn would come by train, but the ethanol — about 50 million gallons per year — would leave by truck. As much as 1.5 million gallons of ethanol would be stored on site waiting to be shipped. The plant would hire about 50 full-time employees, paying $15 to $20 per hour. Construction could cost more than $100 million, and would be funded privately, said Richard Scheller of Northeast Ethanol.

None of the four primary partners of Northeast Ethanol has built an ethanol plant or worked in the industry prior to this venture. The four businessmen, all from Northeastern Pennsylvania, formed the company within the last year. They are:

¦ Scheller presented the company’s plans at Monday’s meeting and is publicly spearheading the project. He owns and operates GeoScience Engineering.

¦ Joseph Occhipinti is an electrical engineer and partner in State Petroleum Services.

¦ Robert Lambert is a partner in State Petroleum Services.

¦ Al Magnotta owns a consulting engineering firm.

“We may not have constructed one before,” Scheller said, “but the fact of the matter is that we’re getting professional management with proven track records to do the professional operations of it.”

Northeast Ethanol has hired Iowa-based Pacesetter Management Group to operate the facility and Delta-T Corp., of Virginia, to construct the facility.

Although Scheller and his associates came to the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce more than three weeks ago for advice, the chamber has no sway in approving or rejecting the plant, nor does the chamber own the 105-acre property.

Wright Township supervisors, zoning and planning commissions, and state agencies will approve or reject the plant. No plans have been submitted to planning or zoning commissions yet.

Supervisor Dan Frascella said the process will take several months, once the paperwork is submitted. Scheller said they hope to start construction by 2007.

“We’re not pushing anything down anyone’s throat,” Frascella said. “People have concerns that they don’t want it here and we’re going to let them ask those questions.”

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies owns the property which is a Keystone Opportunity site, meaning property taxes are reduced or eliminated. Northeast Ethanol has not purchased the property from Westinghouse yet.

The Crestwood Industrial Park property is the top choice of four sites the company has considered, Scheller said.

It’s unfortunate that the residents have been burned in the past,” said John Augustine, director of economic and entrepreneurial development for the chamber. “We don’t ever want to see that happen again. I don’t blame anyone in Mountain Top for feeling nervous about a facility like this.”

cjones@citizensvoice.com
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  #912  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2006, 5:35 PM
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Right now I'm not sure it will be a profitable venture. It takes quite a bit of energy to produce the ethanol, the break even point is many millions of gallons. Be interesting to see how this works out.
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  #913  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2006, 11:45 PM
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let's hope that somebody did one hell of a cost/benfit analysis and some refined projections........It's a big undertaking for these four guys...none of which have been involved with ethanol prior to this....it's a huge old plant...much capacity.....and the jobs will pay $15-20/hour...a bit better than many....it'll bear watching......and I do feel that alternative energy is a good bet..this foreign oil thing ain't gonna buy us anything but heartache and troubles from here on out....
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  #914  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2006, 5:20 PM
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farms

There are thousands of acres of fallow fields on former dairy farms in upstate PA. This could prove to be a boon to former farm families who are just sitting on acreage and working elsewhere. It could also translate into a rise in price/acre in NEPA.

I've been following the ethanol issue for some time and the plants in the midwest are doing just fine but haven't been able to keep-up with demand. Placing a plant closer to the population centers makes good sense economically. I've wondered for some time why this hasn't yet been done in PA.

I can't speak to the opposition from locals to the site choice. What's the issue?
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  #915  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2006, 8:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bucks native
There are thousands of acres of fallow fields on former dairy farms in upstate PA. This could prove to be a boon to former farm families who are just sitting on acreage and working elsewhere. It could also translate into a rise in price/acre in NEPA.

I've been following the ethanol issue for some time and the plants in the midwest are doing just fine but haven't been able to keep-up with demand. Placing a plant closer to the population centers makes good sense economically. I've wondered for some time why this hasn't yet been done in PA.

I can't speak to the opposition from locals to the site choice. What's the issue?
It seems that Foster Wheeler vacated the proposed ethanol plant two decades ago and left the locals with seriously if not dangerously contaminated groundwater. Efforts to trace the contamination to FW and then to get FW's compliance were typically difficult and slow. It was termed a SuperFund site.

The residents of Mountain Top are justifiably wary of potential environmental threats as a consequence of their bad experience with FW.

Here are some links to EPA information in the matter:
http://loggerhead.epa.gov/arweb/pdf/2069558.pdf
http://loggerhead.epa.gov/arweb/publ...=PAD003031788#
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  #916  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2006, 2:59 PM
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Wilkes-Barre: More good news for Downtown. A small but extremely important next step in the process and progress...cleaning up the nexus block between Wilkes U. and downtown' area So. Main St. This is actually a biggie.....the block has been derelict for far too long...the resident AA and NA programs however need to re-locate and also to reject those who have no intention of getting sober...only to score drugs....


11/30/2006
W-B developer wants to clean up S. Main Street
BY DENISE ALLABAUGH
STAFF WRITER


WILKES-BARRE — Developer and property owner Jim Casey hopes to attract a restaurant, a market and a college student-friendly facility in a building he owns on the third block of South Main Street, formerly occupied by the ODAAT Club.
The ODAAT Club, which stands for One Day at a Time, was a meeting place for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. The club moved from 209 S. Main St. to a new location next to the South Main Plaza, where the state liquor store “Wine and Spirits” is located. A “for rent” sign is now posted on the closed building.

“We had a difference of opinion what we needed in there,” Casey said. “Alcohol recovery meeting houses are a notorious place to get drugs, as well as getting help to get off drugs.”

Casey continues to rent to “third stage” recovered alcoholics in apartments next to the ODAAT Club. Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan would not allow people in treatment to go to the ODAAT Club because of the “hanging around situation,” Casey said.

“They would allow someone who is drunk or high to come in and hear the message. The meetings were open to anyone who wanted to hear the message,” Casey said. “The club degenerated to the point that the members’ concerns weren’t taken seriously and they were more accommodating to the users. I asked them to either change their philosophy or move on, so they moved on.”

A spokesman at the ODAAT Club could not be reached for comment.

Casey, whose nickname is “Mr. Fix It,” has a long history of renovating blighted properties in the city. In all, he rehabilitated about 50 eyesores, including a 100-year-old burned out shell at 92 S. Main St. He spent more than $500,000 restoring the building where First United Methodist Church opened a bookstore on the first floor and spacious loft apartments were created upstairs. He owns about 20 properties in the city.

Now, Casey’s goal is to turn around the third block of South Main Street. While there have been big developments downtown, including the $30 million theater project and Barnes and Noble, Casey said the third block has been “relatively dead” except for a bad crowd that loitered there.

“There were all kinds of vagrants, crackheads and mentally unsettled people,” Casey said. “The third block is now the cleanest and safest block in the City of Wilkes-Barre.”

Casey said he has been working with Wilkes University to spur positive development.

“We cleaned up the third block and it’s now drug-free and alcohol-free,” Casey said. “The streetwalkers keep on walking and they don’t stop on our block anymore because there’s nothing for them. They respect the fact that we are choosing to take our life back so they’re going to do their trade somewhere else.”

dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com
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  #917  
Old Posted Dec 1, 2006, 2:33 PM
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Not good news. The Huber coal breaker...last of the coal era structures still standing in the Wyoming Valley might not get a chance to become a Museum...pity.....
It's a very dramatic structure...can be seen from I-81 as it rises to the south of Wilkes-Barre's exits and ascends the mountain toward Hazleton....

Here's a link to the article (with pics that cannot be brought to this post --at least not by such as me......sigh)

http://www.timesleader.com/mld/times...l/16128807.htm
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  #918  
Old Posted Dec 2, 2006, 5:24 AM
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I hope some community hero comes forward for the breaker. Hey maybe Mr. Casey will do it. (Just a wishful thought).
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  #919  
Old Posted Dec 3, 2006, 3:09 PM
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kudos to the new DT billiard parlor....adjudged seventh best!!!!

(aw, c'mon. that's better than eighth........)

Posted on Fri, Dec. 01, 2006

Honor in the corner pocket
Magazine names the Wilkes-Barre business the seventh-best new parlor in North America.
By RON BARTIZEK
rbartizek@timesleader.com

WILKES-BARRE – Tex Clauss is a pool player and a contractor. So it just seemed natural for him to put his carpentry skills to work in his latest venture, Campus Square Billiards, which opened in October at 53 Public Square.

The result is the seventh-best new billiards parlor in North America, according to Billiards Digest magazine. The trade paper’s 18th annual architecture and design awards appeared in its November issue.

Clauss designed the room and did most of the work himself. That took about nine months, a month longer than expected after he broke a leg while on another job. He’s still recovering, so a grand opening that had been scheduled for September probably won’t take place until spring.

By then Clauss hopes to have an operating kitchen and a liquor license, making the place an attractive stop for people on a night out.

“I’m putting the kitchen in as we speak,” he said Thursday. There’s already a distinctive counter and soft drinks on the platform, as well as tables and chairs. The bar will go toward the front of the room and patrons will be allowed to bring beer to the tables as they play.

A glance around makes it easy to see why the place was honored; 25 spotless tables are spread across the ground level of the 10,300-square-foot space, while onlookers can watch the action from an elevated platform. Dark wood molding covers pillars and modern fixtures direct light onto the playing surfaces.

It’s all meant to attract a diverse crowd, from serious players to business people taking a break from the office and families looking for a pleasant outing, Clauss said. “This is the nature of an upscale billiards room,” he said.

Clauss, who has owned two other pool halls over the years, was attracted by the city’s revival. The downtown theater, new streetlights and removal of the canopy helped him decide to spend an estimated $425,000 renovating the former drug store.

“It’s slowly growing,” he said of customer traffic, although he has held back advertising until he’s completely happy with the finished room.

Depending on business, he has put in some long days accommodating players. “I get out of here sometimes at 3:30 in the morning,” he said, not sounding concerned about the late hours.

His own playing time has suffered, though, and he hasn’t picked up a cue in two years. “I just haven’t had time for it,” he said, ruefully.

DETAILS

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Campus Square Billiards

Where: 53 Public Square

Hours: 10 a.m. to closing, which can be in the wee hours depending on traffic

Cost to play: Varies from $2 per hour per player days to as much as $4 per hour after 6 p.m. Specials Monday and Tuesday, $10 per table with unlimited players and time.

Phone: 970-3216


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ron Bartizek, Times Leader business editor, may be reached at 970-7157.
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  #920  
Old Posted Dec 3, 2006, 8:11 PM
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Pretty good news I guess. I was wondering how many new pool halls were in the running. If it's only ten, then oops.

On a more serious note, it seems that the Wilkes-Barre downtown rejuvenation is a great example of what can happen in a positive vein. I wish other small cities would take a closer look at W-B and learn something from it. Heaven knows there's a ton of places in the Northeast that could use a make-over.

Thanks dony.
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