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  #1161  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2007, 9:21 AM
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^ Doggonit, I would have loved to get up there for a day of wandering, but other commitments this weekend won't allow it. Maybe some other time.

btw, I was gonna write chowda, but thought some folks might not know what I was talking about (as occurs frequently with my posts. ).

Have fun dony.
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  #1162  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2007, 2:41 PM
donybrx donybrx is offline
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Thanks, EX....it's gonna be a busy trip...weather's uglggglllahhh.

Wilkes-Barre has approved it buisness district plan, comprising many downtown blocks. A good thing;

The funding is now in place for the new intermodal transportation center, the subject of a post a few pages back, with final $6 Million 'push'. Another good thing;

There's a wonderful old apartment building under renovation on Ross St. Near south Main...6 stories (I think). A beaut!;

Rendell spoke here yesterday at the East mountain inn in W-B to promote his plan to lease the turnpike. I arrived too late to attend. I would like to have bent the Guv's ear about my ideas ..all 16,000 of them......;

The skyline sucks without the Sterling tower...they've ripped the bejeezus out of the beautiful river Common as the re-do it to the tune of $20 Millls I hope it's a positive step!!

All for now from this PA transplant...in PA, hooray. Going out to Williamsport today...in the rain.......................Yes. I am a lucky scoad aren't I?

'til manana......
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  #1163  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2007, 2:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donybrx View Post
Rendell spoke here yesterday at the East mountain inn in W-B to promote his plan to lease the turnpike. I arrived too late to attend. I would like to have bent the Guv's ear about my ideas ..all 16,000 of them......;

The skyline sucks without the Sterling tower...they've ripped the bejeezus out of the beautiful river Common as the re-do it to the tune of $20 Millls I hope it's a positive step!!

All for now from this PA transplant...in PA, hooray. Going out to Williamsport today...in the rain.......................Yes. I am a lucky scoad aren't I?

'til manana......

C'mon dony, don't sell yourself short. I bet it's more like 20,000 ideas

It's hard for me to imagine crossing the river and not seeing the Sterling.

Looking forward to the pics I'm sure you'll be sharing when you get back.
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Last edited by Ex-Ithacan; Mar 26, 2007 at 9:14 AM.
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  #1164  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2007, 2:15 PM
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^^^^Oops...forgot the camera...sorry....no more news today...went to Billsport, got stuck in traffic on I-81 heading north to Scranton (they're reparing the bridge that's close to total collapse...none to soon); The Scranton Wilkes-barre Yankees are now lating their precious grass field at the stadium...so precious, in fact, that most of the community activities that the barons allowed (national cheerleading and band competitions, winter skating rink, concerts) will now be verboten!@!!. dammit...stinks.

Going to family gravesites today, then onto favorite foods and a walk through of dwontown Wilkes-Barre. Mebbe I'll run into MetroJ or bucks native along the way. We'll all know one another by instinct...like martians......
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  #1165  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2007, 12:05 AM
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Growth in both:

Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties register increases....actual increases. Slight increases, but better than losses.......

03/22/2007
Two counties see slight rise in populations
BY ELIZABETH PIET
STAFF WRITER


It’s only 106 people, but the number represents a tipping point for Lackawanna County.
For the first time in decades, Lackawanna County’s 2006 population showed an increase of 0.1 percent over the previous year, according to new U.S. Census population estimates released today. After years of population declines related to more deaths than births and people leaving the region, migration into the county finally overcame the decreases.

Luzerne County saw its second year of slight growth — 225 people in 2006, after adding 30 people in 2005. The population estimate for 2006 is 313,020.

The 2006 population estimate for the county was 209,728.

“We kind of figured that was going to happen — at some point it was going increase,” said Mary Liz Donato, Lackawanna County senior planner. “The dying coal town image is going away finally.”

The last time Lackawanna County saw population growth was between 1920 and 1930 when the population grew from 286,311 to 310,397. Before 1970, census data was only available at the end of each decade.

Experts attribute the two counties’ population turnarounds to the migration of low- to moderate-income earners and ethnic minorities into the region.

“The number one driver is cost of living,” said Terri Ooms, executive director of the Joint Urban Studies Center in Wilkes-Barre. The growth trend in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties is in its “infancy stage,” Ooms said, but she expects it to continue and strengthen.

After low- and moderate-income people settle in, higher-income people will move away from the cities to smaller towns where their dollars can go further. Eventually, companies will follow the workforce.

As more people moved into Lackawanna County and had children, the new babies chipped away at the historic imbalance between births and deaths. Although between 2000 and 2006, 4,038 more people died than were born, there was only an imbalance of 390 people for 2006.

That too will slowly reverse in the coming years, said Gordon DeJong, Ph.D., a demography professor at Penn State University’s Population Research Institute.

“There has been an increase in the immigrant population up the valley,” he said. “Guess what — immigrants have kids.”

In addition to immigration, the region’s slight increase in population could be affected by fewer people leaving, especially younger people, and former residents returning. Many senior citizens have left popular retirement spots such as Florida frustrated by steep housing costs and hurricanes, DeJong said.

Between 2005 and 2006, a net of 129 new residents was attributed to international migration and 337 to internal migration in Lackawanna. Whether international immigration increases depends on politics and the reciprocity of communities, DeJong said.

“Is it going to be Hazleton all over again?” he asked. “It has scared off a number of the immigrants.”

If growth continues as expected, it will present challenges the region has not experienced for years.

“Our counties have seen population decline for 50 years,” Ooms said. “Growth is a foreign concept.”

New residents will demand services of communities already struggling to make ends meet, she said. Down the road, more people could lead to traffic congestion and shortages of social services.

But there are opportunities in growth, Ooms said. More people can lead to more revenue for local governments, more amenities, and more jobs.

“We need to think on a regional level,” she said. “Our region is economically interdependent, we need to work together.”

epiet@timesshamrock.com
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  #1166  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2007, 6:14 PM
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the river

They got this ALL wrong regarding Philadelphia. The river trail/walk in Philadelphia is on the Schuylkill, not the Delaware....but this is an exciting project. Gonna' see if I can't meet-up with this Dr. Minora.


Engineering work just the beginning for river project
BY STACY BROWN
STAFF WRITER
03/26/2007


The Lackawanna River could become a key element in Scranton’s economic renaissance.

City and county officials, along with community leaders and river caretakers, are working on developing a river walk that would begin in downtown Scranton and link several municipalities to the north and south. Although costs are unknown and specifics are few, officials are optimistic about the prospect of the project, which they hope will spark economic development.

“There is engineering work under way downtown,” said Bernie McGurl, executive director of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association, one of several agencies involved in the plans for the river walk. “We need to reach agreements with property owners to acquire right of ways, but hopefully we can see construction begin on this in the next 18 to 24 months.”


Other agencies working on the project include the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, Lackawanna County commissioners, North Scranton Neighborhood Association and Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

Eye on finish line

Once funding is secured, development would begin shortly thereafter, and completion of the river walk could come as soon as three years, Mr. McGurl said.

Funding is expected to come from state and federal grants, he said. Local officials are also hoping to garner congressional support for the project.

The river walk would be a downtown jewel between Seventh Avenue and Olive Street, said Barry Minora, a North Scranton medical doctor and community leader responsible for several local revitalization projects. It would extend through North Scranton into Dickson City and include sections of Archbald and Jessup. A trail along the river would extend more than 30 miles from Duryea to Carbondale.

Dr. Minora has been pushing for the creation of the river walk as an economic engine along the way for restaurants, shops and hotels. Officials envision bustling paths loaded with students headed to school, shoppers off to market and residents simply enjoying nature.

One key to the development is the renovation of the former Central New Jersey depot on West Lackawanna Avenue, which was purchased nearly 10 years ago by businessman Jerry Donahue. His plans include converting the depot into a retail complex.

Officials say the river walk would be a boon to the area.

“There isn’t any doubt that this would do wonders for the city and the county,” Mayor Chris Doherty said. “There also isn’t any doubt that this is going to happen.”

Good blueprints

The local project concept is an adaptation of successful river walks in San Antonio and Philadelphia.

The San Antonio River Walk is a network of walkways around the San Antonio River, linking several major attractions one story beneath downtown. Lined by shops and restaurants, the river walk annually pumps millions of dollars into the local economy and has become an important part of that city’s urban fabric and a tourist attraction.

The river walk recently constructed in Philadelphia could be duplicated here, said Dr. Minora.

The river area has become one of Philadelphia’s best places to mingle, with food stands, festivals and a bird’s-eye view of the Delaware River, he said.

“Gov. Ed Rendell knew what he was doing with the Philadelphia waterfront,” Dr. Minora said. “The one here would be akin to Philadelphia, although a bit smaller. People don’t realize that we’re potentially sitting on something great, something special like they have in San Antonio and now Philadelphia.”

Contact the writer: sbrown@timesshamrock.com
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  #1167  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2007, 12:05 PM
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^^^ Thanks for the more complete description of the job. Very exciting and a good direction for the city to go particularly with the unveiling of the Shoppes at Montage....at Montage, not downtown.......

Back to the matter of the Medical School. I drove thru Scranton...albeit in the dark en route to Keystone College for a performance......and there seems to be so many opportunities for development in or close to downtown. iIdon't get it.......

Don't despise me for saying this, but there is also a lot of vacant land in DT Wilkes-Barre between Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and Pennsylvania Boulevard...j ripe for large scale stuff and a couple of blocks from the soon-to-come Intermodal transportaion Center.....I would much prefer seeing the Medical School there rather than someplace like Montage in the event that the powers that be reject downtown Scranton.....it needs to be in a downtown and Rendell should tighten his hold on the State's $35 Milllion as a locational precondition.......
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  #1168  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2007, 12:27 PM
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A small update on the Sterling Hotel.....or what's left of it, that is

I'd like to know which movie stars and dignitaries were guests at the Sterling, since they mention it herein:

03/28/2007
Smokestack coming down


Brandenburg International workers were hoisted to the top of the smokestack behind the Hotel Sterling on Tuesday to complete the final stages of demolition.

The 14-story tower and the four-story connector building already have been demolished. Interior demolition of the original hotel is 90 percent complete, said Alex Rogers, executive director of CityVest, the non-profit organization restoring the site. The remaining work should be complete in a few weeks, he said.

At one time, the Hotel Sterling was Wilkes-Barre’s largest and most luxurious hotel, with a guest book that included movie stars and dignitaries. After enduring decades of decay and a close call with a wrecking ball, CityVest purchased the once-majestic hotel and plans to attract retail and residential developments to the site.

©The Citizens Voice 2007
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  #1169  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2007, 4:00 PM
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The Brookings Insitution et alia come to some conclusions about the difficulties sufferred by Pennsylvania's municipalities......Wilkes-Barre included

Posted on Sun, Mar. 25, 2007

Municipal officials’ ‘hands tied’
Pa. economic future reports: State laws, structure of government work to stop towns’ cooperation, success

RORY SWEENEY rsweeney@timesleader.com

WILKES-BARRE – Lights in downtown Wilkes-Barre, Nanticoke’s money troubles and the reason residents often think their municipal officials are inept – they all have something in common, according to three reports released by separate organizations about Pennsylvania’s economic future.

Confused? Not buying it? Keep reading. It’ll all come together, which, coincidentally, is just what the reports suggest local governments do.

Unveiled today by The Brookings Institution, the Pennsylvania Economy League and Penn State University, the studies all point to state laws that effectively prohibit local governments from working together to lower costs on services through economies of scale.

“It’s not a mismanagement issue. … It’s really more a matter of municipal leaders having their hands tied essentially by the structures that they’re bound to operate within,” said LeeAnne Clayberger of the PEL during a meeting Friday with the Times Leader’s editorial board.

The PEL’s report studied the fiscal health of 2,551 of the state’s 2,565 municipalities from 1970 through 2003.

It identified five stages municipalities follow toward distress, generally flowing from prosperity through new development, including low demand for services and low taxes. At the other extreme, municipalities face increasing taxes, declining revenues and services, and a shrinking tax base as residents move to more prosperous municipalities, she said.

“What our data shows is that this path toward fiscal decline is virtually inevitable given the set of tools that municipal leaders have at their disposal to raise revenue, to manage their municipalities” and control costs, Clayberger said.

The study found a “fundamental mismatch” between today’s mobile Pennsylvanian, who often works, shops, lives and recreates in different municipalities; and the state’s system to provide services and levy taxes, which is based almost entirely on where taxpayers reside.

“The resources aren’t really shared across the region or the broader community as much as they are isolated to the municipal boxes within which we live,” Clayberger said.

Act 47 ‘not effective’

Another interconnected trend the study identified is that better transportation routes don’t guarantee prosperity. While highway construction decades ago made some municipalities wealthy, the decline in new development since then has sent them into the distress spiral, Gerald Cross of the PEL said.

“The assumption is: build new roads, and you’ll have a healthy town. Not necessarily; in 40 years, you’re going to have a town in distress,” he said.

Pennsylvania’s Act 47, which is supposed to help distressed communities such as Nanticoke recover, “is not effective,” the study states. The study notes that of the 22 municipalities that have entered Act 47, only five have emerged, and all are still considered distressed. Nanticoke has been in Act 47 since May 25, 2005.

The study recommends modernizing the tools municipal officials can use, such as pooling health-care costs and creating state legislation that would encourage regionalization of services. It also suggests reviewing what taxes municipalities may levy, and laws governing municipal contracts to allow officials to “right-size” the amount of services with the tax base.

Likewise, the Brookings Institution’s study suggests “the state should have a much more light hand in regulating how local governments arrange their affairs,” said Mark Muro, a senior policy analyst with the Institution’s Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy.

The study, sponsored by the Campaign to Renew Pennsylvania, an initiative of the land conservation and economic advocate group 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, was a three-year follow-up to a study the institution put out in 2003, which suggested ways to revitalize Pennsylvania’s communities.

“We laid out a stark array of troubling trends three years ago. I’d say those remain,” Muro said, but added there are some notable improvements.

While the “hollowing out of the state’s metropolitan and rural regions … clearly continued apace” since 2003, he pointed out, “for whatever reason there are people having confidence enough to renovate properties (so) to some extent, there are new signs of life in your older cities and boroughs.”

Such return to urban centers might reverse the trend of suburb flight that inverted local population dispersions in just 26 years.

For example, between 1978 and 2004, Crestwood High School in Wright Township went from a 2A classification in athletics to a 3A, while Meyers High School in Wilkes-Barre went from a 3A classification to a 2A classification. Those classifications are based on school enrollment.

The report criticized the state for letting its economic strategy drift in recent decades, Muro said, and recommended continuing to court high-performing industrial companies while creating complementary “clusters” of development to provide a wide array of jobs that reflect the local economy.

Transportation must also be linked to better land use and development planning, and water and sewer construction must be paired to prevent “haphazard development,” Muro said.

Gov. Ed Rendell is taking steps forward with Growing Greener II and reinstating the State Planning Board, Muro said. He called the state’s Keystone Principles for Growth “a nationally significant effort to … make sure that the state’s activities support existing communities rather than … fueling sprawl,” but added that they still need to be “fully pervaded through every agency.”

The report highlights the revitalization of Wilkes-Barre’s downtown through collaboration with state, local and private agencies to develop the theater on Northampton Street, fill empty downtown buildings and bring streetlights back to Public Square. The report says the downtown turnaround “testifies to the power of focused reinvestment, supported by the Keystone Principles.”

Rebecca Sohmer, a senior research analyst with The Brookings Institution, outlined the Penn State University study, which essentially found that rural communities are “hollowing out” just as much as cities are in exchange for the same sort of suburban sprawl found around cities.

“What is clear in all of these reports is that property taxes doesn’t work” because they don’t grow proportionally with costs, said Luzerne County Commissioner Todd Vonderheid, who was there as a representative of Campaign to Renew Pennsylvania. “We are begged and encouraged by Pennsylvania’s current system to make land use mistakes … because it’s the only way we can raise revenue.”

If implemented in this area within a decade, the recommendations could increase incomes, economic diversity and public amenities beyond basic services, Muro said.

“You may not see $100 million in stormwater damage to public infrastructure,” Vonderheid said, striking a painful chord with local municipalities that are still reeling from the devastating November flooding. “You may not see rivers on streets running into people’s homes.”

WHAT’S NEXT
FOR MORE INFO

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

The reports are available at http://www.issuespa.net/shc/shc.htm


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

Campaign to Renew Pennsylvania plans to hold eight roundtables throughout the state with civic leaders, legislators and the groups that created the studies to look at what solutions are possible. The groups are also working with state legislators to craft legislative solutions.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rory Sweeney, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 970-7418.
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  #1170  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2007, 1:05 AM
donybrx donybrx is offline
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Here's a great idea...and a chance for the area's young adults to participate in the the direction and re-imagining of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and environs.

From today's Wilkes-Barre TIMES LEADER

OUR OPINION

You have the POWER to pour on the juice, NEPA

IF YOU’RE A young adult living in Northeastern Pennsylvania, now’s your time to shine.



A group of your peers wants you to join them in a fast-growing network of self-described “progressive thinkers” known as POWER.

The network – with chapters in Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton and Scranton – welcomes your bright ideas for upgrading this region’s image, sparking new businesses and making our corner of the Keystone State a more appealing place for young professionals to live and work.

You have bright ideas, right?

And energy and enthusiasm to boot, right?

Put those attributes to good use with this volunteer-driven group, which mixes business and pleasure at monthly get-togethers called “POWER outages.” Each event is part social hour, part career seminar. You can intermingle with others in their 20s and 30s. You can hear guest speakers talk about the area’s economic development plans and entrepreneurship possibilities.

You might even land a new job.

Rather than have a headquarters, each POWER chapter typically rotates its meetings among trendy venues, exposing participants to new restaurants, bars and other popular spots. This Thursday, all three chapters will convene for the first time during a regional POWER outage.

The session, at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees’ newly renamed PNC Field, will feature guest speakers from Mandalay Sports Entertainment. Non-POWER members can attend but reservations are required.

Earlier versions of POWER failed to make a lasting impact here. The group first emerged more than seven years ago, but lacked the internal structure suggested in its full title: Professionals Organized and Working to Enrich the Region.

More recently, POWER has undergone a revival of sorts, as detailed in Monday’s print and online editions of the Times Leader.

One participant referred to the young professionals group as “the Google of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” because it connects people with so many locally available products, projects and services. Its members aspire to put that newfound knowledge to work in order to help their careers and home communities. Volunteer service will become an increasingly important aspect of the group, its directors said.

Those directors are appealing for involvement from more of the region’s school teachers, techies, bank tellers, business managers, marketing gurus and other upwardly mobile sorts. Membership, which costs $25 annually, is open to the “young and young-at-heart.”

Join today. POWER needs your boost.

Get involved
Visit POWER’s Web site at

www.nepapower.com.
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  #1171  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2007, 9:34 AM
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^ MetroJ, get r dun.
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  #1172  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2007, 8:58 PM
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^^^ By the by...where is the little gremlin Metro J?

Metro J. Phone home...

NePA need ya......
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  #1173  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2007, 12:46 PM
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The 'Shoppes at Montage' (oh, my) opens to raves

The preverse irony of all this is that it's a 'lifestyle center' or strip mall made to look like a downtown shopping area built well outside of a downtown that needs more retail.......go figger.....

03/30/2007
Shoppes at Montage open to big crowds, good reviews
BY ROGER DUPUIS II
STAFF WRITER


MOOSIC — Thursday at noon may hardly seem prime shopping time, but practically every parking spot was filled and the sidewalks were crowded.


And it isn’t even Christmas.

Kevin Cook braved the crowds just to have lunch at the Shoppes at Montage, the $50 million, 300,000-square-foot complex’s official opening day. Sitting on a bench savoring a slice of pizza, he declared the venture a success.

“It’s convenient,” said Mr. Cook, a Wilkes-Barre resident who works in Moosic. “I’d rather come here and have a five- or 10-minute drive than have to drive 20 minutes.”

Tracy Nemenz, spokeswoman for the developer, Cincinnati-based Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc., didn’t immediately know how many parking spaces the plaza has, though she acknowledged that patrons will probably find it relatively easy to secure a parking spot most days, “outside of the grand opening and Christmas.”

Convenience wasn’t the only attraction Thursday, as evidenced by how many people were willing to cruise around seeking those coveted parking spots.

Billed not as a shopping plaza but a “lifestyle center,” the Shoppes, with many stores not found elsewhere in the region, seemed to attract a well-heeled crowd, strolling under a dazzling spring sun in designer duds.

But the larger question for the region may be what effect the new shopping center will have on locals’ shopping habits and, by extension, on other area malls.

“I usually go to Steamtown,” said West Scranton resident Kim Sanders. “But I come up here a lot to go to the movies ... I think I’ll probably come here often.”

Dallas residents Jack and Carol Donlin admired the scene, overhearing, with amusement, how one shopper compared the panoramic view to Colorado. “They must not be from around here,” the pair laughed.

In fairness, though, Sno Mountain — formerly Montage Ski Area — loomed majestic and snow-covered over the plaza on one side, while the valley’s endless hills framed the other.

Taking the scenery in stride, Mrs. Donlin said she was attracted by stores like Coldwater Creek, a women’s clothing boutique, and she and her husband would definitely return to the Shoppes.

Still, will they forsake their hometown shopping centers? By no means.

“We love Boscovs,” Mr. Donlin said of the regional department store chain, which has locations in downtown Wilkes-Barre and downtown Scranton.
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  #1174  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2007, 1:03 PM
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^^^Also at Montage....the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees debut Thursday, I believe......

Me personally, I'll miss the Red Barons....
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  #1175  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2007, 6:24 PM
donybrx donybrx is offline
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When in Scranton..................

While there really isn't any train to Scranton, there are some trains in
Scranton and they're great fun.....you can take the trolley from downtown a couple of mle through an old mountain tunnel to the stadium. ALso, the STEAMTOWN railroad excursions are a terrific way to spend time on old trains..........

Trolley to start running this weekend

The Lackawanna County Trolley Ride and Coal Mine Tours will open for the season on Sunday.

The trolley ride will start running at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. They will leave from the platform at the Trolley Museum, 300 Cliff St, Scranton. The cost for the museum and ride will be $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7.75 for children ages 3 to 12.

The trolley ride will run from Wednesday through Sunday throughout the season. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be closed on April 8. A special appearance will be made by the Easter Bunny on Sunday.

The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour at McDade Park, Scranton, will also open on Sunday. The tour runs every hour and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The cost is $8 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $5.50 for children 3-12.

A new orientation center will open this spring.
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  #1176  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2007, 7:33 PM
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Steamtown = very cool
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  #1177  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2007, 10:57 PM
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^^^ And a chance for you to whip out that ol' RR engineer's hat, jah?
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  #1178  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 12:48 PM
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Interesting: French couple settles into metro Scranton to live & work:

In 2002, Mr. Chaponot, now 62, traveled to Scranton to discuss some restoration work with officials at the Anthracite Museum. Nothing came of the talks, but he was struck by the natural beauty of the Lackawanna Valley, the rich architecture downtown, and the cost of living — much lower than New Jersey.



04/01/2007
Paris natives open art gallery, photo-restoration business in Olyphant
BY KRISTIN WINTERMANTEL DURKIN
STAFF WRITER


Dominique Chaponot grew up in the shadow of all the great art museums in Paris.

Trips to the Louvre, the Musée D’Orsay and the Musée Rodin were common.


She was inspired by the paintings and sculptures, the photographs and drawings. The works of Marc Chagall and Salvadore Dali were among her favorites.

Throughout her life, she carried that inspiration with her, as she married and raised a family, moved to the United States, took up photography, and opened a photo-restoration business with her husband, Francois.

It’s not surprising, then, that when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to open an art gallery.

With that, the Chaponots have brought a bit of France to downtown Olyphant, where they have lived and worked for the past four years.

Art Gallery 408 opens to the public today, at 408 Lackawanna Ave. Last night, the couple hosted a reception for their first exhibition, a collection of photographs, paintings, woodcuts, drawings, pottery and sculpture.

“I love art, and (with the gallery) I want to make something for the town (of Olyphant), something where people can come and share ideas, and art,” said Mrs. Chaponot.

Artistic family

The 52-year-old Paris native was born into an artistic family. She grew up in a residential neighborhood, or arrondissement, that also was home to the city’s Chinatown. Her father, the late Jean Giner, was a saxophonist; an aunt was a painter in Cannes. A cousin was a jazz singer, and her grandparents were talented dancers who once won a dance contest in Spain for their performances of a tango and a waltz.

Mrs. Chaponot went to private school, and frequently visited museums with her classmates. “Paris is a little bit like New York — there’s a lot of noise, and a lot of art,” she said with a chuckle.

At 13, she entered an art contest and won free drawing lessons at Musée des Arts et Metiers, which cultivated a passion for creating images. Later, she took lessons at the Louvre. When she was in high school, an uncle gave her a Minolta camera for her birthday, and she began taking photos for fun.

The bustle of day-to-day life interrupted her artistic hobbies. She worked as a secretary for a scientist, got married, and raised her son, Guillaume, and stepson, Christopher.

In her 30s she took up photography once more, using a digital camera to shoot landscapes and portraits in color and black and white. Mr. Chaponot, who worked in the prepress and printing industry, taught her to use photo- editing software that allowed her to create collages, experiment with color, airbrushing and other techniques that gave her photos the feel and look of a painting.

“I had in mind to create a kind of painting with my photographs,” she said, “I could see the lines change, I could see the colors change. This is where the imagination starts.”

Joan Mead-Matsui, a friend of Mrs. Chaponot and a fellow artist, said, “Personally, I find Dominique’s unique style of art is a blend of brilliant photography and state-of-the-art computer software, yet her work exudes a peacefulness that reminds me of a Monet painting.”

Indeed, many of Mrs. Chaponot’s works do look like paintings. “Port de Ploumanach” is an image of brightly colored boats in a harbor. It began as a black-and-white photo taken in the 1940s by Mr. Chaponot’s father, who was a professional photographer. She added vibrant reds and blues, and airbrushed the boats to give them the look of an Impressionist painting.

In 1990, Mr. Chaponot was sent to the United States by his employer, who had purchased a printing business in Whippany, N.J. Mrs. Chaponot and their sons followed a few months later, and the family adapted easily to life in America.

Eventually, the company was sold and business began to slide. In 2001, there were large-scale layoffs — Mr. Chaponot included.

Because Mr. Chaponot had formal training in photography as well as printing-industry experience, the couple decided to open a photo-restoration business, creating new prints of damaged family photos for clients.

“We scan the photos, and you can see all the cracks and damage,” Mrs. Chaponot said. Her husband repairs the damage digitally, and prints a brand-new copy for the client. There is much satisfaction to the work. Clients often cry when they see the new pictures. “We always have the Kleenex ready on the table,” she said, chuckling.

Traveled to Scranton

In 2002, Mr. Chaponot, now 62, traveled to Scranton to discuss some restoration work with officials at the Anthracite Museum. Nothing came of the talks, but he was struck by the natural beauty of the Lackawanna Valley, the rich architecture downtown, and the cost of living — much lower than New Jersey.

The couple visited several more times, and decided to relocate here in 2003. They bought a building at 406-408 Lackawanna Ave. in Olyphant, living on the second floor and operating the restoration business on the first.

Mrs. Chaponot got involved in the arts community here. Her photographs began to win awards in juried exhibitions throughout the area as well as in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

Mr. Chaponot is his wife’s biggest supporter. Though it was he who studied photography in school, he believes his self-taught wife is the better artist.

“I’m happy for Dominique,” he said, “because she is 10 levels higher than me.”

A few months ago, the Chaponots decided to convert extra space in their building into a gallery.

The art community is a sort of hidden asset in the region, Mrs. Chaponot said. She and her husband want to give it more exposure.

“That is my goal,” she said. “To attract people to art.”

Contact the writer: kdurkin@timesshamrock.com
If you go

What: Art Gallery 408

When: Open Sundays, noon to 6 p.m., and Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: 408 Lackawanna Ave., Olyphant.
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  #1179  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 3:36 PM
donybrx donybrx is offline
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Area has a handle on loans
Steady appreciation of home values lessens impact of subprime loan meltdown in NEPA.
JERRY LYNOTT jlynott@timesleader.com

If mortgages came in flavors, the fixed-rate version would be a scoop of vanilla.

No toppings, nothing fancy, just ice cream plain and simple.

For plenty of people in the area, that’s fine and for good reason, said Robert Snyder, president of Luzerne National Bank.

“They know what their payments are going to be,” he said.

Across the country, and to a lesser extent in Northeastern Pennsylvania, subprime loans made to millions of risky applicants with poor credit and low incomes have melted into a mess of foreclosures and late payments.

The loans come in a variety of types, but have a common thread of high interest, mainly due to the risk associated with the recipient. Often the loans start off with a low payment and adjust to a higher rate after a set period of time.

George Hanzimanolis, president-elect of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, said he’s heard stories of people taking adjustable-rate mortgages and getting “very comfortable” with the low introductory rate.

They then take on other debt and can’t afford the higher payment “when it comes time to adjust.”

While lenders are made to look like the bad guys, “Consumers need to take some responsibility,” said Hanzimanolis, who works out of Bankers First Mortgage Inc. in Tannersville.

According to 2006 fourth-quarter figures provided by the Mortgage Bankers Association, the delinquency and foreclosure rates for all loan types in the Northeast region of the country were below national rates.

Mississippi led the nation with an overall delinquency rate of 10.64 percent, followed by Louisiana with 9.10 percent and Michigan with 7.87 percent. Pennsylvania ranked 19th with a rate of 6.26 percent.

Ohio had the highest foreclosure rate of 3.38 percent. Indiana trailed with 2.97 percent. Michigan was third with 2.39 percent. Pennsylvania fell within the top 10, at ninth place with 1.58 percent.

The subprime loan meltdown comes at a time when the nationwide housing bubble has flattened, lowering prices and cluttering the market with unsold homes.

Local lenders generally agree the impact has been less severe because the region has experienced a steady appreciation of home values as opposed to a rapid rise.

Christopher Baduini of Wachovia Mortgage Corp. placed the annual increase of property values between 3 and 5 percent.

Baduini, Wachovia’s mortgage banking director for Northeastern Pennsylvania, said there is a lot of real estate inventory in the region.

“Open houses are as active as they’ve ever been,” Baduini said.

Like Snyder, he said homebuyers in the region historically choose fixed-rate mortgages.

Other types are out there and Wachovia is having success with its fixed option adjustable rate mortgage.

The loan allows a recipient to pick a payment option each month for the first 10 years. They can choose from 15- and 30-year fixed rates, interest-only payments and minimum payments.

“People like to have options,” Baduini said.

Hanzimanolis said the stable growth has not completely insulated the region from the subprime fallout.

He said there is a tightening of guidelines by lenders and the elimination of some programs.

Foreclosures are not a problem for him and other brokers. Instead, he said, we’re “seeing people calling and having to turn people away.”

Take a home worth $150,000, for example. In the past the bank would finance it 100 percent, but with the subprime fallout, the financing is cut to 90 percent, leaving the buyer to come up with the remaining 10 percent or $15,000. That puts the purchase out of reach for people who are not able to save enough to pay that share, he said.

The impact is felt most by first-time homebuyers on the fringe with blemished credit or those who have never rented before, added Jim Bulger, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers.

“It does not impact someone who already has a loan,” said Bulger, of Homecoming Financial in Pittsburgh.

The problems arose from trying to create more homeowners. “We were challenged by the government to put more people in houses,” Bulger said.

Don’t expect a quick fix from the government. The market will correct itself, Bulger and others said.

The Mortgage Bankers Association cautioned against any intervention.

In a mid-March statement, Doug Duncan, the association’s chief economist and senior vice president of research and business development, discussed the rise in delinquencies and foreclosures for subprime loans.

“As we have noted before and as recent events have made clear, market discipline in this industry is swift, can be severe, and is more effective at changing lending practices than any potential changes in regulation,” Duncan said.
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  #1180  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 8:42 PM
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Originally Posted by donybrx View Post
^^^ And a chance for you to whip out that ol' RR engineer's hat, jah?
Of course.
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