6-28-2005 The Heights: High & Dry?

It's sure been a while since one of those sons-a-bitchin' Franklin-style lights went and tried to kill an innocent bystander, or two. I noticed that when contacted by the Times Leader, Kathy Kane "said installation could begin in September."

With all due respect, I know the folks on that street light committee have worked to get this project done correctly, rather than quickly. But, I think we might be rapidly approaching the point where they need to put an "X" on things already. The expected inspection of the remaining Franklin lights will likely lead to a few more being pulled down. And that will result in an even darker downtown streetscape.

While I can appreciate due diligence and a job well done, we really need to get the new street lighting project to the construction phase with all speed.

If one of those aged lights goes and skulls some poor bastard...

I spent this past Saturday protecting a large commercial structure from the wrath of the only insects that can digest cellulose. But, I had originally planned to join a group of folks on a chartered bus headed for the big-assed museum in New York City. Yup. As soon as Nancy Kman of WILK fame announced that she was planning a bus trip to the Museum of Natural History, I signed-up both the Gagemeister and myself.

Again...but, this commercial job that was scheduled to be completed earlier this month was rescheduled for this past Saturday and there went the bus trip. Bummer. I was disappointed. While I knew that Gage would just freak at the sight of the dinosaur fossils, I also hoped to chew some fat with Nancy. While much of what she says on WILK irks me to a minor degree, there's no doubt that she's a quality person in charge of something that I truly enjoy. As it all turned out, Gage never saw those dinosaurs, and I didn't get to hang out with Nancy. Instead, I got to sweat my freaking ass off in downtown Nanticoke. Oh, joy.

Somewhere in the middle of Monday morning's "Nancy & Kevin" radio show, Kev prompted Nancy to talk about the bus trip and started giggling to himself. And with that, my pointy little ears perked right up. I was actually staring at the radio and talking to it with, What? What?" And then Nancy went on to explain in great detail that the bus in question went and lost it's ability to produce any further air conditioning for the return trip to Wilkes-Barre. And according to Nancy, on the hottest day of the year to that point, what followed was well beyond ugly.

And here, my sidekick and I thought that we had thoroughly sweated our skinny asses off last Saturday, only to eventually learn that we had it pretty freakin' good. Well, that is, when compared to what that bus group suffered through.

Nance, if you plan another cool bus trip, count the Gagemeister and myself in. But, be warned, if the bus goes sweat box on us again, the grandson and I will set off in the direction of the Port Authority in search of a much, much cooler bus.

All things considered, that in itself might prove to be the ultimate adventure.

From the e-mail inbox Do ya wanna get rocked??

That was the theme of Friday nights show for sure. While I didn't agree with your assessment of Tesla's performance (I rather like them and thought they were kick ass too!!!), Def Leppard never fails to get the job done. This was my third time seeing them and I pray it's not my last!!

It's funny though, on Friday, all I could tell people was I wanted to get out of work and go get rocked. NO ONE KNEW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT AND ONE PERSON ACTUALLY SAID MY AGE WAS SHOWING!!! That was just too funny and too sad all at the same time.

I don't care much if Def Leppard is "OLD". If that's old then make me a reservation at the home real quick. What a party us "OLD" folks will have.

Rock on fellow "OLD TIMER"!!



Wanna get rocked? Oh, yeah! And get it we did, heyna?

And you're right. I didn't cut Tesla any slack. I'm not an especially big fan of theirs, but there's no denying that they can play and they can bring it. Where they lost me was with their obvious lack of songwriting abilities. I don't know. "Sign, sign everywhere a sign," just doesn't work for me when you consider that the first time I heard that lamest of hippie anthems, I was probably playing in the dirt with my brand new Matchbox steamroller. That was long before Marcia Brady had even been invented. I don't know. Whatever. I clapped, and hooted and hollared for them, too. I can appreciate the effort.

I kind of had a thing at work, too. Needless to say, as Friday night rapidly approached, I was starting to count the hours. And my co-workers, most of which think snagging a trout with a piece of bent steel is exciting, were giving me that first hint of impending old-age. You know, "Grow up." As for me, I could really care less what those nursing home wannabes thought about gettin' rocked. They say you're only as old as you feel, and if that's the case, I'm up for some full-court basketball, another deafening round of KISS at the Paramount, and Def Leppard any freaking day.

Gunter glieben glauchen globen
I got something to say
Yeah, it's better to burn out
Yeah, than fade away
All right
Gonna start a fire

Rise up! Gather round
Rock this place to the ground
Burn it up let's go for broke
Watch the night go up in smoke
Rock on! (rock on!)
Drive me crazier, no serenade
No fire brigade, just Pyromania, c'mon

What do you want? What do you want?
I want rock'n'roll, yes I do
Long live rock'n'roll

No fire brigade?

Aw, Christ. More pathetic bullsh*t from today's Citizen's Voice:

The Citizens Voice

Lack of fire station in Heights endangers more than neighbors



Does some great tragedy have to occur before the deaf ears of our mayor will listen? How can anyone in their right mind refuse to staff a firehouse that is completely renovated at no cost to a city?

If you think that this affects only the residents of the Heights you are sadly mistaken. If you live elsewhere and your children attend GAR or Heights Elementary, your children are now unprotected. Do you have a parent or grandparent in the City Heights highrise or Little Flower Manor? They are now unprotected.

If the Susquehanna decides to breech her banks, we are all unprotected because the only active fire stations are in the flood area.

The homes and lives of Heights residents don't count for anything in the eyes of our mayor. Rest assured, come election time, our votes will count.

Tie a red ribbon on your home to support our firehouse and show the mayor how many votes he will be losing come election time.

"I believe" Mayor Leighton will be serving only one term.

Ginny Lucinski


That's the latest spiel emanating from Hysteria Central. (Like that one, Deb?) If pyromania finds it's way to the Heights, (Deb, stop me now!) the Heights is "unprotected???" It's wonderful and all to adrenalize over important issues (I can't help it) every now and again, but I think the euphoria these people currently feel (ARGGGHHHH!) will slowly fade when the great preponderance of the populace realizes that the Height's is not being left high-and-dry (Help me!!!) as far as public safety is concerned. And while I honestly feel that the rallying cry of, "Mayor Leighton will be serving only one term," is loose slang for (HEE HEE!) Kathy Kane is going to challenge him during the next election go-round, I think most of these dozen folks would be better served by chilling out, counting their blessings, and getting on through the night. (This has gone too far)

Funny, though. Our letter writer neglected to mention that the fire department was on scene within three minutes for that fire at G.A.R. last week. Do you think she knew about that? Or did she leave that out on purpose?

Oh, and, if the Susquehanna decides to breech her banks, I imagine that our fire department will turn tail and head for the hills of the Heights.

So, Heights folks, cross your fingers and pray for another off-course hurricane. The remainder of the city matters not. Only the Heights matters.

From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark,

I've been listening to, watching and observing people around the area after the "I Believe" announcement. To hear some of these "experts" tell it, there is no way Wilkes-Barre came come back, Leighton doesn't know what he is talking about. Was I expecting something more from the big announcement, yes, BUT I can see what Tom was attempting to do. The fact that we haven't had much to believe in over the past years, things ARE happening, but people don't want to get their hopes up. But this city is worth the faith that Tom Leighton is asking. This area is growing, there are lots of things to do (you just need to know where to look) and I can see a resurgence happening. I for one am excited about what's going on. No-things don't happen overnight, we need to be patient and BELIEVE.

Bill Ulichney

I'm with it, man. I am. And I'm getting tired of hearing non-stop grief simply because "I believe" that Tom Leighton has got the ship that used to be listing heavily to port not only repaired, but heading back in the direction of that exotic port that has eluded us for so long now.

Explain that stubbornness to me, will you? Many of us can believe in the god-damned Eagles, or rip their hearts out for the Phillies, but asking them to get excited about their city is just too much to ask, too much of a stretch, or too silly so long as anyone else is within earshot.

You'd have to be deaf, dumb, blind, and, or stupid to not fully realize that something very positive, something very different is suddenly afoot in this city. It's starting to happen all around us, and yet, people are still bitching about a fu>king logo, and a fu>king motto.

You tell me.

Scranton Times Tribune

Federal Drug Cases Soaring


Transfers from state courts and top-to-bottom prosecutions of drug rings are swelling statistics for regional federal narcotics court cases.

Ratios of drug cases and especially numbers of defendants in narcotics prosecutions in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania steadily outpace national percentages, statistics show.

“The volume of (drug) cases right now is higher than I’ve ever seen it before,” said Melinda Ghilardi, first assistant federal public defender.

Data from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts show 45 percent of criminal defendants in Middle District cases in the last five fiscal years faced drug charges, while the national total was 36 percent.

Over the same period, drug case filings made up 33 percent of the criminal cases in the district, while the national total was 28 percent, statistics show.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson said about 40 percent of the drug cases in the district are processed through the federal courthouse in Scranton. County-by-county breakdowns are not compiled by the U.S. Clerk of Court office.

The number of defendants in Middle District drug cases rose from 210 in fiscal year 2001 to 336 in fiscal year 2004, a 60 percent increase.

Over the same period, the number of drug cases filed rose from 114 in fiscal 2001 to 142 in fiscal 2004, a 25 percent increase.

Multi-defendant drug indictments are feeding the big increase.

Forty suspects were indicted in 2003 in separate federal drug investigations in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. In March, 11 people from Carbon County were indicted in a cocaine ring and in May, 13 people were indicted in a Luzerne County drug probe.

Well, both the mayor and the police chief said they were going after the druggies in a big, big way. But, depending on who you might talk to, that might not be believeable.

In any other backwater of a place, the following two news blurbs could easily be mis-construed as being good news.

But this is Wilkes-Barre. We know it's really bad news. Somehow, some way, this is just bad.


Posted on Tue, Jun. 28, 2005

Furniture store moving to BiLo site

FFO is leaving former Service Merchandise and Salvation Army is putting a store there.

By RENITA FENNICK rfennick@leader.net

WILKES-BARRE – A discount furniture store that was temporarily housed on Kidder Street is opening under a new name at the former BiLo store in the Penn Plaza on South Main Street.

Surplus Freight, formerly Furniture Factory Outlet, will open Friday in the South Main Street shopping center.

The business is leaving the former Service Merchandise store, where it operated for more than a year. But, that site won’t be vacant for long – the Salvation Army plans to open a 35,000-square-foot thrift store there in September.

The relocation of the furniture store is one of the biggest retail moves into downtown Wilkes-Barre in a few years, said John Augustine, senior director of economic and entrepreneurial development for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry.

“It’s fantastic any time we can take a formerly vacant building and breathe new life, not only into the facility itself, but into the downtown. Our hope is that more stores will follow the lead.”

Surplus Freight will continue to sell furniture directly from manufacturers such as Ashley Furniture, Kathy Ireland, Crownmark and Dynamic Furniture. Merchandise on layaway with Furniture Factory Outlet will be transferred to the new store.

The supermarket, which also operated under the Acme Markets and Insalaco’s names, has been closed since 2003.

“We came into the market 13 months ago on a trial basis and have been overwhelmed by the welcoming hospitality the community has shown us,” Tim Armstrong, president of Furniture Factory Outlet, said in a press release. Surplus Freight is a division of Furniture Factory Outlet.

Surplus Freight will lease the 26,000-square-foot store from CV Ltd., a local company.

The opening of the furniture outlet likely will lead the way for additional store openings in the Penn Plaza, said Mike Kon of Tom Hart Realtor, property manager. The business will join Family Dollar, Frank’s Pizza, Crest Cleaners and Bank of America in the shopping complex. Family Dollar is increasing its retail space by 2,200 square feet and will open its larger store next month, Kon said.

“Now that things are happening in downtown, like progress on the state (Department of Labor & Industry) building and the theater project, I think we’ll see some things follow,” Kon said. “I’ve been talking to other potential tenants about the Penn Plaza.”

When the new Salvation Army Family Store opens, the organization will close the Wilkes-Barre Township thrift store and distribution center, according to Jerry Balara, general manager of the Salvation Army adult rehabilitation center. Proceeds from the stores support the rehabilitation center.

There are no plans to close the Hanover Township or Exeter stores at this time, Balara said.

A basement in the Service Merchandise building will allow the Salvation Army to expand its operations.

“There’s a possibility that we will use that as a distribution point, sending large donations from corporate places to other units though we have no definite plans right now,” Balara said. “This also will allow us to accept more donations.”

Balara said the larger store will translate into more employees though he isn’t sure how many more people will be hired.

The Service Merchandise building was part of a two-structure retail center built on the site of the former Howard Johnson Motel. The inn was razed in 1995 and the store opened in 1996. It closed in 2003.


Posted on Tue, Jun. 28, 2005

Seven new officers begin duty in W-B

Funding for the officers came from the EMA tax expected to generate $850,000 annually.

By LANE FILLER lfiller@leader.net

WILKES-BARRE – After five months of training in Allentown, seven new police officers have begun working in the city this week, where they will continue their education.

The seven are part of a group of 10 officers hired in February with funds from a new Emergency and Municipal Services tax. The tax will generate about $850,000 each year for the city.

Two other officers, having already received the state-mandated training, were able to go straight on to the force as soon as they were hired.

The tenth hire was injured during training and will complete his course later this year.

“They’ll do up to eight weeks of additional training here in Wilkes-Barre with field training officers,” said police Chief Gerry Dessoye. “Then you’ll see them out on the street and in the community.”

Dessoye said some of the officers might not need a full eight weeks depending on how well they learned their lessons in Allentown.

The Wilkes-Barre officers held all three elective offices in their training class, and all seven finished in the top eight students in a class of nearly 30 candidates, Dessoye said.

“These are great guys and I’m really proud of how seriously they took their work at the academy,” said Mayor Tom Leighton. “I’m confident they’ll be a big part of the reduction of crime inthis city, both downtown and in the communities.”

Leighton has said the department’s focus on quelling drug dealing and increasing the visibility of police on the streets will eventually clean up the city.


From the e-mail inbox Mark,

I've been following the latest from Wilkes-Barre for a long time.

For what it's worth, I think Tom Leighton is the best thing to happen to Wilkes-Barre since you.

Just thought I'd send that your way.

If you ever find yourself in Dushore, look us up.

Bring a sweater.


Whoa, Nellie! And on that note...