2015 Newport News - Archives
Couple lights up Newport Twp. with holiday house contest
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
If the township is a little brighter this holiday season, Lauren Gorney and Patrick Dane Cooper might be the reason why.
The couple from the township’s Glen Lyon section organized a holiday house contest on their Facebook page that has attracted 21 competitors seeking to be crowned the township’s Clark Griswold.
Residents of the township and beyond have visited their page to “like” their favorite display located inside the “Light Up Newport Township” photo album. As of Wednesday night, the front-runner had 375 likes.
The friendly competition bringing the community together is just what the 26-year-olds had envisioned several months ago when the launched their “Newport Township NOW” page on Facebook.
“I want to live in a community where everyone knows everyone,” Gorney said.
Gorney and Cooper say they always hear people talking about the “good ol’ days” of the township when residents were tight-knit and knew everyone in town. They don’t see why it can’t be that way again. The couple knows one day they’ll look back on present times — and they want to also have fond memories of the past.
Young and educated, they want to be an example for others. Gorney is assistant director of alumni engagement at Misericordia University, where she earned a degree in communications. Cooper is an environmental engineering student at Wilkes University who is a member of township’s parks and recreation board.
Rather than moving away, the 26-year-olds with deep family roots in Glen Lyon want to stay and make it a better place.
“I have no illusions about what people think of this township. But I know what it was, and I’m hopeful for what it could be,” Gorney said.
Newport Township NOW was designed to be a “community billboard” and a way to unite the township’s residents. The holiday house contest is the first of many special things they hope to host.
“We designed it to post community events. Then we realized the power in it,” Gorney said.
Gorney and Cooper believe some people put a little extra energy into their holiday displays this year because of the contest. They only envision it getting bigger each year.
“Hopefully, this is the reason people will continue to do it,” Cooper said.
It wasn’t only residents who responded to the contest. Businesses donated the prizes.
The grand prize is $100 from R Bar and Grill — a $50 gift card and $50 cash.
Other prizes include $25 gift certificates to K-Val convenience store in Glen Lyon, South Street Subs in Nanticoke, and Good Karma Thrift Store in Hanover Township. Gorney and Cooper are putting up $25 themselves as a prize.
“It’s our way of supporting small family-owned businesses within the township, as well as an opportunity for neighbors to get to know one another,” Cooper said.
Voting on Facebook ends once it hits midnight Sunday.
“It’s just a great thing to know your neighbors and get involved in your community and do something nice that doesn’t cost any money,” Gorney said.
County decision on tax collector irks Newport officials
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
Newport Township Commissioner John Zyla dubbed the Luzerne County council members who voted not to extend county collection of township taxes “the shameful five” during this week’s commissioner’s meeting.
“They turned their backs on Newport Township,” Zyla said at the meeting Monday.
He and other commissioners decried the refusal to help a community in need and, at the same time, enable the cash-strapped county to gain some income.
Newport Township has no tax collector. When the incumbent resigned one year ago, Luzerne County agreed to collect county and municipal taxes but, meeting last week, the county council voted 5-4 not to renew the accord into 2016.
Voting not to renew were county council members Edd Brominski, Stephen J. Urban, Stephen A.Urban, Eileen Sorokas and Kathy Dobash. Voting “yes’’ were Linda McClosky Houck, Tim McGinley, Harry Haas and Rick Williams. Jim Bobeck and Rick Morelli were absent.
“I believe that job should be done by an elected tax collector. If they don’t have one, I think they should use one of the neighboring ones,” said Stephen J. Urban. “We have somewhat of an agreement with the elected tax collectors from a couple years ago to utilize them. Just because one resigned in their municipality doesn’t mean that they can’t go and find one of the neighboring ones, because I’m sure one of the neighboring ones would gladly do the job because its income for them.”
“I just feel that they should get a tax collector. There are other tax collectors willing to come over and do them,” Sorokas said.
As for being dubbed “the shameful five,” Sorokas said “That’s how they feel. What else are you going say about it? It’s our vote, our way. They didn’t like it, so they’re going to be a little negative about it.”
Bobeck and Morelli voted in favor of the collection one year ago and the Newport board is hoping for a re-vote. On the recommendation of attorney Rich Shiptoski, solicitor, Newport will send a letter asking the county council to reconsider.
“A second vote will be up to the county,” Shiptoski said.
Meanwhile, the Newport commissioners will begin to develop a contingency plan at the board’s next work session.
The next election in which the tax collector post will be on the ballot is the primary election of 2017, and any tax collector elected would not take office until January 2018.
Zyla said no one has come forward to serve as township tax collector. He said the time involved, the compensation and the need to be bonded all may be reasons no one wants the job.
Township Manager Richard Zika said the county made about $3,400 in collecting 2015 taxes and the income would be higher in 2016 as the per-bill rate will rise from $2 to $2.50.
“I don’t understand why they turned their backs on the township,” Zyla said.
County council initially voted not to take on the tax collection work one year ago but Morelli changed his mind, saying, “I look at this as helping them out.”
One year ago, Councilman Stephen A. Urban told the township representatives, “It’s your responsibility to collect your taxes, not ours.”
Brominski also has been vocal in opposition to the agreement.
In the aftermath of the meeting, Tom Kashatus, a former Newport Township tax collector and activist in the Newport Township Community Organization, said the options open to the township include getting the re-vote or a legal challenge to the refusal to collect 2016 taxes.
Kashatus said the township also could have the Berkheimer agency collect the taxes. “They already have the Newport data base as they collect the Greater Nanticoke Area school tax and the Newport per capita tax,” he said.
“The important thing is that Newport has to act and not drag their feet or they will end up with a delay in billing for the new year,” Kashatus added.
The county collects taxes for the four cities in the county — Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Pittston and Nanticoke. About 32,000 bills are mailed annually and Zyla noted that Newport’s billings add only six percent to the treasurer’s office workload.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the commissioners voted 3-2 to raise board members’ compensation from $1,500 to $2,500 as allowed by the First Class Township Code. Zyla suggested holding the raise to $500 and he was joined by Commissioner John Wilkes, Jr. They voted “no” on the motion for $2,500; voting “yes” were board president Paul Czapracki, Roke and John Vishnefski.
Newport Township reclamation project announced
An abandoned mine reclamation project will benefit property owners near Reservoir Creek in Newport Township, state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, announced Monday.
The state Department of Environmental Protection awarded a $987,967 contract to Brdaric Excavating Inc. of Luzerne for the St. Vladimir Vicinity project.
“This will eliminate the possibility of flooding of several homes and businesses that have been affected in the past by the flooding of the creek,” Newport Township Manager Richard Zika said in a prepared statement.
Brdaric Excavating will move the south branch of the creek from the north side of West Kirmar Avenue to the south side — the creek’s original bed. This will lessen the possibility of bridge damage in the event of a flood, and it will help keep West Kirmar Avenue open during heavy rains. Work is scheduled to begin on Oct. 3 with an expected completion date of Sept. 7, 2016.
The contract is funded by the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Trust Fund, which is subsidized by fees paid for each ton of coal mined. Yudichak worked with state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, to secure the grant.
Newport Township has grand opening for new municipal building, community center
Both the American flag and the spirits of township residents rose on Monday night as the township dedicated a new municipal building along the Kirmar Parkway.
Township veterans gathered in a flag raising and honor guard ceremony, setting the stage for an event that celebrated not simply a new building with 3,655 square feet of space housing municipal offices, a police station and community room, but the perseverance that made it possible.
Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, addressed the crowd as master of ceremonies, crediting commissioners with holding fast to their vision of the building for almost a decade.
Michael Dziak, CEO of Earth Conservancy, a project partner, said, “It’s been a load road, but well worth it in terms of community growth.”
Yudichak, who worked to garner $500,000 in Local Share Account (LSA) grants to fund the project, said he looked forward to the building improving community service, ensuring public safety and maximizing economic development opportunities.
“This is not simply a building made of brick and mortar,” he said, “this is about building a better future for the township, making prosperity possible.”
Paul Czapracki, president of the township Board of Commissioners called the building, “a wonderful, beautiful building which will carry the township and its residents into the future.”
Addressing those gathered, he said, “we present this building to you.”
The old municipal building, constructed in 1911, was not energy efficient or ADA compliant.
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, said the township had worked to put together a project budget that would not unduly stress its taxpayers, with only $150,000 borrowed by the township to complete the $650,000 project.
Mullery said he believed the building would be a catalyst for new jobs, stimulating new business along the parkway.
Officials have said construction of the new facility will also open up 10 to 15 acres of land for commercial development and serve as the catalyst for new retail and professional job opportunities.
The crowd of over 100 seemed to respond with a sense of community and gratitude, with many having been residents of the township throughout their lives.
Resident Vern Treat said he was attending the event simply because he was a long-time resident and felt it was his duty to participate in community events and have an understanding of what was happening in the township.
“Newport Township is vast,” said Treat, recalling that it includes the villages of Alden, Glen Lyon, Lee, Ridgeview, Sheatown and Wanamie. The township covers an area of 16.8 square miles and has more than 5,000 residents.
Murph Fletcher, a member of the township’s community organization in charge of recreation, said the building had been sorely needed and is filling a real need.
Looking forward to the building not only serving township officials, but providing a gathering place for community groups, Fletcher called both the building and the effort “top notch.”
Many attendees of the event were simply residents committed to the township, calling each of those gathered “neighbor.”
Tom Kashatus, a member of the township community organization and fundraiser, said he has lived in the township all his life.
“We all work together to help each,” said Kashatus. “That’s just what we do.”
60-year-old Nanticoke man found naked in basement charged with sexually assaulting boy
A naked 60-year-old man was found hiding in the basement of a boy’s residence on East Enterprise Street where township police alleged he sexually assaulted the child on Sunday.
Richard Anthony Perugino, of Hanover Street, Nanticoke, told police he went to the house to hang out with the boy he met on an app that allows bisexual people to interact with one another, according to charges filed.
A family member of the boy allegedly found Perugino naked hiding in the basement of the boy’s home.
Township police said the boy claimed Perugino performed a lewd sexual act on him, charging documents say.
Perugino was arraigned Monday by District Judge Rick Cronauer in Wilkes-Barre on a single count of unlawful contact with a minor. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $25,000 bail.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police responded to the residence at about 11 p.m. and found Perugino in the basement sitting in a chair being detained by another person. A woman was screaming at Perugino.
Police learned family members became concerned about the boy when a young girl became frightened by something she saw in the basement.
The family searched the basement where the boy has his bedroom.
Perugino was allegedly found wearing no clothes hiding in another basement room, the complaint says.
Perugino allegedly told police he met the boy on the app and went to the house “to hang out with him,” insisting nothing happened, according to the complaint.
Perugino claimed he was aware of the boy’s age before he went to the residence. He allegedly shook his head “yes” when asked by police if anything sexual had taken place with the boy, the complaint says.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled on July 15 before District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke.
Twins not only best friends, but business partners
Bob Kalinowski, - Citizens Voice
Webmaster Note: Edited from original article for Newport.
They grew up together, lived together, went to school together and have done just about everything in life together. They are not only twins, but best friends.
And for two sets of local twins, the togetherness continues in the workplace as business partners.
Eric and Jason Negron operate a gyro shop and a cheesesteak business in downtown Wilkes-Barre. They just celebrated 10 years since they took over and grew the family business.
Meanwhile, Brianne and Brittany Dougherty recently assumed ownership of a growing day care they’ve managed since it opened in Newport Township four years ago.
So do these twins ever get sick of being around one another? Both sets said not at all.
“We actually hang out with each other outside of work. We’re always together,” Brianne Dougherty said. “The business has brought us closer.”
Joan Friedman, a psychotherapist who is one of the nation’s leading experts on twins, says identical twins often make good business partners.
And she knows a lot about the topic. Friedman is a twin and also has twin sons. She has authored several books about twins.
“Identical twins that get along the best, and choose to go into business together, are the pairs of twins who use their skills to compliment the other, rather than threaten each other or be competitive,” Friedman said.
The Dougherty sisters
Brianne and Brittany Dougherty, 27, went to school to become teachers and obtained degrees in elementary and special education.
After filling in as substitute teachers one school year, they sought a summer job and heard about a day care opening. They started working there — and never left.
Now, they own the place.
The twin sisters from Nanticoke recently purchased Magic World Child Care Center at 14 Kirmar Parkway in Newport Township. As directors, they’ve built the business over the years from a small center with eight kids into a center now caring for more than 40 children.
And they love it.
Not being able to immediately land a teaching job after college was a blessing in disguise, the Dougherty sisters said.
“We’re happy we didn’t because we couldn’t have asked for anything better than this,” Brittany said on a recent day after being mobbed with hugs from a group of youngsters. “We’re still able to do our passion and teach children.”
Brianne agrees that it all worked out better than they planned.
“This wasn’t something we originally thought about for our future. Now, we couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Brianne said. “For us, it’s more than a business. Our hearts are in it. It’s been our livelihood the past four years.”
Unlike the Negron twins, the Dougherty sisters don’t live together. They also parted ways for college. Brianne went to Bloomsburg University, while Brittany went to Wilkes University.
But, of course, they sought and obtained the same degree.
“We separated for college and then we got back together,” Brianne joked.
Now, their corporation name is the same as what they were called in high school, “Twin Dough,” pronounced “twin dock.”
The sisters say they love their work because they get a sense of pride seeing children thrive in their program.
“Seeing them advance through our program from infancy or toddlers, all the way up to pre-K and seeing them graduate, it’s so rewarding,” Brittany said. “It’s a big thing to see them graduate — from barely being able to speak to being ready for kindergarten.”
Newport Twp. group focused on community
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
Published: May 18, 2015
When the Newport Township Community Organization meets, everything from litter cleanup to code enforcement to sponsorship of youth sports teams is on the table.
The results have been dramatic, members say.
Over the last 11 years, the nonprofit organization has met its goal of making the township a more livable community, and if members have their way, a new generation of “doers” will join the cause.
“We really want a better community,” said Steve Phillips, organization president.
The group formed in May 2004 initially to combat a blight of dilapidated houses. At the time of its founding, the township’s board of commissioners had been asking residents for suggestions on how the community might be improved. Perhaps the commissioners did not expect a full-blown citizens’ group, Phillips said, but the organization immediately began photographing every degraded property in the township.
Because most of the officers are “Newport Township born-and-bred,” Phillips said, there was a deep concern about the appearance of the community. The organization began pushing for improved code enforcement — something with which members are still not pleased, Phillips said.
Their campaign continues. The organization may be “non-political,” but a contingent attends every township commissioners’ meeting.
“We encourage five-point plans. Most often the board is respectful, but we see no action,” Phillips said.
Some members and other citizens created Renew Newport, a political action group, several years ago, but efforts to get people elected to the board were unsuccessful. Renew Newport is now defunct, Phillips said.
The organization peaked at 220 members a few years ago and the rolls now show 150 people, said Tom Kashatus, current vice president. Many people who moved away continue to pay the $5 annual dues. The organization’s quarterly newsletter, printed on glossy stock, has a distribution of 1,800.
A core group of 12 to 15 people keep the organization going, said Palmira Miller, immediate past president. Phillips candidly states that “if we don’t get an infusion of young people, in 10 years this organization will be only a memory.”
Litter cleanups and elimination of dumping pits consume much of the time of the organization’s volunteers. Kirmar Avenue and Kirmar Parkway are targeted under the state Department of Transportation litter-cleanup program. Tens of thousands of tons of debris, tires and household trash have been collected under partnerships with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, PennDOT, Earth Conservancy, Luzerne County and Mascaro Waste Haulers, among others, Miller said.
“We won the 2009 Pennsylvania Environmental Partnership Award and the 2013 PEC Recycling Award,” Miller said. The Environmental Council helped with liability insurance and the county provided prison inmates.
From the roadways, volunteers “started to go into the (coal mine) strippings,” Miller said. Over the years, more than 100 tons of material have been hauled from mine pits.
All of these efforts led to a year-round recycling operation. The organization sells metal it collects via litter pickups or donations taken to land near the Earth Conservancy composting operation north of Glen Lyon. Kashatus organizes much of this effort, using the motto,”You call, we’ll haul.”
The organization’s income supports a wide range of community efforts, including crime watch, Little League, girls’ softball, a summer Bible camp, Mill Memorial Library in Nanticoke, National Night Out, summer swimming at the Denoy pool in Mocanaqua, meals for guests of Mother Teresa Haven, a chili cook-off contest, Life Skills classes and collection of gently used shoes, crayons and eyeglasses for the Lions Club.
Other officers are Bill Hourigan, second vice president; Francis Zaleski, treasurer; Linda Conner, secretary; Heidi and Paul Jarecki, newsletter editors; Joe Maloney, newsletter ads; John Jarecki, alternate secretary/treasurer; Mary Jo Evans and Carol Jarecki, board members.
The organization meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:45 p.m. at Guardian Elder Care meeting room, Sheatown.
To learn more about the Newport Township Community Organization, you can contact:
• The group’s website: newporttownship.com; or search Newport Township Community Organization on Facebook.
• President: Stephen Phillips, 570-735-3991.
• Recycling program: Tom Kashatus, 570-736-6981.
Shoplifting charge leads to drug bust in W-B
A Glen Lyon man was charged with retail theft and drug possession after he was allegedly caught shoplifting at a Wilkes-Barre drugstore Thursday.
Wilkes-Barre police responded to the Rite Aid Pharmacy, 155 E. Northampton St., at about 2:10 p.m. on Thursday for a reported retail theft.
Mark Draper, the suspect, had been observed stealing items valued at a total of $40.75, police said.
Officers arrested Draper and searched him, finding 14 packets of heroin on his person, according to police. Draper reportedly told police the drugs were to be used for an undercover buy on behalf of Nanticoke police to set up a drug dealer.
Nanticoke police on Friday confirmed Draper is not a confidential informant for them.
Police determined that Draper was on probation and obtained a detainer to send him to Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
County to collect Newport Twp. taxes
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
Richard Zika came asking for help.
After Newport Township’s tax collector left the job, Zika, the township manager, needed someone who could do the work this year.
Following council’s vote, it will now be the Luzerne County treasurer’s office that is responsible for about 2,000 tax bills in the township.
Council had previously voted against taking on the work, but Councilman Rick Morelli changed his mind and asked council to revisit the decision at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I look at this as helping them out,” he said.
Later, much later, council was scheduled to discuss the county’s 911 response. Council would then be asking municipalities for suggestions to improve emergency response. Council should be helping out the municipalities in Luzerne County, not working against them, Morelli said.
Other council members offered dissent, questioning if the treasurer’s office could take on the additional work.
“It’s your responsibility to collect your taxes, not ours,” said Councilman Stephen A. Urban.
The move would set a precedent for the county to take over other responsibilities from boroughs and townships, said Vice Chairman Edd Brominski.
Newport Township’s tax collector’s resignation took effect Jan. 1. No one else wanted the work because state law stipulated additional certification for tax collectors, Zika said.
Councilwoman Kathy Dobash said she knew someone who wanted the work. Zika said he had received a letter from a tax collector in another township requesting the work, but that person said in conversations afterward that she did not actually want the extra responsibility.
Zika said it’s a good deal for the county. The county will collect $2 for each Newport Township bill it processes, which should total about $4,000. Also, he said, the county was already paying the previous tax collector $2 per bill, and it won’t have to pay that now.
Newport Township man gets new sentencing hearing for selling stolen coin collection
A Newport Township man is not responsible for the full $30,000 in restitution to the owner of a coin collection stolen in 2012, the state Superior Court ruled.
The appellate court ordered a new sentencing hearing for Benjamin Michael Bonczewski, 33, last known address as East Main Street, who was on the hook to repay John Roke $30,000.
Roke reported to Newport Township police that his coin collection was stolen during a burglary at his house on Oct. 9, 2012. Roke told police he spotted Bonczewski walking toward his house when he boarded a bus to travel to Wilkes-Barre that day, according to the criminal complaint.
Township police arrested Bonczewski in November 2012, on charges he sold silver dollar coins at several pawn shops in the region, the complaint says.
Bonczewski pleaded guilty before Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough on July 31, 2013, to receiving stolen property. When he pleaded guilty, prosecutors requested another hearing to determine any restitution Bonczewski owes to Roke for the stolen coin collection.
A restitution hearing was never held pinning the full $30,000 restitution owned to Roke on Bonczewski, who was sentenced Feb. 21, 2014, to two years in the state intermediate punishment program.
Bonczewski's attorney, Joseph Nocito, appealed the sentence claiming his client pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, which meant he only received stolen coins. Bonczewski did not plead guilty to burglary and theft for stealing the coins, Nocito argued.
Nocito argued Bonczewski should not be liable for the full $30,000 in restitution because prosecutors did not establish Bonczewski actually had stolen the coins.
The Superior Court agreed, finding that the trial court "failed to hold a full restitution hearing before sentencing."
"At no time prior to sentencing did (prosecutors) present any evidence that the value of the stolen coins received by (Bonczewski) was anywhere near $30,000," the appellate court ruled, noting the $30,000 restitution ordered upon Bonczewski "is illegal."
Newport Township tax collector resigns
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice
Newport Township’s tax collector resigned today, just one year into his term.
Ken Angradi resigned his post because of the pay, he said. He said tax collectors make $2 per bill sent, but Luzerne County does not pay for any other expenses other than postage.
“It comes to a point where you just can’t do it,” Angradi said.
Angradi is retired and works out of his home. Despite his resignation, he offered tax help to any township residents who may need it.
The Luzerne County Treasurer’s office will handle Newport Township’s tax collections for the remaining three years of Angradi’s term. Office Manager and Tax Administrator Laura Beers said the office will provide the service “with bells on” at the start of the new year.
Beers said the county office will collect both county and municipal taxes from Newport Township residents, then send the municipal taxes along to the township in weekly checks.Beers said her office already provides the same service for Nanticoke.