2021 Newport News Archive
December 25, 2021
Environmental groups air concerns about $6B Nacero project
NEWPORT TWP. — A proposed gas-to-gasoline industrial plant in Luzerne County, touted as being environmentally friendly, is anything but, says a group of local, state, and national environmental organizations who have joined forces to oppose the project.
The organizations that came out against the $6 billion project slated for the Newport Township/Nanticoke City/Hanover Township area, are: Action Together NEPA, Berks Gas Truth, Better Path Coalition, Clean Air Council, Climate Reality Project: Pennsylvania Chapters Coalition, Concerned Health Professionals of PA, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, FracTracker Alliance, Green Amendments For the Generations, Interfaith Power and Light, League of Women Voters Pennsylvania, PennFuture, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wyoming Valley, Watchdogs of Southeastern PA (WaSEPA).
State Sen. John Yudichak, the main advocate for the project, and Nacero officials, responded to the concerns and even released a statement from a Novel Prize winner, Mark D. Levine, who co-authored the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Levine, who is a senior advisor at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, described Nacero’s potential to slow global warming as an opportunity “we can’t afford to miss.”
The opposition groups released a statement, along with a Clean Air Council fact sheet, that addresses why they are against the project.
“Nacero, the Texas-based company behind the $6 billion refinery, markets its business as being environmentally conscious, but there is no evidence to support its claims, especially at the local level,’ the statement reads. “When considering air permit documents obtained by Clean Air Council for Nacero’s similarly proposed Texas facility, Nacero’s proposed Luzerne County refinery would be the third-worst climate pollution emitter in the state and among the top emitters of other harmful pollutants.”
The groups claim the current proposal places a big source of pollution in a residential neighborhood near an elementary school.
“Although Nacero says that its business is based on proven technology, little is known about the process,” the statement continues. “Since it was formed in 2015, Nacero has not built any of the nine plants it set out to build. Only one plant employing the technology exists in the world and that plant opened in 2019.”
The groups further claim that Nacero plans to market two gasoline products — “Nacero Blue” and “Nacero Green” — both products, the opponents claim are chemically identical, would require more dangerous pipeline infrastructure to move the gas to the plant.
“Nacero is relying on carbon capture ‘when feasible’ to prop up its claims, but feasibility of carbon capture is not a reality,” the statement says. “The environmental community is concerned that the proposed Nacero refinery in Luzerne County will be the first in a new wave of proposals for fracked gas-related projects marketed as ‘good for the climate,’ but that instead will pollute local communities while emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases and expanding the fracked gas industry.”
Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, said Action Together NEPA is an activist political organization dedicated to electing progressive Democrats.
“The Nacero manufacturing facility in Luzerne County, which will be fueled by 100% renewable energy, enjoys the broad support of Democrat and Republican leaders who want to immediately address climate change by reducing the carbon life cycle of gasoline to net-zero.” Yudichak said. “Nacero Green gasoline will revolutionize our transportation sector, and help the United States meet its climate change goals.”
Yudichak added, “The innovative process Nacero will employ to manufacture gasoline, that has zero sulfur emissions and fifty percent less carbon emissions, has been recognized by scientists as the most aggressive, immediate way to reduce air pollution in our cities and address climate change on a large scale.
“Nacero’s $6 billion manufacturing facility planned for Nanticoke City and Newport Township is a transformational economic development project that will have a $25 billion impact on our regional economy. Nacero is committed to creating four thousand new jobs, and equally committed to making there Luzerne County facility a national environmental leader on the issue of climate change.”
Marc Heissan, Director, Strategic Development at Nacero, said, “We are confident that the permitting process will confirm that Newport Township is an appropriate location for this facility and look forward to talking with those who have voiced concern. In addition to providing a major boost to the local and regional economies, producing gasoline with a smaller lifecycle carbon footprint for everyday drivers will bring us closer to achieving our climate goals.”
Carl Zichella, a member of the Nacero Advisory Council who held senior positions in the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club for 32 years, said, “The United States is likely to remain the largest user of gasoline in the world for decades. If we are going to stop global warming we have to do something about gasoline, not just cars. Making gasoline from natural gas and renewable natural gas instead of crude oil is our best hope of doing so.”
Action Together statement
Kristin Volchansky, Political & Advocacy Organizer for Action Together NEPA, also issued a separate statement in opposition to the project.
“We are deeply concerned by the announcement of a gas to gasoline refinery to be constructed in Luzerne County. We are united in expressing our shared belief that this plant does not belong near a populated residential neighborhood, and that its construction raises serious health and safety concerns, none of which have been scientifically studied for a first-of-its-kind refinery in the United States.”
Then group claims that according to air permit documents obtained by the Clean Air Council for Nacero’s similarly proposed Texas facility, the Luzerne County refinery would be the third worst climate pollution emitter in the state, and would rank among the top emitters of other harmful pollutants.
“The company has not provided rock solid assurances that the jobs created will be primarily local or unionized, nor have residents been afforded the opportunity to voice their opinions or ask questions at public meetings,” the statement said.
“Residents living near this plant and the surrounding communities deserve the truth about the traffic, emissions, and other quality of life issues that will be coming with this plant, and assurances that every safety and health study possible will be performed to the satisfaction of residents.”
About the project
When the project was announced in late October, Marc Heissan, director of strategic development for Nacero Inc., said the company has been working on building a strong understanding on what it will take to develop the chosen location in Luzerne County for the past two years.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we will know more once we start construction on our Texas facility next year,” Heissan said.
The Texas-based company plans to build a $6 billion manufacturing facility on the site of a former coal mine that will produce clean gasoline made from natural gas and renewable natural gas and generate thousands of jobs.
Yudichak said Nacero’s decision to invest $6 billion and create nearly 4,000 new jobs represents the single largest economic development investment in the history of Luzerne County.
“Our affordable gasoline will be usable in today’s cars and trucks without modification, and we are addressing one of, if not the most, pressing problems in the world today,” Heissan said. “We will have a better idea as to the timing of construction in Pennsylvania after we begin work on our first project in Texas next year.”
Is this gas greener?
Dave Janoski – Citizens Voice
The $6 billion gasoline plant proposed for Newport Twp. has been touted as a once-in-a-generation, climate-friendly investment that would create jobs, reclaim mine-scarred coal lands and transform the region’s natural gas into low- and zero-carbon gasoline.
But a closer examination of Houston-based Nacero Inc.’s plans reveals the environmental benefits are not as simple or clear-cut as portrayed in the glowing news releases issued by the company and local legislators in October.
For example, Nacero’s gasoline will be free of sulfur but otherwise indistinguishable from gasoline produced in a conventional refinery when it comes to tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary contributor to global warming. Its low- and zero-carbon claims are based on the gasoline’s carbon footprint or lifecycle.
By using natural gas rather than crude oil for what refiners call “feedstock,” Nacero won’t produce most of the non-gasoline hydrocarbons that make up half of a traditional refinery’s output. The emissions from those byproducts raise the carbon footprint of traditional refining. Therefore, Nacero estimates its carbon footprint will be 60% lower than that of a crude oil refinery.
“The savings is in the process,” said Nacero Board Chairman Thomas Tureen. “It’s not in the product.”
Nacero says the lack of byproducts and its plans to capture some carbon emissions and use renewable energy sources will reduce overall emissions. But the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by its plant could be more than double those emitted by a conventional refinery with the same gasoline output, according to a consultant’s report on a plant the company is building in Texas that will closely resemble the one proposed for Newport Twp.
“They’re identical. There will be some variations but not much,” Tureen said. “The idea is to design one and build many.”
Nacero’s plans have already drawn local skepticism, with nearly 200 people signing an online petition started by township resident Jim Havens expressing health, safety and environmental concerns.
“From the neighbors I’ve talked to, a handful are for it, but most have a lot of reservations.” said Havens, 34, who lives in the Ridgeview housing development on a mountainside near the proposed site.
“I lived in the city of Nanticoke my whole life, then I bought this house because it’s like the countryside here … There should be a buffer zone between the houses and where they want to build …This isn’t a warehouse where everything’s contained inside.”
On Thursday, some Newport Twp. residents joined Action Together NEPA, a regional progressive activist group, and the Clean Air Council, a non-profit environmental group based in Philadelphia, to release statements questioning the safety and environmental impact of the plant.
“Residents living near this plant and the surrounding communities deserve the truth about the traffic, emissions, and other quality of life issues that will be coming with this plant, and assurances that every safety and health study possible will be performed to the satisfaction of residents,” the statement said.
Tureen said the company is prepared to address residents’ concerns.
“We try to be as responsive as we can. A lot of those questions will be answered in the review process.” Tureen said. “We look forward to answering questions. We’re very proud of what we’re doing and people are entitled to ask questions and have them answered.”
While Nacero hasn’t filed for any permits with Newport Twp. or the state Department of Environmental Protection that would offer more detail on the local project, interviews and email exchanges with company principals and filings for a similar plant expected to break ground next year in Texas offer some answers.
Here is what is known so far.
Where: The location
Nacero has an option to buy 1,500 acres from Earth Conservancy, a nonprofit created in 1994 with federal funds to purchase and reclaim former coal mining lands for development and recreation.
“Generally it’s in the northern part of Newport Twp. between Glen Lyon and the river,” said Earth Conservancy CEO and President Terry Ostrowski. Ostrowski said the plant site will straddle a UGI electric transmission line that runs through Earth Conservancy’s 2,500 acres in the township from the Susquehanna River to West Kirmar Avenue.
Neither Ostrowski nor Nacero would reveal the asking price for the land.
A Delaware-based company related to Nacero has signed options to buy land from the owners of properties adjacent to Earth Conservancy’s holdings, Luzerne County records show. Newport Twp. Development LLC, headed by Nacero Chief Operating Officer Hal Bouknight, has agreements with the David Popple Trust, which owns a parcel of less than one acre surrounded by Earth Conservancy land, and Newport Aggregate Inc., a quarry operator associated with local businessman Kenneth Pollock Sr., who owns about 2,600 acres in the area.
The Pollock option could be exercised on all or some of Pollock’s holdings, excluding the quarry and a handful of other parcels.
Pollock and construction company owner Mark Popple, who signed the option for the David Popple Trust, did not return phone calls seeking comment. Nacero officials declined to offer specifics on their efforts to secure land.
How: The process
Nacero plans a total of nine natural-gas-to-gasoline plants, but has identified only three prospective sites: Newport Twp., Penwell, Texas and Kingman, Arizona.
The plants would employ technology developed by the Danish company Haldor Topsoe that uses steam to convert natural gas, which is largely methane, into syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Excess hydrogen from that process would be stored for sale or for use on site. The syngas would then be converted to methanol using heat, pressure and catalysts, metals used to speed chemical reactions. Further catalysts would be used to transform the methanol to gasoline, with water as a byproduct. Some propane and butane would also be produced.
The Haldor Topsoe technology was first used on a large scale in the world’s only natural-gas-to-gasoline plant in Turkmenistan, a gas-rich former Soviet republic in Central Asia, which began operations in 2019.
The source: Natural gas
Nacero would use a mix of natural gas piped from wells and renewable natural gas to its plants. In Texas, the renewables would come from gas normally burned off, or flared, from oil wells and gas escaping from landfills, agricultural sites or wastewater facilities.
While Nacero officials wouldn’t identify potential sources of gas for the Newport Twp. project, the Transco pipeline, the main conduit for gas from Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier counties, passes through Mountain Top about six miles away from the Newport Twp. site.
“There are different pipelines and rail access there that are in place,” said Marc Heissan, director of strategic development for Nacero. “We are working with some different pipeline groups to expand the capacity going into the facility.”
Dave Boyer, president of Mudrock Energy LLC, an Allegheny County consulting firm, said it’s likely Nacero will negotiate a supply agreement at a steady price with one of the major producers in the Northern Tier that pumps gas into the Transco.
“The investors want to have a fixed contract in place,” he said.
Local farmers could be a source of renewable methane for the Newport Twp. plant, Tureen said.
“About half of the methane that escapes into the atmosphere comes from farms, lots, landfills and the rest,” he said. “Farmers can be paid to collect the material that, when it decomposes, is going to produce methane, clean it and put it into the system. It’s important for us to get a handle on that methane that’s going into the atmosphere.”
Renewable gas could provide up to 10% of the feedstock for the Texas plant, according to Nacero’s website. The percentage of renewable gas will be reflected in the company’s marketing of its gasoline.
The plant’s output — about 90,000 barrels per day — will be divided between low-carbon Nacero Blue, which the company says will be competitive in price with traditional gasoline, and zero-carbon Nacero Green, which would presumably be more expensive. If 10% of the feedstock is renewable gas, then 10% of the output will be sold as Nacero Green, with the remainder labeled as Nacero Blue.
“The concept is like the choice electric utilities give customers to ‘green’ their power,” Tureen said.
Utilities: Power and water
Nacero’s Texas plant will be powered by a solar panel array supplemented with a connection to the electric grid. The company says it will pursue agreements with solar, wind and other renewable providers for the electricity it purchases from the grid.
The water produced through the production process will be reused and could provide 80% of the plant’s needs.
“We plan on using alternative power for all of our locations, which type will depend on the location and availability of different power sources,” Heissan said.
The Newport Twp. site is bisected by a UGI power line and Heissan said Nacero has been working with the utility as it determines its power needs.
Nacero is also exploring the use of acid mine water on the Newport Twp. site.
“Our ability to clean that up is a goal of ours,” Heissan said. “We’re still working through solutions.”
Emissions: Capturing carbon
A key component to minimizing the carbon footprint of Nacero’s gasoline is capturing much of the carbon dioxide from the production process. In the Texas plant, 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year will be fed into an existing pipeline that pumps the gas into low-producing oil wells to increase pressure.
The plant will still emit 2.9 million tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere yearly, according to a carbon savings report from Trinity Consultants commissioned by Nacero.
That is well below the 5.7 million maximum allowed under an air quality permit issued for the plant by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. But it is more than twice as much as the 1.2 million tons a conventional refinery producing the same amount of gasoline would emit in a year, the report says.
However, the conventional refinery’s total annual carbon footprint or lifecycle would be 56.1 million tons per year when considering the carbon produced by outside utilities to power the refinery and greenhouse gases from burning its gasoline and the types of byproducts Nacero will not produce, including naphtha, fuel oil, kerosene and jet fuel.
“Many of the byproducts, many from the bottom of the barrel, don’t have a market in the U.S. They’re a tremendous carbon drag, “ Tureen said. “By making gasoline from natural gas instead of crude oil, that cuts the lifecycle practically in half.”
The Nacero Texas plant’s annual carbon footprint would be only 22.1 million tons — 2.9 million tons in direct emissions and 19.2 million tons from the gasoline, propane and butane it will produce. Because its power sources will be 100% renewable, they would not add to the footprint.
In addition to greenhouse gases, the Texas plant will emit much smaller amounts of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other gases, but all within the limits of Texas air quality regulations, according to the plant’s permit.
Nacero has yet to file for any permits with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and is unsure of the outlook for carbon capture in Newport Twp.
“We still don’t know if sequestration will work there,” Tureen said.
“All environmental issues, especially the local ones, will be the focus of permitting, which we intend to comply with fully and transparently. We take the health of our neighbors as seriously as we do the health of the planet.”
Tureen said Nacero hopes to add post-combustion carbon capture, utilization and storage, an emerging technology, to its Texas plant “if it is commercially available.” That would reduce the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
Pennsylvania is working with neighboring states to develop a regional plan to transport and store carbon dioxide. A Clinton County ammonia/hydrogen plant that would store carbon emissions in deep geologic formations below its site is scheduled to open in 2024 or 2025, according to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Incentives: Tax credits
One of the attractions drawing Nacero to Pennsylvania is the Local Resources Manufacturing Tax Credit passed by the General Assembly in 2020.
The company would be eligible for $6.6 million per year in state tax credits under the program, which was designed to spur in-state manufacturing using natural gas produced in Pennsylvania.
It applies a tax credit of 47 cents for each purchase of 1,000 cubic feet of gas. Industry analysts estimate Nacero’s Newport Twp. plant would consume between 600 million and 900 million cubic feet of gas per day.
The program will offer credits to as many as four qualifying manufacturers per year for a total of $26.6 million. If some of the credits are unclaimed, the state Department of Revenue can waive the $6.6 million limit for individual manufacturers, so Nacero could conceivably receive more than $6.6 million per year.
The tax credit will be available from 2024 through 2049.
“Right now we don’t have any other state credits that we’re focusing on,” Heissan said. “Obviously that support from the legislature and the governor who are looking to expand the use of natural gas has been well-received and was one of the drivers for us to identify this location.”
Jobs: Prevailing wages
In order to receive the tax credits, a manufacturer and any of its contractors must pay prevailing wages, essentially union scale, during the construction of its facility.
Nacero estimates the Newport plant will create 3,500 to 4,000 construction jobs and as many as 530 permanent jobs when the plant is at full capacity.
The NEPA Building & Construction Trades Council played a role in talks to bring Nacero to Newport Twp., state Sen. John Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, said in announcing the project at a press conference in October.
Trades Council President Warren Faust said at the time that the workforce is “ready, willing and eager … to transform this project into reality.”
There is no timeline for the Newport Twp. facility, but the Texas plant is expected to take six years to build after a groundbreaking planned for early next year.
The Land: Reclamation
The Nacero plant, if built, will transform an area that accounts for 18% of the 17 square miles of land in Newport Twp. And not all of the transformation will be industrial.
Ostrowski, the Earth Conservancy CEO, said the Nacero project will refashion some of the most badly scarred coal mining lands in its holdings.
“They’ll be doing quite a bit of reclamation. There’s a lot of strip pits and culm banks,” Ostrowski said.
Ostrowski said the Conservancy will discuss preserving some of the land Nacero might purchase for recreation purposes.
“They’re not going to be using all of that land,” he said. “We been in discussions about preserving that land and having some of those areas available for recreation for us. There might be some tradeoffs.”
Earth Conservancy had explored using some of its Newport Twp. land for an ATV park, but had yet to find a private developer to take on the project before signing an option with Nacero.
“We’ve made them aware of our ATV study and our interest in retaining some areas that could still be used,” Ostrowski said. “My goal is, if possible, to have both of those projects happen.”
Nacero project 2 years in the making; more work to be done
NANTICOKE — Marc Heissan, director of strategic development for Nacero Inc., said the company has been working on building a strong understanding on what it will take to develop the chosen location in Luzerne County for the past two years.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we will know more once we start construction on our Texas facility next year,” Heissan said.
The Texas-based company on Friday announced plans to build a $6 billion manufacturing facility on the site of a former coal mine that will produce clean gasoline made from natural gas and renewable natural gas and generate thousands of jobs.
The company said the project will bring thousands of jobs and produce tens of thousands of barrels per day of low and zero life-cycle carbon footprint gasoline made from natural gas and renewable natural gas.
Sen. John Yudichak Friday said Nacero’s decision to invest $6 billion and create nearly 4,000 new jobs represents the single largest economic development investment in the history of Luzerne County.
“And, it further represents an environmental transformation of Newport Township and Nanticoke City through the reclamation of mine scarred lands to pave the way for a revolutionary manufacturing facility that will change the global market for gasoline by reducing the carbon footprint in the transportation sector by 50%,” said Yudichak, I-Swoyersville.
But the process is just in the early stages, Yudichak said, noting that much work remains to be done to get the project up and running.
Heissan said the financial markets are looking for large scale projects like Nacero’s that involve a proven technology, have a ready market and meet an important need.
“Our affordable gasoline will be usable in today’s cars and trucks without modification, and we are addressing one of, if not the most, pressing problems in the world today,” Heissan said. “We will have a better idea as to the timing of construction in Pennsylvania after we begin work on our first project in Texas next year.”
Heissan went on to explain how Nacero chose Luzerne County as its second project site.
“NEPA has so much to offer, and the community has been very welcoming over the last two years given our ability to clean up mine scarred land and create an environmentally and economically robust solution,” Heissan said. “A highly skilled work force and cooperative landowners like Earth Conservancy have made Luzerne County one of the most attractive locations in the east.”
Heissan said local leaders like U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser and Yudichak have helped guide Nacero through the selection process given its ability to bring jobs to the region, along with an environmentally superior transportation fuel.
“This property has been sitting idle for many years and now can create economic growth for the region,” Heissan said.
Colleen Connelly, spokesperson for the stale Department of Environmental Protection, issued a statement about the project status.
”The Department of Environmental Protection has not received any permit applications from Nacero regarding this project, so we cannot comment at this time.”
Yudichak said Friday’s announcement was about “site selection” for the project.
“Permit phase, construction phase and all other phases of the project will all unfold over the next several months and years,” Yudichak said. “We are just at the beginning of a long process. There will be many, many more meetings and public events as the process unfolds.”
Yudichak said Nacero has met with the Governor’s Office, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, who offered a quote in the news release, and the Governor’s Action Team.
“With DCED as the lead state agency, a multi-state agency work group has been formed to help Nacero navigate permits and all other state regulatory requirements to construct the facility in Luzerne County,” Yudichak said. “Obviously, there will be many questions — it is a project a significant magnitude. The company just introduced themselves to the community, and is open to any and all inquiries from the public and the media.”
Yudichak said there will be 3,500 construction jobs available to build the massive facility, with all building trades involved. Once completed, Yudichak said the Nacero facility will employ 450 high tech jobs that will pay $85,000 per year.
Dennis Davin, DCED Secretary, said Nacero’s commitment to locate their newest, innovative multi-billion-dollar plant in the commonwealth will bring thousands of new jobs to Luzerne County.
“Nacero could have located anywhere, but chose Pennsylvania as a result of its ingenuity, talented workforce and strong economy,” Davin said.
“This news is good for our economy and our environment,” said Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston. “We can have good-paying jobs and a cleaner environment at the same time with this investment.”
Act 66 of 2020
This historic investment is made possible in large part due to a new state law introduced by Kaufer. His House Bill 732 was approved by the state House and Senate in 2020 and signed into law by the governor as Act 66 of 2020.
“Rep. Kaufer and I have been partners on Act 66 from start to finish,” Yudichak said. “Sen. Jake Corman and the Senate Republican leadership staff along with the Governor’s senior legislative staff were all instrumental in getting Act 66 and its recent upgrade in this year’s budget done.”
Kaufer’s said his law established the Local Resources Manufacturing Tax Credit to spur the kind of investments like the one announced Friday. The program provides a tax credit of 47 cents per unit of dry natural gas purchased by an eligible company and the total amount of tax credits to be provided to all applicants is capped at a little more than $26.6 million. The tax credit program is applicable to dry natural gas bought beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
Kaufer said Nacero plans to begin work on the new facility in 2022-23. The project is estimated to be completed sometime in 2026-27.
Tony Seiwell, business manager of the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern Pennsylvania, issued a statement on Nacero’s announcement, the first facility associated with the Local Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit:
“This announcement is the culmination of historic, bipartisan efforts to attract new economic investment and good jobs to Pennsylvania through the Local Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit with support from labor, legislators, and business,” Seiwell said. “With a realistic energy approach like the one of Nacero’s Luzerne County plant, we do not have to choose between good jobs and the environment. One of the most historic parts of the legislation was its inclusion of prevailing wage. This project will create over 3,500 prevailing wage construction jobs during the four years of construction and hundreds of permanent jobs.”
Seiwell said Nacero is an environmentally conscious company that is not only embracing Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources, but leading the way for natural gas to lower carbon emissions even more than it already has.
“It is development like this that is going to move our local economy and local workers forward in Luzerne County and across the Commonwealth,” Seiwell said.
$6B gas plant planned for Nanticoke area to generate thousands of jobs
This rendering from Nacero’s website depicts the $6 billion manufacturing facility the company wants to build on the site of a former coal mine in the Nanticoke area that will produce gasoline made from natural gas and renewable natural gas.
NANTICOKE — A Texas-based energy company on Friday announced plans to build a $6 billion manufacturing facility on the site of a former coal mine that will produce gasoline made from natural gas and renewable natural gas and is expected to generate thousands of jobs.
Work on the facility proposed by Nacero Inc. for ex-mine land in Newport Township and Nanticoke is expected to begin within the next two years and will take four more years to complete.
State Sen. John Yudichak, who hosted a press conference about the project in his Nanticoke office, said there will be 3,500 construction jobs available to build the masive facility, with all building trades involved. Once completed, Yurdichak said the Nacero facility will employ 450 high-tech jobs that will pay $85,000 per year.
“And, it further represents an environmental transformation of Newport Township and Nanticoke City through the reclamation of mine-scarred lands to pave the way for a revolutionary manufacturing facility that will change the global market for gasoline by reducing the carbon footprint in the transportation sector by 50%,” said Yudichak, I-Swoyersville.
“This is big news,” he added.
The facility’s competitively priced, zero sulfur gasoline will be usable in contemporary cars and trucks without modification, officials said.
“We will give everyday drivers zero sulfur, 100% domestic, low- and net zero-carbon gasoline for use in their existing vehicles without modification,” Nacero CEO Jay McKenna said. “Our affordable and accessible products will clear the air and reduce global warming.”
Founded in 2015, Houston-based Nacero is bringing a new gasoline to market made from natural gas and renewable natural gas rather than crude oil, according to its website. Nacero recently broke ground on a facility in Odessa, Texas.
Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston, said more than a generation ago, energy in the form of anthracite coal helped Northeastern Pennsylvania lead the Industrial Revolution.
“Today, I’m pleased to announce that Northeast Pennsylvania, right here in Luzerne County, will once again lead the next energy revolution, the Clean Energy Revolution,” Kaufer said. “This is the missing piece of the puzzle our country has been so desperately longing for — an environmentally superior product that can be implemented in the near-term for the cars of today.”
Kaufer added that even though it may seem nearly impossible in today’s political climate, these products accomplish the goals of both sides of the political aisle — an environmentally responsible product, while still being consumer friendly on the pocketbooks.
“This is truly the monumental, transformative, game-changing generational opportunity for Luzerne County that we have all been hoping for since the decline of coal,” Kaufer said. “While there are still many steps in the process, when this facility is fully up and running, 30 million tons of carbon dioxide will be avoided annually, which is roughly the equivalent of removing 6.5 million cars from the road.”
Nacero’s products include Nacero Blue gasoline, which reduces life-cycle carbon emissions by 50% while Nacero Green gasoline, which incorporates renewable natural gas and carbon capture will have zero life-cycle carbon footprint.
Kaufer said this technology will pull the country forward in meeting its carbon reduction goals.
“It almost doesn’t seem real, but consumers all along the Eastern seaboard will have the opportunity to purchase zero life-cycle carbon gasoline,” Kaufer said. “What this means is that consumers buying this gasoline will have zero carbon footprint. And we are going to make that zero-life cycle carbon gasoline right here in Luzerne County.”
Community leaders react
Acting Luzerne County Manager Romilda Crocamo said, “This is a very special day for Luzerne County. This project brings jobs, jobs being hope and hope strengthens our community.”
Jack Zyla, Newport Township Commissioner, said he felt like the township had just won the lottery.
“This is great news,” he said. “Newport Township has no big business or industry. This is a big day for Newport Township.”
Nanticoke Mayor Kevin Coughlin said the project will have many positive effects on the city and region.
“When this project begins, these workers will need a place to live and they will eat in our restaurants and patronize our businesses. This is an unbelievable day for us.”
Meuser, Cartwright comment
“Nacero’s $6 billion investment in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County will create 4,000 jobs, reclaim hundreds of acres of mine scared land, and advance Pennsylvania’s reputation as a leader in energy innovation,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas. “The plant’s affordable low and zero carbon footprint gasolines will reduce carbon emissions nationally, improve local air quality and reduce our reliance on foreign oil by producing a fuel that Americans can use in the cars they drive today with half the carbon footprint of existing fuels using Pennsylvania natural gas. It will make our region a leading example of what American ingenuity and hardworking Pennsylvanians can achieve.”
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, said, “I am always looking for ways to bring high-skill, high-paying jobs to Northeastern Pennsylvania. Long-range, Nacero plans to replace a substantial percentage of petroleum-based gasoline in the U.S. market. Doing so with natural gas — and renewable natural gas-based regular gasoline offers an intriguing possibility. Northeastern Pennsylvania workers are second to none, and it’s no wonder our area attracts the attention of new companies.”
Dennis Davin, Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development:
“The company’s commitment to locate their newest, innovative multi-billion-dollar plant in the commonwealth will bring thousands of new jobs to Luzerne County. Nacero could have located anywhere, but chose Pennsylvania as a result of its ingenuity, talented workforce and strong economy.”
Warren Faust, President NEPA Building & Construction Trades Council said, The men and women of the NEPA Building & Construction Trades are ready, willing, and eager to deploy our skilled trade workers to build the Nacero Luzerne County plant that will produce good-paying jobs and change the game on natural gas projects in Pennsylvania.”
Nacero to build $6B natural gas to gasoline plant in Luzerne County
NANTICOKE — Nacero Inc. Friday announced plans to build a $6 billion manufacturing
facility on the site of a former coal mine in Newport Township and Nanticoke, that will bring
thousands of jobs and produce tens of thousands of barrels per day of low and zero life-cycle
carbon footprint gasoline made from natural gas and renewable natural gas.
The facility’s competitively priced, zero sulfur gasoline will be usable in today’s cars and trucks
State Sen. John Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, made the announcement at his Nanticoke office,
“Nacero’s decision to invest $6 billion and create nearly 4,000 new jobs represents the single
largest economic development investment in the history of Luzerne County,” Yudichak said.
“And, it further represents an environmental transformation of Newport Township and Nanticoke
City through the reclamation of mine scarred lands to pave the way for a revolutionary
manufacturing facility that will change the global market for gasoline by reducing the carbon
footprint in the transportation sector by fifty percent.”
The project is expected to begin within the next two years and will take four more years to
“We will give everyday drivers zero sulfur, 100% domestic, low- and net zero-carbon gasoline
for use in their existing vehicles without modification,” said said Jay McKenna, Nacero’s CEO.
“Our affordable and accessible products will clear the air and reduce global warming,”
NorthPoint Development digs the South Valley: 1,700 new jobs eyed
HANOVER TWP. — The heavy equipment moving rock and dirt behind Brent Miles confirmed his company found the right spot to build its newest pair of distribution centers on reclaimed coal mining land.
But before it dug into the acreage in the South Valley area of Luzerne County and invested more than $124 million to construct 1.7 million square feet of new space, NorthPoint Development did its own data mining.
“It takes a lot of investment. It takes a lot of belief. But it takes a lot of data,” said Miles, Chief Marketing Officer for the Missouri-based developer.
Miles joined a host of state, county and local government and school district officials for a groundbreaking Thursday on the site spanning Newport Township, Nanticoke and Hanover Township for buildings 8 and 9 in NorthPoint’s Tradeport 164 package of properties.
The developer has built on the availability of land, the workforce, the collaboration of governments and the region’s location providing access to large population markets on the East Coast and beyond.
National and international companies such as Adidas, Patagonia, True Value, Spreetail and Thrive Market moved into NorthPoint projects, all built on spec. The same applied to the 1.2 million square feet Building 8 and the 536,254 square feet Building 9.
“I don’t have a tenant. I never build a building here with a tenant in mind, yet,” Miles said.
Based on its own data NorthPoint took a calculated risk of nearly $1 billion in private investment to build in the county, Miles said. The region has benefited in terms of annual tax revenues, nearly $1.1 million from the new buildings, and upwards of 6,000 jobs, including more than 1,700 once the new projects are complete.
Miles welcomed the welcome mat put out for NorthPoint.
“This is a community that wants us. They want our capital,” Miles said. Some don’t, he added, because land is unavailable, zoning or the type of jobs.
State Sen. John Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, reiterated the comment made by others that NorthPoint did what it said it was going to do.
“They’ve worked with local labor. They kept their promises on the (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program), striking fair deals, making sure that taxpayers get money upfront. They didn’t ask for (Keystone Opportunity Zone designation) where you would have zero taxes for a period of time,” Yudichak said.
Earlier this year the County Council approved a tax break for NorthPoint through the LERTA program, forgiving the real estate tax for new development but not on the land on a sliding scale for a decade.
Yudichak had equal praise for the regional cooperation of governments and Earth Conservancy.
“Until the Earth Conservancy began the reclamation, until we built the South Valley Parkway none of it would have been possible,” Yudichak said.
The prospect of the more than 1 million square foot warehouse thrilled Newport Township Commissioner Joe Hillan.
“It’s a great day for Newport Township, well the whole South Valley. For us, we haven’t had, the township probably in the 80s when they transformed the Retreat State Hospital to the prison, the prison’s closed. So now this is like a rebirth for the township,” Hillan said.
There’s more Earth Conservancy land in the township for NorthPoint to take a look at, Hillan said. “Hopefully they’ll continue and find more areas in our township to expand,” he said.
Potassium iodide tablets available to residents within 10 miles of Susquehanna nuke plant
Staff Report – Times Leader
The Susquehanna Steam Electric Station is seen in a file photo. The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced will be providing free potassium iodide tablets to state residents living within 10 miles of any of the state’s four nuclear power plants. Distribution is set for Thursday at three locations in our area.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health will provide free potassium iodide tablets to state residents living within 10 miles of any of the state’s four nuclear power plants.
In Luzerne County, residents within 10 miles of the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Salem Township will be able to obtain the tablets on Thursday at one of three locations.
The locations are:
• Luzerne County Community College — Public Safety Center, 1333 South Prospect St., Nanticoke, PA 18634;
• Butler Township Community Center, 411 West Butler Dr., Drums, PA 18222;
• Salvation Army Community Corps Building, 320 W. 2nd St., Berwick, PA 18603.
The distributions will be held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.
“Emergency preparedness is an important aspect of public health and having potassium iodide tablets for residents who live or work within 10 miles of a nuclear facility is an essential preparedness action in the case of a radiological emergency,” said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.
“It’s important to remember potassium iodide should only be taken when instructed to do so by state health officials or the governor, and it is not a substitute for evacuation in the case of a radiological emergency at one of Pennsylvania’s nuclear facilities.”
Potassium iodide tablets protect the thyroid gland against harmful radioactive iodine, and can be taken by anyone provided they aren’t allergic to it. Individuals who are unsure if they should take potassium iodide should ask a health care provider first.
The other active nuclear plants in Pennsylvana include Beaver Valley Power Station, Limerick Generating Station and Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.
Tablets are not necessary for those working or living within 10 miles of Three Mile Island Generating Station, which closed in September of 2019.
Additional information about the potassium iodide tablets and nuclear power plant safety can be found on the Department of Health’s website.
Consultant: ATV and recreation park in Newport, Mocanaqua would boost region
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
A proposed massive recreation park for all-terrain-vehicle riding and other activities in the South Valley of Luzerne County could be and would be an economic boon to the region, a consultant said Wednesday while announcing progress on the project feasibility study.
As it stands now, organizers are seeking to create a 10,000-acre “adventure park” that encompasses much of the wooded land of the Mocanaqua section of Conyngham Twp. and Newport Twp. to near the border of Nanticoke City.
“A lot of this area is already used by ATV riders,” said Terence Ostrowski, president and CEO of the nonprofit Earth Conservancy, which spearheaded the study.
Much of the proposed land for the park is owned by the state and Earth Conservancy.
Dozens of people attended a meeting Wednesday at Luzerne County Community College to hear the update on the park.
Jim Laird, a landscape architect who is the project’s consultant, envisioned people traveling hundreds of miles to enjoy the park.
Parts of the 10,000 acres already have “world class” rock climbing opportunities, Laird said.
He said the park would be available for ATV riding, hiking trails, biking, and even zip lines. There could be go-cart tracks, a paintball area and areas for archery. Some suggested a rifle range for target practice. Organizers also have campgrounds envisioned.
People visiting would spend money in the region and new businesses would certainly sprout up, Laird said.
Something like this isn’t a new concept and areas that have built such parks have thrived, Laird said.
A smaller park in Northumberland County has become “the lifeblood for the City of Shamokin” as the trails lead people into the city to shop and patronize businesses, Laird said.
Because some heavily populated areas would be in the middle of the park, like Newport Twp.’s Glen Lyon section, sufficient “buffer” areas would be created to keep park-users away, Laird said.
Finding a developer — whether government, private, or a public-private partnership — is the greatest challenge, but it’s definitely possible, Laird said.
No matter, should a park be built, it will be heavily regulated with strict enforcement, Laird said.
Mullery announces over $3.5M in state funding for several local improvement projects
Rep. Gerald Mullery July 20, 2021 | 11:58 AM
NANTICOKE, July 20 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, today announced $3,531,383 in grant money has been awarded to several critical community and economic development projects within the 119th Legislative District. The funding was approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority through the Luzerne County Local Share Account program.
“The past year and a half has created numerous challenges for our school districts and our communities to overcome, and this crucial funding will allow our municipalities and local organizations to undertake important projects that will revitalize and strengthen the local economy and improve the health and safety of those who live and visit our great area,” Mullery said.
Mullery said the grants include:
2019 LSA Grants:
• Plymouth Borough - $366,666 to repair stormwater infrastructure and install streetscape and pedestrian safety improvements on Main Street.
• Nuangola Borough - $115,753 to improve approximately 0.5 miles of roadway along Nuangola Avenue.
• Rice Township - $200,000 to repair 15 municipal roadways.
• Wright Township - $182,412 to resurface deteriorating roads and improve stormwater drainage problems in Maplewood development.
• Dennison Township - $64,500 to renovate two restrooms in the municipal building to make them ADA compliant.
• Newport Township - $250,000 for the acquisition and demolition of blighted properties throughout the township currently held by the County Repository or under private ownership.
• Newport Township - $72,830 to purchase a dump truck with snowplow attachments.
• Newport Township - $80,000 to purchase a new police-rated Ford F-150 truck equipped with a law enforcement package, including communication tools, illumination, and a license plate reader to allow for patrolling of wooded areas.
2020 LSA Grants:
• Nanticoke City - $650,000 for the Greater Nanticoke Area School District to construct a turf field and artificial track for use by GNASD and Luzerne County Community College.
• Nanticoke City - $500,000 for the demolition of the former Ellis building.
• Hanover Township - $15,371 to purchase a screener for the Leaf and Yard Waste Compost Facility located in Newport Township, Luzerne County, and serving Earth Conservancy and the member municipalities of the Lower South Valley Council of Governments.
• Nuangola Borough - $126,000 to improve approximately 0.5 miles of roadway along Nuangola Avenue.
• Rice Township - $360,172 to repair 15 municipal roadways.
• Wright Township - $200,000 to remediate deteriorated roadway infrastructure in the Deerfield development.
• Slocum Township - $125,000 for renovations and upgrades to the municipal park on Schmid Road in Wapwallopen.
• Sugar Notch Borough - $112,186 to purchase two vehicles to support the Police Department and Road/Building & Grounds departments.
• Warrior Run Borough - $110,493 for the purchase of replacement skid steer and excavator machines.
The Local Share Account includes funds from casinos located in host or contiguous counties and are distributed by the Department of Community and Economic Development within Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. The grants are designed to fund economic development, job training, community improvement and public interest projects.
Widow of Glen Lyon veteran surprised with gift of husband’s replaced medals
Posted: Jun 13, 2021 / 06:22 PM EDT / Updated: Jun 14, 2021 / 12:15 PM EDT
GLEN LYON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Joseph Scanlon died in 1981, never mentioning the details of his service during World War II or the Korean War to his family. His medals were lost in a house fire in 1964.
Sunday the Glen Lyon VFW and his children surprised his widow with replacement medals.
“I almost fainted. Really. It was really a big surprise,” Scanlon’s widow, Sylvia, said.
Sylvia Scanlon thought she was going to a small get-together on Sunday afternoon. She never expected it to be for her. Her children, friends, and volunteers part of the Glen Lyon VFW gathered to give Scanlon her husband’s medals he earned during service.
“He had some but I’ve never saw them and he never really wore them,” Sylvia said.
The original medals were lost in a house fire in 1964.
“He didn’t talk about any of the battles, he didn’t talk about any of his service. My mom actually didn’t know he saw any action overseas,” daughter April Gromen said.
Gromen was shocked to learn about the medals her father earned. She met John Wildes, who explained their significance to her, and suggested a ceremony to honor Joseph.
“Some of the battles that he fought, some of the things that he did were just remarkable. He’s a true warrior. The family and that warrior, and all the warriors that built this great nation should be honored,” Wildes said.
Scanlon was given a Purple Heart in World War II, after he lost his hearing throwing a grenade into a bunker. He also fought in the battle of Chosin Reservoir, a two-week-long battle that took place in freezing temperatures during the Korean War, earning Scanlon a prestigious combat infantry badge.
Gromen says they started planning the ceremony to replace the medals for her mother two years ago but it got postponed. But her family was determined to hold it for their 88-year-old mother.
“The fact that we were able to show her through the gentlemen here at the legion, what he actually did, it meant the world to us so she could know what her husband did,” Gromen said.
Wildes encourages more veterans to join the VFW as a way to support each other and the fallen.
Bark the Blue
Newport Twp. Police Department starts K-9 Unit.
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
Blight fight comes to sections of Newport Township
There is a plan for blighted properties to come down in one section of Luzerne County, along with some needed improvements.
Author: Chelsea Strub - WNEP-TV
Published: 5:27 PM EDT May 26, 2021
Updated: 5:27 PM EDT May 26, 2021
GLEN LYON, Pa. — Changes are coming to Main Street in Glen Lyon and other areas of Newport Township, in part thanks to nearly $300,000 from the state to demolish 18 blighted properties.
This came as good news to Eleanor Hamrick, who has lived in the township for 70 years.
"I go out for my walks every other day, and I kept on saying, 'That one needs a match, that one needs a match, that one needs a match, that one needs a match.' And I'm glad it's happening. I'm really glad it's happening because I was too ashamed to tell people I was in Newport Township because they say, 'Why is Main Street with all those rundown homes?' I'm glad they're going."
Township Manager Joseph Hillan says he hopes this is a new start for the township.
"It's hard to explain, like, the industry left, and nothing came in," Hillan said. "We had the prison; we lost the prison. And so now we're hoping now we're on the rebound. Now, if you've gone as low as it could. so now we're hoping that it's on the upward swing."
Newport Township officials tell Newswatch 16 the majority of the properties being torn down are in the Glen Lyon section of the township, but that's not the only improvement happening here.
"We got a grant for the county for new sidewalks in Glen Lyon, so to bring it back to, you know, never be like it was years ago, you know, it was the only town to not go through the Great Depression. My grandfather always told me that story," Hillan said.
Newport Township's Alden section is also getting a new warehouse that Hillan says will likely bring jobs to the area. A Dollar General has been approved next to the township building on Kirmar Avenue.
While these all brought a smile to Eleanor's face, she's most happy about the removal of blight from her neighborhood.
"I'm finally glad they're going, yeah, so I want to stand there watch them," she said. "I need to pray and say, 'Thank God they're gone.'"
Yudichak, Mullery announce blight removal funding for Newport Twp.
Sen. John Yudichak and Rep. Gerald Mullery Tuesday each announced nearly $300,000 for blight remediation in Newport Township.
Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, and Mullery, D-Newport Township, said that Newport Township will receive $298,870 from the Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) Blight Remediation Program. The funding was approved Tuesday by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).
“Today’s important state investment will help Newport Township with one of its top priorities, which is to eliminate blight throughout its community,” Yudichak said. “Investing in our communities hit hard by blight will only improve the overall quality of life in our region and will also create the potential for future economic development opportunities.”
Mullery added, “Removing blighted properties is a win-win for our communities. It not only makes neighborhoods beautiful for residents to enjoy, but also makes these communities more attractive to tourists and visitors. I am pleased to see this project get the funding it needs, so these unsafe eyesores can be demolished.”
The Newport Township Blight Remediation Project will remove 18 blighted properties that are either currently on the Luzerne County Repository list, or with owners who are willing to cooperate with the removal process with the understanding that they will retain ownership once the blight is removed.
The funding will be used for demolition, engineering, legal and administrative costs.
“Our Blight Remediation Team here in Newport Township has been working diligently to come up with a plan to remove the numerous blighted properties that has confronted the township for quite some time,” said Joe Hillan, Newport Township Manager. “This is big news for us and we couldn’t be happier. The hard work of our team and the support we have received from Sen. Yudichak and Rep. Mullery is what got this done. We’re looking forward to clearing these properties and the development opportunities that come with that.”
Hillan said prior to the pandemic starting, Newport Township was working hard to make blight a priority.
“We were worried that the pandemic was going to hinder our progress until today,” Hillan said. “These funds will go a long way to combat blight in Glen Lyon and throughout Newport Township.“
The Blight Remediation program was created in 2019 under the Commonwealth Financing Authority. It is a reimbursable grant program that awards grants up to $25,000 for planning projects to develop blight plans and grants up to $300,000 for remediation projects to demolish and clear blighted properties, acquire properties to demolish or rehabilitate them, rehabilitation or reconstruction of blight properties, and administrative costs.
Newport Twp. firefighters commended for bravery at deadly fire
Three Newport Township firefighters were commended on Monday evening for their attempts to save a girl from a Glen Lyon house fire in March.
Firefighters Josh Bukofski, Nick Kowalski and Dave Hoffman received commendations Monday night at a Newport Township commissioners meeting.
Their commendations were given to them by Mark Boncal, who is currently the chief of Nanticoke’s fire department but was working for Newport Township as their chief at the time of the fire.
“I asked if I could present awards to these three gentlemen behind me for their bravery and courage,” Boncal said, with the three firefighters behind him.
The fire in question occurred in the morning hours of March 18, when crews received reports of a fire with entrapment at a home on North Market Street in the Glen Lyon section of Newport Township.
The three firefighters worked to remove Grace Miller, 13, from the home; she unfortunately passed away as a result of injuries sustained in the blaze a few days later.
According to Boncal, Bukofski reported heavy fire on the first floor, and was able to obtain information that Miller was on the second floor.
“(He) was able to locate a ladder situated on a neighbor’s house and position to the victim’s bedroom window,” Boncal said.
Hoffman then arrived, who began to work to contain the fire to the first floor while Bukofski searched for Miller. Kowalski helped Bukofski remove Miller, who was unconscious at the time, from the home.
Boncal presented Bukofski and Hoffman with a Medal of Honor, which is awarded to a firefighter who “performs an act of conspicuous heroism” in the face of intense personal risk. Kowalski received the Firefighter’s Cross, for performing an “act of bravery and stamina” in extreme fire conditions.
Boncal said the firefighters’ work was heroic.
“These three went above and beyond the call of duty; they knew what they were faced with,” he said. “They were able to get inside the building; they were able to locate the victim and bring her out.
“It’s unfortunate that she had passed, but these three knew what they were in for, but they were able to get in and get the job done,” he said.
Municipalities grapple with surging costs to recycle; price more than to haul garbage
Facing a dramatic increase in recycling costs, the manager of Newport Twp. recently made a controversial and rushed announcement on the municipal website for residents to just throw glass in the garbage instead of recycling bins.
Wilkes-Barre increased recycling rates this year and will soon get out of the single-steam model and mandate that glass, plastic and aluminum be separated from cardboard and newspaper.
Kingston started charging residents for recycling for the first time in 20 years and also is asking residents to drop off glass at the municipality’s public works headquarters rather than place it in their bins.
Municipal leaders say they are required by law to recycle, but it actually costs more currently to recycle items than to send them to the landfill.
Newport Twp. manager Joe Hillan said the township’s recycling fee with Municipal Recovery Inc. in Wilkes-Barre is $65 per ton to haul away with glass compared to $25 per ton without glass.
That’s why he posted on the township website that it would be better for residents to throw glass in the garbage and any recycling bins with glass would not be picked up by municipal public works crews.
Following community backlash, the township quickly abandoned the recommendation.
“It wasn’t the right thing to do, so we did some regrouping. We are going to weigh our options, but you don’t want to put more burden on the taxpayer,” Hillan said. “Recycling is not like it used to be. Everybody used to want it. Now, nobody wants it.”
Hillan said the township may explore doing something like Kingston in which they set up a separate glass drop off bin.
Newport Twp. charges a set annual fee for garbage and recycling. Some municipalities have separate fees. Others charge a per-bag fee for garbage and a separate recycling fee.
Paul Keating, Kingston’s municipal administrator, said Kingston was paying about a $100 per-ton “tipping fee” to haul away recycling with glass, but reduced the rate to around $52 per ton by eliminating glass.
Keating said municipal leaders have found a “small market” of those interested in glass only and Kingston will pay to provide the glass to an interested vendor.
Kingston hasn’t charged for recycling in 20 years. For most of that time, the sale of the materials generally offset the costs, officials said. In recent times, the municipality paid more than $225,000 annually to haul away recyclables, they said.
Recently, the municipality announced it was instituting a $30 recycling fee per residential unit and banning glass from being included in recycling.
“It’s still way less than if we continued to pay for single-stream and did nothing. We lowered our costs considerably,” Keating said.
Keating said he knows there’s no guarantee all residents will drop off glass at the public works garage and some people will just toss it in the garbage.
“If they opt to throw it in the garbage, that’s their choice,” Keating said.
However, those who throw glass in the garbage will pay more since Kingston charges per garbage bag, he said.
“There are great benefits to recycling. Our residents are well-trained in recycling. They are fond of recycling and not landfilling,” Keating said.
In his 2021 budget, Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown sought to double the city’s recycling fee to $100 annually, which has been $50 for 13 years. After a political spat with city council and a veto by the mayor, the rate was raised to $75.
Additionally, Wilkes-Barre officials decided to end single-stream recycling for dual-stream recycling, meaning residents will soon have to separate paper and cardboard from other recyclables, like aluminum, plastic and glass.
Brown said the switch to dual-stream recycling will save the city between 25% to 35% than what it was paying.
New pierogi business NEPA'rogi sees Easter sales surge
As someone proud of her Polish heritage, Lauren Gorney wanted the name of her new pierogi business to rhyme with the popular ethnic food.
And so, NEPA’rogi was born.
NEPA’rogi is a pierogi food truck Gorney and family recently launched in Newport Twp. — just in time for Easter, a time when pierogi are in high demand.
Since announcing the creation of the business, Gorney has been covered in flour and pinching pierogi non stop.
“When I think of Easter, I think of kielbasa, chocolate, the bakery and pierogi. I’m humbled to be a part of that all-star Easter line up,” Gorney said.
Gorney, 31, said the demand has been overwhelming to the point she had to stop taking orders. During the week leading up to Easter, the NEPA’rogi trailer was camped in a parking lot along West Main Street in Nanticoke to hand out all the pierogi preorders.
“This is our grand opening during our first holiday. We are working at 110%. It hurt me to have to turn people away. I can’t keep up with it,” Gorney said. “I am shocked by the demand and more importantly the community support.”
Gorney said she prides herself in making pierogi the same way she did with her Polish family in Glen Lyon.
“It means so much that people tell me this reminds them of their Babcia (grandmother) and Dziadzi (grandfather),” Gorney said.
Gorney, who has a background in sales and marketing, said she was nearing burnout last year when the COVID-19 pandemic “gave me the pause” to follow her passion and dreams.
She said after her grandmother Gorney died years ago she connected more with her Polish roots and always wanted to do something to promote her heritage.
“It’s an honor to carry on the legacy of making regional cultural food. Being a millennial, I want to perpetuate that legacy,” Gorney said.
NEPA’rogi’s products include potato and cheddar, simply sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, golden ‘kraut and cabbage, and farmer’s cheese.
Gorney said she and her boyfriend enlisted family members as part of their small production line. She takes pride in making all the pierogi by hand.
NEPA’rogi’s slogan is: “We are always trying for the perfect pinch.”
“We walk a fine line between mass production and labor-intensive love,” Gorney said. “As long as I can, I am going to pinch these little babies on my own.”
Plymouth man charged after hostage standoff in Newport Township
Kevin Carroll | Times Leader
Roads around Wanamie blocked off for hours
NEWPORT TWP. — A 31-year-old Plymouth man faces multiple charges for allegedly holding his mother hostage inside her township residence for hours Saturday, said Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce.
Nobody was injured in the incident, he said.
Robert Bond was incarcerated Saturday night and charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping and other related charges, the district attorney said.
According to Sanguedolce:
County 911 received a call around 11 a.m. with a report that Bond was threatening to harm himself at a location on West Main Street in Plymouth.
By the time police arrived in the borough, Bond had traveled to his mother’s house in the 200 block of Vandermark Road in the township.
Police from the township, Nanticoke and Rice Township secured the area.
Bond is on state parole, and a state parole agent also arrived at the scene along with a county detective. As negotiations began, law enforcement learned Bond was holding his mother inside.
He claimed to have a .38 revolver and shot gun with buckshot and repeatedly threatened to kill his mother, himself and anyone who approached.
Pennsylvania State Police responded and activated their Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), which took over negotiations around 1 p.m.
Bond continued making threats, but negotiators were able to convince him to release his mother around 7:30 p.m. The woman was examined by emergency responders and uninjured.
A negotiator convinced Bond to turn himself in at approximately 8:15 p.m. He emerged without weapons and was peacefully taken into custody.
Police recovered a small-caliber firearm inside the residence.
Bond had fired two shots as part of his initial threat, but they did not appear to be aimed at a person. He has a history of mental illness and drug addiction.
Law enforcement did not have to use firearms at any point.
Sanguedolce thanked all law enforcement responders, particularly the SERT team for its “tireless work that allowed this to end peacefully.”
At one point, Bond had contacted local television stations attempting to get in touch with his fiancé, but Sanguedolce said the stations cooperated with law enforcement.
The incident forced road closures for hours in the Wanamie section of the township.
State police also brought heavy equipment to the area.
Hostage situation in Newport Twp. ends peacefully
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
NEWPORT TWP. — An armed man holding his mother hostage prompted a massive police response and caused authorities to lock down a large part of the Wanamie section of the township Saturday.
A roughly eight-hour standoff ended Saturday night with Robert Bond, 31, surrendering and his mother being released unharmed, Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.
The incident began around 11 a.m. when a family member of Bond’s called police to West Main Street in Plymouth out of concern that Bond, who has a history of mental issues and drug abuse, would harm himself, Sanguedolce said.
Bond then left the Plymouth location and arrived at a home on Vandermark Road, where he took his mother hostage around noon, he said.
Initial reports indicated children may have been inside the home, but Sanguedolce said none were present during the standoff.
Bond is on parole, and his parole officer initially began the negotiations, he said. The Pennsylvania State Police Special Emergency Response Team took over negotiations when dozens of troopers began descending on the scene starting around 1 p.m.
During the hours-long ordeal, Bond made repeated threats to harm himself, his mother and anyone who entered the house, Sanguedolce said. Bond, who claimed to have a .38-caliber handgun and a shotgun, also fired two shots that did not strike anyone, he said.
Police did not fire any shots, and nobody was injured during the standoff, Sanguedolce said.
Around 7:30 p.m., troopers negotiated the release of Bond’s mother. Bond surrendered around 8:15 p.m., he said.
A search of the home turned up a smaller caliber handgun than the .38 Bond claimed to have as well as several rifles that were in a cabinet in the basement, he said.
Police charged Bond with kidnapping, aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and related offenses, Sanguedolce said.
Bond had not been immediately arraigned on the charges.
Teen rescued from Glen Lyon fire dies
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
The teenager rescued from a Glen Lyon fire last week has died.The Lehigh County Coroner's Office said Grace Miller, 13, died 4:29 p.m. Sunday at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.
Miller was rescued early Thursday from a fire at 58-60 N. Market St. in the Glen Lyon section of Newport Twp.
Miller was first taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and then transferred to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest.
St. Faustina Parish in Nanticoke paid tribute to Miller in a Facebook post.
"It is with a very sad heart that we announce that Gracie Miller succumbed to the injuries sustained in her house fire Thursday morning," the post said. "Stories of Gracie say how she wanted to make everyone happy, even in her death she will be doing just that. The family decided for Gracie to live on in the form of organ donation and she will give the gift of life to many others."
Confirmation class will hold collection drives for girl injured in fire
The Confirmation class of St. Faustina Kowalska Parish in Nanticoke is holding two emergency collection drives of clothing, personal care and household items and accepting monetary donations for a family who lost everything in a fire at their Glen Lyon house Thursday.
A class preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation is learning about grace from a girl with the same name.
Grace Miller was critically injured and everything her family had was destroyed in a fire Thursday at their house on North Market Street in Glen Lyon.
The 13-year-old girl isn’t in the class Joann Mavus is teaching at St. Faustina Kowalska Parish in Nanticoke to prepare them to be strengthened with the Holy Spirit through Confirmation. The teenager doesn’t belong to the parish either.
“She’s a member of our community,” Mavus said Friday.
Some of the kids in the class are in the band at the Greater Nanticoke Area high school with Miller. “They personally know Grace,” Mavus said.
The connection runs deeper, however, and drills to the core of the Catholic Church’s tenets on the sacraments as a means of grace from God and applying the teachings of his son Jesus Christ to everyday life.
“We teach our faith is more than kneeling in church. It’s about giving back,” Mavus said.
The class will hold two emergency collection drives for clothing, personal care and household items and is accepting monetary donations for the family. A special Mass for healing will be held at 6:30 p.m Sunday at the church at 520 S. Hanover St.
Reservations are required for the Mass and can be made by calling 570-735-6821. Masks are also required because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This class has been active and willing to do anything for the community,” Mavus said. For its service project it’s holding drop off donation drives for the Birchwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Nanticoke and the Gino Merli Veterans Center in Scranton.
The Miller family collections will be contact-less as well. They will be this Sunday and again on March 28 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“You pull up in front of the church. You don’t even shut your car off, just open your window or pop your trunk,” Mavus said. The kids will take the donations.
The family is starting from scratch and escaped the fire with the clothes on their back. Firefighters pulled the unconscious teenager from her second-floor bedroom, Mavus said.
“They don’t even have a toothbrush. They don’t have a pillow to put their head on to call their own,” Mavus said.
Donations of pharmacy, grocery store, Walmart or Target gift cards will be accepted. Also if someone wants to write a check, make it out to the church and write “fire victims” in the memo, Mavus said. The church will deposit it into its account and write a check for the family, Mavus said.
Teen rescued from Glen Lyon fire
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
Firefighters rescued a teenage girl from an intense blaze Thursday morning on North Market Street in the township's Glen Lyon section.
Crews were called to the fire at 58-60 N. Market St. around 6:35 a.m. and learned the girl was trapped on the second floor.
The first volunteer firefighters to arrive happened to spot a neighbors work ladder nearby.
"They hurried up and through it up on the side of the house," said Newport Twp. Fire Chief Mark Boncal. "They went into the room and got her."
The girl was first taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and then transferred to Lehigh Valley Medical Center, the chief said.
An adult and two children were inside both sides of the double-block residence, Boncal said.
The others escaped and were unharmed, he said.
Newport firefighters were assisted by crews from Nanticoke, Hanover Twp., and Mocanaqua in battling the blaze that ravaged the home.
Boncal said the fire doesn't appear to be suspicious.
A state police fire marshal is investigating.
Police: Teen crashes stolen car after early-morning pursuit
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
A 19-year-old man with four teenage passengers led police on a miles-long pursuit early Monday in a stolen car from Wilkes-Barre to Newport Twp., where he crashed and tried to flee on foot, according to charges filed by Wilkes-Barre police.
Jose R. Calva of 214 Poplar St., Wilkes-Barre, is charged with receiving stolen property, fleeing police, flight to avoid apprehension, child endangerment and multiple traffic citations.
Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker arraigned Calva early Monday and ordered him jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Wilkes-Barre police officer Raul Ortiz: On patrol in South Wilkes-Barre at just before 3 a.m., Ortiz heard screeching tires near 16-18 Beekman St. and then witnessed a car exit a parking lot at a high rate of speed. Ortiz did a registration check on the vehicle’s license plate and determined the car was reported stolen out of Bloomsburg.
After a back up officer arrived, Ortiz activated his lights and sirens and tried to stop the car.
Police said Calva sped away and led officers on a pursuit through South Wilkes-Barre, ignoring stop signs and traffic lights, and sometimes going the wrong way down one-way streets.
Arrest papers say Calva led police out of Wilkes-Barre on Carey Avenue down the Sans Souci Parkway in Hanover Twp. and then onto East Main Street in Nanticoke, ignoring all traffic lights along the way.
As Salva approached Market Street in Nanticoke — the city’s main intersection — he attempted to make a left turn, but instead jumped a curb into the Burger King parking lot, police said. Police said Calva then drove through grass and jumped another curb to get back onto Main Street.
After entering Newport Twp., Calva fled on Old Newport Street for another mile and a half before crashing while trying to turn onto Center Street, police said.
Upon crashing, police said Calva escaped the car through the passenger door and fled on foot. Police say he lost his shoes while running and later was apprehended.
Police said four other teenagers — ages 14, 15, 16 and 18 — were in the car. Investigators said two of them required treatment at the hospital and they all eventually were released to their parents.
Roses, ribs and a parade mark Newport Township woman’s 105th birthday
With family members and a bouquet of 105 roses at her side, Helen Wilkes braved the chilly temperatures Tuesday to wave to a passing parade of emergency vehicles and well-wishers, all there to celebrate her 105th birthday.
Wilkes sat bundled up on her front porch at 61 Robert St. in Newport Township and she waved at each vehicle that passed at 1 p.m., with many of the passengers wishing her the happiest of birthdays.
“I feel great,” Wilkes said. “It’s a wonderful world when you see all of this for my birthday.”
Wilkes, who has two sons, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, was not bothered by the cold and she managed to smile the entire time the drive-by parade lasted.
The group that gathered on her front lawn sang “Happy Birthday” to Wilkes, who patiently answered questions from the media and posed for pictures taken by just about everybody in attendance.
Asked what her secret to longevity is, Wilkes just answered, “No secrets,” as she admitted she misses going to the casino since the pandemic arrived.
Her favorite food?
“Really, I like just about everything,” she said. “Lately though, I really enjoy barbecue ribs.”
She likes ribs so much, she asked for and received a plate of them for her birthday.
Wilkes grew up in Nanticoke and graduated from Nanticoke High School. She would then go to work at the Duplan Silk Mill, walking to work and back home every day.
Just five years ago, when Wilkes celebrated her 100th birthday, the choir from her church St. Faustina Parish in Nanticoke sang Happy Birthday. Wilkes helped make pierogi for the church where she also sang in the choir.
Asked what she had planned to celebrate her milestone birthday, Wilkes sighed and said, “I think this has been enough of a celebration.”
Several fire trucks, emergency vehicles and other cars, trucks and SUVs flashed their lights and sounded horns and sirens to let Wilkes know how much they cared about her.
“Thank you all for being here,” Wilkes said.
Drug laced Fruity Pebbles bars, gummy bears seized in Newport Township
Edward Lewis – Times Leader
NEWPORT TWP. — A Newport Township man was arrested when drug agents served a search warrant at his Robert Street residence allegedly finding a large amount of illegal narcotics, including drug laced brownies, Fruity Pebbles bars and gummy bears.
Jamaree Henson, 38, was charged with multiple offenses after Hanover Township police along with police in Nanticoke and Newport Township and the Luzerne County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at his residence Monday morning.
Seized from Henson’s residence were cash, fentanyl, marijuana, marijuana oil, and THC edible products of gummy bears and hears, brownies, Fruity Pebbles bars, graham bars and THC butter, according to a news release by Hanover Township police.
A digital scale, plastic bags, plastic containers and molds to make the THC butter and gummy bears were also seized.
Henson was charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of children, four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. He was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke and jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $250,000 bail.
Police: Trespasser spat saliva striking officers
Edward Lewis – Times Leader
NANTICOKE — A woman accused by Wilkes-Barre police with refusing to leave Wilkes-Barre General Hospital where she allegedly pulled a fire alarm was arrested by Nanticoke police when she refused to leave Cocoa Hut on East Main Street.
Alannalyn Grace Reckeweg, 23, struggled with officers from Nanticoke and Newport Township when she refused to leave the store Friday night, according to court records.
During the struggle, Reckeweg attempted to knee an officer in the groin and spat saliva that struck two officers, court records say.
Reckeweg was free on $10,000 unsecured bail stemming from her arrest by Wilkes-Barre police on Thursday.
In that case, Wilkes-Barre police alleged Reckeweg was discharged from the emergency room at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and refused to leave the facility. Reckeweg pulled a fire alarm and struggled with officers when she was escorted from the hospital, court records say.
According to the criminal complaint by Nanticoke police:
Reckeweg entered Cocoa Hut and sat down at a booth refusing a store manager’s request to leave the business. Reckeweg was prohibited from entering Cocoa Hut due to an incident at the business on Wednesday.
An officer arrived and repeatedly instructed Reckeweg she needed to leave the property. Reckeweg refused telling the officer, “I ain’t afraid of you,” the complaint says.
The officer picked up a drink Reckeweg had at the booth and walked her to the door where she allegedly attempted to knee the officer in the groin.
Reckeweg screamed “Suck my (expletive expletive)” at the officer, pulled down her face mask and spat saliva that struck the officer in the hand. Reckeweg also spat saliva that struck the face of a Newport Township officer assisting at the scene, the complaint says.
Police in the complaint said Reckeweg was placed in the rear seat of a cruiser where she kicked and damaged windows.
Reckeweg was arraigned by District Judge David Barilla in Forty Fort on three counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, and one count each of resisting arrest, defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. She was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $25,000 bail.
The officer from Nanticoke suffered injuries to a finger and shoulder during the struggle.
Hearing features plans for ATV park near Nanticoke
A public hearing Thursday on a proposed all-terrain vehicle park in Luzerne County’s South Valley region featured both concerns over potential noise pollution and enthusiasm for the project, which is in the early planning stages.
The Earth Conservancy hosted the remote hearing to take public comment on a feasibility study regarding a proposed ATV park on about 10,000 acres in Newport and Conyngham townships, between Nanticoke and Mocanaqua.
“It’s quite a large area,” said Terry Ostrowski, president/CEO of the Earth Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to the reclamation of mine-scarred land.
The conservancy owns about 2,500 acres of the land, and surrounding property owners cooperated with the feasibility study. If an ATV park is developed on the sprawling site, it will not be owned by the conservancy, Ostrowski said.
The study explored the wants and needs of ATV riders, as off-road riding has grown more popular in recent years, he said.
The land could also be used for other forms of outdoor recreation, such as hiking and rock climbing, and could provide a great economic benefit to the region, Ostrowski said.
However, there are “legal issues, liability and land issues” that must be overcome, he said.
Project consultant Jim Laird, a landscape architect and planner, said the park would be developed in an “environmentally sustainable” way.
While the ATV park would attract visitors from out of the area, it would also benefit local off-road riders, he said.
He described the proposed park as “a tremendous opportunity for the region in economic development.”
Riders who rode the park’s trails would patronize local shops, restaurants and hotels, he said.
A key step in the process is to establish an ownership structure that would allow project developers to obtain grant funding, Laird said.
About 2,400 people have responded to a survey about the proposed ATV park that is posted to the Earth Conservancy website.
Concerns expressed include traffic, noise and environmental damage.
Members of the public broached concerns about traffic and noise at Thursday’s hearing.
A woman who said she lives in the Glen Lyon section of Newport Twp. worried that riding trails would be located too close to homes and would prove disruptive to residents.
“We can make sure a buffer is provided to some degree,” Laird said. “We will make that part of the design.”
The natural terrain also acts as a noise buffer, he said.
The next steps in the planning process will be to develop a concept plan and explore funding opportunities.
The survey about the project will be available until May at https://tinyurl.com/y4k5e68b.
Public input sought on potential ATV park on 10,000 acres in Newport Township area
Opinions are needed on a potential all-terrain vehicle park on 10,000 acres in Newport and Conyngham townships to help shape the plan.
“We’re looking for a lot of public participation so we can understand the wants and needs,” said Terry Ostrowski, president/CEO of the nonprofit Earth Conservancy spearheading the feasibility study. “We’re looking for this to be a destination point.”
Potential commenters should include area residents, business owners, neighbors and riders of ATVs and other off-highway vehicles who have both ideas and concerns, Ostrowski said.
While the main draw would be paths for ATVs, other trails for hiking, biking and possibly horseback riding are under consideration by the steering committee, he said. An area for paintball also could be carved out, he said.
“Pennsylvania is starting to have a large push with recreation and the recreation industry, and we want something that will really be a destination for outdoor recreation,” Ostrowski said.
A complex that large could attract visitors from hundreds of miles away and provide an “influx for the local economy” benefitting area campgrounds, hotels, restaurants and other businesses, he said.
A project overview and updates are posted at https://www.earthconservancy.org/recreation/newport-twp-ohv-study/, which also will have links for public comment.
Several options will be available to provide input, said Elizabeth W. Hughes, Earth Conservancy’s communications director:
A survey will be available through the site until the end of May to be completed online or by downloading a hard copy. All responses will be kept confidential, although there is an option to request future project updates by email.
• Virtual meeting
The public is invited to a virtual meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 11, when the study team will discuss the project and its progress and accept questions and comments. Information on accessing the meeting will be posted on the site. Residents requiring special accommodations are asked to contact the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org at least seven days before the meeting.
Questions or comments about the project can be submitted directly to Earth Conservancy at 101 S. Main St., Ashley, PA 18706 or by emailing Hughes at email@example.com.
Manheim, Pennsylvania-based Laird Landscape Architecture has been hired as a consultant for the study, which will be funded through a $62,000 state grant.
A past study had identified 2,500 acres of largely mine-scarred Earth Conservancy land in Newport Township that was most suitable for an ATV park, but this analysis also found additional land would be needed to meet the demand of many riders, Ostrowski has said.
After discussions, the private and public owners of several adjacent tracts agreed to participate in the new feasibility study, with the understanding they were not under any commitment to agree to the final plan, he said. The other sites include more than 4,400 acres of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources land and 2,600 acres owned by Newport Aggregate.
Much of the acreage is former coal land with large pits, although some has been reclaimed or is forested, he has said.
The feasibility study also would examine options for funding the park and identifying an entity to own and operate it.
Earth Conservancy would not be the owner/manager, he said. Some other parks are run by private organizations or governmental entities.
The feasibility study steering committee includes representatives of the land owners and local leaders and ATV riders.
Pennsylvania has around 285,000 registered ATVs, and efforts are underway to provide more places for them to legally ride statewide.
“We’re hoping that this project gives ATV riders a legal and safe option so they’re not riding all weekend looking over their shoulder for police to chase them off land,” Ostrowski said.
Some of the acreage under consideration for the ATV complex also is being eyed for new industrial development, including the 400-acre Whitney Point Industrial Park.