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2023 Newport News

1/22/2023
Lowe's to open coastal holding facility in Newport Twp. this spring 
Denise Allabaugh – Citizens Voice


Home improvement giant Lowe’s has expanded its delivery model to meet demand amid supply chain challenges by opening coastal holding facilities, including one in Jenkins Twp. and another one set to open soon in Newport Twp.
Kara Hauck, corporate communications manager at Lowe’s, said the newest coastal facility in Luzerne County is expected to open in the spring in a 1.2 million square-foot warehouse being constructed on former mine-scarred land in Newport Twp off Dziak Drive in Nanticoke.
Coastal holding facilities enable Lowe’s to better manage imported product flow, Hauck said.
“Coastal holding facilities are used to stage import products like seasonal and outdoor living items until closer to time of need, which frees up additional capacity in other distribution centers and supports the timely flow of products from Lowe’s distribution network to our stores and customers,” she said. “Lowe’s distribution network expansion is part of an ongoing investment in Lowe’s supply chain.”
Hauck said the newest coastal holding facility at 209 Dziak Drive will create about 70 jobs, including hourly and management opportunities.
Lowe’s has been advertising job openings online for positions ranging from warehouse associates, human resources consultants to mechanics and supply chain technicians for its Newport Twp. facility. The facility will receive imported goods to supply regional distribution facilities, Hauck said.
Lowe’s opened a 744,000-square-foot coastal holding facility in 2021 at 325 Centerpoint Blvd. in Jenkins Twp. near its massive distribution center at 200 Centerpoint Blvd. in CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park. The Jenkins Twp. facility created about 50 jobs, Hauck said.
Jim Cummings, vice president of marketing for Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, which developed and owns CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park, said Lowe’s nearly 1.6 million square-foot distribution in CenterPoint East is the largest building in Luzerne County.
He said Lowe’s distribution center and coastal holding facility in CenterPoint are in a strategic location that sets it apart from many Northeast U.S. business parks since it is less than a half mile from I-81 and i-476 and close proximity to UPS, FedEx Ground and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
“Park tenants can reach the ports in New Jersey and Philadelphia in just over two hours and close to 53 million people live within a four-hour drive,” Cummings said. “When you combine these location factors with affordable real estate costs, strong and reliable utilities and access to a productive labor supply, you have a park that checks all of the important supply chain boxes.”
NorthPoint Development, county and local officials broke ground in 2021 for Lowe’s facility in Newport Twp. as well as another huge warehouse in Hanover Tw.
Safelite Auto Glass opened a distribution center last year in 357,575 square feet of space in the other warehouse in Hanover Twp. that was constructed on about 130 acres of former mine-scarred land off Dziak Drive.
R.C. Moore trucking company also opened last year in 208,000 square feet of the space in the Hanover Twp. warehouse to increase their service to the East Coast and improve the supply chain as well.
R.C. Moore executive vice president Duwayne Caroway said that it’s the company’s fifth warehouse and 14 employees from the area have been hired. The starting pay for the new jobs is $19 an hour with wage growth and opportunities in addition to benefits and 401k options, he said.
The company, headquartered in Scarborough, Maine, has created a substantial presence on the East Coast and has been a logistics partner for more than 60 years. In addition to its new facility in Hanover Twp., R.C. Moore also has locations on Oak Street in Pittston Twp. as well as locations in Troutman, North Carolina; McBee, South Carolina and Tampa, Florida.
R.C. Moore CEO Kelly Moore said in a news release the Hanover Twp. facility enables the company to “better serve our existing customer base, take on additional customers and create another hub for our drivers that will allow them to have more growth opportunities and/or home time.”
“We are always focused on the growth of our business, creating jobs, and serving our customers, but today we are also focused on alleviating the supply chain crisis as best we can and this new distribution center is a step in the right direction,” Moore said.

1/20/2023
Nacero mum on Newport Twp. plant, sees delays in Texas project 
Steve Mocarsky –  Citizens Voice


Any reference to a $6 billion natural gas to fuel conversion plant Texas-based Nacero announced for Newport Twp. in 2021 has been removed from the company website, and more than a year of delays for groundbreaking at a flagship plant in Texas have the mayor there skeptical about that project’s success.
The end product for the flagship plant also has since changed — from automobile fuel to a new grade of jet fuel called sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF.
Thomas Tureen, chairman of the board at Nacero, announced in a Zoom press conference in October 2021 that the company planned to build nine plants in the United States that will produce low- to zero-carbon gasoline from natural gas that can be used in existing vehicles. The projects would create thousands of temporary construction jobs and hundreds of permanent full-time jobs at each location, he had said.
The first was to be built in Penwell, Texas, an unincorporated area a few miles south of the City of Odessa, the Ector County seat. The second was to be built on mine-scarred land in Newport Twp. The company had artist renderings of both proposed facilities on its website, but a recent visit revealed that only information on the Penwell plant is now posted.
Mum’s the word
Nacero’s plans for the Newport Twp. site remain unknown, as company
representatives have not returned email or voicemail messages sent to and left at the company’s Houston headquarters earlier this week.
Nacero Chief Operating Officer Hal Bouknight did not return a voicemail message to his cellphone after the newspaper acquired the number on Thursday.
Several federal and state officials touted and welcomed the project when it was announced in 2021, including then state Sen. John Yudichak, state Rep. Aaron Kaufer, who sponsored legislation creating manufacturing tax credits that was key to drawing Nacero to Pennsylvania, and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright.
Kaufer, R-120, Kingston, did not return a message left at his office or a text message sent to his cellphone, and Yudichak has since left office. A representative for state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp., whose district has since been redrawn to include Newport Twp., said her office has received no update on the project.
Cartwright, D-8, Moosic, said in an emailed response to questions Thursday that his office “is in contact with Nacero at present regarding the development of a sustainable aviation fuel project in Texas.”
Benefits of SAF
Tom Manskey, director of Economic Development for the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said in a phone interview that Nacero made the chamber aware of the change to manufacturing SAF, which he said “offers greater profitability and allows them to potentially tap into some resources with the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Cartwright said the Act includes “a robust tax credit” for the production of sustainable aviation fuel.
“While the Act also provided a credit for automotive fuel, the SAF incentive is larger, as electric air travel is not really an option at present, the way EV technology is available for automobiles,” Cartwright said. “I can understand any alternative fuel company wanting to take advantage of the unique opportunity that exists with respect to air travel.”
Cartwright said he has the understanding that Nacero “is still weighing its production options for Newport Twp. I would support an SAF product in Pennsylvania as well, if that’s the decision Nacero ultimately makes.”
What’s the holdup?
Asked if he was aware of construction delays in Penwell, Cartwright said he didn’t have a timeline for the Texas project, “but, given a shift to SAF, I can understand how that might affect Nacero’s schedule.”
Manskey believes inflation and the economy also played a major part in project delays.
“I think it’s a different economic environment they have found themselves in that has substantially delayed the project,” Manskey said, noting that the estimated project cost escalated from $6-$8 billion to $7-$10 billion.
“They stopped giving us time limits. Right now, they’re trying to shore up their finances,” Manskey said, adding that the switch to SAF would add only about 5% to the project cost.
Manskey said Nacero fulfilled their project development obligations for the first year of a 10-year grant cycle, and he feels confident the project will proceed.
However, Odessa Mayor Javier Joven said the project has been delayed for more than a year, as groundbreaking was initially scheduled for fall 2021. He also has concerns that Nacero didn’t adequately fulfill its benchmark obligations to have received a $2 million grant last year from the Odessa Development Corporation.
Losing faith
Odessa City Council entered into an agreement with Nacero in June 2021 in which the council agreed that the ODC would provide Nacero with $20 million in grant money over 10 years if the company met required development benchmarks. One of those was investing $100 million in capital development for the project that first year and hiring an agreed-upon number of employees for the project, Joven said.
But the ODC board voted to allow Nacero to include investments made from 2018 through 2022, and the only person the company hired locally was Wesley Burnett, now director of project integration for Nacero and Mansky’s predecessor at the chamber. All other hires were people in Houston working on project design, Joven said.
“Is this a real, attainable project two years in? I’m losing faith and I’m losing it fast,” Joven said. “I really want it to happen. We need it to happen. But right now, there’s a big gap between proposals and what we have.”
Joven added that he thinks Nacero officials are “people with integrity, and they mean well. But I’ve seen these types of projects come and go — big dreams, big promises, no results. I hope they prove me wrong.”

1/19/2023
DEP: Fireworks, not exploded dynamite, heard in Newport Twp
Steve Mocarsky – Citizens Voice

 
Fireworks were the apparent source of reported explosions that shook homes in Newport Twp., according the the state Department of Environmental Protection. Show here are fireworks for sale at Keystone Fireworks in Wilkes-Barre in June.
Dynamite was not the source of explosions reported to have come from a former coal mining site in Newport Twp. last week, according to state officials.
The Citizens’ Voice received reports of explosions that emanated from the site of a proposed gasoline plant to be built by Texas-based Nacero that shook some people’s homes in the Glen Lyon section of the township Jan. 11.
One resident believed old dynamite was discovered in a mine shaft during excavation work and was either accidentally or purposely detonated at the site.
The state Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation received a complaint on Monday and began investigating, DEP Community Relations Coordinator Colleen Connolly said on Tuesday.
A blasting and explosives inspector from the bureau did not see any evidence of any explosives onsite or of them being used onsite, Connolly said on Wednesday.
“The inspector did find that there has been a large amount of fireworks being set off at this location. There was evidence of mortar tubes, firework cake bottoms and possibly smaller firework tubes found, (as well as) what appeared to be parts of black powder containers,” Connolly said.
The inspector also spoke with an equipment operator onsite, and the operator was not aware of any commercial explosives being dug up there, she said.
“In conclusion, it appears with the times that individuals (heard) explosions and what was found onsite, it is believed it was individuals partying,” Connolly said.

 

1/9/2023
New cell towers eyed for Glen Lyon, Wanamie after years of little to no phone service
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice

NEWPORT TWP. — Township manager Joe Hillan still has a landline phone as a safeguard at his home in the township’s Glen Lyon section, an area that notoriously has poor or no cell phone service.

Hillan might consider cutting the cord now that Verizon’s proposal to construct a cell phone tower in Glen Lyon is moving forward. Verizon is also planning to build a cell tower in the neighboring Wanamie section near the township municipal building.

“They are hoping to get it done this year. That’s the plan,” Hillan said. “We’ve been after this for years. This is great news for the community.”

Hillan updated township commissioners on the cell towers at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Wanamie tower recently obtained zoning approval from Luzerne County. Verizon will order parts and equipment to start construction once the township issues an approved building permit, Hillan said.

Verizon is eyeing the middle of March to start construction on the Wanamie tower, which will be located near the municipal building, he said.

Plans for the proposed Glen Lyon tower, which is badly needed because many residents have no cell phone service at all, still have to be submitted to Luzerne County for zoning approval, Hillan said.

The Glen Lyon tower is proposed to be built behind the Ken Pollock Apartments off West Main Street, but a location is still being finalized, Hillan said.

Hillan, who has Verizon for cell phone service, said he’s fortunate to have cell phone service in his Glen Lyon home, but at least 50% of Glen Lyon’s 1,900 residents get sporadic or no service.

 “There are certainly areas where you lose service,” Hillan said. “As a matter of fact, I still have a landline in my house. I just don’t want to get rid of it yet because maybe my cell phone won’t work.”

Verizon seems to have the best service in Glen Lyon out of any service, Hillan said.

Hillan said he’s under the impression other cell phone service providers will be able to utilize the Verizon towers to improve their coverage in Wanamie and Glen Lyon.

“Hopefully if they put the tower up other companies will want to rent space on their tower,” Hillan said.

Lori Thomas, a DoorDash driver who often makes deliveries to Glen Lyon, said the cell phone tower development is good news.

“It’s definitely needed. It’ll be very helpful for me when I do my deliveries there,” Thomas said. “Most of the time, I can’t mark an order as ‘complete’ because I have no service.”

An official for Verizon confirmed the plans for the cell phone towers.

“Verizon’s network is set to expand in the Glen Lyon and Wanamie sections of Newport Township in Luzerne County, PA. We continually work to enhance our wireless network, expanding and improving it for our customers,” Verizon spokesman Andy Choi said. “We are building the next generation 5G Ultra Wideband network. This involves making both hardware and software updates that will bring a myriad of positive benefits to our customers in the long run, but it may impact network performance in the short term. We strive to keep any customer impact to a minimum as we continually improve.”

1/8/2023
Lowe’s hiring 70 for new facility in Newport Twp.
boboyle@timesleader.com


NEWPORT TWP. — Lowe’s has announced that it is expanding its distribution network with a new 1.2 million square foot coastal holding facility in the South Valley area of Luzerne County.
According to a Lowe’s spokesperson, the facility is expected to open in the spring of 2023 at 209 Dziak Drive, Nanticoke. The facility will actually sit mostly in Newport Township, but the site will include parts of Nanticoke City and Hanover Township.
“The 1.2 million-square-foot facility will receive imported goods to supply regional distribution facilities,” the Lowe’s spokesperson said. “This location will provide approximately 70 jobs, including hourly and management opportunities.”
Information can be found online at https://talent.lowes.com/.
The spokesperson said that in August 2020, Lowe’s announced its distribution network expansion is part of an ongoing investment in Lowe’s supply chain.
In October 2021, NorthPoint Development joined a host of state, county and local government and school district officials for a groundbreaking on the site spanning Newport Township, Nanticoke and Hanover Township for buildings 8 and 9 in NorthPoint’s Tradeport 164 package of properties.
Based on its own data NorthPoint took a calculated risk of nearly $1 billion in private investment to build in the county. 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.
Then-State Sen. John Yudichak said NorthPoint worked with local labor and “kept their promises on the (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program), striking fair deals, making sure that taxpayers get money upfront.”
The prospect of the more than 1 million square foot warehouse thrilled Newport Township Manager Joe Hillan.
“It’s great news for Newport Township and, well, the whole South Valley,” Hillan said. “For us, we haven’t seen anything like this since probably the 80s, when they transformed the Retreat State Hospital to a state prison, which is now closed. So now this is like a rebirth for the township.”
Hillan said the Lowe’s facility will be housed in the largest building in the township’s history.
“We hope local people will apply,” Hillan said.

 

1/6/2023
Lowe's advertising job openings at new warehouse in Newport Twp.
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice


NEWPORT TWP. — Home improvement giant Lowe’s is advertising job openings on its website for a new 1.2 million square foot distribution warehouse in Newport Twp.
Missouri-based developer NorthPoint Development broke ground on the facility last October without having a committed tenant.
The Lowe’s warehouse, officially called a “coastal holding facility,” will be located at 209 Dziak Drive next to the warehouse where the new Safelite AutoGlass facility is located in Hanover Twp, according to job postings on the Lowe’s website.
Positions being sought include human resource advisors, warehouse associates, building maintenance, mechanics, transportation associates and more.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for locals to apply,” Newport Twp. Commissioner President Paul Czapracki said.
NorthPoint Development officials have yet to confirm its tenant and a spokesperson did not respond to questions about the Lowe’s job advertisements.
“We have not heard anything official yet,” township Manager Joe Hillan said.
Efforts to reach officials with Lowe’s were unsuccessful.
In October 2021, Lowe’s opened a “coastal holding facility” near its massive distribution center in CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park in Jenkins Twp. At the time, Lowe’s officials said such facilities are used “to stage import products like seasonal and outdoor living items” and they help free up additional capacity in other distribution centers.
When the new warehouse was announced at the groundbreaking last year, then state Sen. John Yudichak called it a “historic economic success story.” Yudichak said the warehouse is the largest development in decades in Newport Twp., which lost about 400 jobs when the State Correctional Institution at Retreat closed in 2020.
NorthPoint previously built buildings in the South Valley on speculation and landed tenants, including Adidas, Chewy, Patagonia, Spreetail, Thrive Market and True Value. The company also is planning a 1 million square foot warehouse in Hanover Twp. near the border with the Hanover section of Nanticoke.
All of the properties are along or close to the $90 million South Valley Parkway. State officials said that the public project directly resulted in $1 billion in private investment and 8,000 new jobs.
Lee and Associates, a national firm and industry insider that specializes in commercial real estate research, labeled the NorthPoint and Lowe’s agreement in Newport Twp. as the “top lease transaction” by square foot in the Philadelphia region in the second quarter of 2022.

 

1/5/2023
Massive warehouse at Hanover Twp., Nanticoke border gets initial approval
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice


NANTICOKE — Amy Harris is already frustrated with the most recent distribution warehouse to open in Hanover Twp. near her home in the Hanover section of Nanticoke, a Safelite AutoGlass facility along Dziak Drive.
Now, she’s concerned about another proposed warehouse to be built even closer to her home on Front Street — the border between the densely residential Hanover section of Nanticoke and mostly undeveloped vacant land of Hanover Twp.
“They are building another one? You got to be kidding me,” Harris, 64, said Wednesday while walking down Front Street. “I’m trying to get used to that one. It makes it noisy around here.”
NorthPoint Development, the Missouri-based developer that has built a series of distribution warehouses in the South Valley in recent years, is now proposing a new 1 million square foot facility in Hanover Twp. bordering the Hanover section of Nanticoke.
Hanover Twp.’s Planning Commission on Tuesday gave preliminary conditional approval for NorthPoint Development to build the distribution warehouse on 103 acres of former mine-scarred land along Front Street that is currently owned by Earth Conservancy.
The facility would be built behind a recreation park and storage facility along Front Street on land that is zoned mixed use, which doesn’t require any special zoning requests for distribution warehouses, Hanover Twp. Code Enforcement Officer Mark Bienias said.
Another hearing before municipal officials will be necessary before the proposed warehouse is given final approval, Bienias said.
The warehouse, which would have 207 trailer spaces and 608 parking stalls, would be accessible off Dziak Drive, which leads to the building housing Safelite.
A possible tenant for the proposed warehouse was not immediately identified.
Efforts to reach officials with NorthPoint were not successful.
NorthPoint previously built buildings in the South Valley on speculation and landed tenants, including Adidas, Chewy, Patagonia, Spreetail, Thrive Market and True Value.
NorthPoint also is planning a 1.2 million square foot warehouse in Newport Twp., but also has yet to identify a tenant.
All of the properties are along or close to the $90 million South Valley Parkway. State officials said that the public project directly resulted in $1 billion in private investment and 8,000 new jobs.
Former Nanticoke mayor John Bushko, 78, who lives on Front Street across from the proposed facility, said the warehouses are both positive and negative since they create jobs, but also increase traffic. Hanover Twp. will benefit from the property taxes, while Nanticoke residents will be burdened with traffic since the only way to get to the proposed warehouse is through Nanticoke, he said.
“They are going to get all the money and we get the traffic,” Bushko said.
Joni Pysher, 57, of Newport Twp., said she owns eight rental units along Front Street, so the more workers attracted to the neighborhood is better for her financially.
“I want the rents to go up,” Pysher said.
Nanticoke Councilman Joe Nalepa, who lives in the Hanover section of Nanticoke, said he doesn’t mind the warehouse construction.
“I think progress is good. It’s all reclaimed land that was for the most part unusable. I understand the plights and complaints of the residents, but I really haven’t heard many of them,” Nalepa said. “As long as there is a long-term plan to regulate truck traffic, I have no problems.”

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