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Times Leader 09-06-2013

Times Leader 09-06-2013

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Published by The Times Leader
The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 09-06
The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 09-06

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Published by: The Times Leader on Sep 06, 2013
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09815 10011
160 Barney St., Wilkes-Barre, PA • 570-829-4743
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HANOVER TWP. FormerWyoming Valley SanitaryAuthority executive directorFred DeSanto is expected to sur-render today on a charge he usedauthority employees to do workat his Pittston Township home.Luzerne County detectives Thursday filed a felony chargeof diversion of services againstDeSanto, 63, with District JudgeJoseph Halesey in Hanover Township, where the sanitaryauthority central office is locat-ed.DeSanto allegedly had employ-ees work on his home and per-form tasks for the District 16Little League. DeSanto has beeninvolved with District 16for decades, most recent-ly as district director.DeSanto served asexecutive director of WVSA since 1998 untilhe abruptly retired onAug. 27, 2012, shortlybefore he was scheduledto be interviewed by the author-ity’s board regarding the allega-tions. He previously served inother capacities in the author-ity’s administration for 18 years.DeSanto did not return a mes-sage for comment on Thursday.District AttorneyStefanie Salavantis inSeptember 2012 assigneda detective to investigateallegations of wrongdoing made against DeSanto byauthority employees.A news release issuedby WVSA ExecutiveDirector James T. Tomaine stat-ed the charges “stem from aninternal investigation conductedby the WVSA, which reportedits findings to law enforcement
Fred DeSanto accused of using authority employees to do work on his home
DURYEA Matthew Echalkwas taking a walk in the fieldbehind his house when he heardpeople shouting, telling him toget out of the way.Echalk, who has Down syn-drome, had finished his shift atPittston Area High School cafete-ria, was walking in a field behindthe Germania Volunteer FireCompany on Foote Avenue whenhe spotted the UH-60 Blackhawkhelicopter approaching to land.At that point, Echalk ran as fastas he could to escape the 95 to120 mph winds generated by thehelicopter’s blades.It was a simulated rescue train-ing session, conducted by thePennsylvania Helicopter AquaticRescue Team PA HART WASHINGTON A study of adozen of 2012’s wildest weather eventsfound that man-made global warming increased the likelihood of about half of them, including Superstorm Sandy’sdevastating surge and the blistering U.S. summer heat. The other half including a recordwet British summer and the U.S.drought last year — simply reflected therandom freakiness of weather, research-ers with the U.S. National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration and theBritish meteorological office concludedin a report issued Thursday. The scientists conducted thousandsof runs of different computer simula-tions that looked at various factors,such as moisture in the air, atmosphericflow, and sea temperature and level. The approach represents an evolutionin the field. Scientists used to say thatindividual weather events — a specifichurricane or flood, for example — can-not be attributed to climate change. Butrecently, researchers have used comput-er simulations to look at extreme eventsin a more nuanced way and measurethe influence of climate change on theirlikelihood and magnitude.WILKES-BARRE New security measuresare reportedly set to gointo place at the ShermanHills where two young girlswereshotinthelatestcase of violent crime at theapartment complex.An e-mail outlininsome of the rules to gointo effect on Oct. 1 wassent to The Times LeaderWednesday, but they werenot able to be confirmed.According to the e-mail,among the steps to betaken are: tenants mustprovide a driver’s licenseand paperwork to receivea parking sticker; vehiclesmust be registered to ten-ants; visitors must receivea pass issued by the officein order to park in thevisitors’ lot; visitors mustpresent photo identifica-tion to obtain a pass; busi-nesses delivering grocer-ies, food or prescriptionsmust have two people inthe delivery vehicle so onecan stay in it to prevent itfrom being towed.Residents say theyreceived flyers on theirdoors informing themof their new rules, TVreports state.Park Management LLCof Brooklyn, N.Y. theowner of the property,was unavailable for com-ment until Monday inobservance of the RoshHashana, the Jewish NewYear.Wilkes-Barre spokes-woman Liza Prokop saidthe city was unable tocomment on the e-mailand referred questionsto the management of Sherman Hills.Lisa Wolfe, a spokes-woman for the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Developmentin Philadelphia, also saidthe agency was unable toconfirm the contents of the e-mail.However, Wolfe said theagency was in telephonecontact with manage-ment Tuesday. HUD helda separate phone meeting with the city afterward,she said. The agency was awaresomething would be doneafter the Aug. 24 shooting that injured the girls, ages2 and 5. Police have beencalled to the complex bor-dered by North Shermanand Coal streets numerous
 Newrulesput  inplaceat ShermanHills?
Reported measuresappear to be aimedat limiting accessto the complex
jlynott@timesleader.comAP photo
SuperstormSandy leftdestroyed anddamaged homesin Ortley Beach,N.J. in its wake.Researchers withthe United Statesand BritishgovernmentsconcludedThursday thatclimate changehad made eventsof this type morelikely.
APScienceWriterAimee Dilger photos |TheTimes Leader
Firefighters and emergency personel watch a rescue drill performed by the PA-HART unit in the Susquehanna River off of Scovell Island. The Blackhawk helicopter andspecial team came to the Germania Volunteer Fire Company drill with local water rescue teams.
A Dallas Middle Schoolstudent has been disci-plined after black foot-ball players from MeyersHigh School in Wilkes-Barre said they weresubjected to racial slursduring a junior varsityscrimmage in August,Dallas SuperintendentFrank Galicki confirmed Thursday.Galicki, who said hecould not release the stu-dent’s name, said MiddleSchool Principal ThomasDuffy and AthleticDirector Nancy Robertsmet with the youth’s par-ents and “appropriateaction has been taken.He did not elaborate.For the parents of oneMeyers student — whosaid he was the target of abuse not only by one butby two Dallas players —the incident has left themshaken.“The game was goinwell, then all of a sudden,we saw a shift in the atti-tude of the Meyers boys,”said Ronald Shivers, whoasked that his 15-year-oldson’s name not be used inthis article. “They weredefinitely subdued.”Shivers said his sonand another student toldhim and his wife Carissathat two Dallas playersresponded with racialslurs and profanity fol-lowing a tackle. In a brief 
Slur results in disciplinefor Dallas student
Superintendent:‘Appropriate action’ taken aer bad behavior at junior varsity football game
State’s helicopter rescue squad holdstraining exercise on Susquehanna 
| 12A
A mock victim is rescued and lifted into a helicopter during a river rescue drill inthe Susquehanna River on Thursday afternoon.
| 12ASee
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| 12A
PAGE2A Friday,September6,2013
www.timesleader.com THETIMESLEADER
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Condusta, SamuelHolt, Sheila St.JamesHumenanski,LeocadiaKozemko, DoloresMartin, FlorenceMunley,James Jr.Reakes, BettieRhoads, DoreneZibuck,Arlene
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Sandra Snyder.................................970-7383
TheTimes Leader strives tocorrect errors,clarifystoriesandupdatethempromptly.Correctionswill appear inthisspot.Ifyouhaveinformationtohelpus correct aninaccuracyorcover anissuemorethoroughly,call thenewsroomat 829-7242.
Cellphone records from awomanwhoallegedlyplannedtomeet William “Chilly” Uggianoto smoke marijuana revealed“numerous calls and textstothe cell number of Andre Fuller,according to a search warrantfiled on Thursday.Fuller, 22, of John Street,Kingston, was charged lastweek with shooting Uggianomultiple times on South Grantand Wayne streets on Aug. 3.Uggiano, 19, survived gun-shot wounds to his head, hand,leg and buttocks. He remainshospitalized at GeisingerWyoming Valley MedicalCenter. He identified Fulleras the alleged gunman froma photo array, noting Fuller“grinned” before firing multiplerounds from a .45 caliber hand-gun, police said.After Fuller was arrestedon Aug. 24 and charged withcriminal attempt to commithomicide, aggravated assault,carrying an unlicensed firearmand reckless endangerment, heallegedly gave police his cell-phone number.Investigators believe Fullerwas in possession of his cell-phone at the time of the shoot-ing. Cellphone records of thewoman who planned to meetUggiano the night he was shotrevealed numerous calls andtexts to Fuller’s cellphone, theaffidavit states. The search warrant seeksincoming and outgoing phonecalls, including texts andemails.Fuller’s preliminary hear-ing that was scheduled for Thursday was continueduntil Sept. 27. He remains jailed at the Luzerne CountyCorrectional Facility for lack of $250,000 bail.According to the criminalcomplaint:Uggiano said a female friend,who is not named, called him tomake arrangements to smokemarijuana on Aug. 3. Uggianofelt this was “odd” because hehad been asking the girl to meethim on numerous occasions butshe would always say no.As Uggiano approached thearea of South Grant and Waynestreets where he was supposedto meet the girl, he observedanother man identified as Fullerapproach him with a gun, thecomplaint states. Uggiano toldpolice Fuller “only grinned” athim and began to shoot himmultiple times, according to thecomplaint.
Police pursue cellphone records of Andre Fuller, who is charged in Aug. 3 shooting in Wilkes-Barre
DORRANCE TWP. A subdivision involving 94 acres off Hollow Roadreceived the approval of thetownship supervisors onWednesday night. The plot is known asthe Robert and MelanieDavis Minor subdivision,and according to townshipofficials the parcel will bedivided into three tracts.Six requests for zoning codewaivers also were acceptedby both the supervisors andthe township’s planning commission. The waiversinvolve wetlands, contourintervals, stormwater con-trol, utility services, scalerequirements and soil test-ing for lot three. The supervisors and plan-ning board, however, stipu-lated that approval fromthe state Department of Environmental Protection isrequired for a sewage plan-ning module.In a lingering issue involv-ingKeithHazlakofStairvilleRoad and the MountainExpress Trucking Co.,Hazlak was told by solicitorWilliam Karpowich that theofficials of the trucking firmhave yet to file an appeal of alleged code violations thatinclude the lack of a zoning permit, lack of an occupancypermit and failure to submita land development plan. ThefirmhasuntilSept.14to register an official appeal,Karpowich said. Otherwise,he said, an enforcementaction against the companycan be filed before a district judge.Hazlak has made threeappearances at the supervi-sors’ meetings in order topresent issues related towhat has been describedas excessive noise, traffic,harassment and alleged zon-ing violations.In other matters:
DEEB Enterprises of 
Hazleton, owned by Dr.
Bassar Bittar, has offered to
sell to the township a tractof land off St. Mary’s Roadfor $1, Karpowich said. Theland was purchased at aLuzerne County tax sale for$500, he said.
The supervisors
approved the Septemberfinancial report, whichincludes a $16,000 dona-tion to the township’s vol-unteer fire department, a$9,125 payment to YenasonMechanical for furnaceinstallation work and a$4,931 payment to PennsySupply for anti-skid mate-rial.
An executive session
was conducted prior tothe regular meeting to dis-cuss pending litigation,Karpowich said. The next public meeting has been scheduled for 7p.m. Oct. 7.
Project involves nearly 100acres o Hollow Road,supervisors say 
Trustees authorize new employees, discuss charter renewal at Thursday’s session
For the first time in many meet-
ngs, plans for the new Bear Creek
ommunity Charter School were onhe back burner at the meeting of thechool’s board of trustees.With the school year in its thirdeek, the board heard updates oneveral programs, discussed reautho-ization of the charter and addressednumber of personnel issues before arief discussion about the new school.chool CEO Jim Smith noted that theuilding design plan is mostly refinednd they are now awaiting a secondost estimate for construction.In the meantime, Smith said, hes working on budgets for furniture,echnology and other related itemsor the new school. Plans are still onourse for construction bids to go outn January and a groundbreaking inarch, Smith said.
But the majority of the meetin
involved academic and operationalupdates for the existing school. Theboard heard about benchmark testing being done using a system based onthe new Common Core test standards.
Administrator Brian Dugas reported
that staff and students are comment-ing on how different the questions arefrom what they have been accustomed. The board also discussed waysto enhance the science curriculum,including incorporating science intothe writing class curriculum andthe enrichment program. Smith alsoreported that he is beginning the reau-thorization process for the schoolscharter, which expires in August 2014.In personnel matters, the board:
• Accepted the resignation of a kin
-dergarten aide.
• Ratied the hiring of Kelly Burtch
as a part-time kindergarten aide.
• Ratied a reduction in force mov
-ing Kimberly Charney from full-timespecial education paraprofessional topart time, 25 hours per week whileschool is in session.
Ratied the hiring of Cherly
Cardillo as a part-time special educa-tion paraprofessional for 20 hours perweek at $12.50 per hour.
Ratied the hiring of Marlene
Stempien as part-time cafeteria aide at$8.50 per hour for 25 hours per week.
• Ratied the appointment of BryanBenkoski as head soccer coach at a sti
-pend of $1,500 and Stephen Forney asassistant soccer coach at a stipend of $1,000 for the fall season.
Approved the hiring of Leah
Zelinka as a long-term substitutethrough Nov. 7 at a rate of $153.85 perday.
• Approved the addition of Karen
Laskowski, Matthew Ide, MichaelGross, Christian Wilson, Amanda
Belore, Carolyn Kaminski and Emily
Esenberg to the substitute list at a rateof $100 per day.
 Jewelry storerobber found guilty by court 
a Wilkes-Barre jewelry store in 2008 was sen
-tenced Wednesday to more than a decade inprison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M.Munley sentenced Huby Ramkissoon, 38, of New York City, to 11 years in prison for the May14, 2008, robbery of Dunay Jewelers on HazleStreet.Munley also ordered that Ramkissoon beplaced on supervised release for three years fol-lowing his release from prison and that he pay$89,285 in restitution, representing the valueof money and jewelry stolen during the DunayJewelers robbery.Ramkissoon’s sentence is the result of aninvestigation into a 2008 scheme to rob multipleLuzerne County jewelry stores, according toU.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith. To date, four otherindividuals have been charged in connectionwith that scheme in either federal or state court.Devon Nash and Jerry Smith were chargedandconvictedinfederalcourtinconnectionwiththe May 5, 2008, robbery of the Steve HydockDiamonds in Kingston. Smith and Jason Sotowere charged and convicted in connection withthe May 14, 2008, robbery of Dunay Jewelers.Smith was convicted in federal court, and Sotowas convicted in state court.Kirk Robinson is awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to use firearms in connection withboth robberies.Prosecutors had alleged that Nash and
Smith both pointed guns at Steve and Barbara
Hydock during the Kingston robbery whileRamkissoon waited outside. They also allegedthatRamkissoonandSmithheldDunayJewelersoperators David and Nancy Pavlick and DeanaMorgan at gunpoint and restrained them withflex ties before fleeing the store.Ramkissoon was originally charged with the
robbery in 2008 by Wilkes-Barre police. At the
time the complaint was filed, Ramkissoon wasa fugitive. A federal grand jury in Scrantonreturned an indictment against Ramkissoon onOct. 16, 2012, charging him with the robbery
scheme. The Federal Bureau of Investigation
located and arrested Ramkissoon in New YorkCity on Dec. 18.OnMay30,Ramkissoonpleadedguiltytotwocounts associated with the Dunay Jewelers rob-bery: interference with commerce by robbery,and using and brandishing a firearm in further-ance of the robbery.
 ThecasewasinvestigatedbytheFBI,Kingstonpolice and Wilkes-Barre police. Assistant U.S.
Attorney John C. Gurganus prosecuted the case.
RegionalBusiness DevelopmentDirector
 Jim McCabe – 829-5000jmccabe@timesleader.com
Delivery Monday–Sunday $3.60 per weekMailed Subscriptions Monday–Sunday$6.92 per week via USPSPublished daily by:Impressions Media15 N. Main St.Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711Periodicals postage paid atWilkes-Barre, PA and additional mailing officesPostmaster: Send address changesto Times Leader, 15 N. Main St.,Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
+(ISSN No. 0896-4084)USPS 499-710
Issue No. 2013-170
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Uggiano Fuller
BillTarutis | ForTheTimes Leader
Dana Jolley, left, reacts as her friend Kaitlin Kean tries to overcome her fear of heights as the Dallas residents ride the Ferris wheelThursday evening at the Luzerne County Fair in LehmanTownship.The 51st annual edition of the fair continues through Sunday.
— The Committee to Elect EugeneKelleher,acandidateforLuzerneCountyCouncil,will hold a campaign kick-off and breakfast fund-raiserat9a.m.Sept.7attheIremCountryClub.
The campaign commit-tee for Luzerne County Council candidatePaul DeFabo is holding a meet-the-candidatebrunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Isabella
— Luzerne County CouncilcandidateEileenSorokaswillholdafallcampaignkick-off and rally from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at thePolish American Club, 97 Martin St. The rally isfree,andfoodandrefreshmentswillbeserved.
THETIMESLEADER www.timesleader.com Friday,September6,2013 PAGE3A
WILKES-BARRE WilliamGronosky said Thursday he’snotguiltyofrobbingaPlymouth Township strip club and getting away with $3,500.A Luzerne County jury saidotherwise.After deliberating for about25 minutes Thursday morning,a jury convicted Gronosky, 30,ofallsixchargesstemmingfromthe Carousel Lounge robbery inMarch 2012.Gronosky faces a maximumof 20 years in prison on two of the charges, including robbery,and up to seven years on theremaining charges when he issentenced on Nov. 6.Assistant District AttorneyFrank McCabe made a requestto revoke Gronosky’s $1.4 mil-lionbailbasedontheconvictionand that Gronosky is a threat tosociety.County Judge Michael Voughgranted that request and saidGronosky is again slated tostand trial in his courtroom onMonday.McCabe said those chargesrelate to a burglary of a Laflinhome eight days after the stripclub robbery.“I’m not guilty,” Gronoskysaid Thursday while leaving thecourthouse after the verdict.GronoskytestifiedWednesdaythat the woman who claims shewasdrivingthegetawaycaraftertherobberyislying.Gronosky said CourtneySadusky, 24, fabricated thestoryaboutthe robberybecauseGronoskydidnotwanttobeherboyfriend.Sadusky framed him, he said,andstoletheBBgunsandapairof gloves from his home to doso.He admitted he was at theCarousel Lounge the day of therobbery,butnotuntilmuchlaterin the day when he went thereto purchase drugs.He said he visited the stripclub three to four times a weekand even played pool withowner Julius Greenberg.Sadusky, a prosecution wit-ness, told a different story earli-er Wednesday, saying she droveGronosky and Kevin Williamsto the Carousel Lounge around9 a.m. on March 15, 2012.Gronosky and Williams had skimasks on, Sadusky testified,and she said they wore glovesand were armed with guns.About 15 minutes later,Gronosky allegedly toldSadusky they pushed the ownerof the strip club to the floor andtook about $3,500.Sadusky pleaded guiltyWednesday morning to a crimi-nal conspiracy charge relating to the robbery before also tes-tifying in an unrelated criminalconspiracy charge in the Laflinhome burglary she participatedin with Gronosky.In that case, police saySadusky helped Gronosky takeseveral items from the home of a Pennsylvania state trooper,whom Sadusky had dated forsome time.Police said guns, electronics, jewelry and loose change weretaken from the residence.Judge Michael Vough saidSadusky will be sentenced onNov. 7.Williams was convicted inrelated charges in May and sen-tenced in July to 10 to 20 yearsin prison.
Are you winnerof $1 million?
Before the Powerball jackpot rolled to$203 million for this Saturday’s draw-ing, two Pennsylvania Lottery Powerballtickets worth $1 million each fromWednesday’s drawing were sold. One of them was purchased at the Fresh N Quik,906 Market St., Berwick. The otherticket was sold in Braddock, AlleghenyCounty. The two tickets correctly matched allfive white balls, 02-09-26-45-47, but notthe red Powerball 11, to win individualprizes of $1 million, less 25 percent fed-eral withholding. The retailers will eachreceive a $5,000 bonus for selling a win-ning ticket. The lottery encourages winning ticketholders to sign the back of the ticket,call the Lottery at 717-702-8146 andfile a claim at Lottery headquarters inMiddletown or at any of lottery’s sevenarea offices, including the one in Wilkes-Barre.
Ex-bank employeeaccepts plea deal
A Kingston woman who formerlyworked at M&T Bank in the governmentloan department has agreed to pleadguilty to embezzling nearly $63,000 fromApril 2011 to April 2012, according toprosecutors.Patricia Tokash, 42, was employedat the M&T Bank branch on SouthFranklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, and wasresponsible for administering and pro-cessing applications for loans to countiesand municipalities, court records state.She allegedly stole bank funds from feespaid in connection with loan applicationsand from accounts at M&T Bank andconverted the funds for personal use.A U.S. District Court judge mustaccept Tokash’s guilty plea before sheis scheduled to be sentenced. She couldface up to 30 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Family programsoered at WVW 
 The Penn State Extension, in connec-tion with Prosper Partnerships, is hold-ing two free parent/child programs thisfall for students in the Wyoming ValleyWest School District.Lifestyle Triple P, centered aroundmaintaining a healthy lifestyle, will beheld Tuesdays and Wednesdays fromSept. 24 through Dec. 11 and is opento children in first through fifth grades.To register, contact Melissa Tomascikvia mail c/o Penn State Extension, 16Luzerne Ave., Suite 200, West Pittston,PA 18643; call 570-825-1701; or emailluzerneext@psu.edu. The Strengthening Families Programis for parents and children in fifth orsixth grade and runs on Tuesdays andWednesdays from Oct. 1 through Nov.13. It includes a free dinner and freechild care for younger family members.To register, call Debbie Kester at 570-287-2131 or email dkester@wvwsd.org.Or contact Tomascik.
Mass to focus onimmigration
Diocese of Scranton Bishop JosephC. Bambera will celebrate a Mass forthe well being and ethical treatment of immigrants at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at St.John Neumann Parish at the Nativityof Our Lord Church, 633 Orchard St.,Scranton. Catholic Television will tapethe Mass and broadcast it at 6:30 p.m.Sunday, 8 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m.Tuesday. The bishop encourages parish com-munities, particularly those with signifi-cant immigrant populations, to join himin praying for the enactment of compre-hensive immigrationreform legislation.He has issued apastoral letter onimmigration reform.The diocese also hasprovided parishes withmaterials to help pro-mote such legislation,including backgroundon the church’s teaching on immigra-tion, liturgy and prayer resources, bulle-tin inserts that highlight the issues, andmeans through which legislative actionmay be taken.In addition, the Bishops of Pennsylvania have issued a statementtitled “A Call for Fair and RealisticImmigration Reform.”All of the resources are available ona “Justice for Immigrants” page of thediocesan website at www.dioceseofs-cranton.org.
Sheena Delazio |TheTimes Leader
William Gronosky leaves the Luzerne County Courthouse Thursday afterbeing convicted of robbing a Plymouth Township strip club.
SALEM TWP. Unit 2 atPPL’s Susquehanna nuclear powerplant will be subject to a supple-mental inspection by the NuclearRegulatory Commission later thismonth as the facility remains underenhanced NRC oversight in thewake of two unplanned shutdownsin late 2012.Additional scrutiny will continue“until the NRC is satisfied the rel-evant issues have been properlyevaluated and satisfactory correc-tive actions have been developedandimplemented,”NRCspokesmanNeil Sheehan said in a statementreleased Thursday.During a Dec. 19 shutdown, thereactor was operating at 18 percentpower as it was returning to ser-vice from an automatic shutdownon Dec. 16. The NRC reported thatall feed-water flow was temporarilylost when a valve failed to open asexpected during plant startup.OnNov.9,Unit2operatorsmanu-ally shut down the reactor due to afailure of the integrated control sys-tem, which controls the reactor feedand reactor recirculation systems,according to the NRC.“There were no health and safetyconsequences for the public or plantemployeesasaresult,”Sheehansaidin an email to The Times Leader.“The reactor was safely shut downinbothcasesandsafetysystemsper-formed as designed.”On Aug. 13, the NRC completedits midyear assessment for theplant, finding that Unit 1 met allhealth and safety requirements andremainedsubjecttothenormallevelof oversight. The issues at Unit 2are described by the NRC as being of “low to moderate safety signifi-cance.”Sheehan has said correctiveactions can take a number of forms,including changes to operator train-ing, revisions to plant proceduresand equipment repairs or modifi-cations. In January, NRC RegionI Administrator Bill Dean said theshutdowns “raise questions regard-ing operator performance, equip-ment reliability and, in the mostrecent event, decision-making.”PPL spokesman Joe Scopellitisaid Thursday the utility companyhas been working with the NRC toimplement required changes, whichhe said are primarily related to poli-cies and procedures, as opposed tomechanical issues. The upcoming inspection will assess the changesthat have been made, and what fur-theraction,ifany,needstobetaken,Scopelliti explained.“Some of them are in progress,some of them have been complet-ed,” Scopelliti said. The plant generates enough elec-tricity to power between 1 millionand 2 million homes.
Centre County senior judge to hear arguments on Oct. 21regarding collectors’ status
WILKES-BARRE Attorneysinvolved in a lawsuit filed by theLuzerne County Tax CollectorsAssociation against the county alleg-ing that an ordinance eliminating their positions is illegal agreed to anumber of facts Thursday, but a rul-ing likely will not come for severalmore weeks.Attorney Michael Savona, whorepresents the association and thecounty’s 69 tax collectors, said aftera meeting with CentreCounty Senior JudgeDavid Grine and attor-ney Matthew Carmody,who represents thecounty, several facts of the case were agreed to Thursday.Several county tax col-lectors, elected countycouncil members andthose seeking office forcounty council and coun-ty controller appeared incourt.Savona emerged fromthe judges chambersafter a meeting, notifying everyonepresent that stipulations were madeto facts that are not disputed and the judge said additional court papersoutlining the attorneys’ argumentsshould be filed by Oct. 7.Grine, appointed by theAdministrativeOfficeofPennsylvaniaCourts to oversee the case aftercounty judges recused themselves,then scheduled a hearing for attor-neys to make those arguments onOct. 21. The judge will then make aruling.Savona said testimony is not need-ed in the case because itsurrounds matters of whatis legal and not legal, adecision that needs to bemade by a judge.In the suit, the taxcollectors associationcontends an ordinanceby the county abolish-ing their positions isinvalid because it vio-lates the state’s Local TaxCollection Law, which thesuit calls a “statute of uni-form, statewide applica-bility.” The ordinance is notauthorized by the county’s HomeRule Charter and violates the charterin that it attempts to exercise pow-ers not granted to the county understate law, the suit says. The associations asks for an injunc-tion to suspend the ordinance untilthe lawsuit is sorted out.All 69 tax collectors are on thisyear’s election ballot.In recent weeks, the countyannounced proposed plans for thecollection of county taxes by theLuzerne County Treasurer’s Office.A council majority supported theswitch to in-house collection, argu-ing the county will save an estimated$300,000 and have greater controlover receipts by ending reliance onthe elected collectors. The tax col-lectors have taken issue with thecouncil’s decision.In the proposed plans, the treasur-er’s office is developing a system toallow property owners to pay taxesonline with a credit card, debit cardor electronic check and will provideevening hours at least one day perweek during the rebate and face peri-ods and at the end of December. The office will accept paymentat the Luzerne County Courthouseoffice, as well as at senior centersoutside the Wilkes-Barre area and asatellite office in Hazleton. The office will also have Saturdayhours in Wilkes-Barre, as well as adrop box, according to the plan.
Aimee Dilger |TheTimes Leader
Emma Broda, 9, expresses her affinity for her teachers while walking Thursday afternoon near picketing Wyoming Area School Districtemployees outside of the MontgomeryAvenue school.The teachers were on strike for a third consecutive day.
In the suit, the tax collectors association contends an ordinanceby the county abolishing their positions is invalid because it vio-lates the state’s Local Tax Collection Law,which the suit calls a“statute of uniform, statewide applicability.The ordinance is notauthorized by the county’s Home Rule Charter and violates thecharter in that it attempts to exercise powers not granted to thecounty under state law, the suit says.

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