WB_VOICE/PAGES [A01] | 07/24/10 21:55 | SUPERIMPWB
L i t t leLeag ue
AS p e c ia lS e c t i o n
J u l y2 5,2 01 0 T h eS u n da yV o i c e
By Erin Moody |
Afteryearsof makingmulti-milliondollar“band-aid”repairstothreeaginghighschools,Wil-kes-BarreAreaSchoolDistrictofficialsaredecidingwhethertospendmorethan$100millioneithertokeeptheschoolsopen,buildanewcentralhighschoolorfindanotherwaytoprovideandfundup-to-dateeducationalfacilities.Taxpayerswilllikelymakethefinaldecision,however,asexten-sivetaxincreasesneededtofunda major renovation or buildingprojectmustbevotedoninapub-licreferendum.Faced with reports of expen-sive, necessary repairs threeyears ago, board members saidtheywantedtosavethedistrict’scommunityschools.Today,manyboard members are backing, oratleastconsidering,constructingoneconsolidatedhighschool.It’s a decision board memberPhil Latinski thinks must bemade soon. He understands thecommunity could become divid-ed over educational concerns orfears of higher taxes. He alsobelieves it might cost him hisseatontheschoolboard.“I want to build a school thatwillbebetterforthestudentsandthetaxpayers,andif thatmeanslosingtheelection,OK,”hesaid.
Nine years after a studyshowedCoughlin,GARandE.L.Meyershighschoolswereinfaircondition, a 2002 study reportedit would cost between $74 mil-lion and $92 million to renovateall of the district’s buildings to“like new” condition. Of that,about $34.8 million would bespent on Meyers, $18.8 millionon Coughlin and $15.1 milliononGAR.Atthetime,acitizens’commit-tee submitted a letter rejectingtheideaof buildingasinglehighschool.The study was launchedbecause it appeared enrollmentwould decrease by about 1,000during the next decade. Instead,it has fallen only about 300, adropdistrict SuperintendentJef-frey T. Namey attributed to anincreased number of studentsmovinginandoutof thedistrictand a growing Latino popula-tion.Estimatedrepaircostsfurthershot up with two studies in 2007thatshowedMeyersHighSchoolhad sunk six inches because of the ebb and flow of the Susque-hanna River. Coughlin, mean-while, was fine despite being intheriver’sfloodplain.The price tag to stabilize andfixMeyersroseto$79million.Anewbuilding,inthesamespotorelsewhere, could cost about $58million,Nameysaid.Thecostof renovating Coughlin was updat-edto$40million.
Comparison with other districts
Of Pennsylvania’s 500 schooldistricts, Wilkes-Barre Area isone of fewer than 40 with multi-plehighschools,accordingtothePennsylvania Department of Education.Of the 12 districts closest insize to Wilkes-Barre Area, onlytwo — Lower Merion in Mont-gomery County and Seneca Val-ley in Butler County — havemorethanonehighschool.Eachhas two high schools and about200and500morestudents,respec-tively.Wilkes-Barre is not onlyunusual for maintaining multi-plehighschools,butalsobecausethoseschoolsrangefrom80to101yearsold.The average age of a schoolbuildingnationwidewas42yearsoldin1998,accordingtothemostrecent study from the NationalCenter for Education Statistics.Further, only 28 percent of K-12schools were built before 1950,likethethreeWilkes-Barrehighschools.
The cost of keeping the highschools running is starting tomount, although all remain safefor students and employees,according to Namey. During thelastyearandahalf,Wilkes-BarreAreaspent$2.4milliononmajorprojects for the three highschools, according to BusinessManagerLeonardPryzwara.Of that,$2.1millionwasspentat Meyers for visitors bleachersatthefootballstadium,drivewayrepairs,partialroof replacementandparapetremoval.
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© 2010The Citizens’ Voice
By Bob Kalinowski |
When Kenneth Schweiss was accused of beatingapoliceofficerrecentlyathisJack-sonTownshiphome,ittriggeredaflashbacktoanotherviolentconfrontationhehadwithacop50yearsago.A Jackson Township police sergeant leftin an ambulance after his July 6 encounterwithSchweiss.On Nov. 20, 1960, Schweiss’s state trooperfatherwascarriedawayinabodybag.Schweiss, then a 17-year-old high schoolsenior,killedhisfatheratthefamily’sHunts-villeRoadhomeinDallasBorough,shootinghim in the head, chest and shoulder in anambush as the elder Schweiss returnedhome,accordingtonewspaperarchives.Schweissspentmorethansevenyearsinprison.Helivedthenext43withoutabrushwiththelaw.Now,atage66,Schweissfindshimself fac-ingprisontimeagainforanotherassaultonanofficerof thelaw.After his release from prison, Schweissmarried, raised a family and found steadyemployment until retirement from an areamanufacturing facility several years ago.Manysayhemostlykeptalowprofile—hisdark past a closely guarded secret to neigh-borswholivedbyhimfordecades.His recent arrest ended his relative ano-nymityandputhiminthepubliceyeagain.Police charged Schweiss with injuringand threatening to kill Jackson Townshippolice Sgt. Scott Davis in a July 6 attackwhenDavisarrivedtoinvestigateadomesticdispute at Schweiss’s Jesse Road homearound5p.m.Daviswastreatedatalocalhospitalforabadlysprainedwristandinjuriestothefaceandhead.
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WARREN RUDA / THE SUNDAY VOICE
Water damage is evident along the walkway that connects Meyers High School tothe bleachers at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
James M. Coughlin
80 N. Washington St.
171,350 grosssquare feet
250 S. Grant St.
168,240 grosssquare feet
Elmer L. Meyers
341 Carey Ave.
232,000 grosssquare feet
BOB KALINOWSKI / THE SUNDAY VOICE
Police allege Kenneth Schweissattacked a police officer at his Jack- son Township residence.
Legal battle developsover mineral rights
By Patrick Sweet
Sherwood B. Davidge andCalvertCrary,lumberbaronsand landowners at the turnof the 20th century, musthavehadexcellentforesight.At least, they must havewhen they decided to sellmore than 13,000 acres of land in Noxen and ForkstontownshipsinWyomingCoun-ty in 1894, but retained thesought-after mineral rightsmaking millionaires out of everydayfarmersasgascom-panies snatch up land fornaturalgasexploration.Inked in flowing cursive,pages 30 through 40 of book40 in the Wyoming CountyRecorder of Deeds Officepass on the behemoth prop-erty—outlinedbystonecor-ners, dead spruce trees andvarious antiquated land-marks — from Davidge andCrary to the Union TanningCo.“Excepting from this con-veyance and reserving for(Davidge and Crary), theirheirsandassignsforever,allpetroleumandotheroils,gas,coal, iron and other miner-als,”thedeedstates.Thetwomen,though,werestraw men for Union Tan-ning’s parent company andone of the original compa-niesintheDowJonesIndus-trial Average, the UnitedStatesLeatherCo.
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Work resumes on well
By David Dishneauand Harry R. Weber
NEWORLEANS—Crewshurried to get back to workon plugging BP’s leaky oilwellSaturdayafterTropicalStorm Bonnie fizzled, andengineers hoped for a win-dow of clear weather longenoughtostopthegusherforgood.But with peak hurricaneseason starting in earlyAugust,chancesarethenextbigstormisrightonBonnie’sheels.“We’regoingtobeplayingacat-and-mousegamefortheremainderof thehurricaneseason,”retiredCoastGuardAdmiralThadAllensaidSat-urday.Sureenough,anotherdisturbance already wasbrewing in the Caribbean,although forecasters said itwasn’t likely to strengthenintoatropicalstorm.In the past 10 years, anaverage of five namedstorms have hit the Gulf eachhurricaneseason.Thisyear,twohavestruckalready — Bonnie and HurricaneAlex at the end of June,which delayed cleanup of BP’s massive oil spill for aweek even though it didn’tget closer than 500 milesfromthewell.BonniefellapartSaturdaybefore it even reached theLouisiana coast. By then,worriesaboutthestormhadpushedbackeffortstosolidlyseal the well by at least aweek,saidAllen,thegovern-ment’spointmanonthespilland a veteran of the CoastGuard’srescuemissionafterHurricaneKatrina.Completionnowlookspos-sible by mid-August, butAllensaidhewouldn’thesi-tatetoorderanotherevacua-tionbasedonforecastssimi-lar to the ones for Bonnie,which halted work onWednesday.
A woman walksher dog Satur-day past part ofthe contaminatedbeach in GrandIsle, La.
Northeastern Pennsylvania’s New Frontier
INSIDE: MEET REGION’S LITTLE LEAGUERS IN SPECIAL SECTION
Recession proof?Cell phone salesremain strong.