WILKES-BARRE — In 75 minutes, the audience went on an emotional train ride through one man’s recovery from addiction. At the end, they saw parts of themselves on that journey, much to the delight of the train’s conductor.

“Right Before Your Eyes” premiered Wednesday at Movies 14 with its writer/director David Vincent Bobb and actor Brian O’Halloran introducing the faith-based film to an audience of more than 50 people.

Bobb based the film on his own battles with addiction with the film’s central character, Ethan (Adam Ratcliffe), falling deep into alcohol dependency before lifting himself up through faith and family to be a father to his son Lucas (Sean McCurdy), who has severe autism. O’Halloran was cast as Ethan’s roommate John.

Wilkes-Barre was one of nine Pennsylvania stops for “Right Before Your Eyes,” as Bobb is traveling with the film to build a fan base and to promote it through word of mouth.

“It’s a great time here, and I’m glad that people are coming out,” O’Halloran said before the screening. “It’s showing all week long here, so come on out.”

Bobb said that one of the highlights of touring has been hearing from viewers “bearing their souls” about addiction after watching the film.



As the movie was projected before the audience, emotions filled the theater as the minutes ticked by. Some audience members shed tears at peak moments while others nodded their heads in agreement whenever a biblical verse resonated with the dialogue and scenes. When the end credits rolled, a large applause nearly drained out the closing song, with viewers eager to ask Bobb and O’Halloran questions about the film and give their own story about faith, disability and addiction.

One such viewer was Dakota Miller of Jenkins Township. The young man described how he battles with autism and marijuana.

“Although it was low budget, it was the greatest Christian movie I’ve seen,” Miller told Bobb during the Q&A session. Later on, Miller went on to say that he “thought it was amazing.”

Other viewers shared stories about losing loved ones to the disease, and others talked about how they had hit the same rock bottoms as the character Ethan did in the film.

O’Halloran, who is best known for starring in movies by director Kevin Smith like “Clerks” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” said that the way the film was telling the story was what attracted him to the role.

“I’m more well known for very R-rated comedies, and I love doing them,” O’Halloran said. “But for this I did have people that I knew that were in addiction, especially alcohol addiction. The way this spoke to me about recovery and people around you had a happier ending, as opposed to people who are functioning alcoholics.”

Members of Wilkes-Barre Church of Christ at Sugar Notch were also in attendance Wednesday, forgoing Bible study to take in the inspiring film.

“I thought it was phenomenal, I cried a lot,” said church member Amber Kneller, of Pittston. Kneller was recently hit with tragedy and has been in addiction recovery for 3½ months. “It really touched my heart.”

“It was beautiful,” said Torres, who was accompanied by her daughter Mikayla Rodriguez, 11. “It is inspiring for people with addiction. I hope a lot of people get to see it.” Torres also spoke highly about the father-child themes and strained connections illustrated in the film.

For Lauren McCurdy, seeing the movie was a family event. The Mountain Top resident brought her daughter Guinivere, 9; her mother Terry McCurdy, both of Mountain Top; and her niece Aliya Raza McCurdy, 10, of Wilkes-Barre.

“It was very moving and had a good story,” Lauren McCurdy said. “We like family-friendly stuff.” McCurdy also saw how although the movie focused on alcohol addiction, it could be helpful for families who are affected by the opioid epidemic.

The family had a personal connection to the film as well. Lauren McCurdy is a cousin to Sean McCurdy, the film’s young lead who was discovered through a casting call. Wednesday’s screening was the first time they watched the movie.

Bobb encouraged the audience to spread the word about “Right Before Your Eyes,” requesting them to petition theaters to carry the faith-based film and said that non-religious moviegoers will be touched by the film as well. Bobb, O’Halloran and fellow castmember Mike Lazorcik, who portrayed the train conductor in the film, signed movie posters for each viewer and posed for photos. Actor and associate producer Ian Bonner took snapshots of groups and viewers to post on the film’s website beforeyoureyesfilm.com as part of its tour.

JACKSON TWP. — Township police arrested a Dallas man they say was intoxicated inside a truck that contained firearms, ammunition and beer on Tuesday.

Police said they found three loaded handguns and an unloaded handgun inside a Dodge truck occupied by Donald Joseph Scavone, 25, of Meeker Outlet Road.

Scavone was arraigned Wednesday in Luzerne County Central Court on three counts of firearms not to be carried without a permit and two counts of driving under the influence. He was released without bail.

Police were patrolling in the area of Hillside Avenue and Cobblestone Lane when they spotted a Dodge truck parked off the side at about 11:58 p.m.

Police said Scavone reeked of an alcoholic beverage and had to lean against the truck to maintain his balance, the complaint says.

Police searched the truck allegedly finding two loaded handguns under the driver’s seat, an unloaded handgun under the passenger seat and a loaded handgun inside the center console. Ammunition was also found under the passenger seat.

Scavone told police he was searching for his girlfriend at several taverns and was on his way to a friend’s house, the complaint says.

WILKES-BARRE — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Wednesday passed Senate Bill 906 that would prohibit the closure of White Haven State Center and Polk State Center.

“This bill, as amended, does exactly what Gov. Tom Wolf and his Council on Reform should have done from the start, before moving to close these centers,” said Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township. “It corrects his mistake and ensures all avenues will be explored before making such a critical decision.”

Under S.B. 906, a moratorium would be enacted on the scheduled closing of White Haven Center in Luzerne County and Polk Center in Venango County.

The House further amended the bill to include the appointment of a task force which will evaluate the state centers and provide recommendations to the Department of Human Services prior to the closure of one or more state centers.

Sen. John Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, thanked Rep. Lee James and the members of the Luzerne County House Delegation, both Republican and Democrat, who he said fought hard to advance Senate Bill 906.

“The passage of SB 906 is a significant victory for people with intellectual disabilities, the families that love them and the dedicated employees who provide loving care to them at our state centers,” Yudichak said. “I look forward to working with Sen. Michele Brooks, Sen. Scott Hutchinson, Sen. Lisa Baker and my other Senate colleagues to concur on the House amendment and send Senate Bill 906 to the governor for his signature.”

Yudichak introduced Senate Bill 906 with Brooks, R-Jamestown; Hutchinson, R-Oil City, and Baker, R-Lehman Township.

As amended by the House, the bill creates the Task Force on the Closure of State Facilities to analyze and manage the closure of any state center and prevents a closure of those centers for a minimum of five years.

“I am pleased to see my colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognized the importance of protecting hundreds of residents, their families and their caregivers,” Mullery said.

“This is an important step toward recognizing the rights of the residents of the two institutions, their families, and the workers, who deserve a more deliberative process in deciding their future,” she stated. “There is a larger principle at stake as well. Legislators have a role in establishing, funding, and overseeing state institutions. That involvement does not suddenly terminate because a governor arbitrarily decides to pursue closure.”

State Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township, called Wednesday’s vote “a huge victory the White Haven Center and its residents.”

“These individuals and their families deserve to have a state center safety net. The intellectually disabled deserve a choice in the type of care and housing they are afforded,” Toohil said.

The White Haven and Polk centers serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities — 111 in the case of White Haven, many of whom have lived there for decades. White Haven also has 429 employees.

In October, Luzerne County Council declared its opposition to the White Haven State Center shutdown, passing a resolution supporting the Senate bill.

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Luzerne County Convention Center Authority on Wednesday approved its annual budget and projected an approximate 10% increase in net income from operations compared to last year.

At its monthly meeting at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, authority Chairman Gary Zingaretti focused on the net income entry of $332,115. The prior year’s figure was $303,059 and did not include the non-operating income from the county’s hotel tax that goes toward the payment of the bonds issued for construction of the facility that opened in 1999 and for the county’s tourism bureau.

The hotel tax is budgeted to bring in $2.4 million in revenue this year. When factored in with other non-operating revenue, expense and depreciation, the budget projects a net income of $729,777 compared to $759,030 for 2019.

Zingaretti noted that the budget includes the naming rights contract, the lease with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey franchise, the management contract ASM Global and the new food and beverage agreements.

“We feel this accurately represents all the contractual changes and there’s certainly some things that will still need to play out as we’re in the first year of this contract to see how everything goes,” Zingaretti said.

The much anticipated WiFi project is moving closer to actual installation of the custom-made system, said Donna Cupinski, chairwoman of the authority’s Capital Improvements & Strategic Planning Committee.

“All the equipment is on order. There’s stuff that (Turn-Key Technologies Inc. does) at their home office to prep for this, so they’re not on site yet. But we anticipate them being on site in February,” Cupinski said.

• Hiring an engineering and architectural firm at a cost not to exceed $50,000 for future projects that are expected to be funded by state grants. The grants would cover the cost of hiring the firm, Zingaretti said.

• A new digital mix board at a cost not to exceed $3,500 to replace the 20-year-old, analog mixing board for the portable sound system.

The authority unanimously voted 10-0 to retain its leadership for this year: Zingaretti, chairman; Cupinski, vice chairman; Tony Ryba, treasurer; and Tom Woods, secretary. Ryba did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

After adjourning the meeting the authority met in an executive session to discuss a personnel matter, Zingaretti said.

KINGSTON — Wyoming Valley West School Board voted unanimously to keep any property tax increase within a state-set limit, but business consultant Joe Rodriguez said the district had little choice. Calculations done by the business office showed the district would not qualify for either of two state-allowed exceptions to exceed the limit.

The limit was set by the state law known as Act 1 of 2006, which authorized the use of money from legalized gambling to help offset homeowner property taxes through a “homestead exemption. The stat annually sets a maximum tax hike for all districts. Wyoming Valley West’s limit this year is 3.7%.

Districts can only exceed the limit, known as the Act 1 Index, by either getting voter approval in the spring primary via a referendum, or by getting exceptions allowed by the state for a limited number of reasons. Rodriguez, who worked as the business manager for years but has been offering free consulting services since retirement, said the district looked into applying for exceptions for rapidly rising special education costs or to cover escalating retirement contribution costs.

Voting to stay within the limit gives the district more time to draw up a preliminary budget, and Rodriguez said it’s too early to tell what staying within the limit will mean, but early numbers suggest a steep shortfall between revenue and spending without exceeding the limit.

The board will have to find savings before the end of June, the legal deadline for passing a balanced budget.

Near the end of the meeting, Board President Joe Mazur pointed to two agenda items that he said shows the budget problems the district faces. Abiding by court orders, the board had to approve tax refunds to HCSC Laundry totaling $39,495 and refunds to Platinum Health at River Run LLC totaling $146,868. Both orders came as a result of tax assessment appeals for the years of 2016, 2017 and 2018.

After the meeting, Rodriguez offered data that he said shows that assessed property values in the district have dropped by $65 million in the last nine years.

WILKES-BARRE — The Residents’ Association of Rolling Mill Hill held their monthly meeting Wednesday night with multiple topics of discussion, including police statistics, aggressive driving in the neighborhood and illegal street parking.

The meeting was run by association president Linda Joseph, who offered snacks and refreshments to the crowd of neighborhood residents before turning the meeting over Wilkes-Barre City Councilman Tony Brooks.

Brooks didn’t have too much to say, opting to let the evening’s two guest speakers do the talking. He did add that “the city can’t do everything, so if we could pitch in and help out, it would be great.”

Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Joe Coffay and Community Policing Officer Kirk Merchel addressed the crowd for over an hour, answering questions and letting the people know where the police stand with major issues in Wilkes-Barre.

“When I took over a year ago, it was at this meeting that I said I wanted to make some changes,” said Coffay. He brought along some statistics so citizens could better understand the scope of the work he’s done as chief.

In December of 2019 alone, according to Coffay, Wilkes-Barre police responded to almost 4,000 calls to service. Of those calls, about 340 turned into actual cases on which police were able to follow up.

Coffay also lauded the work of his Anti-Crime Unit for helping get drug and violent offenders off the streets. The unit made 149 felony drug arrests and took multiple firearms off the street, including three weapons from a juvenile offender that Cofay referred to as “Wilkes-Barre public enemy No. 1.”

Merchel focused primarily on the work police have done in responding to some of the minor crimes piling up around town.

“Everything has to be taken care of, we can’t just let the minor crimes go,” Merchel said. “All of these minor things lead to bigger things.”

Merchel highlighted the department’s use of social media as a highly effective tool, saying that many arrests have been made based off of tips from Facebook users who identify suspects based on images that the department uploads to its Facebook page. He also confirmed that the department would be expanding onto Twitter this year.

After Merchel’s comments were concluded, the floor was opened to Rolling Mill Hills residents, who seemed to have a lot of similar things to say, mainly regarding speeding and parking in the city.

Citizens cited roadways like Hazle and Blackman streets as places where motorists regularly push speed limits.

“Now, we take all the information and concerns, and we take action on it,” said Coffay. “I thought this meeting went very well.”

Duane Lindbuchler, a member of the residents association, felt the same way. A longtime resident of Wilkes-Barre, Lindbuchler says that he’s noticed the change in the city since Coffay took over as chief.

“I walk my dog every night, and four or five years ago I would have been nervous,” Lindbuchler said. “Now, especially in the last year or so, you could feel the difference.”

WILKES-BARRE — A Scranton man was found guilty on Wednesday of charges of making terroristic threats, with the charges coming while the man was on parole for a previous count of attempted homicide.

Andre Fuller, 29, was found convicted of two felony counts of making terroristic threats on Wednesday, after having been on trial before Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Vough since the beginning of the week.

Fuller, who was on parole for the 2013 attempted homicide of then 19-year-old William Uggiano, was arrested in September 2019 after Kingston police say a woman came to the police station to report the threats.

The woman, who is not identified by name in court records, told police she had previously been in a relationship with Fuller, and that Fuller had been making threats of violence against her and her current boyfriend.

The woman provided the text message thread between herself and Fuller, which implied that he could have people do harm to her boyfriend. He also sent her photos of a pistol, saying, “I got one too but I use mine.”

Fuller also texted the woman, saying that her new boyfriend should change the color of his vehicle, because Fuller would be looking for it.

Court records show that, after jurors completed their deliberation Wednesday, Vough scheduled sentencing for March 25.

The sentence could be harsh, since the threats were made while Fuller was on parole for the attempted homicide of Uggiano.

Fuller entered a guilty plea in that case in July 2014. Fuller was accused of firing seven shots at Uggiano, striking him in the head, shoulder, arm, hip, waist and buttocks.

Uggiano testified he had gone to the area of Wayne and South Grant streets to meet a woman who had invited him to smoke some marijuana. He said he waited about 10 minutes, then began to walk home when he turned around and saw Fuller with a gun.

Fuller was sentenced by Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas to spend between six and 12 years in state prison for that crime.

WILKES-BARRE — The rock band Angels & Airwaves has postponed the second leg of their winter tour, including Sunday’s performance at the F.M. Kirby Center, according to the band’s Facebook page.

A post released Wednesday said that lead singer Tom DeLonge is battling an upper respiratory infection, forcing six shows to be rescheduled. The Kirby Center show is now set for Tuesday, May 26. All tickets purchased for Sunday’s show will be honored.

WILKES-BARRE — Snow is in the forecast for this weekend for residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service.

As it stands right now, Saturday afternoon is expected to see a burst of snowfall possibly mixed in with some sleet, before giving way to mixed precipitation on Saturday night.

Joanne LaBounty, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, doesn’t expect much in the way of delays or travel issues, but the possibility of sleet can make any weekend travel a little tricky.

“We could see some sleet mixed in with the snow during the day on Saturday,” LaBounty said. “Still, it all comes down to whether or not the roads are treated properly.”

LaBounty says that the Luzerne County area could see up to 3 to 4 inches of snowfall on Saturday, with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s before dropping below freezing on Saturday night.

“The high temperatures during the afternoon should prevent the roads from freezing over,” LaBounty said.

It’s still a little far out to predict just exactly what’s going to happen, but the early prediction will allow for residents and travelers to make preparations for the possibility of snowfall.

In addition, the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a slight chance of less than an inch of snow falling Thursday night.

Gusts are expected to be consistently from 10 to 20 miles per hour, with some gusts reaching as high as 40 miles per hour.

WILKES-BARRE — The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections issued a report Wednesday morning that recommends the closing of the State Correctional Institution at Retreat.

Three local state senators then issued a terse statement, which included calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to reject the recommendation and keep the facility open.

“Department of Corrections Executive Deputy Secretary Tabb Bickell announced today that the Department of Corrections submitted its SCI Retreat final report to Gov. Tom Wolf and the minority and majority leaders of both the House and Senate. That final report recommends the closure of the facility.

State Sens. John Yudichak, I-Swoyersville; Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township; and John Gordner, R-Berwick, issued a joint statement following the announcement.

“We stand with the brave men and women who have given their heart and soul working at SCI Retreat and the communities of Luzerne County. We vehemently disagree with the findings made in the report by the Department of Corrections to recommend the closure of SCI Retreat.

“Act 133 of 2018 was enacted to ensure that any prison closure would be thoroughly vetted in an open and transparent manner. The Department of Corrections clearly gave less than a good faith effort during the hearing process, and we do not believe it was fair to the workers of SCI Retreat, their families or the communities of Luzerne County.

“As we have done in the past, we stand in a bipartisan manner to call upon Gov. Wolf to reject the findings made in this report and keep SCI Retreat open.”

State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, addressed the closure via Twitter, including a video of past meetings on SCI Retreat and protests to keep it open.

“We have an obligation to explore all of our options and protect our residents, their families and caregivers,” Mullery tweeted.

The DOC report was compiled after two public hearings were held to discuss the impact closing the facility would have on the host municipality and the region. The hearings were held as a requirement of Act 133.

The DOC report details why the department has decided to recommend closing the prison that houses more than 1,000 inmates and has 384 full-time employees.

In the executive summary of the report, it is stated that the DOC continues to experience a significant decrease in the inmate population.

“In fact, a reduction of 1,900 inmates in fiscal year 2018/2019 was the largest one-year decrease in the Department’s history — all at a time when crime rates continue to fall,” the report states. “Furthermore, current population projections anticipate a continued decline in the prison population over the next five years.”

At the same time, the DOC says it is also faced with the challenge of a projected budget deficit of approximately $140 million for fiscal year 2019/2020. As a result of that significant budget deficit and continued decrease in the inmate population, the DOC said it would be fiscally irresponsible not to consider a facility closure.

“The DOC is able to continue to prioritize the safety of staff, inmates and the community in addition to remaining a good steward of taxpayer money,” the report states.

The report goes on to say that the Justice Reinvestment (JRI) Act, along with the closures of SCIs Cresson, Greensburg, and Pittsburgh provided a “cost avoidance” to the Department of $543 million.

“This report will show that the DOC considered all appropriate and relevant factors in reaching its final recommendation.

The report further states that SCI Retreat has significant physical plant and infrastructure concerns where renovation and upgrades are needed to preserve the operations of the facility.

Specifically, a structural inspection of the access bridge over the Susquehanna River has recently identified structural deficiencies that are in need of immediate repair, the report states.

An expenditure of $15-$20 million for a full replacement of the bridge in the next 10-15 years is recommended by PennDOT — $1 million would be required to paint the bridge to prevent further corrosive damage. The bridge was previously painted in 1993.

As far as the loss of revenue to the Shickshinny Municipal Authority, the report calls for a $32,000/quarter usage fee. The DOC is committed to paying a quarterly usage fee for a period of 5 years from the closure date.

The report estimates that annual mothballing costs for the facility will total $1.2 million, including minimal utility services to maintain the facility as well as contracted operations for the boiler plant and security to oversee the closed facility.

The report states the ability to offer positions in Northeast Pennsylvania will minimize the economic impact to this area and potential negative impacts to families.

“The selection of SCI Retreat is the least impactful selection of the DOC facilities because it is one of the oldest facilities and presents significant physical plant challenges,” the report states. “It provides the most reasonable relocation options for staff with SCIs Dallas, Mahanoy, Frackville, Coal Township, Muncy, and Waymart available within 65 miles of SCI Retreat.”

On Dec. 20, the office of Gov. Tom Wolf announced that the decision on SCI Retreat would not come until sometime after the first of the year.

In August, Wolf’s administration and the Department of Corrections announced their current proposal to close SCI-Retreat.

DOC Executive Deputy Secretary for Institutional Operations Tabb Bickell was placed in charge of the process amid ongoing outrage over profane remarks made by DOC Secretary John Wetzel during a public hearing on plans to close the state prison, located in Newport Township.

In November, a meeting was held at the Newport Township Municipal Building that was attended by Sen. John Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, and representatives of Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township; Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township; Shickshinny Borough and Sewer Authority and Conyngham Township. Yudichak said Bickell and DOC officials attended the meeting, along with representatives of the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Environmental Protection.

“It was a very positive meeting,” Yudichak said at the time. “We provided detailed information on the devastating impact that closing SCI Retreat would have on the community.”

After that meeting, Yudichak said a strong argument was made by the Shickshinny Sewer Authority, which expanded its facility to accommodate the prison. He said if the prison closes, the authority would have to raise rates significantly, putting a severe financial burden on users.

Yudichak also said Newport Township would face cutting its police department because of the loss of revenue.

We have an obligation to explore all of our options and protect our residents, their families and caregivers. #PeopleFirst #WHCStrong pic.twitter.com/DbeyAAq5yJ— Rep. Gerald Mullery (@RepJerryMullery) January 15, 2020

The bridge leading to SCI-Retreat recently underwent an inspection around the same time the meeting was held.

During the initial stages of the process, the DOC pledged to offer SCI ’s employees positions at about a half-dozen other state prisons that are within 65 miles if the facility does close.

NEWPORT TWP. —State Rep. Gerald Mullery Monday expressed his disappointment over a Department of Corrections report recommending the closure of the State Correctional Institution at Retreat, calling the entire process “a charade.”

And Mullery, D-Newport Township, took his disappointment a step further — recommending that Department of Corrections Secretary John E. Wetzel be removed from Gov. Tom Wolf’s cabinet.

“I remain steadfast in my belief that (Wetzel) doesn’t possess the temperament, professionalism, or competence to run a used car lot, let alone the DOC,” Mullery said. “I have genuine concern for the safety of all DOC personnel under his command.”

DOC Executive Deputy Secretary for Institutional Operations Tabb Bickell was placed in charge of the process amid ongoing outrage over profane remarks made by DOC Secretary John Wetzel during a public hearing on plans to close the state prison, located in Newport Township.

Regarding the announcement to close the facility, Mullery said there were no surprises contained in the DOC report or recommendations.

“We’ve known from the onset of this process that it was nothing more than a charade and violative of the spirit of Act 133,” Mullery said.

Mullery said he recently met privately with Gov. Wolf and discussed the impact of this proposed closure.

“But it appears he will move forward with his recommendation,” Mullery said. “I expect an announcement by week’s end.”

Mullery said once the closure is finalized, the next step to be taken will be to focus on the displaced employees and ensure their transition to new facilities is expeditious and safe. For those who cannot undertake a transition, Mullery said the state must offer assistance in the form of education and/or career training.

“Secondly, we need to assist the communities directly affected by this closure,” Mullery said. “I, along with a few colleagues and the governor, have begun preparing legislation directing assistance to employees and municipalities burdened by the closure of a large, state-run facility. I expect that legislation to be finalized and introduced shortly.”

Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) President Larry Blackwell issued a statement on the decision by the DOC to close SCI-Retreat:

“Secretary Wetzel’s comments caught on a microphone at the first SCI-Retreat hearing told us all we needed to know,” Blackwell said. “This process has been a sham from the beginning — and it’s a dangerous one because it puts money over public safety.”

Blackwell said Pennsylvania’s prisons are bursting at the seams and are more violent than ever — “no matter how often the Department of Corrections manipulates its statistics on violence and inmate population.”

Blackwell added, “It’s time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to hold this department accountable, or more prisons are going to close in their districts.”

“The report Department of Corrections is truly upsetting as it does not take into account the truly negative economic impact that this closure will have on Luzerne County and Newport Township.

“After review, it seems that the Department made a decision first and then put together a report to back that decision.

“Our thoughts are with the many courageous employees who will now have to uproot their families and their way of life. I’m hopeful that Gov. Wolf changes course and chooses to keep SCI Retreat open.”

WILKES-BARRE — City police arrested a man they say is wanted in Illinois from a vehicle parked the wrong way on Tuesday.

Robert Totra, 25, of Waterloo, Ill, was a passenger in a Subaru that was parked facing the wrong direction and impeded traffic in the 300 block of Hazle Street.

Police said the female driver, Olivia C. Popov, 28, of Chicago, Ill, claimed she was an UberEats driver.

A records check showed Totra is wanted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois on allegations he failed to appear for a sentencing hearing on drug offenses.

An online court docket from Monroe County, Ill, indicates Totra was scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 1, 2019 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Police spotted the parked Subaru with an out of state license plate parked the wrong way and impeding traffic at about 6 p.m.

When Totra exited the vehicle, an officer observed him attempt to hide something under the front passenger seat.

Police later found a wallet in Totra’s pocket with his driver’s license, and a fanny pack Totra had around him contained methamphetamine, two prescription tablets and 10 THC cartridges, the complaint says.

Totra was arraigned Wednesday in Luzerne County Central Court on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and fugitive from justice. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $30,000 total bail.

A preliminary hearing on the drug possession charge is scheduled Jan. 21 and an extradition hearing is scheduled in county court Jan. 24.

DALLAS — Weis Markets Thursday is opening a new location in Dallas in the Country Club Shopping Center and the company will present donations to local causes.

The store will employ 32 full- and part-time associates and will be a full-service supermarket. It is opening in space formerly occupied by Thomas Foodtown, which Weis purchased in September 2019.

Weis Markets representatives will present $500 each to Back Mountain Food Pantry and Blue Chip Farms Animal Refuge at the ribbon cutting celebration.

A ceremony will be held Thursday, Jan. 16, at 10 a.m. with remarks from Weis Markets representatives.

Founded in 1912, Weis Markets, Inc. is a Mid Atlantic food retailer operating 198 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia.

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President Donald Trump is readily criticized, by the media, during the impeachment hearings, and by letters to the editor. However, for me none of these arguments contain convincing facts. The facts which do convince me […]

WASHINGTON — Before our national attention span flits heedlessly toward impeachment, the Iowa caucuses and Megxit, it’s worth pausing to remember that the United States was on the brink of war with Iran last week. […]

I told this story several years ago in this column, but I thought about it again this weekend when discussing how long it takes to become a fully certified doctor. When I was an intern […]

Two weeks from now, thousands of Pro Life teenagers will converge on the nation’s capital to rally in support of the unborn at the 47th annual March for Life. Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable with […]

Everyone deserves a second chance, and third and fourth if they are truly trying to change for the better. Mike Marsicano proved in a mere matter of minutes he does not deserve yet another crack […]

WILKES-BARRE — The swearings-in are complete, let’s hope the swearings-at do not commence. As all local municipalities prepare to go about the business of making their communities better, now is not the time for raucous, […]

As chairman of the Luzerne County Republican Party, I am writing today to offer my reflections on the article that appeared in Thursday’s edition of the Times Leader titled “Uncivil Discourse.” In November, the voters […]

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I am writing to respond to the Times Leader Our View Editorial that was published on Jan. 5 in the Times Leader The article states that, your view is, that if the newly formed Luzerne […]

Diamonds to new Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown and to new Luzerne County Council members Kendra Radle and LeeAnn McDermott for trying to set a new tone in our frequently mean-spirited political discourse. Brown took office […]

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