DALLAS TWP. — That not-so-old acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — STEM — has proven it doesn’t have to mean high-tech work or advanced physics. As students at the Dallas elementary schools proved, it can be anything from a paper airplane to a roundish robot.
All four district schools participated in National STEM Week beginning Monday and running through Friday with a broad sample of how STEM seeps into almost anything you want to do. The high school began on Monday with information for students about STEM careers, including a presentation about flying drones or in the world(s) of virtual reality.
Dallas Middle School students are getting a chance to use new Industrial Arts equipment, including a laser engraving machine.
Both the Intermediate School and Wycallis Elementary — which, combined, house kindergarten through fifth grade — set up activities in their gymnasiums for students to take turns trying.
At the new Intermediate School, which welcomed students for the first time this fall, smiles and surprise were abundant as student discovered how to launch cotton balls, fold efficient paper airplanes and use simplified coding to make little robots roll the way they wanted.
This is the second year Dallas has marked National STEM Week, in conjunction with the regional Carbon, Schuylkill, Luzerne counties STEM Ecosystem.
PLAINS TWP. — One part of the rapidly-rising Wilkes-Barre Area School District construction project now requires a person to “open” a large flap of reinforced plastic to enter or exit. It seems like a small thing, but plastic sealing of windows and entrances is a sign that work can continue even if Jack Frost blows a deep chill into the region.
Warm weather has allowed better-than-expected progress on the consolidated high school so far this winter. Walls are at or near full height for the gym and auditorium. Long trusses were being bolted together and hoisted upward, courtesy of a 198-foot crane, to support roofing over the largest rooms. At least three sections were nearly sealed with temporary plastic, and a tank of propane stood ready to fuel portable heaters to continue indoor work.
Two of the four classroom wings had walls at or beyond the top of the first story, with contractors doing prep work in anticipation of pouring the second story flooring.
During a Monday tour with a pair of superintendents — School District Superintendent Brian Costello and Project Superintendent Jim Callahan of Apollo Group Inc. — Costello stressed how much work had been done to assure construction can continue through the winter. Part of one education wing, a training room and wrestling room were all nearly sealed from the weather. Footers had been put in place for every wall save a small corner near the back of the school.
It wasn’t so long ago Costello stood amid an expanse of black dirt with little more than orange flags marking where walls would be, yet proudly smiled that he was standing on “Main Street,” the wide, long hallway that will greet visitors at the front entrance.
On Monday “Main Street” was clearly visible, walls of the auditorium and gym towering on each side, small eye-hooks jutting out from the mortar between the cement blocks, ready to anchor the facade bricks students will see when the building is done.
Callahan helped visitors navigate around thick mud churned up by construction vehicles running between expanses of paved lot and towering walls.
The swimming pool, barely a hole in the ground during a November tour, was lined with cement, the “mat slab” foundation — some 18 inches of reinforced concrete designed to distribute heavy loads — in place.
Outside the windows of one building, contractors had built two small samples of exterior wall and roofing so the district could pick a final color for the outer facade.
A lot of work remains, of course, including widening of the exit off the Cross Valley Expressway onto River Street near Maffett Street. Work also needs to be done on Ann Street, where sewer lines for the school will connect to main lines. Those jobs will probably go out for bid in the spring,
But the project overall remains within the $121 million budget and on target for the planned construction end date of May 2021, Costello said.
PITTSTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia Monday said Northeastern Pennsylvania is an area of the country that has faced many economic challenges.
Scalia, who toured Pulverman Manufacturing in Dallas Township in the morning, held a news conference Monday afternoon in the offices of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance — an economic development agency serving seven counties — to talk about the region’s economic needs and, he said, to educate himself about what those needs are.
Scalia, 56, is one of nine children of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. He was appointed Secretary of Labor in mid-2019.
“We have heard positive things about Pulverman and the company’s partnership with Wilkes University,” Scalia said. “Manufacturing is an important part of growing our economy.”
Randy and Robin Mark, owners of Pulverman, made a leadership gift to Wilkes University’s Mark Engineering Center, which opened in 2018. The project was an $8 million renovation to the engineering facilities in Stark Learning Center, creating flexible lab and learning space in disciplines that include nanotechnology, additive manufacturing and bio-engineering.
“Pennsylvania is a great and proud state,” Scalia said. “And Northeastern Pennsylvania is an engine within the state and important to growing the state’s economy through the right policies.”
Prior to a news conference at NEPA Alliance, Scalia met with regional business leaders to hear their concerns and to talk about possible solutions. HE the region, as in most places across the country, are challenged by foreign competition and the fallout from the opioid crisis.
“We had a meaningful discussion,” Scalia said of the meeting. “We talked about the state of business and how to make it better. We also talked about the need for job training in today’s business climate and also the benefits of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”
The Senate Finance Committee recently approved the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, sending it to the Senate floor for a full vote, where it is expected to pass. The House passed the USMCA by a bipartisan vote in December.
Scalia underscored the Trump Administration’s focus on training workers for jobs of the future, as well as the positive impact the USMCA will have on the region’s economy.
“During my visit to Northeastern Pennsylvania, I was once again able to see first-hand the historic economic growth our nation has experienced over the past three years,” Scalia said. “Today, job openings outnumber job seekers by more than one million. Through workforce development and passage of the USMCA, this Administration will help American workers gain the necessary skills to fill job openings.”
Scalia noted that unemployment in the U.S. is at 3.5 percent, the lowest in 50 years. He said there are far more job available than there are people seeking work. He said since 2017, the Trump Administration has created more than 6.7 million new jobs.
“Many good things are happening in our economy,” Meuser said. “Over the next 10 years, I want to work to make Pennsylvania the next Texas with rising wages and increased opportunities.”
Mark, president and owner of Pulverman, said he acquired Pulverman in 1999 and has expanded the business nationally and internationally. He said the company, which was founded in the 1940s, originally employed 8 and now employs nearly 200. A new facility in Dallas Township measures 105,000 square feet and includes state of the art equipment.
“The USMCA will enable the American business owner to better compete,” Mark said. “And that will benefit the American workers as well.”
Beth Harris has worked at Pulverman for nine years. She said she was pleased to see the Secretary of Labor visit her place of employment.
“We need more officials to visit companies like this to see what goes on and the quality of work we do,” Harris said.
Joe Milazzo, Pulverman’s director of manufacturing, and Corey Barnum, finishing manager, agreed, saying the Secretary;’s visit give the company increased visibility.
Pulverman has supplied local businesses and industries with custom-fabricated metal products for more than 60 years.
Today, with capabilities including laser cutting, punching, precision forming, welding, E-coating, powder coating and customized assembly, Pulverman’s annual revenues approach $40 million.
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP — Country music superstar Tim McGraw will be making a stop on his upcoming tour at the Mohegan Sun Arena on July 12.
The show is the third stop on McGraw’s 2020 “Here on Earth” tour, which also features a tour date at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
The tour will open in Syracuse on July 10, and play a night in Hartford, Conn. before making its way to Wilkes-Barre. McGraw will play a total of 30 shows over the course of three months, wrapping up on Sept. 26 in Chicago.
“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to be outside in the summertime playing music. Everyone is there, sharing the moment, having fun and letting loose,” McGraw said in a press release issued on Monday. “To be here on earth in this moment, together, sharing our love for music and getting through all that life is throwing us — that’s what it’s all about.”
McGraw is a multi-time Grammy Award winning country music artist, having sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and topped the charts with 43 No. 1 singles. He’s also an accomplished actor, starring in hit films such as “Friday Night Lights” and “The Blind Side.”
The “Here on Earth” tour will be joined by special guest Midland, and all shows will be opened by Ingrid Andress.
A Shavertown man had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he smashed head-on with another vehicle killing a man from Scranton on the Northeastern Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in November 2018, according to court records filed Monday.
Joseph L. Persico, 69, of Cross Creek Road, was driving the wrong direction in the northbound lane of the turnpike when he struck a vehicle operated by Paul Gerrity, 50, in Carbon County on Nov. 6, 2018, court records say.
State police at Pocono served a search warrant for Persico’s blood that had an alcohol level of .22 percent, court records say.
Persico surrendered Monday at the office of District Judge William J. Kissner in Carbon County where he was charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle, homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, simple assault, driving the wrong way, careless driving causing unintentional death, reckless driving, simple assault and two counts each of driving under the influence and reckless endangerment. He was released on $150,000 unsecured bail.
A trooper responded to a three vehicle crash near mile marker 75.4 north in Parryville at about 11:55 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2018, finding an Audi against a concrete barrier facing south in the northbound lane.
State police said Persico was traveling south in the northbound lane when he struck a Honda Civic, driven by Gerrity. The force of the impact caused the Honda to spin, striking a Toyota Corolla, driven by Pan Tso, of Wilmington.
Tso provided the trooper with a disc containing video footage from a dash camera located inside his vehicle.
A partially full bottle of Vodka in a brown paper bag was found inside Persico’s vehicle, the complaint says.
A civil suit filed in Luzerne County Court on behalf of Gerrity’s estate against Persico was settled out-of-court for $1,315,000.
Sgt. Benjamin Crippin is still standing, holding the Union flag and shaking his fist despite a close call over the weekend.
A monument honoring the 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg still stands despite two large trees that toppled during high winds over the weekend.
Pictures of the fallen trees and the monument were posted on the military park’s Facebook page Monday morning.
The monument, located at South Reynolds Avenue and Lincoln Highway inside the national park in Gettysburg, was dedicated in 1889 and shows Crippin, the color bearer for the 143rd Infantry regiment, shaking his fist at Confederate soldiers on the first day of the battle on July 1, 1863.
According to a digital history project titled, “Killed at Gettysburg,” by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, Crippin was a native of Luzerne County. Archival reports indicate he was from Dickson City, which was then located in Luzerne County. Lackawanna County was not split off from Luzerne until 1878.
Crippin enrolled as a private in the 143rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, a regiment comprised of men from the counties of Luzerne, Susquehanna, Wyoming and Lycoming. He enlisted in August 1862 and was mustered into the Union Army in Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 6, 1862.
The Wilkes-Barre Semi-Weekly Record newspaper on Sept. 4, 1896, published a story reporting Crippin, during a retreat of the 143rd Infantry during the first day’s battle on McPherson’s Farm, turned around and shook his fist at the advancing Confederate soldiers when he was killed.
KINGSTON — A man from Kingston was arraigned over the weekend on allegations he was peddling crack cocaine and marijuana.
Police executed a search warrant at a residence at 303 James St. arresting John Raymond Potera, 45, on Friday.
Police said the search warrant was executed based on numerous complaints about suspected drug activity.
Potera was arraigned Saturday on two counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance and a single count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $20,000 bail.
PLAINS TWP. — A man was injured when he was struck by a vehicle that sped away on Route 315, township police said.
Police said the hit and run crash happened at about 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8, when a man riding a bicycle was struck by a vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle failed to remain at the scene and was last seen traveling south on Route 315, police said.
Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information is asked to call Plains Township police at 570-829-3432.
WILKES-BARRE — A Mocanaqua man was sentenced Thursday to five to 10 years in state prison on nearly 500 counts of child pornography.
Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. imposed the sentence upon Gary Lamar Douthat, 56, who admitted he had been viewing child pornography for about 15 years prior to his arrest by state police in December 2018.
Douthat, a former military policeman in the U.S. Army, could had been sentenced to 15 to 24 months in the county correctional facility, which was a sentence requested by his lawyer, Benjamin Stanton.
Stanton said Douthat accepted responsibility and was extremely remorseful for his actions. The defense lawyer said Douthat cooperated with state police by providing a statement prior to his arrest.
Douthat’s niece described her brother as a “kind, gentle, loving person” and it wouldn’t be worth “taxpayer money” to incarcerate Douthat.
Sklarosky noted there is a significant problem of watching child pornography for self gratification before he sentenced Douthat to state prison.
State police arrested Douthat on Dec. 12, 2018, after learning a video was being shared on a file sharing website that depicted sex between juveniles and adults. An investigation into the IP address associated with the video was traced to Douthat’s residence, according to court records.
Investigators executed a search warrant at Douthat’s residence finding a bedroom locked from the outside. Numerous electronic devices were seized resulting in 75 videos depicting graphic sex acts being performed on children, court records say.
Douthat pleaded guilty to 498 felony counts of possession of child pornography. He must also serve five years probation upon his release and register his address for 15 years under the state’s Megan’s Law.
NANTICOKE — City police arrested two people and are looking for another person deemed a person-of-interest in a string of Nanticoke burglaries that have taken place in recent months.
William Davis McDowell, 32, and Erika May Bowersox, 28, addresses listed as homeless, were arrested after allegedly breaking into a residence in the 100 block of East Noble Street just after 6 a.m. Sunday.
Police allege McDowell and Bowersox entered the residence through a kitchen window. When they were confronted by the homeowner, police said McDowell and Bowersox left through a door.
During the course of the investigation, McDowell admitted to being involved in other burglaries in recent months in Nanticoke, police said.
Police said they continue to search for Nicholas Jamilowski, 29, who is reported to be a person-of-interest.
McDowell was arraigned Sunday by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke on charges of burglary, criminal trespass, criminal conspiracy, loitering and prowling at night and possession of a controlled substance. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.
Bowersox was arraigned Monday by Whittaker on charges of burglary, criminal trespass, criminal conspiracy and loitering and prowling at night. She was jailed for lack of $75,000 bail.
The Women’s Association of the First United Presbyterian Church of West Pittston/Wyoming held their annual “Ugly Quilts” assembly in Wyoming on Sunday afternoon.
“The quilts are made of odds and ends and scraps, and the idea is for the quilts to be warm and comfortable but without any monetary value so no one steals them,” said Marge Rosa, the president of the Women’s Association.
Rosa organized the team of volunteers for this project, with over two dozen men and women taking up the cause and joining forces to assemble quilts for distribution to local homeless shelters, including Ruth’s Place in Wilkes-Barre.
The team put years of sewing and quilting experience to good use on Sunday, carrying on a long-tenured tradition that dates back to the church group’s original location in West Pittston.
After a light luncheon to, as it was put by the church’s Facebook page, “nourish our sewing fingers,” the group set to work, using donated materials to assemble the “ugly” quilts.
It’s a very intricate process, making a quilt. The expert quilters at the First United Presbyterian Church had their hands full all throughout the day, but ended up with a couple of mighty fine quilts that could also double as sleeping bags, and will no doubt be put to good use at the various shelters where the quilts will end up.
Sunday’s event is just one of a number of ways that the Women’s Association, under the careful guidance of Rosa, helps out the community.
“In October, we have a rummage sale,” said Women’s Association member Dottie Rodriguez. “We raise anywhere from $900-$1,100 and divvy it out to different shelters.”
While money isn’t the primary objective here with the ugly quilt drive, it certainly goes a long way toward making sure that some of the residents of Ruth’s Place and other shelters across Luzerne County could keep warm and safe, especially in the harsh winter months.
At the end of the three-hour work session, while the men and women didn’t end up with the most attractive quilt in the world, they had done more than enough to piece together something that they could all be proud of.
A Luzerne County jury in April 1922 deliberated for nearly 74 hours over three days before finding a Plymouth woman guilty of manslaughter in the slaying of a Wilkes-Barre merchant.
Seconds after hearing the jury’s verdict, Sophia Kellyon became hysterical in the courtroom resulting in officers rushing to her side.
“Oh my God,” Kellyon screamed several times before being overcome with emotion and finally fainting, the Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper reported April 11, 1922.
Kellyon, 19, was found guilty in the killing of George John, 35, inside his Ford sedan parked along East End Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre on Jan. 6, 1922. John owned a fruit stand at Liberty Market on East Market Street when he was killed.
During deliberations, the jury foreman asked the president judge, Benjamin R. Jones, to discharge the jury as they were not able to reach a unanimous verdict.
Kellyon maintained her innocence through the proceedings and while she served her sentence at the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia.
“The word ‘guilty’ seemed to stun her and she did not seem to realize what manslaughter meant and became hysterical with fear as it dawned on her that she was convicted of the crime,” the Record reported.
Two days after John was killed, state policemen announced they were searching for three Italians who were inside Uren Saloon on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre at the same time John and Kellyon also patronized the bar.
“These three men are said to have hatched a plot to rob and kill John having seen a large roll of money displayed by the dead merchant,” the Times Leader reported Jan. 9, 1922.
Kellyon was detained by state policemen from her Parrish Street home on Jan. 7, 1922, mostly due to her giving conflicting stories. She was indicted by a county grand jury as an accomplice to murder on March 3, 1922.
“The trial of the Plymouth girl has attracted widespread attention. The courtroom was packed and hundreds stood outside the room and congregated about the corridors,” the Times Leader reported April 4, 1922.
The Times Leader estimated 2,500 people lined up to enter the courtroom. People were congregated on the third-floor corridor, down two stairwells, the rotunda and stretched out the front door to North River Street.
When the courtroom doors were opened on April 4, 1922, there was a mad scramble causing court officers to maintain order. A judge ordered the third-floor corridor to be cleared of everyone not conducting business in other courtrooms, the Times Leader reported.
Kellyon testified in her own defense, admitting she lied to state policemen to proTect John, who was married with a family. Kellyon said she knew John for about a year and they met at the saloon and he suggested they go for a joy ride, stopping in an area on East End Boulevard known as “Lovers Lane,” the Times Leader reported April 6, 1922.
Kellyon testified, according to the newspaper story, John heard a gunshot and began driving away when more gunshots struck the vehicle. She said she noticed John was hurt and she ran to a toll gate house one mile away for help.
“While the commonwealth has not proved conclusively that Sophia Kellyon murdered George John, it has in the past three days piled up almost an overwhelming amount of presumption that she is guilty. The jury will now be left to wrestle with the reasonable doubt that enters into the case,” the Times Leader reported April 7, 1922.
District Attorney Arthur James in his closing argument to jurors asked for a conviction of first-degree murder, while Kellyon’s attorney, S.M. Herring, asked for a verdict of acquittal. Herring was paid $200 to defend Kellyon.
After nearly 74 hours of deliberating, “The twelve men filled in, looking more haggard and worn than the defendant. The foreman announced ‘Guilty of Manslaughter,’” the Times Leader reported April 10, 1922.
Kellyon’s manslaughter conviction was upheld on appeal to the state Supreme Court. She was released from the penitentiary after serving six years and was reported to have relocated to Philadelphia.
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP — A controlled drug purchase conducted Saturday by the Wilkes-Barre Township Police and the Luzerne County Drug Task Force nabbed a suspect in an armed robbery in Mississippi.
Police arrested Desi Ramon Chisolm of Scranton on Highland Park Boulevard after Chisolm sold 14.2 grams of methamphetamine in a controlled purchase.
Chisolm was apprehended by police on Saturday during a traffic stop, where it was discovered that he had a warrant out for his arrest in connection to an armed robbery in Mississippi.
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