WILKES-BARRE — An attorney for homicide suspect Christopher Cortez is seeking to have the Luzerne County district attorney’s office prevented from prosecuting the case, questioning the actions of an assistant district attorney during an interrogation.

Cortez, 19, along with Devin Cunningham, 20, Gabriella Long, 17, and Mercedes Hall, 16, were charged by state police with killing Long’s grandfather, Joseph Monka, 71, inside his Edwardsville residence nearly five months ago.



Monka’s body was found by an Edwardsville police officer April 17, two days after investigators believe he was killed.

After Monka was killed, investigators allege the four suspects stole nearly $30,000 from a safe in Monka’s residence and went on a spending spree at the Wyoming Valley Mall.

Cortez, Long and Hall were arrested April 17 when they were leaving the Red Roof Inn in Plains Township. Cunningham was arrested at his mother’s residence in Virginia on April 24.

A pre-trial hearing was held Friday before Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury on the status of the cases against the four suspects.

Prosecutors were given several weeks to secure evidence from the state police crime lab near Pittsburgh and to turn over documents to defense attorneys.

Amesbury gave defense attorneys additional time to file and amend their motions already filed once they receive documents from prosecutors.

Long’s attorney, John Pike, and Hall’s attorneys, Lawrence Kansky and Joanna B. Smith, have filed decertification motions to transfer the cases from adult court to juvenile court.

Cortez’s attorney, David V. Lampman II, filed a motion seeking to disqualify the district attorney’s office from prosecuting, citing a recording that was turned off during an interview with his client.

Lampman claims Cortez denied his role in Monka’s killing when he was interviewed, which was recorded by troopers Robert Richter and Sean Cooney at the Wyoming barracks on April 17. During the interview, Lampman wrote in the motion the recording was turned off when an assistant district attorney entered the interview room to offer a plea deal of 15 to 30 years in prison in exchange for his cooperation.

When the assistant district attorney left the interview room, the recording was turned back on and Cortez allegedly admitted to his role with killing Monka, Lampman wrote in the motion.

“By entering the interview room and speaking with Mr. Cortez when the recording was turned off, the prosecutor made himself a necessary witness in this case. The fact that the recording devices were shut off, specifically for the time the prosecutor was in the room with Mr. Cortez, only enhances the necessity of having the prosecutor testify,” Lampman wrote in his motion.

Assistant district attorneys Jarrett Ferentino, Brittany Quinn, Matthew T. Muckler and Gerry Scott are assigned to prosecute Cortez, Cunningham, Long and Hall.

Lampman is also seeking to suppress Cortez’s statements he made to investigators on April 17 and to enforce the alleged plea agreement of 15 to 30 years in prison. If convicted of first-degree murder, Cortez faces life in prison.

During a previous court proceeding, Richter denied there was a plea deal offered to Cortez in exchange for his cooperation.

Lampman on Friday was given an opportunity to amend his motion once he receives and reviews additional documents provided by prosecutors.

In a related issue, Judge David W. Lupas on Aug. 12 granted a request by prosecutors to have the county correctional facility copy all and any non-privilege mail sent and received by Cortez, Cunningham, Long and Hall.

Prosecutors claim in their request the four suspects may have or attempted to communicate with each other via mail, as well as with witnesses and friends.

WILKES-BARRE — John McCarthy Jr., president of McCarthy Tire Service Co. Inc., has been named the recipient of Modern Tire Dealer magazine’s 2019 Tire Dealer of the Year award.

It’s the top award presented to any tire dealer in the country. There are more than 29,000 independent tire dealers in the United States eligible for the honor.

The magazine and McCarthy Tire Service’s suppliers made a $13,000 donation in John McCarthy’s name. And McCarthy decided to split the money between two charities of his choice — Volunteers in Medicine Wilkes-Barre Clinic and CASA of Luzerne County will each receive $6,500.

McCarthy said he was “very honored and humbled” at being named Tire Dealer of the Year by Modern Tire Dealer magazine.

“This award is as much about our great team as it is about me,” McCarthy said. “From our managers and sales representatives, to our service techs and retread plant personnel, we have remarkable associates. Our success at McCarthy Tire Service is due to their hard work and dedication.”

McCarthy is a third-generation tire dealer and since 1997 he’s served as president of the company his grandfather started in 1926 in Wilkes-Barre. McCarthy grew up in the business, serving as a gas pump attendant and janitor.

As a young boy he remembers Sunday trips to the store with his father where he had two jobs — first was to crawl into a shoot of the furnace to shovel coal, and second was to empty garbage cans of ash.

When he joined the company full time in 1986, three weeks after earning his college degree, McCarthy started in commercial tire sales.

McCarthy Tire Service remains a family-led organization. McCarthy and his sister, Katie McCarthy Lambert, the chief financial officer, have worked side by side for more than 30 years. Up until their father John McCarthy Sr.’s death in 2015, he worked with them. And now the fourth generation of McCarthys are at work in the business.

Under McCarthy’s leadership, McCarthy Tire Service has grown into one of the largest commercial tire dealerships in the country.

The year before he joined the company full time, McCarthy Tire Service had five stores which rung up $11 million in sales with 104 employees on the $1.4 million payroll.

The company now has 65 service locations and 10 retread shops along the East Coast, from New York to South Carolina and Georgia.

This summer it completed the largest acquisition in its history — the purchase of 16 GCR Tires & Service locations, which were owned by Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC. With that acquisition, McCarthy Tire Service’s sales surpass $400 million and the company employs more than 1,300 people. In 2018 payroll was just shy of $60 million.

Since its start McCarthy Tire Service has offered tires and mechanical services for both consumers and commercial customers, but it has grown into a commercial powerhouse. More than 95% of its business is tied to truck, off-the-road and industrial tire customers.

McCarthy has found ways to expand the company’s offerings beyond tires. On top of emergency roadside service, McCarthy Tire Service offers diesel engine repairs, alignments, front-end work and brakes, plus trailer services. It has a fleet of 20 mobile service trucks, too.

Greg Smith, publisher of Modern Tire Dealer, says McCarthy “has taken his family’s focus on serving the customer to the highest level, and all the while led McCarthy Tire Service on an incredible growth trajectory. That’s the sign of a true leader.”

As Modern Tire Dealer celebrates its 100th year in publishing, this is the 27th year the magazine has presented the Tire Dealer of the Year Award. John McCarthy joins a list of tire industry trailblazers who have received the award.

Nominees are evaluated on their business success, marketing and management skills, industry knowledge and community involvement by an independent panel of industry judges.

PLAINS TWP. — A new statewide event focusing on the Latino business community had its debut here on Saturday.

The inaugural Latin American Business Gala, held at the Mohegan Sun Pocono ballroom, was hosted by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA).

“We need to be united and lift each other up,” GACLA Executive Director Luz Colon said in her opening remarks, discussing life as a Latina American.

“Throughout history, Hispanics have served and contributed to the growth and strengthening of our country in numerous ways, and business is one of them,” Colon said.

Speakers included Dr. Damary Bonilla-Rodriguez, a commissioner on the advisory commission, and Jonathan D. Encarnacion, the administrative director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The keynote speaker was Kerry L. Kirkland, the deputy secretary of the Department of General Services. Kirkland works directly with Gov. Tom Wolf on a number of business and economic issues.

Kirkland is also a Vietnam veteran, and served as the Vice President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, working with them to provide technical assistance and advice to minority-owned businesses all over the country.

“I want to thank Ms. Colon for inviting me to this fantastic event, and for the fantastic work that you do … it is absolutely necessary,” Kirkland said. “But there’s still a lot of work to do.”

The event featured performances from Wanda Rivera y su Orquesta, as well as singer, songwriter and producer Anthony Colon.

The program’s master of ceremonies was Fulvio Acosta, who entertained the crowd with stories and a spot-on performance of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

From there, Acosta introduced Pastor Frankie Rodriguez to lead everyone in prayer before the program officially started.

WILKES-BARRE — A dear friend of mine makes really good soup and she can whip up some very tasty pigs in the blanket.

But I’m not going to talk about her cooking skills. This is about her driving, which she is a very good driver. But sometimes, skill has nothing to do with luck and what can happen on a dark roadway.

One evening several years ago, my friend was driving down Route 115 in Bear Creek and a deer darted out and collided with my friend’s vehicle.

However, when she was returning home later that night, her vehicle and another deer collided — two in the span of a couple hours.

Now, I know some very skilled deer hunters who haven’t “got their deer” in several years. Yet my friend managed to get two in one night with her vehicle.

I bring this up because now that fall is officially here, AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be more cautious on the roads.

October, November and December are the worst months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals due to deer mating season. A collision with a deer or other animal can put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it completely, and could result in serious injuries or fatalities.

AAA says while any animal on the road can be dangerous, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety says there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 human deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. Crashes involving deer can pose great risk to motorists, but AAA notes that even a crash in which no one is injured can be costly. AAA Insurance reports the average deer-related claim in Pennsylvania in 2018 was more than $3,500.

According to information provided by AAA Mid-Atlantic, the National Insurance Crime Bureau finds that between 2014 and 2017 there were 1,740,425 animal-related insurance claims processed in the U.S. with collisions with deer causing the most claims. The actual number of incidents is likely much higher since many drivers do not choose to carry coverage for this type of event.

• Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.

• Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left. While the most likely crash is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.

• Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

• Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.

• Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.

• Resist the urge to swerve. Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.

• If the crash is imminent, take your foot off the brake: during hard braking the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood toward your windshield.

• Always wear a seat belt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seat belt on. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.

• Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.

In the event of a collision with an animal, AAA recommends, call the police. And avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened or wounded animal can hurt you or further injure itself.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at boboyle@timesleader.com.

SWOYERSVILLE — A long-abandoned trolley car that was built into a small cottage for decades has found a temporary home in Swoyersville, where it will be restored for future generations.

A Saturday event held at Baut Studios on the borough’s back road brought out about 100 residents to raise money for the effort, while learning a great deal about the history of the trolley.

Conrad Baut told the story of passing the trolley multiple times as part of a summer home in Franklin Township overlooking a small lake in the back mountain.

Baut said the first time he had passed the trolley while on a bike ride, he had to look closely to confirm that what he was seeing was actually a trolley encased inside a structure.

But soon he confirmed that it was the trolley was indeed car 790, which had been an integral part of Wilkes-Barre’s trolley network until the system was closed 69 years ago this week, on Oct. 15, 1950.

Although trolley cars that were put out of service were routinely sold for scrap, 790 survived, believed to be the last surviving trolley from the Wilkes-Barre area.

Baut said following his discovery of the trolley, his life got busy and he put the information to the back of his mind for a while.

Last year, Baut and fellow trolley enthusiasts organized Anthracite Trolleys, Inc., a nonproft geared solely first to the retrieval and then to the restoration of car 790, which was built in Philadelphia in 1924.

In July, the group, having raised $30,000 were able to demolish the structure which enclosed the trolley and bring it back to the valley.

Jim Wert, the group’s secretary, told​ those gathered for a presentation during the event, “History is so important in our lives. It determines who we are and who we can be.”

He remembers riding the trolley from Nanticoke’s main street to Wilkes-Barre public square with his aunt who “really liked to shop,” from in 1948 and 1949.

Afterward, he said the two would eat at Fink’s Fish Market or at Percy’s Browns before getting back on the trolley and heading home.

The trolley, he said, stopped at the Sans Souci Amusement Park, a popular spot for families during that time.

Although members of Anthracite Trolleys are grateful for having raised about $30,000 necessary to bring the trolley back to the area and safely house it, they say this it is only their first step.

Baut said the group is hoping to raise another quarter-of-a-million dollars to fully restore the trolley.

Tom Nemeth, president of the Railpace Company, Pike County, said he is especially excited that once the trolley is restored, it wil not be “stuffed and mounted.”

Instead, he said, the group expects to donate the renovated car to the Electric City Trolley Museum in Lackawanna County, which operates restored streetcars over a five-mile line between Scranton and PNC Field in Moosic.

Anyone wishing to help the effort can also send donations to Anthracite Trolleys Inc., 228 Pollock Drive, Pittston, PA 18640.

WILKES-BARRE — Although neither campaign has confirmed it, the current vice president of the United States and his predecessor are reportedly bringing their campaigns to Northeastern Pennsylvania this month.

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to be making a stop in the area on Oct. 21, and former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to be in Lackawanna County on Oct. 22.

Sources within the Democrat and Republican parties, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they “have heard” that both Biden and Pence are coming to the region this month. No details were known about the visits as to when or where.

In November 2018, Biden attended a campaign rally at Pittston Area Senior High School for Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Matt Cartwright. He has also made several stops in his hometown of Scranton over the past few years.

One of Biden’s Democratic rivals, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, spoke at a conference of nurses in April at the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township. Sanders met privately with members of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.

Pence was in town in October 2018 to rally voters for John Chrin, who was running against three-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright in the 8th Congressional District. Cartwright won easily. Pence held a rally at the Wyoming Valley Airport in Forty Fort.

WILKES-BARRE — Pete Souza knows how someone can look and behave like a president — he’s captured two of them over the course of many decades.

The former chief official White House photographer will be the subject of a new exhibit at Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery, “Two Presidents, One Photographer.” Opening Oct. 22 and running through Dec. 8, the exhibit will feature Souza’s favorite images from his time covering the Reagan and Obama administrations.

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, Souza will lead a free lecture at the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center to discuss his career while photographing Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama during their presidencies. The 7 p.m. lecture will be preceded by a Sordoni gallery members-only meet and greet at 4:30 p.m. with Souza, which will include a preview of the upcoming exhibits and refreshments.

Amid two different political ideologies — from Ronald Reagan’s conservative approach as a two-term Republican president to Barack Obama’s liberal wave of hope and change — Souza captured what it was like to have the two men occupy the Oval Office.

Souza has over 2.1 million followers on Instagram and is the author of two best-selling books, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait” and “Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.” A book signing will follow the 7 p.m. lecture.

In addition to the Oct. 15 lecture, two Wilkes professors will also offer “Art in Context” talks at the gallery.

Thomas J. Baldino, a professor emeritus of political science, will hold one at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 23. Lisa Reynolds, an assistant professor of digital design and media art, will discuss how graphic design influences the political narrative at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 13.

WILKES-BARRE — The candidates for the District B city council seat won’t debate and it has everything to do with what’s happened in the race so far, one of them said.

Republican incumbent Tony Brooks on Friday confirmed he declined an invitation to debate from Mark Shaffer, his Democratic opponent in the Nov. 5 general election. The campaign has been nasty with personal attacks on social media that Brooks said alarmed him.

“I’m not shying away from anything, but I am extremely sad, angry and some of his supporters actually scare me,” Brooks said in response to a news release issued by Shaffer earlier in the day.

Attempts to reach Brooks by text and social media were unsuccessful, Shaffer said in his statement. They finally met in person Thursday night at the city council meeting, Shaffer added, and Brooks declined the invitation, denying residents the opportunity to learn about the differences between the candidates.

“If Brooks believes he is the best choice for our city, he should not shy away from talking about his plans for Wilkes-Barre in a public forum,” Shaffer said in his statement.

Brooks said he did not receive a text. Instant messages sent to his political campaign Facebook page notify the sender to contact Brooks by the phone number that’s included.

The Downtown Residents’ Association had a forum, Brooks responded. They’ll have the opportunity to meet face-to-face at the upcoming candidates forum on Oct. 17 hosted by the NAACP Wilkes-Barre chapter at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Brooks said.

Shaffer said he and his campaign “are committed to holding a public debate with Brooks and will continue to extend the invitation up until (Election Day).”

“His campaign has created a toxic environment that I am concerned for the safety of my family and supporters in a room that would be stacked with his people,” Brooks said.

WEST PITTSTON — The stands were packed at Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Field, with just as many fans turning out to see Wyoming Area as there were to see Southern Columbia.

There was an exciting buzz Friday evening around the field, as fans waited to see who would come out on top between the two area heavyweights.

The excitement started early Friday afternoon, with shuttle buses beginning to transport fans from designated parking areas to the stadium a full three hours before kickoff.

The game had been hyped up for some time before the start. Both teams have been undefeated this season, and Southern Columbia are the current state champions and ranked as the best small-school team in the nation.

“I think it’s tremendous, not just for the town, but for the whole school district,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Blaskiewicz wasn’t the only public official there, though; he was standing along the sidelines with U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, who seemed thrilled to be a part of it.

“Look at how happy everyone looks,” he said, pointing at the Wyoming Area student section, which was chanting exuberantly — despite the game not having started yet.

Cartwright joked about a phone conversation he had with fellow U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas. According to Cartwright, Meuser was also headed to a football game Friday. When Meuser said he’d be rooting against Wyoming Area since Southern Columbia is in his district, Cartwright joked he’d be rooting against Meuser’s team.

Friday’s game wasn’t only about the game, though. For Wyoming Area students, it’s homecoming weekend, and before kickoff, the homecoming court was introduced while the sun set.

Many of the fans that came out, though, weren’t even from either district. William Cost, of Dickson City, came to the game with his son Jake, 11. The pair said they go to high school football games very often, but he said Jake has wanted to see Southern Columbia play for a while.

Kevin Mee, 25, of Dunmore, came out to see the game since his girlfriend, Melissa Dolhon, is a substitute teacher with the Wyoming Area School District. He said he was excited to see how the game turned out.

“Southern Columbia is basically the (New England) Patriots of Pennsylvania,” he said. “But you gotta root for the underdogs.”

WILKES-BARRE — City property owners won’t be asked to pay more next year in outgoing Mayor Tony George’s general fund budget.

George on Friday said there will be no property tax increase largely due to two downtown hotel projects.

Additionally, George said the mayor’s salary will reduced to $60,000 from the $82,000 budgeted this year in keeping with a promise by George Brown, who’s expected to take office in January.

Brown, who defeated George in the May Democratic mayoral primary, has no opposition on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. One of Brown’s campaign promises was to cut his salary and forgo health insurance, budgeted at $29,915 this year for the mayor.

George said he will present his proposed 2020 budget on 11 a.m. Tuesday in city council chambers on the fourth-floor of City Hall. The budget presentation, due by Oct. 15 in accordance with the City Charter, is open to the public.

Without a tax increase the millage will remain at 141.33 mills, where it’s been since 2017 when it was raised 19.7 mills. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value. Wilkes-Barre is the only one of the 76 municipalities in Luzerne County that has its own assessments.

As he did in this year’s balanced $50.4 million budget George relied on a one-time revenue source to avoid a tax increase for next year.

The project proposed by Sphere International LLC for the corner of West Northampton and South Main streets is expected to be the first of the two downtown developments to get underway.

Demolition of buildings the New Jersey-based developer bought should be completed by Christmas of this year, City Administrator Rick Gazenski told city council at its Thursday night meeting.

Gateway Center Associates proposed a similar mixed-use project for the former Hotel Sterling site on the corner of West Market and North River streets. A four-story hotel with 83 units, an eight-story building with 33-market rate residences above the hotel’s two story conference center, a restaurant and commercial space make up the estimated $32 million project.

The state authorized $15 million in its 2017-2018 capital budget for the project. In July the state approved a $2 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant in July for Gateway Center Associates, headed by Hysni Syla, a Kosovo native who’s developed local properties including the former Wyoming National Bank building on West Market Street into the Vault restaurant and apartments.

The terms of the May 2018 sales agreement included a reverter clause that set a 24-month deadline from closing date for the developer to obtain approvals from the Wilkes-Barre Planning Commission and Zoning Board. If the deadline is not met, the city can buy back the property at 90% of the $600,000 sale price of the property, or $540,000.

Once those approvals are issued the developer has another 24 months to obtain an approved construction plan, construction permits and complete construction. If those conditions are not met, the city can exercise is buy-back option.

DANVILLE — After a string of infant deaths at Geisinger Medical Center due to a bacterial outbreak, the parents of one of those infants has contacted a lawyer and intend to sue the hospital.

Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda, of Hazle Township, lost infant son Abel David Cepeda at the hospital as a result of the outbreak. Abel was born on Sept. 24, and died on Sept. 30.

The family has hired Matt Casey, of Philadelphia-based Ross Feller Casey, to represent them in the case.

According to a release from the law firm, Abel died as a result of a recent Pseudomonas outbreak in the neonatal intensive care unit.

While a lawsuit has not yet been filed, the firm’s release suggests it will be filed in the coming days. The release says Geisinger was aware of the outbreak even before Abel’s birth.

“Through their media statements, Geisinger officials have made it painfully clear that they knew as early as this past August that their NICU was extraordinarily dangerous — it was literally infected — yet they did nothing to warn their healthcare customers or otherwise mitigate the catastrophic risks to which they knowingly exposed their most vulnerable patients,” Casey wrote in the release.

When asked for comment, a Geisinger spokesperson released an official statement defending the hospital’s response to the outbreak.

“We express our deepest sympathies and provide our full support to the families and loved ones who have been affected,” the hospital said. “Geisinger has worked closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate and ensure that proactive measures already taken have eradicated the bacteria as well as prevent any additional cases. Both agencies have supported Geisinger’s plan.”

Three other newborns also died as a result of the outbreak. Five more also contracted the bacteria; four have recovered, while the fifth is still undergoing treatment.

SWOYERSVILLE — A special event on Saturday will help raise funds for the restoration of a piece of Wyoming Valley history.

“Trolley Fare for Car 790” will be held from Noon to 6 p.m. on the grounds of Baut Studios, 1095 Main St., where the streetcar is being housed and restored.

Nonprofit group Anthracite Trolleys Inc. was founded to rescue and restore the car, which was built by the J.G. Brill Co. of Philadelphia in 1924.

It was sold off as a summer cottage after the Wilkes-Barre trolley system closed 69 years ago next week, on Oct. 15, 1950. Car 790 was then moved to a site overlooking Perrins Marsh, where it remained until being relocated to Swoyersville this summer.

The event will feature food trucks, music, antique cars, a basket raffle and historic presentations, including by Harrison Wick, an author of a book about the history of trolleys in the Wyoming Valley.

Anyone wishing to help the effort can also send donations to Anthracite Trolleys Inc., 228 Pollock Drive, Pittston, PA 18640.

Plans call for the trolley body to be restored at Baut Studios, after which electrical and mechanical gear will be re-installed with a view toward operating the trolley once again at a museum in Scranton.

Baut has estimated the entire project will take three or four years and cost $300,000, which the group aims to raise through donations.

Car 790 is believed to be the last surviving trolley from a far-flung rail transit system that extended up and down the valley from Nanticoke and Hanover to as far north as Pittston and Old Forge in the early 20th century.

Eroh was appointed to Plymouth Borough Council on Sept. 11, 2018, to fill the unexpired term of Gary Kochinski, Jr., who resigned his seat. The term runs until January 2022.

Eroh, 33, recently discovered that state election law requires a special election to fill terms, Eroh, the borough council and solicitor, were unaware of the requirement.

Attorney Michael Kostelansky, who serves as the borough’s solicitor, Friday said he will file a petition in Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas within the next 7 to 10 days requesting a special election be held by the end of the year.

“This seat should have been in the primary for 2019,” he said. “And contested in the November general election.”

Kostelansky said he is certain the county will work with the borough to schedule the special election.

Eroh said when she was researching the procedure on how to fill the borough’s mayor’s seat, she uncovered the law. Mayor Thomas McTague died recently and the borough must now fill the remain time on his term.

“That’s when I realized my appointment might have been done in error,” Eroh said. “I want to be sure I’m serving to the letter of the law.”

Eroh said no one in the borough did anything intentional to circumvent the law. She said it was just an oversight.

Eroh said she notified Council President Frank Coughlin, who she said was “surprised” by the oversight. She said he ism working with her to get the situation resolved.

Kostelansky said once he has presented the county Judge of Elections with a court order for a special election, the county’s Bureau of Elections will schedule it within 30 to 60 days of the issuance of the order — definitely before the end of 2019.

Eroh and Kostelansky said the special election must be held prior to the expiration of the seat in January.

“Following the death of our mayor, I began researching the PA Borough Code to identify the proper procedures for Council to follow to appoint a replacement” Eroh wrote. “I made this discovery on Oct. 1, 2019, and promptly contacted the Borough Solicitor prior to discussing with any member of council or borough staff.”

She said Kostelansky confirmed her interpretation and subsequently contacted the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections to proceed in correcting this error.

“It is my deep hope that the residents of Plymouth Borough understand that this was an unintentional clerical oversight on the part of the Borough, and I have done everything in my power to be transparent and honest in making this right,” Eroh wrote. “If any resident has any questions about me, my position, this election or the future of Plymouth, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am here to proudly serve this community.”

Luzerne County’s proposed 2020 budget is expected to include a suggested real estate tax increase, but the specifics won’t be released until Tuesday’s unveiling. County Manager C. David Pedri said Friday the administration was still […]

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – The third decade of professional hockey in Wilkes-Barre is officially underway. The full Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins lineup was introduced to fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Saturday night before the […]

WILKES-BARRE — With the winter season approaching, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton, and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield held an event last week to […]

WILKES-BARRE — John McCarthy Jr., president of McCarthy Tire Service Co. Inc., has been named the recipient of Modern Tire Dealer magazine’s 2019 Tire Dealer of the Year award. It’s the top award presented to […]

PLAINS TWP. — A new statewide event focusing on the Latino business community had its debut here on Saturday. The inaugural Latin American Business Gala, held at the Mohegan Sun Pocono ballroom, was hosted by […]

WILKES-BARRE — A dear friend of mine makes really good soup and she can whip up some very tasty pigs in the blanket. Both of her recipes remind me of my mother’s cooking. But I’m […]

SWOYERSVILLE — A long-abandoned trolley car that was built into a small cottage for decades has found a temporary home in Swoyersville, where it will be restored for future generations. A Saturday event held at […]

WILKES-BARRE — Although neither campaign has confirmed it, the current vice president of the United States and his predecessor are reportedly bringing their campaigns to Northeastern Pennsylvania this month. Vice President Mike Pence is expected […]

WILKES-BARRE — Pete Souza knows how someone can look and behave like a president — he’s captured two of them over the course of many decades. The former chief official White House photographer will be […]

WILKES-BARRE — The candidates for the District B city council seat won’t debate and it has everything to do with what’s happened in the race so far, one of them said. Republican incumbent Tony Brooks […]

WEST PITTSTON — The stands were packed at Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Field, with just as many fans turning out to see Wyoming Area as there were to see Southern Columbia. There was an exciting buzz […]

WILKES-BARRE — City property owners won’t be asked to pay more next year in outgoing Mayor Tony George’s general fund budget. George on Friday said there will be no property tax increase largely due to […]

WILKES-BARRE — With the winter season approaching, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton, and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield held an event last week to […]

WILKES-BARRE — A dear friend of mine makes really good soup and she can whip up some very tasty pigs in the blanket. Both of her recipes remind me of my mother’s cooking. But I’m […]

Yet again, President Donald Trump must have felt he had somehow painted himself into a corner of his Oval Office. This time, Trump trapped himself by creating new impeachable offenses that seem far worse than […]

As a new college president in January 1999 of then-College Misericordia in Dallas, I was visiting alumnae in Washington, D.C., and arranged to meet a few graduates at the Mayflower Hotel for lunch. It was […]

The public has heard from Wilkes-Barre Area Save our Schools and me numerous times regarding the many real disadvantages of school consolidation and the tremendous advantages of decentralized neighborhood schools near elementary schools. Every point, […]

It’s an all-diamonds week, and we hope you will agree that the honorees are well worth the gemstones. Diamonds to Swoyersville Borough and its police department for some beneficial promotions and hires. On Monday night, […]

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, “he said, she said,” is quickly becoming, “she said, he cringed and remained silent.” Another variation is, “she said, he apologized profusely and then resigned.” This would describe […]

Poor Daryl Morey. Just three days ago, the Houston Rockets general manager was best known for having one of the NBA’s winningest career records and for pioneering analytics in the sport. How was he to […]

No dog should ever have to suffer and die the way South Korean meat dogs do. It’s all in the name of the dinner table and so-called “health tonic” that is brewed from the grisly […]

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WASHINGTON — As we confront the 1,000th day of the Trump presidency, we see what it’s come down to — and you know this — the re-election of Donald Trump. Four more years of troubling […]

By now we are sure you have heard about the racist letter received by a Penn State football player. Jonathan Sutherland, a sophomore safety and captain for the Nittany Lions football team, received the letter […]

Americans now face the impacts of climate change in our everyday lives. Flooding and wildfires endanger us from Miami to Houston to Los Angeles. Rising seas will now inevitably impact our coasts, while rising temperatures […]

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