The following are recent Luzerne County restaurant inspection reports from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. According to the agency: “Any inspection is a ‘snapshot’ of the day and time of the inspection. An inspection conducted on any given day may not be representative of the over all, long-term cleanliness of an establishment. Also, at the time of the inspection, violations are recorded but are often corrected on site prior to the inspector leaving the establishment.”

The information is taken from the inspection database at www.eatsafepa.com. Postal addresses used here are as listed on the state’s website and may not correspond to the municipalities in which facilities are physically located.



American Legion Post 495, 575 SR 239, Shickshinny: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Chlorine chemical sanitizer residual detected in the final sanitizer rinse cycle of the low temperature sanitizing glass washer was <10 ppm, and not 50-100 ppm as required. A new bottle of sanitizer was applied and the residual sanitizer tested at 50 ppm.

Antonio’s Pizza, 200 E. Main St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Food, a potentially hazardous ready-to-eat food requiring date-marking, in the cooler area, was not date-marked.

Bus Stop Café, 2 E. Broad St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Lights are not shielded or shatter proof over the kitchen area.

Kennedy Elementary Center, 58 Penn Ave., Exeter: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Observed webbing under shelves in the storage area.

Nanticoke Quoit Club, 422 Railroad St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: The CO2 tanks are not secure. Women’s toilet room is not provided with a covered waste receptacle for sanitary napkins.

Park Market, 30 E. Broad St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Floor in the cooler area needs replacement with non-absorbent material, also a safety issue. A food employee was observed washing their hands at the hand wash sink with no soap.

Park Market Six Packs To Go, 30 E. Broad St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Women’s toilet room is not provided with a covered waste receptacle for sanitary napkins.

Tony’s Pizzeria, 1117 Main St., Pittston: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Observed small insects in two bottles of liquor in the bar area. Bottles were discarded. Observed rust forming on shelves in multiple refrigeration units. Observed a build up of old food residue along the hinges on the bain-marie in the fry area. Observed a build up of residue on shelves in the beer cooler. Observed a build up of black residue on the edge of the deflector plate in the ice machine. PIC cleaned plate at time of visit. Observed a build up of syrup residue on the soda gun in the bar area. PIC cleaned gun at time of visit. Observed containers of food stored directly on the floor in walk-in cooler area, rather than 6 inches off of the floor as required.

Wyoming Area Secondary Center, 20 Memorial St., Exeter: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Observed a build up of residue on the edge of the deflector plate in the ice machine. Plate was cleaned at time of visit. Observed a build up of dust and debris under shelves and equipment in the storage areas. Observed a build up of residue on the underside of shelves in the walk-in cooler.

Antonio’s Pizza & Sub Express LLC, 801 Wyoming Ave., Pittston: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Time in lieu of temperature being used in the food facility to control ready-to-eat potentially hazardous foods without written procedures or documentation to verify disposition of food. Discussed procedure and provided guidance documents.

Bobby O’s Family Restaurant, 300 Main St., Dupont: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Observed deeply scored cutting boards not resurfaced or discarded as required. Pasta salad was held at 54°F in the cold hold unit, rather than 41°F or below as required. Food was discarded.

Jane Leslie & Co., 186 United Penn Plaza, Kingston: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: The food facility does not have the certificate for the certified food employee posted in public view.

KJ’s Pickle Barrel, 355 Market St., Kingston: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: The hand wash sink is located in very close proximity to the bain-marie and when the lids are off of the Cambro pans in the bain-marie, it increases the risk of splash from the hand wash sink, contaminating the food items in the bain-marie. The food facility does not have the certificate for the certified food employee posted in public view. Raw eggs stored above ready-to-eat rolls in the reach-in refrigerator to right of wall menu board. The eggs were moved to the lower shelf during this inspection. The ceiling tile where the electrical wires protrude from the ceiling to the breaker box and where the water and electrical lines protrude from the ceiling to the water heater are missing, exposing the area above the ceiling.

Slocum Street Sports Bar, 265 Slocum St., Kingston: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Shellstock located in the walk-in cooler area did not have identification tags attached to the container. The tag was placed on the container of clams during this inspection. The deli slicer blade and blade guard, a food contact surface, was observed to have dried food residue and was not clean to sight and touch. The slicer was broken down, cleaned, and sanitized during this inspection.

Lacey’s, 438-444 E. Main St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Vomit/diarrhea kit recommended. Food contact surface was observed to have food residue and was not clean to sight and touch.

Indian Lake Spirits, 9933 Bear Creek Blvd., Wilkes-Barre: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Food observed thawing at room temperature on the counter, which is not an approved thawing method. Foods were placed in cooler. Observed a build up of residue on the post can-opener blade. Observed a build up of residue on the soda gun in the bar area. Food facility using rodent bait placed in bait stations which are not covered and tamper resistant.

Creamery @ Michael Mootz, 1246 Sans Souci Pkwy., Hanover Township: Regular inspection, in compliance.

Michael Mootz Candy Inc., 1246 Sans Souci Pkwy., Hanover Township: Regular inspection, in compliance.

Subway, 901 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: The inside surface of two stored, in-use plastic bowls used for chopping food, a food contact surface, was observed to have green food residue in areas that were deeply scored. The bowls were pulled from service during this inspection. The hand wash sink located at the service counter was turned off under the cabinet area does not have water at a temperature of at least 100°F. The person in charge stated that they moved the iced tea maker and the owner was to hook hot water back up to the hand sink over the weekend. The PIC temporarily filled an ice tea dispenser with hot water from the three-bay sink and placed at the hand wash sink so waste water could drain into the sink while washing hands. The facility will take the temperature of the water in the temporary dispenser to ensure that it is maintained at a temperature of 100°F or above at all times until repairs are completed to the hot water line at the sink. Two stored, in-use plastic bowls used for chopping food items are deeply scored with flaking plastic. The surface is no longer smooth and easily cleanable. The bowls were pulled from service during this inspection. Hot water at the hand sink located at the service counter only trickled out of the faucet. The person in charge made an adjustment to the shut-off valve under the sink and water flooded the inside of the cabinet and onto the floor. A temporary set up for hand washing was implemented until repairs to hot water line to the hand wash sink have been made.

Cocoa Hut No. 103, 199 Middle Rd. & Espy Street, Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Food employees observed in food prep area not wearing proper hair restraints, such as nets, hats, or beard covers.

Coughlin High School, 80 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Hood filters have an accumulation of grease and soil build up.

Curry Donuts, 185 S. Market St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: No body fluid clean-up kit. A food employee was observed touching ready-to-eat food (cheese) with bare hands.

Grateful Roast Cafe & Coffee Roaster, 400 Middle Rd., Building 2, Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance.

Great China, 175 S. Market St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: No body fluid clean-up kit. Food in the cooler area stored open with no covering and not stored 6 inches off floor. Food was held at 45°F in the cooler area, rather than 41°F or below as required. Adjustment made to temp. Signage needed for hand wash station.

Hogan’s Heroes & Pizza, 2587 Memorial Highway, Dallas: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: The fan guard in the walk-in cooler has a build up of grime and and in need of cleaning.

Leggio’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant, 1092 Rt 315, Wilkes-Barre: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Observed ROP fish being thawed without removing from package as stated on package. Food in the walk-in cooler and bain-marie area stored open with no covering. Observed cases of food stored directly on the floor in walk-in freezer area, rather than 6 inches off of the floor as required. Top of one bain-marie unit observed with an ambient temperature of the 50°F. No TCS foods will be stored in unit until it is functioning properly. Observed a build up of old food residue around the hinges on one bain-marie.

Lehman Golf Club, 80 Golf Course Rd., Dallas: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: The inside surfaces of the microwave, a food contact surface, was observed to have food residue and was not clean to sight and touch. The microwave was cleaned and sanitized during this inspection.

Royal Bakery, 1701 Wyoming Ave., Exeter: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Observed a build up of residues on the underside of shelves in the walk-in cooler. Observed a build up of food residue on the exterior of bulk food containers. Food facility using rodent bait placed in bait stations which are not covered and tamper resistant.

Ruby’s Inn, 109 Espy St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Food contact surface and back bar area (floor) was observed to have food residue and was not clean to sight and touch. No body fluid clean-up kit.

Castillo’s Bakery, 20 N. Vine St., Hazleton: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Refrigerated ready to eat, time/temperature control for safety food (ground ham, ground seasoned beef), prepared in the food facility and held for more than 24 hours, located in the refrigeration units, is not being date marked. The items were date marked during the time of this inspection. Food employee is not using available sanitizer test strips or test kit to determine sanitizer concentration. There is webbing hanging from the ceiling in the bake room of the bakery area of the facility. Lights are not shielded or shatter proof in the back room of the bakery area. Two of 3 filters are missing in hood system.

China House, 75 N. Market St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Potentially hazardous ready-to-eat food repackaged by the food facility was not being date marked with a sell by, use by or discard by date. Observed food stored directly on the floor in freezer and walk-in area, rather than 6 inches off of the floor as required.

Crown Fried Chicken & Grill, 75 N. Market St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Potentially hazardous ready-to-eat food repackaged by the food facility was not being date marked.

Factory Ent. Inc. – The Mines, 105 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Interior surface of the chest freezer is cracked and is in need of repair.

Hollenback Golf Course, 1050 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: No exhaust vents in both men’s and women’s restrooms.

Hungry Halals, P.O. Box 2468, Wilkes-Barre: Opening inspection, in compliance. Violations: Food facility does not have available sanitizer test strips or test kit to determine appropriate sanitizer concentration. Mobile food vendor does not have a wash bucket with sanitizer in it to clean off food prep table after use.

Pizza Pie-O-Near, 6 Rittenhouse Place, Drums: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Broccoli and cauliflower bites in the reach-in freezer stored open with no covering. The food items were covered during this inspection. Observed containerized food and panned pizza dough stored directly on the floor in walk-in cooler, rather than 6 inches off of the floor as required. Working spray bottle in the prep area, used for storing Windex taken from bulk supplies, was not marked with the common name of the chemical. The container was labeled during this inspection.

The Office, 501 S. Main Rd., Mountain Top: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: The fan guard inside of the sliding door cooler in the bar area has a build up of a black grime and is in need of cleaning. Women’s toilet room is not provided with a covered waste receptacle for sanitary napkins.

TNT Subs, 235 W. Main St., Nanticoke: Regular inspection, in compliance. Violations: Food employee observed in food area not wearing hair net or cap. Food employee observed not changing gloves as required. Dating of perishable food not being performed.

The following are recent Luzerne County restaurant inspection reports from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. According to the agency: “any inspection is a ‘snapshot’ of the day and time of the inspection. An inspection conducted […]

The following are recent Luzerne County restaurant inspection reports from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. According to the agency: “Any inspection is a ‘snapshot’ of the day and time of the inspection. An inspection conducted […]

The following are recent Luzerne County restaurant inspection reports from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. According to the agency: “any inspection is a ‘snapshot’ of the day and time of the inspection. An inspection conducted […]

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Arby’s restaurant in the Wyoming Valley Mall has ceased operations, the franchisee said Tuesday.

Matthew Lange of MRL Ventures V LLC, Binghamton, NY, confirmed the report, stating that the license and lease had expired.

Lange said he is working on a project, but would not provide details. He indicated an Arby’s will be announced to open in the Wilkes-Barre area soon.

With Arby’s closing, all that’s left in the Food Court area are Dino’s pizza and Orange Julius.

That’s in addition to several retail stores that have closed recently, including two anchor stores, Sears and Bon Ton.

The mall was turned over to its lender, GS Mortgage Securities Trust, by PREIT — Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust — in late September.

PREIT owed a reported $72.8 million on the loan, which had been in special servicing since July 2018.

According to reports, the Wyoming Valley Mall had lost 75% of its 2014 value of $122 million before being turned over.

Arby’s has other locations in Luzerne County not operated by Lange. The corporate-operated locations are on Pierce Street in Kingston and Route 315 in Pittston Township.

Chick-fil-A announced Tuesday that the Grand Opening of its new full-service first stand-alone location at 989 Schechter Drive will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17.

In celebration of the countdown to the opening, there will be a community celebration that includes a 12-hour First 100 Campout, where upwards of 100 participants will have a chance to earn a free year supply of Chick-fil-A Meals.

Registration begins at 6 p.m on Oct. 16 — 12 hours prior to the opening — and the free year supply of Chick-fil-A Meals will be awarded the next morning just prior to the official opening.

Raised in Schuylkill County along with his wife, Michelle, Snyder spent more than 20 years in health care leadership serving as CEO for several Pennsylvania hospitals, including Pocono Health System.

Snyder’s first visit to a Chick-fil-A restaurant created an impactful impression. Immediately drawn to the unique and genuine hospitality he received from Chick-fil-A team members, Snyder left with a goal to apply that same engagement at the hospital where he was serving as CEO.

Desiring a change and wanting to pursue his entrepreneurial passion, Snyder invested considerable time researching organizations with which to partner. He found that Chick-fil-A was the company that best represented his own values and would enable him to apply his business experience and knowledge to impact others in his new role as operator.

The Snyders and their four children are excited to be back in the area they know and love and to be near family and friends.

“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to serve the Wilkes-Barre Township community both inside and outside my restaurant,” Snyder said. “I am looking forward to positively impacting my team members and help them grow and develop professionally and personally as together we provide a remarkable experience to our guests, who will become part of our family.”

• Snyder’s nearly 6,500-square-foot restaurant — one of the largest designs in the chain — has been created to enhance all aspects of a guest’s experience from the drive-thru to the counter to in-restaurant dining.

• Highlights include a dual-lane drive-thru merging into a single pick-up point that can handle upwards of 200 cars per hour.

• Heritage restaurant design that showcases a vintage-inspired interior with floor-to-ceiling windows and drop pendant lighting, along with two community tables made from reclaimed wood and a chandelier made from recycled Coke bottles.

• Full-service menu with a variety of healthy and dietary options and breakfast until 10:30 a.m., and will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Chick-fil-A locations are closed on Sunday.

The overnight, 12-hour grand opening “First 100 Campout” party includes engaging activities for participants who also will enjoy eating a Chick-fil-A meal during the countdown to the opening. Registration begins in the restaurant parking lot at 6 p.m., Oct. 16. Details include:

• Up to 100 adults winning a digital offer card with a year of free Chick-fil-A meals — 52 meals with each consisting of a Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, medium Waffle Potato Fries and a medium beverage.

• The community event is open to guests surrounding the restaurant with a list of eligible zip codes and complete rules found at https://thechickenwire.chick-fil-a.com/News/Future-Openings.

• Other than the licensee location at Kings College, residents would have to travel 36 miles away to Stroudsburg for a full-service Chick-fil-A.

• The Wilkes-Barre Township restaurant is among 120 new Chick-fil-A restaurants slated to open this year nationwide, creating more than 10,000 new jobs.

WILKES-BARRE — The F.M Kirby Center for the Performing Arts received word Tuesday that is has earned its second straight nomination for the prestigious Ryman Auditorium Theater of the Year Award.

IEBA, the International Entertainment Buyers Association, has nominated the Kirby Center for award, along with the Beacon Theatre in New York City, the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and the Paramount Theatre in Denver.

“The F.M. Kirby Center is excited to be nominated by our peers in the industry” said Artistic Director Anne Rodella. “We look forward to continuing to work with and learn from our theater partners.”

The Kirby Center has also unveiled its newly designed website — kirbycenter.org — that Rodella said has been updated to a more modern and sleek design. The new look is based off of the signature ‘Kirby Heart’ and the color block style of the Kirby Center Season Brochures designed by MLB Advertising.

Rodella said the new website represents the shift the F.M. Kirby Center has made in recent years toward being a more accessible performing arts facility.

“In increasing our overall programming, in growing our audiences, and in creating new artistic opportunities in downtown Wilkes-Barre, the F.M. Kirby Center has consistently been moving forward in keeping our lights on and our hearts open,” Rodella said. “The new web look clearly reflects our wish to invite everyone to the theater.”

The Kirby Center also announced that Lauren Pluskey McLain, who was appointed as the managing director of the Kirby Center this past spring, has accepted a position at King’s College as the Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Sr. Director of Development and Campaign.

“This was a difficult decision for me as I love the Kirby Center and the programs we have developed,” Pluskey McLain said. “However this is a great career opportunity for me that allows me to continue to help advance the community I care so much about.”

With Pluskey McLain’s departure on Oct. 4, Drew Taylor, who has been with the Kirby Center for more than 17 years as the director of operations, has been appointed by the Board of Directors as the new managing director.

Taylor has been responsible for day-to-day and future planning of the building’s operations, activity and maintenance. Other duties included contract development for outside promoter shows, lobby rentals, catering and hospitality requirements for both the Kirby Center and guest artists as well as the security needs for both the performers and patrons.

“I’m looking forward to the challenges of my new position,” Taylor said. “And keeping the excitement alive here at The Kirby Center for both our patrons and staff. We have an excellent staff who are all committed to the Kirby Center being the best it can be and we all look forward to its future.”

During Taylor’s tenure, he also oversaw several capital improvement projects, including the 2006 restoration of the venue’s four lobbies and bars, auditorium seating, carpeting, box office and Daktronics scrolling marquee, as well as the installation of a state of the art Meyer Line Array sound system in 2012 and the current remodeling project of the performer’s dressing rooms.

PLAINS TWP. — Vickie Halsey has been diligent in scheduling yearly mammograms for more than a decade.

Halsey, 56, believes that screening saved her life, and has become more adamant than ever in urging loved ones and friends to follow her example and get screened.

It is an issue she — and the Times Leader — are highlighting in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

An administrative coordinator for Geisinger in Plains Township, Halsey is a mother of three whose own mother also fought the disease.

In her own words, here is the story of Halsey’s diagnosis, treatment in the Geisinger system and the journey back to wellness. Our interview has been lightly edited and condensed for this space.

Q: Vickie, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. You were very diligent about going for mammograms prior to your diagnosis, correct?

A: I started around 40, and yes, I’ve been going for mammograms for years. I never had an issue before. All of a sudden, in October 2017, I go for my regular mammogram and there was a problem.

A: They tell you, “we think we may have seen something,” and then they send you back for another one, to be sure.

You’re not supposed to wear deodorant when you have your mammogram, but I did that first time. I was coming from work, so of course I wore deodorant, and I tried to wipe if off real quick.

The next time I went I did not wear any deodorant, and the same spot showed up, so we knew there was something there. That was immediately followed by a CT scan, then a biopsy, and it proved to be breast cancer, unfortunately.

That was a very personal decision. My mom had breast cancer, and although she didn’t get it until she was older, I wanted to take every precaution that I possibly could.

The surgery was immediately followed by chemotherapy. I had 16 rounds. The first four were heavy duty — the red devil, they called it. Then you step down to the next level, and I had 12 rounds of those. It ran from February until the end of July.

After I had the surgery and I was recuperating, I thought, “OK, I can handled this. I’ve got this.” When that chemo hits you? I was like, “I don’t have this.”

A: My son was getting married in August, and my goal was to be able to dance with my son. I wasn’t too sure I was going to be able to do it, but I did. I put my heels on and I was dancing.

A: I think that mammogram saved my life. It was not a lump that I would have felt. It was was more underneath my arm than it was on my actual breast, and it was so deep. When they found it, I asked them to put my hand on it, because I could not feel it.

The good thing about annual mammograms is they have something to compare it to. They were looking and saw that it was not there the year before, so we did catch it at a really, really good time, because it was very, very aggressive.

A: I was talking to one of my close friends through my surgery and my journey, and I found out that she had not had a mammogram — and we’re the same age. And she wasn’t the only one. I learned at least three of my friends had not had mammograms before — and you know I was on their case.

My advice? Go for every annual check-up. I remember that particular one I was so crazy busy that day I almost didn’t go. That would have been more time for the cancer to move along.

Q: Because of your cancer and your mom’s cancer, this must be a very important thing to discuss with your family.

A: I did have the genetic testing done, as a precaution, and there was nothing there. But I have two daughters, so I am trying to guide them in the right direction, in terms of what to look out for and our family history.

I got into that trying to find something to help lift me back up, build me back up. I felt like I was so weak, so torn down that I needed something.

Once you go through an ordeal like this, you don’t have the same confidence that you had before. I was falling. One day I found myself on the ground, and I said, “This is not me.”

You think you can do it on your own, but you get to a point when you realize you need some help. One of our exercise instructors actually told me about the Livestrong program through the YMCA.

A: They work with the whole you. I go there. We have a meeting before we start our workout, we talk, we discuss what stage we are at in our recovery. Some are still in some type of treatment — it might not be chemo — as I am myself.

We talk about the person that we were before, and celebrate that part, but also celebrate a new beginning, because there is life after cancer. We lift each other up in this program, which is what I like about it.

We talk, we cry, we talk some more and we work out, also, here onsite at Geisinger at the orthopedics gym. We do lift weights, and I feel myself getting stronger, more confident, able to laugh at a lot of things. It does help to hear other people’s stories.

A: I have the best family, co-workers and friends in the world, and a really good team of physicians. I would not have made it this far without that entire package.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each Tuesday during the month, the Times Leader will be publishing special sections with information about treatment, recovery and survivors’ stories.

WILKES-BARRE — Despite rainy weather, nearly a dozen protesters lined Pennsylvania Avenue outside the Luzerne County Children and Youth building Monday morning with one thing on their mind: change.

It was the second such rally held by nonprofit Crowd Pow Wow Proud, which provides support for medical marijuana patients and others. The protest comes after allegations the county’s Children and Youth has been contacting parents with valid medical marijuana prescriptions.

“We have a lot of families with some really serious allegations against CPS and this needs to be addressed,” Sabrina Smith, a representative from the nonprofit, told the Times Leader.

Crowd Pow Wow Proud first picketed Children and Youth roughly a month ago, after the Times Leader reported Kingston resident Shanelle Dates said she had been monitored by Children and Youth after the birth of her baby due to drug use — but she had a medical marijuana card and was using cannabis to help combat both mental and gastrointestinal illnesses.

After the previous protest, Children and Youth Executive Director Joanna Van Saun called for more dialogue, especially in regards to medical marijuana use, saying that more guidance is needed from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Office of Children and Youth and Families, which is still only in the early days of being legal in Pennsylvania.

According to Smith, many of her clients are having their rights violated, suggesting that Children and Youth is acting as “an arm of the law” by removing children without providing services.

Smith said major changes need to be done to the system, as she thinks Children and Youth sometimes has a negative impact on children who are removed and placed into foster care, saying they’re sometimes placed into even worse situations.

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t take up the case of former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella in its new term.

Monday’s denial by the nation’s highest court was the second for Ciavarella who’s serving a lengthy prison sentence for his role in the juvenile justice scandal that was featured in the “Kids for Cash” documentary.

Without explanation, the Supreme Court denied Ciavarella’s petition for writ of certiorari, leaving him to face a retrial on charges stemming from his time on the bench. Ciavarella, 69, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Ky., has been serving a 28-year sentence, but it could be reduced pending the outcome of the trial, which is yet to be scheduled.

A jury in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Scranton convicted him in 2011 on 10 of 39 counts related to the scandal that prosecutors said was connected to nearly $3 million in kickbacks for the construction of two, private for-profit juvenile detention centers in Pittston Township and Butler County.

Former county judge Michael Conahan pleaded guilty in 2010 to racketeering in connection with the scandal. Conahan, 67, has been serving a 17½ sentence at the FCI Miami.

In 2013 Ciavarella took his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit that vacated a charge of honest services mail fraud on the grounds it was beyond the five-year statute of limitations. The other charges and verdict were affirmed, however. The following year, the Supreme Court denied his first petition for review.

Continuing to challenge his conviction, Ciavarella sought an ineffective counsel claim, saying his trial lawyers did not raise a statute of limitations defense. In January 2018 the trial court ordered that he be retried on racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to launder money, leading to another appeal to the 3rd Circuit.

Earlier this year the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision, leading Ciavarella to turn again to the Supreme Court. He maintained that the appellate court tied the kickbacks to lengthy periods of detention even though there was no evidence presented at trial to support that position. He also argued a 2016 Supreme Court ruling on conduct outside official acts applied to his dealings with developer Robert Mericle and former Butler Township attorney Robert Powell that led to the construction of the detention centers.

In a move counter to his appeals, Ciavarella last month agreed to resign from the state bar, leaving it up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to disbar him.

The students of Wyoming Area Catholic School simply gathered to pray in their gymnasium instead of outdoors as about a dozen eighth graders held a large string of rosary beads fashioned from helium-filled balloons.

“Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary,” school principal Eileen Rishcoff said, explaining why she didn’t want to postpone the annual event, which the school has hosted for seven years.

“We want to keep the traditions of our Catholic faith going,” she said, explaining how the rosary balloon event started. “We looked for a way to celebrate the rosary that would appeal to children.”

As the eighth-graders entered the gym through doorways decorated with the words “Christ, be our Light!” and “Shine in our hearts!” a bystander wished Mike Casey of Dallas a happy birthday.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Casey, now 14, explaining he first noticed as a second grader that his schoolmates were praying the rosary and releasing balloons on his birthday. This year, his final year at Wyoming Area Catholic, Casey said he’d be praying for “everyone around the world, people who might be in trouble, that it will all work out for them.”

Classmates Marissa Miller, 14, of Forty Fort, and Alexis Romanowski, 13, of Harding, told a reporter they wanted to pray especially for their families, and admitted they’d been looking forward to launching the balloon rosary heaven-ward since they were little kids.

Taking turns with a microphone, the eighth grade students spent about 20 minutes leading their younger schoolmates, teachers, and some parents and grandparents in prayer, honoring five “Joyful Mysteries,” or events in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death. Amen,” they prayed, 10 times for each of five decades of the rosary.

While some of the participants had mentioned they were praying for the world, or for their loved ones, perhaps someone included a little prayer that the rain would let up.

In any case, when the children finished praying, their principal peeked out the door and saw the precipitation had slowed to a misty drizzle.

“Don’t go out too far,” Rishcoff cautioned the eighth graders as they carried the balloon rosary outside and let it go — up, up and away, sailing heavenward.

“I like the fact that they release it up into the air,” grandmother Rita Moran of Pittston Township said. “Watching it float up to the sky, it takes my breath away.”

WILKES-BARRE — The city’s Shade Tree Commission has neither the money nor the legal authority to do anything, but that’s not stopping it from trying.

The five-member commission, reactivated this year by Mayor Tony George after a long lapse, wants to plant seedlings in more places than one, starting with the mind of the public about the benefits of trees.

The consciousness-raising effort is high on the list of Sam Troy, acting chairman of the commission to change public opinion and help beautify the city while protecting the environment in the face of climate change and a mandate to reduce pollution runoff from stormwater into the Susquehanna River.

“They have the mindset that seems to run counter to the advantages of planting trees,” Troy said Monday during the commission’s monthly public meeting at City Hall.

Troy along with commission members Tom Rogish and Mike Steinberg had the fourth-floor city council chambers to themselves until a reporter walked in. There will be an audience for Troy at council’s Tuesday night work session when he makes a presentation about the commission.

“We have to know to what extent city council is behind us,” Troy said, and the city administration, as well.

A letter Troy and Rogish sent to council members last month listed short-term and long-term goals for the commission with the most immediate, passage of an ordinance from 2005 that’s identical to the one on the books in Kingston. Next in priority is funding in the 2020 budget to purchase and plant trees.

“We feel that it is imperative that we be able to plant some additional trees next year, even if only a few, to convince the public that we are serious in our endeavor,” the letter said.

In the past the commission acted without the benefit of an ordinance and still managed to plant trees along the length of

But Barber left after six or seven years, growing frustrated with the lack of cooperation from the administration, he said.

“Good luck,” Barber offered as advice for Troy and the others. Barber said he declined an offer to rejoin and instead offered to help the commission.

The commission regularly meets on the first Monday of the month at 11:45 a.m. in City Hall. The meetings are scheduled for Nov. 4 and Dec. 2.

WILKES-BARRE — At what was supposed to be a scheduling conference for potentially moving the cases of two defendants accused of killing an Edwardsville man to juvenile court, the attorney for one of those juveniles suddenly announced his client planned to plead guilty.

Mercedes Hall, 16, admitted to one count of third-degree murder in the April death of Joseph Monka, 71.

Hall, along with Gabriella Elizabeth Long, 17, Christopher Brian Cortez, 19, and Devin Malik Cunningham, 20, was facing charges in Monka’s death.

Monka, Long’s grandfather, was found dead in his Edwardsville home with nearly $30,000 missing from his safe.

Hall appeared before Luzerne County Judge William H. Amesbury on Monday, joined by her attorneys Larry Kansky and Joanna Smith. Her appearance came as a bit of a surprise, as it came after a scheduling conference between prosecutors, her attorneys and those of one of her co-defendants.

Since both Hall and Long were juveniles at the time of Monka’s death, both of their legal teams were attempting to have their cases decertified, which means it would be moved back into the juvenile court system.

But during Monday’s hearing, Kansky announced his client’s intention to accept a guilty plea that had been offered to her by the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, one Kansky indicated was only on the table if her defense team agreed to stop pursuing decertification.

After Hall was transported to the courtroom from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, Dr. Stephen Timchack, a Kingston-based forensic psychologist who interviewed her, testified about her competency.

According to her, Hall has an IQ of 70, and suffers from ADHD, but neither of these things impact her ability to knowingly enter into a guilty plea. As such, he felt she was competent to enter a plea.

Hall had been charged with an open count of criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, theft, robbery and other related charges.

But as part of her plea deal, Hall agreed to enter a plea on a count of third degree murder, with the remaining charges against her being withdrawn. She also agreed to forgo any further attempts of having her case decertified, and she must also testify against her co-defendants.

Her guilty plea also comes after a period of confusion on whether or not Hall would even be charged for the homicide. At her first preliminary hearing, Magisterial District Judge James Haggerty declined to forward charges of homicide against Hall to the county level, but prosecutors argued Haggerty made improper statements that indicated he had unfairly prejudged the case before hearing it. Prosecutors refiled the case against Hall, with Luzerne County President Judge Richard M. Hughes III selecting Amesbury to replace Haggerty in the second preliminary hearing.

On the way out of court, prosecutors declined to make any comments, citing the continuing cases against the other defendants.

Long, joined by attorney John Pike, will be in court on Dec. 16 to argue why her case should be sent to the juvenile system.

HANOVER TWP. — A convicted felon arrested last month on charges he was peddling crack cocaine swore on his mother’s life telling drug agents he did not have body armor and a firearm.

Authorities later found Ronald Cottle’s .38 caliber revolver and body armor hidden in an apartment closet inside Lee Park Towers on Lee Park Avenue, according to court records.

Cottle, 43, of 262 Lee Park Ave., was arraigned Monday on a firearm offense and additional drug trafficking charges.

He was one of four people arrested Sept. 26 when drug agents with township police and the Luzerne County and stat Office of Attorney General drug task forces executed search warrants at Cottle’s residence, the Lee Park apartment complex and 23-25 Barr Lane.

Authorities allege they found nearly $4,900 cash and crack cocaine at 262 Lee Park Ave. and Barr Lane.

When he was questioned, Cottle swore on his mother’s life he did not have a firearm and body armor.

After Cottle was questioned, authorities served a search warrant at an apartment in Lee Park Towers, allegedly finding the firearm and body armor hidden in a kitchen closet.

Cottle’s girlfriend, Jasmin Edna Breeland, 30, Shelia Marie Link, 41, and Allen Brady, 47, were also arrested Sept. 26.

A fifth person, Timothy Lance Buckner, 41, also known as “Lucky,” is wanted on drug trafficking charges.

Court records say Cottle, Buckner and three other men were involved in the beating of a woman who was punched, stunned with a Taser and had boiling water poured on her free over an 18-hour period on Dec. 30 into Dec. 31, 2010.

Cottle and Buckner pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. Cottle was sentenced to six to 12 years in state prison and Buckner was sentenced to four to eight years.

Cottle’s conviction in addition to trafficking illegal narcotics in a New Jersey school zone in 2003 prevents him from owning, carrying and possessing a firearm.

Cottle was arraigned Monday in Luzerne County Central Court on two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, illegal possession of a firearm and receiving stolen property. He remains jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $250,000 total bail.

ARCHBALD — A jackpot-winning Pennsylvania Lottery Cash 5 ticket sold for the Saturday, Oct. 5 drawing matched all five balls drawn, 01-18-21-24-43, to win $500,000, less withholding.

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More than 33,000 other Cash 5 tickets also won prizes in the drawing. Players should check every ticket, every time, and claim lower-tier prizes at a Lottery retailer.

Visit the Winners and Benefits pages at palottery.com to review how much money each county receives in Lottery prizes and funding to benefit older Pennsylvanians.

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KINGSTON — The Municipality of Kingston’s regular monthly meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7, in Council Chambers, 500 Wyoming Ave. Kingston.

A proposed solution to protect West Pittston from Susquehanna River flooding — possibly a levee — is set for release at a public meeting Wednesday night. While funding would have to be secured, identifying a […]

WASHINGTON — The White House declared Tuesday it will halt any and all cooperation with what it termed the “illegitimate” impeachment probe by House Democrats, sharpening the constitutional clash between President Donald Trump and Congress. […]

WASHINGTON — A seemingly divided Supreme Court struggled Tuesday over whether a landmark civil rights law protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment, with one conservative justice wondering if the court should take heed of […]

WILKES-BARRE — Holding true to his word City Administrator Rick Gazenski did not withdraw his name for a board appointment, but the mayor did. At the risk of violating federal regulations Mayor Tony George pulled […]

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Arby’s restaurant in the Wyoming Valley Mall has ceased operations, the franchisee said Tuesday. Matthew Lange of MRL Ventures V LLC, Binghamton, NY, confirmed the report, stating that the license and […]

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The long wait is over. Chick-fil-A announced Tuesday that the Grand Opening of its new full-service first stand-alone location at 989 Schechter Drive will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17. In celebration […]

WILKES-BARRE — The F.M Kirby Center for the Performing Arts received word Tuesday that is has earned its second straight nomination for the prestigious Ryman Auditorium Theater of the Year Award. IEBA, the International Entertainment […]

PLAINS TWP. — Vickie Halsey has been diligent in scheduling yearly mammograms for more than a decade. Two years ago, one of those annual checks turned up an aggressive form of breast cancer. Halsey, 56, […]

Luzerne County Council gave the official go-ahead Monday to borrow $19.7 million for a new 911 emergency radio system and $1.4 toward new paper-trail voting machines. With a 2.174% interest rate, the borrowing package also […]

WILKES-BARRE — Despite rainy weather, nearly a dozen protesters lined Pennsylvania Avenue outside the Luzerne County Children and Youth building Monday morning with one thing on their mind: change. It was the second such rally […]

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t take up the case of former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella in its new term. Monday’s denial by the nation’s highest court was the second for Ciavarella who’s serving a […]

SWOYERSVILLE — Two full-time police officer positions that had gone vacant for several months have now been filled, but the occupants are no strangers to the force. Patrolmen Andrew J. Jones and Andrew Labar had […]

One could be forgiven for thinking that President Donald Trump wants to be impeached. On Thursday, on live television in front of the White House, Trump reiterated his call for Ukraine to investigate former Vice […]

I would like to thank The Wall That Heals Committee and my dear friend Holly Spece and all the volunteers who put so much time into making The Wall That Heals event a huge success. […]

There are times in Washington when events shift into fast forward. The last two weeks have felt faster than that. To recap the most head-snapping events: After initially denying that he had urged Ukraine to […]

Last week actress Diahann Carroll died of complications from breast cancer. On average, one in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Let that sink in, because the statistic […]

In our fast-paced world, driven by technology, it is no wonder that the quiet simplicity of the Amish lifestyle continues to fascinate. Away from the complexity of the modern world, their culture is driven by […]

Finally, one GOP senator had the guts to tweet the obvious: “The President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.” Thank you, Mitt Romney, but […]

WILKES-BARRE — It was announced Friday that Pennsylvania has recorded its first death attributed to “vaping.” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the Pennsylvania Department of Health has confirmed the death and multiple cases […]

WILKES-BARRE — Gov. Tom Wolf last week took executive action instructing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — a market-based collaboration among nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic […]

You’ve probably noticed a nip in the air lately, at least at night. You’ve almost certainly seen ads for pumpkin spice — well, pretty much everything. (A recent comic strip portrayed a store display of […]

Pennsylvanians have many choices to seek an advanced degree, including a range of high-quality private colleges and universities that not every state can boast. These private institutions of higher education award more than 75,000 degrees, […]

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Diamonds to Lori Masi of Bear Creek Township and ADT for using a happy ending to a potential disaster as a cautionary tale for the rest of us. Masi invited the media to her home […]

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