Archive for category lackawanna county

Scranton Commuters To Pay City Wage Tax

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SCRANTON — Non-residents who work in Scranton will soon have to pay a city wage tax.

City council voted Thursday night to impose a commuter tax starting in October.

For people who come to the city of Scranton for work, you will be shelling out more in taxes.

“Yes, I hereby declare 7-A legally adopted,” said Council president Bob McGoff.

Scranton city council voted four to one to impose a commuter tax on non-residents under Act 205 legislation despite opposition from speakers.

“Obviously it`s not just affecting Scranton but now everybody`s going to be affected by your vote tonight,” said Laureen Cummings from Old Forge.

“Placing a burden on the commuters that had absolutely nothing to do with the gross incompetence that took place and continues to take place,” said Doug Miller from Scranton.

“Said revenue to be specifically restricted to funding of the severely distressed pensions,” read city council clerk Lori Reed.

The tax is expected to generate $5 million a year with that money going solely to fund the city’s distressed pension funds.

For a commuter making $50,000 annually in Scranton, that tax is an extra $375 a year.

City administrators told council before the vote, the pension funds are rapidly running dry.

“If the fund itself could not sustain the city would need to make the payments out of the general fund,” said city solicitor Jason Shrive.

The mayor said his administration has been meeting with union representatives to work on pension reform.

“I’m wondering if the fact that the unions are willing to talk to the administration whether or not that means the city has not exhausted all other avenues,” said state representative Sid Michael Kavulich, who serves the 114th District.

Council member Bill Gaughan cast the single “no” vote, saying state lawmakers in Harrisburg are considering re-working Act 47, the distressed city legislation that would make municipalities raise property taxes if a commuter tax is imposed.

Gaughan expects that amendment to pass in the fall.

“It’s not fair to ask commuters to pay and eventually resident are going to have to pay a 33 percent increase in their wage tax,” said Gaughan.

Council said letters will be sent to city employers telling them that commuter tax will be collected starting October 1st.

80th Annual Dream Game

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The longest running High School football all star game was held at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium in Peckville.  The County received short Touchdown runs from Quinn Karam and Jake Manetti to lead them to a 14-7 win in front of 7,500 fans.

Dunmore’s Brandon Kujawski threw a 29 yard TD pass to his former teammate Josh Cilla to account for the City score.

Woman Recovering After Being Hit by Car

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Scranton — A woman is in the hospital following a pedestrian crash in Scranton.

Police said a car hit the woman on Lackawanna Avenue just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday.  Officers immediately shut down the road to investigate.

Authorities said the victim was taken to the hospital with a head injury.  Officials have not released her name or current condition.

Lackawanna Avenue was closed for about two hours following the crash.

Break-in at Little League Concession Stand

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SCRANTON — Scranton police are investigating a burglary at the West Scranton Little League concession stand.

The director of the league believes the crime happened Monday night into Tuesday morning.

The cash register was broken into and cash box was open on the floor.

League officials said there was likely only a few cents in the cash box and register at the time.

“Papa Bear” Statue Moved to New Location

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PECKVILLE — A statue honoring former Blakely High School football coach John “Papa Bear” Henzes is where many thought it should have been in the first place.

It now stands at the Valley View football stadium in Peckville that bears his name.

The statue was unveiled today after undergoing weeks of renovations.

It was moved from the intersection of Gino Merli Drive and Main Street in Peckville to the stadium.

Memorial Rose Garden Gets $1,000 Donation

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SCRANTON — An anonymous donor wrote out a check for $1,000 to be used for improvements at the Memorial Rose Garden at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

The mayor had reached out for financial help for the garden.

On Tuesday the mayor gave the check to the Welby family, who have maintained the garden as volunteers since 1991.

Lackawanna County Contractor Facing More Charges

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SCRANTON — A contractor from Taylor accused of ripping off his customers was back in court today.

Detectives filed new charges against Joseph Senese saying the list of Senese’s alleged victims is now three times longer.

Lackawanna County detectives arrested Joseph Senese last week. They accused him of taking money from eight clients for work he never did. Tuesday, detectives came to court with evidence of 14 more people who say Senese did the same thing to them.

Senese is now accused of stealing about $35,000 from 22 of his clients.

Florence Peresta of South Abington Township had big plans to renovate her house so her daughter could move in, plans she took out a loan for.

“She was going to sell her house, you know, and move up to Clarks Summit with me. But, everything backfired,” Peresta said outside the Lackawanna County Courthouse Tuesday.

Peresta came to the courthouse for a preliminary hearing for the man she hired to do those renovations, Joseph Senese of Taylor. But, the hearing never happened because county detectives filed more charges against Senese.

A total of 22 people have now come forward saying they were scammed by Senese.

One of them, Bernice Jett of Scranton. She had big plans too. Vacation plans that were ruined when Senese never showed up to renovate her camper she hoped to use for a 4th of July vacation.

“We booked a vacation down at Ocean City, Maryland. We were supposed to take the kids down there we had to cancel. We lost the vacation money, we were never able to go,” Jett said.

Jett’s case was still being investigated when she saw Senese on Newswatch 16 last week. She said she had no idea his alleged scheme was quite so big.

“I thought i was the only one, I had no idea there was that many people. It’s kind of sad,” Jett added.

Joseph Senese is locked up in the Lackawanna County Prison, a magistrate upped his bail Tuesday to $35,000.

Last week, a woman from Schuykill County told Newswatch 16 that she too was scammed by Senese. Lackawanna County detectives said they’re looking into whether Senese may have more victims in other counties, too.

Sewer Operator Accused Of Illegal Dumping

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WILKES-BARRE — Charges were filed Tuesday against the owner of a sewage treatment plant in Lackawanna County.

Frank Colombo, 80, of Dalton was in court in Wilkes-Barre.

Police say Colombo, who owns Glenburn Services Company near Clarks Summit, illegally dumped about 500 gallons of waste into a manhole that connects to a public sewage system in Dickson City.

Authorities also accuse Colombo of submitting inaccurate reports to DEP.

He is charged with tampering with public records or information, unlawful conduct, and sewage discharges.

Jail Time for Former “Scranton-Area Realtor of the Year”

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SCRANTON — People from California to Clarks Summit trusted Peter Lamandre to manage their rental properties in Lackawanna County.

Valerie Altuna of Long Island wanted the man who managed her rental homes in Lackawanna County for four years, to go to jail.

When court adjourned, Peter Lamandre was led away in handcuffs.

“Justice finally happened,” said Altuna.

From 2008 to 2012, six people with properties in Lackawanna County say they had a property management contract with Lamandre. He was supposed to collect rent and pay property owners 90 percent of that.

In court, the victims said they got little or no money.

“I’ve never received any rent from this man in about four years,” said Altuna. “I just always prayed it would get better, it would get better.”

Dickson City police raided Lamandre’s Better by Design real estate company on Business Route 6 in July 2013. He later turned himself in and was charged with several counts of theft by deception.

Lamandre’s lawyer asked the judge for probation, so he could work to pay his victim’s back.

But the judge called Lamandre’s practices, “outright embezzlement.”

“We want this guy in jail,” said Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Mike Goffer. “We want him off the streets of being a real estate agent.”

Lamandre’s sentence is 11 to 23 months in jail, and he owes six victims a total of $367,000 in restitution.

That’s a lot of money for a man who’s now in jail and about to lose his real estate license. And that’s why victims fear they’ll only get a fraction of what Lamandre owes them.

“Restitution is going to take so long, I’ll never see it,” said Brian Gray of South Abington Township, who is owed $45,000. “I’ll see dribs and drabs of money.”

“I was like, ‘what’s the point?’ I’m not going to get any money anyway,” added Valerie Altuna, who is owed $285,000. When asked if she was glad she went through with filing charges, she said, “Yes, I’m so glad.”

After his jail term Lamandre will be on probation for five years.   And the judge ordered he can’t sell real estate or manage property.

It’s a hard fall for the man who was the Scranton Area 2012 Realtor of the year.

Family Lost Everything In I-81 Wreck

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MOOSIC — It took hours to clear debris from the highway and get Interstate 81 back open after a crash Monday night.

On Tuesday we learned all of the debris belonged to a family who was moving to Florida. They tell us that was their whole life spilled all over the highway.

The family of five from Lackawanna County say they were packed up and moving to Florida when they lost control on Interstate 81. The camper they had filled with their belongings ripped apart, spilling everything onto the busy highway.

Now, they say their future is on hold.

The state trooper investigating the crash says it was one of the worst messes he’s ever seen on Interstate 81 with stuff just about everywhere.

The crash happened around 9 p.m. Monday. The interstate was still closed into the early morning hours as a family from Jermyn watched all their belongings end up in a dumpster.

It took four hours for crews to clear Interstate 81 south near the Moosic exit and to many of those doing the work, it was a big mess that had the highway closed into the early morning hours.

To the Miller family of Jermyn this was no mess, this was their life, strewn all over the highway.

“That was our whole life. Everything that we own was in that trailer. We have absolutely nothing left, no clothes, no nothing, no vehicle, nothing,” said Marjorie Miller.

We talked to Marjorie Miller and her family on this day after the wreck. Now they’re staying with her dad in Jermyn, but they’re supposed to be on their way to Florida to live near her husband David’s family.

Margorie, David, three kids and two dogs were in a van, hauling a camper jammed with all their belongings when David lost control on I-81, and the camper ripped open.

“He thought it was balanced good, but apparently it wasn’t. That one tractor-trailer came flying by on that one bad corner there on 81 and it just caught the wind and he said it’s going,” she said.

“I was half way asleep. I closed my eyes and next thing I know, I saw my sister crying and I saw Harley crying because I went flying into the wall,” said crash victim Dale Kordish.

The van has little damage. The family got only bumps and bruises but there’s not much left of the trailer. Only the motorcycle strapped inside remains. Troopers say it was overloaded.

Everything else was picked up off I-81 and put in a dumpster.

“All my favorite things, all my toys, all my clothes, everything,” Dale said.

“She’s my life, if we lost her, I don’t know what we would have done,” said Caressa Smith, a cousin.

Now cousins and other family are trying to find ways to help the Millers bounce back.

“Whatever we can do for our cousins, we’ll do,” Smith said.

“All I know is we had our guardian angels on us. If it wasn’t for our guardian angels, I don’t think we’d be here today, I really don’t,” Marjorie said.

The millers say they were moving to Florida to help care for David Miller’s father.

Now relatives here are trying to find ways to help them.