Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk
(Exclusive to EndlessMtnLifesyles.com readers)
An audience member at the Nov. 12 public meeting of the Wyoming County Commissioners provided chairperson Tom Henry the perfect opportunity to quell rumors and hearsay about the possible construction of a new prison. Brent Ransom of Tunkhannock expressed concerns about how the county could afford a new $40-million facility and questioned why there aren’t more people on supervised bail to alleviate overcrowding.
“There’s nothing on the table to build a new jail, and I don’t anticipate that there will be,” Henry stated. The amount Ransom cited was very close to an estimate provided to the county to build a new prison, Henry noted, “but it was just to see how much it would cost if we need a new jail. The possibility needed to be explored.” Henry added that the feasibility study, which was provided pro bono to the county, provided some cost comparisons as well on how many people it would take to staff a larger facility.
Rumors primarily circulated on Facebook that low-level prisoners might be housed in currently vacant elementary school buildings around the county that were were also unfounded, Henry explained.
“I’m am hearing that there are people in there who shouldn’t be there,” Ransom (above) remarked, in reference to people imprisoned for falling behind on child support, not paying court costs or other non-criminal offenses. “Those are people who should be wearing ankle bracelets. Let’s get the probation officers out there to do their jobs.”
Henry said that he did not disagree with Ransom’s opinions but that the Ransom’s suggestions were not a matter for the commissioners to discuss publicly nor to decide.
Senior Center Update Provided
Rachael Kiwak, director of the Wyoming County Active Adult Center at 101 Dymond Terrace in Eaton Township visited the commissioners to tell them about some special projects that seniors are working on to benefit the community at large. In addition to making socks for homeless individuals and conducting a toy drive, a number of members have been busy crocheting hats and scarves that will be hung in plastic bags from tree branches on the courthouse lawn and will be available to those who need them. Kiwak (above) hopes to gain approval from Tunkhannock Borough authorities as well to hang hats and scarves around town just prior to Christmas in Our Hometown festivities on Dec. 6 and 7.
“They are for anyone who needs one,” said Kiwak. “We’re not particular about where our good intentions go.” There are six to eight crocheters who meet on Monday’s at the center to work on the winter ware, and a few also do work at home, she noted.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 12, Santa’s helpers will conduct a gift wrapping workshop at the center on Dymond Terrace. Anybody who needs help wrapping gifts is invited to stop by, but a phone call in advance at 570-836-2324 would be appreciated, Kiwak related.
The Active Adult Center in Eaton Township is one of two in the county, the other one located at 2138 Sullivan’s Trail in Falls. Both are under the umbrella of the Area Agency on Aging – Luzerne and Wyoming Counties.
Ongoing Business and Tidbits
Commissioner Henry welcomed the two new commissioner-elects, Rick Wilbur and Ernie King, to the meeting. The men will take their seats at the commissioners table in January. The first meeting for the new year is tentatively set for Tuesday, Jan. 14. The current commissioners should be adopting the 2020 calendar at their next meeting, which is Tuesday, Nov. 26.
Chief clerk Bill Gaylord reported that the courthouse maintenance department has helped to streamline the process of changing out the floodlights around the statues and west end of the courthouse so that it can be lit in colors for special occasions.
Henry reported that settlement in a long-running class action suit against manufacturers of opioids of which Wyoming County has been a part is near. “A lot of counties have already gotten a lot of money,” he remarked.
UGI representatives are scheduled to be at the courthouse on Thursday, Nov. 14 to assess connectivity for natural gas now that the lines have been installed to and around the courthouse.
The commissioners are also slated to approve the recommendations of the Wyoming County Housing & Redevelopment Authority on Thursday that the Nicholson Water and Sewer Authority be awarded $183,000 in CDBG funds for upgrades to the borough’s water plant. (Read more about the grant here: http://www.endlessmtnlifestyles.com/?p=15020)
An executive session was called before the adjournment of the meeting, but no official action was taken.
Representatives of the Chamberlain Pond Association visited the commissioners prior to the end of the meeting and requested a letter of support for a $471,000 grant through the Commonwealth Financing Authority for dam reconstruction. It was their second such request in the past few years, which the commissioners again approved.