Commissioners Hope to Increase Vaccinations, Yellow Heart Memorial Planned

Wyoming County commissioners Rick Wilbur (seated, left), Ernie King (right) and Tom Henry (standing, left) were joined by 911 director Jeff Porter to proclaim April 11 to 17 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week in Wyoming County.

Story by Rick Hiduk

(Exclusive to readers)

The virtual meeting of the Wyoming County Commissioners had more guests sitting in than usual on Tuesday morning. One of them was back to propose a date for a Yellow Heart Memorial to acknowledge the people lost to COVID in Wyoming County. Another asked the commissioners to get behind a local crusade to proclaim Wyoming County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.

The commissioners voiced their opinions on each, but their primary agenda topic was a COVID vaccine clinic to be held in West Falls on Wednesday and additional clinics to be conducted there and in Noxen. Preregistered persons will be receiving the first of two doses of the Moderna vaccine. Commissioner chair Rick Wilbur made it clear that it would not be the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports in the past 48 hours that there have been rare blood clotting issues associated with the single-dose J&J shot.

Registration for the Falls clinic has gone extremely well, county EMA director Gene Dziak reported.

At this point, everything is booked that can be booked,” commissioner Ernie King said of the full schedule. In the event of cancellations or additional clinics, they added, the Exeter Township Health Center is still taking calls at 570-704-4117.

The commissioners reported that the Monroe-Noxen Health Center conducted a soft opening last Friday of vaccinations planned there. About 100 doses were administered to residents who were already on the clinic’s waiting list. COVID vaccines may be given there again this coming Friday. Interested readers can call 570-704-4234 to get on the schedule.

Our plans are to continue to have clinics put on by the Exeter medical center,” said Wilbur. More details will be made public in the coming next week. “We can’t say anything until we know we have the vaccines.”

According to Dziak, there have been 44 deaths attributed to COVID so far in Wyoming County. Marie Nicholoff of Tunkhannock, who had approached the commissioners on March 16 to ask if she might coordinate a Yellow Heart memorial service on the courthouse lawn, returned with a suggested date of Saturday, Aug. 14.

She and a daughter will speak on loss of family members and provide opportunities for other county residents to recognize family members who succumbed to the virus. Nicholoff’s life-partner, Donald Sartor, Jr. was one of the first Wyoming County residents to die from COVID in April 2020.

Nicholoff is looking for others to help with event but is unsure yet how to do that. “I don’t want to reach out to people, because some of them don’t want to be contacted. I’d rather they reach out to me,” she explained. The commissioners asked that she provide an email address that they could pass along to the public.

The commissioners marked National Public Safety Telecommunications Week with the reading of a proclamation by Rick Wilbur. The board thanked county 911 director Jeff Porter, who was in attendance. “They do a great job over there,” Wilbur remarked. “We are proud of the job that they do.”

We’ve got the best 911 center in the whole state,” Henry stated.

Jason Prutzman of Nicholson Township waited patiently for the opportunity to ask the commissioners to get behind an ordinance that would declare Wyoming County a Second Amendment sanctuary county. The proposal is part of a growing movement among gun rights advocates to fight what they believe is an attempt by the new presidential administration to strip them of their second amendment rights. He wants to start collecting signatures on a petition to get an ordinance passed.

In what sounded like a threat, Prutzman told the commissioners that he is set up for a newspaper interview later in the week, “And I won’t hesitate to say who is behind us and who isn’t.”

Henry was the first to respond, saying, “We’re all behind us keeping our guns. There’s not a person in this room who doesn’t a gun, and we don’t want to lose them. But I’m not sure that piece of paper will do any good.”

Prutzman insisted that the ordinance “will have teeth in it. Other counties have done it,” he maintained. “We won’t be the first or the last.”

Caught off guard by the request, the commissioners were reticent to further comment. “Before we can answer that, we will need to see the information that you have,” Wilbur told Prutzman. “We need to know what this entails.”

In Other Business:

Commissioner Henry announced that a new mural design has been chosen for west exterior of Wyoming County Cultural Center. It will feature a postcard-style image of Vosburg Neck and employ some interactive features. The work will be done by artist Bob Lizza and could be up by late summer.

The commissioners will be starting contract negotiations in about a month and a half.

One more member is needed for the Solid Waste Authority Board. There will be an in-person meeting Thursday, April 22 at 7 pm at the county recycling center in Tunkhannock Township.

Roadside Rest Park in Eaton Township has been open to anglers for the past few weeks, but the venue remains closed to the general public until the township supervisors approve a plan to lease it from the county for a year and maintain the park.

Drug Take Back Day is slated for Saturday, April 24, and most local pharmacies already have drug drop boxes in place. There is also a permanent drop box in the lobby at the courthouse in Tunkhannock. Residents are encouraged to get rid of old medications to keep them out of the hands of those who might misuse them and to prevent them from harming the environment.

The commissioners accepted the resignation of RN Cynthia Bosscher from Healthy Partnership and approved the hiring of Bradley Breakstone as a full-time corrections officer at the Wyoming County Correctional Facility.

The commissioners reminded those in attendance that there is still a number of programs open to provide financial relief for those impacted by the COVID pandemic and closures. Here they are as per the agenda:

    • Rent and utilities assistance program is still open. There is still a large sum of money to help those behind on rent and utility bills because of COVID. Application should be completed at the Pennsylvania COMPASS website: Please contact CEO via telephone Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm at 1-800-822-0359 with questions about application process and receive assistance in completing the required forms. Walk-ins are not being accepted at this time due to COVID-19.
    • Deadline to sign up for the May 15 Electronics recycling event is April 15. You must register to participate due to DEP COVID mandate. Go to for link to the application.
    • Hospitality Grant applications are still being accepted and about 15 taverns and restaurants have applied so far. Go to for more info and an online application. Deadline to apply will be set within the next few weeks
    • Additional hospitality industry grants through SBA as part of the $1.9T COVID recovery are not available yet but will be soon. Since this is directly from federal government you will need a SAM and a DUNs number. The SAM takes at least two weeks to obtain so please go for info on how to apply so you are ready when the grants go live. Applications still aren’t being accepted but should be soon as soon as final guidance is given.

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