Lackawanna Trail High School has closed to students for two weeks following news Saturday of a fifth coronavirus case.
School district leaders were working Saturday morning to determine if any additional students and staff needed to quarantine.
Since a high school teacher reported the first positive case Tuesday, 100 people in the Wyoming County school have had to quarantine.
That’s in a school with an in-person enrollment of 385 students.
The five positive cases include one teacher, one administrator, and three students.
(At the Lackawanna Trail School Board meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 13, Superintendent Matthew Rakauskas announced there were nine confirmed coronavirus cases: two employees and seven students).
While all instruction in the high school would move to virtual for the next two weeks, the elementary center remains open. One elementary teacher tested positive for COVID-19 last month, and no additional cases have been reported there.
The district, one of the only in the region to reopen fully this fall, knew it could eventually be necessary to move to virtual instruction.
“We’re ready to pivot to virtual, and we’ll hopefully pivot back in 14 days,” Superintendent Matthew Rakauskas said Saturday morning.
All extracurricular activities, including athletics such as last Friday’s football game with Montrose Area, were cancelled until at least Oct. 23.
During Tuesday’s Wyoming County Commissioners meeting, it was acknowledged that the county’s active coronavirus cases had spiked by five in one week’s time from 80 to 85.
Commissioner Ernie King said that included at least three from Lackawanna Trail High School.
Wyoming County Commissioners continue to get input about the Roadside Rest off of Route 29 in Eaton Township.
A once popular stopping spot for a picnic or fishing in Bowmans Creek has fallen on hard times, and previous commissioners have met with PennDOT only to learn they don’t have around-the-clock personnel available for monitoring and maintenance.
Eaton Township supervisors had scheduled their own public session for input at the end of October, but Commissioner Chair Rick Wilbur said he’d like to cast the net wider to see what the public’s interest might be and if there might be a nonprofit group that might like to offer a steady hand at oversight.
To that end, the commissioners have scheduled a public meeting for this Saturday, Oct. 17, at 3 p.m. at the Gathering Place located near the Sunnyside ballfields. Masks and social distancing will be required, and Wilbur said that all interested parties and interested agencies that might have a creative solution to what’s been a thorny issue would be most welcome.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners noted they would be attending their weekly Recovery Task Force meeting via Zoom on Thursday with representatives of EMA and Tyler Memorial Hospital as well as Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, representatives of Tunkhannock Area and Lackawanna Trail school districts to address any pressing issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Boback participated in the commissioners meeting to add her thanks to their county proclamation of Oct. 18-24 as National Business Women’s Week. She said she would be adding a state proclamation acknowledging women’s contribution to the workforce.
After Commissioner Tom Henry read the local proclamation, TBPW president Julianne Miller thanked the commissioners for their support, and noted the group this year was advocating peaceful solutions in addressing community problems. She was joined indoors by Elaine Walker and then a couple more women joined the commissioners for a proclamation picture on the courthouse lawn.
The commissioners signed off on some contracts for children and youth services and acknowledged having given out 155 out of 169 signed contracts for grants they had approved.
They also issued a reminder of a call for fifth graders in the county’s schools soliciting art with a drug-free message of the student’s choice. Contributions are needed by Oct. 30, and those who have questions could call Commissioner Ernie King at 570-996-2229 between Monday and Friday.
Wyoming County 911 Director Jeff Porter was on hand Tuesday to discuss a new drone aerial imagery program to which the commissioners voted to expend $1500 for a new license to help them as they attempt to reach hard-to-access areas.
Commissioners also voted a letter of support to EIO Waste Solutions & Recycling for a satellite transfer station for recycling in Monroe Township.
A 34-year-old Lancaster County man was sentenced to a year in state prison last Wednesday for indecent exposure after police say he exposed himself to others in Eaton Township this past May.
At his sentencing via Zoom, Justin Andrew Nickle, of Ronks, told President Judge Russell Shurtleff that he regretted his action of last May 5 when he was in direct view of others outside a motor home, and he intended to seek counseling “because I want to get this kind of behavior behind me.”
He said, “I plan on fixing it.”
Wyoming County Assistant District Attorney Timothy Carroll told the judge that while it was Nickle’s only such charge in Wyoming County, “It is his eighth indecent exposure offense since 2014," and he would recommend the maximum sentence of 12-24 months.
The judge sentenced Nickle to state prison along with a $500 fine, but acknowledged he would get credit for 156 days already served in the county jail.
Others sentenced last Wednesday in the Wyoming County Court of Common Pleas:
• Arnold Balz, 20, of Nanticoke, was sentenced to 12 months probation and a $500 fine for simple assault on April 6, 2019.
• Brett Allan Boyanowski, 40, of Laceyville, was sentenced to six months intermediate punishment commencing with 30 days house arrest and a $1,000 fine for DUI on Feb. 19.
• Ryan Benjamin Butler, 21, of Nicholson, was sentenced to six months intermediate punishment commencing with 15 days house arrest and a $1,000 fine for DUI of a controlled substance on Feb. 23.
• Dennis James Canfield, 50, of Meshoppen, was sentenced to 72 hours-six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine for DUI on Feb. 22.
• Courtney Elizabeth Casterline, 35, of Monroe Township, was sentenced to 12 months probation and a $500 fine for possession of drug paraphernalia on March 22, 2019.
• Katrina Marie Harrison, 27, of Tunkhannock, was sentenced to two-12 months in county jail and a $500 fine for retail theft on Jan. 1 7, 2019; one-11 months in county jail and a $500 fine for harassment on March 12, 2019; and to 12 months probation and a $500 fine for false identification to law enforcement officer on March 29, 2018, with sentences to be served consecutively.
• Marianne Husted, 63, of Dallas, was sentenced to six months intermediate punishment commencing with 30 days house arrest and a $1,000 fine for DUI on March 23.
• Jacob David Lindsey, 28, of Factoryville, was sentenced to 12 months probation and a $500 fine for possession of drug paraphernalia on Feb. 22.
• Misty Denae Mead, 39, of Little Meadows, was sentenced to 12 months probation and a $500 fine for theft by unlawful taking on Jan. 2, 2019.
• Richele Mortimer, 48, of Tunkhannock, was sentenced to 155 days-23 months in county jail, followed by 37 months probation and a $1,500 fine for DUI of a controlled substance, second offense, on June 10, 2019.
• Randy Cloyd Myers II, 27, of Monroe Township, was sentenced to 72 hours-six months in county jail, a $1,000 fine, and $39.21 restitution for DUI of a controlled substance on March 8; and to 12 months probation and a $500 fine for possession of drug paraphernalia on March 8, with sentences to be served concurrently.
• Michael Paul Parkhurst, 27, of Tunkhannock, was sentenced to two days-18 months in county jail and a $500 fine for simple assault on Nov. 18, 2019.
• Briana Marie Viti, 25, of Ulster, was sentenced to 72 hours-30 days in county jail and a $1,000 fine for DUI of a controlled substance on Jan. 6.
• Priann Fay Williams, 30, of Mildred, was sentenced to 72 hours-six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine for DUI of a controlled substance on Aug. 3, 2019.
Two years ago Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale accused Wyoming County of failing to submit required paperwork since 2007, to claim funds that rightfully belonged to it.
The county acknowledged during its commissioners meeting Tuesday morning that it had received $167,000 reimbursement from the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to its Liquid Fuels fund.
Commissioner Rick Wilbur said, “That is now cleared and money is available for use on county-owned bridges maintenance.”
“I want to thank county clerk Bill Gaylord for his perseverance to get get this,” commissioner Ernie King added.
Neither had been on the commissioners when DePasquale made the charge in November 2018, and they felt it made the county look bad.
For more than a decade, Depasquale charged that Wyoming County, thanks to a lack of paperwork from Gaylord, failed to claim funds in bridge inspection reimbursements from the state Department of Transportation, according to a state audit.
The auditor general had suggested in a press release at the time, “Drivers should not be dodging potholes because someone at the county level let the necessary paperwork simply fall through the cracks.”
The truth, according to Gaylord, is that the county owns no roads so the charge about potholes was ridiculous.
But, the state does reimburse counties 80 to 100 percent of the cost for bridge inspections, which are required every two years, and counties must submit invoices to PennDOT for reimbursement.
Gaylord said Tuesday he wanted to thank PennDOT for its considerable help to the county to getting the liquid fuels money in a line item- should the county ever needing to access it.
He said the county-owned dozen or so bridges are in relatively good shape, so he doesn’t anticipate need the funds anytime soon.
He acknowledged two years ago that some paperwork was filled out but never filed. He is happy the county can put the matter behind it.
An annual Wyoming County Halloween tradition will not be happening this year.
The annual Tunkhannock Kiwanis Halloween Parade that takes place in downtown Tunkhannock on Oct. 31 is a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tunkhannock Kiwanis board recently made the tough decision to cancel the parade, board member Barbara Hughes said, and all were upset about the decision.
“I feel horrible,” Hughes said. “But that’s why we have a board to make tough decisions like this. The decision was made in the best interests of all parties involved.”
The parade usually starts at the Wyoming County Courthouse and ends at Greenwood’s Furniture.
Hughes estimated that in recent years more than 300 people attended the event.
But, this is the second year in a row that the parade has had to be cancelled. The 2019 edition was cancelled because of inclement weather.
The Halloween parade isn’t the only Kiwanis event to be lost however, as the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out a lot of the Kiwanis’s major events.
“We didn’t do our canoe and kayak race, our Easter egg hunt, Peanuts Day,” Hughes said. “We lost a lot of events, the pandemic has hit community gatherings hard.”
Mark Monsey, President of the Tunkhannock Business Professionals Association and owner of Greenwood’s Furniture, which helps financially and logistically put the event together, understands the decision to cancel but still wishes the Kiwanis could have found some way to hold the event.
“I understand the abundance of caution,” Monsey said. “But it doesn’t change the fact that the kids look forward to this every year, even the adults spend a lot of time making the costumes. It’s just really sad that we have to miss it for the second year in a row.”
Monsey says he’ll miss seeing the kids parade through downtown Tunkhannock, and that it’s always one of the highlights of the Halloween season.
“It’s a riot to see some of the costumes,” Monsey said. “It’s a good, family hometown event that the whole community comes out to see. We have a costume contest. The Wyoming County fair queen usually judges. It’s a really fun time.
The Tunkhannock Kiwanis are, however, looking at a possible substitute for the Halloween parade.
“We’ve been throwing around some ideas to try and put something together,” Hughes said. “The board has been working hard.”
At the Oct. 1 Tunkhannock Borough Council meeting, Mayor Stacy Huber did note that the annual trick-or-treating in the community would be happening on Oct. 31 with the usual time scheduled, 5-7 p.m.