This year’s Wyoming County Community Fair, scheduled for Sept. 2-7 in Meshoppen Township, has officially been canceled.
“The restrictions that came down from the governor made it almost impossible for us to go forward,” said WCCF Vice President Laura Anderson. “We want to do what’s best for our fair community to keep everyone safe.”
Organizers looked at their options and considered holding the fair even if it meant not having all of the traditional elements. They also anticipated implementing protocols for wearing face masks, social distancing and hand washing, she said.
Members of the WCCF Board waited as long as they could to make a final decision.
“It just came down to no way possible with the new restrictions. We realize how much the community looks forward to it,” Anderson said. “Families love to get together, people see folks they haven’t seen all year. It’s such a wonderful thing for families in our area and we feel bad, but we look forward to seeing everyone next year.”
They hope to roll this year’s entertainment lineup over to 2021.
For many fair goers, it was a disappointing yet understandable outcome.
Stacey Peterson, a volunteer leader with the Endless Mountains Community Club and member of the Wyoming County 4-H Livestock Committee, supports the board’s decision.
“Everything the fair board has done up until this point and continues to do is in the utmost support of the 4-H youth that attend and exhibit, the fair goers and our community,” Peterson said.
She noted that restrictions from the state level left organizers with no choice but to cancel, which wasn’t a light decision, especially knowing that 4-H kids rely on the fair.
“It was in the best interest of everybody,” Peterson said. “They had to do what they had to do.”
The Wyoming County Youth Livestock Sale featuring 2020 4-H animals will run online Aug. 31-Sept. 5, with more details to be announced, she added.
2019 Wyoming County Fair Queen Paige Zona will continue her reign for another year out of fairness, since a newly crowned queen wouldn’t have the same opportunity to experience a full fair week like Zona and the queens before her.
“Obviously I was really saddened by the choice, but I understand why the decision had to be made,” Zona said of the cancellation. “We have to keep our volunteers, vendors and attendees safe.”
Each year, she sees the fair as a place to get away for a week, connect with her community and just have fun. Zona also serves as president of the 2019 Junior Fair Board.
“We work year round to put on the fair, so it’s nice to see the reward,” she said.
The organization is always looking for new volunteers to get involved.
“Even though the fair is canceled, we’re going to come back bigger and better for next year,” Zona said.
People interested in volunteering could get in touch with any board member. Anderson reminded that their board meetings held on the third Tuesday of every month at the fairgrounds are open to the public. The next meeting is Aug. 18 at 7 p.m.
“We hope folks will continue to look for updates and be excited for next year’s fair,” she said.
Chris Joseph finally got a new kidney — and a slice of pizza.
On June 18, Joseph underwent a kidney transplant at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville with his longtime friend Mike Maxwell as a living donor.
Both Tunkhannock residents have reported a smooth recovery so far.
About 10 years ago while studying and running cross country at Penn State Scranton, Joseph discovered he would eventually need a kidney transplant. Prior to last month’s surgery, he was on dialysis for 18 months.
When he took to social media looking for a potential donor, Maxwell stepped up, but it wasn’t for the first time. Years ago, he told Joseph he would be willing to donate a kidney when the time comes.
Luckily for Joseph, Maxwell was a perfect match.
The surgery went much better than he expected, Joseph said. He ended up staying in the hospital for fewer days than anticipated.
“It was pretty awesome, my kidney actually ended up working ahead of schedule,” he said.
Early in recovery, he was on a lot of pain medication and didn’t feel much near the incision since some of his nerve endings were cut. It wasn’t until two to three weeks later when he really started to feel pain, but it has since subsided for the most part.
“Right now I can barely even tell that it’s there,” he said. “I even did sit ups yesterday.”
Joseph has enjoyed everything on his post-dialysis list, including drinking an unrestricted amount of fluids per day and eating foods like pizza and ice cream again.
He’s reporting for routine checkups and blood work for at least six months to make sure there aren’t any complications.
For Maxwell, recovery has been rough at times too, as he expected. Each week, he makes progress towards a full recovery.
He started a GoFundMe page to support his family during his time off work and appreciated the donations he received.
“The community was all over it and I thought it was great,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell has been vlogging about their transplant journey on his YouTube channel and expects to post a timeline video soon, which he hopes could raise awareness about the benefits of organ donation and how the recovery isn’t as bad as people might assume.
They both encouraged anyone thinking of being a living donor to get tested.
While Joseph and Maxwell were friends for years prior to the transplant, they agreed that this experience has created an even greater bond.
It’s that time of year again for Procter & Gamble’s health check of the Susquehanna River.
Last week, a team from Stroud Water Research Center out of Avondale began its annual survey on behalf of P&G, collecting macroinvertebrates for testing at four sites on the river.
P&G has been arranging an independent study of the Susquehanna River for 55 years, which is the length of time its Mehoopany plant has been in existence, according to company spokesperson Jose de los Rios.
“As a good steward of the environment, our intent is to understand the impact the plant has on aquatic life on the river and the health of the river,” de los Rios said. “We use the river survey as a check to ensure that we are having a minimum impact on the river.”
Mike Broomall, an entomology technician from Stroud, was collecting samples on July 22 with research assistants Adam Gochnauer and Courtland Hess past the boat launch at Riverside Park in Tunkhannock. Broomall said the second half of their team plans to come out this week.
All three entomologists came in separate vehicles, wore face masks and practiced social distancing because of the ongoing situation with COVID-19.
“We’re examining two sites below the plant and two sites above the plant to get an idea of the insect population, the density and diversity,” Broomall said. “Understanding the insects, how many you have and what’s out there in the stream, you can determine the health of the stream.”
The team lucked out with good weather in the morning, but intended to finish up by noon because of the predicted thunderstorm. Each year, they also have to watch the water levels in the river before heading out.
“Typically at a site, we get 80 to 110 species,” Broomall explained. “Typically you want to find the indicator species of a healthy stream, caddisflies, mayflies and stoneflies. Those are all certainly here in the Susquehanna.”
Although their findings still need to be examined, he expects positive results based on what they discovered so far.
“It’s a healthy stream. It’s got good diversity,” he said. “Overall throughout all the sites we’ve seen about 160 to 180 species.”
If a survey ever yields negative results, de los Rios said P&G would begin an immediate investigation and partner with Stroud and other groups which can help the company solve the problem.
This was Gochnauer’s first time participating in the survey with Stroud. He said P&G is “going out of their way to do it, which is nice to see.”
Broomall also admires the company’s efforts to monitor its impact on the Susquehanna River over the past few decades.
“They want to know and they’ve had us here for many, many years. If you hired someone for one year, you might only get a snapshot,” he said. “You’re not going to get the whole picture if you’re not doing it multiple years. With that many years, they have a great idea of what’s going on.”
The start of the Tunkhannock Area school year for students has been pushed back a week, with the first day for students now Aug. 31, instead of Aug. 24.
The school board on Thursday approved the change, 7-0, with board members William Swilley and John Burke absent.
Teacher in-service days will remain Aug. 17-20 as was proposed in May and approved in June.
With the new start date, the last day of classes will be Wednesday, June 2, according to the new calendar.
While a new start date was approved, what the classes might look like is a work in progress.
At present, grades kindergarten through sixth, as well as life skills support and autistic support, will meet five days a week, with some primary grade instruction (K-2) to be in classrooms in the old Mehoopany school, as well as the Primary Center in Tunkhannock (K-2) along with the Intermediate Center (3-6).
The board unanimously approved a ‘Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan’ which also includes a blended reopening for grades 7-12 alternating days of in-person learning and remote learning for all students.
As discussed in early July, grades 7-12 in the student body would be divided into two groups with each group expected to see two days of in-person learning in the school and two days remote learning with Fridays set aside as remote learning days for everyone.
The health and safety plan did not pointedly deal with instruction, but did address expectations for public health and safety, of students and staff with this assumption:
“All decision makers should be mindful that as long as there are cases of COVID-19 in the community, there are no strategies that can completely eliminate transmission risk within a school population. The goal is to keep transmission as low as possible to safely continue school activities.”
The Tunkhannock Area plan is currently in the green phase with the possibility of movement from more to less restrictive designations or vice-versa depending on local public health conditions.
The plan includes protocols for cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and ventilation; social distancing; monitoring student and staff health; sporting activities; sharing of materials; communal spaces and hallways; and transportation; as well as strategies for responding to possible exposure.
Superintendent Heather McPherson went over all these areas and more in a lengthy PowerPoint presentation.
While these aspects of a phased reopening plan all speak to a brick and mortar commitment to coming to school a certain number of days a week depending on the child’s grade level, McPherson said she gets that some parents might still be reluctant to send their children to school whenever there is believed to be some risk with a number of increased cases surfacing in the community.
So, she spoke to the district’s TASD Fusion C-3 program, with a complete focus on remote learning but with access to the resources of the Tunkhannock district.
She said that if parents wished to go that route a commitment of the first 45 days of the school year would need to be registered by Aug. 3.
More details will be posted on the district’s website at www.tasd.net.
She also graciously extended her office phone number to anyone who might have lingering concerns or questions, and parents should feel free to contact her at 570-836-3111, ext. 1000.
“I would prefer to have a conversation with you if you have concerns’” she said.
Other actions of the board included:
approval of Barbara Landon, Jim Landon and Shana Gregory to be added to the volunteer list.
An employee of the United Methodist Homes campus in Tunkhannock has tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week, the Tunkhannock Manor began its mandatory COVID-19 baseline testing of all residents and staff in order to begin its reopening process, according to Interim Administrator Michael Perlock.
One employee, who Perlock said was and continues to be asymptomatic, tested positive.
“This employee is home on mandatory quarantine,” he said.
In addition to following all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Perlock said the Tunkhannock Manor is tracing any potential exposures. The entire facility has been placed on “enhanced contact-droplet precautions.”
“We have also increased monitoring of all residents for any symptoms associated with COVID-19,” he added. “The staff continues to be screened for symptoms at the start and end of each shift. No other staff or residents have tested positive for COVID-19.”
As of Tuesday at noon, no other nursing or personal care facilities in Wyoming County have reported a positive case of COVID-19 among employees or residents, according to data from the state Department of Health, as well as the state Department of Human Services.
The DOH reported 54 confirmed and three probable cases in Wyoming County on Tuesday, with eight deaths. To date, 1,654 tests have returned negative in the county.
Statewide, there are 106,331 confirmed and 3,053 probable cases, with 7,146 deaths. To date, 1,059,776 tests have returned negative.
The following are confirmed cases in Wyoming County (and neighboring counties that share a zip code):
The Pennsylvania Department of Health redacts exact figures for areas with fewer than five confirmed cases.
Data and resources related to COVID-19 are available online at health.pa.gov.