Yoga on the riverfront returns – Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Posted: July 5, 2020 at 11:44 pm

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July 05, 2020

EDWARDSVILLE It was good to be together again.

A group of friends gathered in one backyard Sunday and had a cookout

Social distancing was practiced. People wore masks.

But we all knew each other.

We had great food and great conversation. We laughed, we joked, we caught up with each other.

This is a group not unlike many that held similar gatherings over the July 4th weekend. These are gatherings born of lifelong friendships and family.

These sort of events have been a part of the fabric of America for generations. I fondly recall my parents taking me to these type events where people brought food, had a few adult beverages, played cards, laughed and enjoyed celebrating Americas birthday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live. We all crave for that return to normalcy that we cherished for all our lives.

And its been a difficult pandemic to say the least. The contagion level of the coronavirus is higher than any before. People can be exposed, not realize they are carrying it and transmit it to others, many who are extremely susceptible to the effects of COVID-19.

So we must be cognizant of this when we venture out in public. We may feel we are invincible, but we are not. And I have witnessed the effort being put forth by most.

So when we gather, we protect ourselves from the virus and we protect our friends and family.

And thats really what friendship and family are all about.

Even with our masks on and social distancing, we still got to see each other, talk to each other and enjoy each other.

And on this July 4th weekend, there were more fireworks emanating from backyards that I have ever seen before. With apologies to all the pets out there, the fireworks were an expression of celebration of gatherings that people not only wanted, but really needed.

I truly believe that this pandemic will pass and a vaccine/cure will be found. Its just that we dont know when that day will come. So until it does arrive, we must remain diligent in practicing those mitigation tools we have been taught.

This group of ours is a vibrant group. We enjoy doing things together. One of our favorites is the annual dance at Irem Temple pavilion with Joe Nardone & the All Stars and Eddie Day and the Starfires. Sadly, this event that annually attract 700-plus, may not be held.

I will also miss the annual Plymouth Alive Kielbasa Festival that provides so much fun and renewal each year. And Plymouth Alive raises money that is put back into the community.

Same with other events like the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival, not to forget all those bazaars of churches and fire companies.

It will all return, we just dont know when.

And we will again celebrate together have fun again together.

But one thing Sundays gathering at our friend Deidre and Franks home proved one thing remains crystal clear.

No pandemic can ever change the love we all have for each other.

Good food, good friends, good conversation, great fireworks, great time.

That will always be with us all.

July 05, 2020

Jason Carr bought a small corner lot on Catlin Avenue in Wilkes-Barre in 2016 because it was only $500 and adjacent to a single-family residential structure he already owned.

The 0.17-acre lot, which Carr said is too small to house a building, was available cheap because it had been abandoned by the prior owner and wasnt sold in popular Luzerne County back-tax auctions. The county typically has about 1,000 of these repository properties up for grabs, and taxing bodies are eager to unload them.

Assuming he was stuck with the countys $10,000 real estate tax assessment on the lot, Carr said he almost fell off the chair at a county government meeting earlier this year when officials discussed a state law covering repository property assessments.

This statute says the purchase price of repository properties shall be deemed to be the fair market value of the property for tax assessment purposes.

Carr argued this means the county should have automatically reduced the assessed value to the price paid in his case $500.

Instead, the county has required property owners to file assessment appeals to receive a reduction. The county also set the minimum repository assessment at $1,000 as part of the countywide reassessment that took effect in 2009.

County lawyers continue to vehemently maintain the county is in compliance with the law because the statute refers to fair market value instead of expressly stating the purchase price must become the assessed value.

Fair market value does not necessarily equal the appropriate tax assessment, which is why an appeal is required, the county administration says.

Nevertheless, the county administration has decided assessors office procedures would be simplified if the assessment change is automatic. Starting Sept. 1, the repository purchase price will be the assessed value, county Manager C. David Pedri recently announced.

Carr questioned if this new directive will be applied retroactively.

The administration said it will not, which leaves a legal challenge as the only recourse for purchases before that date.

Convinced the Sept. 1 change is what the county should have been doing all along, Carr said he is exploring legal options and has contacted government investigatory agencies attempting to force officials to lower his assessment to $500 dating back to the 2016 purchase.

A Saylorsburg resident who owns multiple rental properties in the county, Carr said its a bigger issue than his own purchase because he has identified many other vacant lots purchased from the repository that still contain the original assessments.

Carr also believes the county should have informed property owners of its requirement to file assessment appeals to qualify for the reduction, particularly because hes found at least 18 other counties that have been making the assessment change automatically.

Repository buyers are helping taxing bodies by taking ownership of properties that had been deserted and maintaining them, Carr said.

The repository assessment issue has come up before.

In 2017, New York resident Alex Zbinovsky said he cant proceed with plans to fix up a former Wilkes-Barre factory he bought for $500 from the repository in 2013 until the assessment issue is addressed.

The assessment on the 43,000-square-foot brick property at 447 New Grove St. is $225,000.

His attorney, William Vinsko, said last week that litigation is still pending on the matter. Vinsko has long argued the county should have automatically lowered the assessment to the repository purchase price and said he still holds that position.

The county assessment appeals board had issued a ruling in April 2013 keeping the New Grove property assessment at $673,100. The board reduced the value to $225,000 in September 2014 but declined a further reduction, records show.

Most properties that land in the repository are rundown structures, land slivers or large undeveloped parcels with access problems or other hurdles, officials have said. The properties can be purchased at any time, and a list of those available is updated regularly and posted at

In a separate issue related to these properties, councils real estate committee also is recommending repository purchases be increased from $500 to $1,000 if a parcel contains a structure, with land-only properties remaining at $500. Council is set to vote on the proposed purchase price change this month.

July 05, 2020

WILKES-BARRE The Pennsylvania Department of Health Sunday reported six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Luzerne County and no new deaths.

Those numbers bring the total cases to 2,956 and the death count remains at 178.

In Lackawanna County, there are 1,733 confirmed cases and 207 deaths; in Monroe County, there are 1,436 cases and 109 deaths.

The Department of Health Sunday confirmed that there are 479 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 89,854. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

There are 6,753 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 4 new deaths reported.

Mask wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are 634 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases.

There are 734,846 patients who have tested negative to date.

Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

Nearly 1% are ages 0-4;

1% are ages 5-12;

Nearly 3% are ages 13-18;

Nearly 8% are ages 19-24;

Nearly 37% are ages 25-49;

24% are ages 50-64; and

Nearly 27% are ages 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 17,923 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,346 cases among employees, for a total of 21,296 at 709 distinct facilities in 52 counties.

Out of our total deaths, 4,592 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

Approximately 6,806 of our total cases are in health care workers.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit Responding to COVID-19 on

Currently, all 67 counties are in the green phase of reopening.

July 05, 2020

Luzerne Countys administration recently started collective bargaining negotiations with the detective union, which is operating under a contract that expires the end of this year, said county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik.

Only one expired county union contract is still outstanding with the assistant district attorneys/public defenders, Parsnik said.

Binding arbitration became necessary with those workers because both sides reached an impasse negotiating a new contract to replace one that expired the end of 2018, officials have said.

Parsnik said he has no idea when the arbitrators decision will be completed and released to the county.

Courthouse eatery

The Center City Cafs recent opening in the county courthouse basement cafeteria has been a phenomenal success, said county Manager C. David Pedri.

Workers and visitors at the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre can dine in, with social distancing enforced, or pick up their orders, Pedri said.

He recently enjoyed a salad there and said the prices are reasonable.

The food is delicious. The people love it, Pedri said.

Council approved the lease to business owner YonKondy Enterprises LLC in March. The business will pay monthly rent of $500 for the first half of the five-year contract and $525 for the second half.

Wedding rental

After cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, the county has booked its first courthouse wedding in months a small ceremony on July 11, Pedri said.

Information on holding weddings at the facility is posted on the building/grounds department section at

Tax sale

Luzerne Countys popular main Aug. 13 free-and-clear delinquent tax auction has been postponed to Nov. 5, according to Sean Shamany, a representative of county tax-claim operator Elite Revenue Solutions LLC.

This final-stage sale typically draws crowds because liens and back taxes are no longer attached.

Shamany said the rescheduling does not stem from coronavirus-related limitations on large gatherings because Elite could space people apart and limit attendees to registered bidders with no spectators. County tax sales are held at the Kings College auxiliary gym on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Instead, Shamany said the concern is fitting in all required court hearings tied to the auction while judges work to catch up on cases backlogged because of the pandemic.

There are no plans at this time to delay the Sept. 24 upset sale, which is a first stage auction, Shamany said.

Write-in votes

Luzerne County primary election voters can get a glimpse of why it took the county Election Board days to count write-in votes.

The final June 2 election results, posted on the main page at, now include the extensive list of nominees voters wrote down instead of selecting contenders on the ballot.

On both the Republican and Democratic sides in the presidential race, for example, numerous other names were entered. Among the unsuccessful nominees were docuseries tiger owner Joe Exotic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Elon Musk and Bishop Joseph Bambera.

In all seriousness, names entered in jest slow up the processing of votes, particularly with the increase in mail-in ballots requiring the Election Board to decipher handwriting instead of reading letters typed on an electronic voting machine.

Each new write-in name also had to be manually entered into the voting results system during the review process.

July 05, 2020

Luzerne and Lackawanna counties are working with a consultant to develop a regional blueprint for transportation, land preservation and development and other issues facing their communities for years to come.

Recommended every decade, the last comprehensive bi-county plan was released in 2012.

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Yoga on the riverfront returns - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

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