Local News


Coaldale cuts 3 full-time officers

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Summit Hill Police Chief Joseph Fittos, foreground, listens as state Fraternal Order of Police attorney Tom Egan makes his case before Coaldale Borough Council on Tuesday. Sitting next to Egan is Lansford Police Chief John Turcmanovich.Chief left with part-timers; 2 borough workers also part of cost-cutting

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale Borough Council on Tuesday virtually eliminated its full-time police department as a cost-cutting measure.

Council voted unanimously to furlough the borough's three full-time officers, leaving only Chief Timothy Delaney and two part-timers as it adopted a 2012 budget that calls for a 2.5 mill tax increase.

Council also cut two full-time borough worker jobs.

"There was nothing against their work ethics or anything like that. It just came down to number-crunching," Councilman Tom Keerans said after the public meeting. "Benefits are very expensive these days."

Keerans said that without the furloughs, the borough would have had to increase the property tax by 7 mills, which would have been beyond the legal limit.

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Coaldale budget carries tax increase

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale property owners will have to dig a little deeper into their wallets this year.

Council on Tuesday adopted a $1,686,175 budget that calls for a 2.4 mill tax increase and cut five full-time employees, including three police officers and having council and the mayor forego their monthly stipends.

The 11.09 percent tax increase brings the total levy to 25.04 mills.

The spending plan means the owner of a home assessed at $25,000 will pay $626 this year. That's $62.50 more than last year.

Each mill generates about $28,000.

The millage breaks down to 21.540 for the general fund (up 2 mills); 2 mills for the light fund (up 0.5 mill); 1 mill for the fire protection fund and 0.5 mill for the pension fund.

The budget was finished and made public hours before council adopted it Tuesday night.

Fire Chief Richard Marek questioned the procedure.

"Doesn't a budget have to be posted for 10 days before passing it?" he asked.

Solicitor Michael Greek said the preliminary budget, approved in December, was posted for 10 days.

However, Marek said council reopened the spending plan on Jan. 10. By law, it had to be adopted by today, Feb. 15.

Ed J. Knittle, who is the senior director of Education and Sustainability for the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs, said the new spending plan should have been published and posted, just as the original one was.

The 2012 budget includes no money for office cleaning – the assistant secretary has volunteered to do that on her own time. It also includes a $9,500 payment on a 2010 police cruiser; $4,000 for a Code Enforcement Officer; $1,200 for an animal control officer's salary; and $300 for the Board of Health; and $239,000 for a 5-year trash collection contract.

The tax increase is smaller than the one proposed in December. That spending plan called for a 3-mill increase. Council has said an increase in workers' compensation premiums and loan repayments associated with contract with a Lackawanna County firm, Municipal Energy Managers, which is being investigated for fraud, for the need for a tax hike.

Coaldale woman sentenced to federal prison on drug counts

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Coaldale woman was sentenced to a federal prison term this week on drug charges.

Brianna Koschak, 22, was sentenced on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Wilkes-Barre, to serve 16 months in prison.

U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo also ruled that Koschak must serve three years of supervised release following the prison term and pay a special assessment of $100.

Koschak pleaded guilty on April 18, 2011, to criminal conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, a grand jury indicted Koschak and nine other people, including her sister, Beth Koschak, on Oct. 7, 2008.

It was alleged that the 10 participated in the drug-trafficking ring starting in April 2008 and continuing until October.

Authorities charged that the ring obtained drugs in New York and Schuylkill County and distributed them in the county.

The ring also carried firearms to collect drug debts and used cell phones as part of the conspiracy.

An investigation into the operation was conducted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and local police in the county.

All 10 members of the conspiracy have pleaded guilty to various charges.

Brianna Koschak is the seventh to be sentenced and received the same sentence as her sister.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa, who prosecuted the case, said Zachary Guichard, of New York, the leader of the conspiracy, received the longest prison term of 72 months in prison.

Tax delinquencies affect services

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shortfalls often force school districts and municipalities to hike rates

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Overwhelmed and frustrated, Coaldale borough council members struggle to patch together a 2012 budget that won't burden taxpayers with a millage increase.

The borough isn't alone in its quest, and one of the biggest hurdles boroughs and school districts face is making ends meet when property owners can't, or won't, pay their fair share of the tax burden.

The consequences include heavier loads on prompt taxpayers, and skimping on services provided by schools and municipalities.

The problem is growing, says Ed Knittel, Senior Director, Education and Sustainability for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.

Read more...

Details emerge on Coaldale vehicular incident

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Larry Neff/special to the Times News Ambulance and police personnel at the scene of last Saturday's Coaldale domestic incident, which led to the charges being filed against George Bonetsky. His wife, Angelique, is in stable condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital.Angelique Bonetsky remains hospitalized in stable condition

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

A Coaldale man whom police believe deliberately struck his wife of 17 years with his pickup truck on Saturday afternoon remains in Schuylkill County Prison under $50,000 straight cash bail.

George J. Bonetsky IV, 34, of 262 Fourth St., is charged with felony aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and reckless driving.

The victim, Angelique Bonetsky, is in stable condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by patrolman Scott Cramer, here's what happened:

Cramer was called to the scene of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle at about 4:30 p.m. and found Angelique Bonetsky lying on the ground between a Ford F250 pickup and a Ford Ranger pickup. Both trucks were facing the same direction, with the Ranger parked on the side of the street and the F250, still running, in the travel lane about 10 inches from the side of the Ranger.

Angelique was lying toward the back of the trucks, with her feet to the back tires. Witnesses told Cramer the driver of the F250, identified as George Bonetsky, had struck her as she stood by the Ranger's driver's side door.

Cramer asked Bonetsky to move his truck to allow emergency medical crews access to his wife. He then asked Bonetsky what had happened, and Bonetsky said something had gotten stuck under his gas pedal and he was unable to stop.

Cramer then spoke with a witness who said she was standing on the sidewalk when Angelique was struck. The witness told Cramer that the couple was moving into the home and had been arguing. The witness said Bonetsky had left the house angry, and that when he returned, he had come up the street very fast and struck Angelique.

Bonetsky again told Cramer he was unable to stop the truck and that it had swerved. He said he and Angelique are married for 17 years and that he would never hurt her.

Cramer also spoke with a witness who said she and her mother-in-law had heard the couple arguing from their home across the street, and that the Bonetskys had been screaming and yelling obscenities at each other.

The witness said she walked to the corner of Fourth and High streets and saw Bonetsky drive from the area of High Street to Fifth Street.

He was driving normally, she said, and stopped at a stop sign. She said that as he turned onto Fourth Street, he stepped on the gas and went up Fourth very fast.

The witness said she heard tires squealing, and screaming. She looked back to see Angelique on the ground and ran to help. The witness said she heard Bonetsky say he had hit the brakes and that the truck had swerved.

Cramer's investigation showed that the F250 had traveled 154 feet, seven feet from the corner of High and Fourth streets.

The skid marks that were left on the road were: Left tire, 16 feet, five inches; right tire, 12 feet, six inches. There was an 11-foot, two-inch length from the end of the skid mark to of the left tire to the point of impact of the victim.

The left tire skid mark was 15 feet straight, and then curved to the left for one foot, five inches.

The skid marks started from the middle of the roadway and angled directly toward the Ranger and where Angelique had been standing at the point of impact.

The victim was struck by the passenger side front bumper and impacted into the side of the Ranger, causing about three inches of intrusion into the bed of the truck.

The only damage to the F250 was scraping on the front bumper.

However, there were visible marks down the side of the truck from Angelique's body, only causing the dirt to be disturbed.

During questioning, Bonetsky, who had been read his Miranda warnings, said he wanted to talk with Cramer.

Bone
tsky told Cramer that he and Angelique had been arguing over bringing their dogs to the home they were moving into. He said they were not arguing very much, but that he had left because he was upset. Bonetsky told Cramer he drove around the block and when he returned, he drove up Fourth Street and was going fast, but had wanted to pull up alongside of Angelique.

Bonetsky then changed that statement, saying he was going to park his truck in front of the Ranger she was standing next to. Bonetsky said he could not stop, and thought there was something under the gas or brake pedal, but was not sure, and that he slammed on the brakes and the F250 swerved toward Angelique.

Bonetsky was found guilty of drug charges in September. The charges were filed by police in Tamaqua, where Bonetsky had lived at the time.

Coadale police investigating violent domestic dispute; woman hospitalized

Monday, January 16, 2012


Emergency personnel were dispatched at 3:30 p.m. to 4th street to a reported motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian being struck. Reports from the scene were that a 30-year old woman was found lying in the street.

The victim was treated at the scene by members of the Lansford ambulance and Lehighton paramedics before being transported to the Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale. A medical transport helicopter was placed on standby.

A sort time later, Coaldale police handcuffed and took into custody a male at the scene who was reported to be the victim's husband, the driver of a pickup truck which struck the woman. Coaldale police are continuing their investigation. The TIMES NEWS was unable to reach police this morning for further details on the incident.

Coaldale council reopens budget

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Borough struggling with its expenditures as costs rise and revenue lags

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale borough council's first order of business in this new year was to tinker with the budget it adopted in December, hoping to make it putter along on fewer tax dollars.

The board, at its regular public meeting Tuesday, supported Councilman Tom Keerans' motion to reopen the spending plan. Councilwoman Nancy Lorchak said her budget committee expects to have a proposal ready for council's Feb. 14 meeting.

On Dec. 13, council approved a 2012 budget that calls for a 3-mill, 13.3 percent, property tax increase. Under that plan, which increases the tax rate to 25.54 mills, the owner of a property assessed at $25,000 would pay $638.50 in borough tax up $75 from last year. Each mill generates about $28,000.

The borough, like many others, is struggling to make ends as costs rise and revenue lags.

Lorchak said the failure of more people to pay their taxes looms large in the budget picture. Last year, tax delinquencies left the borough $96,624 – almost 3.5 mills – in the hole. Further, the borough has gotten word that St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital for the first time in decades has decided to not contribute its traditional annual $17,000 stipend, even though Coaldale signed off on a $1.5 million grant application for the facility, maintains the street built to link Route 209 to the hospital and borough police are frequently called to the hospital to handle unruly patients.

Among the increased expenses are an additional $12,000 in workmens' compensation costs, bumping the annual bill to $52,000, and another $13,000 to repay money borrowed for a never-fulfilled contract with Municipal Energy Managers, of Lackawanna County, which had promised to save the borough thousands of dollars a year by taking over its street light system operations from PPL.

In other matters Tuesday, council:

-Agreed to buy a $350 backflow device to prevent further leakage of sewage into the cellar of a Water Street home owned by Steve and Michelle Tentylo. The couple in October asked council for help. The sewage floods into the home during heavy rains, when storm water mixes with sewer effluent. SteveTentylo said he believed the problem started when the borough put in a new 8-inch main last October. The line narrows to 6-inches at one point, and that is too small to handle the flow of storm water.

Further, he has said, the borough in 2006 plugged a pipe that had discharged sewage into a creek from a nearby property whose owners did not connect to the borough system. Now, Tentylo said, the sewer and storm water combine during periods of heavy rain and back up into his basement.

Council had its engineer inspect the area, and learned the solution was to install the backflow device.

-Discussed the ongoing mold problem in a vacant half-double house at 132 W. Ridge St. Ruthanne and Ron Kehl, who live in the attached home at 134 W. Ridge St., are angry and frustrated. They have been pleading for help for almost two years, asking council to do something about the situation.

"I've about had it," Ruthanne Kehl said.

The house at 132 W. Ridge has been vacant since the owner was forced by the borough to leave in April, 2010 when a long-neglected water leak damaged the house too much to make it safe for human habitation.

The roof continues to leak between the adjoining wall, and the water from that and flooding in an adjacent lot have resulted in the empty house becoming overwhelmed by mold. The Kehl's have been battling the creeping mold infestation and a burgeoning rat problem.

The couple has unsuccessfully sought help from federal and state agencies, and from state Sen. David G. Argall. On Tuesday, Councilman David Yelito said he would again call Schuylkill County's grant writer, Gary Bender, to press him to find money to allow the borough to acquire and demolish the property.

-Listened as Fire Chief Richard Marek updated them about the company's efforts to recoup money spent to clean up a fuel oil spill. Marek in December said it cost the company $300 for 1,500 pounds of absorbent to mop up the oil, which was spilled by a resident who was hauling it in a tank in the back of a pickup truck on Nov. 27. The oil spilled from the area of the car wash along borough streets to High Street. The state Department of Environmental Protection mandated the cleanup, Marek has said. He said the truck driver may also be charged for the fire company's time and equipment use.

Marek on Tuesday said a bill has been sent, but that the resident continues to refuse to give the fire company insurance information. Council asked Police Chief Tim Delaney to direct the officer who was on duty that night, Joseph Krebs, to pay the man a visit.

Looking for a vintage flip-top desk? Coaldale has a deal

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

About 1,000 old flip-top school desks stored in the Coaldale Complex are up for grabs.

Councilman David Yelito on Tuesday said the borough will likely sell the metal from the desks for scrap.

Fire Chief Richard Marek said his crew could hammer off the wood and use it in firefighter training.

But Councilman Joe Hnat said the public should have a chance to acquire some of the desks. There are three or four styles, Yelito said.

Councilman Tom Keerans suggested putting a notice on the borough's website, www.coaldaleborough.org. Those interested in obtaining a desk are asked to call borough secretary Louise Lill at (570) 645- 6310.

The complex is the former Coaldale High School, at Sixth and Phillip streets.

Coaldale Council reorganizes; Solt renamed president

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


After solicitor Michael Greek swore in newly-elected members Doerr, and Republican incumbents Nancy Lorchak, Thomas Keerans, and Steve Tentylo, council reappointed Susan Solt as president and appointed Lorchak as vice-president.

Lorchak was the top vote-getter in the November general election with 375 votes. She was followed by Doerr, with 322 votes; Keerans, with 257 and Tentylo, with 254 votes.

Mayor Richard Corkery, who has not attended meetings since charges of downloading child pornography were filed against him in July, did not attend the reorganization.

Also at its reorganization meeting, council appointed Robert Demyanovich to another term on the Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority, with Joseph Hnat and Keerans opposed.

Hnat was unsuccessful in two tries to appoint other people: His nominations of Ted Bortnick and Tom Marushak both fell to a 5-2 vote, with only Hnat and Keerans voting for those candidates. Solt, Lorchak, Tentylo, Doerr and David Yelito opposed Bortnick and Marushak, voting in favor of Demyanovich.

Demyanovich's previous term ended Dec. 31. Lansford council elects three officers to the authority board; Coaldale appoints two.

In other matters, council appointed Bob Ames to the sewer authority; and agreed to retain Greek as solicitor; Alfred Benesch as engineer; Richard Marek as fire chief; Louise Lill as secretary-treasurer; Cindy Ray as zoning hearing board solicitor; and Mark Richards as Board of Health officer. Solt will be the borough's delegate to the Carbon County Tax Collection Committee, with Yelito as alternate.

Lions donate to Coaldale hospital

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


RON GOWER/TIMES NEWSThe Summit Hill Lions Club has made a donation to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in Coaldale. Bill Moyer, second from left, accepts a check from Lions co-president Judy Midas. Looking on are, left, Micah Gursky, director of development for St. Luke's Miners, and Tom Ponting, Summit Hill Lions co-president.

Schuylkill commissioners approve demolition of Coaldale building

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A contract to demolish a vacant double home in Coaldale borough was awarded by the Schuylkill County Commissioners at Wednesday's board meeting held at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Northeast Industrial Services, of Mount Carmel, the low bidder at $11,440, was awarded the contract to demolition the double frame home at 119-121 Greenwood Street, of which the borough acquired ownership.

The county will pay 75 percent of the cost of the demolition which will be $8,580 through its CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) Program and the borough will pay 25 percent which will be $2,860.

The commissioners also approved a cooperation agreement with the borough which spells out the obligations of each party.

The double home is in the Seek secition of the borough. According to Schuylkill County property records, 121 Greenwood Street is owned by a Michael Swaen, who bought it from Wachovia Bank for $18,000 in February 2005. The house burned at least four years ago, but nothing has been done to clean up the mess.

The house at 119 Greenwood is owned by Jean D. Pillion, who bought it from Swaen for $1 in December 2005.

Bids opened for demolition of Coaldale home

Thursday, December 22, 2011

At the work session Wednesday held by the Schuylkill County Commissioners three bids were received and opened for demolition. of a structure at 119 and 121 Greenwood Street, Coaldale.

The bidders were Northeast Industrial Services, Shamokin, $11,440; Spotts Brothers, Inc., Schuylkill Haven, $16,300 and Nimaris Construction, L.P., Bath, $23,813. The bids were referred to a committee for study and recommendation for awarding the contract at a future public meeting. The project is under the county's CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) Program. The cost to the borough will be 25 percent and CDBG Program 75 percent on for the demolition. The homes are vacant and are now owned by the borough. One of the buildings was damaged by a fire.

Read more...

Coaldale, Schuylkill Township to receive grant money

Thursday, December 15, 2011

By AL DIETZ tneditor@tnonline.com

Two area communities, Coaldale and Schuylkill Township, were among the few who received grant monies awarded by the Schuylkill County commissioners from the county's proposed 2012 Community Developmenmt Block Grant at a public meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Schuylkill Township will receive $11,381 for a sidewalk and retaining wall at the Brockton Fire Company building and Coaldale Borough $56,000 for stormwater improvements on E. Phillips Street, between East Street and the borough line.

Above two lines are relative to Coaldale.

Read full article here ...

Coaldale residents facing 3-mill tax hike

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale taxpayers are facing a 3 mill, 13.3 percent property tax increase.

Council on Tuesday reluctantly approved a preliminary 2012 budget that calls for the hike. Council members Dave Yelito, Nancy Lorchak, Tom Keerans, Steve Tentylo and President Susan Solt voted to approve the spending plan. Councilman Andrew Girard was opposed and Joseph Hnat was absent.

If the increase remains unchanged, the millage rate will be 25.54 next year. That means the owner of a home assessed at $25,000 would pay $638.50 in borough property tax. That's up $75 from this year.

Details of the budget, including projected revenue and expense figures, were unavailable as of late Tuesday.

Each mill generates about $20,000, Lorchak said. Two of the three additional mills would go into the general fund and the remaining mill would be split between the street light fund and the workmens' compensation account. Lorchak said the workmens' compensation bill increased by $12,000 this year and now stands at $52,000.

The proposal drew concern from all but Yelito, who said he doesn't mind paying the local tax "because this is my borough."

"Three mills is fine with me," he said.

Yelito went on to say that the increase wouldn't be needed if a coal company whose name he did not specify would ante up the substantial amount of back taxes it owes.

That money is apart from the back taxes owed by residents.

Last year, the borough was short about $79,000 in delinquent property taxes, Lorchak said. That's almost 4 mills

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Open house will benefit Toys for Tots

Friday, December 2, 2011

Coaldale VFW Post 6982 will host an open house Christmas party from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Dec. 16. Admission will be a new, unwrapped toy for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.

There will be live music, food, fun and more.

The event is hosted by the Coaldale VFW Ladies Auxiliary. The VFW is located at 1 E. Ridge St., Coaldale. For more information, call (570) 645-9939.

The Coaldale High School Class of 1963 is planning a 50-year reunion. The exact date and place for the reunion will be determined in January, 2012, via a written survey of those classmates who are interested in attending. As of December, 2011, 12 (52%) of 23 classmates have expressed an interest in attending. To request further information, please send an e-mail to: http://coaldalehighalumni.homestead.com/files/(EmptyReference!)

Demolition of Coaldale building authorized

Friday, November 25, 2011

By AL DIETZ tneditor@tnonline.com

Schuylkill County Demolition Director Gary Bender was authorized to seek bids for demolition of buildings in Coaldale and Tower City boroughs at Wednesday's commissioner's meeting in Pottsville.

The Coaldale building, a double two-story frame structure at 119 and 121 Greenwood Street, was purchased by the borough for $100 from Jean Pillion. Bids will be advertised on December 2 and 7 with the bids due back in the controller's office by December 19 and a bid opening on December 21. The tentative award date is December 28.

Abridged

Thanksgiving Eve service slated in Coaldale

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Thanksgiving Eve Service will be conducted at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, at First Congregational Church, Coaldale. All are welcome to attend the service.

Sunday, Nov. 27, is the First Sunday of Advent. Morning Worship will be held at 9 a.m., followed by Sunday School at 10 a.m.

Orders for Christmas poinsettias will be accepted until Sunday. Dec. 4.

Councilman among three to apply for seat on joint water authority

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale councilman Joseph Hnat wants a seat on the beleaguered Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority.

Hnat was one of three people who have sent letters of interest to the borough in being appointed to the position. The others are borough residents Ted Bortnick, the town's former mayor, and water authority officer Robert Demyanovich, whose term ends Dec. 31.

Hnat, Bortnick and Demyanovich are the first people to apply. Council expects to make a decision next month, so applicants are still welcome.

Lansford elects three officers to the authority board; Coaldale appoints two.

Read more...

Council begins working on 2012 budget

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale borough council has embarked on its journey toward a 2012 budget, and the road promises to be a rocky one.

"It's going to be rough this year," said Councilwoman Nancy Lorchak. "The borough bills are being paid by the elderly and the working class."

Currently, property owners pay a real estate levy of 22.54 mills. That means the owner of a home assessed for taxes at $25,000 pays $563.50 in property tax $50 more than in 2010.

When council adopted the 2011 budget last December, it anticipated about $1.5 million in expenses. At the time, each mill could be expected to generate about $20,000.

As it begins crafting the 2012 spending plan, council anticipates eliminating overtime for employees to save money.

Read more...

Officials take first steps in acquiring mold house

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

After more than a year of listening to a West Ridge Street couple's pleas to Coaldale borough council to do something about a vacant, mold-infested house that's attached to theirs, officials on Tuesday finally took the first steps toward acquiring and tearing down the property.

Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Lee Nicholas said that as of Thursday, he will be able to begin to cite owner Lisa O'Brien, who was evicted from the house at 132 W. Ridge in April 2010 after an ongoing water leak from faulty plumbing made the house unfit to live in. It is now up for tax sale. Nicholas was hired on Oct. 11, and was only just recently certified to inspect properties and issue citations.

Councilman David Yelito said he will contact Schuylkill County grant writer Gary Bender to see what, if any, money is available to demolish the house.

Ron and Ruthanne Kehl, who live in 134 W. Ridge, were relieved that the wheels have finally begun to turn

Read more...

Judge denies Coaldale property owner's appeal

Thursday, November 10, 2011

By AL DIETZ tneditor@tnonline.com

A Coaldale property owner was denied a preliminary injunction to halt the borough from enforcing its property maintenance ordinances after a hearing held in Schuylkill County court.

Diane L. Riccardo, who resides at 250 E. Water St., brought suit against the borough, Susan Solt in her capacity as borough council president, Jamie Nicholas, in his capacity as code enforcer, and Carl Faust, in his capacity as code administrator.

Judge John E. Domalakes heard the complaint where Riccardo appeared in her own behalf and Nicholas and Solt on behalf of the borough and then issued the following order:

"The matter before the court is request for emergency relief to enjoin the borough from enforcing the borough's ordinances pertaining to property maintenance. (The borough adopted the International Property Maintenance Code). Riccardo testified she didn't have the finances at this time to bring her property into compliance with the ordinances.

Read more...

Judge allows borough to enforce property ordinances

by peter e. bortner (staff writer pbortner@republicanherald.com)

Published: November 8, 2011

Coaldale officials may enforce its ordinances against a woman who recently bought a house that is not connected to the borough water system, a Schuylkill County judge decided Monday.

In a three-page opinion and order, Judge John E. Domalakes ruled that Diane Riccardo provided no reason to bar Coaldale from enforcing its property maintenance ordinances against her for the condition of 250 E. Water St.

"(Riccardo) has presented no legal authority for her proposition that the Court should enjoin the Borough of Coaldale from enforcing its property maintenance ordinances," Domalakes wrote.

As a result, Domalakes refused to issue an injunction that would prevent the borough from enforcing those ordinances, thereby enabling it to proceed against Riccardo.

"The place was … total shambles," Code Enforcement Officer Jamie L. Nicholas testified at Monday's hearing.

There are broken windows and a broken door in the building, high grass in the yard and no running water in the building, Nicholas said.

Furthermore, three people are living in the building, according to the moving permit, Nicholas said.

That is a violation of the borough ordinances, solicitor Michael S. Greek, Lansford, said in arguing to allow enforcement of those regulations.

"The property is in disarray," he said. "It creates a dangerous condition for the municipality."

Riccardo had asked Domalakes to bar Coaldale from enforcing its ordinances against her, saying she does not have the money to fix the property.

"What I am asking for at this point is time," she said.

However, Domalakes decided justice is on the side of the borough.

"It also appears that greater harm will occur to the neighborhood by granting the injunction that by refusing it," he wrote.

Races decided in Coaldale and West Penn Twp.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There were not many local races yesterday in the TIMES NEWS coverage area for the general election. The lack of local races may have contributed to the very low voter turnout in Schuylkill County, despite the fact there were races for commissioner and "row" offices.

Here are the local winners of the contested races.

Coaldale

In Coaldale there was a race for four seats, four year terms on council with five canidates vying for the positions.

The winners were Nancy Lorchak, who got 375 votes, followed by Michael J. Doerr, 322; Thomas D. Keerans Sr., 257; and Steve Tentylo, 254. The odd man out is Paul F. Coppie, who got 202 votes. Lorchak and Doerr won both nominations in the primary. Both are Republicans as is Keerans and Tentylo.

Abridged...

Veterans church service held in Coaldale

Monday, November 7, 2011

The First Congregational Church in Coaldale held their annual Veterans Day Service Sunday in recognition to all who've served. The church has been paying tribute to area veterans for the past eight years during its Sunday Morning Worship service on both Memorial Day and Veterans' Day. Prior to the service, a slide show of photographs of local veterans dating back to World War II was presented. The service also consisted of a joint community choir of 23 church members from the Panther Valley, Tamaqua and Hometown areas, who sang a number of patriotic selections. Veterans in attendance were also recognized during the service.

Water main break floods hospital

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

By ANDREW LEIBENGUTH aleibenguth@tnonline.com

Rushing water overwhelmed the entire lower level and upper loading dock area of the St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in Coaldale during a water main break that occurred just before 6 a.m. today.

Hospital employees and workers with the Lansford/Coaldale Water Authority could be seen scrambling to shut off water inlets to the hospital in attempts to slow or stop the damaging flow of water.

An official on scene stated that water levels inside reached 10 inches in some departments.

Flooded areas consist of the main lobby, emergency room, offices, radiology, lab and offices.

The force of the escaping water on the second level, which is located on sloping ground level, could be seen pushing up a concrete sidewalk slab located in the upper parking lot directly behind the hospital.

There were no reports of any patient evacuations, although there was a limitation of employees allowed into the hospital. No more information was available as of press time.

Hospital officials weren't available at presstime to comment on the situation.

Volunteers with the Coaldale Fire Department are also assisting.

At presstime jackhammers were heard digging up pavement as workers attempted to get to the leak. Yellow police tape surrounded the parking lot, limiting access to the hospital.

Coaldale Republicans to hold election dinner

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Annual Coaldale Republican Club General Election Dinner will be held on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 5 p.m. at the Viennese Villa, 6th and Ruddle streets.

A social hour will precede the dinner at 4:30 p.m.

Guest speakers for the evening will be Frank Staudenmeier and George Halcovage, GOP candidates for county commissioners. Other county row office candidates will also be attending the event.

Information and reservations for the dinner can be made by contacting Bob Ames, town chairman. Reservations must be made prior to the dinner.

Mold victims find a new ally

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ron Kehl, left, explains to state Sen. David G. Argall how the mold problem in the vacant house attached to his is affecting his health. At right is Kehl's wife, Ruthanne.

Sen. Argall pledges to help Coaldale family with their problem

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

A Coaldale family which has been waging a fruitless battle to clean up the vacant, mold-infested house attached to their home has a new ally.

State Sen. David G. Argall last Friday visited Ron and Ruthanne Kehl to learn more about the problem and see how he could help.

"I've spoken to the borough solicitor, and we'll talk to him again," he said. "In my mind, the first step needs to be to get some kind of temporary barrier on the roof so that at least the problem stops getting worse. Then, we go to the tougher issue, which is how do you remove the mold that's already there."

The house at 132 W. Ridge, has been vacant since its owner was evicted in April 2010. But long before that, water leaks from the plumbing and roof were making the place uninhabitable. Water poured through electrical wiring in the Kehl's home, damaged drywall and carpets and infiltrated the basement.

The smell of mold during humid summer months was so bad the couple refused to allow their grandchild to visit.

Ron Kehl has been off work due to respiratory problems since Sept. 12.

"To me, what everybody seems to missing is that this is a health hazard," he said. "This place is a toxic dump. And as a taxpayer, I don't feel I should have to suffer. I think something should have been done immediately."

Read More...

Lansford votes to meet with two water companies

Thursday, October 27, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Lansford Borough Council on Wednesday voted 4-3 to meet with two companies vying to buy the water system it shares with neighboring Coaldale.

The next step is for council to contact their counterparts on Coaldale to arrange meetings with the companies, Aqua Pennsylvania of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, a subsidiary of Aqua America Inc.; and Pennsylvania American Water, Mechanicsburg, to discuss the possible sale of the Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority.

Coaldale council meets next on Nov. 15.

Council members Tommy Vadyak, Andrew Snyder, Danielle Smith and President Adam Webber voted to meet with the companies.

Rose Mary Cannon, Mary Kruczek and Lenny Kovach were opposed.

Webber said the meetings would be open to the public.

Read more...

More facts needed

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Members of Coaldale and Lansford borough councils disagreed Monday about whether they should consider selling their joint water authority to a private company, but did agree that more facts are needed before making a decision.

Representatives of both boards met Monday in Coaldale to decide how to handle the unsolicited offers, from Aqua Pennsylvania of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, a subsidiary of Aqua America Inc., and Pennsylvania American Water, based in Mechanicsburg.

Read more...

3-vehicle accident in Coaldale

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWSSR209 in Coaldale was closed for more than a half hour yesterday following a three-vehicle accident that occurred at the Greenwood Street intersection. Reportedly, just after 4:30 p.m., Robert Davidovick, Nesquehoning, driving a red Ford F150 eastbound and rear-ended the back of a red KIA Sedona van driven by Regina Newell, of Bowling Green, Ky. The impact then pushed the van into a red Volkswagon Jetta, driven by Debra Krause, of Jim Thorpe, which was making a left turn onto Greenwood Street. Responding were Coaldale Fire Company, police, fire police and Penn Mahoning Ambulance. Officer Keith Krapf is investigating. The Volkswagon had to be towed from the scene. No serious injuries were reported.

St. Mary's Orthodox Church presents film

Monday, October 17, 2011

St. Mary's Orthodox Church, on the corner of First and Philips in Coaldale, will present a showing of "The Beautiful Truth," a documentary film about a young boy's search for a cure for cancer. The showing will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18 on the big screen in the Parish Hall.

There will be a short discussion about fasting and living healthy, and light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

Coaldale Cub Scouts taking new members

Friday, October 14, 2011

Coaldale Cub Pack 740 is accepting new members. Any potential members are invited to attend meetings on Sundays at the Knights of Columbus. Tiger Cubs meet from 5 to 6 p.m. and Cub Scouts meet from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Awards are presented on the last Sunday of each month.

For any additional information, call (570) 645-5393.

Water department's future to be discussed

Thursday, October 13, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Council members from Coaldale and Lansford will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday to discuss whether they want to sell the boroughs' water system operations to a private company.

The meeting will be held at Coaldale's borough hall on Third Street.

Lansford council has been asking for months for Coaldale to agree to schedule the meeting. On Tuesday, Coaldale Councilman Joe Hnat broached the subject, but wanted it to be closed to the public.

That plan was quickly quashed by solicitor Michael Greek, who advised Hnat that unless it involved just one person from each council, the meeting would have to be public.

The Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority has come under fire for the salaries and benefits given its officers, who set their own remuneration.

Public water authority records list the board chairman as making $15,000 a year; the vice chairman/superintendent $47,000; the treasurer $8,000; the secretary $8,000 and the assistant secretary/treasurer $6,800. In addition, the chairman receives a $2,250 annual stipend; and the vice chairman, treasurer, secretary and assistant secretary-treasurer each receive an annual $2,150 stipend. All employees, including the officers, who define themselves as full-time employees, are eligible for medical benefits.

The officers have defended the earnings, saying their decision some years ago to eliminate an office position freed the money.

Lansford elects three officers to Coaldale's two.

Two companies have expressed interest in buying the water system: Aqua Pennsylvania of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, a subsidiary of Aqua America Inc., and Pennsylvania American Water, based in Mechanicsburg.

Both councils want to discuss the matter before deciding if they would meet with company representatives.

Some Coaldale council members have expressed concern that water rates would spike if the system was sold to a private company.

There's hope for troubled properties in Coaldale

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coaldale council on Tuesday was deluged by complaints about flooding and dilapidated properties.

But the angst was tempered by a couple dashes of hope: Council awarded the job of tearing down a long vacant and neglected double home at 119-121 Greenwood St. to Walsh Construction and Excavating, Jim Thorpe, for $11,200.

And, council President Susan Solt also told the frustrated owners of a home attached to a vacant, mold-infested house at 132 W. Ridge St. that a man who owns other properties in the borough may be interested in buying the troublesome property.

Council also will send an engineer to inspect drainage along Water Street and will have borough Supervisor Kenny Hankey look at a flooding problem along Fisher Avenue.

Ruthanne and Ron Kehl, who live at 134 W. Ridge St., are at wit's end. they have been pleading with council, as well as state and federal agencies, to do something about the attached house, which has been vacant since the owner was forced by the borough to leave in April, 2010 after a long-neglected water leak damaged the house too much to make it safe for human habitation.

The roof continues to leak between the adjoining wall, and the water from that and flooding in an adjacent lot have resulted in the empty house becoming overwhelmed by mold. The Kehl's have been battling the creeping mold infestation and a burgeoning rat problem.

Council has said it can do nothing because it did not have a code enforcement officer.

However, Ruthanne Kehl told council on Tuesday that Police Chief Tim Delaney came out on Sept. 22 and took pictures and videos of the interior of the house.

Solt said the potential buyer, whom she did not identify, is in touch with the homeowner. The house, Solt said, is up for tax sale.

Solicitor Michael Greek said he has sent a letter to the owner, who is Lisa O'Brien, according to Schuylkill County property records.

Council on Tuesday hired a part-time code enforcement officer, Jamie Lee Nicholas. That should get the citation process rolling again.

That's also good news for borough resident Karen O'Brien. She asked council to again condemn an attached vacant house because of it's state of disrepair. The house was recently sold, but its new owner has failed to respond to her attempts at contact.

Council also heard from residents about flooding believed to have been triggered by a paving project on Fisher Avenue. Ernie Hill, Mike Doerr and Nancy Carnes said their properties flooded after the project raised the middle of the road so that storm water runs off the edge.

Council agreed to have its engineer, Alfred Benesch & Co., inspect the road to see how best to fix the problem.

Steve Tentylo of 226 Water St. asked council to fix a drainage problem that's sending raw sewage into his basement during heavy rains. The problem, Tentylo said, was that the borough put in a new 8-inch main last October. But the new pipe narrows to 6-inches at one point, and that is too small to handle the flow of storm water.

Adding to the problem is that in 2006 the borough plugged a pipe that once fed sewer discharge from a nearby property, whose owners did not connect to the borough system, into a creek. Now, Tentylo said, the sewer and storm water combine during periods of heavy rain and back up into his basement. Solt said council would contact Benesch to come out to inspect the pipes and suggest solutions.

Councilman Tom Keerans suggested council write to the sewer authority and ask it to pursue illegal storm water/sewer hookups to prevent such problems.

Election changes date of next Coaldale meeting

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale borough council will meet next at 7 p.m. Nov. 15. The date was changed from Nov. 8 because of election day.

In other matters, council on Tuesday announced that Trick or Treat night in the borough will be held from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31.

Also on Tuesday, council voted against refunding a $2,500 sewer connection fee to Richard and Roxanne Marek of W. Phillips Street. The couple had asked for a refund because the system was installed through a grant. However, solicitor Michael Greek said that homeowners are still responsible for the cost of running pipes from their homes to the curb.

Council also approved a request from engineers Alfred Benesch & Co. to apply for Community Development Block Grants for two projects. One is for sewer connections on Moser Avenue between Third and Fourth streets at a cost of $65,000. The other is road improvements on E. Phillips Street between East Street and the borough line at Lansford, at a cost of $53,000.

Police, DA meet over alleged beating

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale Police Chief Tim Delaney met Tuesday with Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman concerning the alleged beating of a borough man by firefighters on Sept. 25.

Joseph Terry, 47, of 151 Third St., has since been released from St. Luke's Hospital Network, Bethlehem and is recuperating at home. The assault, Terry has told a Scranton-area television station, took place after a fundraising event for the borough's volunteer fire company at the VFW club in Coaldale.

Accounts of what happened that night differ between Fire Chief Richard Marek and people who say they saw firefighters chase and attack Terry. The incident happened between midnight and 1 a.m., according to various sources.

It may be weeks before law enforcement authorities come to a conclusion.

"It's still under investigation. We are still meeting," Goodman said early Wednesday. "Interviews are being done, and when the investigation is completed, appropriate action will be taken."

Read more...

Coaldale planning fall clean up Oct. 4

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Coaldale Borough will have its annual fall clean up day on Tuesday, Oct. 4. Large items will be picked up, including washers, dryers, stoves, refrigerators, limit of five tires, tire rims. All items must have all chemicals removed and doors taken off. In addition, up to 10 bags of garbage will be collected

Firemen respond

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coaldale volunteers tell their side of what happened in fight

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale volunteer firefighters on Tuesday spoke in their own defense against accusations that several of them beat a borough man early Sunday after a fund-raising event at the local VFW.

Some residents of Ridge Street say they saw firemen chasing and assaulting Joseph Terry, 47, of 151 Third St. Terry's mother told the TIMES NEWS on Tuesday morning that her son was in critical condition in St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network, Bethlehem, with a torn artery in his brain, a fractured cheekbone, and blurred vision in one eye.

Fire Chief Richard Marek said that's not what happened. He said that Terry had come at him after firefighters tried to get him to stay at the VFW to await police after throwing a beer bottle, and that Terry fell after another firefighter tried to protect Marek, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery.

Read more...

Coaldale beating

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Police chief says at least five firefighters involved, victim critically injured

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

A Coaldale man is in critical condition after a beating, allegedly at the hands of borough firefighters, after a fundraising event Saturday.

Joseph Terry, 47, of 151 Third Street, is in St. Luke's Hospital Network, Bethlehem, and is recovering from a torn artery in his brain, a fractured cheekbone, and blurred vision in one eye, said his mother, Marie Terry, also of Coaldale.

"We're investigating it," Police Chief Tim Delaney said early Tuesday. "He caused a scene in the barroom and they asked him to leave. He left the bar without incident, then he was confronted by at least five members of the Coaldale Fire Department and there was an altercation."

Delaney said that Terry "ended up unconscious on Ridge Street. He was transported to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, then taken to St. Luke's in Bethlehem."

Delaney said he and Officer Joseph Krebs plan to travel to Bethlehem today to interview Terry and to take items to the State Police Crime lab to be analyzed.

"Right now, we're putting the pieces together, getting statements," Delaney said. "Then we'll sit down with (Schuylkill County District Attorney John Goodman) and see where we go from there with charges."

Read More...

Coaldale Memorial a rare gem in the coalfields

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dear Editor:

I discovered a rare gem in the coal fields. Not a Black Diamond, but a true gem call Coaldale, Pennsylvania. Have you heard of Southern hospitality? Try coal region hospitality! A few weeks ago I accompanied a friend on one of his sales trips to Coaldale. I always take a book with me and read for several hours as he conducts his business.

This time I was so impressed with the appearance and upkeep of the properties on Phillip Street that I put the book down and decided to go for a walk. I walked by the old high school and noticed the plush green grass on the football field. In our days the field was dirt and the boys from Coaldale really knew how to work the dirt. Upon completion of my tour, I met a lovely young lady who had just completed a bike journey. I began asking her questions about the old school, the beautiful Laurel Gardens Apartments and other interesting buildings nearby. She said her father owned the apartments, was on the town council and she would get him for me. Her father, Dave Yelito, a fine fellow, not only proudly answered my questions, but he took me on a grand tour of the Old Coaldale High School including the gym and trophy case. Upon departing from Dave he advised me to visit the Coaldale War Memorial behind the bank building uptown. He served on the memorial committee. Much of his work was visible at the site.

Read more...

Living next door to a 'toxic dump'

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abandoned property frustrates Coaldale couple

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Ron and Ruthanne Kehl have lived at 134 W. Ridge St., Coaldale, since 1993. They raised their children there, and have recently remodeled the kitchen and bathroom and installed a new roof.

But the Kehls well-kept home is under siege by mold and rats from the adjoining home at 132 W. Ridge, vacant and plagued with water leaks. It's a battle the Kehls are fighting largely alone: Their pleas for help from the borough and government agencies have had little result.

Their frustration has pushed them to tears and anger

Read more..

Corkery violates his bail

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Coaldale mayor placed on home monitoring

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale mayor Richard Corkery, who violated conditions of his bail on charges of downloading child pornography, will be placed on home electronic monitoring beginning Monday.

Until then, Corkery, 72, of 249 Early Ave., will remain in Carbon County Correctional Facility, where he was taken on Monday after admitting to twice being around a child, a violation of the conditions.

Corkery will be permitted to continue to attend junior varsity games with a neighbor, go shopping and attend church. However, he will not be permitted to visit the child's home, President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II ruled. His bail remains at $50,000 unsecured.

"There is no question in the court's mind there was a violation," Nanovic said.

Read more...

Lansford Legion Riders' event aids Coaldale man

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By ANDREW LEIBENGUTH aleibenguth@tnonline.com

Over 50 motorcycle riders took part in the Lansford American Legion Rider's 50-mile ride recently to benefit Rob Marrero, who suffered a paralyzing neck injury in May while playing for the semi-pro football team Mountain Top Reapers.

Marrero is a 2000 graduate of Panther Valley High School and still resides in Coaldale.

"We were surprised to see the great response despite only having two months to put this together," said Larry Wagner, vice president of the Legion Riders.

"We've never had a turnout like this before," added Joseph Butrie, president.

Rob's wife, Carrie was also surprised and greatful.

"I'm touched by all of this. I can't wait to show Rob the photos," she said.

Rob is currently undergoing continued treatment in a hospital in Philadelphia for the next two weeks.

Organizers stated their appreciation to all the riders and local sponsors, such as Sharpe's Dogs and Deli, Lansford, who donated supplies and refreshments. American Legions participating in the benefit ride were Catasauqua, Lansford, Lehighton, Slatington and others.

A rider, only known as "Stumpy", who is disabled and traveled from New Jersey to take part in the benefit, said the event was "to celebrate a good cause with fellow veterans," he said.

Coaldale man turns himself

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kevin O'Brien will face numerous drug charges

After learning there had been a warrant issued for his arrest, Kevin H. O'Brien of Coaldale turned himself in at the office of District Judge Stephen Bayer Monday.

O'Brien, 21, of 272 Third St., allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover operative on March 3, a deal witnessed by Tamaqua Patrolmen Anthony Stanell and Thomas Rodgers, acting in conjunction with the Schuylkill County Drug Task Force.

Charges against him included two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, one felony count of criminal use of a communications facility (cell phone), and a misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance.

Unable to post the required 10 percent of the $10,000 bond set by Bayer, O'Brien was lodged in the Schuylkill County Prison, Pottsville.

Corkery behind bars

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Terms of bail forbid Coaldale mayor to be around minors

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale's mayor, Richard Corkery, is behind bars for violating the terms of his bail conditions on charges of downloading images of child pornography, Carbon County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Matika said Monday.

Details are expected to come out at a hearing scheduled for Thursday morning in Carbon County Court. The violations apparently have to do with conditions forbidding Corkery from being around minors.

Corkery, 72, of 249 Early Ave., admitted to having searched for and downloaded 28 sexually explicit images of boys.

He allegedly downloaded the images on his work computer on six days between Feb. 15 and March 28, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith.

Read more...

Coaldale demolition project correction
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coaldale Borough will demolish two vacant and deteriorated houses at 119-121 Greenwood St. A story that ran Sept. 14 about the demolition project erroneously included a house at 127 Greenwood. That house is not scheduled to be demolished.
Search for missing Coaldale woman ends after she's reported at hospital

Friday, September 16, 2011

By ANDREW LEIBENGUTH aleibenguth@tnonline.com

The search for a missing Coaldale woman ended around 11:30 a.m. yesterday after she was found in Lehighton at the Blue Mountain Health System's Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital with a friend.

Over 30 rescuers, consisting of firefighters, police and the Northeast Search and Rescue team spent hours yesterday morning searching over five square miles of wooded mountains south of Coaldale for Renee Underwood, 33, of Coaldale, who was last seen around 11 p.m. Wednesday night after reportedly having an argument with her boyfriend.

"Tamaqua Police Officer Michael Hobbs assisted by utilizing a thermal infrared camera earlier in the search, until searchers from the Northeast Search and Rescue Team responded with their search dogs to track the trailing scent," Coaldale Police Officer Charlie Blesse said.

"The dogs hit on point, even following the trail back to the home," Firefighter Kyle Zwiesdak, rope rescue leader, said.

Responding to assist were firefighters, police and fire police from Tamaqua, Summit Hill and Lansford.

Coaldale Fire Chief Rich Marek pointed out the importance of getting information to the media and public quickly.

Coaldale Police Officer Scott Kramer said many volunteer man hours were utilized in the search.

Information concerning Underwood's condition was unavailable as of press time.

COALDALE 2 dilapidated homes soon to be leveled

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale council will seek bids to tear down two dilapidated, burned-out houses in the Seek section of the borough, pending their acquisition at a Schuylkill County tax sale. A 75-25 grant program will help pay for the demolition of the homes, at 119-121 and 127 Greenwood St.

In a related move, council also accepted the resignation of part-time code enforcement officer Mark Richards and hired resident Debbie Hatmaker in his place.

Solicitor Michael Greek told council at a public meeting Tuesday that the borough must have everything in place, including contractors, in order to have the buildings demolished as soon as possible after the town acquires the properties. The houses are to be sold at repository sale because of long-unpaid taxes.


According to Schuylkill County property records, 121 Greenwood St. is owned by a Michael Swaen, who bought it from Wachovia Bank for $18,000 in February 2005. The house burned at least four years ago, but nothing has been done to clean up the debris. The house at 119 Greenwood is owned by Jean D. Pillion, who bought it from Swaen for $1 in December 2005. Neighboring 127 Greenwood is owned by Christopher and Eleanor Gallagher, who bought it from Mary, James and Carl Davison for $25,000 in April 2007.

The borough is doing its best to deal with vacant, dilapidated properties, but it's an uphill battle.

Read more here...

New flag unveiled in Coaldale in time for Sept. 11 service

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

cparker@tnonline.com

Panther Valley JROTC CSM. Angela Piscitelli, helped by her platoon, hoisted the brand new American flag at the Coaldale Complex last week, just as patches of blue broke the clouds.

The 10-by-15-foot flag replaces one of two that were damaged during recent storms.

"A small group of veterans and patriots felt that both flags should be flying over the town on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Thanks to their generosity, and contributions by the Coaldale Ambulance Auxiliary and the Rod and Gun Club, the flags will be flying in their glory on that date," said William Gaddes, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and member of AMVETS Post One.

After the flag was up and flying, Millie Flyzik led those attending in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In addition, Tommy Sopko and Rolland Marshall, both past commanders of American Legion Post 170; Evan Evans, Millie Gaddes, and former mayor Ted and Sue Bortnick attended the service.

Officers of VFW post 6982 and Legion Post 170 are expected to attend.

JROTC cadets were SFC Heidi Warman, PFC Jerdil Castillo, Piscitelli, SGT. Amber Guzman, PFC Megan Thomas, and Sgt. Anissa Henry. CPL Roxanne Person; CPT. Georgiana Butler Major Kenneth Markovich leads the unit.

Gaddes spoke to the cadets, saying "On Sunday, Sept. 11, millions of words will be spoken and written regarding the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by radical Muslim terrorists. I realize that you teenagers were young children, probably between the ages of 5 to 8. The event was beyond your comprehension at that time.

Read more here...

Candlelight vigil held in Coaldale

Monday, September 12, 2011

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night outside the Coaldale VFW Post to remember all the victims and emergency responders that died on September 11, 2001, as well as all the service members who have lost their lives at home and abroad.

Faith Richards, Auxiliary President and vigil organizer, said, we decided to hold this event to remember and commerate the 10th anniversary of all the lives lost during and since that tragic day." In attendance were members of the Coaldale VFW, Wild Mountain Hogs in Coaldale, Coaldale Fire Company, bagpiper Mark Atkinson, chaplain Edward Whitehead Sr., community members and others.

Richards added, "We are glad to share our community patriotism with everyone, while showing appreciation to all our fallen heroes."

Fire chief recalls 9/11
Saturday, September 10, 2011

CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Coaldale Fire Chief Richard Marek sits with his dog, Shiloh, as he recalls watching the World Trade Center towers burn after terrorists deliberately crashed passenger jets into them on Sept. 11, 2001.

A beautiful day turns to horror in New York City

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

For Coaldale Fire Chief Richard Marek, Sept. 11, 2001 started off as typical day as he headed off to New York City with a truckload of oxygen to deliver to hospitals.

"I left home for work around 4:30 that morning," he recalls. "I was working out of a terminal in Bethlehem, hauling liquid oxygen for AGA gas company. I had two stops in New York, one in Brooklyn, right off Arizona Bridge and the other at Roosevelt Island.

"After I made my first delivery, to Brooklyn, and I had no idea what was going on. I was back on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and I heard on the radio something about a plane flying into one of the World Trade Center towers, but they didn't have any idea of the magnitude. I could see across the bay area, the Hudson River area, to Manhattan. I could see the towers in flames."

Marek, now a firefighter for 36 years, watched as "fire trucks and ladder trucks responded on surface streets."

Read more here...

Jim Thorpe National Bank buys police a computer

Thursday, September 1, 2011

CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Coaldale Police Chief Tim Delaney uses the new, custom-made computer donated to the borough by Jim Thorpe National Bank.By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Coaldale police have new ammunition in the war on crime, thanks to a local bank.

Jim Thorpe National Bank has donated the money for a custom-made computer to the department. It replaces the department's previous computer, bought for $150 on eBay about five or six years ago, said Chief Tim Delaney.

"You'd sit here, you'd download or try to access something, and you'd go in, get a drink, come back, and you'd still be waiting," he said. "This new one is lightning-quick."

The state-of-the-art computer was manufactured by the Dexter Corp., Virginia, and was delivered in April, Delaney said.

"It can run four or five applications at once, very fast, without waiting. Everything is instant. It saves a lot of time," he said.

The applications include law enforcement specific programs such as J-NET (the Pennsylvania Justice Network information technology program that allows police to instantly compare offender watch lists); crash reporting and access to the state police UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) database.

Although the bank has since moved to neighboring Lansford, President/CEO Craig Zurn said "we may have left the borough, but we still have a presence there."

Before the bank moved, Zurn told Coaldale police that if they needed anything, to just call.

"And that's how it happened," he said. "We got a request, and we told them to go out and get what they needed and that we would pick up the tab for it."

The computer cost about $1,200, Zurn said.

"We were aware they needed something special here. It was in their best interests, and so we wanted to be able to support that. It's difficult in these economic times for these small communities and police departments to get what they need. We didn't want to limit them," he said.

The bank was located at Third and Phillips streets, a stone's throw from the police station.

"Police assisted us in our move to Lansford," Zurn said. "We had to move some safe deposit boxes, and they provided us with an escort. (The computer) was a way of thanking them for all they did for us, and to let them know we will still be there for them in the future. We're fortunate, the bank is doing well."

Zurn said Jim Thorpe National Bank routinely contributes to local communities.

"We have bought digital cameras for Lehighton, and other things for Nesquehoning and Jim Thorpe. We feel proud and honored that we can do these things," he said. "And it's mutual – they have been here for us, responding to bank robberies or other incidents, and when alarms go off. We just can't do enough for them, for what they do for us."

The community gifts also included a drug-sniffing dog for Jim Thorpe, Zurn said.

"It's who we are and what we do as a community bank," he said. "That's our philosophy, from the board of directors all the way down. Both the board and the shareholders support the bank's commitment to the communities."

Panther Valley students get a longer ride to school this morning

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Panther Valley students were moved to another school bus this morning after the school bus they were riding had mechanical issues which forced it to be stuck in the middle of Bull Run Street at the intersection of SR-209 in the Seek section of Coaldale. Coaldale Fire Police detoured traffic around the bus until it could be towed.

Coaldale American Legion Celebrates 92nd Birthday on September 16, 2011 – Seeks New Members

Coaldale’s American Legion will celebrate its 92nd birthday on Friday, September 16, 2011.

The GEWEHR-SHUBECK-MARTIN-NESTERAK Post 170 welcomes members and guests for food and fun in the air conditioned post from 12:00-6:00pm.

For the first time the membership in 2012 will drop below 200 due to attrition of WWII and Korean War members. Veterans eligible and wishing to join Post 170 should contact the post at (570) 645-4374 or by mail at 105 Second Street, Coaldale, PA 18218.

Post 170 supports Coaldale Fire Company, Coaldale Flag Committee, Panther Valley JROTC, World War II Memorial Committee, Our Lady of the Angels School, Panther Valley sports teams, Legion Baseball, Sons of the Legion, Ladies Auxiliary, and more.

Monthly meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 7pm.

The Post Commander is Steve Wargo and the Adjutant is James Rickert.

Coaldale Children's Festival scheduled

Friday, August 12, 2011

In celebration of the Dormition of the Mother of God, St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Coaldale will be sponsoring its Third Annual Children's Festival to be held on Monday, August 15, from 4-8 p.m. The festival cost for a child age 3-11 is $5 which includes: Unlimited play on two large bouncers, a magic show, face painting, balloon animals, crafts, festival games, prizes, a pet blessing, parish tours, and much more. The festival will also have a wonderful menu of food at reasonable prices including: Hot dogs, pizza, gyros, BBQ, pasta, popcorn, snow cones, baklava, deserts, candy, and drinks. There will also be a children oriented basket raffle. Come and enjoy a great evening of family fun, which will take place rain or shine! St. Mary's is located on the corner of 1st and Phillips in Coaldale. Call (570) 645-2772 for more information.

Corkery a no-show, but he's not stepping down

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS An overflow crowd gathered Tuesday at Coaldale borough council's regular meeting in anticipation of a discussion concerning disgraced Mayor Richard P. Corkery.

Although Corkery, along with friend and ally Councilman David Yelito, was absent, the mayor apparently has no intention of stepping down.

In an Aug. 9 letter to council, Corkery wrote that " ... in order for our council to be able to carry on the very necessary business of running the borough with as little unnecessary distraction as possible, I will not attend council meetings until this matter has been put to bed."

After council President Susan Solt read Corkery's Aug. 9 letter, solicitor Michael Greek spoke, telling the quiet crowd that council is powerless to oust the mayor.

Greek told the audience the office of mayor is an elected position.

"We do not have any control over the mayor. We cannot exclude him from the meetings ... In light of the allegations, there is nothing the municipality can do to remove the mayor or take any action because there has not been any conviction of any crime. There is nothing that borough council can do with respect to the office of mayor at the present time."

Although disappointment rippled through the crowd, there were no outbursts or overt anger. On Saturday, the Concerned Citizens of Coaldale placed an advertisement in the TIMES NEWS asking residents to attend the council meeting to request that Corkery resign. During the meeting, Police Chief Tim Delaney and several officers, including two who stood at opposite ends of the meeting room, were on alert.

Solt thanked the audience for its respect.

Council opened its meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. Traditionally, Corkery, palms together and head bowed, would first lead council in prayer before the pledge; there was no public prayer on Tuesday.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith, on six days between Feb. 15 and March 28, Corkery searched for sexual images of teenage boys on his computer at WLSH radio station in Nesquehoning and downloaded 34 images of young men engaged in sexual acts, 28 of whom were determined by police experts to be teenagers.

Corkery was fired by WLSH. After receiving an anonymous letter, police launched an investigation on April 6. On May 16, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent John Bates, state Trooper Scott Sotack and Smith spoke with Corkery, who admitted searching for and looking at child pornography sites, including those showing images of naked males under age 18, on the radio station's computer. Corkery admitted that none of his co-workers did this.

Corkery, 72, of 249 W. Early Ave., was arraigned July 14 on 28 counts of child pornography before District Judge Casimir Kosciolek. He was released under $50,000 recognizance bail, which means he did not have to post any money or property to remain free. He was ordered to stay away from minors and is forbidden from using or possessing computers.

However, Carbon County Judge Steven R. Serfass on Aug. 1 added conditions to the bail: Corkery may not attend church services on Wednesdays, when children are at the service. Serfass also permitted him to visit the home of a neighbor, and also allowed him to attend high school junior varsity and varsity football games, but only in the company of his neighbor.

At the hearing, probation officer Jillian McGinley, who is supervising Corkery, testified she went to his home on July 27 as part of her duties and became concerned due to the large number of photographs of young males throughout the entire home.

After listening to McGinley's testimony, Serfass ordered the county adult probation office to immediately remove the photos from Corkery's home.

Corkery faces anywhere from probation to nine months in jail on each charge, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Matika has said. Corkery could also face restrictions under Megan's Law legislation, including having to register his addresses with state police.

A nightmare on Greenwood Street

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Coaldale residents beg officials to do something about 3 abandoned homes

By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com

Most residents of Greenwood Street in the Seek section of Coaldale keep their homes and lawns tidy and well-maintained. But three abandoned homes, one of which was gutted by fire several years ago, are trash-strewn eyesores and are drawing rats, roaches and snakes, neighbors say.

A group of angry and frustrated Greenwood Street residents attended a borough council meeting Tuesday to again beg officials to do something about the situation.

Tom Sullivan, who lives at 111 Greenwood St., told council that the homes, at 119-121 and 127 Greenwood St., need to be cleaned up or come down.

"We're tired of it," he said.

The neighbors have been doing what they are able: Jamie Nicholas has been mowing the grass, for example. Another neighbor, who lives at 129 Greenwood, which is attached to 127, worries that one of the cats living in the abandoned half will fall down the chimney. She's seen them perched on the edge.

The problem, said Councilwoman Nancy Lorchak, is that the borough lacks the money to demolish the buildings. Also, said Councilman David Yelito, it must first have the deeds to the homes before being able to tear them down.

According to Schuylkill County property records, 121 Greenwood Street is owned by a Michael Swaen, who bought it from Wachovia Bank for $18,000 in February 2005. The house burned at least four years ago, but nothing has been done to clean up the mess.

The house at 119 Greenwood is owned by Jean D. Pillion, who bought it from Swaen for $1 in December 2005.

Neighboring 127 Greenwood is owned by Christopher and Eleanor Gallagher, who bought it from Mary, James and Carl Davison for $25,000 in April 2007.

Addresses for the owners were not immediately available early Wednesday. Council has attempted to communicate with the owners, but to no avail.

Councilman Tom Keerans said the borough has tried to get grants, but none of the applications have been successful. Yelito said he would call Schuylkill County grants coordinator Gary Binder to research any possible way to obtain demolition money and demolish the houses without having the deeds in hand.

Sullivan offered to tear down 119-121 himself. However, president Susan Solt said solicitor Michael Greek, who was absent from the meeting, would need to advise the borough on whether or not Sullivan would be permitted to do that. She said the borough could be held liable if someone was hurt while doing the work.

"I'm sorry we can't do anything. Our hands have been tied with the deed issue," she said.

At this point, Solt said, the only thing council can do is to repeatedly cite the owners. That led to a round of discussion critical of part-time Code Enforcement Officer Mark Richards and whether the borough should hire a full-time officer.

The lengthy and often heated discussion prompted a frustrated Councilman Joseph Hnat to vow to have the problem resolved within two months.

"Something will be done," he said.