It was a busy year in the Back Mountain — let’s take a look back at the year 2015:
Family of former Lake-Lehman High School and Lackawanna Trail coach Mark Petrewski set up a crowd-funding account on Go Fund Me to help defray the mounting medical costs associated with his battle against Stage IV Neuroendocrine carcinoma cancer. The disease has spread to his liver, according to biopsies results. Petrewski’s sister, Kate, set up the account with a goal of raising $25,000. However, the Factoryville resident and his wife, Brittany, were surprised and appreciative to the outpouring of support for them and their daughter, Libby.
Misericordia University in Dallas hosted a rotating art display featuring artists from Deutch Institute’s Verve Vertu Art Studio. The display was held in Misericordia University’s Speech-Language Pathology Department until April. Verve Vertu, located on Main Street, is comprised of artists with a variety of special needs. The artists work with a wide selection of materials including watercolors, acrylic paints, soft textiles and more.
The Dallas School Board appointed former King’s College football coach Rich Mannello for the upcoming season. Mannello coached the King’s College football team for 19 years before stepping down in 2009. He was one of three candidates for the Dallas position. Other applicants included Ted Jackson, a long-time football coach at Dallas School District and former Pittston School District football coach Lon Hazlet.
Back Mountain residents were told not to be swayed by tactics and monetary incentives used by natural gas pipeline representatives to acquire access to land for the proposed Penn East Pipeline. The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition met in February to discuss the proposed route of the Penn East Pipeline that will start in Dallas Township and extend through the Back Mountain and Wyoming Valley. Dale Wilkie, of Lake Stree,t said the Williams Atlantic Sunrise representatives offered him $60,000 for the use of his land to install a pipeline. Wilkie estimated he may receive about $40,000 of the offered amount, but the damage to his property and safety concerns outweigh the money.
Four hundred and fifty Dallas High School students experienced how deadly driving while intoxicated or being distracted behind the wheel can be during a program sponsored by the Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services and the Lehigh Valley Network. Students got behind the wheel of a driving simulator and discovered how trying to text and drive can lead to an accident. Students also had to complete simple tasks such as walking a straight line while wearing specialized goggles that create a distorted vision, a similar effect as if they were drunk.
Ecumenical Enterprises Inc. purchased land off Park Road in Lehman Township for $358,000. Carl Noto, executive director at Ecumenical Enterprises Inc., said the company does not hold any immediate plans for the property. Noto eluded the property would be used to “expand our mission” that includes providing quality and compassionate care. EEI owns Little Meadows Learning Center, Meadows Apartments, Meadows Manor, Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Hi Meadows Apartments, Midtown Apartments, Garden Village Apartments, Ken Pollock Apartments and Trucksville Apartments.
The Back Mountain and Wyoming Valley communities bid farewell to Richard Adamchick, a man known for his hospitality, pizza and friendly disposition. Adamchick was a co-owner and co-founder of Pizza Perfect in Trucksville. He passed away April 6, ending a long battle against liver cancer. Adamchick and business partner Myron Mickiewicz started a small pizza shop on Carverton Road in 1975. The duo did not plan on the restaurant growing and expanding over the years. Adamchick’s death caused the restaurant to close temporarily to give family and friends time to grieve.
Five Dallas High School students took fourth place in a national LifeSmarts Competition in Seattle, Washington. C.J. Good, Troy Reinert, both sophomores, and Christopher Biesecker and Lauren Hudak, both juniors, and Madalyn Bozinski, a senior, were assessed individually and as a team on topics such as cyber security, credit reports, nutrition, consumer fraud and more.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Dallas Township prepped to celebrate its 90th anniversary. Parishioners, clergy and church staff planned a variety of events to celebrate the anniversary in June, which included a visit from Bishop of the Northeast Synod, Rev. Samuel L. Zeiser, and congregation picnic followed the Sunday mass. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church maintained its mission to provide community outreach services to assist the Back Mountain Food Bank, the Women’s Resource Center in Susquehanna County and the Ronald McDonald House in Scranton, to name a few.
Lake-Lehman School District and Dallas School District held graduation ceremonies on June 5, releasing a combined total of 345 high school graduates.
Lake-Lehman School District handed out 151 diplomas to eager students anxious to take their first steps toward adulthood. Students were told to have hope “because life is full of possibilities” by senior class president Zane Denmon.
One hundred and ninety-four students from Dallas School District received their diplomas. Valedictorian Connor Koscelansky told classmates, “While we were here, we made choices. Some were good ones. Some were not so good. We will all continue to make choices and in the end - our choices will make us.”
After 33 years of service to the Dallas School District, Frank Galicki, 63, retired from the role of superintendent. Galicki, of Mocanaqua, was hired by the Dallas School District in October 1982 as assistant principal at the Dallas High School. In 1983, he was promoted to principal and maintained that position for 25 years. In 2004, he was promoted to assistant superintendent. In 2005, he again was promoted to the role of superintendent. Thomas Duffy, the principal at Dallas Middle School, was appointed as the district superintendent for the 2015-16 school year.
Harveys Lake residents formed a committee to help keep area pedestrians safe following a fatal accident resulting in the death of triathlete Paula Jones. Jones was killed in June after being hit by Michael Scavone’s vehicle. Scavone was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident and charged with homicide by motor vehicle and other related charges. Committee members discussed ideas such as lowering the speed limit from 35 miles per hour around Lakeside Drive and widening the two-lane road to provide a bicycle lane or walkways.
The 69th Annual Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction got off to a rainy start in 2015 and was limited from a four-day event to three. But the crowds of people still poured into the region. Food vendors, crafters and book sales were abundant, but the big interest was the auction. Furniture, glassware and more hit the auction block as buyers actively bid to buy the treasured item. Local artist Sue Hand, owner of Sue Hand’s Imagery on Main Street in Dallas, painted a rendition of the auction. When her painting went up for bid, it sold for $3,200. All proceeds from the auction benefit the Back Mountain Memorial Library.
Local artist and business owner Sue Hand was awarded the Charles D. Lemmond Jr. Community Spirit Award, sponsored by the Dallas Post. Named after the former senator who died in 2012, each year the award honors an area resident who demonstrates Lemmond’s commitment to doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons. Hand was recognized with an award presentation for her community spirit and leadership.
Kingston Township Police Department earned accreditation in law enforcement from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. The accreditation program was introduced in 2001 and required enrolled police departments to meet a total of 138 requirements. Since the program’s inception, 300 law enforcement agencies enrolled and 101 have earned the accreditation. Kingston Township Police Department had to update several policies, file maintenance issues and assessments needed to be addressed. Kingston Township Police Department is the fourth agency in Luzerne County to earn this distinction.
The 53rd Annual Luzerne County Fair in Dallas Township, offers something for everyone, whether tikes on pedal-powder tractors, conquering a fear of heights on the Ferris Wheel or zipline or maybe just admiring the livestock. Brenda Pugh, a fair chairwoman, summed it up by saying, “You have to give everything a shot once.” The Luzerne County Fair even featured Brian Franzen’s elephants. The fair ran from Sept. 9-13 at the fairgrounds on Route 118 in Dallas Township.
The Trucksville Volunteer Emergency Management Services in Kingston Township received two grants totaling $400,000. The grants were through the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Department of Homeland Security. Brad Johnson, second assistant chief of the Trucksville Volunteer Fire Department, said the funds will aid the department in obtaining resources needed to ensure the safety of the firefighters.
Penn State/Wilkes-Barre, located in Lehman Township geared up to celebrate a century of education in Luzerne County. The satellite campus kicked off a year-long celebration in November, but the Dallas Post honored the university with three stories in October.
The annual Best of the Back Mountain Readers’ Choice Awards were held at Fire & Ice in Trucksville to celebrate businesses, schools and community organizations in the area.
The Pastor’s Food Pantry serving the Back Mountain communities moved from the Noxen United Methodist Church to the former Ruggles United Methodist Church on Route 29. Pearl Race, a pantry coordinator, said the pantry grew from assisting 12 families to 65.
The greater Dallas area will be featured in WVIA’s “Our Town” series. Liza Mazzarella, a WVIA producer, conducted two brain-storming meetings in November with residents and business owners in Dallas. Residents pitched ideas of “what makes Dallas special” that included the Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction, the abundance of family-owned farms and unique history. The segment is slated to premiere February 2016.
Kingston Township Police Officer John Fuches was appointed the new D.A.R.E. officer. Fuches replaced Officer Frank Zeigler, who started the program in 1994. Fuches attended a two-week program in Maryland to prepare for the opportunity. Fuches has visited some of the pre-school and elementary schools in the Back Mountain and is thrilled to be educating children about making smart choices and personal safety.
The Lands at Hillside Farms in Kingston Township closed its dairy barn to public access for the first time in a decade. The limitation became necessary after a young child sustained a severe nose bleed after putting their face near a cow for a picture. The cow allegedly lifted its head and hit the child in the face. This was the third incident that happened on the farm grounds and the second in two years that the injured party threatened legal action, Chet Mozloom, executive director at The Lands at Hillside Farms said. A Dutch door has been installed in the dairy barn, allowing visitors a glimpse of the milking process. The Carriage House that houses goats, a pig, donkeys and a pony is open to the public, as is the adjoining “Nursery Barn.”