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Pennsylvania:
2001 roundup

By TOM KANE

WAYNE AND PIKE COUNTIES — Several news stories in these two counties kept residents and newspaper readers buzzing in 2001.

PIKE COUNTY

The biggest news from Pennsylvania was the finalization of the plans for the Mountain Laurel Performing Arts Center in Pike County.

In one of his last official acts in office, PA Governor Tom Ridge handed over to the organizers of the center a check for $15 million from the Commonwealth. Total costs will be about $35 million.

The 675-acre site will be located at the former Unity House property in Lehman Township and will contain a 55,000-square-foot administration building with artists’ workspace, an art gallery, a lake boathouse, theater seating for 500, an all-season 1,100-seat outdoor pavilion and lawn seating for an additional 5,000 people.

WESTFALL

Westfall Township saw a controversial proposal to build a Home Depot store with residents and business people coming out on both sides of the issue. After much discussion and readjusting of plans, the project received preliminary approval from the Westfall Township Board.

The heat got so intense that the chairman of the township planning board, Greg Hallman, resigned because of the harassment he and his family were receiving from opponents of the project.

MILFORD

Another controversy, though not nearly as heated, arose out of the display of the Confederate flag at the Mr. & Ms. Cigar Tobacconist store at 108 Route 6 in Milford. The Tri-State Unity Coalition, a coalition of people working for tolerance, tried to persuade owner Ed Hauser to take the flag down but with no success.

Milford also saw the first edition of Milford Magazine, owned by Sean Strub, with The River Reporter’s former copy editor/reporter Krista Gromalski appointed as managing editor.

The Second Black Bear Film Festival, held in October, drew some outstanding films to town, as well a large numbers of visitors.

SHOHOLA

A community of Roman Catholic priests purchased large acreage along Route 434 in Shohola and announced their intention to build a community around its foundation. They wish to preserve the Latin tradition of the church, especially in its observation of the Mass and the liturgy. The Society of St. John intends to build a cathedral and open a college at the site.

WAYNE COUNTY

The River Reporter published another multi-part series on drug and alcohol abuse in Wayne County. Statistics on crime, coming as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, alarmed County District Attorney Mark Zimmer who, along with state and local police, is forming a joint task force to eliminate, or at least lessen, such abuse. The work of the Wayne County Drug and Alcohol Commission was highlighted in the series, with some tragic stories of failed attempts at reform and some wonderful stories of personal victories.

DAMASCUS

The Damascus supervisors heard a lot of criticism during the year about the poor condition of roads in the township. It became an election issue between incumbent Supervisor Bill Gager and his feisty, articulate opponent, Jennifer Canfield, owner of the Calbert Real Estate Agency. Gager won the election.

One thorn in the board’s collective side was a fiasco around the incomplete paving of Atco Road by Suit Kote, a contractor. The work done by the company was substandard, soon deteriorating after paving. Residents berated board members, urging them to get on the company’s back to correct the situation. The board is still attempting to get the company to agree to terms.

Also an accident between a Damascus Elementary School school bus and a propane truck owned by CES of Fallsburg, NY on the Pennsylvania River Road resulted in PennDOT agreeing to widen the road in certain spots. Because the area has no cell tower services, school authorities were ignorant of the accident until parents began calling. There were no serious injuries.

HONESDALE

The big news from Honesdale was the creation of the Greater Honesdale Partnership, which is taking the place of the Honesdale Business Association. Executive Director Carson Mader is doing a yeoman’s job of attracting new businesses to Honesdale, and has eliminated several empty stores that were giving the town a deserted look. The partnership has provided direct financial assistance to 13 new start-up businesses in the greater Honesdale area since July 2000. Ten of these 13 new businesses are located on Main Street.

One store, Living Country Store, was opened by national TV personality Sandra Neil Wallace, who still keeps her hand in TV productions but is now mostly concentrating on keeping the items carried by her upscale antique shop in good supply.

WAYMART, CLINTON AND PALMYRA

The River Reporter published two multi-part series during the year on zoning in Wayne County. The series focused on several controversial development projects—the construction of a federal prison in Waymart, the erection of a series of wind mills to produce electricity in Clinton Township and the construction of two quarries, one in Lebanon and the other in Palmyra Townships. Opposition against these projects centered around issues of zoning.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, using its power of eminent domain, pushed aside the provisions of local zoning laws and is now steaming full speed ahead in Waymart, while the quarry in Palmyra is still bogged down with hearings and the permit process. The wind farm project creeps forward but has not completed the permit process concerning storm water run-off. Up to the present, not all seven land owners of the properties where the wind mills will be located have signed an agreement with National Wind Power, the company that is to construct the wind units. The company and township officials say the project will be completed despite some local opposition.


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