On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

I would have to say that this week of the year is “the dead of winter”. Tom Clark reported in his year end weather wrap-up that the coldest day of 2014 for us was January 7 with a temperature reading of -9°. Brrrr! I remember that one well and the Polar Vortex came and stayed way too long in Mountaintop. We are publishing today on January 7, 2015 and there was some predictions of -2° for that day. I am really hoping that the 2013-2014 winter is really gone. It was a once in 50 year event and while the real warm up won’t come for months we can always pray for sunshine and clear roads.

Townships and boroughs in Pennsylvania are reorganizing this week. Boards of Supervisors will choose who will hold the chairman’s chair and who will get committee assignments. Most of the local boards rotate the leadership positions every year, at least if there is a majority. Some boards are neutral and others have distinct positions among their elected members.

My position is that the boards of supervisors are charged with building and maintaining public roads for safe travel and providing police and fire protection services. The police budget is usually the largest expenditure followed by the roads. Recreation comes in a distant third in importance.

Bank Robbery

Mountaintop experienced a bank robbery on New Years Eve day. Two ski masked intruders accosted employees at Citizens Bank on Route 309 at the entrance to the Weis Plaza Shopping Center about 10:20 a. m. It didn’t take long for the crime to hit the internet as I got an email, a text and a call from my daughter Lara in Brooklyn about the crime within the hour. She had seen a Facebook post about the robbery.

The criminals got away with cash and Wright Township police were on scene as quick as the 911 call was dispatched. State Police and the other Mountaintop departments quickly joined in, but the thugs were gone. Initial reports indicated that they had left the robbery on foot. Well they hightailed it to a waiting getaway vehicle is my guess as the robbers are still on the loose. A State Police helicopter circled around the area of the bank and the adjoining wooded areas toward Rockledge Drive and South Main Road, but no sitings were confirmed. The case was still open at press time on Monday January 5.

President Judge Hughes

I interviewed newly sworn in President Judge Richard Hughes recently, who told me, “Our court docket is busy with diversified cases. 90% or greater of all crimes have a connection to drugs whether it is theft, assault, or DUI. Drugs are so addictive once they get hooked they commit crimes to get what they need,” explains Hughes. I know from reporting on the criminal complaints filed at District Magistrate Ron Swank’s office that the drug and alcohol component are almost always implicite in the crime. Whether the bank robbers needed money for drugs we have yet to determine. In the end crime does not pay.

I attended Judge Hughes swearing in ceremony at the Luzerne County Courthouse December 30. Courtroom Number One was overflowing with family, friends, collegues and supporters. Although judges are elected by cross filing on both the Republican and Democratic tickets, all of the current judges on the Luzerne bench are Democrats except for Hughes. Mountaintop Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly elected Dick Hughes with their support to the county office. There were scores of proud happy Hughes supporters joining in the celebration last week. Congratulations to Dick and his beautiful family, wife Ruth and children Callie, Ellen and Richard.

2015 Elections Local elective offices will be on

the ballot in 2015. That includes supervisors, councilmen, auditors, tax collectors, and school directors. Each office is important in their area for many reasons. Crestwood School District is negotiating new labor contracts for the professional and support staffs in 2015. Road maintenance and infrastructure improvements are the top priority for municipalities.

Nuangola Borough continues to tie up loose ends with their long standing sewer project. There are a number of customers who have either not hooked up or have not paid their due for the project. One report I received indicated that an elected council member is in arrears. In the interim, those that are complying will be assessed or higher monthly fees to pay for those that don’t pay at all.

Enjoying the Winter My house is back to its pre-holiday

look, which isn’t bad as it is calm and relaxing. Stacks of books, read and unread are piled high waiting for a spot on the shelves. The Christmas poinsietta is a bright reminder of the season just past and could keep up the spirit for another month or two. Our Christmas tree is in the woods providing shelter for birds on cold winter days and nights. We’ve enjoyed the change of seasons and this is but one of four. There is time for a whole new season of Downton Abbey, football playoffs, a hike or two on a sunny winter day and skiing for those lucky enough to have mastered the skill. Golf will not be on the agenda for awhile, but that too shall come.