PITTSTON —The Greater Pittston Historical Society was presented a proclamation from the mayor and council at Wednesday’s Pittston City Council meeting at city hall.
The historical society accepted the proclamation in honor of the 120th anniversary of the Twin Shaft Disaster. The celebration will take place at 2:30 p.m. near the Coal Miner Statue near the Fort-Jenkins Bridge and there will be at 3:30 p.m. mass Saturday, June 25 at Our Lady of Eucharist Parish. Descendants of the miners who would like to represent their family are asked to attend.
On Sunday, June 28, 1896, 58 men and boys were killed when the roof caved in at the Red Ash Vein of the Newton Coal Company’s Twin Shaft Mine. The victims were buried 434 feet below the ground. In their wake, they left 31 widows and 101 orphans. Because of the cave in, no bodies were ever recovered.
The tragedy was is considered one of the largest coal mining disasters in Pennsylvania history, even larger than the Knox Mine Disaster, which occurred in January 1959 near Port Griffith.
During the ceremony, there will be a reading of the names of all the victims. A light reception will follow in the church hall. The public is invited to attend and can reserve a spot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
New ordinance adopted
The council adopted an ordinance Wednesday to create a registry of abandoned or foreclosed properties within the city.
The ordinance, labeled File of Council No. 5 (2016), was adopted to establish a registry requirement and property maintenance regulations for certain abandoned properties in the city. It also provides penalties for violations. The registry will be operated by an outside company at no cost to the city. It will also create revenue for the city.
According to city Administrator Joe Moskovitz, there are around 3,900 properties in the city with 300 to 400 of them either vacant, abandoned or foreclosed upon. He said this will help dramatically with foreclosed properties.
“We’re not interested in fining them. We’re interested in them cleaning up the house,” Moskovitz said. “Kingston and Scranton currently do this.”
Moskovitz said this is just another “tool” the city has to go along with the Neighborhood Housing Initiative and the Land Bank. Both of those authorities are used to fight against blighted properties in the city.
In the past, Moskovitz said, banks or mortgage companies would hold foreclosure notes of properties and the notes would bounce around from LLC to LLC. Now, the properties will be required to register with the city each time a property is transferred. The company handling the registry will then split the fee with the city.
“In that gray area between foreclosure and the banks, this requires them to register to the city at a fee,” Moskovitz said. “We split the fee with the company, and they maintain the registry.”
Council also approved Bovani Towing for a three-year contract at $20,100 per year to be the city’s towing company.