Diamonds to the area’s Halloween home-decorating fanatics, including the Whitesell family of Kingston. Wendy Whitesell and her brood began with a small holiday display about a decade ago of the “Great Pumpkin” variety. Today, their Division Street yard shimmies with inflatable black cats, creepy cobwebs and plenty of pumpkins. The attraction drew nearly 400 trick-or-treaters last year, Whitesell says. She avoids the gory decor, preferring to make the holiday, during which she serves apple cider and cupcakes, more child-friendly. Now that’s the spirit!
Coal to the knuckleheads behind an alleged “back-door funding scheme” that benefited the Wyoming County borough of Laceyville. A former police chief and a district judge seemingly collaborated to have drivers accused of speeding appear at hearings, then plead to a lesser handicapped parking ordinance violation, according to the state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s announcement this week. The borough, which has only one handicapped parking space, kept 100 percent of the fines from more than 1,000 drivers over five years, he said. State police are investigating.
Diamonds to Wilkes University’s graduate creative writing program. It received an ostrich-size feather in the cap this week when Jamaican-born novelist Marlon James, a member of its first graduating class, in 2006, won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. This highly regarded literary award, whose prior recipients include Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, carries a prize of about $100,000. Of perhaps greater value: its prestige. The publicity surrounding James’ honor for writing “A Brief History of Seven Killings” will help Wilkes to draw even more applicants to the program it calls “low residency,” meaning aspiring writers work from home, visiting campus only briefly for workshops at which they rub elbows with people such as … well, Marlon James.
Coal to “lovestruck” deer and inattentive drivers – the combination of which can result in nasty crashes. During the fall mating season, white-tailed deer pose a particular risk to motorists in Pennsylvania, a state police trooper recently advised. If you’re traveling in rural areas, go slow and stay alert.
Diamonds to the late Sister Adrian Barrett, whose imprint on this region will remain visible even in her absence. Barrett, who died Monday at age 86, strove throughout her life to help the poor, the afflicted and the outcast. Known affectionately by nicknames including “Sister Sneakers,” she was instrumental in the 1970s startup of Project Hope, a summer camp for disadvantaged children. In the mid-1980s, she launched a charitable organization called Friends of the Poor, perhaps most widely known today for its food drives and its Thanksgiving meals in the Scranton Cultural Center that are open to the community. In celebration of the Catholic nun’s remarkable life, WVIA-TV, Channel 44, will rebroadcast the documentary “Sister Adrian: The Mother Teresa of Scranton” at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.