A look back on 2017 in the Greater Pittston area

By Jimmy Fisher - jfisher@timesleader.com
An architectural rendering of the outside of the new LCCC Campus coming to Pittston in the fall of 2018. -
A grateful Larry VanMeter hugs West Pittston Ptlm. Eric Eramo at the conclusion of the award ceremony during a West Pittston Borough council meeting. -
WVIA-TV premiered ‘Our Town: Pittston’ Feb. 23 in a studio full of guests from the Pittston community. Some watched from the studio’s lobby, while others staffed phones to take pledges during the documentary’s run time. -
The Moodlite Drive-In, which was been closed for over 30 years, was sold to Exeter resident Eric Symeon by West Wyoming Borough Council members. - -
The West Pittston pool was demolished this year to make way for a public park. - -
Monsignor Bendik sits at his desk reflecting on the past 50 years of his career. - -
Peter Butera, class prsesident and valedictorian of the class of 2017 at Wyoming Area High School gave a contraversial and unauthorized speech that was turned off by the principal Dr. Jon Pollard, seated right, during the school’s graduation ceremony. - -
Carson Crossley, 11, of Wyoming, saved the lives of himelf and three others after the driver of a vehicle he was a passenger in had a heart attack behind the wheel. - -
Cody Stofko and Jonah Rosengrant pose for a photograph during the St. Patrick’s Parade in Pittston. The Times Leader Media Group was announced as the new media print sponsor. - -
Bernie Foglia stands in the center of his dinning room were there is seating up to 78 customers. The restuarant closed its doors earlier this year. - -
Ava Pavlinchak 10, looks at newspaper clippings from 5 years ago during the Wyoming Free Library’s 90th anniversary celebration. - -
Bob Price, Chairman of the Dupont Centennial committee, hold up the back of The Dupont celebration shirt with a list of the events sponsors. - -
From left, PA State Rep. Michael Carroll, Michelle Dale, Al Kridlo, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, PA State Sen. John Yudichak. Back: PA State Rep. Aaron Kaufer participate in the bridge dedication. - -
The Care and Concern Free Health Clinic in Pittston has been serving the area’s needy for 10 years. Some of the volunteers of the Care and Concern Free Health Clinic in Pittston are, seated. From left, standing, are Mary Ellen Hromisin, RN; Bernie Ambrosino, RN; Jeanie Bantell, RN; Gloria Blandina, director; Mary Lou Bosha and Mary Lou Kowalczyk, volunteers. - -
Lombaro - -

A lot of change came to Greater Pittston this past year and the Sunday Dispatch was there to see it all — the good and the bad.

As the sun gets ready to set on 2017 and dawn on the year 2018, there is much to remember about what this year brought.

From anniversaries, to retirements, to controversial graduation speeches, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest stories throughout 2017.

LCCC coming to Pittston

Former mayor Michael Lombardo and Main Street Manager Rose Randazzo have dreamed of bringing a college campus to the city.

After 19 years, their dream is becoming a reality as Pittston will soon be the home to a Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) campus.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in October, and the campus is expected to be ready for the 2018 fall semester.

Sunday Dispatch celebrates 70 years

Founded in 1947, the Sunday Dispatch celebrated it’s 70th anniversary.

A small headline appeared in the Times Leader Evening News on Feb. 10, 1947 reading “New Weekly Paper Makes its Appearance.”

The article went on to state, “The first issue of the Sunday Dispatch, a Pittston weekly newspaper, was printed and distributed yesterday. The edition contained 20 pages of news, advertising, and features with eight pages of color comics. The advertising consisted almost wholly of congratulatory messages.”

West Pittston Ptlm. saves would-be bridge jumper

Larry VanMeter will never forget his encounter with borough Ptlm. Eric Eramo because it was the day Eramo saved his life.

Eramo stopped VanMeter, 53, from jumping off the Water Street Bridge and was honored at a borough council meeting for his heroics.

“Our Town” chronicles Pittston

“We’ve come home to our town, Pittston, on WVIA.”

Lisa Mazzarella’s introduction to WVIA-TV’s “Our Town: Pittston” documentary wasn’t just a clever play on the one-hour production’s title — it was an acknowledgement the station has finally cast its lens on the city it’s based in after profiling over two dozen other towns in its coverage area. Mazzarella said when she called the Greater Pittston Historical Society to invite its members to participate in the first pre-production meeting, their response was, in so many words, yes.

The documentary premiered on WVIA Feb. 23, with live look-ins at the studio’s pledge drive interjected between segments. Among the Pittston residents and “Our Town” participants manning the phones was Greater Pittston Historical Society President Ron Faraday, who said he knew the documentary would eventually happen because he “wouldn’t stop asking.”

Moonlite Drive-In sold

The Moonlite Drive-In has been closed for more than 30 years, but an Exeter man saw his plans to reopen the once popular hot spot take a giant step forward.

The borough council unanimously accepted Eric Symeon’s formal offer to buy the property at 1190 Shoemaker Ave., according to council Chairman Gary Stavish during a council meeting in March.

West Pittston Pool demolished

The West Pittston pool finally saw the end of its days when it was demolished back in April to make way for a public park.

West Pittston Borough Engineer Thomas Reilly said the decision to remove the pool was made a few years ago for financial reasons.

“The minimum cost just to get the pool functional without any real upgrades was about half a million dollars,” he said. “The borough pursued funding but it was not nearly adequate for that large of a renovation project.”

Msgr. Bendik celebrates 50 years in priesthood; retires

Msgr. John Bendik, former pastor for St. John’s the Evangelist in Pittston, celebrated 50 years in priesthood this past spring.

He retired earlier this year.

A controversial graduation speech

Peter Butera hoped to spread a message with his speech at Wyoming Area’s graduation ceremony on June 16. In a matter of days, his message spread farther than just Greater Pittston.

The 18-year-old West Pittston resident has received national attention from his speech, in which he began to call out administration and faculty members, before having his microphone cut off.

News outlets such as CNN, the New York Times,, USA Today and the Washington Post have all picked up Butera’s story. He also made an appearance via Skype on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday night.

Crossley called a hero

Carson Crossley spent the Fourth of July afternoon with his best friend Joey Kolesar, Joey’s father Joseph, and two other children at Ricketts Glen State Park.

As Joseph drove the group to Carson’s Wyoming home for a holiday barbecue, the 11-year-old began to dose off. Around 5:30 p.m., something startled Carson awake.

He was sitting in the front seat of Joseph’s vehicle when it drove onto the sidewalk, sheared a pole at the corner of Ninth Street and Wyoming Avenue and continued to accelerate. Carson used his positioning to take control of the wheel and avoid oncoming traffic on a busy four-lane road. He guided the vehicle into a residence at 394 Wyoming Ave. — approximately two blocks from his home.

Carson, Joey and two friends received minor injuries, but Joseph suffered a heart attack and passed away.

Villa Foglia closes its doors

The lights went out for the last time July 29 at Villa Foglia Restaurant, marking the end of a 50-year run for the family-owned business.

Bernie Foglia semi-retired after 50 years in business — starting with Pete’s Pizza in 1967 and opening Villa Foglia in 1981. He said he will continue, for now, his catering business, taking bookings for weddings, graduations, rehearsals, reunions and funeral brunches.

Wyoming Free Library celebrates 90 years

It was on Aug. 8, 1927 that the Wyoming Free Library was founded. So, on Aug. 8, 2017, the library’s 90th birthday was celebrated.

Members of the community, the library’s board of trustees, its staff and other volunteers gathered to celebrate the milestone by honoring those who shaped the library into what it is today.

Dupont celebrates 100 years

Dupont Borough celebrated its 100 years in existence with a plethora of events and activities throughout 2017, and capped it all off with a parade in September.

The Dupont Centennial committee accomplished a lot, but never learned the true origins of the borough’s namesake.

“Some think that because our postmaster was named ‘Dupont,’ people just labeled mail forwarded here ‘Dupont’ and that’s how it got its name,” said Bob Price.

Another theory is that “Dupont,” translated “two bridges,” was named for the bridges nearby.

Fort Jenkins Bridge renamed

Approximately 100 family members, friends and city, state and federal officials gathered Sept. 24 to honor former Pittston resident Army Spc. Dale J. Kridlo, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010, by renaming the Ft. Jenkins Bridge in his honor.”

state Rep. Mike Carroll sponsored the bill with state Rep. Aaron Kaufer to rename bridge. which was built in the 1920s, and is one of two that connects Pittston and West Pittston.

Care and Concern Committee celebrates 10 years

What started as a casual discussion about health care around the parish dining room table at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittston eventually turned out to be one of the most successful non-profit agencies, not only in Pittston but possibly in all of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Care and Concern Free Health Clinic, a division of the Care and Concern Ministries of St. John the Evangelist Church, Williams Street, Pittston, is celebrated 10 years of operation this year.

Lombardo back as Pittston City Mayor

It was in 1997 that Michael Lombardo was first elected city mayor. Twenty years later, he is returning to that office.

Lombardo was recently elected new city mayor, winning 918 votes to his opponent Charles Bufalino’s 298 during the general election on Nov. 7.

He ran with Councilmen Ken Bangs and his cousin Michael Lombardo, Esq.

Randazzo steps down as Main Street Manager

Billy Joel’s song “Uptown Girl” can be about any girl, but if he were to write a song called “Downtown Girl,” it would have to be about Rose Randazzo.

Randazzo, 56, served as a driving force for much of the city’s growth during her time as Main Street Manager. She stepped down from that position in July.

“It was one of the best experiences of my professional life,” she said.

An architectural rendering of the outside of the new LCCC Campus coming to Pittston in the fall of 2018.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_LCCC-Campus-2.CMYK_.jpgAn architectural rendering of the outside of the new LCCC Campus coming to Pittston in the fall of 2018.

A grateful Larry VanMeter hugs West Pittston Ptlm. Eric Eramo at the conclusion of the award ceremony during a West Pittston Borough council meeting.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Eric-Eramo-SD-5.CMYK_.jpgA grateful Larry VanMeter hugs West Pittston Ptlm. Eric Eramo at the conclusion of the award ceremony during a West Pittston Borough council meeting.

WVIA-TV premiered ‘Our Town: Pittston’ Feb. 23 in a studio full of guests from the Pittston community. Some watched from the studio’s lobby, while others staffed phones to take pledges during the documentary’s run time.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_our-town-5-untoned.jpgWVIA-TV premiered ‘Our Town: Pittston’ Feb. 23 in a studio full of guests from the Pittston community. Some watched from the studio’s lobby, while others staffed phones to take pledges during the documentary’s run time.

The Moodlite Drive-In, which was been closed for over 30 years, was sold to Exeter resident Eric Symeon by West Wyoming Borough Council members.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_moonlightCMYK.jpgThe Moodlite Drive-In, which was been closed for over 30 years, was sold to Exeter resident Eric Symeon by West Wyoming Borough Council members.

The West Pittston pool was demolished this year to make way for a public park.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_pool4.CMYK_.jpgThe West Pittston pool was demolished this year to make way for a public park.

Monsignor Bendik sits at his desk reflecting on the past 50 years of his career.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Bendik3.CMYK_.jpgMonsignor Bendik sits at his desk reflecting on the past 50 years of his career.

Peter Butera, class prsesident and valedictorian of the class of 2017 at Wyoming Area High School gave a contraversial and unauthorized speech that was turned off by the principal Dr. Jon Pollard, seated right, during the school’s graduation ceremony.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_TTL-06172017-WA-graduation-1.CMYK_.jpgPeter Butera, class prsesident and valedictorian of the class of 2017 at Wyoming Area High School gave a contraversial and unauthorized speech that was turned off by the principal Dr. Jon Pollard, seated right, during the school’s graduation ceremony.

Carson Crossley, 11, of Wyoming, saved the lives of himelf and three others after the driver of a vehicle he was a passenger in had a heart attack behind the wheel.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Carson.CMYK_.jpgCarson Crossley, 11, of Wyoming, saved the lives of himelf and three others after the driver of a vehicle he was a passenger in had a heart attack behind the wheel.

Cody Stofko and Jonah Rosengrant pose for a photograph during the St. Patrick’s Parade in Pittston. The Times Leader Media Group was announced as the new media print sponsor.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_parade5.CMYK_.jpgCody Stofko and Jonah Rosengrant pose for a photograph during the St. Patrick’s Parade in Pittston. The Times Leader Media Group was announced as the new media print sponsor.

Bernie Foglia stands in the center of his dinning room were there is seating up to 78 customers. The restuarant closed its doors earlier this year.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Villa-Foglia-1.jpgBernie Foglia stands in the center of his dinning room were there is seating up to 78 customers. The restuarant closed its doors earlier this year.

Ava Pavlinchak 10, looks at newspaper clippings from 5 years ago during the Wyoming Free Library’s 90th anniversary celebration.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_TTL081317-WFLibrary3.CMYK_.jpgAva Pavlinchak 10, looks at newspaper clippings from 5 years ago during the Wyoming Free Library’s 90th anniversary celebration.

Bob Price, Chairman of the Dupont Centennial committee, hold up the back of The Dupont celebration shirt with a list of the events sponsors.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Dupont2.CMYK_.jpgBob Price, Chairman of the Dupont Centennial committee, hold up the back of The Dupont celebration shirt with a list of the events sponsors.

From left, PA State Rep. Michael Carroll, Michelle Dale, Al Kridlo, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, PA State Sen. John Yudichak. Back: PA State Rep. Aaron Kaufer participate in the bridge dedication.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_RGB_Bridge3.CMYK_.jpgFrom left, PA State Rep. Michael Carroll, Michelle Dale, Al Kridlo, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, PA State Sen. John Yudichak. Back: PA State Rep. Aaron Kaufer participate in the bridge dedication.

The Care and Concern Free Health Clinic in Pittston has been serving the area’s needy for 10 years. Some of the volunteers of the Care and Concern Free Health Clinic in Pittston are, seated. From left, standing, are Mary Ellen Hromisin, RN; Bernie Ambrosino, RN; Jeanie Bantell, RN; Gloria Blandina, director; Mary Lou Bosha and Mary Lou Kowalczyk, volunteers.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_RGB_Clinic4.CMYK_.jpgThe Care and Concern Free Health Clinic in Pittston has been serving the area’s needy for 10 years. Some of the volunteers of the Care and Concern Free Health Clinic in Pittston are, seated. From left, standing, are Mary Ellen Hromisin, RN; Bernie Ambrosino, RN; Jeanie Bantell, RN; Gloria Blandina, director; Mary Lou Bosha and Mary Lou Kowalczyk, volunteers.

Lombaro
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_RGB_Mike-Lombardo.jpgLombaro

Rose Randazzo raised $100,000 from private businesses in one year to have the Inspiration Mural erected on Main Street in Pittston City.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_RGB_PSD012416Randazzo_5.jpgRose Randazzo raised $100,000 from private businesses in one year to have the Inspiration Mural erected on Main Street in Pittston City.

By Jimmy Fisher

jfisher@timesleader.com

Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher

Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher