Luzerne County Council makes slew of board appointments

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -
Cupinski -

Luzerne County Council filled 33 seats on boards, authorities and commissions Tuesday, or 16 more than originally anticipated.

Additional applicants were available for selection because interviews of 35 interested citizens were publicly conducted Monday, beefing up the existing eligibility list.

The Luzerne County Community College Board of Trustees and the county Convention Center Authority that oversees the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township attracted the most applicants.

Fifteen citizens were on the eligibility list for three open seats on the 11-member arena authority, including the three current members in expiring seats — Donna Cupinski, Barry Payne and Alex Milanes.

Council selected Cupinski for another term but picked Anthony Ryba and Carmen Ambrosino to fill the other two seats.

Ryba is secretary/assistant to the school superintendent in the Hazleton Area School District and previously worked as district business manager.

Ambrosino worked as CEO of the nonprofit Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services Inc. for 40 years before retiring in January 2014, and he continues to work as a speaker and consultant in the addiction field. He also served on the county manager search committee in 2016.

Twelve citizens were on the eligibility list for the 15-member community college board, which had four vacant six-year terms and one seat through 2021.

Joan Blewitt and John Bryan sought reappointment, but only Blewitt was selected to fill the shorter open term.

The six-year seats were filled by Bernard Graham, James Dennis and two attorneys — Catherine O’Donnell and Christopher Slusser. Slusser, who is from the Hazleton area, also had served on the county manager search committee in 2016.

Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck asked her colleagues to table the vote on nominations for the shorter term. Five citizens interested in seats on the community college and other boards were unable to attend Monday’s interviews due to short notice, she said.

Only three colleagues supported tabling: Harry Haas, Edward Brominski and Matthew Vough. Councilman Stephen A. Urban was absent Tuesday.

The three-person county Assessment Appeals Board is the only one where board members receive compensation, which council set at $150 per appeals session, or a maximum of $8,000 annually.

Council appointed Attorney Heather Yudichak to fill the expiring seat of appeal board member Patrick Musto, who did not seek reappointment.

Here are the other appointments and reappointments to unpaid seats approved Tuesday:

• Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board: Phyllis Mundy, Robert Nealon, Henry Pennoni and William Runner all reappointed

• Farmland Preservation Board: Nancy Snee reappointed

• Children and Youth Advisory Board: Richard Kramer appointed

• Conservation District Board: Tracey Stevens appointed and Timothy Ference reappointed

• Drug and Alcohol Executive Commission: John McCarthy appointed

• Recreational Facilities Advisory Board: Stephen Maakestad appointed

• Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Mental Health and Developmental Services Program Advisory Board: Tom O’Neill appointed

• Planning Commission: N. Brian Caverly reappointed

• Convention and Visitors Bureau Board: Carla Thaller appointed

• Zoning Board: William Harris reappointed

• Flood Protection Authority: Richard Adams appointed

• Northeastern PA Hospital and Higher Education: Joseph Donahue appointed and four members reappointed — John Ermel, Kathy Grinaway, Frank Haduck and Thomas McGrath

• Industrial Development Authority: Dale Parmenteri and Brian Rinker appointed

• Transportation Authority: Michael Gilhooley appointed

• Redevelopment Authority: Nina DeCosmo appointed

Additional expired seats on some boards, authorities and commissions must be addressed at future meetings, council members have said.

Council Vice Chairman Eugene Kelleher, who heads the committee that interviews board applicants, thanked citizens for seeking seats, describing the quality of candidates as “excellent.”

New Councilman Chris Perry said he attended Monday’s session and was impressed with the caliber and quantity of applicants.

“It was an eye-opener,” he said. “It was well worth coming.”

Council reps

Council members also selected their council representatives on various boards Tuesday: Jane Walsh Waitkus on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Bi-County Board, Vough on the Conservation District board, Kelleher on the state transportation department’s transit consolidation work group and Council Chairman Tim McGinley on the Wilkes-Barre Riverfront Parks Committee.

As the new chairman, McGinley also has a seat on the retirement board and airport bi-county board.

McClosky Houck, who was previously chair, nominated Haas for the parks committee, but Brominski was the only other council member who supported him.

Brominski suggested council pass legislation imposing term limits for outside boards. McGinley said the proposal will be discussed at the Jan. 23 work session.


By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.