Top news stories in 2015 celebrate major growth for Greater Pittston


By Jimmy Fisher - jfisher@timesleader.com



Carlo Ninassi, shown in the photo at left, along with his military dog tags, was posthumously presented with the Purple Heart Medal and the World War I Victory Medal at a presentation in the Hughestown home of Ninassi’s daughter Amy Alpaugh in January.


Nick Wagner File Photos | Sunday Dispatch

Ed Koch, left, and his wife, Kathryn, are escorted out of a Pittston City Hall courtroom by Pittston police Detective Sgt. Neil Murphy back in March after the couple was arraigned on charges they took $44,622 from the Greater Pittston Stoners Soccer organization.


Nick Wagner File Photos | Sunday Dispatch

The Tilting Tomato is decorated for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Parade.


Bill Tarutis File Photos | For Sunday Dispatch

Rainbow flags were among the many items for sale at PrideFest in Pittston in 2015.


Bill Tarutis File Photos | For Sunday Dispatch

The nurse’s station at the Geisinger Health System building on North Main Street in Pittston. the new building officially opened its doors in september after over a year of construction.


Nick Wagner File Photos | Sunday Dispatch

People gather around the ‘Inspiration Mural’ after the unveiling and dedication ceremony in September.


Bill Tarutis File Photos | For Sunday Dispatch

Antonio’s Pizza in West Pittston reopened its original location on the corner of Luzerne and Wyoming Avenues over four years after it was damaged in the flood of 2011.


Pete G. Wilcox File Photo | Sunday Dispatch

Tom Tigue addresses the audience in front of the flagpole named in his honor at a special ceremony at the Pittston Primary Center in November. It is also the site of the future Heroes Park to be named after Tigue honoring those that served the U.S.


Tony Callaio File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Within the blink of an eye, 2015 has come and gone.

It was a productive year for Greater Pittston with visitations from government officials, businesses reopening, additions to important buildings and much more.

The Sunday Dispatch staff has compiled a list of the best stories for 2015, in no particular order.

Dedicated to Dad

Amy Alpaugh went to great lengths to honor the legacy of her late father, Carlo Ninassi, by ensuring he still received the Purple Heart he was never awarded.

Her hard work paid off.

At a special ceremony in the Hughestown home of Alpaugh, she was presented the Purple Heart Medal, along with the World War I Victory Medal in honor of her late father by U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright.

Two charged with taking money from soccer club

An Exeter couple turned themselves into authorities on allegations they took more than $44,000 from a youth soccer team.

Kathryn Koch was the president of the Greater Pittston Stoners Soccer Organization while her husband, Edward, was the treasurer.

They were both also charged with forgery and the solicitation of funds for charitable purposes.

A lifetime through photographs

Photographs can preserve a memory capturing a moment in time. Bill Lukasik Sr. captured a whole lifetime of memories.

Bill Sr. passed away March 5 in his home in Dupont at the age of 90. He is best known for his photography of weddings and the Knox Mine Disaster in 1959.

Bill Sr.’s work with his late brother, Stephen, who passed in 2009, captured the attention of people in the Greater Pittston area and beyond.

Pittston Area School Board reinstates music programs

At a school board meeting in April, 7-year-old Ayla Krieger, of Pittston Township, decided it was her turn to try to convince the Pittston Area School Board the music program must continue.

She succeeded.

With a unanimous vote at the board’s monthly meeting, the Pittston Area School Board reinstated the elementary school music programs.

In 2012, the district removed music from kindergarten through fifth-grade when retirements left the district without a qualified music teacher. Career development took place of music for students in those grades.

Moving forward with the Pittston St. Patrick’s Parade

Issues between Pittston City and the original St. Patrick’s Parade Committee began in March when city administrator Joe Moskovitz was approached following this year’s parade about dissension within the committee, prompting city officials to form an advisory committee to oversee operations of the original parade committee.

The original committee had to create a set of by-laws stating where monthly meetings will be held, how memberships are approved, requirements for the creation of a board of directors, requirements for appointing officers, instructions on sending annual reports to the city, how the meetings should be run and how the committee can apply for a 501 (c) (3) status.

The city council tabled the by-laws during its April meeting and instead handed control of the parade over to the Tomato Festival Executive Committee at its May meeting. The Tomato Festival Executive Committee still holds control today.

‘Machine Gun’ Lou Butera dies at 78

His childhood passion turned into a career that led him to become one of the most well-known billiards players of all time.

“Machine Gun” Lou Butera, a native of Pittston and a 1986 inductee of the Billiards Congress of American Hall of Fame, passed away June 25 in Los Angeles after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.

Adding onto the fun

The Pittston Memorial Library closed its doors for several weeks between July and August to undergo the construction of its two new wings: The John P. Cosgrove Center and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center.

The John P. Cosgrove Center serves as a community room that hosts community functions and events while the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center is the new children’s wing that includes books, games and a classroom with two chalkboards.

Pittston City officials are currently undergoing the process of acquiring grants for the construction of a playground and an amphitheater.

PrideFest finds new, more accepting home in Pittston

The NEPA Rainbow Alliance PrideFest moved is major annual event from Wilkes-Barre to Pittston because Pittston has a law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, said Helen Davis, vice chair of the Board of the NEPA Rainbow Alliance and a member of the PrideFest Committee.

Pittston City Main Street Manager Rose Randazzo helped get the equality law passed in Pittston and went to city mayor Jason Klush and the city council about hosting the PrideFest Parade.

“It was our way of putting in place and showing that Pittston is a welcoming place for everybody,” said Klush. “Eventually, everybody will come around and agree.”

A new building offers new hope

Geisinger Health System’s new medical building opened its doors Sept. 10.

The 17,000-square-foot building is located at 42 N. Main St. and was under construction since August 2014. It cost $9.4 million.

Key features include 25 examination rooms, a treatment room, where doctors can do procedures such as skin removal or administer IV fluids; radiology services and a 32-space garage for patients to park when visiting the building.

Hundreds gather for mural dedication

James (Jim) “Sox” Ruane was a community leader and mortician. “Machine Gun Lou” Butera could rack ‘em with the best of them at the pool table. Jimmy Cefalo starred on the gridiron. Shawn Klush still brings Elvis to life and Lori Nocito is a force to be reckoned with in today’s Wyoming Valley.

They all got started in Pittston.

So did supermarket magnate Sandy Insalaco, award-winning chef Biagio Dente, clinic director Gloria Blandina and former police chief Francis “Bunny” Linnen. And now, they and other Pittston notable natives are a permanent part of the history that weaves itself around this small Luzerne County city for all the world to see.

They are among the faces on the five-story mural on the south side of the Newrose Building. The mural itself, a labor of love and municipal honor by artist Michael Pilato and his painting partner, Yury Karabash, is the third largest in Pennsylvania.

The mural dedication was held Sept. 5, but more faces have since been added and more will come in the near future.

100 years of dedicated service

The Dupont Volunteer Fire Hose Company No. 1 celebrated its 100th year anniversary Oct. 3.

The hose company formed in May 1915 in Smithville, which would later become Dupont Borough.

The town did not become officially known as Dupont Borough until 1917. Charles Tetlack, the hose company’s financial secretary, is not sure why the hose company carried the name Dupont prior to the borough being established.

Paint Pittston Pink takes over downtown

What started out as a one weekend event in 2014 turned into a 10-day event this year with the goal is raise $50,000.

Although coming up $20,000 shy last year, Pain Pittston Pink reached its $50,000 goal this year.

The nonprofit organization, co-founded by Barbara Sciandra and Qiana Lehman, helps raise money to aid cancer research and clinical trials, specifically the Pennies In Action Fund that benefits Dr. Brain Czerniecki at the University of Pennsylvania.

Nothing beats the original

Antonio’s Pizza reopened its original building on the corner of Wyoming and Luzerne avenues in West Pittston during a soft opening Oct. 10, a little over four years after it was damaged during the flood of 2011.

The building looks as good as new with over a dozen tables and booths for dining and a big screen TV.

Out front is a fryer that can accommodate up to 16 pizzas and hot lamps to keep hot foods warm. A lot of the kitchen materials, restaurant manager Francessca Carannante said, were damaged in the 2011 flood, but were refurbished to look and operate like new.

Lt. Gov. Stack tours downtown Pittston, praises its growth

Lt. Gov. Michael Stack was intrigued by the positive changes he saw in Pittston, prompting him to take a closer look as he was given a tour of downtown Pittston by city officials.

Stack said this was not the first time he was in the city and he noticed a big improvement since the last time he visited.

“I was in Pittston a couple of years ago, maybe even a little longer than a couple of years ago,” he said. “I was visiting a couple of senators on state business and the Pittston I saw then was far different than the Pittston I’ve seen now. Needless to say, the Pittston I see now is much, much better.”

Celebrating a century of services

It’s not just any day that a parish family can celebrate 100 years of being together.

Nov. 1, though, was just that day in St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church in Pittston.

The parish was founded in 1911 and the church building was started in 1913 with its first services held in 1915.

The early church building resembled neighboring Roman Catholic churches with stained glass windows, open altar and altar railings, but it also held icons and featured a baldachin, or arched canopy, over the altar with a Cyrillic passage, “My Soul Magnifies the Lord and My Spirit Rejoices in God, My Savior.”

Tigue honored by Pittston Area School District

The Pittston Area School District honored Vietnam veteran and former state Rep. Tom Tigue by dedicating the flagpole at the district’s Primary Center in his name.

The pole will eventually stand in what will be called Col. Tom Tigue Heroes Park. Plans for the park are being drawn up and an announcement will follow next spring.

Tigue, of Hughestown, served in the U.S. Marines Corps and earned the Silver Star. He also served for 27 years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves before retiring and earned the Silver Star while serving in Vietnam.

End of an era

After nearly 30 years serving the Greater Pittston area, Medic 303 out of Pittston officially signed off.

Medic 303 had 24 members and was nixed mainly due to a change in the company’s care model. Like other quick response units, Medic 303 provided care to patients while an ambulance was en route to the scene of an emergency.

Carlo Ninassi, shown in the photo at left, along with his military dog tags, was posthumously presented with the Purple Heart Medal and the World War I Victory Medal at a presentation in the Hughestown home of Ninassi’s daughter Amy Alpaugh in January.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_PurpleHeart1.jpgCarlo Ninassi, shown in the photo at left, along with his military dog tags, was posthumously presented with the Purple Heart Medal and the World War I Victory Medal at a presentation in the Hughestown home of Ninassi’s daughter Amy Alpaugh in January. Nick Wagner File Photos | Sunday Dispatch

Ed Koch, left, and his wife, Kathryn, are escorted out of a Pittston City Hall courtroom by Pittston police Detective Sgt. Neil Murphy back in March after the couple was arraigned on charges they took $44,622 from the Greater Pittston Stoners Soccer organization.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Stoners1.jpgEd Koch, left, and his wife, Kathryn, are escorted out of a Pittston City Hall courtroom by Pittston police Detective Sgt. Neil Murphy back in March after the couple was arraigned on charges they took $44,622 from the Greater Pittston Stoners Soccer organization. Nick Wagner File Photos | Sunday Dispatch

The Tilting Tomato is decorated for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Parade.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_SD_St-Patrick-Parade_5.jpgThe Tilting Tomato is decorated for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Parade. Bill Tarutis File Photos | For Sunday Dispatch

Rainbow flags were among the many items for sale at PrideFest in Pittston in 2015.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_PSD081615PrideFest_4.jpgRainbow flags were among the many items for sale at PrideFest in Pittston in 2015. Bill Tarutis File Photos | For Sunday Dispatch

The nurse’s station at the Geisinger Health System building on North Main Street in Pittston. the new building officially opened its doors in september after over a year of construction.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Geisinger4.jpgThe nurse’s station at the Geisinger Health System building on North Main Street in Pittston. the new building officially opened its doors in september after over a year of construction. Nick Wagner File Photos | Sunday Dispatch

People gather around the ‘Inspiration Mural’ after the unveiling and dedication ceremony in September.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_PSD091315Mural_7.jpgPeople gather around the ‘Inspiration Mural’ after the unveiling and dedication ceremony in September. Bill Tarutis File Photos | For Sunday Dispatch

Antonio’s Pizza in West Pittston reopened its original location on the corner of Luzerne and Wyoming Avenues over four years after it was damaged in the flood of 2011.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_pizza01.jpgAntonio’s Pizza in West Pittston reopened its original location on the corner of Luzerne and Wyoming Avenues over four years after it was damaged in the flood of 2011. Pete G. Wilcox File Photo | Sunday Dispatch

Tom Tigue addresses the audience in front of the flagpole named in his honor at a special ceremony at the Pittston Primary Center in November. It is also the site of the future Heroes Park to be named after Tigue honoring those that served the U.S.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Tigue-Dedication-3.jpgTom Tigue addresses the audience in front of the flagpole named in his honor at a special ceremony at the Pittston Primary Center in November. It is also the site of the future Heroes Park to be named after Tigue honoring those that served the U.S. Tony Callaio File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

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

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