Sunday, August 19, 2018

Andy's Angles: Moonlight Feels Right

I just have to take another look at this one, mainly because I let some Talkback callers get to me.

To get you up to speed, the Williamsport Area Millionaires held a midnight practice Monday morning, the first possible second the team was allowed to practice in full pads.  Some Talkback callers thought it was absurd.

Yes, the players are kids-- but they're not babies.  Staying up late is nothing new.

A midnight practice was a novelty, and the players appeared to be having a great time.  I didn't hear one complaint from the kids, or the parents and fans in the stands.  Practicing anything can be repetitive and boring.  This was a novelty, and the TV cameras were there.  No one had issues with the publicity.

As much as he said he wasn't sending a message to opponents, I think that's what Charles Crews had in mind when he arranged the midnight practice.  The Millionaires are ready for the new season, and they will fight to improve last year's 7 and 4 record.  There is nothing wrong with that.

As I write this, the Little League World Series is getting underway in South Williamsport.  Organizers take great lengths to make sure the kids are happy, healthy, safe and cared for.  I don't hear anyone complaining about the long and grueling season these tykes endure.
So where do we go from here?  Williamsport Area was one of two school district holding a midnight practice.  West Middlesex in Mercer County was the other.  I can see other school districts doing this, and I also see the PIAA stepping into halt the fun, probably limiting practices to the hours from 7 am to 10 pm, or something like that.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Andy's Angles: After the Flood

We are coming off yet another round of flooding in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.  Above is a Wednesday morning shot of the Susquehanna River at Pittston, looking downstream toward Wilkes-Barre.  Thankfully, only minor issues reported with the Susquehanna.  The big problems were at creeks and streams.

Parts of our area got hammered and that is an understatement.

We heard victims clamoring for help, and I totally understand.  One suggested solution is dredging.  Forget that.  The concept is passe.  It's expensive and it sends mud downstream, negatively affecting fish and other creatures in the water.  The environmentalists would be up in arms, and I understand that, too.

Flood walls?  Possibly.  Buying out home and business owners in the flood plains?  That's possible, too.  Building along waterways was the way to go, a long time ago.  It's no longer necessary, and it hasn't been so for a hundred years, maybe more.

There is one thought I cannot get out of my mind.  There isn't much you can do to protect yourself when it rains 7, 8, 9 inches-- or more, on top of saturated ground.

Friday, August 17, 2018


It was great seeing Rock 107's Prospector on the air with Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey yesterday morning.  Rock 107, along with Gerrity's Supermarkets is collecting donations for local food pantries  The drive continues today.  Please, help if you can.  Prospector is a great guy, and this is an exceptionally worthy cause.

It reminds me of something similar in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I wish someone around here would try it.  Every summer, WBT radio does something called "Peanut Butter and July."  July sounds like jelly, get it?  By the way, the afternoon guy on WBT is John Hancock, who I worked with at WARM back in the mid 80's.

It works like this.  WBT teams with a supermarket chain to encourage people to buy jars of peanut butter, and drop them off in a bin before you leave the store.  The peanut butter goes to Charlotte area food pantries.

Why peanut butter?  It's a good source of protein and kids love it.  It's not a perfect food, but the plusses outweigh the minuses.  It keeps fed during the summer.  It's also good for breakfast and lunches when classes resume.

I'm a fan of the product, crunchy, please-- and the concept.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Summer Doldrums

It didn't happen this year.

There's a phenomenon in the news business.  Different people call it different things.  I refer to it as the "Summer Doldrums."  Things slow down quite a bit.  The kids are out of school.  No high school sports.  Politics doesn't pick up until after Labor Day.  Government and the courts slow down.  Vacations...  You get the idea.

This year, and this summer have been non stop activity, including some horrible weather, a presidential visit, the Catholic Church grand jury report, an up tick in crime, an assortment of fires, construction, the Little League World Series is starting,  the incredible journey of the Tunkhannock girls softball team, and so on.

I never complain about the Summer Doldrums.  There is always more than enough to keep us busy.  This year, the news cycle has been kicked up a notch, and not just on the local level.

Ronald Reagan spent most of his quiet  summers at his ranch in Santa Barbara.  Bush 41 went to Kennebunkport, Clinton summered in Massachusetts.  Bush 43 headed to the ranch in Texas.  Obama was another who loved New England.  Even though President Trump is hanging out at his resorts in Florida and New Jersey, he is still making plenty of news.  That is probably the new normal. 

If that wasn't enough...  Hawaiians are running from lava.  California is burning up.  The Thailand cave rescue, Genoa bridge collapse...

It will only get busier as we head in to the fall.  High school football is back.  Schools, colleges and universities start fall semesters, the Bloomsburg fair, the election, courts and government become more active.  While September and October are known as dry months, we have been hit by some nasty hurricanes and tropical storms during those months.

We didn't get a breather in the summer of 2018, and that's okay.  My heart goes out to those who have suffered losses during the flash flooding, and I'll write more about that in the days to come.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

First Person: Another FloodWatch

My fate was decided before I hit the door yesterday morning.  Sarah Buynovsky would handle the flood reports from the west.  Ryan Leckey described the issues to the south.  I had Lackawanna County.

That's photographer Jason you see above-- getting video of the rain swollen Lackawanna River and a broken up Lonesome Road in Old Forge.
We were live during Newswatch 16 This Morning, and then we set out to see what we could see.  Jason and I visited a few different locations.  We went back to the office so I could write, but a story like this essentially writes itself.  Show me the flooding and don't get in the way.  Editor Brittany matched pictures to words, and we were off and running.

We've all been through flooding before.  This area suffered through a succession of hurricanes and tropical storms in recent years.  However, I cannot remember a summer filled with such awful weather.

We are half way to a new month.  Maybe there will be better luck in September.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

It Bites!

Most of my Monday morning was spent in Williamsport, where the Millionaires football team held a midnight practice.  I'll write more about that in the days to come.

Photographer Jason and I had to make one stop on the way back.  As Jason was shooting video of a Fire Police roadblock near Montoursville, I got out of the car to look around.  The word quickly spread around the neighborhood.  Fresh meat.  My welcoming committee was comprised of some of the nastiest mosquitoes around.  At least six bites in just a few minutes!

I've read that, thanks to the wet weather, this is a banner year for mosquitoes.  Believe me, I have first hand knowledge.  I grabbed an antihistamine out of my work bag, and popped a couple on the way back to the office.  There is some bite relief wipes in the newsroom medicine cabinet, so I made it through my shift without massive red bumps showing on television.

We need mosquitoes.  They're bird food.  But, either the birds are slacking off at the bug buffet this year, or there are simply too many mosquitoes to handle.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Unfinished Business


I'm really tired over this NFL protest stuff.  I get what the players are trying to do and I respect that.  I think there's a better way to do it.  The league is coming off as confused and impotent.  the regular season begins in less than a month.  Fix this!

I could take the daytime heat and humidity if it cooled off at night.  It's not happening.  There is no time to rest, cool down and refresh.  It's only a few more weeks.  Fall is rapidly approaching.

I used to cover high school football on a regular basis, so it was nice to check in at a high school football practice and do a story.  Valley View's organization impressed me.

A while back, I complained about a local newspaper's lousy circulation.  It has improved in recent days.  It could be the paper is easier to cart around because it seems smaller every day.

14 teams in the International League, and the SWB Railriders are 10th in attendance.  Still, an average of 5,900 per game is nothing to sneeze at, and the weather has been awful this summer.  On top of that, the team has hovered around the .500 mark all season.

Political ads are starting earlier this year.  Less than 90 days until the midterms.  Understatement of the year:  It should be interesting.

More attempts at humorous obituaries have been popping up in local newspapers.  I'm sorry.  I just find those things in bad taste.

Tiger Woods had a good weekend, but I don't think he'll ever win another major tournament.  While Tiger is improving, there are simply too many great golfers, ones better than Tiger,  out there.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Andy's Angles: Flag

Who doesn't love a giant flag, waving in the breeze?

There is a new flag, in a shopping center, at the Scranton/Dickson City line.

There is one drawback.  With an enormous flag, it takes quite a breeze to get it unfurled.  I was lucky on a recent morning.
While traveling the other day, I realized you get a great view as you're on Interstate 81, between the Main Avenue and Business Route 6/North Scranton Expressway exits.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Andy's Angles: First Impression

I remember department store chain owner Al Boscov said one of the things that attracted him to Scranton was how easy it was to get downtown.  The North Scranton Expressway connects to Interstate 81 on one end, and the Central Scranton Expressway is at the other.

The shot you see above is along the Central Scranton Expressway, looking "outbound" toward the interstate.  It's a weedy, sloppy mess.  I don't know if the city or state, or both is responsible for the upkeep.

You get only one shot at a first impression, and this is it.  I do realize the expressway is under construction, but it really should be better than this.
And, on the other side, let's trim back the trees, just a little, so you can see the new buildings and the expansion at the University of Scranton.  The campus really looks great, and it will help us shed the old coal town image.

Looking on the bright side...  at least, the weeds hide the litter.

Friday, August 10, 2018


I am a coward.

Let me back up several months.  One of my high school teachers and I were having our cars serviced.  As we hung out in the waiting room, the talk turned to teachers I liked, respected, and influenced me.  By the way, the teacher I was speaking with handled a course called "consumer economics."  It was one of the most valuable high school courses ever, and I understand my high school no longer offers it.

The talk turned to a pair of junior high school English teachers.  One has passed away.  The other is still with us, long since retired.  A friend knew I was thinking of calling this teacher to say "thank you."  A telephone number dropped in to my lap, and that led to a cell phone number.  The number sat on my desk for several days, as I tried to screw up the courage to make the call.

I finally dialed him up, while I was on vacation last week.  The cell phone was apparently turned off because the call went right to voice mail.  I rambled on for about a minute, explaining who I was and the reason for the call.

It would have been nice to chat for a moment, and perhaps I will try again, if I ever get another burst of courage.

At least, he was finally given a well deserved "thank you."  I'm sorry it was more than 40 years late.