Monday, March 30, 2009

If It Walks Like a Duck...

Here we go again...

In the ABC News 20/20 report on the crooked Luzerne County judges that aired Friday night, correspondent Jim Avila referred to Wilkes-Barre as "the heart of Pennsylvania's struggling coal country."

Our area continues to be referred to as "coal country," even though the mines closed decades ago. It's wrong.

On the other hand, perception is reality. You're greeted by a rusting old coal breaker as you enter the valley from the south. Lackawanna County's big tourist attraction is an old coal mine. Culm banks continue to scar the region. Acid mine drainage pollutes our rivers and streams. Should we change the names of Carbon County, Carbondale, Minersville, Coaldale, and Coal Township? A famous mine fire continues to burn beneath Centralia, and that's in Columbia County. The Eckley Miners' Village draws thousands to the Freeland area every year. There's a huge hunk of coal sitting between the lanes of the North Scranton Expressway.

The mines may be gone, but they are forever part of our history and our current image. Northeastern Pennsylvania will always be about the mines, even as we struggle to move forward. We're stuck with it.

Complaining about a poor choice of words by an ABC News correspondent isn't the answer. We all share the burden of refining our area's image.