Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Are You Kidding Me?

What's going on at my alma mater, Marywood University?  Yes, it was a college in my day.

Bomb threats, vandalism, student protests, faculty protests, unanswered questions about finances, complaints about a lack of transparency, general dissent and unhappiness...  The list grows longer by the day.

The latest incident is a dust up between the student newspaper, The Wood Word, and the vice president for business affairs/treasurer.

According to the newspaper staff, they've been trying to verify financial information that appeared in a recent protest related flyer.  The staff complains the VP is attempting to censor them by demanding all of his responses be printed in their entirety, and he gets a chance to look at the newspaper stories BEFORE THEY ARE PUBLISHED.

That's a huge no-no in journalism.

Granted, The Wood Word doesn't enjoy a lot of protection.  It's an arm of the University and the University holds all the cards.

For the most part, I've found the newspaper staff to be a responsible bunch, who take their roles seriously.  I had a bit of a problem with an opinion piece that repeated unsubstantiated financial problems back in the spring.  I believe the staff knows that a newspaper is a powerful tool, and they should use their power wisely.

As for the VP, it seems like he wants to make sure his message gets out unfiltered, but what he wants is unreasonable.  The school has a public relations staff.  I'm guessing he didn't run his policy by them.  I hope he re-thinks things.  I also hope administration and the students come up with a reasonable solution.

In spite of its problems, Marywood is a fine institution.  It can be better.  Improvement won't happen until everyone works together.  You also have to look at the culture here.  Marywood has never been known as a place for rapid change.  Take small steps, and eventually, I hope, everyone will be satisfied with the destination.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Scrapple

OK, so we have another teachers strike.  There has to be a better way of getting a fair contract for those who educate our kids.

The pope's trip to Washington, New York, and Philadelphia is generally regarded as a success.  Wasn't it nice to see a weekend of positivity?

I'm still not sold on Trevor Noah as host of The Daily Show.  But then again, I was never a regular viewer in the first place.

John Boehner likely has a book deal and a network news job in his future.  I'm sure the networks were lining up at his door, minutes after he announced his resignation from the House of Representatives.

Fall is a great time of year.  Unfortunately, it goes from "delightfully chilly" to "bone numbing cold" rather quickly.

Can you trust your car?  General Motors is paying a hefty fine because it knew about its faulty ignition switch problem, and was slow to fix it.  Now, VW is caught lying about emissions.  George Carlin had a great line about how "business ethics" was an oxymoron.

State government is not the most efficient body to begin with.  The Kathleen Kane case has to be a tremendous distraction.  A lot of people are looking for it to be settled, one way or another.

What's up with all the water main breaks lately?

"The Intern" didn't do well at the box office over the weekend.  Why do people still put Anne Hathaway in movies?

A lot of wet weather is on the way.  Yes, let's be careful and keep an eye on it.  Let's not panic.  Social media is already beginning to pop.  Calm down.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bottom of the 9th

Dick Enberg announced last week that 2016 will be his last season calling San Diego Padres' games.  Enberg is 80.

Vin Scully recently said he will retire after next season.  He's been in the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers' booth since 1950.

This is going to be perceived as unAmerican, but I'm not a Scully fan.  Enberg is head and shoulders above, in my view, and let me offer a few nuggets to back it up.

Dick Enberg always worked with a color man, and he always succeeded in making that color man a better broadcaster.  It led Enberg to the top spot over at NBC.  He called several sports, including football, basketball, and tennis for CBS.

Vin Scully could have been CBS' number one NFL broadcaster.  He was tested with the great John Madden, but there was no chemistry.  Scully never gave Madden the room and opportunity to be Madden.  Madden was then tested with Pat Summerall, and it clicked.  Summerall's ego didn't get in the way.  John Madden was quoted as saying Pat knew how to set him up.  According to Madden, Summerall asked him questions he (Madden) knew Summerall could have answered on his own.  Pat Summerall:  team player.  Vin Scully:  not so much.

For the final years of the NBC baseball contract, Scully worked with Tom Seaver on Saturday afternoons.  Tom Seaver, another guy who knows his stuff.  Scully kept him on a short leash.

To this day, Scully works alone, even though fans prefer having a play by play and color man in the booth.

Vin Scully has been around a long time, and he does have legions of loyal followers.  I respect that.  However, his act never worked for me.

Dick Enberg, who was also an employee of the California Angels, knew how to turn off his "homer-ism" on national broadcasts.  Scully didn't.

I'll miss one of the two.  You can guess which one.

My Pittsburgh Steelers fandom went on hiatus after the team signed dog killer Michael Vick.  Baseball could be next.  Liar and illegal gambler Peter Rose met with the commissioner last week.  It was his latest bid to get back in the game.  I've already expressed my feelings here.  No.  Never.  Rose committed the greatest sin of all.  I know there's the whole forgiveness thing, and I get that.  Perhaps I'd feel differently if Rose came clean when he got caught.  Pete Rose only admitted to his crimes decades later, when he had a book to sell.  If Rose gets in, I'm out.

Before I hit "enter" for the day, a few words on the passing of Yankee great Yogi Berra.  What a great life he led!  Universally loved, financially secure, well regarded, a long life...  We should all be so lucky.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Andy's Angles: Brooks

This is the Brooks Building at Spruce and North Washington in Scranton.  It's another oof the city's gems.  Almost every floor is different from the outside.

It has offices on the first floor with apartments above.  Jason Miller called it home for several years.

Lackawanna County had some functions on the first floor.  Name a downtown building where the county doesn't have an office these days.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Train Station Saturday: Dickson City

Today's stop takes us to Dickson City.

The borough wisely preserved a freight house where the tracks cross Boulevard Avenue.  It's not used much-- only for an excursion train stop or two during the year, including a visit from Santa.

The clock is a relatively recent addition.  Legend has it the clock came from the old Dickson City bank.
This one even comes with its own caboose, a really nice touch.

However, I have a warning for my friends in Dickson City.  I noticed a couple of broken windows.  The glass on the clock face is also broken.  Some slate tiles on the roof need to be replaced.  It looks like water is getting in.  This is a great little building.  Please, don't let it fall in to disrepair.

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Look

It's something TV and news geeks consider important.  It excites and interests us.

World News Tonight on ABC has a new logo and graphics look.

I like this one a lot.  It's less cartoonish, more bold, cleaner.

It's something that happens from time to time.  There's the need to freshen things, improve the look, help with the story telling.

For the last couple of years, World News Tonight has been using the graphics left over from Diane Sawyer's days.  This is a welcome improvement.

The great Tom Snyder once said "No one ever walked out of a Broadway show humming the set."  He's right.  Content is king.  Newscasts live or die on the information presented to the viewer, but an attractive wrapping doesn't hurt.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Small World

I will never forget an afternoon when I was on the radio, in the early 80's.

A local man was charged with a crime in the state of Washington.  I called State Police in Olympia to get more information.  I identified myself as Andy Palumbo from WARM in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  The officer on the other end said, "Hey, the Mighty 590!"  I nearly dropped the phone.  The officer had relatives in the area, and occasionally vacationed in the Poconos.  I easily got the information I needed.  Being part of a well regarded and community involved radio station was a huge help.

This next item is totally unrelated, but more proof we live in a small world.
My friend, WBAL 1090 reporter Phil Yacuboski came across this in the basement of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Concepcion in Washington.  My alma mater, Marywood College, now Marywood University, has a rather long reach.

Phil has been covering the pope's visit to Washington.  WBAL streams, and I strongly suggest you check it out.  Many of Phil's reports have been picked up by ABC News Radio.  It's not the first time ABC has used his work.  Phil was one of the voices of the Baltimore riots.

It's a kick to see a former co-worker and Luzerne County native doing great.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Pope

It's going to be all Pope, all the time for the next several days.

I know some people will be unhappy.  Talkback has received calls, and I'm sure emails are soon to follow.

Look at it objectively.  Even if you don't buy in to what Francis preaches, you have to admit he is a world leader, with millions of followers.

His visit to Cuba made history.

The Pope's trip to the United States disrupts traffic, flights, work, play, lives...

Millions of people will be in Philadelphia.  There will be a huge economic impact, spreading far beyond Philadelphia, even in to our area.

The Pope has introduced reforms to the Roman Catholic Church.  He is a fascinating figure.

It all adds up to a lot of coverage.  It's an important story.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

180 Degrees

Did you ever feel a certain way about a controversial topic, and can't explain how you arrived at that conclusion?

That's where I am in the Brian Williams controversy.

Let's review.

NBC suspended Williams for six months for fabricating his role in at least one major news story.  Note, the lies didn't happen during NBC Nightly News.  Williams became Mr. Tall Tale during talk show appearances and print interviews.  It's been reported an internal NBC investigation shows the lies spread beyond the initial trigger of Williams' saying his helicopter had been hit by enemy fire in the Middle East.

It's safe to say I was never a fan.  He had the most "face time" of all the network news anchors.   Translation:  ego.  Williams liked to talk, even though adlibbing during major news events, like election nights, was never his strong suit.

When this whole affair started, I strongly leaned toward Williams and NBC going their separate ways.

Strange to say, now that the six month suspension ends today, I've softened on the guy.  Williams returns to a diminished role at MSNBC, a network trying to re-make its hard news image, after years of trainwreck programming.  He's lost millions of dollars.  He's also lost something on which you cannot put a price-- trust and credibility.

Yet, I'm okay with his return.  I really am, and I don't know why I've done the 180.

I'm looking forward to seeing some real news, during the daytime hours on MSNBC.

Let's move on.

Monday, September 21, 2015

BOTY and Unsolicited Advice

After nearly eleven years of blogging, I finally won something.

This blog was awarded "Blog of the Year" in the news and politics category.  The announcement was made at BlogCon at East Stroudsburg University September 12.

Thanks to the BlogCon organizers and all those who voted.  I greatly appreciate it.

I was asked to be on a BlogCon panel a few years ago, but I declined.  I really don't have much to say about the activity.  It can be summed up in a few sentences.

The big one first:  If you're going to have a blog, update it.  You don't have to do it every day.  We have so many talented bloggers in the area.  You can find the list here.  It's frustrating when you have to wait several days, even weeks, between updates.

Second, don't be part of the CTRL A-C-V crowd.  Tell me what YOU think, what YOU feel, what YOU'VE learned.  If you're going to show photos, tell me where it is, how to get there, and why it interests you.

Third, a blog isn't journalism, but you should employ some basic journalistic principles.  Source your material, even if its a news release.   Be polite.  Be fair.  Be honest.  Thou shalt not take credit for the work of another.  If you have a connection to the person or topic you're writing about, remember FULL DISCLOSURE.

Don't rip off other people.  You have no idea how maddening it is when my photos show up somewhere else.  I'm more than willing to share, but ask first, and then list me as a credit when you use the shot.  My Toni the elephant picture from the Nay Aug Park Zoo in Scranton, back in the mid 80's, is all over  the internet.  No one ever asked if they could use it. 

That's about it.  If you have a blog, keep it fresh.  If you're considering starting one, I recommend it.  It's great fun and a nice creative outlet.  Plus, it's a wonderful hobby because it doesn't cost anything.

Be well.  Good luck, and I'll meet you back here tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Andy's Angles: The Jermyn

I always had mixed feelings on this place.  It's the Jermyn at Wyoming and Spruce in Scranton.

For years, it was one of the city's better hotels.  Great tile work and a spectacular mural in the old Manhattan Room.  The ballrooms were cool, and I spent a few election nights here.

After the hotel closed, it was turned in to apartments, and that's great.

There used to be a mini mart, in the front corner, staffed by some of the nicest people around.  When it closed, management promised something news for the space.  As you can see, it never happened.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Train Station Saturday: Olyphant

This structure in Olyphant isn't really a train station.  It's more like a little covered area where excursion trains stop a few times year.

That is not to belittle its function.  The station helps form a town square on one side of Olyphant's downtown.  Olyphant is one of the few coal towns around here that still has a functioning downtown business district-- apartments, stores, restaurants...  and this little building helps tie it all together.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Back to Work

And so, another vacation is coming to an end...

This one has been one of the least productive of all time, and I was okay with that.  I needed some "veg" time.

I rode my bike, played with my camera, and went to the gym.  Don't forget the sleep.  There was plenty of that.

It's time to get behind a work station and crank out the news.  Busy times are ahead.  It's Race for the Cure weekend in Scranton.  Some big trials have started, or will be starting soon.  Two teachers strikes are underway, and there could be four in the coming week.  We're two months away from an election  There's a lot of hurricane season left.

I still have another vacation week, plus some scattered days off before 2016 arrives.  Wow!  Can you believe we're talking about the new year already?

One day at a time, and I'll catch you tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Let's Wait a Little Longer

We have a horrible habit around here of letting historic buildings deteriorate past the point of no return, tearing them down, and then weeping about the loss.

I took this picture of the clock tower at Scranton Lace yesterday morning.  The copper flashing is peeling away.  A piece is hanging off the back.  It's not in this photo because it was on the dark side of the building.

All it will take is one windy day, and we're going to have sheets of copper flying through the air.

I know you can't force people to spend money on rehabilitation.  Times are tough.  There isn't much need for an enormous old factory in a flood zone.

Still, I hope someone comes up with a solution before someone gets hurt, and it becomes too late to save the building.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I like new technology, but in small steps, and on my terms.

You may have noticed that some Newswatch 16 anchors are using iPads rather than paper scripts.  It makes a lot of sense.  It saves wear and tear on our printers.  We spend less on ink and paper.  Believe me, it adds up.  For example, one of my weekend morning broadcasts is about 70 script pages.  That's 140 pages per weekend.  7280 pages per year.  That's a lot of paper and a lot of dead trees.  It's also a lot of money, and I hope people at the home office are pleased.

However, paper does have its advantages.  I like making notes to myself in the margins.  I circle and underline names, words and phrases I want to stress and emphasize.  I resisted the transition to iPad for a long time.

I gave the issue some thought, and decided it was time to get with the program.  I started using the iPad for the Good Morning America updates.  Then, I used it for some portions of the weekend morning broadcasts.  I recently started using it for the entire four hours, both days.

It wasn't as difficult as I feared, although my swiping technique needs a little bit of work.  iPad veterans Tom Williams and Mindi Ramsey offered some pointers, trips, and tricks.  My first broadcasts weren't perfect, but they were pretty darned close.

I'll miss the paper, but it's time to move on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Nolan, the Call, and the Note

By now you know former Newswatch 16 anchor Nolan Johannes died Monday.  He was 81.

There are a couple of Nolan stories I'd pass along today, proof of what a nice man he was.

My first time anchoring at WNEP was Christmas Day 1998.  Even though I had anchored down the street dozens of times, I was terrified.  I had been off the air for a few years, concentrating on being a producer.  Kim and Tom both wanted the day off.  They told the news director at the time that I'd be willing, and he said yes.

It wasn't my best day.  My voice was thin and tight.  I flew through the copy way too fast.  Even though there was a great sense of relief when the broadcast ended, I wasn't feeling great.  I walked back in to the newsroom.  The phone was ringing.  I assumed, at best, it was a disappointed viewer, or at worst, an angry manager.

It was Nolan.

He congratulated me on my work, and even noticed I tried to smile.  Regular viewers will know I'm not a natural smiler.

The call meant the world to me, and it made for a very nice start to Christmas morning.

Back in the day, Nolan used to record a "This Day in History" segment for the Saturday morning broadcast.  I used to write it, and it was a major tickle to hear a legend read my copy.    When Nolan stepped aside several years ago, he left me a note.  It read, in part, "My wife Marian and I so enjoy Andy's brand of writing and news delivery.  We'll be watching."

It meant the world to me, part two.  Obviously, I still have the note. I've received a lot of awards over the years.  A note, an endorsement, from Nolan trumps them all.

Nolan made occasional trips to the newsroom after he retired.  It was always the highlight of the day.  Offices emptied.  Work stopped.  Everyone wanted to say hello, and Nolan had a kind word for everyone.

Nolan started anchoring at WNEP while I was in college.  I remember thinking he was an odd choice to replace Gary Essex.  They were two very different people.  As Mike Stevens noted in his Monday evening piece, Nolan did not have a big news background.  What he did have was warmth and the ability to connect with people.  It was genuine, not an act.  On and off the air, the same very nice man.  We all pale in comparison.

Nolan was a gentleman and a class act.  I'm glad I knew him.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Argnonish Ride

It was a nice way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday was the 8th annual SGT Jan Argonish Motorcycle Ride.  

I never met Jan, but I have gotten to know Jan's father, Mike, since Jan was killed in Afghanistan in August of 2007.

The Run goes from Dalton, through the mid valley, and back again.  Money raised goes to charity.  The criteria-- the money goes to organizations Jan would have endorsed.  Over the years, the money has helped veterans, the elderly, those in active service, kids, and everyone in between.

As I told Jan's father yesterday, I'm sorry about the circumstances that brought us here, but a lot of good has come from an awful event.

The top photo is the motorcycles leaving Dalton.  Below, the ride up Dunmore Street in Throop.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Andy's Angles: The Globe

I think it will take a miracle to fill this one.

The old Globe store on Wyoming Avenue has been empty since a records storage company moved out several months ago.

It makes me sad every time I walk or drive by.

Back to school shopping, visits to Santa, just aimless wandering.  This was the place to be.

It seems like a trial balloon was recently floated to stick county offices, now scattered all over Scranton, in to one place-- the Globe.  The school district complains it will lose almost $ 200,000 in tax revenue, and I get that.  On the other hand-- construction jobs, more workers downtown, life for an empty building...  The trade sounds reasonable.  Plus, the longer the building stays empty, the more likely nothing will happen here.  I'm sure assessments will be decreased over the years.  How will that work out for you?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Train Station Saturday: Scranton Intermodal

Yes, this is actually a train station, even though it may never see one.

Lackawanna County is building a new intermodal transportation center along Lackawanna Avenue.  This is the view from the West Lackawanna Avenue Bridge, looking toward downtown.

I've had a lot of issues here, and it seems to be one of those "solutions in search of a problem."  The goal is one station for buses (local and long distance), taxis, and trains.  First, Scranton has no passenger service and there is no sign it's going to happen soon.  The station is a few blocks from all the action downtown.  Buses will still have to travel the streets and making the stops they've been using for decades.  Wilkes-Barre's intermodal station is just steps from Public Square, below a massive parking garage.  The set up there makes sense.  Scranton?  Not so much.

Let's see if it works.

Friday, September 11, 2015


It's a September traditon-- a post Labor Day vacation, and this year is no different.

Well, slightly.  Labor Day is late this year, so the vacation is late.  No matter.  It's still the same number of days off.

I'm looking forward to cooler weather and a lot of sleep.

No major plans.

Stacy Lange has the air chair this weekend, so the broadcast is in great hands.

We'll talk soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Media Notes

It's been a while since Media Notes appeared here...  issues, new and old.

AM 1640 returned to the air in the Scranton area but only for a few days.  It was off for several months, back on for a few, and now off again.  I don't know who is responsible-- PennDOT or the Turnpike Commission.  I e-mailed them both, and I got "Huh?" in response.  The station broadcasts traffic alerts.  When nothing is going on, it relays National Weather Service radio forecasts.  It's a nice little feature, and I missed.  Hitting a car radio button, while driving, is a lot easier and safer than fumbling with the phone.  I went up a notch and e-mailed a complaint to my state representative.  As of yet, no response.

Speaking of weather, The Weather Channel is cancelling Wake Up with Al later this month.  Simple economics.  Roker pulls down big money, plus the show is produced in New York.  Everything else comes out of Atlanta.  30 year forecaster Vivian Brown also left the network.  As you know, The Weather Channel is one of my favorite targets.  When more people started getting their weather from their phones, interest in The Weather Channel dropped.  Instead of doing the weather better, with better presenters, The Weather Channel went junk-- reality shows, hurricane hype, the ultra silly practice of naming winter storms...  You know what?  People discovered they can do without The Weather Channel.

They all deny it, but a recent dust up might have had something to do with the cancellation of Wake Up with Al.  According to the New York City tabloids, management wanted Roker to hype the Florida arrival of a fizzling hurricane.  Roker wanted to do the Katrina 10th anniversary.  It's more proof The Weather Channel still doesn't get it.

By the way, The Weather Channel just announced Sam Champion loses his morning anchor slot.  He goes to evenings, as much of the network's reality shows go away.  All of this is scheduled for November.  Management has finally figured out that the way to be valuable to viewers is to do the the weather.  They can get "reality" program in two dozen other places.

It's opening weekend in the National Football League.  For me, pre game shows were "must viewing."  Those days ended long ago.  Rather than solid information and good conversation, CBS, FOX, and ESPN try to out-joke each other.  The NFL Network used to be the exception to the rule, but it's now drifting into silly territory, especially the Sunday night wrap up show.

I've been reading mostly excellent reviews of Stephen Colbert's first CBS Late Show.  Did I miss something?  It was average, and that's a stretch.  First guest George Clooney had nothing to say and was a real bore.  Jeb Bush was a lot more interesting, as the second guest.  It's clear parts of both interviews were hacked out.  The editing was sloppy.  A New Orleans jazz band as the "house band" seemed too nichey for me.  Donald Trump jokes?  Low hanging fruit.  We missed part of the ending, the Jimmy Fallon bit, thanks to bad switching on the local level.  The set looks more game show than talk show.  I'm going to fire my broker for not getting me invested in LED lighting companies.  CBS broke the bank on LED's for the Colbert set.  No announcer.  Forgettable opening sequence.

Olbermann...  Ferguson...  Letterman...  how I miss you all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Media Center

Today, another aspect of Marywood's new Learning Commons building.

I was really impressed with the radio and tv area.  The building's floor plan is on the internet.  When I saw it, I thought the broadcasting section was short changed.  It's different when you get there.  It seems like they have more than enough space to operate.
TV control room

The TV control room and studio are actually large, and I hope the space is used to its full advantage.
TV control room

TV studio

There's a warren of radio studios, production rooms, and offices.  Commercial stations would kill to have such a facility.  Again, I hope this gives WVMW the incentive to do more live programming and dump a lot of the computerized jukebox stuff it seems to take pride in.
radio studio
But, and you knew there would be a but...

I asked a couple of workers where the TV studio and control room were.  The reply:  "In the bomb shelter."  Yes, they are deep underground and rather difficult to find.  Radio is also buried, but not as deeply.

The main thing is what gets on the air, and for the most part, location is irrelevant.  However, this is college radio and TV.  Wouldn't it be nice to showcase them, in a visible location, where students and faculty can walk by, drop in, and discuss the important issues of the day, just for a little while?  You can still have your music.

As a wise former news director once told me, the stations that survive and thrive are the ones that do the best job of reflecting their community.  That's tough to do from a bomb shelter.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Architectural Review

A new building can be judged on many levels.  When looking at Marywood University's new Learning Commons, you have to examine it, piece by piece.

As a building in and of itself, it's not bad.  There's a lot of glass and steel.  Some brick.  A green roof.  It looks like a nice, modern office building.

The inside is rather cold.  It's long and narrow, with more than enough computer desks and seating to make everyone happy.  The office space is functional and energy efficient.  The new classroom space, at least on the main and upper floors is light and airy, with plenty of natural light.  There are windows everywhere.

The new Learning Commons, a fancy term for a library, does not place an emphasis on the printed and bound word.  There are no shelves and stacks.  No periodicals, nor encyclopedia in view.  You select what you want from a computer.  The automated book retrieval system might not be as popular as originally thought, according to a quote in the school newspaper, from the University's business affairs vice president.
automated book retrieval system
Here is where the wheels really come off, in my view.  The location.  First of all, the glass and steel are not a good pairing with the Liberal Arts Center, the building with the dome outside and the rotunda inside-- Marywood's signature building.  The Learning Commons is long and narrow, like a knife cutting the campus in two.  My mind is evolving here.  The slice doesn't appear to be as severe now that most of the heavy machinery is gone, and very nice plaza in front of the Learning Commons, and across from the Liberal Arts Building is nearly complete.  I'm also sure the severity of the slice will be lessened even more once the old library is torn down.

Marywood needed a new library.  The one is well intentioned.  I see what they were trying to do.

The library is the heart of the campus, and it should be at the center of the educational cluster.  The design just doesn't work for me.

Another aspect of the new building tomorrow.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day

My love for Labor Day grew as I aged.

When you're a kid, Labor Day means impending doom-- shorter days, colder weather, and the biggest one of all-- the start of school.  I should note that there can be a difference between school and learning.  I love to learn.  School is another story.

After my school years were over, I really came to appreciate Labor Day.  I grew to enjoy cooler weather.  Kids are back in school.  Nothing's crowded, and I usually manage to weasel some vacation time in September.  More on that later this week.

Enjoy the end of the three day weekend.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Andy's Angles: Speaking of Vacant...

Yesterday, a vacant train station.  Today, a vacant block-- the 500 of Lackawanna in downtown Scranton.

They did a spectacular job of restoring the old buildings here.  If the money to do the 200, 300, and 400 blocks was around 25 years ago, perhaps we wouldn't be in the current Mall at Steamtown mess.

That was then.  This is now.

This is one of the prettier blocks downtown, and the apartments on the upper floors have been rented.  Retail and office space down below is lacking.  The old Molly Brannigan's space, in the new parking garage across the street has been empty for years.

There is so much potential here.  It would be great to see a turnaround.  Maybe they should take one of the Courthouse Square festivals and move it down here for a weekend.  It's worth a try, and it could spur interest in the neighborhood.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Andy's Angles: Train Station Saturday

I love this building and it's so sad to see it empty.

It's the old freight station on the west side of the Lackawanna River, along West Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton.

There have been proposals to turn it into a restaurant, connected with the trail along the river, just below.  Great idea, but the money to do it isn't there.

It really is a pity this building sits vacant.  It's one of the area's true gems.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Holiday Weekend

I can't believe we're talking about Labor Day Weekend already.  It seems like just yesterday, when I was standing in ten degree below temperatures, doing stories on frozen water pipes.  Now, we're on the verge of another fall, and of course, another winter.

I took this photo last month, on Courthouse Square in Scranton, as an arts festival was getting set up.  That was then.  Now, the square belongs to La Festa Italiana.

A few blocks away, RailFest is getting underway at Steamtown.  Former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty is this year's grand marshal.  I think he's the last man of vision we elected to office around here.  Jim wasn't the best nuts and bolts mayor, but he was smart enough to see that tourism was one of the keys to our future, and a big key at that.  He helped get the Steamtown USA collection here from Bellows Falls, Vermont.  It was a pile of rusting junk, and it took a federal bail out, in the form of a National Park Service intervention to make it viable.  But, the bottom line is the trains are still here.  It attracts tourists and their dollars.  If you see Jim McNulty this weekend, or any time in the future, be sure to say "thank you."

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


The the first teachers strike of the year in our area has been narrowly averted.  This year's honor goes to Scranton.  The Scranton Federation of Teachers put out the warning last week-- no contract, no school.  No one can say they're surprised.

A judge stepped in with an injunction yesterday, while negotiations, fact finding and other technicalities continue.  No strike.  For now.  At least 60 days.

We've been through the dance before.  Strike.  Back to work, even though there's no new contract.  Repeat.  It doesn't seem to solve anything.

I experienced two strikes during my school days, one at the start of seventh grade.  The other was three years later.  We started school a few weeks late, and were stuck there until late June.  I don't remember why we went back-- new contract, court order, mutual agreement...  I do remember feeling my time was wasted.

Unions feel they have to strike and make their point.  They want the right to strike, like everyone else, and I get that.  I'm still not convinced a strike gives school boards the incentive to bargain and settle.

It keeps kids out of the classroom in the fall, and in the classroom in the summer.  It disrupts lives, and it seems like the wrong ones get hurt.

I'm not taking sides here, but there has to be a better way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Deja Vu

I thought I was the only one.

Let me back up a moment.  I'm a newsie, even on my days off.  I was very tempted to go to Scranton to watch that massive tire warehouse burn, and take a photo or two.  But some  things came up, and I reasoned that police and firefighters already had their hands full.  Another spectator, even one from a distance, wasn't going to help.

Newswatch 16 had a sound bite from someone in the neighborhood.  He said that even though the building was only six stories tall, the scene was reminiscent of New York City on 9/11.  The same thought ran through my mind when I checked the news video, and saw the plume of smoke rising from several miles away.

I did make it down there Sunday morning, after the immediate emergency had passed.  When you look at the building, its construction, and the contents, it's a miracle no one was killed.

While just a big brick box, and not architecturally interesting, there is a lot of history here, and it's sad to see it go.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

About the Cover

I'm old school, pardon the pun, so I consider September to be THE back to school month.  As in years past, I try to make the September header something related to education.

This year, it's my alma mater, Marywood University.  It was Marywood College back in my day.  Marywood is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month.  Congratulations!

Regular blog readers know I've been critical of some aspects of the Marywood operation, but I've been fair.  I've given administration oodles of credit when it does something right.  All in all, I do not regret my time there, and there are many occasions when I truly miss the place.

The view of the Liberal Arts Center and the spectacular dome is from the new Learning Commons.  I'll have much, much more on that building in the days to come.
As we are fond of saying, stay tuned!