9 reasons NEPA sucks*

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First Posted: 9/28/2014

Everybody thinks their home region sucks harder than a porn star on a mission for a cult following. While covering the people and places within northeastern Pennsylvania for more than two decades, Weekender has seen the worst the area has to offer. Let’s be real, the area has its downfalls. We have all been late for something en route I-81 and have at least one Facebook friend whose tire popped from a pothole.

Over the years, however, Weekender has also seen the best the area has to offer. Believe it or not, NEPA isn’t all that bad. That’s why we decided to spin nine negative misconceptions about NEPA into something positive.

1. Transportation

Unless you live in a high-rise, wear a moo moo and watch “Judge Judy” all day, you’re probably affected by the less than pleasant roadside conditions throughout the area. Of course, we’re talking about construction on I-81 and potholes. According to PennDOT’s Safety Press Officer Michael Taluto, construction season is almost over and projects are aimed at providing a more satisfying travel experience.

“There’s an airport project on I-81,” Taluto said.

Scheduled for completion in the spring of 2016, the project will make it easier to access the airport and reach Grimes Industrial park in Pittston said Taluto.

“We’re in the process of replacing bridges from Pittston to Wilkes-Barre and have paving projects to repair potholes on such roads as Route 415 out in Dallas and Grove Street in Clarks Summit,” Taluto said.

While it may be inconvenient to be stuck in traffic or spill your coffee on your lap from rolling into a pothole divot, it appears projects are underway to correct the problems.

2. Safety

Between all the shootings at Sherman Hills in Wilkes-Barre and serving home to one of the FBI’s ten most wanted criminals in America — Eric Matthew Frein of Canadensis who is accused of the Sept. 12 ambush at the Blooming Grove state police barracks that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and injured Trooper Alex Douglass, some may feel NEPA has discouraging safety issues.

A positive note is that according to a study, there are a total of 170 Scranton police officers, resulting in 2.4 officers for every 1,000 residents which is 37.8-percent greater than the state average. With more police patrolling the streets, the chance at increasing crime is slimmed.

3. There’s nothing to do here

If you’re bored in NEPA, you’d be bored anywhere.

Northeastern Pennsylvania is fortunate to have a diverse set of options for people to experience throughout each season. Area attractions include Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark — Pennsylvania’s biggest water park, two casinos, four ski resorts and sports venues housing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hockey team and a semi-pro baseball team, to name a few options.

If you say you have managed to do everything around here, NEPA is perfectly located — around a 2-hour drive to New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey. Day trip anyone?

Reading Weekender every week is the ultimate guide to events going on throughout the region.

So, there’s no excuse for being bored now.

4. Nobody would ever want to move here

If you think NEPA sucks, then you may feel nobody would ever want to move here. On purpose.

Truth be told, people do move to our region. On purpose.

Jeff Bowne of Swoyersville recently relocated from Hartford, Conn., after quitting his corporate insurance job for a change and a chance at fun by opening Sky Zone Scranton, an indoor trampoline park.

“I was excited to leave the confines of a cubicle and take on this new role as an employer and provider of awesome, healthy fun,” Bowne said.

The 20,000 square-foot indoor trampoline park on Keystone Ave., Pittston, is unique to the area and plans for fitness classes, sports activities and parties for special occasions are already being lined up.

Sky Zone Scranton is bringing more than 70 new jobs to the area according to Bowne, who will be acting as general manager and co-owner. Among the employees is events manager Joe LaBerbera of Montrose.

“I drive an hour every day from Montrose in Susquehanna County. Most people would say I’m crazy and I should move closer to the park, but I love being close to family and to be honest, the drive gives me an excellent chance to reflect on what pieces of the puzzle need polishing next to bring this recreational facility together so the community has a truly awesome place to enjoy fun and fitness,” LaBerbera said.

LaBerbera said he is looking forward to Sky Zone’s other plans.

“We’re going to eventually be introducing dodge ball leagues, pre-teen and teen programs on the weekends, toddler time and even bachelorette parties. We’ll also be introducing Sky Fitness classes such as SkyRobics, which will work at strengthening your lower body, core and upper body muscles. In one hour, you’ll burn a thousand calories,” LaBerbera said.

Jumping on trampolines presents an element of danger, Sky Zone Scranton has safety covered.

“Our trampoline courts are designed to mitigate the two biggest inherent risks with trampolines — people falling off or falling through them,” Bowne said.

There is protective netting underneath the trampolines in case a trampoline rips, sidewalls with netting to prevent people from falling off and staff fully trained in CPR and first aid serving as court monitors.

Sky Zone Scranton is open for business Tues. through Thurs. from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fri. 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sun. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

More information can be found by visiting skyzone.com/SCRANTON.

5. No jobs

If you’re complaining that there is a lack of jobs in the area, then you’re wasting time that could be spent looking for one.

It’s true that jobs are more difficult to come across in this economy. However, our area has businesses that employ many NEPA residents.

Tobyhanna Army Depot in Tobyhanna employs over 3,900 people according to public affairs officer Ed Mickley.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre has roughly 2,000 employees on their payroll.

There are jobs to be found, even if they aren’t in the field you desire. Perhaps the struggle to find a job was said best by Ashton Kutcher when addressing today’s generation on the secrets to his success at the Teen Choice Awards in August, 2013:

“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my Dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli and then then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job, and every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

Go out, look hard and be willing to take any job you can get.

6. No culture

Sure, a walk through Nay Aug Park in Scranton may not provide the same cultural substance as a stroll through L’Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, but that doesn’t mean NEPA lacks culture. Annual festivals including St. Ubaldo Day in Jessup and Scranton’s Italian and Greek festivals unite the community in celebration of different cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. Not to mention there are numerous live theater venues, museums, art displays and exhibits and the Philharmonic. The music scene runs pretty deep too. From Willie Nelson to Fallout Boy, there’s something for everyone to broaden their horizons.

7. Scranton police pay was docked to minimum wage

If you know a Scranton cop with a dartboard, there is a solid chance it may have a picture of former mayor Chris Doherty on it.

In 2012, Doherty made national news for slashing the pay for all city workers in Scranton — including police and firefighters — to minimum wage in an attempt to stabilize the city’s deficit.

Like many, Christina Galdieri of Wilkes-Barre thought paying a police officer and firefighter the same as high school kids flipping burgers at McDonald’s, was total, utter bullsh-t. The daughter of a retired Scranton police officer, Galdieri took action.

With the help of Kelly Tuey of Dunmore, Galdieri planned the first annual Northeastern Pennsylvania Bartender’s Ball to raise money for the Scranton police and fire departments, while also celebrating the local hospitality and service industry.

Awards will honor bartender of the year, chef of the year, service manager of the year, entertainer of the year, bar of the year, best nightlife, best restaurant and best service.

“No events honor the individuals who work in the service industry,” Galdieri said.

Most people don’t realize people in the service industry, including servers and bartenders, work extremely hard with long hours said Kelly Tuey.

“The event will finally be a time where you can mingle with your bartenders on the other side of the party,” Tuey said.

The bartender’s ball will be held Sunday, Oct. 5, from 6 to 9 p.m. inside the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel Scranton. Tickets are $60 per person at the door and $50 if purchased in advance at nepabartendersball.com.

“We’re not just giving a portion of the proceeds away. We are giving away 100-percent of the ticket sales to the Scranton police and fire departments,” Tuey said.

Additional awards will be given to civil service members for hometown hero, officer and firefighter of year. Voting can be completed on the aforementioned website leading up to the event.

A dinner buffet and two-hour top shelf open bar will be made possible from sponsors.

“The bartender’s ball is a party for the people who help you party all night long — and bartender’s are fun people to drink with,” Tuey said.

8. Everybody is so ugly, they look like they chew on heroine

The infamous ‘Scranton Sucks’ Facebook page does an excellent job at exposing overweight, toothless people who cannot fit in their clothes and make you want to vomit or go blind. Despite adult-acne, outdated hair styles and poor hygiene being prevalent throughout the region, there is also a heap of hotness in the valley.

Weekender highlights some of the most attractive people in NEPA with the Man and Model of the Week feature.

Don’t believe us? Find out for yourself.

Friday, Oct. 24, inside the Woodlands Inn in Plains Township, Weekender will be hosting our annual Model of the Year Party. Kicking off at 7 p.m., more than 100 local male and female models will be competing for the title of Man and Model of the Year. This event open to the public will encourage people to vote for who they feel is the hottest. There will be drinking, live entertainment from DJ/drummer duo FuzzBox and a room full of the best looking people in the area.

Read Weekender in the following weeks for more information on the party.

9. Everybody is an alcoholic

Scranton was named the most hungover city in America earlier this year and Pennsylvania placed top 10 when it comes to having good beer. With Scranton and Wilkes-Barre each having separate St. Patrick Day parades, being home to half-a-dozen colleges and bars such as Beer Boys in Wilkes-Barre serving 72 different beers on tap, is anyone surprised?

We probably don’t have to mention $3 pitcher night, beer pong competitions and $1 draught beer night.

On a positive note, NEPA knows how to party.

Maybe this place doesn’t f —king suck so badly after all.