TUNKHANNOCK — U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, visited downtown Tunkhannock businesses Wednesday as part of his Main Street tours throughout the 11th Congressional District.
“I come into the communities to talk to the business owners, give them an opportunity to tell me what’s on their mind and what issues they have, and what I can do to help in Washington,” Barletta said. “As a former mayor (of Hazleton), I know how important it is to stay connected to the people that you’re representing in the communities.”
At the Dietrich Theater, Barletta recognized the importance of arts and entertainment in the downtown.
“It’s exciting, personally, to see the jewels of the community that are kept alive through hard work, fundraising and community volunteers, who understand the importance of theater,” he said.
Jennifer Jenkins, theater executive director, expressed the organization’s need for funding to support programs that are vital to the community’s youth.
“A lot of kids really can’t afford to go other places. We make sure that all of our children’s classes are either free or low cost. And, if a kid comes in that can’t afford them, we always scholarship them in. We want to make sure all the kids have access to all the arts and education classes. We’re trying to broaden their horizons,” she said.
According the Cultural Director Erica Rogler, the Dietrich also brought children’s theater to local schools this year.
Jenkins appreciated the opportunity to speak with Barletta on the issues that are critical to the organization’s sustainability.
Barletta said the stops provide valuable insight regarding what is needed in each town.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet people and see how I can help,” he said. “It’s gives us an idea, in Washington, when we’re voting on different issues of the impact it could have on businesses and communities back home.