I read, with a great deal of interest, your article about the $8.8 million needed for the county pensions and I have a couple of comments and/or questions that I feel the taxpayers need to have answered.
The article indicates that one of the reasons for the shortfall is the current stock market conditions. So basically, regardless of how the market reacts the pension will get funded because they will simply increase the taxes. When my retirement gets hit because of downturns in the market where should I turn to get reimbursement? Also, during good times in the market, why don't we get a tax refund?
The article also states that this is guaranteed by law. I hate to state the obvious but laws can be changed. If you don't believe me, just take a look at what has happened to Medicare and Social Security (raising the retirement age). I am sure that the taxpayers on fixed incomes, such as myself, outnumber the county (and state employees) and can begin to exert pressure on our elected officials to introduce changes in the laws that govern these pensions.
Other than simply raising taxes, the county (and state) need to, either, become more creative on how to handle pension funds or find better managers for these funds.
For people of all faiths and philosophies, this season is meant to be one of joy. Yet tragically it has been one of sorrow, and for a town in Connecticut, it is one of total despair.
Our nation is in mourning. My heart is completely broken for the children who went to school to color Christmas decorations and learn their ABCs; for the heroic teachers who, when they heard the shots being fired, hid their students in bathrooms and closets and cabinets while they stood outside to bar the doors; for the school staff who bravely and courageously ran at the gunman, and lost their lives trying to stop him.
Newtown. The Wisconsin Sikh temple. Congresswoman Giffords. Aurora, Colorado. The list goes on.
As for a practical way going forward, gun control and gun safety are important issues and the time for discussion has long since passed. Everyone from the staunchest advocates of gun control to lifelong members of the National Rife Association need to be at the table when this happens.
It is my hope and my wish that from the aftermath of this tragedy comes something good, although it is heartbreakingly difficult to see how that could be possible. From the middle of the darkness, I hope that we all reach for the sun.
I am a student at Crestwood High School and am currently involved in the swimming and diving program at the school.
The problem is, the program has been suspended since last year's winter sports season. This is the second year it has been suspended and after two years, according to PIAA rules, the program will be officially eradicated.
Three years ago, the team was fairly large and there were many excellent swimmers. There were even two swimmers who won at Districts and went on to compete at the state level.
Unfortunately, after many people had worked so hard to get the program up and running 18 swimmers graduated and our coach decided it was time to retire.
The following year, the parents of the swim team members were blindsided by the decision to suspend the team because the school officials could not find a pool or a coach.
Who knows, maybe Crestwood swimming could have been great? It is extremely sad that we will never be able to find out.
There are some great swimmers at Crestwood High School who have excelled at this highly competitive sport. They train hard and exceed expectations at competitions and meets. These dedicated people deserve some show of appreciation for their continued dedication to swimming and for their proud display of The Comet.
Too often our area does not get the credit it deserves. Sometimes we are our own worst critics.
I hope that members of our community will take time to support the great things that are thriving in our own backyard. There is excellence right in front of us.
This weekend, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic performed its annual holiday concert.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre was beautifully decorated and a wonderful energy was palpable as concert goers made their way to the show.
The F.M. Kirby Center, which hosted the event looked absolutely stunning and full of holiday spirit.
Inside, the audience was treated to a world-class performance. Our philharmonic sounded fantastic. It performed many Christmas classics and shared the stage with Grammy Award Winning Composer, Mark O'Connor. O'Connor, along with his band added a special Americana flair to the show. The music appealed to everyone: sophisticated listeners, philharmonic neophytes, and even children.
We also enjoyed the brightness and energy of our area's youths. Local violin and ballet students played prominent roles in the show. It was truly a community effort.
I write this to raise awareness and give our area a pat on the back.
But it is also a call to action. This is just one example of great community assets and great programs but they do not exist without our support. Support can come through direct financial support and donations. But at a minimum, residents can show support by patronizing and taking advantage of these world class events. If we don't support them in this way, they will cease to exist.
In the end our community is a reflection of the support and energy we all put into it.
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Emory Guffrovich Pittston Casey Evans Dallas Robert T. Keenan Mountain Top Gerard Mihalick, CFA Berkshire Asset Management, LLC Wilkes Barre