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    Area projects share $12.4M in casino profits

    September 10, 2014

    A partnership developing the Trader’s and Hazleton National bank buildings in downtown Hazleton received a state grant of $500,000, Sen. John Yudichak, D-14, and Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, said Tuesday when listing other grants in Luzerne County that total $12.4 million from gaming funds paid by the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

    DHD Realty will receive the grant for renovating the Hazleton National Building. Previously, the partners received $1 million toward renovating the Traders building into headquarters for DBi, the Hazleton-based highway services firm whose owners Neal and Paul DeAngelo formed the realty partnership with George Hayden, the developer of the Markle building.

    “We’re really thrilled about the money. We need to completely renovate that building,” Hayden said. The grant will purchase heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other equipment for the Hazleton National building, he said.

    Renovations at the Hazleton National building should start next summer after work ends at the Trader’s building, where the renovations to the windows and exterior and systems such as heating and ventilation are about 85 percent complete. After finishing that work, the partners will hang lighting, wall and floor coverings and segment spaces to accommodate DBi’s offices, Hayden said while thanking Yudichak and Toohil.

    “They worked hard to make it happen. They continue believing in downtown as we do,” he said.

    Other local grants went to:

    ■ Hazleton city, $450,000 to renovate City Hall and re-roof the highway garage.

    The allocation that the city received was smaller than the amount it applied for, but $100,000 of the allotment will be used for repairing the highway garage roof and the balance will be used for either replacing windows at city hall or fixing leaking roof joints, Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi said.

    The city originally sought $700,000 for renovating city hall and officials will have to decide whether to replace windows or repair the roof, Yannuzzi said.

    “We’ll have to decide which direction we want to go,” he said. “I’m more in favor of fixing those (roof) joints.”

    ■ West Hazleton borough, $200,000 to complete the renovation of the police station and allow the annex to house the West Hazleton Police Department.

    The latest gaming allocation will be coupled with a $250,000 gaming grant that the borough secured for the project in 2012. It will cover roofing upgrades and allow the borough to incorporate some components of the project that were eliminated when the project was first designed, Mayor Frank Schmidt said.

    “The things we’ve downsized, we will continue with instead,” Schmidt said.

    The borough must use part of a loan from Miners Bank to satisfy funding criteria, Schmidt said.

    Last week, officials were concerned that the project costs would exceed the original gaming grant and loan, but Tuesday’s announcement will provide much-needed breathing room, he said.

    The mayor commended Yudichak and Toohil for working to secure the gaming funds.

    ■ Pathway to Recovery Counseling and Educational Services (formerly Serento Gardens), $244,678 to expand services and upgrade facilities at offices at 145 W. Broad St. into which the drug counseling agency moved into a year ago. The grant will pay to finish the bare cinder block walls of the second floor while creating three meeting rooms. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous will use the rooms, which will have a separate entrance, but community groups also will have access to the rooms, Maryann Feno, the executive director at Pathway, said. In addition to finishing the second floor, Feno would like to install an elevator to the second floor.

    Pathway also plans to offer court-appointed mediation to help anyone from couples to neighbors settle disputes without a trial. Plus the agency seeks a license to offer mental health services. Many of the clients treated for drug and alcohol issues also have mental health issues, so the agency would add a psychiatrist if awarded the license, Feno said.

    ■ Foster Township, $150,000 for the construction of roadways, shoulders and a storm water management system in the AgMar Estates residential development.

    ■ Freeland Borough, $300,000 to complete Phase 2 of the streetscape improvement project in the central business district. The first phase, done in 2011, included street lights, new sidewalks and cobblestone crosswalks on Centre Street between South and Main streets and a half block from Main Street to Front Street. “It makes it look so much better. People walk down the street; they have nice sidewalks and it makes the businesses look nicer,’’ Mayor Ed Appleman said.

    ■ Freeland YMCA, $77,678 to renovate its historic building, which was built in 1930. Joseph Flanagan, the Y’s director, said the work will restore the front to the original appearance with re-pointed bricks. The grant pays for work uncovered by the Y’s drive, which raised money to renovate the gymnasium, rest rooms and other rooms.

    ■ Hazleton Little League Association, $25,487 for renovating the Little League complex.

    ■ Conyngham, $163,000. Mayor Joseph Carrelli said the grant will pay for energy-saving modifications to the building shared by the borough streets department and the Conyngham Borough Authority at 245 Main St.

    ■ Sugarloaf, $245,000 for a new rescue truck to replace one built in 1996.

    “It’s probably our heaviest used piece,” Fire Chief Duane Hildebrand said of the truck that goes to accidents, searches, fires and responds to Sugarloaf, Black Creek and Nescopeck townships as a first response unit and backs up other units on calls to the Suburban Mutual Fire Aid Association.

    The truck carries medical equipment, a cascade system that refills air packs, rope rescue equipment, the Jaws of Life and other equipment to pry and stabilize vehicles involved in accidents.

    ■ Black Creek Township, $250,000. Of that, $100,000 will rebuild the second half of Tower Road. The township rebuilt half the road this year with a grant. Another $150,000 will purchase a dump truck.

    “The truck that it replaces is a 1984 International. Believe me it’s worn out,” Supervisor Dennis Feerrar said.

    While Black Creek will own the truck, the township will share the vehicle with other municipalities in the Mountain Council of Governments, Feerrar said.

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