'One.19' outreach takes Mullery to Newport Township

HARRISBURG, April 8 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, continued his constituent and community outreach service dubbed “One.19” with a visit to Newport Township.

“The ‘One.19’ initiative enables me to hear firsthand concerns, complaints and priorities directly from my constituents,” Mullery said.

Mullery’s tour began by meeting with John Oliver and Ken Pollock at Newport Aggregate. The company is a sandstone quarry and mining operation currently mining land which was stripped in the mid-1900s and left with pits and other hazards. The business employs 21 full-time workers, although that number has the potential to quadruple dependent upon the market for Anthracite coal. Oliver gave Mullery a tour of the vast operation and the two discussed topics including the safety of the mining operation, the environmental impact of past and current mining, the company’s product line and customer base, the industry’s future, and the company’s impact on the local community. Oliver and Pollock provided a summary of state and federal agency involvement in their industry.

“The firsthand view of modern mining operations certainly opened my eyes and dispelled any preconceived opinions I had about the operation locally,” Mullery said. “John and Ken’s transparency was refreshing and their willingness to accommodate my incessant inquiry was much appreciated.”

Mullery next visited the Earth Conservancy’s composting facility and met with President/CEO Mike Dziak and his employees. The compost facility accepts leaf and yard waste from local municipalities and residents in Luzerne County from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mullery encountered several local residents dropping off their lawn clippings during his visit and heard how helpful the facility is for people looking for an environmentally friendly way to dispose of yard waste. The conservancy employees provided the representative with a full display of operations from initial drop off to preparation of compost for commercial sale. Mullery requested the facility expand its hours to include weekends during the spring and summer to benefit more people.

“In 2018, Luzerne County municipalities and residents dropped nearly 9,000 tons of material for processing at the Newport Township location,” Mullery said. “The benefits of composting cannot be argued. This facility provides residents with an opportunity to properly dispose of waste instead of illegally dumping on private property.”

Newport Township Police Chief Jeremy Blank took Mullery on a ride-along throughout the township. The police department is composed of four, full-time officers and responds to approximately 200 calls per month. The department has been instrumental in clearing abandoned vehicles from the township while dealing with more typical issues such as drunk driving and other moving violations, domestic violence and drug arrests. Blank expressed how helpful the department’s UTV has been in limiting illegal dumping and policing quad, UTV and dirt bike traffic.

Mullery next met with Ryan Neely of Leading Edge Baits which opened in 2006 and hand pours baits from the finest materials available. His baits are sold nationwide via his website, LeadingEdgeBaits.com, and in several sporting goods stores in northeastern Pennsylvania. His passion for angling has led to the expansion of his business to include a promotional pro staff composed, in part, of anglers from the 119th Legislative District. Neely and Mullery discussed several issues including internet and federal excise taxes, local fishing waters and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. Under Neely’s guidance, Mullery selected the colors and ingredients to create one of Leading Edge’s best-selling baits, a 2.25 Triple Threat Craw.

Mullery sat down with several officers from the Newport Township Volunteer Fire Department to discuss the recent flooding damage to their building and their current equipment and facility needs. The discussion ranged from the new stormwater fee on nonprofits to Local Share Account grants to an ever-present struggle to attract volunteer members. Mullery was provided with a tour of the operations and apparatus.

Mullery concluded his Newport Township visit by reviewing several ongoing and future projects in the township with supervisors John Zyla, Paul Czapracki, Deb Zaleski, and John Vishnefski. Also present during the meeting were Township Manager Pete Wanchisen and Joe Hillan. The supervisors' agenda included requests for LSA funding, an update on Council of Governments projects, the new stormwater fee, blight in the community and renovations to the recreation park.

The lawmaker intends to visit all 19 municipalities in his legislative district. He provides updates of each visit on his website – www.pahouse.com/Mullery -- and social media. Constituents can also contact his office at 570-740-7031.

A photo of the Newport Township visit may be found here.