Mullery takes ‘One.19’ initiative to Larksville

HARRISBURG, June 7 – As part of his ongoing constituent and community outreach service dubbed “One.19,” state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, visited Larksville.

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

The lawmaker is scheduling meetings and constituent service hours in all 19 communities of the 119th Legislative District.

Mullery’s tour began by meeting with Larksville Police Chief John Edwards. Edwards stressed the importance of qualified and trained law enforcement officials and reported the current Municipal Police Academy graduating class contained only one Luzerne County student. He and Mullery discussed legislation that could assist officers in the line of duty including mandatory body cameras. The two also discussed Larksville’s two Wyoming Valley West school resource officers, regionalization efforts and the need for a county booking facility. Edwards also updated Mullery on the department’s K-9 officer, Una, who has been an invaluable resource in crime prevention and investigation and a true ambassador for the borough.

Mullery then met with several officials from Wyoming Valley West School District at State Street Elementary Center, including Principal Jacob Sholtis, Superintendent Irv DeReemer and Director of Personnel Joseph Muth. The team expressed concern about growing student transiency, school safety in the aftermath of the recent school shootings, and the rising costs associated with special education, IEP litigation and transportation. Sholtis took Mullery on a tour of the grounds where they had the opportunity to meet with educators and students. 

“State Street Elementary Center is one of the most impressive education environments in my legislative district,” Mullery said. “I was particularly impressed with the emotional support programs in the center and the positive atmosphere throughout the entire building.”

Mullery visited several small businesses, including Petriga’s Auto and Grasshopper Lawns Inc. At Petriga’s, Mullery met with owners Michael and Billy Petriga. The business has been in operation for over 50 years and provides automobile towing, repairs, service and state inspections. The Petriga brothers discussed several issues including Pennsylvania’s vehicle emissions and safety inspections program. Additionally, as Larksville’s fire chief, Michael Petriga and Mullery discussed the difficulty attracting and retaining new volunteer members, high costs associated with equipment purchases and the department’s apparatus. Larksville’s Fire Department responds to approximately 25 to 30 calls per month and over 300 per year.

Michael Kravitsky, president and owner of Grasshopper, gave Mullery a detailed history of his family’s business started in 1964 by his grandfather. Today, Grasshopper has grown to include over two dozen employees based out of its East State Street location, which provides complete lawn care and has expanded to offer Christmas décor during the offseason. Mullery and Kravitsky discussed what could be done to end political gridlock and promote cooperation in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. Kravitsky also offered his concerns about the available labor force and state sales tax reporting. The two also talked about problems associated with growing gypsy moth and tick populations and efforts available to control the pests.   

Michele Wallace, a member of the Larksville Sewer Authority, provided Mullery with an update of the authority’s business. She expressed concern about customers reliant upon fixed incomes and the struggles they face making ends meet. She provided personal stories of Larksville residents and questioned Mullery on whether any state funds could be directed to those homeowners most in need.

Mullery reviewed several ongoing and future projects in the borough with Larksville Councilmen Joseph Romanoskey and Leo Adamski. The councilmen expressed concern over the continued erosion of Steele’s Road, as well as the need for road work in Larkmount Manor. The three also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of local Councils of Government.

Mullery concluded the day with a town hall meeting for Larksville residents.

“We offered remote constituent outreach at the Larksville Borough Building and discussed a variety of issues, including the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, House Bill 76 regarding the elimination of school property taxes, cooperation between state and local government, and PennDOT issues,” Mullery said.

The lawmaker intends to stop at all 19 municipalities in his legislative district during the 2017-18 legislative session. He will provide updates of each visit on his website – - and social media. Constituents can also contact his office at 570-740-7031.

Photos of the Larksville visits may be found here.