Turmoil in Scranton

Controversy over law enforcement, Community Center

~Courtesy of The Scranton Journal

 A large contingent of Scranton area residents attended the city council meeting July 11, sitting through more than two hours of routine business before getting to the two issues of major interest: law enforcement in Scranton and the Scranton Community Center board. (See a post from July 12 about law enforcement in Scranton)

At the heart of the Community Center matter was the appointment of two board members. Mayor Randy Winkelman in June had not reappointed Dawn Rudolph or Doug Hawn, two volunteers that the citizens know and respect for the never-tiring efforts that were key to the modernization and upkeep of the Community Center.

Rudolph was reappointed to the board at a special meeting of the council on July 6, but at the regular meeting July 11 Winkelman stated, “I do not have a second appointment to the Community Center board. I appreciate the letters I’ve gotten. I appreciate people getting involved and taking a voice.

“My only wish is that I could get this type of attendance on everything,” continued Winkelman. “A petition is a petition. I see who signed. I’ll take it under advisement. I’m aware of some things that other people aren’t. If you want to know, come see me.”

“How can you kill a golden goose?” asked Deloris Gibson. “Why don’t you want him on?”

“Don’t tear our community apart,” begged Rudolph. “The current and past board members have been great to work with.”

“I hear the passion. I understand it,” added Carol Eason, who is also a member of the board. “It’s not just two people. There are other people trying to keep this going.”

“This is a city building. The city is responsible for it. I am willing to meet with anybody that has an issue,” responded mayor Winkelman.

Hostile comments were heard on topics ranging from attendance at board meetings to the electronic sign and benches to personal vendettas. Each council member stated their opinions with four praising the work of Rudolph and Hawn. Council member Julie McAleer said she didn’t know Hawn.

“I don’t know any guy nicer than Doug. He put his heart and his money into this place,” said council member Marilyn Jacobson. “They have worked and worked to keep it rolling. The way to do that is to keep those two people.”

“It’s apparent and it’s obvious who you want. I will make a reappointment of Doug Hawn,” added Winkelman. “I am only making that appointment because nobody else is going to step up.”

The council made a motion and voted unanimously for Hawn’s reappointment.

“There’s been a lot of hurt feelings. It’s going to be really hard,” commented Rudolph. “There are wounds. It’s going to take time to heal.”

In making the Community Center report to the council, Rudolph shared the usage figures for the past five years, noting a steady increase in attendance and activities. These figures do not include the school bus stop, city meetings or walkers: 2013- 83; 2014- 82; 2015- 97; 2016- 110.

Thus far in 2017, the building has been used 116 days out of the 181 days. In June alone, individuals or groups have utilized the facility on 24 out of 30 days. She added that the basketball organization, Play4Him run by Jeramie Hinote, brings students to the facility from seven school districts.

More importantly, more than 80 different volunteers have contributed their time and efforts to the Scranton Community Center.

The Council approved the rental rates for the Community Center with different rates for private/business customers and non-profit entities. Rates range from $25 for the kitchen to $200 for a full day in the gymnasium.

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