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Bad news bears: Dupont Crime Watch meeting focuses on nuisance bears in neighborhoods

With the rise of industrial parks and deforestation, bear habitats are becoming smaller and smaller, and Luzerne County has been seeing the effects the past few years. Bears are likely walking through the yards of a neighborhood near you in their hunt for food, and it’s brought up a lot of concerns. At the Dupont Crime Watch meeting on Aug. 25, Pennsylvania Game Commission Officer Rick Jones addressed the issue for concerned Dupont residents.

While more bears have been seen across the county over the past few years, a large male bear has been seen repeatedly near Wyoming Avenue in Dupont. Resident George Jendrey has had repeat visits from the same bear.

“I have drums of oil in my backyard. He took the top off and ate up the oil,” Jendrey said.

Hibernation season for bears usually begins between late October and early December and they emerge in March and April, all dependent on the weather. Right now, food is on the forefront of their minds and garbage cans, dirty recycling and bird feeders are drawing them into neighborhoods.

Dupont is currently on the waiting list for a bear trap, since the bear being seen hasn’t been caught and tagged yet. In the meantime, Officer Jones offered residents some tips on what to do if they see a bear and how to keep the animals away from their properties.

To keep safe when you see a bear, avoid approaching it but make yourself know.

“If you see the bear but it doesn’t see you, clap your hands and they’ll move on,” Jones said.

Bears are just looking for food, and they have very bad eyesight so they may not see you right away. While clapping will encourage the bear to leave, if you can get into your home safely, do so quickly and call the game commission.

Jones also cautioned residents not to shoot the bear. If you shoot a bear only because it is on your property, you’ll face some large fines that are determined by the size of the bear.

“Bears don’t often attack people, so there’s no reason to shoot it,” he said.

To keep bears away, Jones advises residents avoid putting out garbage until the night before collection.

“Spray your garbage bags with ammonia when you do put them out to keep them away,” he said. Since bears have poor eyesight, they have an amazing sense of smell, and they don’t like the smell of ammonia.

Bob Price, Dupont Crime Watch president, echoed Jones, stressing residents should avoid things that will attract bears.

“We’re not trying to hurt him, we’re just trying to move him along,” Price said.

Waiting to put your garbage out, and spraying it with ammonia if you’re in an area where bears have been sighted, will help keep the bears from coming back.

Jones also advises residents to bring bird feeders in at night, because bird seed is another favorite food for bears.

“If you’re in an area that’s seen the bear a few times, take your bird feeders in for a week or so,” he said.

He also pointed out that there are a few home remedies people use that actually don’t help keep bears away. The smell of moth balls and Clorox don’t bother them, he said, but moth balls may help keep other animals, like raccoons and skunks, out of your yard.

While hibernation season is coming up, that doesn’t mean bears will remain asleep the entire time.

“We’ve seen bears come out of their den during the winter,” said Jones, “but if it’s too cold, they’ll go right back in.”

Jones also noted no matter the time of year, call the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 570-675-1143 if you see a bear or report it to the local Crime Watch.

kdemace@pittstonprogress.com


The_optimist
The little boy above the bar

I didn’t know the Lew Sebia I read about following his tragic death in a motorcycle accident on Aug. 21. Well, I did and I didn’t. Lew Sebia the successful attorney? Lew Sebia “the bedrock,” to use his boss’s term, of Mericle Commercial Real Estate? Lew Sebia the valuable board member of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce? That Lew Sebia I knew only from afar.

The Lew Sebia I did know was a little boy. Even long after he wasn’t. We’d bump into each other and for a moment I was again a 21-year-old regular at his dad’s bar and he an 11-year-old kid living upstairs.

My first beer after turning 21 was at Frankie Roman’s in downtown Pittston, where I quickly became something I always wanted to be: one of the boys. The “boys,” many with college degrees, several Vietnam veterans, all with big hearts, became a second family. And the way they welcomed me was the way they welcomed the bar’s new owner when Frank Roman decided to retire.

That new owner was Lew Sebia Sr. And it wasn’t lost on us that, at 33 years old, he was taking a big risk, even moving in upstairs with wife, Carol, and their three children (they’d later add two more). What was lost on us was the correct spelling of his name. We started calling the bar “Lou’s Place,” and he never corrected us. Even when I painted it on a sign.

The comic strip “Keep on Truckin” had come out a couple of years earlier and the character, a goofy guy in a suit with one foot dramatically extended, was embraced by the Woodstock Generation. An art major at the time, I offered to paint that guy on the blank wall next to the bar’s entrance. I did a pretty good job, if I must say so myself, and added Keep on Truckin’ at Lou’s.

The bar was packed most every night, but except for Carol serving us cheeseburgers, there was never a woman there. It was just a bunch of guys, all completely committed to making sure “Lou” and his young family made it. There was nothing we wouldn’t do to ensure his success. Around that time, Genesee introduced a beer called “Fyfe & Drum” with a promotional gimmick “Lou” bought into and, therefore, so did we. Each of us purchased a vintage style aluminum tankard with our name etched on it. They were hung on hooks around the bar and when we walked in, Lou would reach for our personalized mug and draw us a beer.

Lou’s Place defined our lives. Most of us had perfect attendance.

When “Lou” decided to sponsor a softball team, the guys voted on the name “Carol’s Cavaliers,” and the colors: purple and gold. Carol and the kids came to most every game.

He had this bowling machine that you’d play by sliding a traditional shuffleboard puck toward the pins. Our buddy “Mack” McNulty, the best pool player of the gang, would hit that puck with a cue stick and get as many as a hundred strikes in a row. You don’t forget stuff like that.

We invented something we called the “Initial Game.” Everyone at the bar got a piece of paper and a pencil. We’d randomly come up with a set of initials. We might write the letters spelling Marlboro down one column and maybe Stegmaier down another next to it, thus creating a list of initials. The idea was to come up with famous names for them.

The more unusual the name, the higher the score. An M.S., for example, the first letters of Marlboro and Stegmaier, might bring Mel Stottlemyer, famed Yankee pitcher, or Maxwell Smart, inept TV spy, but we’d be far more impressed with Mickey Spillane, the crime novelist.

The kids upstairs were well aware of the fun downstairs. That’s why Lew Sebia Jr. couldn’t wait to tell me a story about his dad during the cocktail hour of a Pittston Chamber of Commerce dinner. “Eddie,” he said, “you’re one guy who’ll really enjoy this.” He said his dad had been in the hospital. “I was in his room with my brothers Jimmy and Robbie when his nurse came in. She was beautiful and when she left we kept getting on Robbie, who’s single, for not trying to talk with her. We said we had to find a way to get her back, so I went over to my dad and told him our plan. I said the only way to get her back in the room was to pull out one of the plugs on his machines. An alarm will go off and the nurse will come rushing in. My Dad let that sink in and then said, ‘Will you plug me back in?’ ‘Oh, of course we’ll plug you back in,’ I said, and he said, ‘Okay then. I’ll take one for the team.’”

That story tells you all you need to know about Lew Sebia. Actually, both Lews.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.