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During a recent newscast, a reporter stated the average American household has increased its television viewing by eight hours per day since stay-at-home orders were issued by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19. I can believe it. My family and I have certainly been watching much more television than we have in the past.

One of the channels I really enjoy is HGTV, particularly the home improvement programs. It’s amazing what the design experts can do as they apply their creative skills to solve interior layout problems and exterior landscaping issues. With having so much time on my hands, these shows have inspired me to make improvements to my home. Plus, the projects are a productive way to spend the extra time I have right now.

As I drove through town, I can see many of you have been using your bonus time wisely and have made valuable home improvements to your properties. If you’re interested in showcasing those updates, please be sure to enter your work in the Avoca Community Committee’s Stay at Home Improvement Contest by Monday, May 18. The contest offers residents an opportunity to showcase their outdoor home improvement projects which they have completed within the last few weeks. Please submit before and after photos of your projects. Winners will be announced on the Avoca Community Committee Facebook page Friday, May 22, and receive cash prizes through the generosity of an anonymous resident.

For details, please send a private message to the Avoca Community Committee Facebook page.

In other Avoca Community Committee news, the group has canceled its Decades Bar Hop. The committee hopes to reschedule the event during the summer. Anyone who paid the registration fee should send a message privately to the committee via its Facebook page to make arrangements to receive their money back.

Queen of the Apostles news

Queen of the Apostles Parish offers Mass on Sundays on its social media sites. The Mass is streamed live at 10 a.m. on facebook.com/qapavocapa/. It also is available on Facebook after it is streamed live. The parish also posts the Mass on its new YouTube channel Sunday evenings. This video includes enhanced sound, graphics, music and the text of select prayers for improved broadcast quality on smart TVs. You can find it by searching for Queen of the Apostles Parish, Avoca, PA on YouTube.

Food pantry

Avoca Food Pantry will be open at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at Bethel United Methodist Church, 532 Main St. Food can be picked up in the rear entry of the building. Volunteers are needed to unload and distribute food at 1:30 p.m.

For information, please call Jim at 570-921-9899.

State of emergency

Avoca Borough is still operating under a state of emergency. The municipal building is closed until further notice, as are the Avoca Community Center, Plane Street Park and Memorial Park.

Anyone who needs to do business with the borough should call the municipal building at 570-457-4947 and leave a message. Calls will be returned as soon as possible.

For non-emergency police department issues, please call 570-457-4011.

For emergencies, always dial 911.

Taxes and refuse payments

Avoca Borough Council extended the face value due date for borough property taxes until Aug. 18, coinciding with Luzerne County’s property tax extension. This will give property owners an additional two months to pay at face value, without any penalties.

The refuse fee for 2020 to have up to three bags collected weekly will remain at $175 through June 21.

Residents cannot pay any of these bills at the Avoca Municipal Building until further notice. However, residents may mail tax and refuse payments to Tax Collector Therese Wrubel, 129 Factory St., Avoca, PA 18641 or place them in the envelope outside of her home office at the above address. If you need a receipt, please include the complete bill and a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your payment.

Please be sure to issue separate checks for tax and refuse payments and that all checks are dated correctly and signed.

For information, please contact Wrubel at 570-457-4891.

Sewer fee discount

Avoca Council will honor the discounted rate of $40 up until Aug. 4 for the 2020 annual sewer maintenance fee invoice billed by Berkheimer Associates. After that, the fee will be $50 from Aug. 5 to Aug. 20, and $52.50 after Aug. 20.

Berkheimer is aware of the extended dates. Payments should be mailed to them as outlined on the invoice.

Call Berkheimer at 610-599-3145 with any questions or concerns.

Collection information

Residents are reminded the borough’s weekly Tuesday yard waste collections have started. Each property may place a maximum of three open containers, preferably with handles, not to exceed 30 pounds, containing leaves, grass clippings, small branches and shrubs. Any yard waste placed in plastic bags, dirt, rocks or animal waste will not be collected.

Recycling is still suspended until further notice.

Anyone who does not have their trash should call J.P. Mascaro at 1-800-243-7575.

Masks needed

Anyone who can sew, make or donate face masks for health care professionals can drop them off in the sanitized lock box next to the black bench at the entrance of the Avoca Municipal Building, 952 Main St.

That’s about it for this week, my friends.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Jackie Borthwick-Galvin writes about Avoca every week. To list an item, email jborthwickgalvin@pittstonprogress.com or call 570-301-2171 by 5 p.m. Monday.