New Venue Found For W-B Area Forum

May 2, 2019

The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board candidates forum on Friday night has a new location.

The Downtown Residents Association canceled the forum due to “escalated hostilities” and security issues at Wilkes University’s Henry Center Ballroom. Wilkes decided it could not host the forum because of “new security measures required,” university spokeswoman Gabrielle D’Amico said.

After that announcement, school board vice president the Rev. Shawn Walker, and Kim Borland, an attorney and member of the Save Our Schools group, found a new location for the forum. It will now be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 35 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre.

The forum will not have a sponsor and will still begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Borland said. The format for the forum will remain the same, Borland added.

In an email about canceling the candidates forum, Downtown Residents Association spokeswoman Patricia Parks noted “escalated hostilities” between school board members and Save Our Schools, which opposes the plan to build a consolidated high school in Plains Twp.

Hostilities increased after Save Our Schools member Richard Holodick posted photos on Facebook that put the faces of the Wilkes-Barre


Area School District superintendent and solicitor inside circles. Those photos “give the impression ... of looking through an unmarked rifle scope,” school board member Denise Thomas said.

Holodick said he did not use the photos to make Superintendent Brian Costello and Solicitor Ray Wendolowski look like targets. He said he used their photos because he referenced them in comments.

Wendolowski and Costello said they do not feel threatened by the photos. Other school board members denounced the photos in the Holodick post on Facebook.

The SOS group opposes the school board plan to build a new $121 million consolidated high school on an old mining site in Plains Twp. School officials insist the state Department of Environmental Protection has approved construction measures that make the site completely safe for a new school.

The district plans to merge its three high schools — GAR, Meyers and Coughlin — into the new high school when the 2021-22 school year begins. SOS wants to keep three high schools.

Nine candidates are on the primary election ballot, including four incumbents — Walker, Mark Atherton, Dr. James Susek and John Quinn. Five challengers filed to run — Terry Schiowitz, Debbie Orlando Formola, Beth Anne Owens-Harris, Bob Holden and Robin Shudak.

The Downtown Residents Association is still conducting a forum on Monday for Wilkes-Barre city government candidates at the Wilkes’ Henry Center. Candidates running for Wilkes-Barre Mayor, controller and council members for Areas B and C will participate.

Contact the writer:


570-821-2073, @cvmikebuffer

If you go

Wilkes-Barre Area School Board candidates forum

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 35 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre.