CV At 40: Flood Indictment, Butler Tunnel Incident Top Biggest Stories Of 1978-79
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sunday, Oct. 7, The Citizens’ Voice will publish a special section to celebrate our 40th anniversary. For the next five days, we’ll review the top stories since the Voice’s birth in 1978.
For 40 years The Citizens’ Voice has been reporting on stories of local interest to its readers.
During the Voice’s infancy in October 1978, news of the labor strife between strikers and Cap Cities — the new owners of the Times Leader — dominated the pages.
Here’s a look at some of the other important stories the Voice covered in its first 15 months in existence.
One of the first major stories reported by the Voice was Congressman Dan Flood’s indictment on 10 counts of conspiracy and taking bribes to influence the awarding of federal aid.
Flood, who was 74 at the time of the indictment, was subcommittee chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He was accused of taking bribes totaling $81,500 and asking for another $100,000.
The allegations and declining health led Flood to announce his resignation on Nov. 7, 1979 after 31 years of service.
In July 1979, residents of the Wyoming Valley awoke to an oil slick on the Susquehanna River that stretched from the Pittston Area south beyond Wilkes-Barre.
The oil-chemical flow worsened as the week went on. It got so bad that the EPA urged residents to not swim or boat in the river south of Pittston.
The source? Chemicals were discharged from the Butler Tunnel. An affidavit filed in U.S. Middle District Court revealed 300,000 to 500,000 gallons of waste were illegally dumped into a borehole behind Highway Auto Service property in Pittstown Twp.
The site was deemed an EPA Superfund site in 1987 and remains in the list today.
In 1979, the Wilkes-Barre Police Department found itself mired in controversy. Federal and local investigations were conducted into allegations of misconduct, incompetency and criminal activity by some city police officers and by then-Mayor Walter Lisman.
The allegations stem from the 1975 Olga Burns homicide. There was an alleged protection from prosecution of Francis Hannon, who was found guilty of the death of Burns. Hannon was a businessman and aspiring politician.
The inquiries led the demotion of an officer and the retirement of then-police chief John Ruddick.
Three Mile Island
Three Mile Island is more than 100 miles from Wilkes-Barre, but ramifications of the March 1979 accident at the nuclear plant were felt here.
The Wyoming Valley was prepared to house potential evacuees and it sparked a debate between anti-nuclear activists of the power plant in Salem Twp.
The second oil crisis of the 1970s happened in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution. Decreased oil output led to a gas shortage rationing and long lines at stations.
Pennsylvania was one of several states that implemented odd-even gas rationing (drivers with an odd-numbered license plate could only purchase gas on an odd-numbered day).
During the rationing period, the CV ran a front page graphic of a car with a license plate that read odd or even to help keep readers informed.
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