City Won’t Host Event Honoring MLK Day
WILKES-BARRE — City Hall will be closed Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the city will not hold any event to honor the slain civil rights leader as it has in the past. Instead, some city officials plan to attend the NAACP Wilkes-Barre Branch’s inaugural Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday.
Mayor Tony George, city Administrator Ted Wampole, police Chief Marcella Lendacky and fire Chief Jay Delaney will attend the breakfast at Best Western Plus Genetti Hotel and Conference Center, located across the street from City Hall on Market Street.
Some city council members said at Thursday’s council meeting that they planned to attend after a resident inquired if the city had its own event planned for MLK Day, and noted that there was no charge to attend the event.
However, reservations are required and RSVPs were due by Jan. 5.
While the mayor isn’t scheduled to speak at the breakfast, his administrative assistant, Tyler Ryan, said he’s glad to attend the event.
“He is happy to have kept his campaign promise of closing city hall for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year. As city hall is closed, there were no on-site events planned. City hall employees will commemorate the day in their own ways,” Ryan said in response to a request for comment from the mayor.
George’s administration last year had negotiated the establishment of MLK Day as a paid holiday for Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 1310, the union that represents most city hall workers, which would allow city hall to be closed on that day.
The administration also had successfully negotiated with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 104 to establish MLK Day as a paid holiday.
The City Hall employee and firefighter unions gave up paid holidays on Good Friday and the day after Thanksgiving, respectively, in exchange for agreeing to take MLK Day instead.
City police and Department of Public Works employees, represented respectively by the Wilkes-Barre Police Benevolent Association and Teamsters Local 401, have not agreed to similar swaps.
The police union previously agreed to swap a paid holiday for MLK Day if the three other city unions had done the same. So, if the Teamsters agree to a swap in the future, all city employees would have MLK Day as a paid holiday.
Ryan also noted that for the fourth time, the city fire department is partnering with the American Red Cross to distribute smoke alarms in recognition of MLK Day.
Members of the two agencies will meet at the Hollenback Fire Station at 1020 N. Washington St. at 9 a.m. Monday and, from there, volunteers will go door-to-door in the community installing smoke alarms and teaching residents about home fire escape plans and fire safety.
Meanwhile, at the breakfast, which also is scheduled for 9 a.m., the keynote speaker will be Cassandra Coleman, director of the Governor’s Northeast Regional Office and a former Exeter mayor.
Mistress of Ceremony will be Crystal Cranmore, a multimedia journalist for WBRE/WYOU Eyewitness News.
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