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Idea to use site as inmate reporting center rebuked by mayor, crowd

May 16, 2013

The saga of a former Catholic church, eyed as a possible site for an inmate day reporting center, has erupted into a fervor with the faithful and city leadership upset of any hint that the......

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May-16-13 5:27 AM

Well, deal with it Campana, our city has been a dumping ground and will remain so until someone cleans house around here. Every day some Shaniqua or Akeem from Philadelphia is arrested for drugs, guns, some shooting or robbery... when will it end?! Williamsport is in the toilet, either get used to it or do something about it Campana!

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May-16-13 5:34 AM

As a Christian I am appalled that supposed Christians would be up in arms against using a closed house of worship to help sinners, amazing. Maybe in using the church the "spirit of the Lord" would come into their lives a and be a guiding force to change them. It's things like this that show organized religion is as tyrannical as any government.

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May-16-13 5:54 AM

The building is just brick, mortar, wood, and wires. It is not holy; God's chosen/elect are the saints.

It's pros/cons should be objectively evaluated and compared with other options before making the final decision.

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May-16-13 6:41 AM

The mayor is acting crazy. It is just a building. As a person who was raised Catholic, I am appalled at the mayor's rationale. A day reporting area in an area where non-violent (and presumably poor and unable to drive to the farmland of the pre-release center) would be an excellent alternative to locking up NON-VIOLENT offenders up like animals. The mayor is not acting like a Catholic. I suspect he has an ulterior motive. He just wants to keep the defunct church a church (even though it's closed) because his mom used to go there.

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May-16-13 7:27 AM

Do you really need to get a permit to stand on the sidewalk in Williamsport?

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May-16-13 8:20 AM

the courthouse is set up with the metal detector security check already?? Will taxpayers have to pay for another system now?? Is there that many reporting criminals in Williamsport that we need to use a 5,000 sq ft church?? When williamsport had 71% of the section 8 housing in the county our crime rate increased.Taxpayers were paying the rent in buildings where most of the serious crimes were committed. in section 8 run properties.this is a big mistake. go Mayor!

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May-16-13 8:20 AM

This is absolutely ridiculous, Lisa, Carl, you're both right, completely. First I want to comment on Lisa's opinions. Most people are too cowardly to say what you have, because they fear 'how it will sound'. I don't fear how it will sound or who it offends 75% (if not more) of the crime we have in Williamsport originaled from Philadelphia. Much of those people now live in Timberland and the surrounding projects, where most of the crime happens, and hang out on the basketball courts of Memorial Park.

@ Carl, 100% right, instead, the Church will likely sit empty for years.

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May-16-13 8:39 AM

Local officials need to understand that they may not use their authority, government funds or government property to promote religion, even if the majority in the community approves. It's in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and it does apply to even the mighty Mayor of Williamsport.

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May-16-13 8:45 AM

Mim, you're wrong. It's that simple.

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May-16-13 9:26 AM

Gabe is just angry because A. He didn't come up with the idea himself. B. It wouldn't waste enough city tax dollars. C. This was yet another proposed site for an ice areana. Or D. All of the above.

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May-16-13 10:00 AM

first of all hic**** dont u work for the state and are paid by the taxpayer for putting in a 3 hour day and getting paid for 8?? U wouldn"t understand how hard self employed people work . Then we have our neighborhoods trounced by government wanting more state and federal funds.

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May-16-13 10:08 AM

Put the blame where it belongs, Jessie Bloom is responsible for the present condition of Williamsport. I remember when she fought long and hard to make the city a "rehab center", and this influx of released ex-offenders and in some cases, their families is the end result of her efforts. Can you say "20-20 hindsight"? Is Campana or anyone able to do anything about it now?

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May-16-13 10:14 AM

Mim, what the h3ll are you talking about I work 3 hours a day? I work a full time job and support a wife and son thank you very much. While I agree with you on the whole Section 8 thing, this, for me, is about the fact that the opposition to this idea is based seemingly solely on the fact it's a church.

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May-16-13 10:19 AM

Foxy, you're right about Jesse Bloom, I've brought that up before, however, yes Campana can do something about it now. For starters, they can close the Rehab Centers and ship them all the h3ll back where they came from.

This morning I spoke to the Mayor about this whole issue, first of all, as usual, he doesn't handle criticism very well. Secondly, I'm glad to know he reads the comments we post here ;)

It really does all start with putting a stop to the influx of these kind to begin with. If the government is willing to bring them here, they can't turn their back on them when they have an opportunity to potentially change things for the better.

Oh and the Mayor is right, he does have 1st amendment rights too so he is allowed to oppose this, but based on the article, he's doing it for the wrong reasons. If the issue was as simple as 'if the church were located outside of the city I'd support it' I'd be less critical, but it's not. This is an issue of the Mayor having

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May-16-13 10:22 AM

personal ties to the church, as well as the crowd that also opposed the idea.

We weren't born yesterday Mr. Mayor, stop treating us like we were. Politicians work based on agenda's, more often than not, personal agenda's. They lie and some of them even cheat and steal. So skepticism is the first thing you're going to encounter. You're not "Just a citizen, father, and husband", you're also someone who is supposed to be in a position of power, so you're supposed to use that power responsibily. The sooner you start doing so, the better off this city will be. From a Tourist perspective you're doing a great job. From a citizen perspective, you haven't done much at all.

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May-16-13 10:26 AM

"first of all hic**** dont u work for the state and are paid by the taxpayer for putting in a 3 hour day and getting paid for 8??"

I wanted to go back to this for a second.

First of all, NO I DO NOT work for the State. Secondly NO I AM NOT paid via the taxpayer. Secondly, I work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I used to work in a factory (Shop vac), so I'm fortunate to have a slightly easier job these days, but I'm still working for what little of a paycheck I get. So the notion that I don't carry the burden of paying for Williamsport Taxes is ridiculous and offensive. Next time, perhaps you should ask me why I feel the way I do, instead of assuming you already know.

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May-16-13 10:44 AM

If the county RENTS the building, doesn't it go back on the tax roles?


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May-16-13 10:50 AM

And for the record, I've said this multiple times in the past, I'd RATHER DEPORT all the criminals, violent and non-violent who came from other places (Philadelphia for example) back to where they came from. The problem is, there is no perfect solution.

In one hand you could suggest that not allowing something like this in the city is a way of not repeating Jesse Blooms mistakes, okay, that's fair. But what's the alternative? Doing nothing? C'mon've got to be smarter than that.

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May-16-13 11:24 AM

I find myself somewhat befuddled to be agreeing with young Gabe but this conversion idea for church is pitiful. I also think we need to consider what the Police Chief said. Not a good idea to put something like this in THIS area.

Finally, I must say Jessie Bloom is going to have a huge karmic debt for the degradation she inflicted on Wmspt. However, it's here now and we have to find a way to deal with it. Setting up yet ANOTHER place for criminals is NOT that way, IMHO, of course.

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May-16-13 11:37 AM

Shirly, I can mostly agree with your comments. I agree this is not the area to have a center like this, outside of the city I certainly would support it, though my toes are at the line of supporting it as it is right now. But I agree with what you're saying about not bringing more criminals to the area, it's opening up a can of worms.

However, I also don't see much else being done to improve the crime situation here in Williamsport.

My issue with the whole 'church' thing is that it overwhelmingly sounds as though the basis for how Campana feels about it is the fact that it's his childhood church, nothing more. I would hope that is inaccurate.

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May-16-13 11:41 AM

So if the county wanted to use the empty church on the otherside of the old BiLo building Gabe would be fine with it? Oh wait, I get it!!! There would be free parking at the church location, thus keeping money out of the WPA coffers. How come Gabe didn't complain when a closed church was converted to apartments?

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May-16-13 12:28 PM

What some people aren't taking into consideration is the feelings of the generations of families that worshiped at this church. As a former member who served mass for 12 years growing up, I believe that most of the bitterness is directed at the Bishop in Scranton. To close the church doors to many longtime faithful parishioners only to possibly open them for something like this is a slap in the face. Monsignor Castellano would be rolling over in his grave.

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May-16-13 1:33 PM

Or people would admit that it takes strong, compassionate people to use a church to try to change the lives of people who have followed the wrong path. Listen, USMC, I completely understand what you're saying and I can appreciate that. But at the end of the day the Church isn't what harnesses your faith, it's a building, made with brings, where people USED TO GO to "express"/worship their faith. Faith isn't something that is going to be killed off by the changing of a buildings' use. Frankly it's not materialistic at all. The religious part of this, I feel, despite it being a church(being religious in form) is being given too much priority.

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May-16-13 1:58 PM

As a citizen of the city and supporter of the positive renovations occurring in the downtown area I’m shocked to think that the county commissioners would consider opening a day reporting center in the heart of the downtown revitalization and surrounding developing areas. Our city has seen positive improvement in recent years with the help of local officials, and businesses willing to invest; but the ball is just getting started. Already we have a movie theater, The Community Arts, an array of restaurants, specialty stores, book store, art gallery and a department store. These places have given people reasons to enjoy our historic downtown and see the endless opportunities that still exist. Careful planning by the city and private business must be encouraged to promote a healthy, sustainable environment for the area and the people. I’m hopeful community members, as well as people who come “to town” to enjoy all that it offers, see the pitfalls in such a center.

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May-16-13 1:59 PM

Having enjoyed the thriving downtown as a child in the 70’s, and witnessed the destruction of it in the last 20 years, I’m so proud its current comeback. So many people benefit from a revitalized downtown, please continue supporting ours and say no to the day reporting center. Side note: I’m not a church go’er but a supporter of the community!

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