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Coal Township man arraigned on sexual assault charges

COAL TOWNSHIP — A 71-year-old Coal Township man was arrested Friday on allegations that he molested four preteen girls during incidents at his home over the past 14 years.

Anthony E. Zarski, of 1006 W. Wood St., Coal Township, faces charges of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and corruption of minors in relation to incidents alleged to have occurred at his residence during the summer of 2005 through July 2019.

According to police reports, Zarski touched and fondled the genital area of four different girls who ranged in age from 6 to 12 years of age.

Zarski was taken into custody on an arrest warrant at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital. He was transported to Coal Township Police Station where he was then arraigned via video by District Judge John Gembic.

Bail was set at $85,000 cash and Zarksi has been committed to Northumberland County Jail.

Coal Township Detective Matthew Hashuga said the investigation began on July 28 after two victims came forward. Through the process of the investigation, a third and fourth victim were found in August and September, respectively, police said.

According to court documents, the investigation started when a parent of one of the victims told police that their daughter informed them that when she and a friend would swim in Zarski’s pool, he’d pick them up and grab and rub their genitals. Zarski made one of the victims sit on his lap and touched another victim inappropriately while at his house, police said.

Zarski admitted to a family member when questioned that he touched the girls, but never penetrated them, according to court documents.

While hospitalized on Sept. 10, court documents state Zarski told a nurse assigned to his room that he wanted to take all of his medication because he would be “better off dead.” When asked why he felt that way, he said, “for what I did to those girls ...”

He closed by telling the nurse he didn’t know why he did “those things,” but wished he didn’t, an affidavit of probable cause states.

Anyone with any further information regarding Zarski is urged to contact Hashuga at 570-644-0333.


Larry Deklinski / LARRY DEKLINSKI/STAFF PHOTOS  

TOP: Eight-year-old Sadie Wetzel, a Mount Carmel Area Elementary School student, mimics high school football cheerleaders during the Red Tornado’s game against Jersey Shore Friday night against Jersey Shore. LEFT: Zoe Siko, an eighth-grade member of Mount Carmel Area School District’s WKMC-TV, controls a camera from the home press box at The Silver Bowl during pre-game festivities of Friday night’s football game against Jersey Shore. The first broadcast by the student-run television station was in 1968.


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Local artist wins Hazleton chalk art event

HAZLETON — On Saturday, approximately 20 artists participated in Hazleton Art League’s fifth annual Peace Love Chalk Event. Contestants in junior and senior divisions competed for prizes that were made available through Hazleton native and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation.

Participants had four hours to complete drawings that did not have to reflect a particular theme. The younger group competed for an iPad and gift cards, while the top three finishers among adults claimed $1,000, $500 and $250 respectively.

Dave Tamkus, of Shamokin, who resides with his wife, Natalie, and two boys, Jack and Jonah, took the top prize with a piece titled “Kraken Attack.” The artwork is a fantasy depiction of a kraken, which is a mythical giant octopus-like sea monster destroying a ship.

“I just wanted to do a piece that I was happy with presenting,” said Tamkus. “I’ve never competed in a contest like this before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone had such amazing work, I’m sure the judges had a tough time.”

As an added bonus, Maddon framed the winning piece and will be displaying it in Chicago. Tamkus was “over the moon” with the fact that it will be traveling half way across the country.

Tamkus said that he’s always been drawn to art and appreciated the support of his family during his childhood.

“I can always remember drawing-copying cartoons, making my own characters. I was very fortunate to have a very art-supportive family growing up.”

Over the past two years, Tamkus has made a commitment to creating more art.

“I saw an ad for a show at the (arts center) last year and submitted three old pieces that I did. It was at that show that I met Lisa Welch Knecht and she asked me if I wanted to do a show in the winter. I committed on the spot and started cranking out acrylic paintings and drawings,” he said.

From there, Tamkus said that he really got the bug for making art.

“My wife got me the coolest Christmas present — a sketchbook from the Brooklyn Art Library. You fill it up and ship it back to Brooklyn. It then travels the country for a year and lives at the library. I really found my voice with that book. It’s kind of dark and brooding, existential with a bit of abstract and has carried over to all of my subsequent art.”

It was from the recent Americana show at the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center gallery that Knecht introduced Tamkus to Ali and Carl from the Hazleton Art League.

“They told me about this cool contest that they were having and it happened to fit into my schedule,” he recalled.

Tentatively, Tamkus is hoping to have a show sometime next year at the Hazleton Art League.

“I can’t thank Natalie and my kids enough for their support. I bounce ideas off them and listen to their suggestions,” he stated. “The best advice I could give anyone is to not be afraid of failure. Always keep practicing. If you think it doesn’t look right, figure out a way to make it better. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself. Sometimes you look at your own work too critically.”

Tamkus indicated that he’d love to see the arts take off in Shamokin.

“I would love to see the arts take off in Shamokin. We have fantastic artists around the area and we (my family) try to get out to any event that has to do with art. It would be great to have some kind of contest like Hazleton’s at one of Shamokin’s festivals. One of the best parts was interacting and answering questions from the people watching. “

You can follow Tamkus on Instagram, @Colderevad, and on Facebook, @Colder World Designs.


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Mount Carmel Township receives $500,000 HOME grant

MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP — State Sen. John Gordner (R-27) and state Rep. Kurt Masser (R-107) announced Friday that Mount Carmel Township is receiving a HOME program grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

The township will receive $500,000 for the rehabilitation of low-income owner-occupied housing. The borough has agreed to partner with SEDA-COG for the administration of the funds.

“Being able to afford necessary home repairs to maintain a livable residence can be challenging for many low-income residents,” said Gordner. “With these grand funds, our local officials can partner with homeowners to finance some of these critical maintenance activities.”

“The funds will go a long way toward assisting low-income families safely stay in their homes,” Masser said. “I would like to congratulate Mount Carmel Township officials for their successful application.”

Mount Carmel Township Chairman Aaron Domanski was very pleased upon hearing the news.

“Any time we can get a grant such as this to help with our community, it’s a great thing,” said Domanski.

There are particular guidelines in order for township residents to receive grant money for their homes. One has to own their own home and fall under certain income qualifications. Among the potential repairs include roofing, plumbing, electrical, structural and more.

Domanski said those interested in potentially using the grant funds are encouraged to apply at the Mount Carmel Township building in the future, with an official start date to be named after applications arrive from SEDA-COG.

“Upon the township receiving the forms, residents can stop by our municipal office and apply, with the next step being SEDA-COG contacting the applicant in order to set up a home consultation and going forward from there,” Domanski said.

Domanski extended a special thanks to Teri Provost of SEDA-COG’s community development program in helping the township apply for the HOME grant and also aiding them throughout the application process.

“We’d also like to extend a special thanks to the Mount Carmel Township office staff for their hard work in the application process,” said Domanski.

The HOME program utilizes federal funds, funneled through DCED, to expand the supply of decent, affordable housing to low-income Pennsylvanians. Funds can be used for new construction, rehabilitation, financing mechanisms, acquisition of rental or sales housing and rental assistance. A local match of 25% is required.


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Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Resort named top wooden roller coaster in the world

ATHOL, IDAHO — For the second consecutive year, Amusement Today announced that the Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Resort is the best wooden roller coaster in the world.

The distinction was made during the annual Golden Ticket Awards Saturday, Sept. 7, at Silverwod Theme Park in Idaho. Experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world rated the “Best of the Best” in 22 categories.

According to Knoebels officials, the Phoenix is one of only two wooden roller coasters that have made the top 10 each of the past 22 years.

“When Phoenix was named best wooden roller coaster for the first time in 2018, we were thrilled. Earning this distinction two years in a row is an honor for which we feel appreciation beyond words,” said Richard “Dick” Knoebel, park president. “This is a testament to our team’s dedication to maintaining this classic coaster. Even after Phoenix was named the best, they knew their efforts had to continue to ensure it can continue providing a great ride experience for generations to come.”

The Phoenix originally opened in 1948 as the Rocket at Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas. At that time, it was touted as the largest wooden coaster in the world. When the park closed in 1980, it was in danger of never thrilling guests again.

Knoebels officials were hoping to add a wooden roller coaster, so the idea came to disassemble, move and reassemble it at the Elysburg park. Phoenix opened to the public in June 1985.

While this year was only the second year Phoenix captured the number one spot, there’s a 2019 award Knoebels has secured 17 of the past 20 years: Best Food.

According to Stacy Ososkie, public relations director, guests often mention appreciation for the variety and affordability of food at Knoebels.

“We have more than 30 food locations for guests to choose from, and our food managers are always providing new reasons to come back,” said Ososkie. “Some visitors make special trips to the park just to enjoy the food.”

An award category in which Knoebels has always made a strong showing was recognized with a Golden Ticket “Legend Award.” The 105-year-old Grand Carousel, purchased by the park in 1941, went undefeated in the now-retired category of “Best Carousel.”

“Our Grand Carousel will always be the heart and soul of Knoebels,” said Leanna Knoebel Muscato. “Located near the very center, as the park has grown up around her, she holds many memories for our guests. When a family comes to visit, they all can ride together. Some will choose to reach for the rings and others are happy riding a jumper horse, while grandparents may choose a relaxing chariot ride, all to the tunes of the antique band organs.”

In addition to first-place awards, Knoebels was a finalist in other categories: Best Halloween Event, third; and Best Dark Ride for the Haunted Mansion, fifth. Flying Turns and Twister were ranked No. 33 and No. 45, respectively, for best wooden coaster.

Guests wanting to try the legendary Phoenix can visit the park today from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.