By: Bill O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Amid the usual business of discussing upcoming downtown events, the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association Friday heard about a relatively new endeavor in the city.
About 25 members of the downtown group gathered at the PA Cyber School at East Northampton and Washington streets for its monthly meeting and Dave Veon, supervisor of regional offices, and Lauren Dennis, regional representative, provided an overview of the operation.
Veon and Dennis explained that the local office serves 750 students from Luzerne County and neighboring counties. Statewide, they said PA Cyber, which was founded in 2000, has 10,000 student enrolled in grades k through 12. Graduates receive a state certified high school diploma, they said.
Headquartered in Midland, Beaver County, PA Cyber has offices in Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Philadelphia. Pittsburgh, State College and Warrendale.
Dennis offered these reason why families choose PA Cyber:
• Gifted students who are looking for a unique opportunity to excel forward.
• Students who are being bullied and are looking for a safe environment.
• Health reason that makes it optimal for a student to attend from home.
• Traditional home school families looking for more support and structure.
• Special education students that are looking for the right fit.
• Talented athletes and performers looking for flexibility that allows them to pursue a particular passion.
Veon explained that PA Cyber is open to any school-aged student who resides in Pennsylvania. He said there is no tuition — PA Cyber is funded through public tax dollars.
John Maday, president of the downtown group and chairman of the promotions committee, said several events are fast-approaching:
• Wilkes-Barre City Christmas Parade — Nov. 23 at 3 p.m.
• Small Business Saturday — Nov. 30.
• Window Wonderland Project — painting of downtown business windows depicting holiday scenes.
• Holiday Pop-Up Shops — Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City partnership, said the location will be announced soon.
Newman reported that the recent downtown survey showed that 68 percent of respondent attended the Rock on the Rive summer concert series. He said the events were so popular, that 82 percent of the attendees would attend it again and would like more offerings. Ted Wampole. executive director of Visit Luzerne County, said there will be four events in 2020, one more than 2019.
Newman also reported that the downtown has become a popular residential site. He said millennials who are college graduates top the list.
“The downtown is popular for those looking for a walk-to everything lifestyle,” Newman said. “Most are young couples and singles.”
Newman said some 250 new residential units have been established over the last six years — each building with a waiting list. He said the second largest group of new residents are senior citizens.
Newman said the downtown shopping district, with its restaurants and entertainment venues, make it a critical part of holiday shopping.
“The Holiday Pop-Up Shops offer an opportunity for a business to test-drive a downtown storefront,” Newman said. “One component of a multi-0faceted approach to promoting downtown is a shopping district.”
Wampole gave an update on the recently instituted ant-litter campaign, noting that billboards and yard signs will be available soon.
“It’s all about curb appeal,” Wampole said.