By Bill O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Wico van Genderen, president/CEO of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, called the Times Leader’s newly renovated building “the gateway into the city.”
The newspaper welcomed more than 30 state, county and city officials and business and community leaders to celebrate the opening of the remodeled Market Street site.
“This is a good news story,” van Genderen said. “The Times Leader has made a significant investment in the city and for that we are grateful.”
Mike Murray, Times Leader Media Group publisher, told the group these are exciting times for the company.
“We are thrilled to be a part of downtown Wilkes-Barre,” Murray said. “And we are here to stay.”
Murray said with a newly refurbished facility and an upgraded press, the Times Leader has reconfirmed its commitment to downtown Wilkes-Barre. The newspaper sold its North Main Street building in January to King’s College and combined its operations in its building at 90 E. Market St., bringing all employees under one roof.
The Market Street building now hosts the Times Leader’s advertising, circulation and editorial departments in addition to its press and production facilities.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George was pleased to hear the newspaper is committed to the downtown. The mayor thanked the newspaper for its role in promoting city events.
“The Times Leader has shown a sincere dedication to downtown Wilkes-Barre,” George said. “It was a major project to retrofit this building and that shows the Times Leader’s commitment to the city.”
Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City Partnership, said the Times Leader building that sits on the corner of East Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue has historical significance to his wife’s family.
Newman said his wife’s (Marisue Elias Newman, Esq.) maternal grandmother, Susan Harcharufka, once lived in a building on the site. She would often stay with her and they would walk to Public Square. He said in the mid-1970s, the downtown was a much different place, but he said changes keep coming and the downtown has been on a progressive upswing for more than a decade.
“And the changes are going to keep coming,” Newman said. “Changes in technology, economic changes, changes in how we use buildings and changes in how we use downtowns. This afternoon’s ribbon-cutting marks yet another change — and this change is a win-win.”
Newman said the Times Leader’s new, modern facility keeps the paper in the downtown, while its former site at 15 N. Main St. will be re-purposed by King’s College.
Newman noted there is an inscription carved into the frieze at the old Times Leader building that reads: “Erected for community service, and dedicated to welfare and progress.” He said that message will continue to ring true.
Newman lauded the Times Leader for being part of the private investment in the downtown — more than $100 million by Wilkes University, King’s College and private developers over the last six years.
“And the Times Leader has chosen to invest right here, keeping its news, business, and press operations where a community’s daily newspaper belongs — at the center of everything — downtown Wilkes-Barre,” Newman said. “We’re thrilled to celebrate your new home with you and to have you continue as part of the downtown Wilkes-Barre community for many years to come.”