‘Embarrassing’ Article About Shamokin?

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SHAMOKIN—The city of Shamokin in Northumberland County is thousands of miles from Great Britain, but an article about the Pennsylvania city recently ran in a British newspaper and other several other newspapers, too.

That article was written by a reporter for Reuters news agency about the financial crisis in Shamokin. It is a city with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid debts, too broke to get a loan from a bank.

“I think Shamokin is a pretty nice town, most people are pretty nice,” said Destiny Jones of Shamokin.

“I like coming to Shamokin because they have a lot here, it’s just you know, struggling,” said Vicki Reichner of Sunbury.

That story ran with several photographs of people in the community. Some claimed those pictures were unflattering and unfair.

They called it an ’embarrassment’ to Shamokin.

“I don’t really like the article and pictures but you know. It’s the way people have their opinions,” said Cindia Ruiz of Shamokin.

A Reuters spokesperson said, “We stand behind these photos and our news gathering approach. ”

Jessica Kruleski was among the people photographed.

She said she had no idea it was for a story about the problems in her city.

“There’s nothing wrong about Shamokin. I like it, so far. My son is 5-years-old and he’s going to school next year and everyone gave me a good report that Shamokin is a good place to go to school,” said Kruleski.

Not everyone in Shamokin had a problem with their story. Some people said it was spot on.

Wayne Derk was also photographed for the article. He owns a business in Shamokin and said it is sad but true, everything in the story is accurate.

“I’m sorry I ever came back to Shamokin. I lived in Florida 22 years. I could kick my rear end for ever coming back to this place,” he said.

Others said they love this place, but admit there are problems here.

“You can look around and tell, the run down buildings, the streets, I mean, you know? Stuff is rough here. Everybody wants to take pride in where they live,” said William Byrd of Shamokin.


  • Marian

    Wow, I just finished reading all the positive and negative comments. Not completely an eye opener but to some degree, yes.

    I lived in Shamokin from 1958-1966. It was a really great place for teens then. I loved it and have lifelong friends, some still live there, others moved away.

    I rarely return to Shamokin as my family has moved out of the area. I did return for my fiftieth class reunion and became quickly distressed at the visual aspect my eyes beheld. My husband’s former home, dilapidated and so many others. Churches struggling and businesses closed. Other towns looked similar: Sunbury for one. The causes whether drugs, politics, education, whatever, I don’t know so I will not comment. But one thing I do know……

    The place you live in does not define you (someone posted earlier). There are still plenty of wonderful, caring, ambitious, lovely people who live there. I know many. For the reasons they still live there, that’s personal choices they’ve made and I honor that. I am proud I was a Shamokinite and many, many are proud of that fact, too.

    Drugs, corruption, slums are prevalent in every city, believe me. I am a retired educator and have taught in poor neighborhoods in Bangor, Syracuse, and Asheville, NC. I know first hand what poverty can do to neighborhood schools, but highly driven, dedicated and talented educators can make a huge difference. How is the school system? Our children need the best education, relevant to today and future, and then the children will grow up with skills necessary to meet today’s challenges in the work force. If they can’t find suitable jobs in an area they need to move in search for a job that can support their families. Or stay and try and fix the problems, become an advocate, a voice for high standards. The young are a hope for the future if we invest in them.

    Those are just my thoughts..

    Best wishes to you all.

    • Marian

      This is Marian again. I forgot to comment on bringing back coal.
      To return coal as king in a community is not a great answer in my opinion. Coal is very dirty! Burning coal should be a thing of the past. I know first hand what burning fossil fuels such as coal can do to the air..

      My son and family are moving to Beijing. If you’ve followed news coverage, especially in February, the air is TOXIC many, many days. It’s because, in part, that’s what the factories burn. Google it and you’ll see pictures of people wearing masks and no sun is shining through what looks like a very dense fog, but lo, it’s the polluted air! When you get a nose bleed there your blood is black, so I’ve heard.

      Other cities in China and other parts of Asia are the same as my son has traveled extensively abroad there. But Beijing seems to be at the top of the list. But read about it. They blame the coal.

  • joe

    There have been a few comments about America being the problem or cause of the “Shamokins” of the world. I grew up in Pottsville, similar situation. I worked hard and took out loans to pay for college and moved to an area that is more in line with my values which seem to have slipped away from where I grew up. I now live in a vibrant, growing, culturally diverse, educated, progressive community with a strong economy. Yes it’s a shame that Pottsville or Shamokin have declined and are not the same booming coal havens of yesteryear but times change, places change, and not everything is “fixable.” What is beautiful about America is there are just as many thriving communities as those that have declined and we are all free and blessed to have the opportunity to pursue our dreams and not be “stuck” in places we don’t want to live. You don’t have to be wealthy to be successful and happy, you just have to be resourceful, willing to take risk and go after your dreams. Of course if you’d rather take the easy road and are ok with living in a depressed, stagnant world…well you are probably now living in the home I grew up in.

    • Joey DeSantis

      Well, there’s a problem there. Many people ARE stuck living where they live. Look at most major cities in America and you see that they are segregated by income, and thus (in this country) by race. The idea of meritocracy, or “work hard and you’ll do well” is only partially true. Some of us start way behind others from the get-go, and sometimes the history we read in the books just isn’t true. History books tell us that segregation and the oppression of black people, for example, ended in the 1960’s. It didn’t. It’s only gotten worse, even if it’s no longer against the law. Those privileged enough to choose where they live can live in a progressive economically strong town, likely a suburb of a major city. Others cannot leave because the tools they have are not the tools required to succeed in our current school system, which favors writing, speaking, and presenting yourself in a particular way, and learning a particular history. What is there for those in the margins? America as a land may be beautiful, but those living within it often forget the massive cultural oppression that it’s built on. We are still hurting from the effects of the slave trade, Native American displacement, and the conquest of Mexican territories, even if we don’t want to admit it.

  • Aj

    Im from shamokin born and raise next time they should try taking pictures of people that look normal and actually work we are no better than other towns we all have the people that live off the system which we can thank our president for but there are plenty of normal working class families in this town this is a beautiful scenic place with a rich history when coal was king shamokin was the richest city in the world thomas edison lived here for a period of time we have the first church in history to have the 3 wired system the first house to have the 3 wired system we may not be rich but were rich in history and pride do your own research before you write negative comments it only shows your ignorance COAL REGION PRIDE

    • Sara

      Your sad posting says it all. Poor spelling, poor grammar, run on sentences, no punctuation . . . . Sad. It illustrates the lack of education & ambition that is so prevalent in this area. THAT, my friend, is why young people, intelligent people, & ambitious people flee NEPA as soon as they can. What we have left are people who want to live in the past while they collect their welfare & swill their beer.

      • Terry

        WOW. I’m sorry that you feel the need to bully people to make your point. Guess is doesn’t only happen in Shamokin. I will pray for you!

  • Garrett smith

    And heck just look at the postings even with spell check they still can’t spell out a simple word like administration !!

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