Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Eachus Slammed Over Name Game
The Daniel Coxe Memorial School was opened in 1896. The school is now gone, and in its place is a Senior Center.
The editorial staff at the Times Leader wrote a stinging Opinion column faulting Todd Eachus for accepting a name honoraium for the Freeland Senior Citizens Center.
On January 3,2005 fire struck the Daniel M. Coxe Memorial Senior Citizens Center located at 701 Chestnut Street in Freeland. It destroyed the building. The center was rebuilt but the Daniel M. Coxe name was removed and replaced with Todd Eachus's name.
Daniel M. Coxe was an Estate Agent for the Coxe heirs and the Coxe Estate lands according to this document from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. It goes on to describe the files located at the society.
The General Estate File spans a broad subject area, but has a particular emphasis on the usage of estate lands through a variety of sales, leases, deeds and permits. An inside look into the various business associations of the estate can be seen through large sections of correspondence dealing with the Jeddo-Highland Coal Company, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and numerous other regional contractors. Information pertaining to the estate’s relationship with the surrounding communities of Hazleton and Drifton is included among a wealth of material associated with the region’s social and economic development. The arrangement of this section adheres to its original filing system while in the estate’s Drifton office.
As you can see the Coxes were instrumental in the social and economic development of the Greater Hazleton Region. Sophia Coxe was known as the "Angel of the Anthracite Coal Region".
Subseries 3. Sophia Coxe Christmas Festival, 1884-1898 (Boxes 565-566)
Sophia Coxe, wife of Eckley B. Coxe, was known as the “Angel of the Anthracite Coal Fields”. She acquired this nickname through her countless acts of charity for the people of the Lehigh Field. Sophia was a benefactor of numerous institutions and established several charitable trust funds, which continue to support institutions such as the MMI Preparatory School and Lehigh University into the twenty-first century.
Sophia also hosted annual celebrations in Drifton on the 4th of July and Christmas Eve, the latter of which is documented in the papers of this subseries. Between 1877- 1925, Sophia played Santa Claus to 2,000-4,000 children of the region. With the assistance of her personal secretary, she would buy an assortment of presents and candy, and create extensive gift-distribution lists so that the children would not receive the same present each year. Similar gifts were given to the children of St. James Episcopal Sunday School, the Children’s Seashore Home in Atlantic City, as well as the residents of the Almshouse of the Middle Coal Field and patients of the State Hospital in Hazleton.
The Sophia G. Coxe Charitable Trust Fund exists until this day benefiting many of the less fortunate in Southern Luzerne County including Freeland.
The board of directors of the Freeland Senior Citizens Center took away the Daniel M. Coxe designation and renamed the center the Todd Eachus Senior Citizens Center. Shame on them. Mr. Eachus didn't do anything extraordinary to earn that naming right. If the board believes that the only thing standing between them and the taxpayers of the Commonwealth's money was Todd Eachus then they are sadly mistaken. Their project was worthy on its own merits. As the editorial aptly points out the board isn't the only one to blame.
Mr. Eachus had a morale duty to turn down the naming of the building after him. But this issue wasn't about what is right. It is about ego, plain and simple. Unlike Tara Toohil, Mr. Eachus wasn't raised in this area. He didn't help with its economic expansion. As a matter of fact his actions as an elected official have prevented expansion.
The editorial states it best.
Our beef, of course, isn’t with any single lawmaker or the appreciative recipients of government grant money.
Rather, our concern is what this name game, as highlighted in staff writer Andrew Seder’s articles Sunday, says about the culture in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Aren’t the schools, colleges, arts organizations and other institutions that affix living politicians’ names to their buildings simply trying to curry favor – and potentially get closer to the front of the line for future handouts? Aren’t they bothered by kowtowing and being beholden – or at least perceived to be – to a “powerful” person?
And for incumbent lawmakers, don’t those plaques, marquees and prominent signs equate to free campaign advertising? (Banks, casinos and other companies pay beaucoup bucks for naming rights to this area’s most popular destinations; it’s called marketing. Why do some lawmakers get similar treatment for free?)
Shouldn’t the sites – paid for, at least in part, with the taxpayers’ money – more aptly be named the Citizens’ Center, the People’s Plaza or Taxpayers’ Theater?
We find the name game almost as disingenuous and distasteful as when elected officials show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and project openings to be photographed with those big cardboard checks (aka your tax dollars).
Boards of directors should be more discriminating when choosing names for their buildings.
In this article that appeared in the Standard Speaker on November 22, 2009 there was praise all the way around for help by the Freeland Senior Citizens organization in their time of need.
And while McClellan and the seniors all felt a sense of joy being in their "new-old" home, she also reflected on the immense help St. Michael's offered the organization during the group's stay there.
"We really appreciated them taking us in and everything else they did for us. They took us in on the spur of the moment. We were able to open up there a week after the fire happened at our old place. In fact, the fire happened on a Monday night, and by that next Monday we were set up with a contract so we got back to work," McClellan said.
She also thanked Freeland Mayor Tim Martin, who she added never shies away when the center is in need.
"Mayor Martin has always been very helpful. Anytime we ever needed anything, he helped us and was right there. He's been so great and we really appreciate him, too."
It was a collaborative effort that kept the Freeland Senior Citizens Center going as a viable operation. Todd Eachus should do the right thing and ask that his name be removed and the Daniel M. Coxe name be restored. I believe that article mentioned St. Michael's not Saint Todd. For Eachus to usurp so much history behind the Daniel M. Coxe name is loathsome.