|Abe Atiyeh with his closer, Dickie Noles|
If approved, it would be operated by The Malvern Institute, a for-profit venture with a 80-bed inpatient facility in Chester County.
A Beca baseball diamond borders the rehab proposed at Dewberry Avenue. Ironically, testimony ended with former Phillies' pitcher Dickie Noles, who came out of the bullpen as Atiyeh's surprise closer.
During a three-hour hearing earlier this month, zoners heard from a trinity of educators concerned about the rehab's location. Bethlehem Catholic Principal John Petruzzelli worried that the treatment center would hurt the school. "Please do not impair or harm this neighborhood," he asked zoners. "Please do not threaten our ability to interest parents and attract students. Please don't threaten our viability." Dr. Bill Nelson, former Director of Student Services at Bethlehem Area School District, told zoners that student safety is "more important than anythng, more important than education itself." Greg Zeborowski, a retired behavioral analyst who worked with addicted students over a 37-year career, warned that addicted people are an "agitated, anxiety-ridden and edgy population."
When testimony resumed on January 25, Atiyeh Attorney Blake Marles first called called Donald Muenker, the principal of an elementary school located right next to a rehab in West Rockhill Township. Although he conceded that his young students are under much stricter supervision than you'll find in a high school, Muenker insisted he's never had a problem with the rehab center next door, and even uses it as an evacuation site.
After finishing with Muenker, Marles made the call to the bullpen, and out came tall, lanky North Carolinian Dickie Noles. During the 1980 World Series, Noles was the Phillies' relief pitcher who nearly started a riot with a brushback fastball that went right under George Brett's chin. But Noles told zoners and over sixty spectators last night that he's an alcoholic who has undergone rehab treatment himself.
"Treatment works," Noles assured everyone, who went through rehab in 1983. "If it works with me, it works with anybody."
For the past 18 years, Noles has been employed by the Phillies as their Employee Assistance Director, helping ball players who sometimes have drug, alcohol, money or relationship problems.
|After a tough cross, Spadoni poses with Noles|
After being cross-examined by attorneys with fastballs, Noles had to answer curves from some of the same people who were groaning at him. Kent Aitchison told the former pitcher, "I don't want it in my neighborhood." Sue Glenser complained the rehab would be full of "convicted felons." Clinical psychoanalyst William Henry suggested an association between addiction and "criminal violence."
As he attempted to answer concerns, the former hurler at one point complained, "Playin' baseball is way easier than this!"
"And a lot more money, too!" wisecracked Bethlehem City Council Solicitor Chris Spadoni.
"I wasn't there when they were makin' money," answered the right-hander.
When audience member Kerry Rogers asked about drug trafficking inside rehabs, Noles finally had enough. He threw no brushback, but did tell the audience, "I'm appalled. I don't think many people in here understand what treatment is about."
Whether Noles gets the save remains to be seen. On February 22, zoners Gous Loupos, Bill Fitzpatrick and Ron Lutes will listen to arguments from attorneys. After that, they will make a decision by March 30.