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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Former Phillies' Hurler Dicke Noles Is Atiyeh's Closer

Abe Atiyeh with his closer, Dickie Noles
After six hearings and 21 hours of testimony that first began last October, Bethlehem's zoners have finally wrapped up testimony on developer Abe Atiyeh's request for a 70-bed voluntary inpatient substance abuse center, more commonly known as a drug and alcohol rehab. What has made this project controversial is its location. It's proposed at the vacant Calvary Baptist Church, located at 111 Dewberry Avenue, and more importantly, right next to Bethlehem Catholic High School.

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
As some members of the audience groaned, Noles stated that a rehab next to a high school - or anywhere else for that matter - would pose no safety concerns. "I see no problem. We're people." Noting the stigma associated with addiction, Noles pointed out that 1 out of every 4 persons in the hearing room has a loved one with an addiction. As the loud whispers and groaning continued, the former hurler added, "I see treatment differently than this whole room does. That's pretty obvious." Nevertheless, "I gave up a night with my grandbaby to be here. I'm kinda' glad I came."

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.


Anonymous said...

An alcoholic former baseball player says its a great idea. Well, I guess that wraps it up then.

What the Hell was that supposed to prove and who the Hell cares.

That was no relief pitcher that was a Hail Mary pass from Atiyeh.

Also Noles "holier than thou" lecture was better than his record pitching. Now if Atiyeh can snag Steve Carlton, then we're talking.

Anonymous said...

With that cross around his neck, are you sure that's Abe and not the Fake Rev in disguise?

c said...

A rosary? It is the self reported "Christians" who have stuck it to me in life and in politics more than any others. I'm a practicing Catholic, but I leave it out of my business dealings.

Anonymous said...

"Leave it out" ... along with your brains, too, I bet, Hater.

Anonymous said...
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Bernie O'Hare said...

Unlike the Fake Rev, Abe does not push his religious beliefs on anyone. He does wear a rosary or some such thing, and I find that no more unusual that someone who sports a yarmulke.

So I disagree with C. But C is also entitled to her opinion. I won't tolerate suggestions of violence directed at any of my readers, even those with whom I disagree. Let's be nice.

c said...

Permission to digress Bernie.

Perhaps my personal view is tainted by too many bad experiences, people who claim to be Christian and then act with impunity towards other people. Christianity is about living what you believe in and not just putting it out there for all to see, not to suggest that this is what Abe does. I guess he is just a unique kind of guy.
I hate no one 9:51.
My core is Christian 9:51 but I usually don't talk about it, I just do my best to live it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I agree with that comment, C. Many people who wear their religion on their sleeves are phonies, no matter what that religion might be. But there are others who don't push it, and Abe falls into that latter category.

Hardcore Ronny said...

too many NIMBYs there... a for profit operation will bring needed tax revenue to the area, period. I wonder how many pills each one of the groaners in the audience takes or how many of their children or grand children are on medications

Suck it up buttercups said...

I like the person who WFMZ interviewed "in support of BECCA" saying how this will cause, enrollment to drop for the school. Yeah because Catholic Schools are doing so well all over the commonwealth. Thats why the Philly and Scranton dioceses are closing them like there is no tomorrow.

Maybe Becca should let them open so they have a better straw man to blame. Otherwise they might have to admit the Catholic Church's popularity has plummeted due to child molestation cover-up scandals for the last two decades.

And those who still feel the need to wake up early on Sunday's are choosing mega-churches where rock bands play flat music over the dated Catholic masses that look like the audience to Lawrence Welk re-runs.

Or maybe Becca should be a "Charter School" where they can suck up tax payer dollars (before the local public school can use any of their funds first). They need to meet with Pastor Bloom at the Pocono Mountain Charter School who runs a religious school with tax payer dollars putting the Pocono Mountain School district in massive debt. (About 50% of their debt is PMCS).

What would the Becca crowd do if Tim Tebow came in favor of this rehab facility? Oh wait, he is an Evangelical, who is more popular in America than the Pope right now. Anyone else see a bigger crisis for Becca and the LV Catholic community?

Anonymous said...

Abe must be praying!

c said...

We plan on sending our kids to Bechai. This won't disuade us from doing such. I can understand the fear however.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic bashing is nice. The US Church is growing, primarily with Hispanics. Church closings are a result of legal settlements for pervy priests and a lack of priests, in general, to serve the number of buildings. Locally, there are several African priests running parishes full of whites and Hispanics who don't generate new priests.

It would be nice to discuss an issue without slamming religions. Rehab works and beats hell out of the phony drug war. Perhaps this isn't the best place for it, however.

Anonymous said...

You almost got me. You were *this* close.

Waiting in anticipation for Corey Feldman at the next meeting.


That pathetic, sad feeling