Questions arose Monday about which government agency organized charter flights filled with minors that landed at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport four times this month.
Jim Gallagher, president of Aviation Technologies Inc., the airport’s fixed-base operator, said Sunday the flights were listed as “ICE flights” by private charter companies.
“ICE” stands for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
However, ICE spokeswoman Mary Houtmann said Monday the agency did not organize flights that landed at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Dec. 11, 17 and 25.
“These are not our flights,” Houtmann wrote in an email.
The flights might have been organized by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, she wrote.
Attempts to verify that with Health and Human Services on Monday were unsuccessful.
Gallagher stuck by his assertion that he was informed the flights were “ICE flights.”
“The airline that contacts us sends us paperwork,” Gallagher said. “The paper trail doesn’t lie.”
Gallagher said his company provided service for previous ICE flights, but prior to this month all of those flights involved prisoner transport.
The charter flights that originated in Texas and landed at the airport in December were filled with children who did not speak English, accompanied by adult chaperones and translators rather than guards, Gallagher said.
“We had never seen an ICE flight that wasn’t deporting people rather than bringing them further into the country,” he said.
Another wrinkle arose when a charter flight scheduled to land Dec. 30 that had originally been listed as an ICE flight was changed to a passenger charter service, Gallagher said.
A plane from the same company — World Atlantic Airlines — landed at the airport on Christmas Day and dropped off minors and chaperones who boarded buses bound for an undisclosed location, Gallagher said.
Gallagher provided a partial answer to a question frequently asked as news of the charter flights spread via social media: Where were the children taken after boarding buses at the airport?
The flight on Dec. 11 landed at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after it was diverted from a New York airport, Gallagher said.
Passengers from that flight boarded buses bound for Brooklyn, New York, he said.
However, Gallagher said he did not know the final destination of passengers who landed on the Dec. 17 flight, or on two flights that landed Dec. 25.
After all of the charter flights, passengers disembarked and boarded buses, Gallagher said.
Gallagher disputed reports posted to social media that some passengers on the Christmas flights were adults.
Those flights were filled with teenagers accompanied by adult chaperones, Gallagher said.
The earlier flights, on Dec. 11 and Dec. 17, included younger children and chaperones, he said.
Airport board reaction
The airport is directed by a bi-county board that includes Lackawanna County commissioners Chris Chermak, Jerry Notarianni and Debi Domenick, as well as Luzerne County Council members Tim McGinley and LeeAnn McDermott and acting county Manager Romilda Crocamo.
McGinley, Crocamo, Notarianni and Chermak said they were not informed of the charter flights in advance.
The board does not normally get involved in day-to-day operations of the airport, Crocamo and McGinley said.
Notarianni called it “more of a federal issue than it is a local issue.”
Chermak said the federal government should have notified local officials of the flights and of where the passengers will ultimately end up.
“That’s not fair to the residents of our counties that they’re sneaking these people in,” Chermak said. “We don’t know who they are. We don’t know if they’re vaccinated (against COVID-19). We don’t know anything.”
Jeff Horvath, staff writer, contributed to this report.
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December 23, 2021 — Woody’s Pet Food Deli of Minneapolis, MN is recalling Raw Cornish Hen pet food due to risk of Salmonella bacteria. The affected recipe contains a “With Supplements” sticker.
What’s Being Recalled?
The recalled products and identifying batch information are included below:
Where Was the Product Sold?
The recalled pet food was distributed in the company’s retail stores in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Woodbury, Minnesota.
Two (2) 5-pound tubs were sold in the company’s St Paul store. Twelve (12) 15-ounce containers were distributed through its 3 Twin Cities, MN retail stores.
About Salmonella in Humans
Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.
Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.
Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
About Pets with Salmonella
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.
Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.
If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
What Caused the Recall?
The recall is a result of FDA sampling due to a consumer complaint on another product, which testing revealed a sample of this product contains Salmonella.
Message from the Company
The company continues its investigation as to the source of the problem and will resume production when the problem is resolved.
For 13 years we have strived to provide quality pet food, and we believe taking this action is the right thing to do.
We are grateful for your support. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.
What to Do?
Consumers who have these products should discontinue use and may return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund.
If you have recalled product in your home, clean refrigerators/freezers where the product was stored and clean and disinfect all bowls, utensils, food prep surfaces, pet bedding, toys, floors, and any other surfaces that the food or pet may have had contact with.
Because animals can shed the bacteria in their feces, it’s important to clean up the animal’s stools in yards or parks where people or other animals may become exposed, in addition to cleaning items in the home.
Consumers should thoroughly wash their hands after handling the affected product or cleaning up potentially contaminated items and surfaces.
Consumers with questions may contact our stores Tuesday through Saturday noon to 6 PM CST at 612-208-0335 (Minneapolis), 651-493-7269 (St Paul), and 651-340-8678 (Woodbury).
Stores are closed from December 25, 2021 to January 3, 2022. So, Woody’s Pet Food Deli is unable to answer phone calls during that time. Please contact the company by email at email@example.com.
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