By Matt Mattei - [email protected]

Northeastern Pennsylvania shows its greatness with positive rankings and acknowledgements in 2015

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Colin Millard works out in the University gym, The University of Scranton was named one of the 50 Fittest Colleges and University’s. The school always has a healthy salad bar option.
Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
Joanna Fusco, left, and Lu-Ann Sperrazza, center, stop by Sonny Jones’ woodturning display during a 2nd Friday Art Walk in Pittston.
Times Leader archive photo
Pizza from Arcaro & Genell in Old Forge. The pizza shop ranked 1 on onlyinyourstate.com’s list of 10 Pizza Shops in Pennsylvania that Will Make Your Mouth Water.
Arcaro & Genell Facebook photo
Derek Ciaruffoli of Shavertown, left, and Nick Newtown of Nanticoke show their PRIDE at PrideFest in Pittston.
Arcaro & Genell Facebook photo

In recent years, Northeastern Pennsylvania has received recognition for the wrong reasons. Corruption, substance abuse, unemployment rate and raising frequency of criminal activity have been a part of national conversations, which have taken focus away from a full spectrum of positive characteristics the region has, both traditional and new.

Great food, quality education and a penchant for the arts are among the aspects that make Northeastern Pennsylvania a place that has a lot to offer its residents and sits firmly in the hearts of those who call it home. In 2015, the region was acknowledged by several publications and organizations for fun, positive and forward looking reasons. Here’s a look back at some of those nods.

Food

The culinary culture of Northeastern Pennsylvania is difficult to nay-say. Known for pizza, Italian restaurants and some fine dining establishments, the region has always been a good place to eat.

The editors at onlyinyourstate.com compile information, interviews and personal experiences to rank eateries throughout each state on a yearly basis. Christi Danner, the editor assigned to the Keystone State, found a few choice food stops in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Arcaro & Genell in Old Forge ranked first on the list of 10 Pizza Shops in Pennsylvania That Will Make Your Mouth Water, and A Little Pizza Heaven of Scranton came in at No. 4.

The city of Scranton ranked No. 4 on the website’s 10 Best Restaurant Towns in Pennsylvania for its large number of eateries per capita and Cooper’s Seafood ranked No. 10 on the publication’s 10 Unique Pennsylvania Restaurants for its pirate ship decor.

Education

With several colleges and universities in the region, Northeastern Pennsylvania is ripe with fruit from the knowledge tree, and a few of those institutions of higher learning have garnered national attention.

The University of Scranton made the grade in The Active Times’ 50 Fittest Colleges in 2015. For the third consecutive year, the publication considered factors such as access to athletic activities and facilities, percentage of the student body that uses those facilities, on campus dining scenarios, general student body happiness and quality of campus life.

Coming in at No. 44 on the list, The Active Times noted the university’s 18 NCAA Division III sports teams and 13 club organizations, its proximity to both urban and rural activity and its 3,000 of 5,589 students enrolled in varsity or recreational sports.

The city of Scranton was ranked No. 119 on Wallet Hub’s Best College Cities & Towns of the year. The university also made Forbes’ Top Colleges of 2015, ranking 240th in the country and was joined by Wilkes-Barre’s King’s College at No. 500.

Wilkes University was recognized by U.S. News’ college rankings as the 83rd best institution among regional universities in the north, and Keystone College was honored for its online presence, ranking 10th among Affordable Colleges Online’s affordable colleges in Pennsylvania.

Pittston pride

The city of Pittston received some notable recognition this year. For its Second Friday Art Walks in 2014, it was voted Best Art Events Center in NEPA by Happenings Magazine, and in October of 2015, the city was ranked eighth in the nation among the Top 10 Towns for Craft Lovers as voted on by the organizers of American Craft Week.

Pittston also became the new home for the NEPA Rainbow Alliance PrideFest, because of a non-discrimination clause passed there in 2013 that protects members of the LGBTA community. In a Weekender article in August, Pittston Mayor Jason Klush said the decision was easy and pertinent to the development of Pittston.

“We all agreed that times have changed and we want to move along with the times.It was our way of putting in place and showing that Pittston is a welcoming place for everybody. Eventually everybody will come around and agree.”

Random fun facts

Northeastern Pennsylvania got a spooky tip-of-the-cap from folks at FindTheHome.com and FindTheCompany.com as they researched places with the most cemetery services, funeral services and antique shops to list the most haunted cities in the country. Wilkes-Barre reached the top 10, coming in at No. 4 for its frightening data and the infamous Welles House.

A long time ago, the longest homerun in baseball history was allegedly hit by Babe Ruth … in Wilkes-Barre. The 600 foot round-tripper was supposedly launched during an exhibition game Ruth was participating in, putting a piece of Wilkes-Barre history at No. 3 on Listverse’s 10 Reasons Babe Ruth is Still Awesome.

Pittsburgh had the upper hand, or should we say accent, on Scranton in Gawker.com’s ugliest accent tournament. The Pittsburgh accent, an odd amalgam of southern twang and lazy East Coast diction — which turns downtown into “dahntahn” and you all into “yinz” — “worsted” Scranton by a vote of 10,404 to 8,748.

Northeastern Pennsylvania ranks highly in 2015

By Matt Mattei

[email protected]

Colin Millard works out in the University gym, The University of Scranton was named one of the 50 Fittest Colleges and University’s. The school always has a healthy salad bar option.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_TTL092315University5-1.jpgColin Millard works out in the University gym, The University of Scranton was named one of the 50 Fittest Colleges and University’s. The school always has a healthy salad bar option. Aimee Dilger|Times Leader

Joanna Fusco, left, and Lu-Ann Sperrazza, center, stop by Sonny Jones’ woodturning display during a 2nd Friday Art Walk in Pittston.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_2nd-Friday-Walk-3-1.jpgJoanna Fusco, left, and Lu-Ann Sperrazza, center, stop by Sonny Jones’ woodturning display during a 2nd Friday Art Walk in Pittston. Times Leader archive photo

Pizza from Arcaro & Genell in Old Forge. The pizza shop ranked 1 on onlyinyourstate.com’s list of 10 Pizza Shops in Pennsylvania that Will Make Your Mouth Water.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Arcaro2-1.jpgPizza from Arcaro & Genell in Old Forge. The pizza shop ranked 1 on onlyinyourstate.com’s list of 10 Pizza Shops in Pennsylvania that Will Make Your Mouth Water. Arcaro & Genell Facebook photo

Derek Ciaruffoli of Shavertown, left, and Nick Newtown of Nanticoke show their PRIDE at PrideFest in Pittston.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_PSD081615PrideFest_1-1.jpgDerek Ciaruffoli of Shavertown, left, and Nick Newtown of Nanticoke show their PRIDE at PrideFest in Pittston. Arcaro & Genell Facebook photo

Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]