Pine Grove fire dept. active
Published: January 31, 2013
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PINE GROVE - "We're a pretty active organization," Fire Chief Mike Stalnecker reported during the Pine Grove borough council meeting January 17. The company's annual report for 2012 showed the company responded to 146 calls throughout the year and forestry crew members responded to four calls from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Although the majority of the calls were made in the borough, the company's report shows 31 calls in Washington Township, 17 in Pine Grove Township, and 12 in Tremont Township. The remainder were made locally in Wayne, Hegins, and Frailey townships, and outside the immediate area, in North Manheim, Eldred, Upper Mahantango, Barry, Porter, Reilly, and Branch townships, and two in Dauphin County. When responded outside the borough, Stalnecker noted that the company falls under the State's Workmen's Compensation.
Stalnecker also provided a breakdown of the type of calls. They include 21 each of structure, automatic fire alarm, motor vehicle accidents, and landing site set ups. Some other call types were listed as brush and vehicle fires, pump details, and rapid intervention team calls.
The 41 active fire crew members participated in 11 fire drills throughout the year; 32 have taken the Essentials of Firefighting Training or higher; four are support members; and five are junior cadets.
Members also hold several state certifications.
According to Stalnecker, as of the date of the meeting, the company had already responded to 15 calls which he said were not car accidents or false alarms.
In related business, Mayor Kim Brown-Zerbe noted she had received an e-mail from the Hershey Medical Center commending the emergency personnel for their efforts.
Police activity for the month included 11 criminal arrests, 16 traffic arrests, 1 traffic warning, and 10 parking tickets issued. The department also issued one ordinance warning and received 68 complaints.
Council announced that three bids for the Route 645 bridge water line relocation had been opened by the borough's water engineers, BCM. Low bidder, Mazzuca Enterprises of Pottsville was awarded the bid of $118,100. The other bids include $118,841 from Arthur "Pat" Aungst, Pine Grove; and $250,415 from Linde Corp, Pittston, PA. According to Tom Fickinger, the estimated cost of the project had been about $280,000.
Brown-Zerbe reported settlement had been made on four of the properties being purchased through the FEMA buy-out program and she hopes that the remainder will have been done by January 31. She noted that the majority of the properties had been condemned in October and November 2011. The Pine Grove Joint Treatment Authority, she said, did not allow the sewer to be turned off unless a $500 closing fee would be paid. According to the mayor, some of the property owners were paying quarterly bills and the JTA has now waived $100 of the $500 fee. "These folks paid four or five quarters and had their water shut off. Council has to approach it. No water, no sewer, and had to pay a fee." Council president Larry Dubbs agreed and set up a meeting with Fickinger and Paul Gantz, to discuss the problem and then meet with the PGJTA. "We couldn't negotiate down," said the mayor.
The PGJTA business manager was contacted for comment. According to Diane Tobin, the authority had agreed that the fourth quarter bill of 2011 would be waived for properties that could show proof that their properties were condemned. The members, she said, had also agreed that property owners whose properties were condemned would not be required to pay the $500 inspection fee since the properties would be demolished. However, a permit to cut and tap the sewer line, which costs $100, would be required.
Tobin also noted that residents who left their homes had the option to cap and cut their lines or pay a reduced sewer rate. Some took advantage of the cut and tap paying the $100 fee, some paid the reduced quarterly fees, and others, she said, ignored the offers. She added, also that when the options were given, no one knew whether the buy out would take place.
The youth center opened in the old scrapbooking building at 7 Mill Race Street is changing its name to the Pine Grove Youth Center. According to Brown-Zerbe, the center is currently open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m., but if more volunteers were available, the center would be open more. "Give one night a month and the center could be open all month," said the mayor, stressing, however, that the center wants a 'man and woman' team for each shift.
In other business,
- Council approved the advertisement for bids for demolition of the buy-out properties be done after the final closing which is expected to take place the end of January.
- Pine Grove Area high school student Tadd Shiffer, Jr. was appointed junior council person and was sworn in to office by the mayor. According to Dubbs, the program is sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.
- E-mails were given to Solicitor Chris Hobbs regarding the Police Pension Plan and the Small Games of Chance Act for his review. According to the mayor, the new law says raffle tickets can not be sold off the premises unless the municipality accepts it.
Some items of interest discussed at the council's work session on January 9 include:
- OTM engineer Heath Machamer continues to work on the Locust Street road, the walking trail at the ash bank, and the VFW stone culvert, all FEMA projects. Machamer noted that a USDA Grant could address flooding issues such as the borough's storm sewers, the VFW culvert and the upland drainage area, and the Wideawake Creek storm conveyance study. He also noted that a perpetual permit will be sought from the Department of Environmental Protection for the entire length of the Swatara Creek that runs through the borough. The status of several dilapidated buildings, such as Canoe and Summit Station, were also discussed.
- Council agreed after the closing of a property on the buy-out list, the doors would be padlocked, the first floor windows boarded, and "No Trespassing' signs tacked up. The police will be instructed to patrol the areas and anyone caught on the property will be arrested and fined.
- Council discussed the current water shut-off list and the fees charged for disconnecting and reconnecting. It was agreed the current $15 charge for both should be $50 and $100. Since people may still be living in properties where the water has been turned off, the health officer should become involved.
- Upon Dubbs' suggestion, Machamer will inform council when he is overwhelmed with work so that another engineer could be contacted to do a project just beginning.
- A new cable franchise agreement was approved with Comcast, although nothing in the agreement was discussed.
- Steve Kramer was authorized to work with PPL to redesign the borough's street lighting system to see if money could be saved on the electric bills.
- During the report on public facilities (streets), Fickinger noted that the signs and plowing of the streets at the top of Pine Vista are the responsibility of Ron Aungst.
- Fickinger suggested borough owned land where the Pleasant Valley Park is proposed could be used to construct a dike to protect BG's Market and the trailer plant, as well as flooding in the towns.
- Dubbs informed the members wishing to run in the May primary contact the Election Bureau for a petition.