Pine Grove names Gurski for EMC position
Published: July 26, 2012
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PINE GROVE - The topic has come up many times over the past several months, but on July 19, the Pine Grove borough council finally made a decision. Tony Gurski is the borough's nominee for appointment by the Governor to the position of Emergency Management Co-ordinator for the borough.
Council president Larry Dubbs had placed the topic on the agenda, and described at length, a conversation he had with the county's Emergency Management Director, John Matz. He noted that he had also approached another member of council about the position, as well as a recent applicant for a council vacancy. According to Dubbs, a decision has to be made. "We don't have time. It's either the mayor or Gurski."
Dubbs praised Mayor Kim Brown-Zerbe for the work she had done during and after the September flood, noting that the borough would be "worse off if it were not for her." Although he did not agree with Scott Zimmerman, who later in the discussion, noted that the mayor is described as 'toxic' by many members of the community, he did agree there was animosity towards Kim.
Gurski's membership in the National Guard was also a consideration, since, said Dubbs, Gurski could be called upon by the Guards in an emergency. And although an EMC can appoint deputies, he didn't personally like the idea of the borough's EMC being out of town during an emergency. This, said Dubbs, would be his only objection to Gurski. "We need," said Dubbs, "a good leader, a bridge builder."
Lynne Umbenhauer stated she had spent some time going over the flood in her mind, and had decided the mayor was the one for the job. According to Umbenhauer everyone worked well together, and after the dust settled, who cares. Tony's first commitment, she added, is to the Guard. And with that, she motioned to nominate the mayor.
"You can't hold his (Gurski's) service to his country against him," Zimmerman chimed in. "The mayor also has other duties." And although Umbenhauer stated the mayor already has experience on the job, Gurski, said Zimmerman, has leadership experience.
Gurski noted his 22 years experience in the Guard, 10 of which as an officer, has put him in the position for planning for thousands of people. He also read sections of the "Emergency Management Handbook for Elected Officials" which described the duties, responsibilities, and the type of person that municipal officials should consider when making their nomination for appointment.
Although solicitor Chris Hobbs had been quiet during the exchange, he finally interrupted to inform the members that because they were only nominating someone to be recommended for the position, others could be considered at the same time.
With that said, Tom Fickinger nominated Gurski, and Zimmerman made the second. A motion by Umberhauer, seconded also by Zimmerman, closed the nominations. Gurski's own vote won the nomination, with Dubbs casting the first vote.
Another topic which has been discussed over the past several months was solved, at least on the council's part. Now, it's up to the Christmas Light Committee to make a decision.
Council unanimously agreed to a resolution recognizing the committee as a sanctioned committee of the borough. That status will allow the committee to be included under the borough's liability coverage at no extra cost to the borough. It will also require the advertisement of meetings, as well as the audit of financial records by the borough's auditors, Patton and Lettich, Pottsville.
Although Dubbs noted the council's agreement to adopt them can be declined by the committee, the borough is still thankful for the work the committee does each year checking to make sure all the bulbs work, putting up and taking down the lights, plus raising funds to purchase the lights.
Last year the committee was informed that it needed to purchase insurance to cover the activities it had planned during the holiday. Some confusion on the council's part, left the committee with a $284 bill, which Dubbs later agreed the council would reimburse the committee.
A complaint about what was described as Forino's junkyard behind 38 Cherry Street was made by resident Frank Scherer. According to the man, a vehicle without license tags, a dump truck whose latest inspection was 2000, and a locked fuel tank is nothing more than an eye sore. Although some men cleaned up some of the brush surrounding the vehicles, the police cited his neighbor for having a car without inspection, but nothing is done about Forino's.
Barbara Luckenbill reported a tenant of a neighboring property of her father who lives on Locust Street is doing some cleanup and filling-in in his back yard. Although Luckenbill was happy about that progress, she reported there was something wedged against the pipe that carries water under the street. She requested the borough crew keep an eye on the problem. "It's not solving itself," said Luckenbill. "It's on going."
The police report for June includes 11 criminal arrests, 20 traffic arrests, 2 traffic warnings, 17 parking tickets, and 90 complaints received.
According to the mayor, one of the criminals arrested was on the FBI's Most Wanted List from either, she said, Kentucky or Tennessee and the person is currently in the county jail.
In other business,
- Paul Gantz reported he had met with forester, Mat Fredericks, for an update of the timbering projects. According to Fredericks, the borough can expect $75,000 from two different sales. The oak trees, said Gantz will be tagged in the next month or two, with 10 trees per acre considered.
- North End Fire Company reported 9 calls during June, three of which were in the borough. Mike Stahlnecker reported the company's building was totally gutted, but he expects the work to be completed by the end of August or September, although the company had not, as of the end of June, received any money from FEMA. Funds expected would be for emergency work and two insurance deductibles. Two new members, he said, are paid firemen in Lebanon.
- Brown-Zerbe reported Gantz, Umbenhauer, representatives of Guilford Mills, and she had met with four representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers who have agreed to provide $30,000 to $40,000 of technical assistance for work in North Pine Grove.
- council authorized the attendance of OTM engineer, Heath Machamer, at a SEDCO Seminar to be held by State Rep. Mike Tobash, R-125, on August 7 in the Tremont borough building. The mayor and other council members may also attend.
- Gurski and Zimmerman will be reviewing all borough property leases. A discussion concerning the Walter Street property was moved into executive session upon the advice of the solicitor.
- Umbenhauer reported the borough is still in the running for PEMA money for the swimming pool. The packet, she said, was reviewed again, and the borough could get up to $186,000 for flood damage repairs.
- Umbenhauer noted the swimming pool will be closing for the season at the end of the day on August 27.
- following streets supervisor Lenny Clark's selection of cement barriers for the borough's use, the remainder stored in Pleasant Valley will be advertised for sale in accordance with the new borough code. Borough secretary, Judi Kassob, will research the code for inventory disposal.
- Kassob reported the borough insurance carrier is forwarding information on the establishment of a safety committee which could result in a 5% decrease in premiums.
- Alfred Benesch engineer, Ryan Fasnacht, will hold the remaining meetings required for the borough's recreation park planning grant in mid September or October.
- council approved advertising for four additional part-time police officers. According to the mayor, some of the current eight part-timers are doing extra time, while one or two only work once a month. Brown-Zerbe added that additional officers would save the borough from paying overtime.
- at the council's June 21 meeting, Scott Becker, a local draftsman, was appointed to the Uniformed Construction Code Appeals Board, replacing Thomas Fickinger who resigned upon accepting appointment to a council seat.
- a motion June 21 by Dubbs to advertise two vacancies on the Shade Tree Commission died for the lack of a second. Steve Kramer is currently the only council recognized member. The mayor suggested Kramer and she staff the committee along with the help of county forester, Frank Snyder of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.