By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org
TREMONT – The borough of Tremont might seem a little brighter at night. The borough recently completed having all its street lights switched to LED lighting.
Council President James Scheibley said at the July 12 meeting that all the lights have been changed and there are four or five different types and wattages installed throughout the town.
In other business, a discussion was held concerning fixing a residents sidewalk that was damaged by flood waters.
Councilmen Phil Kintzel and Scheibley said they looked at the sidewalk and felt it would be an easy fix and thought the borough should fix it, however, councilwoman Paulette Yuschock didn’t agree.
“We will be setting a precedent here if we fix this sidewalk,” said Yuschock. “Are we going to fix everyone’s sidewalk in the future? No one paid for any of the other residents repairs when their sidewalks were damaged because of the flood.”
Resident Cheryl Mack asked why the FEMA money the borough received wasn’t used to fix this stuff.
Scheibley said all the FEMA money was used for the FEMA approved projects. He said if there was a project number then the money was used for the projects that were on the list.
Mack asked if she could get a copy of that list.
Scheibley said council should vote on fixing the sidewalk and move on.
Yuschock said she felt the property owner should fix his own sidewalk and she made a motion to not fix it. The motion was second by Rogie Adams. The motion carried.
The handicap entrance at the Clay Street building will be repaired. Council voted 3-2 to blacktop the entrance. Councilwoman Yuschock and Councilman Dan Noll voted no.
The carpet inside the door at Urgent Care will be relocated to somewhere else in the building. Council received reports that people using canes and walkers were getting caught on the carpet and almost falling.
While on the topic of Urgent Care, Council was asked by the Doctor at Urgent Care if they had any idea how to increase the volume of people using the services. The lease is coming up and they may not be willing to do a long-term lease. They are trying to keep the Urgent Care in Tremont, but the volume of patients isn’t what they thought it would be.
The locations in Minersville and Pine Grove have closed already.
Tremont Borough Council accepted a donation of $400 from Operation Hugs and Kisses. The money will be used to put toward the purchase of a lifeguard chair for the Tremont Community Pool.
The pool is currently experiencing a lifeguard shortage. The borough has contacted other boroughs and municipalities to see if they have any lifeguard willing to come work at Tremont.
Scheibley also noted the borough needs to look into getting more people certified to serve as pool operator. He said Kintzel has been filling in for him on the weekends when he is away.
The 2016 citizen of the year recognition form has been completed and is available for people to pickup and nominate individuals for the award. Borough council will review all nominees and select one person to honor at the January meeting. For more information stop by the borough office.
Council announced that two worker’s compensation claims have been filed for Tremont Fire Chief Brian Eisenacher and police officer John Borchick. Eisenacher fell at a training and injured his arm which required surgery. Borchick was involved in a confrontation during a traffic stop but has since been released to full duty.
Resident Charles Huntzinger attended the meeting and spoke during citizen communications.
“Regarding the Conway investigation, President Scheibley stated “it’s common sense and a no brainer that when accusation are made an investigation must be done,” said Huntzinger.
Huntzinger asked several questions regarding the investigation to which no one would comment.
“It is also common sense and a no brainer that when accusations are made and an investigation is required it may be done internally,” said Huntzinger. “Also when all charges are dismissed or otherwise resolved Council has a duty to disclose that. It is one thing for the Borough to file charges against their Chief of Police, and another not to follow through to make the public aware of the outcome. All the public knows is that the Chief of Police was under investigation. Without a public announcement of the outcome the Chief may be viewed as untrustworthy in the eyes of the community. Council needs to make a public statement concerning the outcome of the investigation so that the Chief’s reputable standing may be restored. Without this disclosure it does harm to his ability to conduct the Borough’s business of law enforcement.”
Huntzinger also spoke about the wooden wall and flooding.
“It is my understanding that Mr. Scheibley made the statement that anyone living there knows that the wall being there is better than nothing,” said Huntzinger.
“I live there, and you are wrong, it is not better than nothing. You also said; ‘if it is stopping one inch of water then it is doing something’ which inch are you referring to? Is it the one that is part of the 75 inches that fills my basement and covers my heating unit, or the one that is one inch away from covering my first floor living quarters? During the flooding of 2011, I had 38 inches in depth, of moving water flowing through my property.
Do not pretend that you know about flooding on Spring Street. By doing so you are adding insult to injury to every family and property owner who has experienced flooding and property loss in that area of the borough.
If this council has any interest in providing some potential flooding relief in this specific area, then get the engineering firm you have employed to do a study on the effectiveness of the wall. It may be quite possible they could recommend something that would improve the purpose in which it was erected.”
Huntzinger again posed questions to council and Solicitor Melissa Kelso concerning the 39 South Crescent Street property:
“During the June meeting of Borough Council, according to Ms. Kelso, ‘these types of sales can be complicated’ but claims from what she has seen, everything was handled properly and legally,” said Huntzinger.
“Ms. Kelso, what is is that you claim to have seen that makes this a legal and proper sale,?” asked Huntzinger. “Is it a verifiable legal precedent that you have seen allowing this type of sale or, something else that can be verified? If so, please tell us.”
Kelso said she couldn’t answer Huntzinger because she felt he was paraphrasing and summarizing what she said last month.
“You also stated, ‘I believe everything was done properly and if a citizen believes it wasn’t I recommend that citizen hire an attorney.’ In what do you rely on to support your belief that everything was done properly? If you can come up with a verifiable answer to the questions, then your suggestion of placing an undue financial burden on any citizen to hire an attorney to seek the truth would be avoided. There would also be a financial cost to the Borough for you to defend your belief. You would be the only winner financial. Your advice is really avoiding a true verifiable answer that you can give to the list of questions submitted regarding this matter.
I understand that you have refused to give a written response to the questions I submitted because Council didn’t authorize you to do so. Did you review the file I have you two months ago? (If no, then how can you base an opinion on the Borough doing the sale legally – the file I gave you was not something someone made up it was copied from official Borough records setting forth each step of the purchase and sale).
I now request Council authorize Solicitor Kelso to give a written response to the questions.
If not, Mrs. Kelso is present now and is being paid for her services whether I ask her questions or not. So I will ask her now for her verbal response.”
The questions directed to Kelso were as follows:
• is Tremont Borough exempt from this Borough Code Requirement?
• By what legal standing was the Tremont Borough exempt from complying with the Borough Code in the sale of the 39 South Crescent Street Property?
• Assuming, all Boroughs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are required to follow the Borough Codes why did the Borough of Tremont not follow this requirement?
• You stated at the June meeting that ‘at least the Borough did not lose money and that’s a good thing.’ By not following this code requirement the Borough lost a significant amount of money, (more than four times the amount that was blown on an attempt to fire the Borough Chief of Police) whether a novice, or an expert it is indisputable that the value of the property would have been accurately assessed at almost 10 times more than the amount received through this illegal sale.
• What is the remedy for this violation of the Borough Code?
• What are the consequences for not following the Borough Code in this matter?
“As much as council and the solicitor would like this matter to go away, absent honest and verifiable responses from Council and Solicitor Kelso, IT WILL NOT!,” said Huntzinger.
Huntzinger made reference to an article that appeared concerning the county Islamic Society buying the Mechanicsville Playground.
“Solicitor Kelso continues to respond to questions related to the issues with the 39 South Crescent Street Property with her smoke and mirrors explanations,” said Huntzinger. “Unless Ms. Kelso can find that Thomas J. Campion (the attorney in the article he referred to), was wrong in advising the Mechanicsville Borough that they were required to follow the Borough Code in the sale of property and, upon advice of past legal counsel that Tremont Borough was not. She needs to advise Council and the Borough tax payers of her legal opinion of the reasons she stated during the June Council meting exempting the Borough of this requirement.
“I have never advised Council to not follow Borough Code,” said Kelso. “This was done a while ago. I can’t challenge it because Council hasn’t asked to undo the transaction. This was done before I was solicitor.”
“I do not seek to cause any harm to the current owner by questioning this illegal sale,” said Huntzinger. “He was the victim of council’s poor judgment that was influenced by Gerald Fasnacht ignorance of the Borough Code or that he was aware that the sale he made was not legal and did it anyway without authorization from Council.”
“If this deliberate decision made by those on Council to ignore the rules, is setting the stage for business as usual then the council members who were involved in the decision to ignore the requirements of the Borough Code should either, seek by any legal means necessary, a way to resolve the issue and make the Borough taxpayers whole or, resign from Borough Council,” said Huntzinger.