SHAMOKIN — City council adopted at its regular monthly meeting Monday afternoon at City Hall an ordinance that will tack on a $25 charge on code ticket violations.
The revenue will be used for the purchase of materials the city uses on privately-owned dilapidated properties. The money to buy those materials currently comes out of the general fund.
Voting in favor were Mayor John Brown, councilmen Scott Roughton, Dan McGaw and Charlie Verano and councilwoman Barbara Moyer.
Council also approved the first of two readings of Ordinance 18-05 that, if adopted, would extend the stop-time of the farmer’s market from noon to 3 p.m.
The ordinance states that the market is permitted to be held Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning at 7 a.m. along the south curb of Independence Street, between Orange and Market streets, and the east curb of Market Street near Water Street.
The amendment would be the first change to farmer’s market ordinance since 1963. The action is a result of pleas from Bill Stewart, known as “Farmer Bill,” and several supporters who spoke at a previous meeting in support of the change.
During the public comment section of the meeting, Stephen Druckenmiller, of East Sunbury Street, stated that he should not be required to fill out a Right-To-Know form to receive an ordinance. He argued that ordinances should be made available during normal business hours.
Brown agreed, but described the current filing system as “a mess,” which sometimes requires extra time to locate ordinances. He gave an example of an ordinance that had five contradictory versions. Contributing to the disorganization are several ordnances that are outdated, he said.
“We still have an ordinance that defines which days you are allowed to swim in the creek,” Brown said. “We desperately need to go electronic.”
Brown said the city is hoping to work with students from Bucknell University to reorganize the filing of the ordinances.
Druckenmiller then suggested hiring another person for the code enforcement office as a way to increase revenue, but city officials said they have been told by the Act 47 coordinator not to hire additional manpower in the department.
“We agree with you. I would hire someone in a heartbeat,” Brown replied.
Judy Milbrand Allen asked council when Eighth Street would be reopened, which has been closed since Dec. 14 due to rubble from the former Masonic building.
Later in the meeting, Charlie Verano, director of street and public improvements, said he has received complaints from residents that the rubble still remains.
Slaby defended the owner, Clayton Andrews, of Pottsville, by stating Andrews’ insurance company is “dragging their feet” by refusing to pay the claim.
“The city has nothing to do with that, other than to enforce the ordinances,” Slaby said. “We have had one conference call after another with the owner, which is more than I can say about the owner’s insurance company. “
Slaby added that Andrews is “trying his best” under “difficult conditions” and is running out of personal funds.
“The City of Shamokin is in no financial condition to hire and bring in equipment to go down there and clean it as quickly as everybody at this table would like to,” he said of council. “So, we’re stuck with what we have. Just bear with it and suck it up for a few more days.”
Slaby concluded the conversation by stating Eighth Street would be open by 4 p.m. Tuesday. However, as of Tuesday evening, the street remained closed to traffic.
Tim Vincent, a coordinator of the Community Service Program, announced that work to repaint the tank along Water Street has been postponed due to grass cutting at dilapidated properties and vacant plots. The group, which consists of volunteers and those mandated by the court to complete community service hours, worked 130 man-hours in six days. He complimented Allen, who was in attendance, for purchasing lunch for the group on Monday.
Joe Leschinskie, of West Pine Street, reasserted claims made at council’s workshop on July 3 that the city has not come up with a plan to fight drugs and has not rectified the condition of a next-door property of his that he claimed contains rats and garbage.
The Republican committeeman for the Fifth Ward stated at the workshop that he was “going to stop paying” his taxes until he sees results, adding that people with complaints who “aren’t getting results for years need to stop paying, too.” He also made a request to hold a meeting of the Landlord/Tenant Board of Appeals.
At November’s regular meeting, Leschinskie read a letter to council stating his intentions to resign from the board. Council took no action on Leschinskie’s resignation request.
Leschinskie claimed at Monday’s meeting that his request to hold a meeting was denied because, according to Slaby, he was no longer a member. He challenged the opinion based on a letter rescinding the resignation that was received by city officials.
Brown then stated, “You came to a public meeting and quit.”
Brown and solicitor Frank Konopka allege a vote by council was not needed to approve the resignation, adding that other people have resigned from similar boards without formal approval by council.
The mayor added that the purpose of the board is to conduct hearings brought on by a property owner who has challenged a decision made by the code enforcement officer, adding that is the only time the board will convene.
In other business, councilwoman Barbara Moyer recognized the top five students from the Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School Class of 2018. Receiving certificates of academic achievement were Dawson Williams, C.J. Reichard, Nora Rompolski, John Daniel Kerris and Selina Albert.
The top five students from Shamokin Area High School were also recognized. Honored were Maryssa Erdman, Kali Rebuck, Kelsee Dunn, Colton Pollock and Alexandra Campbell.
Brown swore in patrolman Joshua Pastucka as his fiancee, Morganna Semanchyk, held the Bible and his parents, Jill and Rich, looked on. A ceremonial swearing-in was held for officer who officially began his duties in June.
McGaw, director of parks and public buildings, stated several businesses have approached the city to sponsor a free swim at the Lawton Shroyer Memorial Pool. The city has received correspondence from UGI Utilities, St. Francis Club, Olvany Insurance, Royal Order of the Moose and Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association.
A free swim sponsored by the city on July 4 attracted 600 people, the city’s ceiling on occupants. The next free swim, which will be sponsored by UGI, is set for noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
On the recommendation of former Mayor William Milbrand, McGaw announced that the city will attempt to use a $72,000 grant from the PPL Foundation to repair the roof of the American Legion building as a match for another grant. The councilman said the city will seek a waiver from the state Department Community Economic Development to use the PPL grant in the interim.
Brown said Leschinskie arranged a meeting between himself, McGaw and representatives of TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, which has agreed to assist the community with certain projects. McGaw said students from the youth academy have already painted parking meters along Water Street.
In other business, council:
• Approved a lone bid of $889 from Bayridge Motors, Stanton Island, New York, for a retired 2011 Ford Crown Victoria police vehicle.
• Announced that advertisement for bids for demolition of the former Shroyer building will soon be made.