Curwensville considers hiring police officer|
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
CURWENSVILLE - The police department in Curwensville is looking to hire another part time officer and at last night's meeting the council approved advertising for the position.
Police Chief Dave Johnson took time out from his vacation to come to the meeting because the council had been informed a group of citizens would be coming to the meeting to talk about the need for more police protection. Those citizens did not come to the meeting, however, Johnson noted that things have "gotten a bit nuts" recently, pointing to several armed robberies in the borough as well as an increase in police calls.
According to statistics he provided the council, in the past month there were 72 calls Curwensville police handled and 32 calls handled by the state police, with a total of 104 calls for July. He also noted that they are handling more calls now than they did when there was a larger police force just a couple of years ago.
After some discussion, the council voted to advertise for at least one more part time officer.
Also during the police discussion the matter of signs on Thompson Street was brought up. Currently, when drivers approach the intersection of Thompson and State streets, there are signs that prohibit left turns. Johnson said he has wanted to change this to "right turn only" because crossing State Street is as dangerous as making a left turn. Council President Don Hoover noted that many people ignore the restriction on left turns and they would probably ignore that as well. Council Member Mary Ellen Read suggested a four-way stop sign but Hoover said he didn't think that would work, or even be possible.
Secretary Autumn Norris said she talked with a representative from the state Department of Transportation because State Street is a state route, SR 879. In order to make a signage change, PennDOT would have to do a study and then make a recommendation to the borough.
Code Enforcement Officer Ron Kuhn talked to the board about property maintenance, saying he has received many complaints from neighbors about piles of garbage, high grass and weeds, rubbish and scrap metal as well as homes in disrepair.
Kuhn said there is often a problem with tracking down owners if the buildings are no longer occupied.
He suggested increasing code enforcement hours and also taking steps to at least trim lawns and weeds and do some general clean up.
He said he could then try to recoup expenses through the district magistrate's office.
A rental ordinance was also discussed, which would allow the borough to keep track of rental properties, their owners and the people living there for tax and safety reasons. Council approved having Solicitor Kim Kesner research ordinances and present the best one for the council to approve.
Council heard from some residents, beginning with those living on Center Street who have recently begun receiving tickets for parking on the street. Spokesperson Mike Munchuck said they recently learned the street is designated no parking by an ordinance passed 14 years ago, but no signs were erected and they've only recently been ticketed. He said the street had always had parking on one side and asked council to write and ordinance to bring this back.
After some discussion the council voted three to two to make the change with Hoover, Julie Girardi and Mike Komonczi voting yes and Read and O'Dell voting no. Read questioned being able to make such an ordinance for just one street and said other streets should be looked at. O'Dell also wanted to take time to look at the situation before making a decision. Council member Mark Curulla was absent.
In other business:
• council approved applying for a $5,000 grant through the Susquehanna Greenways, noting the $5,000 matching portion could be taken from last year's surplus in the general fund. The money can be used for improvements to Irvin Park or to create directional signs in the borough. The decision will be made at a later date.
• a new phone line for the code enforcement office was approved.
• the truck for dog law enforcement will be sold via bid. The truck has not been used for several years.
• council discussed the use of Irvin Park by organizations. Norris explained that when various groups use the park, for example, Scouts, they are not charged but usually give a donation. However, the Curwensville Days Committee is charged for the use of electricity and also gives a donation. Council voted to change this and not charge Curwensville Days Committee for the use of Irvin Park.
• safety equipment for the work crew was approved, including hard hats, safety glasses and vests. The cost should not exceed $100.
• council will look into whether a crossing guard is still needed at the intersection of Hill Street and Susquehanna Avenue. The cost for a crossing guard there is $5,000 per year, which is shared between the borough and the school district. The council will talk with the school board and also the solicitor about the matter.
• a resolution to allow council members to attend meetings via telephone or Internet was approved on a trial basis of about six months. A council member can only participate in this manner if there is a quorum physically present at the meeting and therefore only two people could participate in that manner at any meeting. Mayor Holly Komonczi suggested the council also come up with some additional guidelines for such meetings.
• council also approved having someone update the website. David Rose, who is returning to the area, offered his services to update the website and also said he would help with other things as needed.