Philipsburg Borough Council addresses concerns
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
PHILIPSBURG - Last month Philipsburg Borough Council entered an executive session and upon returning council voted unanimously to remove a firefighter from the driving list at the fire company and to remove his red light and siren from him, permanently. Council would not say who the firefighter was or of which fire company the firefighter is a member. Council would not indicate what the problem was either.
Last night that firefighter, Chad Baughman, chief of Hope Fire Co., approached council. He asked for a hearing so he could present his side of the story before he was removed from any lists.
It was stated the insurance company wanted him removed from the list.
"I suppose he deserves a hearing," said Harold Peterson, council member.
Another council member, Harry Wood, said, "You already made your decision."
Shirley Nelson, councilwoman, said that if the insurance company is against him driving, that pretty much seals the decision. "I don't think we have anything to say about that," she said.
"I think we all make mistakes," said Tom Boyd, council member. "We should listen to him and maybe put him on probation or something."
Councilwoman Rita Knepp said she also believes the issue was already voted on by council, but Mike Wilks, councilman, said he'd be willing to sit in on a hearing.
"There have been other accidents with apparatus," Mr. Baughman said. "Those people didn't get anything, just a slap on the wrist."
Council President Tom Ellis then told Mr. Baughman "You'll have your chance to present your case."
The hearing will be held in three weeks, but council did not say where or at what time.
Other guests also attended the meeting, and council heard from former borough manager John Knowles, who stated since he's no longer employed by the borough he needs to be removed as the borough's contact from a number of things.
He also questioned why council purchased two new lawn mowers when it was stated at the second meeting of last month that additional prices would be acquired first.
Mr. Ellis said the purchase saved the borough $1,700.
Mr. Knowles said it was reported at the last meeting that more mower prices would be obtained before anything was purchased, and he asked why there are two mowers when the borough already has one.
"That decision is no longer yours, Mr. Knowles," Mr. Ellis said. "The committee met and felt two were needed."
"Who met?" said Mr. Wood. "Four people made a decision for this council. It said in the minutes that he (John Minarchik) would bring additional prices back to the meeting."
Mr. Wood then read the minutes from the last meeting, which stated Mr. Minarchik would have additional prices at the July meeting.
Council got into a discussion about the matter, and Mr. Boyd said the borough saved money.
"The object is to save money," Mr. Wood said. "But the minutes said to get more prices."
The discussion eventually ended and the end result is council now owns two more lawn mowers.
Council heard from Jim Washburn, representing the monument committee, and he presented council with a new drawing for the proposed veterans' monument.
That issue became a heated discussion as well among council members later in the meeting when Mr. Ellis brought the subject up again. Mr. Ellis said he's not opposed to meeting with the group to discuss the monument going into South Park.
Ms. Nelson said council needs to put its foot down and tell the group, "It ends here. This is what we'll accept."
Ms. Nelson said the list of names on the monument should only include those from Philipsburg, not the entire Moshannon Valley.
"What is council's feelings about re-negotiating with the group?" Mr. Ellis asked.
Council was split 5-4 in favor. Those in favor of more negotiations Mr. Ellis, Mr. Minarchik, Mr. Boyd, Mr. Wilks and Mr. Peterson.
Those opposed to the additional meetings were Mr. Wood, Ms. Nelson, Ms. Knepp and Mary Catherine.
Mr. Wood said Mr. Ellis needs to make sure the meetings are held at the borough building and not at a club or gas station. Mr. Ellis assured they will meet at the borough building.
Those to sit on the committee are Mr. Ellis, Mr. Wilks, Mr. Peterson, Mr. Minarchik and Mayor John Streno.
Mr. Boyd was also planning to sit on the board, but Mr. Knowles pointed out council would have a quorum and would have to advertise the meeting, thus opening it up to everyone, so Mr. Boyd stepped down.
Another guest was Dora Harris, an apartment owner, who told council she wants to know why she should pay a code enforcement officer to go into her building and do inspections. She also asked what the penalty is for not complying and said maybe she'd just take the penalty and not pay to have the inspections done.
Council and Ms. Harris discussed the issue for a while before Code Enforcement Officer Wanda McDonald presented her with the list of what would be inspected.
Council also advised her it's just an inspection to ensure no one becomes trapped if there is a fire, to ensure there is more than one way out and to simply make sure it's safe to reside in.
She seemed satisfied once Ms. McDonald provided her with the appropriate paperwork so she could ensure the building would pass the inspection.
Council also heard a request from Gary Persing who asked council begin an escrow account that is set up to take donations for a future police department. He said that after about five years if the money isn't used, it could be spilt between the two fire companies. Mr. Ellis said council would look into that.