Schuylkill Township's new police chief, Jesse Zimmerman, had a busy first month enforcing parking regulations.
At last month's regular township meeting, supervisors announced that white lines had been painted along Valley Street in Brockton and that parking regulations would be enforced.
"Anything over that white line is on the roadway," said Zimmerman, at Wednesday night's meeting. He explained that he had issued one ticket, however, he said that he could have written several more.
"When I got out of my car, about nine people got off of their porches grumbling, but everyone got off their duffs and moved their cars, including one gentleman who got it off the road and parked it in his driveway," he said.
Zimmerman said that parking on the sidewalk is not an acceptable alternative to parking on the roadway and he will be issuing tickets for people who park on the sidewalk. He recommended that supervisors send a letter to all of the residents along that street explaining that the parking regulations will be enforced, including parking within designated areas, not parking on the sidewalks, and that cars must be parked with the flow of traffic.
"If we're going to do it the right way, we have to do it all the way," he said.
Several residents asked why they would not be allowed to park on their own sidewalks.
"People are not parking on their own sidewalks," said Zimmerman, "they are parking on other people's sidewalks. If I get a complaint, I have to address it. If I tell someone they can't park on the sidewalk, and yet you're parked on your sidewalk, what do I do?"
Zimmerman recommended that the supervisors cite the Pennsylvania Crimes Code and that the laws be enforced accordingly. Supervisors agreed to send the communication out to residents in that area. Zimmerman noted that this seems to be the only trouble spot with parking throughout the township.
Zimmerman explained that speeding enforcement has been delayed because the township equipment needs to be certified.
"They are coming on Aug. 11 to certify," he said. He also told residents that he will accept complaints including license numbers for offenders; however, he cautioned residents that they will need to go to court as a witness in such cases.
Zimmerman announced that the township had received a grant from Schuylkill Women in Crisis to obtain a digital camera and accessories that will allow the police department to take photos of crime scenes, including domestic violence cases. He added that he is looking into obtaining other grants and funding for the department. The next item he is trying to procure is a Taser.
"I believe every officer should have a Taser," he said. "It's a lot less lethal."
Resident Nikki Tewksberry asked if the township could do anything about a cat problem. Supervisors and Zimmerman recommended that she call the SPCA, although, township secretary Mary Bubel said that she had contacted them about cats that had taken up residence on her porch and was told that she needs to bring the cats in herself.
"I am allergic to them, I can't touch them," said Tewksberry. Zimmerman said that he will look into what enforcement agencies or organizations can help in this situation.
Supervisor Linda DeCindio explained some of the activities that the township has been pursuing and to provide follow-up on some recent proposals.
"I met with the Tamaqua mayor, Chris Morrison and I asked him what happened to that regionalization meeting. He told me that Schuylkill was the only township that filled out the form," she said. She also said that the township staff and supervisors had filled out all of the paperwork and submitted the appropriate bills for the snow storm of Feb. 20, to seek reimbursement for the snow emergency.
"We were told that because no one else filled it out, they're not going to go through with it," she said.
"We have changed auditors, because the previous one wasn't timely," DeCindio added. The new auditor, David Shelecusky, was approved by the supervisors last night, and the switch will save the township approximately $1,400. Supervisors also approved a new contract with Direct Energy from 2012-2014 that should save the township approximately $500 monthly on the street light bill.
"We are doing everything we can to pinch pennies," said DeCindio. "Anything that's out there that's free, we're there."
The supervisors received a thank you from the Tuscarora Fire Company for the $1,500 donation from the township. Included in the letter were receipts for two quarterly insurance payments. Supervisor Maureen Vanek explained that the township is required to maintain receipts and records of how the money has been spent and asked that the other township fire companies please submit their receipts, as well.
Bubel announced that any unpaid garbage bills are going to be turned over to the solicitor.
"This is the highest in history not paid," she said. "It's only fair that everyone pay their share." There are currently 66 outstanding bills, and Bubel said that there will be an additional $20 fee put on those that are sent to the solicitor.
"We're only $500 over the bill if everyone pays, that's how close we are," she said, referring to the township's annual garbage bill.
The code enforcement report included two reports of high grass and one report of dog feces.
Road foreman Joe Pedron thanked the supervisors for working to get the summer help through RedCo.
"He has been doing a great job, it really helped out," said Pedron, referring to Chris Gerber, who has been working approximately 30 hours per week for the township this summer.