During the hearing of visitors at last night's Nesquehoning Borough Council meeting, an April 28 letter to the editor of the TIMES NEWS, penned by resident Louise Mele, provoked strong emotions from Mary DiMiceli Miller, sister of deceased former councilman Frank DiMiceli.
In the letter Mele said that justice had prevailed with regard to the findings resulting from a lawsuit filed by former officer Nick Saullo. In the letter, Mele referring to Frank DiMiceli along with the other council members named in the suit, Michael Sniscak Jr., Richard Zabroski and Don DeMarco said, "It's appalling that low life people under false allegations endangered a man's ability to earn a living!"
It has been less than a year since DiMiceli's passing and Miller said that she and other family members were very upset by that statement, saying that it was "hurtful, disgusting and deplorable and heart-wrenching."
"My brother was no low life. My brother had a very accomplished career," Miller added.
She also said "this council is divided" and "needs to come together."
Miller added that she felt that Mele, who is the sister of Councilwoman Rose Walck, was "putting stuff in the paper for her sister and brother-in- law (Mayor Tony Walck), and that it "has to stop."
Former Councilman Michael Sniscak Jr., sought to clarify other statements made by Mele in the letter regarding the Saullo case. In her letter, Mele stated that "The cost of this unfounded dismissal: the monetary settlement, lawyer fees, and now the increase in the insurance premium will certainly take a bite out of the council budget."
Council responded by saying that the insurance company had retained the attorney and not the borough and that the payments for settlement of the case were also being paid by the insurance company. It was also noted that the rates for the borough's insurance did not go up.
Sniscak also reiterated his April question as to whether or not a gag rule existed, prohibiting council from disclosing the reason for Saullo's not being hired. Council president Frank Jacobs again stated that Saullo had been hired and read minutes from the July 23, 2008 meeting where Sniscak had made a motion to "hire Nick Saullo as full-time police officer under the current contract."
He further added that while there was a probationary period as part of his hiring, he was still a hired employee. Solicitor Robert Yurchak confirmed the statement.
Sniscak again wanted the reason for the dismissal of Saullo to be disclosed. Jacobs stated that the lawyers findings indicated that there was no reason for him to be dismissed. Councilman DeMarco added that while there were reasons for his dismissal, the lawyers had decided not to go to court based on those reasons.
Police Chief Sean Smith wanted it noted that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the suit.
During the April meeting, Councilman Demarco questioned Mayor Walck as to why Police Chief Smith had not been called out to the April 6 bomb scare in the borough. There has been heated debate regarding the payment of overtime for the chief.
During Wednesday night's meeting, Mayor Walck stated that he subpoenaed the tapes from the 911 communications center for the incident on April 6 and said that according to the tapes, Smith had been contacted three times, but that he did not answer the call. After being unable to reach the chief, another officer was called in. He also said that the incident is documented in EMA papers according to Walck.
Mayor Walck then read a memo that was written by him to the chief and the borough officers dated Jan. 24, 2011 stating that "all nonscheduled overtime needs to be submitted in writing and needs to be pre-approved prior to working said overtime by the mayor unless an emergency exists."
Smith responded to Mayor Walck's statement regarding calls made to him from the communications center on the bomb threat, stating that he had been in the shower during the first call and that no voice-mail message had been left for him. He said he did not respond because there was another memo that had been given to him stating that he was not permitted to work overtime, and that it said nothing of emergencies and that he had to give seven days of advanced notice before working overtime.
He said that he did call the comm center to let them know that he was aware of the situation and to find out why Officer White had been called to the scene.
Councilman Robert Marouchoc said that because it was Smith's day off, that he had "every right to be somewhere else." He added that the whole situation would not have arisen if a another councilman (DeMarco) had not questioned the mayor as to why he (Smith) had not been called and that no one else was concerned that he was not at the scene.
In other matters council agreed to submit a bill to the borough's insurance company for damages to the vehicle of police Officer Timothy Wuttke, which was struck by a hard ball. Council also discussed different ways to try to prevent stray balls from causing damage to vehicles parked near the little league field. Council will ask Kovatch for permission for police officers to park their cars on the Kovatch property during game days to avoid potential damage.
In a report given by the sanitation committee, Councilman Mark Stromelo provided council with the results of a cost study that was done to compare the costs for taking refuse to Hegins versus Tamaqua. The results showed that even with increased travel expenses, a savings would be realized in the price of tonnage by using Hegins and noted that by using Tamaqua during the three-month trial period, the borough lost over $4,000.
Mayor Walck announced that the next crime watch meeting will be held on June 6 at 7 p.m. at council chambers.