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Free flu shots, Halloween parade, bon fire discussed in Lehighton

Published October 27. 2009 05:00PM

Lehighton Borough Council members last night made it clear they appreciate the good things being done in the community; things like the local hospital giving free flu shots, a gigantic Halloween parade, and a bon fire to support local athletes.

Sometimes, though, even the best intentions can create problems.

With the free flu shots, the borough said it wasn't notified in advance and as a result one of the worst traffic jams ever seen in the borough occurred.

Two vendors at the Halloween parade blocked fire hydrants, which posed a safety problem.

There's no problem with the bon fire except that the organizer must first get a permit from the borough before it can be staged. The council gave its approval for issuance of the permit providing application is made. The event is scheduled for Nov. 5 at Lehighton Area High School.

Regarding flu shots, Scott Rehrig, a member of borough council, remarked, "We thank Gnaden Huetten Hospital for administering free flu shots. The council is glad they chose Lehighton. But they have to submit a better plan."

Last week, the hospital gave 450 free flu shots during a drive-through setting at Station 2 of the Lehighton Fire Department on South Third Street.

It is the second year such flu shots were given. Fire Chief Jack Kuller said that last year, the event was coordinated with the fire department, fire police, the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, the Infectious Disease Control Unit of the hospital,and the borough's public works department.

Kuller said this year no such coordination occurred.

Last year there were no problems. When a critique occurred afterward, Kuller said, the only recommendation was that more flu vaccine be made available. The hospital complied with this request, Kuller said.

The fire chief said he was contact the day before the flu shots were given this year to have fire police assist, but he was on his way out of town at the time and it was too late to organize fire police assistance.

Rehrig said the traffic problem was so bad this year that police officers from other municipalities had to provide mutual aid inthe borough.

"The real problem was there were five directions of travel to get a shot," said Rehrig. "It was one of the worst traffic jams I ever saw in this borough."

He said had there been a major fire, apparatus would have had difficulty leaving the station.

Borough Manager John Wagner said he had received no advance correspondence regarding the free flu shots. He asked that if the program continues next year, that he receive a 60 day advance notice.

On the Halloween parade, Edward Conarty Jr. who resides at Third and Coal Street complained about vendors parking french fry stands at the fire hydrant. Kuller agreed and stated this could have caused problems in the event of a fire.

In general, though, the council praised the Lehighton Area Halloween Parade Committee for a successful event.

Kuller suggested that in the future the fire department be placed closer to the front of the parade. He said some years ago, during the parade, the fire department was dispatched to a major fire and had to exit the line of march. After that, parade organizers placed the borough's apparatus in one of the front divisions.

The fire department was again placed toward the rear of the parade this year. A fire call necessitated that the department leave the lineup. Kuller said there was no problem departing the lineup but the fire department must be in a position to respond to emergencies at all times.

Of the bon fire, Kuller said the fire department assists with lighting it and monitoring it. The event is staged by the Lehighton Touchdown Club.

Council members said a borough ordinance requires a permit for any open burning. Although they haven't received a request for such a permit, they agreed one will be issued providing application is made.

Kuller said the fire won't be permitted if the permit isn't obtained.

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