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Weissport constable told he is not representing the borough

Published February 23. 2011 05:00PM

A state constable from Weissport brewed up controversy at the Weissport Council meeting held Tuesday. The meeting was held Tuesday due to the Presidents Day holiday being on Monday.

When the meeting began, Council President Tim Rehrig asked if anyone from the audience wanted to speak and at first James Osborne, a state constable, who resides in Weissport, was hesitant to speak, but then changed his mind.

"I have a thing with the attorney," said Osborne. "I don't know what the problem is. I don't get paid. I've only tried to help the town."

Osborne continued that he had only issued six citations in Weissport in 2-1/2 years.

"I shouldn't have to fight to help," he added.

It was later in the meeting that council made a motion to rescind a motion made in June 2009 that allowed the state constable to be paid 20 percent of fees collected that the issue was explained.

Att. Michael Greek said that offering a constable a fee amounts to making quotas based on tickets to make money.

"My position it that it conflicts with the Pa. criminal code," said Att. Greek. "A community cannot grant express authority. He cannot be allowed to be an agent or the borough because of liability. It conflicts with the statues. A constable cannot arrest without a warrant. That has to be done by a police officer."

Greek said that by rescinding the motion, it relieves the borough of responsibility. "It isolates us," added Att. Greek.

Att. Greek said that should anyone state that the constable violated his civil rights, the borough won't be brought in on it.

Att. Greek emphasized that by rescinding the motion, it does not stop the constable from doing his job.

"This concerns the percent of compensation," Att. Greek added.

The motion approved by council members said that council was rescinding the motion made in June 2009 to compensate the constable 20 percent and also to grant the constable the ability to act on his own.

Following the motion, Roger Metzgar, a state constable, but who is not a resident of Weissport, said that Act 147 of 1991 explains that a constable is a police officer and that he is allowed to give citations as decided by the Supreme Court. He said a constable can issue citations and that the borough cannot be held liable.

Following the meeting, Metzgar, Att. Greek and Osborne held a meeting in the secretary's office to further discuss the issue.

Weissport compliance issues with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection are being worked out.

According to Weissport Mayor Jonathan Troutman said that mapping issue has been worked out with DEP.

Also making comments on the issue was Councilman Gene Kershner. Kershner said that Weissport will not meet the Feb. 25 deadline, but will likely get an extension because of how rapidly Weissport is working to solve the issue.

Troutman had recommended that Spotts, Stevens and McCoy be hired to help the borough comply with the storm water requirements

NPDES regulates storm water discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities. Compliance is to prevent storm water runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local surface waters such as streams, rivers, lakes or coastal waters.

DEP is requiring Weissport to develop and implement a storm water management program (SWMP) to reduce the contamination of storm water runoff and prohibit illicit discharges.

Att. Greek recommended that Weissport adopt a sample ordinance that will regulate erosion control, illicit discharge and storm water discharge.

Council members approved Att. Greek to advertise the ordinance that will be adopted at the next meeting, which will not quite meet the Feb. 25 deadline, but would be adopted on March 7. Att. Greek said that council can amend the ordinance should any language not meet Weissport's needs.

Att. Michael Greek, who was introduced at the Feb. 7 meeting as the borough's new solicitor.

Council also agreed to spend $1,292 for a salt spreader for the new borough dump truck. The cost may be less if the wire harness is compatible

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