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Council takes steps to hire manager, police chief

Published May 25. 2011 05:00PM

It might not be long before Lehighton again has a borough manager and a chief of police.

At a meeting of the borough council, it was noted that about eight applications have been received for the position of borough manager. The deadline for applicants was this past weekend.

Regarding the chief of police, council said it will look into hiring from within the present police department.

The council has been without a borough manager since last Sept. 10, when then manager John C. Wagner resigned. Wagner had been the manager for two years. He received a salary of $75,000.

Since the departure, some of his duties have been shared by secretary Brenda Koons, treasurer Nicole Beckett, and council members.

The borough has been without a chief of police since March 2010 when then Chief Matthew Bender returned to his former position as patrolman.

Corporal Joseph Lawrence was then named the "officer-in-charge" of the department.

Bender had been chief of police since Jan. 25, 2006 when he was hired at a salary of $51,000. Before Bender was named chief, the position had been offered to Sgt. Lawrence, who declined, citing concerns about job security and the loss of overtime pay.

Several officers had applied for the position in 2006, with the council opting to hire Bender.

In other business, the council agreed to award two major street construction project bids.

Doli Construction Company of Chalfont was hired at a bid of $317,452 for sewage rehabilitation and extension work, which will coincide with other street work on Stedman Avenue and North Eighth Street.

Four firms submitted quotes for the work, with Doli offering the lowest price.

Livengood Construction of Walnutport was hired to reconstruct Stedman Avenue and do milling and paving on North Eighth Street at a quoted price of $143,625.96.

It was one of six companies to submit bids.

The council said some curb work has already occurred on Stedman Avenue in anticipation of the construction project.

Two part-time police officers were hired by the council on the recommendation of Lawrence. They are Joel J. Gulla and Gabriel Szozda. Gulla resides in Palmerton and Szozda lives in East Penn Township.

They were hired because two other part-time police officers, Tyler Meek and Kevin Buck, had resigned.

The council agreed to purchase another VASCAR speed control device at a cost of $510. The unit is refurbished and will be placed in a new police car when it arrives.

The council accepted a donation of $400 from Lehighton business owner Tyrone Blocker for the marking of a police cruiser. The work will be done by Doug Rontz of Jim Thorpe.

Blocker owns Blocker's Collision Center in Lehighton.

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