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Sledgehammers issue triggers heated debate

Published October 26. 2012 05:02PM

Dissension between the police chief, members of council and the mayor reared its ugly head once again during the Nesquehoning Borough Council meeting Wednesday night, when Mayor Tony Walck corrected a misstatement that he made during the September meeting regarding sledgehammers.

"When I had the conversation with the chief, I misunderstood the chief about the sledgehammers. So what I did was, I, myself purchased five sledgehammers to be put in each of the police cars out of my own pocket for $132.90 for safety reasons, to put a sledgehammer in each of the police vehicles," said Walck.

Councilman Don Demarco said that he "appreciated that," the mayor was "insistent" at the last council meeting that each of the police cars had sledgehammers in them.

"All of this could have been taken care of if it was voted on with the money that he (Chief Sean Smith) got from Panther Creek to buy the stuff that he needs," DeMarco added.

A $3,567.91 check had been received from Panther Creek Partners following a request from Chief Smith to be used to purchase items for the police department (such as a door ram, tasers and rifles) that Smith felt was necessary. Council had denied the purchases feeling that those items were unnecessary and had questioned whether or not there were other necessary items that could be purchased, whereby putting the donated funds to better use.

The door ram itself was deemed unnecessary, as Mayor Walck had stated that the police cars all contained sledgehammers to be used to gain entry in emergencies, which he later found out, they did not.

"The sledgehammers were purchased six days after the council meeting, and he knows I got the receipt, and that's why he is all of a sudden donating them to the borough," claimed Smith.

DeMarco added that the mayor should have checked on the status of the sledgehammers before the statement was made.

Councilwoman Rose Walck then brought up all of the items the mayor had provided through donations for the police department and borough, and said she felt that the sledgehammer discussion was "petty."

This sparked several outbursts, to which council President Frank Jacobs responded by pounding the gavel and noting that there would be no more conversations on the matter as there was a "grievance filed" on the issue, which Smith denied. Jacobs questioned Smith as to whether or not he had filed a grievance and Smith responded by saying that council had "answered" and "opposed" it. Jacobs agreed, and then noted that Smith had filed an appeal and after being questioned by Jacobs, Smith admitted to filing an appeal

Further back and forth argument prompted Councilwoman Walck to ask solicitor Robert Yurchak if it was something that should be discussed since a grievance had been filed, to which Yurchak responded, "You shouldn't discuss it."

Jacobs noted that the matter could be continued when council entered into executive session. DeMarco later reminded council that the Panther Creek check has been in council's possession for three months and that they should quickly decide what they are going to do with it.

The Public Safety Commission will meet with Officer Carl Breiner to discuss the purchase of two assault rifles.

It was also noted that thousands of dollars in tools that were seized by the police department may soon go up for sale to the benefit of the borough. Yurchak will be looking into a company that facilitates such sales.

In other matters, Fire Chief John McArdle reported that the new FCC mandated radios have been installed and that the portable radios have been programmed, adding that all radios would have to be reprogrammed when the county cuts the radio system over. The reprogramming must take place by Dec. 31.

McArdle then stated that the new truck went into service last Monday and that the Schuylkill County Historical Society had expressed interest in the old ladder truck. He said that while they would be able to get approximately $4,600 to scrap the truck, they were willing to sell it to the historical society for $4,400, provided it could come up with the funds to purchase it by Nov. 1. Should the historical society be unable to meet that deadline, the truck would be sold for scrap.

Council adopted the sewer budget, which shows expenses of $632,659.14 and revenues of $817,492.47 with Rush Township's contribution of $8,498.12. There will be no rate increase.

Council also voted to adopt two resolutions from Berkheimer & Associates. The first resolution is authorizing a representative relative to the tax collector naming a contact at the borough; and the second is to adopt a cost collection schedule. Berkheimer is now the borough's EIT collector replacing Centax, which went out of business. President Jacobs stated that the borough has no idea how much it is missing as a result of Centax, adding that Wilkes-Barre is missing millions of dollars.

Mayor Walck sought and obtained council approval to provide several borough workers and crossing guards to help with traffic and ensure the safety of Panther Valley Elementary students and teachers during the Halloween parade to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 31 beginning at 1:45 p.m. The use of crossing guards in the borough from 6-8 p.m. during Trick-or-Treat was also approved by council.

The Nesquehoning Recreation Committee will hold its Children's Halloween Party on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. at the Recreation Center. The Halloween party is for Nesquehoning residents only and sign-ups are required.

The Junior Recreation Committee will once again prepare bags of fruit for about 25 shut-ins in the community.

The next Crime Watch meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 29 beginning at 7 p.m. at the borough hall. There will be a guest speaker at this meeting.

Following the meeting, council went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

The next borough council meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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