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Tamaqua probing origin of 'big grease ball'

  • LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tamaqua borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt shows council members a sample of an ordinance book. Council is currently in the process of having the borough's ordinances codified for the first time since the 1970s…
    LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tamaqua borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt shows council members a sample of an ordinance book. Council is currently in the process of having the borough's ordinances codified for the first time since the 1970s. Council President Micah Gursky estimated that about 350 ordinances have been passed in the borough since then.
Published April 18. 2013 05:03PM

Someone has been dumping illegally into the Tamaqua sewer system and the borough's authority intends to do something about it.

"It's a non-residential type waste," said Councilman Brian Connely, who is also a member of the borough authority. "The sewer department has been investigating. We are continuing to get lab results."

Connely described it as a "big, grease ball," adding that it also has "an odor, a color, and a residue" and said that "it takes a lot to get rid of it." At this point, the department does not know where it is coming from, but Connely said that eventually they will find the source and that the culprit will face serious consequences.

"It takes time, but we have narrowed things down," he added.

Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that there have been previous instances of illegal dumping like this and in all cases the source was eventually identified.

"This is a warning," said Connely. "Don't do it. If you are doing it, stop."

Steigerwalt also recommended a proposal from General Code, out of Rochester, N.Y., to codify the borough's ordinances.

"The last time this was done was in 1972," said council President Micah Gursky, adding that the borough had adopted about 350 ordinances since then.

General Code's base proposal was $8,852. Additionally, there are other services that could be taken advantage of, including uploading all of the borough's ordinances online. The borough will consider how to handle that matter. Steigerwalt said that in addition to offering the best product, General Code also had the lowest bid.

Steigerwalt also forwarded information from the borough's code enforcement and zoning provider, Barry Isett, which proposed significant increases in the borough's fee schedule.

"They have concerns that our existing fees are not covering our costs," said Steigerwalt.

Councilman Ken Smulligan expressed shock over some of the proposed increases, some of which were over 100 percent.

"It's insane, some of it," he said.

Steigerwalt said that the company would be happy to review and explain their recommendations before council makes any decisions.

Police Chief Rick Weaver, in his first official meeting in capacity of chief, hit the ground running.

Several recommendations were made and approved by the police committee, including the tentative approval of new police department standard operating procedures, which were approved pending review by the Fraternal Order of Police.

A motion was also made to trade in the 2009 Dodge Charger police vehicle and purchase a new 2014 Ford Interceptor from Kovatch of Nesquehoning, at approximately $22,000.

Council approved the purchase of a new Taser X26 from Witmer Public Safety Group, at a cost of $850. Council also approved the increase in pay rate for part-time officers from $15 to $17. The raise goes into effect April 28. Holiday rates for part-time officers will remain at $20 per hour. Weaver said that the increase was necessary to keep part-time officers interested in working for the department and was competitive with other local departments.

Weaver's annual salary was approved at $67,000. Charles Blesse and Brian Dalesandro were both hired as part-time officers.

Council also approved the advertisement of a parking regulation which will allow the police to include any other violations, including expired registrations or inspections, when writing a nonmoving traffic violation.

Frank Morris was hired as a full-time street maintenance worker at a pay rate of $18.29 per hour, effective April 17. Jay Stidham was hired as a full-time water distribution worker at a pay rate of $18.29 per hour, effective April 18. Council accepted the retirement letter of John Ferry from the water treatment plant, effective June 30.

Council finalized the summer staff for the Howard D. Buehler Memorial pool including 20 lifeguards and four clerks.

Those hired include Trevor Arnold, Molly Betz, Beth Fritzinger-Jones, Gabrielle Lech, Emily Bumbulsky, Joann Butkus, Tyler Butkus, Deana DeWire, Ethan Eberts, Joseph Franko, Amber Gulick, Kelci Killian, Abigail Markovich, Cory McCann, Jordan Nowacki, Austin Resch, Devin Smith, Matthew Stanek, Denae Starry, Rachael Tertel, Benjamin Turrano, Kathryn Wagner, Megan Wager and Gage Whalen.

Council approved certificates of appropriateness for a 1,200-square-foot pole building at the rear of 32 Market St.; a sign at 20 W. Broad St.; a second-floor addition and other historic renovations at 204 Cottage Ave.; a business sign at 115 W. Broad St.; and the installation of three signs for the train station restaurant at 18 N. Railroad St. It was noted that the pole building at the rear of 32 Market St. actually was a separate lot and has a Patterson Street address.

Council approved the purchase of a copier, including a one-year maintenance agreement, in the amount of $6,700 for the borough offices.

The Parking and Traffic Committee will meet on April 23 at 7 p.m. Several residents attended the meeting to ask about the upcoming bridge project, and their concerns were directed to the committee and it was recommended that they attend the meeting

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