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Council taken to task on financial issues

  • CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Coaldale Fire Chief Richard Marek makes a point as he speaks to borough council at a public meeting Tuesday.
    CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Coaldale Fire Chief Richard Marek makes a point as he speaks to borough council at a public meeting Tuesday.
Published February 13. 2013 05:02PM

An overflow crowd packed the small Coaldale Borough Council meeting room for a raucous public meeting Tuesday.

Several citizens took council to task on financial issues.

They included Angela Krapf, who said the borough followed its own rules when it used blacktop to repair a sidewalk at the Coaldale Complex, which houses the PathStone Head Start program. Krapf also said she has yet to get information about telephone quotes for roof repairs at borough hall. The work was under the amount needed to require bids. Coaldale contractor Francis Hutta did the work. Krapf had asked who else was called, and what prices they offered.

Krapf also took issue with the timing of borough secretary Nancy Lorchak's hiring. Lorchak was on council when she was hired, and started work several days later. Krapf said that, according to borough code, that was improper. Lorchak said she was following the procedure she was advised to follow.

Further, Krapf questioned a $1 an hour raise given the assistant secretary, given the borough's dire financial straits. the job now pays $10 an hour.

"She deserved it," said Councilman Joseph Hnat.

Krapf also challenged statements Councilman David Yelito made in a Feb. 2 letter to the editor of the TIMES NEWS. In particular, she challenged Yelito's blaming previous councils for "frivolous spending."

He cited expenditures for a drug-sniffing dog and riot gear for the police department, and a plan to have borough police patrol the former LC&N grounds.

Yelito defended his comments.

"Do they really need riot equipment?" he said. "No."

Krapf, whose husband was one of the three full-time police officers who were laid off last year, said she doesn't do a police officer's job, and so doesn't know what equipment they need.

"I'm not out there to see what they see every day, and neither are you. So how do you know what they need?" she asked.

Krapf also asked Yelito, as head of the Police Committee, about how much money was saved by laying off the borough's full-time police.

"I can't answer that," Yelito said.

Further discussion included infrastructure repairs.

*Richard Marek, who is the borough's fire chief, also took issue with statements in Yelito's letter. His focus was on finances and police coverage. Marek cited a disparity in numbers given by Yelito in his letter to the editor, and by Mayor Richard Corkery to the Standard Speaker of Hazleton.

In his letter, Yelito said state police "worked 9.5 percent of the time and the Coaldale Police Dept. covered 90.5 percent of the shifts."

The Hazleton paper quotes Corkery as saying the amount was much higher.

"That was a misprint," Yelito said.

Marek took Yelito to task for statements in his letter about the borough's financial woes stem from overspending by previous councils, by a lack of business, and because the town is "landlocked."

Resident Ruth Weiss read a lengthy list of borough businesses in rebuttal to Yelito's statement. However, he said he was referring to industry, not "mom and pop" businesses.

*Keith Degler, of West Ridge Street, who became emotional and loud as he pleaded with council to rehire its full-time police officers. Degler apologized for his outburst.

*Branislav Brili, of Greenwood Street, asked that something be done about his neighbor's unkempt home. He said bad smells permeate the wall separating the houses, and he is concerned about the health of his children.

Council President Susan Solt said Brili has filed a complaint, and that Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Nichols would inspect the property.

*Ruthann and Ron Kehl, of West Ridge Street, who once again asked that council do something to help them with a vacant adjoining home whose roof has been leaking for years, allowing ceilings to collapse and mold to grow unchecked. The home's owner, Lisa O'Brien, was evicted years ago because of the chronic water leaks, and now lives in Lansford. Borough solicitor Michael Greek has said O'Brien refuses to accept registered letters or answer her door when officials have tried to serve her with papers.

Hnat said council needs to make the matter a priority.

In other matters, after listening to residents speak for an hour, and then following an executive session, council decided to start buying salt during the summer to have a stockpile for winter.

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