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Kidder Township officials discuss fatal explosion

Published November 22. 2013 05:00PM

The subject of the recent fatal home explosion and resulting fire came up during the public comment portion of the Kidder Township supervisors' meeting.

"I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank everyone who helped out during the recent fatal explosion," Lake Harmony Fire Chief Ralph Lennon said. "I especially want to thank the other fire companies who helped out. Everyone did a great job."

The same subject came up during Police Chief Matt Kuzma's report.

"I also wanted to thank everyone who assisted during the tragedy, especially the two neighbors who pulled one of the victims to safety. Without them there are no doubts that there would have been two fatalities. They don't want any recognition for what they did, but their actions saved his life," Kuzma said.

"We also have to thank Ken Detweiler for bringing in the excavator. He was on the scene for two days helping out," Kuzma added.

Kuzma said there has been an increase in copper thefts recently. Most specifically in the Ridgewood County Estates section of the township.

"The homes are not being forcibly entered, the thieves are finding open basements or crawl spaces, and those are the houses being targeted. You have to make sure that you lock everything up," Kuzma said.

In an aside, Kuzma again confirmed that the home that exploded on Tobyhanna Street had in fact been stripped of its copper piping back in October. The water pipes had been repaired, but the gas line in the crawl space had not. It was the caretakers, Bruce Barberio and Melissa Berwis who turned on the gas which caused the gas to leak into the home.

According to Kuzma, the exact cause of the explosion is undetermined. Berwis died as a result of the explosion and resulting fire. Barberio was dragged from the burning home by neighbors and is recovering from his injuries.

911 addressing

Barbara Franzosa co-owner of Pine Point Plaza requested that the township consider having the 911 addressing that is complete sent out for approval.

"Route 903 has its addressing complete, why not at least get the completed sections approved. I have a new tenant and our current address on GPS isn't even close to our actual location. Every time a new tenant calls for services, either PPL or Blue Ridge, it takes multiple calls from them and me until we can get the providers out there to install the services," Franzosa said.

Chairman Larry Polansky agreed to look into the possibility; he further mentioned that the 911 addressing is continuing.

The supervisors also agreed to the appointment of a new, part-time police officer. Donald MacRae III of Duryea will be hired pending the outcome of the standard police examination at a rate of $15.30 per hour.

$82,323 backhoe

Supervisors voted to buy a new 2013 Caterpillar 416F backhoe at a cost of $82,323 at Thursday's meeting.

"I respectfully request that the supervisors hold off on voting on the purchase of the backhoe until the January meeting since the citizens were so concerned at the last meeting," supervisor-elect Thomas La Fond said.

"Thank you, but we did just that since the last meeting. Thanks to the concerns of those citizens who attended last month our staff did an even more detailed return on investment analysis and we are certain that we stand to save $100,000 over the next 10 years," Polansky said.


Three ordinances will be advertised. No. 161 establishes recycling procedures for the township. Without such an ordinance the township would not be eligible to apply for grants related to recycling.

Ordinance No. 162 authorizes funding of the townships emergency services. The ordinance specifically defines the information needed to be supplied to the township supervisors when one of the fire companies or the ambulance service is requesting money from the township emergency services funds for purchase of equipment.

Ordinance No. 163 is entitled "Quality of Life Ordinance," and deals with home and property maintenance throughout the township.

In other business, the White Haven Library made a request for a financial donation to support the library.

But supervisors said they can't fund two libraries. The balance in the charitable contribution fund for 2013 will be donated to the Penn Kidder Library. The donation will be $355.

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