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Coaldale wants cops back on job

Published March 12. 2014 02:38PM

The majority of Coaldale council members are so ready to bring back their cops they almost did it during a meeting Tuesday.

They just have one unanswered question: "If we bring back the cops, what happens to the lawsuit they filed against the borough, claiming violation of their contracts and seeking back pay and recovery of all costs?"

Councilman Harry Hontz, who heads the police committee, said "I think the time has come to bring them all back, full time."

Solicitor Mike Greek advised council to table the matter, and go into executive session.

In 2012, Coaldale council voted to furlough three full-time officers and two road department employees due to lack of money to support the positions.

Since then, the borough has been covered by Chief Tim Delaney and part-time officers. The furloughed officers are Keith Krapf, Todd Weiss and Charles Blesse.

In August 2013, the furloughed officers filed a lawsuit in Schuylkill County court stating that the furloughs violated their contract.

Krapf's wife, Angela, made a successful bid for a council seat and was voted chairman in January.

Also in January, Delaney and the furloughed officers sent a letter to council saying they were open to negotiations.

Council's bid to restore the positions will remain in limbo until the lawyers talk. Jeff Stewart represents the officers and Greek represents council.

During Tuesday's meeting, with Councilman Mike Doerr absent, only Councilman Thomas Keerans questioned council's lean toward restoring the police force.

When Hontz said that the time had come to "bring them all back, full time," Keerans interjected, "And the monies are coming from?" before Greek advised the executive session.

Chief Delaney and six residents attended the meeting. The executive session lasted more than an hour.

During the executive session, council also discussed the employment conditions regarding its full-time secretary, Andrea Davis.

Davis, who was hired in October 2013, works 32 hours a week for a $24,000-a-year salary.

After the executive session, council members set up a special executive personnel meeting for 6:30 p.m. March 31 to discuss the terms of the secretary/treasurer's contract.

Earlier in the meeting, Hontz said the police force should be congratulated for busting a meth lab in town Feb. 21.

"They should get a big thank you for ridding our town of that," Hontz said.

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