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2018 Turning Into Tough Year for Emergency Responders

2018 Turning Into Tough Year for Emergency Responders
Pike County Dispatch, Thursday, August 17, 2018
By Wayne Witkowski

DINGMANS FERRY – Delaware Township emergency responders have had a tougher job throughout the year than a year ago, according to reports presented to the township Board of Supervisors during its regular meeting last week.

Chris Kimble, chief of the Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Company, said there were 189 calls from Jan. 1 through Aug.1, 59 more than last year.  There were 3,275.8 volunteer firefighter work hours during that time.  He said afterward that “about 50 of the calls came during the March storms” and reported that one female firefighter was injured at that time.  The calls included five structure fires and 18 automobile accidents.

The fire company will hold an open house 2-5pm on Aug. 18 at 131 Wilson Hill Road.  Kimble and his officers will be on hand to answer questions and there will be demonstrations of firefighting and automobile extrication.  There will be water games and education activities for children, with hot dogs and beverages served.

AMBULANCE CORPS REPORT

Mary Lou Corbett, captain of the Delaware Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said her company responded to 534 calls from Jan. 1 through the end of June but its resources are strained.

The ambulance corps has three ambulances, one loaned from the insurance company while it assesses repairs to the corps’ 2010 vehicle that was damaged skidding out on ice earlier this year.  The insurance company provided a loaner and had to replace it when the first one had broken air conditioning. 

A new model purchased earlier this year will await state inspection before it can be used.  Its third vehicle is a 2003 model year.

Kyle Wright, owner of Delaware Valley Emergency Services, in his report said that the average response time for Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) has improved by four minutes to 14:05.  His service received 482 calls, 276 (57.7 percent) from Delaware Township.  The rest came from 20 different municipalities.  His service, which involves paid professional operates on a 40-hour a week schedule during times that are considered peak time frames.

Wright said, “69 percent of the calls are for an ALS level (response) from the emergency call center because of our variety of services but most get downgraded to BLS.”

Wright said Pike County “is having a huge BLS crisis” saying that Medicare reimbursements are not processed for months.  He later noted that the state passed increases in Medicaid insurance coverage for ALS services from $200 to $300 and for BLS services from $120 to $180. 

Township Solicitor Thomas Farley took issue with Wright’s report, saying there were details but no financial figures given of that services period.  “How can the township decide funding if there are no financial figures?  We want financial figures,”  Farley pressed.

“I’m here to give an operational report,” said Wright, who said that the board members would provide that data.  He was unable to name the board member who would provide that or to name any board members when asked by Farley.

Wright continued that his service handles drug overdose cases and his personnel are trained to administer naloxone, a nasal spray emergency treatment that comes from the state for free to qualified emergency service providers.  Supervisor Jane Neufeld said the board would like a breakdown of the number of calls for opiate crises.

Wright said his service, which had been non-affiliated, is no associated with Lehigh Valley Health Network.  He said improvements in cellular service for emergency services are expected over the next six months.

Also at the meeting, the board approved meetings for the township’s newly reorganized Recreation Committee to be held the second Tuesday of each month at 6pm at 100 Mary Lou Way in Dingmans Ferry.  Supervisor Chairman John Henderson said a location closer to the township municipal center might be worth considering.

The board agreed to advertise for a public hearing at 7:15pm during the Sept. 12 meeting to amend the wording of the ordinance guidelines for the recreation committee.  A key change calls for the committee to “run recreation events,” and its duties do not include running recreation facilities and programs.

The board agreed o take $20,000 in surplus money going into the township’s General Fund to pay off the unfunded pension liability, as recommended by Neufeld.  The township has a pension line item in its budget and this would set aside extra funds in case they are needed.

They Township awarded, after review by township engineer Boucher & James Inc., $218,580 to Dutchman Contracting LLC in Reinhold for construction of a township salt shed with some spending limited imposed.  It also awarded a $77,740 contract to low bidder Mar-Allen Concrete Products Inc. in Ephrata for the foundation piers project of the Akenac Park Recreation Building.

The board also approved $12,223.66 for centerline striping and should striping for give major township roads by DBI.  Supervisors also moved forward with Township Administrator Krista Predmore’s recommendation for a Monroe county Local Share Account (LSA) Grant application from casino gaming funds for $300,000 for Doolan Road repairs.  If approved, the township would provide a $300,000 match for a $600,000 total.

Workshop meetings for the 2019 budget were scheduled for Sept. 5 and 19 and another, if needed, for October at a date to be determined.

Supervisors also approved the township Harvest Festival for 11am to 3pm on Sept. 22 and the township’s Halloween Trunk or Treat for 3-5pm on Oct. 27, both at Akenac Park.  The Trunk or Treat will be rescheduled for the following day if it rains.  The township’s volunteer Fire Police were approved for traffic control at both events.

The board announced that Dingmans Ferry-Delaware Township Historical Society will hold “Mysteries of the Delaware Cemetery – a Grave Situation” 7pm on Thursday, Aug 16 at the township building at 116 Wilson Hill Road.

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP PONDERS MEDICAL MARIJUANA ORDINANCE AMENDMENT

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP PONDERS MEDICAL MARIJUANA ORDINANCE AMENDMENT
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, August 2, 2018
By Wayne Witkowski

DINGMANS FERRY – Just a few weeks after passing an amended subdivision and land ordinance (SALDO), the Delaware Township Board of Supervisors will consider another unique addition to it.

Supervisors agreed to advertise for a public hearing for Aug. 22 at 7:15 p.m. which would allow for a facility to grow medical marijuana under condition use in a “C” commercial district.

Draft of amendments to two ordinances were presented at the latest board meeting last Wednesday, and township Solicitor Tom Farley said they would need only minor revisions before being presented at the hearing.

“I went through it and it will be ready for the hearing, just very minor corrections, “ said Farley, who said afterward they need only spelling corrections and better style points.

The changes add definitions involving medical marijuana to Ordinance 901.  Specifics on business requirements for growing and processing medical marijuana would go into Ordinance 110.

Medical Marijuana was first sold in the state in February, two years after it was legalized.

Definitions not only specify medical marijuana but terms such as caregiver, certified medical use, grower/processor, a medical marijuana organization or facility and a medical marijuana delivery vehicle office, which garages the vehicles.

Under ordinance amendment 110.17 a medical marijuana grower/processor may only grow the crop in an indoor, enclosed and secure building and garage, which includes electronic locking, electronic surveillance and other features required by the Department of Health.  It prohibits certain locations to grow it such as a trailer, mobile home and recreational vehicle.  Any marijuana remnants must be property disposed.

A medical marijuana dispensary must be in an indoor, enclosed and secure building operating between 8am and 8pm, and must be legally registered with the state and hold a valid permit from the DOH.  The dispensary must not exceed 3,000 square feet, including 500 square feet for storage and an indoor customer waiting area of a least 25 percent of the floor area.  It cannot have a drive through service or outdoor seating or vending machines.

The entire facility must be at least 1,000 feet from the nearest residential district and from the nearest school, playground, child care facility or day care center, park, place of worship, library and camp.  There must be three parking spots per 100 square feet of all public areas, and outdoor lighting is required in compliance with zoning requirements. 

Also at the meeting, the board approved, after discussion, renewing two annual insurance coverages with MRM despite increased rates after township administrator Krista Predmore said other companies she surveyed charged more.  One policy covering property, equipment, inland marine, crime and commercial for $33,547 increased by 3.36 percent.  The other covering public officials, employment practices and liability insurance costs $9,835, a 1.95 percent increase.

Bids were opened for two projects:  three each for the Akenac Park Recreation Building Pier Repair Project and for the township salt shed project.  Supervisors tabled a decision pending a review of both by the township engineer.

SAFE HAVEN PRESENTATION

During the workshop preceding the regular meeting, Safe Haven of Pike County Executive Director Christina Byrne gave a lengthy presentation of the domestic and sexual abuse nonprofit’s service to the community.  She said her office has scheduled outreach activities with you people during the school year and with older residents, helping them recognize risks of violence and abuse and how to handle it.

Byrne said 203 people have come to Safe Haven for help so far this year, 50 of them reach out more than once.  She said 18 people from Delaware Township have reported cases of domestic abuse since April.  A rising number of men have come forward seeking help or domestic abuse from a partner.  The goal is empowerment and the key is education, she said.

When asked if Safe Haven’s financial profile has continue to improve from a shaky situation a few years ago, Byrne said, “Everything is fine now.”

Resident Steve McBride commended Byrne’s presentation as the best and most detailed one h has heard from Safe Haven.

Byrne later aid after the meeting, “even though Safe Haven’s financial position is strong, as a small community non-profit, donations are a vital part of our funding.”

“Our primary funding source, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, actually requires a 25 percent match of their funds as a means of encouraging Victim Service Provider agencies to engage with their community.  To this end, Safe Haven receives grant dunging from private foundations, such as the Greater Pike Community Foundation and the Robert E. & Marie Orr Smith Foundation, among other; but it is equally important to engage the individuals and families who live, work and play in Pike County.

“Safe Haven does this in many ways that include, but are not limited to, making presentations to townships supervisors throughout the county in an effort to increase awareness, gaining a better understanding of the needs in their communities and working together to develop service delivery strategies that increase awareness, promote healthy relationships and prevent violence in our community.”

Supervisors also announced during the meeting that the township volunteer fire company will hold an open house with demonstrations 2-5pm on Aug. 18.

Local Judge Reports On ‘State of the District’

Local Judge Reports On ‘State of the District’
By Wayne Witkowski
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, July 19, 2018

DINGMANS FERRY – Paul Menditto, magisterial district court judge, drove a short distance from his offices on Silver Lake Road last Wednesday to share with the Board of Supervisors at the start of their workshop his State of the District report.

The four-page pamphlet includes a pie graph breaking down total cases into categories and a chart showing how fees from collections are disbursed in his district 60-3-04, which includes Delaware, Lehman and Porter Townships.

“The state of the district is good right now,” Menditto said and later said with a smile, “But there is less money coming to your township.”

Although state and county disbursements went up, Delaware Township’s fees went down from $6,923.71 in 2016 to $3,164.50 last year.

Traffic (violations) seems to be the biggest thing, although we don’t have an interstate (highway) here,” Menditto said.

Total cases went up last year from the previous year to 1,617 from 1,449, with traffic making up the largest part of that pie chart with 674 cases.

Menditto said he is most proud of the reduction of truancy at the East Stroudsburg Area School District High School North campus, which is under his jurisdiction.  Truancy in the state of Pennsylvania is considered a crime, Menditto said.  “Many families there are transplants from New York and New Jersey and don’t know that,” he said.

His pamphlet read, “By working with the school district and having pre-adjudication meetings with parents, students and school officials, truancy citations have dropped from 71 in 2014 when Judge Menditto first took office to 35 in 2017.”

“I’m personally proud of that,” Menditto said at the meeting.

Supervisors commended Menditto’s pamphlet and presentation ditto’s pamphlet and presentation for providing ample information on the variety of cases he handles, including Protection From Abuse orders, which can only be issued in cases of immediate danger and not based on old allegations.

He said his is the only district in Pike County protected solely by state police, whereas Easter Pike Regional and municipal departments cover some municipalities in other districts.

REVISED SUBDIVSION ORDINANCE

During the regular meeting, the board unanimously approved, after a brief public hearing, a revised Subdivision and Land Development (SALDO).  The ordinance was last amended in 2014 and the current version contains many revisions.

“We’ve tightened it up to make it more functional,” Township Solicitor Tom Farley said in introducing the ordinance hearing.

“It had addressed subdivision only but there’s been a lot of land development (in the area) and this make it clear and lists the requirements of land development,” township Engineer Jon Tresslar commented during the hearing.

Supervisor Jane Neufeld posed the only other point during the hearing when she asked about engineering fees.  Tresslar said those costs now are included in the application escrow that comes out of the land development fee.

Also at the meeting, the board approved, after discussion during the workshop, to put out to bid for a contractor to remove what will be left of six cabins at Akenac Park that are condemned by the township.  Its fire department will stage firefighting drills at each of them, and Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson said that he wants the cabins all removed by October.  Road master Vince Flatt said details and the schedule of the drills have not been discussed yet with the fire department.

Township Administrator Krista Predmore said that based on her research the cost of removing the debris from each cabin would be $4,000, the same as it would cost the township employees to do it themselves.  But she said a contractor “can stick to the schedule” and not have to handle other township demands for its employees that may arise.

Predmore and the supervisors also discussed contacting nonprofits Safe Haven and local food pantries to see if either would want to take discarded filing cabinets and an upright refrigerator from the condemned cabins.

Supervisors also authorized township engineers to develop a cost estimate to resurface lower Myck Road.  Flatt said it is a “big project” that he figures would take a five years.  “I don’t think we have the equipment to do that and we are past (making) temporary fixes for that road.”

The township also will vacate the dirt road section of Chestnut Ridge Road to the National Park Service in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Supervisors also agreed to waive permit fees for Holy Trinity Church to build a new food pantry.  They had agreed to waive land development costs at the previous meeting.

The board awarded the contract to the lower of two bidders – Carpentry Unlimited – for the Library/Historical Society building’s floor replacement.  Carpentry Unlimited bid $15,074.00 along with alternative prices of $100 per joist for joist repair and $2,000 to repair each girder as needed.  Tresslar said, when asked, that the extent of joist and girder work could not be determined until the floor is removed.

EAGLE SCOUTS COMMENDED

Local Boy Scouts Jason Budd and Andrew Errico received proclamations from the supervisors for completing Eagle Scout projects.  Budd directed volunteers to build an American flag depository at American Legion Post 851 for proper disposal of timeworn American flags.  Errico developed a section map and spreadsheet for Delaware Cemetery’s section A, its oldest section.

Supervisors announced a 4pm July 23 deadline for the township to receive letters of interest for the Planning Commission seat vacated when Len Glamann stepped down last month.

The board also renewed the agreement with Portland Contractors for certified water operation and process directions at Akenac Park for $415 per month.

The yearlong contract begins August 1st.

During public comment, Ron Hough asked if there was any decision made at the executive session held before the meeting on the Delaware Plaza project on Route 739.  Henderson said he could comment only that issues were being handled and the project is “moving forward.”

Firefighters to Raze Defunct Cabins In Training Exercise

Firefighters to Raze Defunct Cabins In Training Exercise
Pike County Dispatch, Thursday, July 5, 2018
by Wayne Witkowski

DINGMANS FERRY – Delaware Township’s Volunteer Fire Company will come to the rescue of the township.  But this time, it will involve starting fires.

The fire company has offered to raze six different cabins at Akenac Park as part of a simulated firefighting drill exercise, either as part of a Tuesday drill exercise or on a Sunday morning.

Supervisors unanimously passed the motion at last week’s meeting, stipulating that specifics on the dates will be arranged between the fire company, Roadmaster Vince Flatt and the township.  The motion included, after input from Assistant Township Alternate Solicitor Robert Bernathy sitting in for Thomas Farley, requirements that the properties be secured with warning signage of possible dangers for intruders and to present insurance and works compensation coverage for the project to the township.

The subject drew lengthy discussion during the workshop before the meeting and during the regular session among supervisors and Interim Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker and fire company members Michael Cairns and Sean Hughes, the assistant chief.  Work is expected to begin soon.

The fire company offered to help when the township could not find anyone willing to remove the cabins and re-use some of the discarded materials.

Unlike the statewide shortage of volunteers, Cairns said sever new volunteers have joined the fire company.  “We’re really building membership,” Cairns said.  Cairns, who heads firefighter training, said three members have completed 180 hours of advanced Firefighter I Training.  That training can qualify them for salaried positions with larger city departments if they choose or need to take that route.

Firefighters will select one cabin at a time, likely on a monthly basis, ignite it and then practice drills to contain and extinguish the fire.

“We’re looking to go separately through each building to take full advantage for practical training skills.  This will greatly benefit our guys,” Beodeker said.  “It would be impossible for us to have (created) this for training.  Modern standards are too strict for that.”

Cairns said he recently went on a training program in Indianapolis with details that he is passing onto members.  “It included going to a structure fire and salvage techniques.  There are only certain ways to do this and this real world scenario of things such as cutting through a shingled roof would be phenomenal for our members.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson recommended the fire company use this as a public relations exercise to the public so people can see from a safe distance how firefighters handle emergencies.

“I think it will be really neat to show what these guys do, but the sooner we get this done, the better,” said Henderson, commending the work of the fire company.

“We’ll work with whatever you give us,” said Hughes.  “You don’t get this opportunity very often.  This will also be great training for our fire police.”

NEW RECREATION BOARD MEMBERS

Also at the meeting, the board appointed five members to the revived Recreation Board in separate motions including Melanie Palma, Jason Ganly, Melissa Llewellyn, Mary Faust and Rebecca Kochovos.  Beodeker suggested the new Rec Board could meet in the empty building across from the municipal building that was updated 12 year ago and once used by the fire company.  “It does not require much work and to put it to some use would be worth it,” Beodeker said.

The board read a letter from Leonard Glamann that he was stepping down from the township’s Planning Commission.  Supervisors praised Glamann’s latest service as chairman of the commission, and vice chairman Ron Hough will assume those duties as board members decide on the next chairman.

“He (Glamann) just said at the last meeting that it’s time.  There are no real issues,” Hough said.  “He said he wasn’t going to do that (step down) until the SALDO (subdivision and land ordinance) is done.”

An extensively reworked version of the SALDO will be presented in a public hearing at 7:15pm during the next meeting on July 11 and put to vote.

The board approved a motion for that date and time at last week’s meeting.

The board also tabled a motion to advertise for a public hearing on Medical Marijuana Amendments to township zoning Ordinance 110 and Ordinance 901 Definitions.

Material Distributor Approved for Silver Lake Road Site

Material Distributor Approved for Silver Lake Road Site
by Wayne Witkowski
Thursday, June 21, 2018 – Pike County Dispatch

DINGMANS FERRY – A thermal processing materials distributor with a corral of signature customers that includes NASA, Sony, Honeywell and Rolls Royce is relocating from Port Jervis to 523 Silver Lake Road for a planned early fall opening.

The Delaware Township Board of Supervisors approved Dingmans Ferry resident Jeffrey Opitz, owner of applicant Cera Materials, to move forward after a conditional use joint hearing during last week’s meeting.  The three supervisors, Township Administrator Krista Predmore and township Solicitor Thomas Farley were joined at the head table during the hearing by four of the seven members of the township Planning Commission, including Chairman Len Glamann, Vice Chairman Ron Hough and members LoriAnn Hynes and Robyn Eldred, as well as township engineer Jon Tressler of Boucher & James.

Opitz also is a member of the Planning Commission, but Farley made it clear at the meeting that Opitz was appointed after submitting a letter of interest long after he had applied for the conditional use permit.  Opitz recused himself from the Planning Commission during meetings it had held on the application.

The condition use calls for a PennDot Highway Occupancy Permit approval and to include in the deed indicating the easement of two lots included in the 11.47 acre parcel.  The business will take over and restore two buildings for its use on the property, a 45-year old pole barn on one lot that will house office staff and a 5,000 square foot building previously used as a lumberyard that will serve as Cera’s warehouse on the adjoining lot.  Opitz is linking the two lots that were indicated on a subdivision map drawn in 1984 that was presented at the hearing. 

“I think it’s good to take buildings already existing and utilize them,” commented Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson of the approval after the meeting. 

Opitz has four full-time employees for his distributorship, which handles more than 20 products such as graphite carbon insulation, graphite insulation customized shapes and specialty felt for batteries.  Other clients include Stanley Black & Decker, Space X, Kenna Metal and Milwaukee Tools in what Opitz said during the hearing is a “pretty diverse customer base” from aerospace to concentrated heat testings and homeowner applications such as material for wood-burning stoves.

During his testimony at the hearing Opitz handed out samples of his products to the supervisors said that his company is strictly business-to-business with not retail sale to the public.  “In no way are we a manufacturer or fabricator.  We’re strictly a distributor,” Opitz said.

He said the products are non-hazardous and safe to ship in a high transportation environment.

“we hope to have it opened by September,” said Opitz, a graduate of Delaware Valley High School and the University of Pittsburgh who worked for the company for three years before taking ownership a year ago.  “For me, it’s really great to move my business to a place where I rode back and forth on the school bus every day.”

Opitz credits a solid staff and “smart digital marketing” as keys to his company getting well established and his quick ascent to ownership.

The supervisors voted their unanimous approval as the half-hour hearing ended and then gave approval again when the regular meeting resumed.  No residents or members of the Planning Commission offered testimony or criticisms during the hearing.

Tresslar said two minor comments raised in a letter from his offices to Cera on May 1 were addressed and resolved satisfactorily.

Milford attorney Doug Jacobs during the hearing questioned site engineer Gene Ruzanski of Schoenagel & Schoenagel in Greentown as well as Opitz about plan specifics for the business.

Opitz said there would be no additional construction, just improving the existing building conditions, which he said includes painting, resolving mold issues, insulation, HVAC, new walls and floors and bathroom facilities.  “You name it,”  Opitz said with a smile. 

Ruzanski said when asked by Jacobs that the business would not jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of township residents.  He also answered that the amount of truck traffic involved would not congest roads and no traffic impact report has been requested. A roadway on the property to what would be the warehouse would adequately accommodate large trucks entering and leaving for pickups and deliveries.

Ruzanski said, when asked by Jacobs, that only two exterior lights would be needed – one per building.  He said soil erosion would not be an issue and no landscaping or conservation is required.

Henderson noted afterward that large tractor-trailers would be driving into the property but shrugged off any concern whether it would become a traffic issue.

ROAD REPAIRS FOR ROUTES 739, 2001

Also at a meeting, Supervisor Jane Neufeld announced that the board was informed that efforts by state Rep. Rosemary Brown, R-189, and the Pike County Road Task Force has led to PennDot’s commitment to make needed road repairs at the intersection of Route 739 and Milford Road/State Route 2001 and for the badly rutted Milford Road section from Silver Lake Road to the Lehman Township road widening construction site.  “This will be more than pothole patching,” said Neufeld.

The board also approved Predmore, Administrative/Human Resources Assistant Robin Jones and road master Vincent Flatt attending a Hazardous Weather and Flooding Preparedness session on July 18-19 at the Pike County Training Center.  The board also approved Predmore, Jones and Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker to attend an Emergency Operations center Operations and Planning for All-Hazards Event training on Aug. 21-23 at the Homeland Defense Security Facility at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, at no cost.

The board said during the workshop before the meeting that it will apply for a $25,000 Pike Marcellus Mini Grant that will be award by the county’s Scenic Rural Character Preservation Program toward a new loading and fishing dock at Akenac Park lake.  Lackawaxen Township already has put in an application for the same grant to service its trails.  Applicants have a July 31 deadline.

Akenac Expenditures Top $2 Million

Resident Steve McBride asked if the study of money spent for Akenac Park requested by Henderson was completed.  Henderson said $2,212,939 was spent over the past 12 years on the park, including $1.1 million toward the original purchase, about half of which came from grant money.

The board also will continue to seek out companies to remove six dilapidated cabins in Akenac Park at some time in the fall, as recommended by Supervisor Rick Koehler after examining the park.  Henderson said three companies inquired but did not act on it.  The removal plans were also approved by the Pike County Commissioners at their last meeting.  At least one of the other four cabins will be used for storage, Neufeld said.

Supervisors during the workshop also talked about needed improvements in the park, including a redesign of the kitchen, which they said might be done after consulting with three professionals in the restaurant business.  "The design of the kitchen is flawed and unsafe,” Henderson said.

Henderson, who is leading the efforts to resurrect the township Recreation Board, said the volunteer members duties must be detailed in the township ordinance. 

“They were terrified they would have to do all of this stuff and raise money, and walked away,” said Henderson.

It was pointed out in a previous meeting that some of those duties actually reside with the supervisors and that the Rec Board members do not raise money but give recommendations on that subject to the sueprvisors.

“I don’t care if it takes six month or is carried into next year; I’d like it done right,”  Henderson said firmly of restaffing the Rec Board.

“I want people to get off their duffs and get their letters (of interest) in,” Neufeld said of the committee positions.  At the last meeting, it was announced that five people sent in letters. 

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