Updates on the UGI pipeline and new floodplain maps for Wyoming County were among the main topics at Thursday’s Tunkhannock Borough Council meeting.
Borough Council President Bob Robinson said UGI has already laid a large amount of pipe in Tunkhannock, including Pennsylvania Avenue on Franklin Avenue to Bridge Street.
The council discussed a letter UGI sent to people with homes or businesses along Phase 1, which informs them of how they could utilize the future natural gas service. Those interested can contact Carmen Attanasio from UGI at 570-830-1256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UGI anticipates having natural gas ready for delivery to these customers by Feb. 28, according to the letter.
Later in the meeting, councilman Ben Barziloski mentioned concerns about the future of the roads due to the UGI project, which were mostly resolved when councilman David Wiggins said he had spoken with the contractor.
After the meeting, Barziloski explained that Linde Corp. plans to do another cut and repave in the spring when it’s warmer outside.
“They’re going to overcut by a foot on each side or more, and if there’s any spots that are bad, they’re going to take care of them and repave everything,” Barziloski explained.
Another community outreach meeting regarding new floodplain mapping for Wyoming County will be held on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. in the borough council chambers.
There are an estimated 42-43 new properties in the floodplain within the borough.
“If anyone is in the floodplain and they have a mortgage, they have to get insurance. These 40-some new people have to be informed,” Robinson said.
During the public floor period, one person brought up progress on a proposed water line in support of gas drilling activity north of town. Robinson stated that it’s coming, and that someone from Triton Hose Company has to do a walk around for hydrant replacement with a representative from the borough.
Later in the meeting, councilman Marshall Davis said this might be a chance to address the long standing problem of water runoff on McCord and Tioga Streets.
Tunkhannock Borough Police Chief Keith Carpenter said there’s a vacancy for a paid crossing guard position at the intersection of Route 29 (Bridge Street) and Harrison Street. A motion was made to advertise for the position, which Carpenter noted could be a good fit for someone who is retired.
Carpenter also said a new hire in the police department, Rick Stevens, is now trained and out on the road.
Davis asked Carpenter to discuss issues he’s encountered with the opioid epidemic.
Carpenter said it’s been “tremendously hard” and there have been several overdose incidents due to heroin laced with fentanyl, which is not just happening here, but everywhere.
He said the department has been passing out Narcan at homes where they have received several calls so people within the home can administer it.
“They’re saving themselves now,” he said.
Carpenter also noted that the state is funding this Narcan through a grant, and he doesn’t know what will happen when the grant money runs out.
He said Detective David Ide recently filed a second wrongful death charge, and the police department is following suit by turning every overdose into an investigation. This has been working, he explained, because two people have had similar charges in the county.
Carpenter also commended the Hope Coalition, which meets again this Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Dietrich Theater, for their work brainstorming ideas to end the opioid epidemic. Passing out Narcan at homes where several overdoses had occurred was one of the group’s ideas, he said.
“They’re trying their best and wholeheartedly doing what they can,” Carpenter said.
Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce President Gina Suydam was also present at Thursday’s meeting and discussed dues for chamber membership.
Dues are $165 annually, but some members like non-profit organizations pay $125 annually, Suydam said.
The 2018 tiered benefit structure transitioned from determining dues by number of employees to the benefits needed, as a large company like Procter & Gamble does not require the same benefits as a smaller company.
Robinson asked what the chamber pays, and Suydam responded with $300 per year for membership in the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. She said all monies are pooled together for their operating expenses, and the records are public.
Suydam discussed how the chamber hired Adam Ercolani in May as the membership services and communications coordinator. He runs a blog on the chamber’s website for businesses to help get their names out before the public.
Councilman Dan Gay asked what the chamber is doing about the issue of empty storefronts and discussed the possibility of the chamber helping businesses with rent.
Suydam said she has tried to work with property owners, like in 2017 when they did a Christmas market at Ace Robbins, and noted that a lot of the property owners she speaks with don’t want food in their buildings, thus eliminating the possibility of restaurants and even gift shops that sell food.
Council member Scott Douthett brought up the Dietrich Loan Committee. Suydam said she was invited to one meeting and not informed about it going forward, but said she could put Adam in touch with the Dietrich for a write-up.
“It’s grown a sizeable number. We’ve had no applications,” Douthett said. “I feel it’s because no one knows it’s there.”
Barziloski told Suydam that the chamber has not had a strong presence in the borough lately. He said downtown businesses are struggling and the area needs a grocery store.
Suydam said she has been in touch with Gerrity’s, but the company said it’s not feasible to set up shop in Tunkhannock.
Also, the building where Brick’s Market was located is large, so asking someone to move in there and pay taxes is “a little daunting,” she said.
Suydam brought up the possibility of an incentive such as not having a new tenant pay taxes for the first year. The conversation concluded with the borough council planning a meeting with Suydam for Thursday, Jan. 17, at 1 p.m. to discuss these issues further.
Other business at Thursday’s meeting included a variance request from People’s Security Bank & Trust for a new electronic sign. A variance hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the borough county chambers.
Barziloski announced that the Council of Governments is looking for one or two new appeals board members. Anyone interested should contact the borough office before Feb. 12. Applicants should have experience in plumbing, electrical, engineering, contractor/construction, inspecting or surveying.
The Tunkhannock Borough Council will meet again on Thursday, Feb. 7 at