By Libby Rosequist
During the October monthly Borough Council meeting, Mayor Steven Gregory could not attend but made it known Halloween should continue as normal keeping the standard trick-or-treating hours from 6 to 8 p.m. throughout the North East Borough and Township.
The Sept. 8 meeting minutes and accounts payable, expense approval report, were approved unanimously.
During public comments, Robert Behrens had a few questions concerning stop lights.
“Do we still have an emergency light or is the white box in the middle a transmitter,” Behrens asked Council.
Borough Manager Pat Gehrlein made it known that with the new stop lights an emergency vehicle indicator was not installed and it is a radar for the sensor that allows the estimated time for arrivals of vehicles.
Diana Hatfield also had concerns about the current status of the North East Chamber of Commerce ad what the future holds for the organization.
“Would you address the rumor downtown concerning the borough and Chamber of Commerce,” Hatfield asked. “As far as the Borough assuming any responsibility of the activities and properties that pertain to the Chamber of Commerce.”
Hatfield has spoken to Gehrlein previously about her concerns of the longevity of the Chamber.
“We are looking at the realistic potential of the Chamber of Commerce and their duties and responsibilities to the members that they have here,” Gehrlein said. “We are looking at the highest and best result of what is going on as the memberships dwindle, funding has not been available due to cancellations of many of their events and we have reached out to the individuals who currently work at the Chamber of Commerce in an effort to have them fulfill some of the gaps within our organization on a part-time basis.”
As of now, Holly Ferruggia and Katie Houpt have filled in at the accounting department as well as the administration office, due to recent retirements.
“This is a very solid fit for our organization,” Gehrlein added. “It fits well within our mission and hopes and intention moving forward that this could, still allow for the potential of events going on in our community under the borough’s heading if possible and also allow us to do additional work with the reorganization of a parks and rec commission. That has always been one of those groups that has needed administrative attention rather than good intentions, budgetary or otherwise, if we could do that then we could potentially become a one stop shop and offer that to the community as a benefit.”
The borough office is not taking over or buying out the Chamber of Commerce and will not assume its liabilities or assets and is not under consideration at this time.
“I would like to know how having the girls work at the borough office will benefit the Chamber,” Hatfield inquired. “How does this benefit the people that benefit from the events the Chamber holds, like the library and arts council, the organizations that depend on these events.”
Gehrlein followed up the questions explaining that the volunteer dollars that go back to the non-profits are important and the complete dissolvement of the Chamber will not benefit the community.
“I think the idea would be if the individuals that currently work at the Chamber can function here at the borough office and if events in coordination with the same volunteers could be hosted or done, in which those nonprofit agencies are currently benefiting from the Chamber, I would hope to see continued and I do not see any reason why they would not be continued,” Gehrlein explained. “The borough itself has done quite a bit to help local nonprofits as well and we will continue to do so. Once decisions have been finalized by the borough, those can then be disseminated to the Chamber members and also to the general public and will mostly likely be done through the newspaper.”
There is currently a parks and rec organization in town but not officially administered through the borough office. If an administered parks and rec was established it will most likely be comprised of three members of the township, three of the borough and three of the school district as an advisory board. If it becomes administered then the borough office can work to receive grants and funding.
In other business, Police Chief Mike Sliker was recognized by the Pennsylvania Chiefs Association, Dick Hammon, for his certificate of Re-Accreditation for the North East Police Department.
The NEPD is the only accredited police department in Erie County and the department is proud to say they have been re-accredited.
“I am here this evening to present the chief and council the re-accreditation certificate,” Hammon said. “About three years ago is when the department was first accredited and the process is known to be stressful, but we have 139 professional standards that they have to meet and policies to cover these standards and then prove to us they follow these standards. It is very significant to get re-accredited and I think we all know that law enforcement is under a big microscope now in the country and being accredited brings you one step closer to being able to weather that examination.”
Council unanimously approved the appointment of a new part-time police officer, William Barber.
Sliker could not be reached for comment.
There will be a second monthly meeting on Monday, Oct. 19.