Font Size:

A- A A+

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. 

FIVE RESPOND TO CALL FOR PARKS & RECREATION VOLUNTEERS

FIVE RESPOND TO CALL FOR PARKS & RECREATION VOLUNTEERS
BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI

DINGMANS FERRY – Delaware Township continues to advance its goal to resurrect a Recreation and Parks Board that has been dormant since 2014.

The Board of Supervisors at their regular meeting disclosed the receipt of letters from five residents wishing to volunteer their services on the board.

The supervisors said that they plan to hold regular discussions with board members to framework their responsibilities and jurisdiction toward recreational events and event sites in the township.

“I think we have to look at this with people who applied, see what they are thinking,”  Supervisor Jane Neufeld said.  “We need to be clear on what they think they’re going to be allowed to do.”

Supervisors said they are not certain when the board will be officially staffed as they are allowing time for more letters of interest.  “We want more than five applicants (for the give positions),” Neufeld said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson has led the way toward reviving the board, regulated under a Second Class Township ordinance passed in 2012.

He said in a March meeting he would help raise interest for volunteers with the board positions being advertised after no letters of interest were received under a previously advertised notice.

Township Solicitor Tom Farley quoted from the ordinance that the board is created “with power, as determined by the supervisors, to supervise, regulate, equip and maintain township funded recreation programs and township facilities with the township.”

He said the ordinance need not be changed but can have specifications of what the township wants those board members to do.

The supervisors agreed that the board can organize volunteers to help run an event but that the ordinance specifies that “no plan, program, budget, schedule, rule, regulation or other action of the board shall be effective until and unless it shall have received prior approval of the Board of Supervisor.”

The ordinance says funds appropriated by the supervisors for the recreation board will be paid by vouchers disbursed by the township treasurer.

Many activities recommended by the recreation board might still be run by township employees rather than strictly by volunteers.

“It might be a partnership with the township employees but you have to draw a line somewhere,” Neufeld said, “Some things are the township’s responsibility and liability.”

Supervisors spoke at the workshop before the meeting about discussion with Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) representatives regarding a master plan for Akenac Park… Supervisors approved at the meeting a motion for seasonal personnel to distribute a brief opinion survey about Akenac Park to visitors there and to leave surveys at other designated locations.

The board agreed to advertise in the newspaper and to provide to local contractors details on a flooring project that is needed for the Historical Society building at the park.

Also approved at the meeting after discussion during the workshop, supervisors unanimously agreed to buy for $2,451.77 a Lanier copy machine used by the township.  Its lease with the township is about to expire.  They also agreed to pay Voltron Electric of Matamoras $1,290 to repair wires for security cameras at Akenac Park damaged by the late winter Nor’easters.

They also agreed to pay Amp Electric of Dingmans Ferry $1,100 for repair work at Akenac Park at one cabin, to rewire and stabilize a leaning pole behind the bathhouse, to replace an electric panel and circuit breakers at the boathouse and to repair another panel behind the lifeguard cabin.

The board waived about $1,800 in permitting fees for Habitat for Humanity of Pike County home building project at Pocono Mountain Lake Estates … They approved an estimate of $3,770.65 by Kocher’s Water Pump & Tanks Inc. of Bath to seal the township’s municipal well casing.  It is the first time in memory that type of work is needed, said township officials.

Supervisors passed a resolution to close one end of Doodle Hollow Road with barricades at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area boundary until further notice.  The road closure will deny public access to the Dingman Falls Area that the National Park Service has warned is dangerous.

Supervisors discussed recommendations from engineering firm Boucher & James about the new salt shed in the township and advertisement for bids will take place shortly.

BLUE RIDGE CUSTOMERS VENT AT CABLE FRANCHISE HEARING

BLUE RIDGE CUSTOMERS VENT AT CABLE FRANCHISE HEARING
By Wayne Witkowski
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, May 17, 2018

Delaware Township residents seized the opportunity to voice their feelings and frustrations about their cable television service during a public hearing held before the Board of Supervisors last week.

The hearing will figure in the board’s decision whether to renew a longstanding franchise agreement with cable provider Blue Ridge Communications.

Six residents spoke, all of them critical of Blue Ridge, some complaining of the monopoly created and the company’s high costs for services to customers.

“Years ago, we didn’t have a franchise.  Everyone complains about it,” said Bill Fells.  “It’s very expensive.  Standalone services are very expensive.  Optimum offers a two-year plan for $79 a month.  Since 1995, I’ve been paying the nose for Blue Ridge… Is the infrastructure so inferior that no (other) company comes here?  I feel isolated.”

I question them and get nowhere.

“Rates are ridiculous.  Channels are constantly pixelated,”  said Harold Strassberg.  “Under the plans we have its $100 a month (charges) with poor services.”

Pierre Lavanant said he has no access to Internet service in his area.

“Blue Ridge told us it costs them thousands of dollars to get the Internet (for us).”  Lavanant said “I want (the township) to make a case for us to have Internet access as part of the renewal.  They’re a big company, so I hope they’re able to do that.”

“Blue Ridge just came out with a box that they said is the best thing in the world but its not,”  said Ron Hough.  “There are times you can’t even get a station, that it’s not available.  I did better by the old system.”

Even Roadmaster Vince Flatt and Supervisor Jane Neufeld took to the podium.

“What about service to all residents,” said Flatt.  “On Myck Road, half the residents get Internet and cable and half don’t.  And then we have the outages.  That’s horrible.”

Neufeld complained that Blue Ridge did not remove discarded materials it generated while restoring power from the Nor’easters in early March and that some cable lines that were lowered were not raised back on the utility poles to a safe height.

“Some poles that were broken and they never came back and retrieved them,” Neufeld said, adding, “They should be responsible to customers’ needs.”

TICK SPECIMENS TO BE COLLECTED

With Supervisor Rick Koehler absent from the meeting, Supervisors John Henderson and Neufeld agreed to allow the Pike County Tick Borne Diseases Task Force to collect specimens from the township property as part of a Tick Borne Pathogen Study undertaken at ESU’s Northeast Wildlife Lab for a report of seven different pathogens ticks can carry.

“Ticks are a real problem in Pike County and our commissioners are one of the few to take the bull by the horns to examine the problems,” Neufeld said.

Jeff Opitz was approved to fill a vacant seat on the township Planning Commission after his presentation during the workshop before the meeting.  A resident of Dingmans Ferry and graduate of Delaware Valley High School and the University of Pittsburgh, Opitz said he is planning over the next three month to move his business, Cera Material, from Port Jervis to Dingmans Ferry.

When asked about his interest in a Planning Commission seat, Opitz said, “What better way to serve the community as a business owner?” 

He said, when asked, that his goal “is to see more commerce come to the area.  I’d like to do my part.”  Opitz added he wanted see commercial growth without encroaching on the natural beauty of the area.

The board approved a $1,007 annual payment to the Niki Jones Agency for standard SSD hosting and website security.  Henderson challenged the cost of the service but township Administrator Krista Predmore said other agencies charge comparable rates.  The board also approved ABS Solutions fee of $1,560 for its annual renewal for Office 365 for township computer systems.

Delaware Football League was granted usage for four township fields from July 23-Nov. 26 from 2-9pm for practices and games.

Supervisors approved at the meeting, after discussion during the workshop, paying up to $750 for additional signage needed at Akenac Park for things not already posted.

New signs would include “Swim at your own risk when no lifeguard is on duty” and “No smoking, No Vaping,” which was recommended by Hough.

Henderson read during the workshop a letter from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regarding three repaving projects.  State Route 2004/Silver Lake Road from SR 402 to SR 739 will be done this year.  SR 2001/Milford Road from the terminus of the project on that road north of 739, on both sides of the SR 2001 intersection will be done next year.

It covers about 2,000 feet of paving.

Supervisors discussed during the workshop and at the meeting a resolution for the May 23 meeting of the National Park Service’s request to set barriers up at the end of Doodle Hollow Road, which is owned by the township, so people won’t venture onto National park property that is unsafe in spots.

ARE YOU VISITING DELAWARE TOWNSHIP?

Try these useful tools to make the best of your visit.

Delaware Township, Pennsylvania Map