The recently purchased Laceyville Police cruiser (top) is unmistakable now due to new decals applied on Tuesday afternoon. On Tuesday night, Fred Saxer (above) was unanimously approved as Laceyville’s new emergency management coordinator on Tuesday night.
Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk
(As published in the March 8 edition of the Rocket-Courier)
At their regular monthly meeting, staff and members of the Laceyville Borough Council met Fred Saxer, who currently serves as the emergency management coordinator for Asylum, Terry, and Wilmot townships in Bradford County and Braintrim Township in Wyoming County. Saxer had been invited to interview for one of several openings for special positions that the relatively new board has been pressed to fill.
Saxer, who resides in Wilmot Township, told the council that Laceyville is in the fortunate position of being adjacent to several municipalities and another county, which opens doors to multiple resources. Not having big industries is another plus when it comes to safety, Saxer added. “There’s no need to worry about what’s inside every building and warehouse in the event of an emergency,” he noted.
The board unanimously approved the appointment of Saxer, who will work closely with Mayor Phil Brewer, council president Randy Brigham, Officer Kevin Costello and the Laceyville Fire Department as needed. Saxer served as fire chief in Laceyville from the late 1980s to early ‘90s, and Brigham commented that he felt comfortable hiring someone who knows the area.
Residents and visitors to downtown Laceyville this summer will notice big changes. The council agreed to have Brown Hill Tree Service remove three pear trees on the south side of Main Street that have caused extensive sidewalk damage and have become especially “dirty” due to a blight. Nine more pear trees that company owner John Brown feels are still healthy and manageable will be trimmed. Council hopes to replace the downed trees with large pots filled with perennials plants and flowers and will include that as an option when putting out bids to mowing companies.
Brigham has been in communication with Braintrim Township officials who offered to split the one-day cost of a boom mower with the borough so that sumac and other brush along Main Street can be trimmed once or twice per year. Brigham also suggested that the borough seek a contractor who would manually cut back a buildup of earth that has overrun the curb on the north side of the street and has taken up about a foot of roadway due to a creeping subsidence of the bank there.
Brewer would like to see a house on Lacey Street condemned, calling it “an eyesore.” He said the only inhabitants of the property in recent years have been squatters, and the owners have done no maintenance nor made any improvements in at least five years. Council member Kristy Fassett said that she has been working with the solicitor, who informed her that there is a process for condemnation that can be done via the borough’s existing codes.
Brigham said that these measures and other ideas discussed in the course of the meeting are part of an effort by the new council to clean up Laceyville and make it a nice place to live and visit again.
On a similar note, council member Henry Laboranti reported that he had met with DCNR regional liaison Christine Dettore and was excited about the prospects of getting a master site plan for the borough’s park across the river, which has been in serious disrepair since the 2011 flood. The first step, he explained, is getting grant money to pay for the study, which would include an engineer’s report and a synopsis of community needs based on public meetings.
“It might not be done next year, but we really believe that this could be a good thing for the community in the long run,” said Laboranti, who hopes to solicit part of the 50 percent match the borough will need for the DCNR grant from local businesses and organizations. Dettore also recommended working with local river outfitters, who would likely be interested in having boating access to the park.
The details can seem daunting, council members concurred, noting that one of the two existing ball fields in the park would have to be realligned because it faces the wrong way. Nonetheless, they agreed that, in the end, the community would have a state-recognized base plan that could lead to more funding. The next phase, Laboranti continued, could be realized with a Small Communities Grant, the first $20,000 of which does not require a match. Applying for a Marcellus Legacy Fund Mini Grant in 2019 could provide further assistance at offsetting their costs.
The most exciting news in Off. Costello’s police report was that decals had been applied to the recently acquired SUV on Tuesday afternoon, properly marking it as a police cruiser.
“We wanted the vehicle to be very visible,” said Brigham, echoing the sentiments of council members from earlier meetings that the police department is meant to protect and serve the community and its vehicle should reflect that. Brigham was also happy to report that Aaron Werkheiser of Graphic Detail in Tunkhannock did the work at cost, telling council that it was “his honor” to help the community. The discount provided a substantial savings to the borough.
Additional improvements to the SUV over the past month include painting of the tires and the installation of a rifle rack. Brigham donated a recently inspected fire extinguisher for the cruiser, and council members would also like to procure a rifle to be kept inside. Brewer suggested looking for an AR-15.
“We haven’t had a gun in the vehicle for quite awhile,” Brigham stated. “We need to keep our police officer as safe as we can.” He issued an appeal to the community for a donation or especially good deal for an adequate firearm.
Under new business, it was announced that state Rep. Karen Boback would resume representation at the borough office starting March 27 and continuing on every fourth Tuesday until next winter. Borough treasurer Kenneth Johnson noted that Boback’s constituents have been very receptive to the services in the past, which will be offered from 3 to 5 pm.