Tuesday, June 19, 2018


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Safety a Top Priority for Pennsburg, Officials Say
Written by Kelly Chandler, Staff Writer

        The purchase of a high-power generator for the Upper Perk Police District was the focus of a night in which Pennsburg Borough Council zeroed in on public welfare in an effort to assure residents it has their safety in mind.

        At Tuesday night’s meeting, council voted to move forward with the purchase of a 20,000kW generator, the more powerful and pricier option, for the Upper Perk police headquarters at 88 W. Sixth Street. The propane-powered generator will have a switch during power outages which will automatically take over powering the station.
        The cost estimate for the generator, which will have to go out for two additional quotes, is between $10,000 and $15,000. 
        A working generator, powerful enough to power the station, proved to be vital during Superstorm Sandy in October when police lost electricity for approximately 24 hours. Despite being able to charge their equipment at East Greenville firehouse, according to council members, police lacked detention facilities, among other resources.
        “I think we need to get this in place and our borough should do it,” said Mayor Ethel Ritchey when a question arose about financing the purchase through the Upper Perk Police Commission or the borough.
        Council agreed and voted to get two more quotes for the purchase, which will likely be made next month. Councilwoman Vicki Lightcap said she was exploring funding the generator through county and federal grants, but noted the specifics, like how much money is available, are still up in the air.
        Officials also passed the Montgomery County hazard mitigation plan, under the recommendation of borough emergency management coordinator Cody Belmont. Belmont said county officials surmised approximately 24 hazard scenarios, like acts of terrorism and natural disasters, and planned how to address and potentially prevent the problems.
        Belmont also noted the Pennsburg borough building is not an emergency shelter, as was previously questioned, and residents in need of emergency shelter could call the county’s non-emergency phone number to arrange help. He said St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in the borough would serve as a shelter if the need arose, and that he was in talks with the Perkiomen School to possibly arrange emergency provisions there.
        Resident Diane Stevens said even if the current borough offices weren’t an emergency shelter, and instead served as a command post for emergency management as was discussed, she believes the borough should investigate buying a generator to power that portion of the building.
        Other safety improvements included talk of installing signs and flashing red signals for the Pennsburg Fire Department at Penn Street and Route 663, and at 5th and Main streets, amid high risk of collisions at the locations when fire company personnel attempt to pull out from the firehouse. Council said they would explore costs for the signage.
        Pennsburg Fire Chief Scott Seip also asked council for backing in enforcement of their ordinances on false alarms. Alarms, which warrant the response of the fire company and then prove to be false, brought the department out to one business eight times in two days during the recent superstorm, one call which came as firefighters were battling a house fire, Seip said. 
        Another business, identified as Pennsburg Manor, has also been the scene of false alarms, many pulled by patients.
        Seip said businesses with repeat false alarms are refusing to pay fines, which range from $250 on up for each occurrence. Council members agreed the borough would support the fire company’s efforts to enforce ordinances.
        In other business, council accepted with regret the resignation of Councilman Bill Clinton, who served seven years. Clinton resigned, effective Tuesday, and will have to be replaced within 30 days. Council asked anyone interested in serving submit a letter of interest to the borough.   
         Officials approved a $40,000 payment in lieu of services from CVS on Pottstown Avenue, to the borough, since a full traffic signal at the location wasn’t warranted, as was a part of a developer’s agreement.
        The borough’s application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to reconstruct roads, curbing and sidewalk was approved by council members for Main Street down to Seminary Street. The borough is seeking federal monies to complete the project, but is still in the application process.
        Roads committee chair Mike Mensch said, as discussed at a recent committee meeting, the borough’s holiday decorations were thrown out due to poor condition. Resident Linda Shagg said she hoped the borough could replace them and would seek funding to do so. 
        Mensch noted the committee was looking at purchasing 15 decorations, at a cost of approximately $355 each, but would have to look into outfitting some of the utility poles, which were replaced recently, with electric receptacles at a cost of approximately $300 each.
        Officials said they would also inquire with PPL Electric to find out why the poles were replaced without identical access receptacles.





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