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Issue 37 — Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sandwich Boards
Add Nice Touch,
Merchants Say

MILFORD — The subcommittee of the Milford Merchants Group that agreed to make recommendations concerning the sandwich board signs met on March 27, at the Patisserie Fauchere and released the following statement:

“Bill Kiger and Fran Wood provided a history of the evolution of Milford’s sign ordinances and we read through the existing ordinance. We all agreed that sandwich board signs were not only important for businesses, but collectively most of them add to the attractiveness and charm of the town.

“However, we were concerned that generic plastic sandwich board signs, which have recently appeared in front of several businesses, do not contribute to the charm of the commercial district or the spirit, if not the technical requirements, of the current ordinance.

“The ordinance requires that Sandwich board signs “comply with the design and material requirements as specified by Resolution adopted by the Borough Council.” We did not have that resolution so we tabled that aspect of our discussion until we could have it in hand.

“We did agree, in principle, on other aspects of the ordinance, including size restrictions, the requirement that they be displayed only when the business is open and the prohibition on illumination, balloons and streamers.

“However, on the issue of placement of signs, we felt that Side street businesses (those few not on Broad or Harford Street) should have the right to apply for placement of a directional sign at the Broad or Harford corner nearest to their store, subject to receiving permission from the Borough Council... for complete story, get this week's issue.

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More Than
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MILFORD — Although it has been publishing much, much longer, the Pike County Dispatch has been the newspaper of record for the County of Pike for more than 40 years. That means the Dispatch is the place to go to find out about public meetings, estate notices, bids, public hearings, real estate sales and transactions, and Sheriff sales.

The Pike County Commissioners listed the Dispatch as an official newspaper for legal notices during their opening meeting of 2014, and once again, during their annual reorganization meetings on the first business day of the New Year, most of the other municipalities in Pike County followed suit. So far, Milford and Matamoras Boroughs, and Westfall, Dingman, Delaware, Shohola, Blooming Grove. Milford and Lehman Townships have made it their business to have the Dispatch as an official newspaper.

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Tonkin Stresses Experience;
Gaughan Says ‘We Need A Change’

MASTHOPE — The Pike County Council of Republican (GOP) Women last week featured Pike District Attorney (DA) Ray Tonkin and primary challenger Attorney Kelly Gaughan as guest speakers at a dinner held at the Summit Restaurant at Masthope in Lackawaxen Township. The two gave their work experience, presented their take on issues, and answered questions.

Tonkin invited the public to learn as much as possible about county DA offices before the May 19 Primary Election because he said, “The community is hiring a district attorney for the next four years.”
Tonkin spoke about his team, comprised of three assistant district attorneys and support staff. He commended the team for performing well and helping to make the community safer during his two terms as DA. Tonkin shared his work experience, including as a police officer for Milford Borough and Westfall Township, as an attorney, assistant DA, and 1st assistant DA, which he said is the chief assistant to the DA.

Tonkin said, “That experience gave me invaluable experience in leading the people in the DA office…We’re not a large office. We’re not Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or Lancaster.” Nevertheless, in his seven years as DA, he and his team have successfully tried their share of sex assault, drug dealing, robbery, and major capital-murder cases, including the ongoing high-profile case against Eric Frein.

Frein killed one Blooming Grove Barracks Pennsylvania State Police officer and critically wounded another last year. Tonkin said that he has personally been involved in six capital-murder cases, tried five of them, and participated in well over eight jury trials.

Gaughan also presented her credentials. She said, “I want to make Pike County the safest community that can be. Crime is up. We can’t sit still. We need a change.”

Gaughan said that she has law enforcement experience, working as a deputy sheriff in Lackawanna County and interning with the Lackawanna DA, where she helped prepare cases for prosecution. Since 1999, she has worked as an attorney at her law firm. When one of her partners at the firm died in a tragic motor vehicle accident in 2002, she took over some of the partner’s duties, which included family, domestic, and child abuse cases.

Gaughan noted that she would be tough on crime and that her mission would be to make the community safe. Since entering the law firm, she has also been in involved in community service and charitable organizations, especially those that support family, children, and veteran rights. With drug use and crimes rising, Gaughan said that she wants to foster safe communities “by fixing the problem…I want to empower [the community] and make it a safe county. This is my home. This is where my kids are.”

One way Gaughan wants to fix the problem is to facilitate the process by the formation of special courts, two of which would be within the Pike County Court of Common Pleas. She would seek the formation of those courts, a Drug Court (for non-violent crimes) and Veteran Court. Gaughan said that the Drug Court would be an effective tool in addressing what she termed as “the underlying addiction” of repeat offenders.A Veteran Court would address veteran problems at a venue where people could understand veteran problems, she noted.

Gaughan also is committed to seek the formation of a Child Advocacy Center. Such a center would provide children who are victims of child abuse with a one-stop venue dedicated to solving difficult legal issues. Currently victims of abuse have to go through three distinct steps that could be rolled into one through a center. Tonkin noted that he also supports all three venues and is actively working to form a Child Advocacy Center... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Boro Prefers Garbage Fee Over Earned Income Tax

MATAMORAS — Westfall Township recently approved a 1 percent tax on the paychecks of people who work in that Eastern Pike municipality, but Westfall’s next-door neighbor, Matamoras, appears to be moving in a different direction. Kevin Rose, chairman of the borough’s Revenue Committee, told councilmen at their meeting last week that the goal of the committee’s discussions was to help the borough get about $150,000 in new revenue without falling back on an earned income tax.

The committee explored several revenue-generating schemes but settled on the idea of a “one-time” garbage collection fee of about $200 a household, possibly starting in spring 2016. Rose said the fee would be collected annually as long as needed to balance the budget. He said the discussion is ongoing and invited the public to discussions at the committee, which meets around 11 a.m. on the Sunday after the Borough Council meeting on the first Tuesday of the month.

The council approved a request by Port Jervis Ambulance to become the primary advanced life support (ALS) responder for the Borough of Matamoras. George Ewings, business manager, said Port ambulance had been operating as primary basic life support in the borough, but since it always has a paramedic on board, there was no reason why it couldn’t cover ALS too.

Matamoras has been getting ALS coverage from Atlantic Ambulance, based in Milford and Dingmans Ferry. Ewings said Port’s response time to Matamoras, which averages 11 minutes, is half that of Atlantic’s. The council unanimously approved sending a letter to the Pike County Com Center designating PJA as primary ALS responder. The Council also approved purchasing one automated electronic defibrillator, a life-saving device, for the police department... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Gradual Thaw Helped Prevent Ice-Jam Flood

WESTFALL — With a long, cold winter slowly transitioning to milder weather, Westfall Township and Matamoras Borough officials were glad that the Tri-state area got through without an ice jam. At the Westfall Township regular meeting this month, township Roadmaster Bill Schneider reported that the Delaware River Basin Commission this summer would inspect Mashipacong Island, downstream from Westfall and Matamoras, to make sure that remedial steps taken in past years to mitigate an ice jam continue to be effective.

At the local level, under an emergency-management agreement, in effect among Tri-state municipalities Westfall, Matamoras, Port Jervis, and Montague, the road crew/departments of public works (DPW) crew members periodically cut trees on the island along the shore. The tree cutting is one of two strategies designed to reduce the likelihood of ice jams and subsequent flooding, according to Matamoras Borough Councilman and Streets/DPW Committee Chairman Dave Clark. He said that Schneider and Borough DPW employee Keith Rodriguez work together on these projects.

The other strategy, implemented in 1981 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was to cut channels on the island to promote water flow during the winter. Clark said, “That way, the islands won’t hang up the ice…this year, the ice was piling up through the winter at Pond Eddy. That’s where the river bends. In the past, warm spells, suddenly followed by rain, sent blocks of ice downstream.” Some years, those blocks jammed at Mashipacong Island, causing floods.

This winter, Matamoras Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Babb said that he and Deputy Director Tom Olver regularly drove along the river as far north as Narrowsburg to monitor ice conditions upstream. According to Clark, the weather cooperated. It got warm gradually and there was little rain, so that the ice at Pond Eddy melted slowly and didn’t break up suddenly.

Babb said that in the past, he occasionally performed aerial inspections in a single-engine plane piloted by one of Clark’s brothers. Babb said that each year, he regularly trades notes on his findings with the emergency management teams of the other municipalities.

Delaware Valley High School Gym Project Moves Forward

SHOHOLA — At the Delaware Valley School District School Board meeting last Thursday, April 9, Don Flynn of Burkavage Designs shared the bids for the High School Gym Addition and Renovation. The bids had been opened on April 7 and encompassed five facets of the project. Eighteen different contractors submitted bids and all the lowest bidders were recommended for award. The lowest site contractor bid was for $1,740,081, general contractor for $4,586,000, HVAC for $801,338, plumbing for $403,191, and electrical for $927,000. In addition, the hazardous asbestos removal was bid at $22,824. Additional contracts for items such as gym equipment and CCTV will be obtained through state contracts so that the District can control which particular products to purchase.

According to Flynn, the bids, which total $8,788,854.68, are in line with projections based on 2012 estimates. The demolition of a portion of DVES is included in the bids and is scheduled to begin June 23. School Board member Jack O’Leary expressed concerns over the “money left on the table” where bids came in lower than the estimates. Board member Sue Casey asked board member Jack Fisher, “How are we going to pay for this?” While Fisher said that he had no doubt that funding the project would be “doable,” O’Leary pressed further, asking, “What kind of a tax increase are we looking at?”

Superintendent John Bell explained that the project already has money that was set aside several years ago, saying the project was ready in 2011, before he joined the school district. The new DVES is also funded; however, the planned CTE project only has $5 million set aside so far, the final design yet to be determined with options ranging up to $10 million. Bell continued to explain why the gym was a priority, citing childhood obesity concerns and saying that currently students run practice through the hallways of the school. Bell also answered concerns about timing with the economy, saying that the “best time to build is when the economy is not booming” and interest rates are low.

O’Leary tied the funding of projects to the unpaid PSERS debt, saying that there was no question they need the projects, but asked, “Can we afford it?” Fisher reminded the Board that they had previously voted to cap any tax increase this year at 0 to 2.5 percent and emphasized the value of up to date facilities. “We’re being very efficient with our money,” Fisher said. O’Leary was the sole member to vote against approval of the bids, with Jessica Decker and Pam Lutfy absent from the meeting... for complete story, get this week's issue.

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