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Issue 8 — Thursday, September 21, 2017
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Scout Proposes Free Library
Boxes For Eagle Project
By Ken Baumel

MATAMORAS — Borough resident Lucas Helms wants to build and install two Little Free Libraries boxes in Matamoras Borough as his Eagle Scout project. Helms presented his preliminary concept at the regular monthly Borough Council meeting last week. He had previously presented his idea at this month's regular Borough Recreation Advisory Board meeting, according to new board President Linda O'Donnell.

Helms came to the council meeting with his dad Lee and Pike County Librarian Rose Chiocchi. She said, "We've had boxes in Milford Borough and they are heavily used."

The boxes are sponsored by Little Free Libraries, a not-for-profit organization that provides technical support, resources, networking, and encouragement. Helms sought feedback from the council and Recreation Advisory Board. He first suggested one unit at Firefly Field in Airport Park and one at Borough Hall. He is proposing to install units that are twice as large as an average rural mailbox. Chiocchi termed the units "a large birdhouse for books."

After discussion, the council approved two unit installations, one at Avenue Q and 7th Street near the park and one at Borough Hall. Little Free Libraries provide box designs that are weatherproof and that have a see-through door where books are visible. The units encourage people who want to read to take a book. When they are finished, the can bring it back in a few days. No library card is needed. Advisory Board President Linda O'Donnell said that the Recreation Board members support the installation concept, but wondered if Firefly Field might be inaccessible in winter because the borough Dept. of Public Works does not plow Avenue S in the park.

Councilman and board advisory member Dave Clark suggested that besides inaccessibility during bad weather during winter, possible vandalism might also be an issue on the runway area in front of Firefly Field. Helms said that Little Free Libraries reports that vandalism is very rare for such installations, but he was amenable to wherever the council and recreation suggested as an alternative.
Recreation members suggested 7th Street and Avenue Q as an alternative location. It's a school bus stop. More people pass by that intersection. And, the Borough Dept. of Public Works (DPW) plows it... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Advisory Board
Seeks Members

MATAMORAS — The Matamoras Recreation Advisory Board is currently accepting letters of interest to fill 2 vacancies on the board. They are looking for individuals that have a passion for their community, can commit to 2 meetings a month and spend some time researching ways to improve Airport Park. Please send letters of interest to: Matamoras Recreation Advisory Board, 10 Avenue I, Matamoras, Pennsylvania 18336 no later than September 30.

Courthouse Addition On Schedule

MILFORD — Sheetrock is stacked and floor tiles still are boxed on the floor, while carpeting, windows and lighting need to be installed throughout the three floors of the Pike County Courthouse Annex Building. Drop ceilings have yet to be installed and even the brickwork for the ground level accessway from the original courthouse has not yet gotten a jackhammer to create the opening. But Pike County engineer Mike Lamoreaux remains convinced that the annex would be ready for a June 2018 opening. "We're looking at a completion date of June 20 next year," Lamoreaux said with confidence.

He's seen many projects before and knows the old adage in construction that it's the exterior work – the foundation, the ironwork, pouring concrete and the facade – that takes much more time than the interior. Now that the annex exterior work is winding down, along with the ductwork for the HVAC system installed, the inside work should move forward apace during the cold weather months.

"All projects have their ups and downs. This one has been mostly up," Lamoreaux said. "There are the normal stumbling blocks, but none has been significant."

Aside from a late season snowstorm, the temperate and dry winter through the early part of this year meant minimal weather delays when the ironwork was erected. "We ran into what we expected," Lamoreaux said of incidental challenges. Cost overruns have been routine and minimal. The only holdup in the $8 million project was a minor one, said Lamoreaux, of hitting larger boulders than expected during excavation for the foundation. That only slightly prolonged the project. The entire building is handicapped accessible, said Lamoreaux, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The first floor below ground is for the Sheriff's Office, which includes 10 office rooms and 10 holding cells. The juvenile holding area is away from any proximity to adults, said Lamoreaux A tunnel connects both buildings. Sadly Phil Bueki, longtime Pike County Sheriff, is retiring at the end of the year after 40 years work in law enforcement and will not have the chance in an official capacity to enjoy the new surroundings. The second floor has the courtroom and a hearing room, with judge's chambers and office space and judicial staff offices. Overall, there are 17 rooms on the floor.

The third floor is more wide open for the probation office, with cubicles set aside in one large room for probation officers. "The probation area still needs a lot of buildout," Lamoreaux said. Mar-Paul Construction of Scranton is the general contractor. The other three companies involved are Bognet Plumbing of Hazleton, Joyce Electrical of Eynon and Troy Mechanical out of Moosic and Troy, New York... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Township Passes Stipend For First Responders

LACKAWAXEN — Township supervisors approved Ordinance #110, which provides an annual stipend to first responders as an incentive to help attract new members and retain existing members. Pike County Office of Emergency Management Director Tim Knapp said in an interview on Tuesday that he believes that Lackawaxen is the first department in Pike County to approve such an ordinance. Other Pike municipalities, such as Westfall and Lehman townships, are discussing or studying the issue, but have not yet taken action.

"The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) informed us that Lackawaxen Township is the first municipality in the state to adopt a local ordinance that allows residents and non-residents alike to qualify for the incentive," Supervisor Mike Mancino said. The state law does not have a provision that includes non-residents. Mancino and fellow Supervisors Albie Beisel and Jeff Shook took action at their regular meeting held at the township building at Urban Road on Monday following a discussion at several previous workshops and regular township meetings. The ordinance, effective on Sept. 25, is based on Pennsylvania Act 172 and sections of the 2nd Class Township law, which authorizes municipalities to pass a local ordinance enabling such incentives.

The ordinance qualifies township residents who are active volunteer members in any of the four Lackawaxen fire companies, Forest, Central, Greeley, and Lackawaxen. The ordinance also qualifies residents living in the area outside of Lackawaxen who are active members, including those living in Wayne, Sullivan, and Orange counties. Township Solicitor Tom Farley said that such members cannot also be a member of another department outside of Lackawaxen and still get the stipend.

The stipend is a flat $250 a year. But, to get the stipend, members must participate in least 30 percent of the volunteer fire company's activities, such as follows:

• Emergency calls;
• Non-emergency activities, such as formal training and drills;
• Administrative and other support services, such as fundraising, providing facility or equipment maintenance, financial bookkeeping, department-sponsored events or projects that aid the department's financial viability, emergency response, operational readiness... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Senior Housing Full Already

WESTFALL — Dignitaries, property developers, and residents celebrated a ribbon cutting at Pike's third affordable-senior-housing center, the Westfall Senior Apartments, last Friday. For Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg, the success of the 83-unit apartment complex, designated for those 55 and older, is measured first by the full occupancy, which triggered the ribbon cutting date, and by his role in helping to bring the project on line. In 2011, the county had two privately owned affordable-housing facilities for seniors, but the huge waiting list showed a clear need for additional housing, noted Osterberg and senior advocate, former Delaware Township Supervisor Charlie McCoy.

Osterberg thanked McCoy for attending virtually every regular commissioner meeting in 2012 and 2013 to remind commissioners to lobby for housing. Meanwhile, Osterberg's sister, a librarian at Warwick Public Library, in Warwick, New York, knew of Osterberg's vision for senior housing. In 2011, she introduced him to a Warwick Library Board member, Jonah Mandelbaum, a residential housing and property developer, who also builds affordable-senior-housing complexes. Davis Chant of Chant Realtors, who has served as Mandelbaum's Tri-state site-location consultant, helped identify the 6.86-acre parcel on which the center is now located. Mandelbaum obtained all required permits. In October 2015, the groundbreaking kicked off construction. Westfall Township granted a Certificate of Occupancy for the complex in January 2017. The first tenants came in March.

Located behind Kmart in Westfall, the site is near shopping, fast-food restaurants, and groceries, with many stores within walking distance of the complex. Residents commended Property Manager Claudia Archir and Superintendent David Monroe for being available to meet needs. Mandelbaum granted an onsite office to Pike's Area Agency on Aging for a lease of $1 year. The office allows AAA to have a place to serve seniors with a wide range of county-sponsored programs. And, the AAA Matamoras Senior Center has a full array of recreational and educational programs. Dwelling units feature amenities and an efficient 774-square-foot room plan. Mandelbaum said, "Each airy one-bedroom apartment provides the perfect solution for comfortable 55+ senior living."

Osterberg said that individuals or households who meet the income and household-size requirements may apply. Veterans receive first preference for apartments. Osterberg said that he and his fellow commissioners Richard Caridi and Steve Guccini continue to look for facilities and services that cater to seniors. Mandelbaum thanked the government officials who helped with this project.

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