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Issue 19 — Thursday, December 8, 2016
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Bill To Allow Cities
To Opt-Out Of Fireworks Sales Signed Into Law

MIDDLETOWN – State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/C/I-Mt. Hope) announced today that his bill, S.6683, which would allow the three cities in Orange County the ability to opt-out of fireworks sales has been signed into law by the Governor. The use of certain ground based fireworks, or "sparkling devices", was authorized in Orange County via a Local Law in 2015. With Orange County being so close to Pennsylvania, where many more firework devices are legal, there was an increase in the usage of both legal "sparkling devices" and "illegal fireworks" in the County. This caused a steep increase in the number of police complaints. Subsequently, Orange County requested legislation that would allow the three cities, Middletown, Port Jervis, and Newburgh, the ability to opt-out of selling fireworks.

"The use of fireworks in the three cities in Orange County caused safety issues and an overburden on local police departments," said Senator Bonacic. "Working with my partners in local and state government, I'm pleased to say that we have addressed this issue to give the three cities proper autonomy." Said Orange County Legislature Chairman L. Stephen Brescia, "I want to thank Senator Bonacic for sponsoring this legislation that was requested by the County Legislature to give the cities in Orange County the option of not selling fireworks. We felt it necessary to request this bill after a number of safety issues arose, and I appreciate the Governor signing it into law."
The law will take effect immediately.

Medicare Counseling Available

HAWLEY — An APPRISE program counselor will be available at the Pocono office of Sen. Lisa Baker to meet with Medicare beneficiaries who have questions about their Medicare coverage and individuals who will be new to Medicare in 2016 and 2017.

The APPRISE program, provides free, objective assistance to help people understand their Medicare and other health insurance benefits to assist them in making sound decisions about what is best for them. The Pike County APPRISE program is managed by Diakon Community Services under a contract with the Pike County Area Agency on Aging

As a courtesy to Baker's Pike County constituents, an APPRISE counselor will be available at her office on Monday, Dec. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. by appointment only. Senator Baker's office is located at 2512 Route 6, the lower level (rear) of the Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors' Center, just east of Hawley.
All appointments can be scheduled by calling the APPRISE program at 570-775-5550 ext. 1313. When scheduling your appointment, the APPRISE counselor will review your information and the items you will need to bring with you to the counseling session.

Milford Holds Line On Taxes; No Raises For Boro Workers

MILFORD — Milford Borough approved its 2017 budget at the regular Borough Council meeting Monday, Dec. 5, offering good news for the taxpayers and not-so-good news for borough employees.

Next year's budget will be balanced, with anticipated revenues of $1,153,235 against identical expenditures. The tax rate will remain the same at 35 mills, plus 11.1 directed mills for a total of 46.1 mills

But a tight economy and limited sources of additional revenue led Borough Council to freeze wages for 2017.

"Income is down about $15,000," said Council Member Meagan Kameen. "We had to cut expenses a lot."

Council President Patrick Beck commended Kameen and Borough Treasurer Gregory Myer for their work on the budget.

"Ms. Kameen worked really hard on this, going line by line," he said. "We really understand the budget now."

Beck said the goal was to finish with a balanced budget "and we got there. We know what things look like going forward. We're also looking at some grants for the coming years."

The availability of grants, as well as the comprehensive plan and appointments to borough commissions, will be on the agenda for the Dec. 20 workshop, to be held in Borough Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m... for complete story, get this weeks issue.

Port Jervis Ambulance Closing Affects Westfall

WESTFALL — One fallout from the Port Jervis Volunteer Ambulance Corps (PJVAC) temporarily ceasing service in Pike County is the burdening of Westfall Township Fire Dept. with covering that gap in service.

Westfall Fire Dept. Chief Rob Llewellyn reported the problem to Westfall Township supervisors in his monthly briefing that took place at a regular township meeting on Monday.

Llewellyn said that PJVAC's ceasing Advanced Life Support (paramedic), Basic Life Support (BLS), and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) service in early November forced Westfall to become the de facto primary EMT provider for Westfall Township. Previously, Westfall was the secondary provider.

Becoming the primary provider added dozens of extra calls a month, an outcome that is stretching Westfall EMT personnel to the limit. Llewellyn said that the department responded to 44 EMT calls in Westfall, 41 in Orange County, and 16 in eastern Pike, the most total monthly calls this year and in recent memory.

Westfall Township Supervisor Chairman Bob Melvin said, "This is a big strain to our Emergency Medical Service unit."

Llewellyn said that the Westfall EMS unit cannot sustain the additional call volume for more than one month because Westfall is already the primary ambulance provider for Matamoras Borough. Llewellyn said that he fears that the extra call volume might cause volunteers to drop out. The EMTs have day jobs and calling them out too frequently would burn them out. Since the volunteer ranks are already low, losing any EMTs would be bad, and attracting new ones might be a huge hurdle.

Llewellyn said, "Matamoras has six EMTs and some ambulance drivers. So, maybe they can help us [share the load]. We can't keep up this pace."

Llewellyn said that Westfall Fire Dept. and Matamoras Borough Fire Dept. are discussing solutions. The solutions include tweaking each company's by-laws' wording that restricts a member from serving in another department. For EMTs to serve in another department, the by-laws require amending to allow such crossover.

Also, Llewellyn said that Workers Compensation Insurance standards would not cover a Matamoras Borough EMT treating a Westfall Township resident on a call in Westfall... for complete story, get this weeks issue.

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