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Mayor defends decision to keep township trick-or-treat night

The Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners met virtually Sept. 14 over video conference.

Whitehall resident LoriAnn Fehnel came before the board to voice her disappointment with the township’s decision to go ahead with trick-or-treat night this Halloween season. Fehnel said she was gravely concerned trick-or-treating will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Whitehall, despite guidelines laid out by the township.

“People don’t follow guidelines,” Fehnel said.

Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. responded to these concerns, instead voicing optimism that he believed people will follow the safety guidelines.

“I think most parents will be willing to adhere to the regulations,” Harakal said.

Harakal described trick-or-treat night as an opportunity to attempt something he believes can be done safely, for the benefit of the children of the township. Specifically, the mayor is sensitive to the fact many children have been left with little to do throughout the past seven months, and allowing trick-or-treat night will be a chance to give them some fun.

In other news, the board passed a resolution nominating Mark Mazzitelli as deputy chief of police for the Whitehall Township Police Department. After congratulating Mazzitelli on the nomination, Commissioner Joseph Marx discussed the possibility of holding a socially distanced ceremony to celebrate the promotion of the new deputy chief sometime in the next month.

Commissioner Charles Fisher used his time during the meeting to advocate for residents of Whitehall Township to get their flu shots early this fall.

He cited concerns from health officials that there could be a “twindemic” this fall, wherein the similar symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 may make it difficult to differentiate between the two, thus eating up testing resources for COVID-19. If more people have their flu shots, this could be much less of a problem.

Commissioner Michael Dee spoke at the meeting about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which he brought up in relation to the public suicide attempt that was prevented by the Whitehall Township Police Department last week.

“If you know of anybody who seems to be in distress, please help them,” Dee said.

Board President Philip Ginder announced the death of former township Commissioner Curtis Walbert, who died Aug. 28 at age 68. Walbert also served the township as emergency management coordinator and safety officer and was the chief and past president of the Whitehall Emergency Squad.

Ginder and Harakal both extended condolences to Walbert’s family.

“Curt was around doing things to help the people of Whitehall Township for his entire adult life,” said Harakal, further commending Walbert’s work in the township.