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North Catasauqua council approves new fire chief

North Catasauqua Borough Council, at its meeting July 6, passed a motion to name Roger Scheirer as fire chief of North Catasauqua Fire Department. Scheirer has appointed Dan Dougherty as his assistant chief and Martin Newman as lieutenant.

Scheirer also announced four members of the fire department have resigned. Among them was Kyle Har- tranft, a seven-year member, who resigned from both North Catasauqua Fire Department and Charotin Hose Company. He asked to keep his firefighting gear, so he could make a shadow box to memorialize his time with the department.

Scheirer estimated the requested gear to be worth around $3,000 and noted it is in fine condition for continued use and is in no need of retirement. Borough Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian recommended the borough deny this request.

Scheirer and Police Chief Chris Wolfer discussed plans with council to convert the former fire chief’s Chevy Tahoe vehicle back into an active police vehicle. At a cost of roughly $6,300, additions to the vehicle will include a radio, holding cage and other police equipment, as well as having a few repairs. These costs will be covered by $8,000 that the borough expects to receive for selling a 2011 Ford Expedition the police department decommissioned as a police cruiser several months ago.

Repairs for the Tahoe will include interior damage that was done prior to the vehicle’s return to the borough. Wolfer described the damage as “unnecessary,” and the cost for associated repairs is expected to be insignificant.

Wolfer promoted Cpl. Antonio Tramonte to the rank of sergeant.

“I attribute a lot of the department’s success to Sgt. Tramonte,” the chief said. “He’s done nothing but excel from the moment he stepped in here.”

Mayor William Molchany echoed the chief’s praises, adding, “He’s an asset to this department.”

In other news, Marc Hillenbrand, with North Catasauqua Betterment Committee, came before council to report the group had held the first car cruise of the season, featuring 77 cars.

Hillenbrand also reported on the success of the betterment committee carnival, which was held last month. Despite a few days of the event getting rained out, attendance on the dry days was high, and it was clear people were eager to get out after almost a year and a half without group gatherings in the borough.

Committee members Betty Shankweiler, Sandy Scheier and Elizabeth Berger all attended the meeting and were lauded by council for their efforts throughout the year to put the event together. They also announced the Autumnfest event is scheduled for Oct. 10, with a rain date of Oct. 16.

After this report, the committee donated $5,000 to North Catasauqua Police Department for the purchase of body cameras for the officers.

Council President Peter Paone announced contracts have come in for the manhole rehabilitation project, which the borough developed with Keystone Engineering over the past several months. Council voted to accept a bid from PIM Corporation for $26,070.

This is greater than the original estimate of roughly $21,000, but borough Treasurer Annette Englert said she believes the borough can handle it.

Englert had a number of announcements during her own report. North Catasauqua’s insurance agency for borough hall, Philadelphia Indemnity, has stated it will not cover the repairs to the building’s roof.

Borough officials announced earlier this year there is a significant leak in the roof of borough hall, presumed to be left over from faulty repairs done six years ago. Philadelphia Indemnity cannot pursue legal action against the roofers, Able Roofing, because it was not the customer. North Catasauqua was the customer, so the borough would need to conduct the legal action against the roofers.

Englert also detailed an ongoing situation with grant funding for the completion of the D&L Trail. Due to the terms of the Northampton County grant, which will pay for the construction, the project must be completed before North Catasauqua is reimbursed for costs. This means the borough will have to pay the contractor $800,000 out of pocket for the company’s labor, but that amount will be reimbursed once the trail section is finished.

Englert said despite the high number, doing this is not impossible.

“We do have money in other accounts; it’s just going to be a little bit of an accounting nightmare for me.”

Both she and Paone emphasized the contractor is doing a terrific job, and they’d hate to not pay them for the work done already. Council passed a motion to pay $234,245.70 to the contractor currently working on the D&L Trail.