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Police community efforts lauded

Before the council meeting Nov. 8, a public hearing was held pertaining to a request for the Intermunicipal Transfer of Retail Restaurant Liquor License for Sheetz Inc, located at Fourth and Emery streets,

Mark E. Kozar of Flaherty & O’Hara made the argument to allow for the sale of alcohol at the Sheetz location.

Responding to councilwoman Kiera Wilhelm’s questions regarding on-premises consumption, Kozar explained, “Sheetz does allow for consumption on premises. It’s very limited. It’s not advertised. It’s not a substantial part of the business. There’s no happy hours or drink specials advertised. There’s no draft beer or entertainment.”

Kozar added Sheetz has made every effort to ensure staff are educated and precautions are taken to avoid underage alcohol sales.

Sheetz’s Local District Manager Travis Miller confirmed the desire to highlight local breweries on their shelves.

The resolution was unanimously approved later in the evening.

President of the Bethlehem Order of Police Officer Robert Nichelson later addressed council, highlighting stories of officers going the extra step in their duties to help individuals in need.

Nichelson provided example after example of the spectrum of issues that comes with being an officer in the city, including taking an active role in community events to referrals for assistance with those suffering from dementia to mental health crisis situations, to the officer who helped a citizen get backup when their chair lift broke. One officer was out for six weeks after being pinned between two vehicles while getting a resident out of harm’s way.

Expressing his support for the work of all Bethlehem’s police officers, Mayor William Reynolds told council of his regular meetings with Chief Michelle Kott and Nichelson, and how they are working on how best to address the recruitment and retention issues the department is facing.

Nichelson said, “In October, we had 4,681 calls for service, and we are at about 50,000 this year.”

Speaking directly to Chief Kott, Williams said, “Our police interact with citizens on a regular basis in different ways. They are currently doing that in a regular basis in different ways. They are currently doing that, whether it’s through our schools, whether or not it’s through our community, whether or not it’s just biking, or walking, officers do a great job now of finding different ways to both utilize technology and be able to get out into our community.”

The idea of Block Watches was also raised during the earlier portion of the evening. To this, Reynolds noted, “If people want to organize traditional block watch meetings, and it there’s a way for us to help out, I know that the officers have often attended those.”

Mark and Sally Will-Weber once again addressed council about the surprise huge water bill waiting for them when they returned from a 35-day trip. The couple each explained certain facts based on questions that have arisen since their Oct. 18 appearance.

According to the couple, it is highly unlikely that someone stole that amount of water within the period indicated on the invoice covers. “If the spigot would have been left open and running, Elizabeth Avenue would have been either a lake or an ice-skating rink. I think someone would have noticed that,” explained Sally Well-Weber.

It was highlighted that the water meter in question was 31 years in operation, 11 years past what is recommended.

The couple believes the spindle malfunctioned – “the water department refused to conduct that test because it would take too long. So, we will never know the cost,” Sally Will-Weber said.

Her husband urged council to investigate the issues arising from smart meters, and some of the issues that have arisen, like what the Will-Webers have faced.

Concerns over an apartment proposal at the site the Walnut Street Garage were again raised by a couple of residents, for which concerns of lack of suitable parking remains an issue.

Officer Robert Nichelson, president of the Bethlehem Order of Police, highlights through concrete examples the different ways officers helped the residents of the city, sometimes putting their own safety at stake, in the month of October.
Press photos by Marieke Andronache Mayor William Reynolds addresses Police Chief Michelle Kott and Officer Robert Nichelso, who are working together toward a strong and community-driven police force, and finding ways to recruit new members.
Mark E. Kozar of Flaherty & O'Hara spoke at pubic hearing on a liquor license for Sheetz, located at 4th and Emery streets.