Thursday, May 10, 2018

Recognitions, Incentives and a Surprise Resignation

Photos by Evan Brandt
TOP COP: Pottstown's Police of the Year, Det. Michael Glauner, second from right, is congratulated Wednesday night by Dept. Chaplain Everett Debnam, left, Chief F. Richard Drumheller, center, and Deputy Chief Mick Markovich, right.
Last night's borough council work session was not lacking in issues proposals, congratulations and at least one very big surprise.

Don't worry, I won't keep you waiting.

If by chance you are one of the unfortunate few not to follow my live, typo-ridden Tweets on Twitter, then you may wonder what I'm talking about. Here it is straight.

Councilman Dennis Arms Resigned

At the end of the meeting, when council members offer comments, Arms uncharacteristically asked to go last.

First the good stuff, he said. Arms recent married and took great pride in having the entire affair taken care of by businesses inside the borough. He thanked them, and said they had all done a superb job.

Then, and this is always a bad sign, he started reading from a prepared statement and I fumbled to get my live video up and running, only catching the last part's of his comments.

Here's what I got in video:

Thankfully, Arms was considerate enough to have copies of his comments prepared ahead of time to hand out to the press. Here is everything he said:
I have lived in Pottstown my entire life and imagined living, working and retiring in this borough. I started my term in 2016 under the impression I might be able to make a difference in my hometown. Unfortunately the last two years have been more than
Dennis Arms, right, on the night he was sworn-in.
frustrating. On numerous occasions I have had someone on council ask what we are voting on the night of the vote, blatantly admit they do not understand the financial reports provided, and as a council, vote on items without seeking the information necessary to make a decision.
I want to thank the residents of Pottstown, especially those in Ward 4, for trusting me to make the right decisions. I hope that our local media and most important, residents, hold their local government accountable for their actions. Please accept this letter as my resignation as Councilor, Ward 4 for the borough of Pottstown, as well as all other committees/commissions I have been appointed to effective this evening as I will be moving out of the borough.
Best of luck Mr. Arms.

Because council did not vote to accept his resignation, which may happen on Monday, the clock has not yet started on choosing his replacement.

Although Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. did not weigh in last night, I suspect he will tell council the law gives them 30 days to make a replacement once they do accept the resignation.
The statue and proclamation prepared for
Det. Michael Glauner, Officer of the Year.

They may follow whatever process they wish to choose a replacement -- solicit applicants, conduct public interviews as they have in the past, or just pick someone out of thin air. The only requirement is that the person chosen lives in the Fourth Ward.

Should they fail to make a selection, a petition can be filed with a judge and the judge can make the appointment, but it is unlikely it will come to that.

Police Officer and Employee of the Year

The meeting started out on a higher note with the awarding of certificates, pins, resolutions, statues and plaques to two exemplary borough employees.

The first and more familiar was the presentation of the Police Officer of the Year to Det. Michael Glauner.

Here is the video of the presentation by Mayor Stephanie Henrick:

Afterward, he received a plaque with the proclamation, a statue, a pin and the warm congratulations of co-workers, family and members of borough council.

This was preceded by the Exceptional Employee of the Year award, which was presented to Laura E. Kline, who works at the wastewater treatment plant and was only hired in 2016.

Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller, left, 
congratulates Laura Kline, the Employee of the Year 
Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller said Kline is a very dependable and valuable employee of the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

"She will take overtime if no one else signs up for it just to be sure the plant operations are covered and to avoid others being mandated. Her knowledge of plant operations has been an asset in her troubleshooting ability. Laura is a valued and integral part of our Plant staff. She is respectful to her co-workers and can be found covering odd shifts as needed," he said in a release from the borough.

"Laura takes additional classes to uphold her wastewater license. She is responsible and accountable for her actions to ensure the wastewater is being treated efficiently and within the discharge limits. Laura is a great team player and all around employee. She goes above and beyond her job description and will go out of her way to help others. She is a great operator and takes initiative to learn new things to help her excel at her job,” he said.

Firefighter Incentives and New Fire Codes

Not to be left out, Fire Chief Michael Lessar Jr. was also in a position to make some news Wednesday night.

He first laid out a set of new requirements he would like council to adopt, including sprinkler systems and fire alarms for smaller new construction and for older buildings that experience a change of use.

Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of the Pottstown Area Industrial Development Inc., the
Fire Chief Michael Lessar talks about his volunteer incentive plan.
borough's primary economic development organization, said she has concerns that some of those requirements may impede redevelopment of older downtown buildings because of the additional cost.

"Those buildings need a lot of love," she said, meaning it is very expensive to renovate the interiors up to code, and the additional cost of a sprinkler and fire alarm system may scare investors away from downtown Pottstown.

Lessar also asked council to implement an incentive system for the volunteer fighters. He laid out a point system, indicating that the borough has more volunteers than most, but he wants to incentive those who answer more calls, do more fundraising and get more training and certifications.

The maximum cost to the borough if all firefighters took full advantage of the program would be $45,000, but he said it is more likely to be $10,000 to $15,000.

Lessar said grants will be sought to cover the cost but, failing that, it would have to come out of the fire fund, which, he acknowledged, is pretty low on surplus funds.

There were some other interesting items, but you'll have to read the Tweets to find them.

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