PUNXSUTAWNEY — In a reflection on 2012, Punxsutawney Borough Council President Larry Chenoga thanked borough employees and his fellow council members for helping to make his first year as president a success.
Chenoga had been on council for seven years prior to being elected president in January.
"The president oversees and handles a variety of issues that the other members don't deal with," Chenoga said, adding that he keeps his fellow council members informed of any issues that he deals with as president.
"I send them letters, and I usually talk to the other members on a daily basis," he said.
Chenoga said the new members who were elected to council this past year (Eric Story, Toby Santik and Michelle Lorenzo) have been great to work with.
"Don't forget, Bob Reesman stepped in to help when (former Council President) Susan Glessner resigned at the beginning of the year," Chenoga said, adding that Jaime Sherry was appointed after Reesman resigned because he was going to move out of the borough.
"Bob worked his heart out when he filled the vacancy, and Jaime has done an excellent job since being appointed," he said. "I really count on these new people, because they do an excellent job."
He said that long-time council members, who include Bill Spencer and Vice President Mike Porada, have been teaching the new members the ropes.
"Don't get me wrong, we have our disagreements, but we discuss everything and try to come to some kind of consensus," Chenoga said, adding that when it comes to running the borough he counts on Ben White, borough manager and Mary Neal, borough secretary.
"Running the borough is a big job — you can't just come in and put in a couple of hours and you're done," he said.
Chenoga said running the borough is a 24/7 job, and good, working relationships with other area organizations or boards help keep things running smoothly.
According to Chenoga, council has a good working relationship with the Chamber of Commerce and and its executive director, Marlene Lellock; and the Punxsutawney Area School Board, including President Gary Conrad and Vice President Francis J. Molinaro, who he said have been great to deal with and are opening up the lines of communication between the two boards.
Chenoga expects that communication to grow now that the two boards no longer have their meetings scheduled for the same night.
"I'm planning on attending the school board meetings, and some of the (school) board members said they are planning on attending the council meetings," Chenoga said, adding that this will enable the two to work even closer together.
He said the news media have been very cooperative with him since he first became president in January.
Additionally, Chenoga said he values the input and assistance he receives from the public.
"I'm always open to the public,” he said. “If they ask me a question, I'll do my best to get an answer for them.”
From the public to public servants, Chenoga also commended the
Punxsutawney Borough Police Department.
"Looking at the call sheets every month, it's hard to imagine what it would be like if we didn't have a full-time police department to protect our citizens in the borough," he said.
Chenoga said he appreciates the hard work of Mayor Jim Wehrle and Police Chief Tom Fedigan in the running of the police department.
He said all of the borough's employees are outstanding, especially Public Works and its foreman, Joe Defelice.
"Keeping borough equipment and vehicles up to date has always been a goal of mine," Chenoga said. "For years, Public Works had nothing but junk to run; we're working on that.”
That work includes the recent purchase of a used dump truck from PennDOT at an auction, and a new fire engine for the Elk Run Volunteer Fire Company purchased in 2011.
"That truck was sorely needed by Elk Run to replace their old 1981 Mack fire engine," Chenoga said, adding that if there's anything that is going on in town, the fire department is always there assisting.
"It’s been proven if you hang on to old fire equipment too long, when it comes time to retire it, you won't receive much money for it when you go to sell it," Chenoga said, adding that’s why be believes in keeping the trucks updated as much as possible.
Thanking “everyone in the borough (who) works together,” Chenoga has his sights set on 2013.
“I'm looking forward to my second year as council president and the many challenges that go with it," he said.