Punxsy EMA continues to regroup

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsutawney Emergency Management Agency committee continues to make headway in its effort to reorganize the often-ignored borough department.

Agency Coordinator Charlie Hoeh recently told Punxsutawney Borough Council about the progress that the committee has made in the last few months.

“We’ve been meeting once a month as suggested by borough council, and we’re in the process of obtaining all of the emergency plans for all of the high rises and nursing homes in town,” he said.

“We should have a copy of every emergency plan, from every high rise and nursing home in the borough,” Hoeh said. “We’re going to keep all of the files dealing with emergency management in Borough Manager Ben White’s office in a filing cabinet so all of the members of the EMA committee will be aware as to where it’s kept.

“This information can be secured better if it is kept in that office instead of having it floating all over town,” he said, although as of this week, he has not received any of the plans that he requested.

“Now, I’m going to go back out again to once again visit all of the operators who said they would send it into the borough office because they were hesitant to give it to me,” Hoeh said. “I told them if they’re hesitant to give it to me, to send it to the borough manager’s office and earmark it to Ben White.”

Hoeh said the committee met Thursday morning in council chambers.

“Emergency management is now beginning to come out of the stone age and into modern times in Punxsy,” he said. “The committee is working really hard. It’s wonderful to work with people who understand what emergency management is all about, and those who don’t are learning.”

Council member Roger Steele said the borough wants to coordinate these plans “so 300 people won’t show up to be evacuated into a building that can hold only 40 people. We’ve had that in the past when we’ve had an abundance of people that needed to get inside out of the weather, and the building wasn’t large enough.”

Hoeh said a lot of the buildings that deal with senior citizens have a professional write plans for them.

“What they do is they come in and write a professional type of agreement, but the people who operate the facility fail to do the check and see if the plan is feasible,” he said. “Maybe their plan states that they’ll have Krise Bus Company come and haul all of their people out. Have they ever contacted the bus company to find out if they have the capability to haul all of their people? These are some of things we’re trying to work on with the people in the community.”

Police Chief Tom Fedigan said the committee has been meeting for several months, and that has turned out to be a lot more difficult than it thought it would be.

“We’re having difficulty obtaining the information that we need,” Fedigan said. “If I could stress to whoever is not cooperating, please help us out. We’re all in this together.”

Also this week, Council also approved an ordinance and two resolutions:

• Ordinance 1109, to create a handicap parking space in the 100 block on the east side of South Gilpin Street.

• A resolution to approve the Jefferson County Tax Collection Committee’s $10,050 operating budget for this year.

• Appointing Emily States-Pearce as the primary voting delegate for Punxsy borough, and Susan Mitchell as the first alternate voting delegate.