Punxsutawney Borough Still Without A Police Chief

6:14:16 james borza

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) — Nearly four months after James Borza resigned, Punxsutawney Borough is still without a police chief.

February 26, Borza resigned, citing a lack of power to properly run the department and discipline the officers. Borza also relayed feelings of an inability to fix the dysfunctional activity by officers and council members that he was warned about.

For Mayor Richard Alexander, who was surprised that Borza’s resignation came when it did, he still doesn’t know why council hasn’t acted to replace Borza.

“Council was supposed to set up a search committee to find a new chief, but nothing has happened yet,” Alexander said.

With the $50,000 position still open, Alexander is in charge of the department, which includes eight full-time officers and five part-timers.

Fortunately, Alexander does have extensive law enforcement experience, retiring as a Sergeant from the Jefferson County Jail.

Recently, the borough and Borza were locked in a legal battle as the former chief sued it for unused sick time in the amount of $4,517.

But the borough won that case.

Nevertheless, the borough is without a Chief of Police as the Fourth of July holiday celebration approaches.

6:14:16 punxsy boro police car

While the borough council still decides what to do with its vacant Chief of Police position, it will also need to find a new solicitor as Jay Patrick Lundy has resigned, too.

The council did vote to advertise for a new solicitor.

Borough council did achieve a few things in Tuesday evening’s meeting.

After much discussion, they voted to begin replacing street lights, starting on the streets of South Main, Martha and Cleveland.

The new street lights are LED, as opposed to the old sodium vapor lights.

“We are looking at saving $2,000 a month on these new lights, so it’s good to do it as soon as possible,” Borough Manager Ben White said.

White had participated in a state Department of Environmental Protection webinar to learn about the lights, their features and cost savings. White also suggested trying a test area where the lights weren’t as critical.

He explained a minimum of 12 must be ordered and up to 24 at one time.

Council vice president Larry Chenoga made a motion to begin the replacement process on South Main, Martha and Cleveland streets.

Council member Jeanne Porada asked Toby Santik, chairman of the public safety and public service committee, if council should go around to see where to start replacing lights.

“If you want to, we can,” Santik said.

Council member Jaime Sherry asked if borough police officers could give suggestions.

Council president Brian Smith said that an area had to be picked before the lights could be ordered.

After White mentioned the monthly savings, Chenoga’s motion was approved.

Penelec will install the new lights free of charge. But if the borough changes its minds about the lights, the cost would be on the borough.

In other business, David A. Neill, project manager with the engineering firm The EADS Group, discussed rebidding for street paving and curb ramps.

He said when the bids were first done, there was no separation between the two and it led to much higher bids coming in.

“With the bids separated, we should get some back that are a lot more reasonable.”

Public Works Chairman Jim Bianco reported that the railroad tracks crossing Findlay Street should be repaired and repaved soon.

Borough council will meet again at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 12.

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