Various complaints also heard

Halloween, a complaint by two citizens and a complaint by a local business owner were just some of the highlights of Monday night's meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council.

The council voted unanimously to allow trick-or-treating on Thursday, Oct. 31, which is Halloween night.

Little ghosts and goblins will be able to trick-or-treat from 5-8 p.m. in the borough.

Tough words

During the public comment period, Jeff Hiller, owner of Trackside Grill, had some tough words for both the Honesdale Borough Police Department and The Wayne Independent.

Hiller was commenting in general about the "present condition of the town."

He said there is a "drug epidemic" in Honesdale, adding there is "not enough" action being taken by the police department.

Hiller said the drug problem is leading to burglaries in the borough, one of which happened to his business this past week.

Hiller said he was "disappointed" in the investigation conducted by the police department.

He did say he spoke with then-officer in charge Ron Kominski, who he claimed "showed much more interest" than the investigating officers. Kominski is no longer in charge of the police department.

Hiller also said he recalls the days when more officers walked the streets and "familiarized themselves with the shopkeepers."

He thinks that should be the case these days.

Hiller also claimed he has heard from others who have had experiences with "the law," and they have said those were not good experiences.

He thinks the police should put "more energy" into the "miscreants" and the borough would be "better off."

Hiller also had harsh words for this newspaper, at one point saying it was practicing "yellow journalism."

That term originates from the late 19th century and implies terms such as exaggeration of events, unethical writing and sensationalism.

Hiller said he feels a "lot of negative energy" in Honesdale and said the newspaper is a major reason why that has happened.

"Reporting is one thing, harassment it another," said Hiller.

He believes because of the negativity stemming from the newspaper, good people who might want to serve in public office will not run.

Hiller did not say whether or not he intends to run for public office.

Zoning issue

In another matter, a letter from Rev. Glenn Kawalek and Kelvin Birrell of 1525 West Street was read into the record.

Here is the entire letter:

"In May 2008, not only were we, but the Honesdale historical district itself, dealt an ugly blow by then zoning officer Mr. (Wayne) Earley and a borough council that was neither transparent nor accountable, who stood by their man, and refused to answer questions that still remain as to how the modular home next to ours at 1525 West St. was permitted to be built on a non-conforming lot owned by one who also owned the adjoining property which he had subdivided and then sold to himself — those zoning violations have yet to be addressed and still exist!

All of this railroaded in without any public notice to challenge what was already a done deal. We were informed then by a very hostile council, caught with their pants down, that if we wanted to do anything about it, we had to sue! Fortunately for them, then there was no lawyer in town who would handle this case, as the now mayor and current solicitor must remember. Ironically, the then solicitor for the borough resigned immediately afterwards as if to absolve himself from what he knowingly permitted.

Soon after we had requested the borough to see that the driveway that runs from N. Main St. to West St. adjacent to our home have a divider placed between these properties so that it would not be used for a through road. Today it remains as such. We also requested the borough to see that the owner of these properties does not park his commercial vehicles here, no matter that the backyard has become one huge parking lot for his tenants ... and an eyesore to the neighbors.

We have been subjected all summer to having in sight from above our garden fence the property owner's "cherry picker." We didn't mind it so much while he was using it to repaint one of his rental houses .... but it remains there still long after the job was completed. Point blank, it is an ugly sight to see from our property and we wish the council to see that it is removed as soon as possible."

Council president F.J. Monaghan turned the matter over to zoning committee chairman Harry DeVrieze, who promised to look into the matter.

Thanks, mayor

Greater Honesdale Partnership Executive Director Gail Tucker reported on last weekend's annual Harvest & Heritage Days festival.

She said it was a "great event" and noted people came from long distances who attended the festival.

Tucker also thanked Honesdale Mayor Ed Langendoerfer for coming downtown Sunday morning "and personally" picking up the trash.

She said it was supposed to be done by Bunnell Waste Removal but apparently there had been a miscommunication.

She asked the council to look into the matter to "make sure it not happen again."

Fire department issues

Robert Kretschmer from the Honesdale Fire Department also made a presentation to the council.

He said escalating costs mean more funds are needed for fire operations. Kretschmer requested the council increase the fire tax from .27 mills to .32 mills during the 2014 budgeting process.

He said the fire hydrants alone are expected to cost as much as $85,000 next year to maintain, compared to the current budget of $72,000.

Council members said they would take it under consideration.

Other business

In other business:

• The council voted 5-0 to hire Justin Doney as a part-time employee of the public works department.

He is the son of Rich Doney, director of public works.

Langendoerfer asked streets committee chairman Jim Brennan if the job had been properly advertised.

Brennan said it was.

The mayor then asked if they conducted interviews.

"We know the quality of work that he does so we see it as a reinstatement," said Brennan.

He asked the same question again but there was no response.

"I take that as a no," said the mayor.

• Hiller said he had been contacted by Coach USA about changing the loading and unloading spot for the short line buses that run three times a day.

Hiller claimed he had been contacted by the company and said they wanted to load and unload at the Fred R. Miller Pavilion, as opposed to near city hall where it presently happens.

Hiller said it "makes sense" because passengers then will have a covered place to stand under the pavilion.

Monaghan said he agreed, but did not want to approve the measure at the meeting Monday.

"I do not feel comfortable with the bus company not being here to make the request," said Monaghan.

The matter was tabled.

• The council voted unanimously to appoint Brennan to a five-year term on the Central Wayne Regional Authority board of directors. Brennan currently serves on that board.

• The council heard a request from the National Guard about snowplowing.

The request was for the borough to do snowplowing at the armory if the governor declares a state of emergency and if the detachment is on active duty.

The borough would be reimbursed for the costs.

The council turned the matter over to the public works department.

• A letter was read from Protection Engine No. 3 fire company informing the council of a new truck which has been purchased. Delivery is expected in January 2014.