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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Southerton named acting chief

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    HONESDALE - A council member resigned and the borough gained a chief during the meeting Monday night.
    Council member Carolyn Lorent, who won a seat as a write-in candidate during the last election, started the meeting by reading her letter of resignation.
    "It is with a heavy heart that I am resigning from the Honesdale Borough Council effective immediately," she read. "I want to apologize to the voters who elected me. I certainly don't mean to let you down."
    Lorent listed the reasons for her resignation as personal and include a new grandchild, her husband opening a new business and her father beginning eight weeks of radiation at the end of May.
    A motion was made to accept her resignation, with regret. It passed unanimously. Council will be accepting applications to fill the vacancy left by Lorent.
    Filling a vacancy
    Council President Jim Brennan moved the meeting forward by discussing two applications received for the vacancy left by previous council member Tiffany Kominski.
    Kominski took office in January along with Vice President Bill Canfield and Lorent.
    Council advertised to fill that vacancy and Brennan said that two applications were received.
    One was from resident Tina Pineiro and the other from former councilman Harry DeVreize.
    After both applicants addressed council, Canfield made a motion to appoint Pineiro to the empty seat. Canfield and councilman Scott Smith voted for Pineiro, and council members Bob Jennings, Brennan, and Juanita Pisano voted against.
    A motion was made by Bob Jennings to appoint DeVreize back to council. The motion passed with Canfield and Smith voting against the appointment.
    DeVreize was sworn in by Mayor Jack Bishop and participated in the remainder of the meeting.
    Page 2 of 3 - Appointing a chief
    The controversy surrounding the position of police chief versus police commissioner came to an end Monday night.
    To open the discussion on the matter, Brennan read from a letter sent by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers' Education & Training Commission.
    That document states that on April 30, Richard Southerton "successfully completed the certification examination with a passing score."
    The letter also says that "Upon receipt of a completed application with the required documentation, he will be recommended for certification as a police officer as a waiver of training applicant at the upcoming...Commission meeting."
    This certification allows Southerton to enforce the Crimes Code, moving violations of the Vehicle Code and carry a firearm.
    To move forward appointing Southerton as chief, a pair of motions needed to be made. The first needed to remove him as Police Commissioner and appoint him to Acting Police Chief.
    The second motion appointed Southerton as Police Chief and sent that nomination to the Civil Service Commission for review.
    The first motion, made by Jennings rescinded "the Oct. 14, 2913 appointment of Richard Southerton as Honesdale Borough Police Commissioner" and appointed him as Acting Police Chief at his existing salary.
    Both motions passed with Smith dissenting and Canfield abstaining.
    Canfield said during the meeting that he felt appointing Southerton to acting chief wasn't fair to those who applied for vacant position last year.
    "We had advertised and had seven people apply and now they're being thrown into the wind," he said.
    Smith said in an interview Tuesday that his reasons for voting against the appointment are twofold.
    "We had advertised for a police chief position," he said. "In fact, council hired a police commissioner. There was a lawsuit filed against us for unfair labor practice and that was the whole issue."
    Page 3 of 3 - He continued to say that he felt council should have announced the vacancy during the meeting and advertised that vacancy and not appoint a chief.
    "I just think we aren't following the process we started nine or 10 months ago."

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