Over a hundred people attended Tuesday night's regular borough council meeting, the second such meeting this month. The meeting began with two presentations - one, an annual report of the Columbia Borough Fire Department from Fire Chief Doug Kemmerly; and the other, Susquehanna Heritage's annual report from Mark Platts and Hope Byers.
Council president Kelly Murphy acknowledged receipt of the letter from an attorney for the law firm Stock and Leader requesting clarification from the borough solicitor about the borough's Revolving Loan Program. Murphy explained that the issue is currently being reviewed by the borough solicitor. (No solicitor has been present for at least the last two regular council meetings.)
It was announced that Georgianna Schreck is retiring from the borough. Schreck was recently promoted to assistant borough manager from the position of finance manager. Borough manager Rebecca Denlinger will take over as the borough's open records officer. Schreck formerly served in that capacity.
Several citizens commented publicly - pro and con - on the Revolving Loan Fund, tax hike, etc.
Resident Frank Doutrich asked council about a meeting that occurred this past Monday night at Councilman Cleon Berntheizel's Second Street Cafe Garth. Councillors appeared initially stunned by the question until Berntheizel claimed the meeting was for the Republican committee. Columbia Spy has learned that the meeting included Mayor Lutz and his wife, council president Kelly Murphy, councilman Berntheizel and local developer Don Murphy, among others.
Council spent an hour attempting to hammer out the details of a lease agreement with Dennis Farina of K.T. Graham for the former Columbia Number One Firehouse at 137 South Front Street. Problems include questions about the building's tax assessment and the fact that the borough does not own the adjacent parking lot. K.T. Graham is a distributor of cranes and forklifts.
Mayor Leo Lutz attempted to push back on the details of the Heritage Drive fence that Columbia Spy reported on HERE. Resident Frank Doutrich objected to Lutz's statements and told him he is "all wet." Lutz said his information came from Norfolk Southern's head office, "not someone on a gang." [NOTE: In response to a previous request from Columbia Spy, Norfolk Southern spokesman Jonathan Glass had informed Columbia Spy of details of the fence project in an email.] Columbia Spy stands by its reporting on the fence issue.
Councilman Berntheizel did not mention or offer a public apology for his recent late-night, profanity-laced rantings on Facebook towards constituents. No other councillors brought up the subject, nor did the borough manager.
TO BE CONTINUED...