WILKES-BARRE —No sooner than city council passed an ordinance Thursday night requiring the silencing of cellphone during meetings, a ringtone sounded.
The rule goes into effect in 10 days and was one of two changes made at the regularly scheduled meeting.
The dais or desk at which members of the public sit while addressing council was moved behind the railing at council chambers.
“That’s in response to suggestions over the years that the council chambers railing and gate presented obstacles and hazards to citizens wishing to address council,” said James Ryan, city clerk.
But the first speaker Frank Sorick pointed out council had previously made a rule that no one could address council from behind the railing.
He also inquired about the $8,855 contract to A Associated Contractors of Kingston for upgrades and renovations at the Hollenback Fire Station.
“Can we get a break down of what exactly is being repaired for a station that’s roughly about 5 years old?” he asked.
City Administrator Marie McCormick explained, “The real purpose is to upgrade sleeping quarters.” There is no separation between male and female quarters so the fire department applied for and received a state grant for the work, she said.
Council approved that contract and two others: $85,320 to Brdaric Excavating Inc. of Luzerne for an emergency bank stabilization project on Laurel Run Creek; and the purchase of rock salt under a contract that runs from August 2014 through July 2015 through the COSTAR’s program, a cooperative purchasing program administered by the Department of General Services.
Councilman George Brown said he’s been receiving calls from residents and asked that the city “put more of an effort into cleaning the streets”
Mayor Tom Leighton said he discussed the issue Wednesday with his staff and was informed that “over the past winter we have put down close to 3,200 tons of salt and anti-skid, much more than we typically do in a given winter.”
He said he’s considering asking places of worship in the city to put together a volunteer group to clean up in front of their properties over the Easter weekend and the city would pick up the material the following Monday.
John Banks asked for help with what he says is a problem property on Hutson Street.
Jessica McClay defended the Department of Public Works employees who were criticized for haphazardly delivering city calendars to residents. She suggested that council members deliver the calendars.
Ryan Verdekal questioned whether any images from the Hawkeye Security Solutions surveillance cameras were used in court proceedings and why police did not release images to the public.
City Police Chief Gerry Dessoye responded that he did not know how often prosecutors used images in court. As for making the images public, Dessoye said,”We release the images from Hawkeye that we feel give us an investigative advantage.”