Seated (l-r) are Council Vice President Mark Saginario, President Robert Fields, and Mayor Fiorella Mirabito. Standing (l-r) are Solicitor Blake Marles, Council Persons Kathryn Roberts, Carol Heckman, Michelle Ehrgott, Michael Reph, Jennifer George, and Borough Manager Thomas Petrucci. Below, Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito stands proudly with her parents, Maria and Ennio Reginelli after her installation on Monday. Photos by Bill Halbfoerster.
By BILL HALBFOERSTER
The Home News
With the municipal meeting room filled with family and friends, Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano administered the oath of office to a new Mayor, three Bath Borough Council persons and the tax collector Monday night.
They include re-elected Councilmen Carol-Bear Heckman and Michael Reph, and the newly elected Councilwoman Michele Ehrgott. Re-elected Tax Collector Debra C. Mills also was sworn in by Judge Giordano.
Then followed the oath of office being administered to Fiorella Reginelli -Mirabito, a former councilperson. Many members of her family, including her parents, and other friends and employees were there to wish her well as she is now the Mayor of Bath.
Her first duty was to preside over Council while a president and vice president were elected. Two votes were taken for both seats when there wasn’t a sufficient majority. In the end, Robert Fields was re-elected president and Mark Saginario, vice president.
A president pro term was also elected, and here again two votes were necessary and Carol Bear-Heckman won out over Michael Reph for the post.
The following re-appointments were made by Council: Thomas R. Petrucci, Borough Manager, Secretary and Treasurer; Stevens & Lee (Atty. Blake C. Marles and Atty.James E. Kratz), Borough Solicitor and Assistant Borough Solicitor; Keystone Consulting Engineers, Borough Engineer and Sewage Enforcement Officer; Dennis Huth, Code Enforcement Officer and Zoning Officer; and Mark Saginario, Emergency Management Coordinator.
Named to four-year terms on the Bath Planning Commission were John D. Kearns, Allen George, and Raymond Heiny. Stevens & Lee will also be the BPC solicitor.
Other appointments included: Michael Thorpe, member of Property Maintenance Code Board of Appeals; Jay Mills, five-year term on Bath Borough Authority; Dr. Christine Ussler of Artefact, Inc., consultant to H.A.R.B.
Fields was again named representative to the Colonial Regional Police Commission and Saginario as alternate representative.
A resolution approved France, Anderson, Basile & Co., CPAs, to conduct the borough audit for last year.
• Councilman Reph clarified what was said at the Nov. 4 meeting on not spending borough money to secure grants, so the minutes were amended.
However, Councilwoman Heckman said on Monday that the borough most often has to put some input such as matching funds when applying for grants. Councilwoman Jennifer George agreed, saying grants have to be looked at separately and often need local funds, and Council president Fields said they decide if they want to go for a grant or not. Borough Manager Petrucci said part of his job is to look at grant opportunities. Fields noted if Petrucci sees a grant that is reasonable Council discusses it and then they decide if they want to go for it or not.
• Two other resolutions were okayed; Adopting a rental and usage policy for borough municipal buildings, recreation places and auxiliary facilities, and authorizing Petrucci to submit an application for traffic signal approval to PennDOT for the existing signal at Main & Walnut Sts. that was bowled over by a tractor-trailer.
• Mayor Mirabito was designated to declare snow emergency routes, and one added was the steep Christmas Ave. Hill so that cars are cleared away for snowplows.
• ESSA Bank & Trust Foundation’s grant will be used for parks and recreation improvement, and a park design was approved.
• There was some discussion on a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant opportunity. A committee met in December and proposed that the borough commission a sculpture of the Friendship Tree; replace the aging tot lot, and put in a wading pool. Pertrucci suggested creating an arts project in cooperation with the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, seek corporate donations, and in-kind contributions to match the $50,000 grant.
Saginario had misgivings about going for the grant with Streetscape 3 on the horizon, Rt. 248 re-alignment, and municipal building maintenance expenses.
But Petrucci countered: “The intent is not to have general fund money tied up with this project. I think it would open up cultural opportunities and it would help tourism.”
Other problems seen: locating the sculpture and wading pool with children playing there, next to the 248 road project. Council voted to go for the grant.
• Once two engineering proposals are in, the CDBG project of work on Century Drive and a portion of Creek Rd. will proceed.
• The sign ordinance will be sent to Lehigh Valley Planning Commission for comment, and more discussion may follow later with input from local businesses.
• As soon as the weather improves, the S. Chestnut St. sidewalk project will resume.
• Another long discussion revolved around the 224 W. Main St. property that the borough owns; what to do with it; where to put in a walking trail to connect the parks, etc. No decision yet.
• Tax Collector Mills reported $31,500 still outstanding in realty taxes, which is less than expected.
• On long-term municipal planning, general maintenance is needed for the building, and possibly in future years it could be sold and the Borough move into a smaller structure.
• Council ratified the 2014 officers elected by the Bath Firefighters, as follows: Ed Demchak, fire chief; Gerald DeGarmo, first asst. fire chief; John Hofacker, second asst. fire chief; Alissa Kline, ambulance captain; James Joseph Acevedo-Dickinson, asst. ambulance captain. The December fire and EMS report showed: fire calls, 180 man-hours; EMS calls, 12; drills, 118; administration, 160; equipment repairs, 24; meetings, 28; work detail, 88; fire police, 10, for a total of 620 man-hours.
• In officials’ comments: Reph said he attended a LVPC meeting and the Rt. 248 re-alignment project is on the docket to start in 2015 and be finished in 2017.
Mrs. Heckman said Jan. 15 is the deadline for getting information into the brochure about Bath.
Saginario announced he has switched from Democratic affiliation to Independent. He later praised the highway department for their work during two recent snowstorms, saying they were pro-active rather than reactive. It was noted that Bath did better than other places.
Kathryn Roberts said she believes in term limits and it is no reflection on the leadership of Council.
Mayor Mirabito will make a monthly report.