April 21, 2011 —
The unruly mob scenes continued again this month at the meeting of the township supervisors, except this time chairman George Fluhr Jr. wasn’t at the epicenter, rather, supervisor Greg Hoeper was.
It is no secret that some township officials and others are under investigation by a county grand jury, which helps explain why tensions are so high.
The meeting was rather bland until public comment, when the lid comes off.
Hoeper, who has been particularly quiet during most of the donnybrooks during the past year, decided to take on Don Wall, the fire chief, one of the known grand jury targets. Hoeper, who was appointed to his position after the resignation of Steve Dellert, is running for supervisor in the upcoming primary.
“You were waving your hand in the air a few months ago, stating that the repair of the two fire trucks would cost $176,000,” Hoeper said. “I asked for the paper work on the trucks and I didn’t get it. So, I went on my own to the Honesdale Fire Equipment Store and gave them all the particulars about the two trucks – every detail – and they said the cost wasn’t anywhere near $176,000 but was $29,784 for one and $28,578 for the other. You overstated the cost, deliberately threatening that you might have to close down one of the fire stations.”
Hoeper said Wall made a $125,000 mistake. “That fire equipment store in Honesdale isn’t reliable and has been proven to be incompetent so we never use them,” Wall said. “Their figures are all wrong.”
Wall accused Hoeper of never coming to a fire company meeting to learn of their expenses. Hoeper said he was never invited. The arguments went round and round with the audience screaming and Fluhr using his gavel to try to restore order, which he never did.
A resident yelled at Hoeper, “You’re politicking!” which Hoeper strongly denied.
In an article appearing in The Pocono Record on April 18, it was claimed that the fire company is far from bankrupt and currently has $387,000 in its bank accounts and other financial resources. At the time that Wall asked and was refused a half mill increase in the fire tax, the article claimed that the company had a half a million dollars in several accounts. At the meeting, Hoeper also claimed that the company had half a million dollars when they asked for the millage increase.
“I wish that were true but it is not,” Wall said. “I don’t know how the writer got that information. It’s simply not true.”
At the stormy meeting, another resident rose and said, “This is no way to conduct business. We need to work together. The animosity here is overwhelming. It’s no way to get anything done.” The advice had no effect whatever.
Another resident, Carrie Thomas, who has been a particularly thorny annoyance to Fluhr and township secretary Diana Blume at most of the meetings, repeated her usual accusation that the township was not properly responding to her open meetings law requests for information.
“We have responded as best as we can to your numerous requests and have imposed the legitimate practice of imposing a 30-day extension to respond to your requests,” Blume said.
Blume added that Thomas has asked for thousands of records during the year, imposing a strain on her time and work load.
“What are you looking for, Ms. Thomas?” Hoeper yelled. “Have you found anything yet?”