In ‘odd,’ ‘slanted,’ process, Honesdale fills council seat

PT police officer OK’d, sewage-related ordinance passed

Posted 1/24/23

HONESDALE, PA — Honesdale Borough Council started the new year off in a new location with the appointment of a new council member.

In the first meeting since moving from Main Street to the …

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In ‘odd,’ ‘slanted,’ process, Honesdale fills council seat

PT police officer OK’d, sewage-related ordinance passed


HONESDALE, PA — Honesdale Borough Council started the new year off in a new location with the appointment of a new council member.

In the first meeting since moving from Main Street to the Wayne County Park Street Complex, the borough council heard from three out of four applicants interested in filling the council seat left open by Jared Newbon, who is resigning after three years.The council selected Honesdale High School English teacher Eric Cooley to fill the seat for the remainder of the calendar year.

Cooley’s appointment was based on a process president James Hamill referred to as government “pretty awfully at work.”

Cooley said he decided to apply for the position because he’s been telling his children the importance of serving their communities and realized this was an opportunity to step up and do it himself.

“I can’t say strongly enough how grateful I am to live in Honesdale,”  he said. Cooley is originally from Susquehanna County, but has lived in Honesdale for 20 years. “My family has been truly blessed by the people of this community during the two decades we’ve lived here. My desire as a council member is to serve the community well.”

Newbon, who works as a credit analyst with the Dime Bank, focused his service largely on shoring up borough finances. He resurrected the council’s finance committee and was its chair, as well as chairing the personnel committee. He was vice-chair of the insurance committee and economic revitalization committee. He resigned because his family is moving out of the borough.

Hamill’s comment was in reference to what he said was a  “slanted” voting process, which essentially favors the first person to receive a nomination.

Four applicants applied for the job, but three showed up to introduce themselves and take questions from council members—though the council asked few questions other than the availability of the candidate if they were chosen.

Other than Cooley, the applicants who attended included Carly Allen, who owns a tutoring and homeschooling business in town, and Noelle Mundy, an executive assistant in commercial lending at Wayne Bank.

While all of the present candidates for the position received nominations from members of council, the first nomination was allowed the first roll-call vote. Hamill said that he consulted with borough secretary Judith Poltanis and borough solicitor Richard Henry on the correct way to run the voting procedure beforehand, and was told that the election is usually run in order of nominations made. This process does not appear to be formalized anywhere within borough code—rather, it’s just the way things have always been done.

The first nomination went to Cooley, who received unanimous yeas. That was all he needed.

“I thought the process was a little odd and very perfunctory,” said Mundy. “I thought when I submitted an application and resumé and all of that, that there might be some sort of interview process, if you will. And there were no questions asked, other than ‘Where are you from? What’s your background?’”

Some council members encouraged Mundy and Allen to run in the upcoming election, in which three four-year council seats will be up for grabs.

Mundy said she’s not sure if she plans to run, but in lieu of a seat on council, she’s submitted her name for several commissions, including the planning commission. Allen agreed that the process for filling an empty seat outside of an election cycle was “misleading” and “needs to be re-thought and changed.” She plans to run for council in the next election.

“It would be nice to have the opportunity to represent and support our town, being a woman, local business owner and Honesdale native,” Allen said.

All members of the council are men.

“I just hope that we can get to a point where council reflects the people who are in our town too,” said council member James Jennings. “Not a big secret that we are all a bunch of men up here, and it would be great to have women serving.”

Hamill echoed Jennings’ sentiment, saying that he didn’t feel the council did right by its “opportunity to make the governing body much more reflective of our community.”

Both Hamill and Jennings voted yes on Cooley.

In other news from the borough, Honesdale has brought on two part-time police officers in the last two months. These officers will not remedy the borough’s ongoing police staffing concerns, but will help fill some gaps in coverage.

The council also passed two ordinances that would allow the Central Wayne Regional Authority (CWRA) to monitor and inspect sanitary sewer laterals, as well as private properties where surface, storm or groundwater is improperly running into the sewer system. Jason Newbon and David Nilsen voted no on both ordinances, with Nilsen citing concerns about residential privacy.

The CWRA operates the sewer system in the borough, and recently received a $1.26 million loan and a $4,165,550 grant from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority to replace 10,000 feet of sanitary sewer main and associated sewer laterals, thus addressing leakage throughout the system and eliminating untreated sewage from flowing into local groundwater.

The plan to get four “Welcome to Honesdale” signs up in the borough is moving forward on at least one front. Thus far, the Greater Honesdale Partnership has been in charge of getting the signs ready, but it was agreed at the meeting that the borough would “purchase” the signs for a nominal amount in order to get certain permitting fees waived.

With that settled, a sign welcoming newcomers and locals to the borough, hand-painted by a local artist, could go up on Park Street sometime in the near future.

Honesdale Borough Council, Eric Cooley, police officer, Central Wayne Regional Authority


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