Jersey Shore firefighters are cleared

JERSEY SHORE – A misunderstanding between Jersey Shore Borough and the firefighters of the Independent Hose Co. was cleared up at Monday night’s council meeting.

Mayor Dennis Buttorff had said at September’s council meeting that Independent firefighters were responding to calls and acting as fire police without being sworn in as such by council, a violation of state statute, if true.

Independent Hose attorney Christian Frey asked the mayor to “retract or clarify” the statements at Monday’s meeting, after everyone involved had an informational meeting with the Lycoming County sheriff in the interim.

Borough Manager Joe Hamm responded on behalf of the borough.

“We made contact with our insurance carrier, and after the meeting with the sheriff, the borough has concluded Independent Hose was in no violation of state statutes,” Hamm said. “The only issue was some terminology on the fire report.”

Any member of the fire department may assist with traffic control – the issue that occurred was that if a firefighter not sworn in as fire police is assisting, s/he can’t be listed as fire police on the report.

“The insurance company’s fear is if something happened, worker’s comp might turn down the claim,” Hamm said.

In other business, Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Chief Shawn Hummer reported on progress for his bureau’s 2014 budget.

“We’re working on budgeting for two brand-new police cars,” Hummer said. “We’re also dealing with Porter Township possibly withdrawing from the police commission, and looking at contracting services possibly to Nippenose Township.”

Council also denied the request of a citizen, via letter, who wanted to do some muskrat trapping along Faust Run.

“He sees that muskrats are eroding the banks away, he’s hoping to be able to trap them and get rid of them for the borough,” Hamm summarized. “Obviously, I have fears of liability for traps, and kids that might be down by the run.”

“I agree with you,” Solicitor Denise Dieter said.

“There are too many kids who play around that run,” Councilman Ken Scheesley said.

“And you’ve got other animals, people’s pets,” council President Marguerite Dyroff said. “Can they use the traps like we used to use for skunks that transport them somewhere else and let them go free?”

“If he was here we could ask him,” Councilman John Pisarcik said. “I would’ve discussed it with him if he was willing to use a counter-bear trap, but he’s not here.

“I’ll just let him know that due to liability concerns the borough can’t allow his trapping of muskrats,” Hamm said.

Council next meets at borough hall at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18.