Honesdale approves Wallenpaupack school procession

Councilor tries amending grievance policy

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 5/19/20

HONESDALE, PA — For the second consecutive meeting, the fate of a local school district’s graduation ceremony fell into the hands of the Honesdale Borough Council members. A request for …

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Honesdale approves Wallenpaupack school procession

Councilor tries amending grievance policy

Posted

HONESDALE, PA — For the second consecutive meeting, the fate of a local school district’s graduation ceremony fell into the hands of the Honesdale Borough Council members. A request for Wayne Highlands School District to close down a portion of Main Street sparked a heated debate on May 4. On Monday, May 18, borough secretary/manager Judith Poltanis told councilors that the school had withdrawn its request but there was a new one to consider.

The Wallenpaupack Area School District had requested that the borough pen an approval letter for a procession to drive through Honesdale on its way to a socially distant graduation ceremony at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, located just outside of town. Starting in Hawley, the procession passes through six municipalities. As of Monday night, all but Honesdale had approved the processional; approval from all six was required for the school’s PennDOT application.

After hearing that explanation, councilor Bill Canfield still did not understand why the school district was asking for approval from the borough. He asked assistant superintendent Keith Gunuskey whether or not the processional would be stopping at traffic lights, Gunuskey said that he was working with the local police and fire departments on traffic control so that the procession could stay together. Canfield had doubts that there would be enough manpower, and also said that since he opposed Wayne Highlands’ request, that it wouldn’t be right for him to approve this one either.

Gunuskey said that based on his coordination with the various departments, there would be sufficient traffic control and that Wallenpaupack’s request is different than Wayne Highland’s: The district is not planning on closing off any streets, and the procession will be driving at the speed limit, not at a slow speed like in a parade. Canfield maintained that he could not support the request.

The other councilors felt differently; after a roll call vote, the borough moved to approve the district’s request in a 6-1 vote, Canfield casting the only no.

Later in the evening, councilor Robert Jennings attempted to redo a motion he had tried to make at the previous meeting regarding the borough’s employee handbook. Earlier in the month, Jennings made a motion to remove the borough secretary/manager from the grievance submittal process because he felt that it could lead to a conflict of interest if the grievance was about the secretary/manager. At that point, the motion was tabled so that Jennings could spend more time on rewording the grievance policy with the borough’s solicitor Richard Henry.

During the more recent meeting, Jennings attempted to read the updated motion that he and the solicitor had worked on. However, council resident Mike Augello interrupted Jennings to say that the other councilors did not have a copy of the motion in front of them, therefore they should wait to vote on it until they’ve had more time to review it.

“You trying to stall this, are you?” Jennings asked Augello, adding that he’s never had to submit copies of his motions in the past.

“No, I’m trying to do it properly,” Augello responded, he then told Jennings to go ahead and read the motion anyway.

The current grievance policy reads, “Should the grievance be against their immediate supervisor and/or department head, then the employee should go directly to the borough secretary/manager.” Jennings moved to amend the policy to read, “Should the grievance be against their immediate supervisor and/or department head, the employee shall transmit their grievance directly to the chairman of the borough grievance committee and council president.”

Councilor Jim Brennan said that he agreed with Augello, wanting to review the handbook rather than “being put on the spot” and voting that night.

“It was never done like this before,” said Jennings. “And I resent it.”

Jennings’ motion failed to get seconded and therefore died. Augello encouraged Jennings to review the previous meetings’ minutes to see “what was supposed to be done in the last two weeks,” regarding the policy.

“I know what you’re all up to,” Jennings said. Augello said that one of his missions on council over the past four years has been to make the council more deliberate about the motions that it votes on.

“Decisions made in haste, or without context, can sometimes go very south,” he said.

During the streets committee report, Canfield reported on the poor condition on Lincoln, Pearl and Washington streets. He said that multiples cars have had to be towed off of those streets because the tires have blown out. He also said that a biker was injured on one of the streets.

“We are having issues and there are going to be lawsuits,” Canfield said. “Trust me when I tell you this.”

Canfield moved to refer the issue to the streets committee, public works director Dan Brown and borough solicitor for review and recommendations on the restoration of these streets. The motion passed unanimously.

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