Friday, March 15, 2019

Mayor Talks Respecting the Past, Embracing the Future in Pottsville

On Thursday evening, Pottsville Mayor, James T. Muldowney presented his annual State of the City Address.

Story By:  J. Reed

The Annual Address was held at the Majestic Theater, located on North Centre Street, in Pottsville with roughly 200 people in attendance which including City dignitaries, past and present county officials, state officials, Congressman Dan Muesser, and others.

City Controller Bill Messaros opened the event and introduced the Minor Notes Chorale who sang the Star Spangled Banner.

Messaros also recognized the City's dignitaries in attendance, Councilman Mark Atkinson, Councilwoman Dottie Botto, Councilman Joe Devine, Councilman Ed Jones, City Treasurer Ellen Mika, City Controller Bill Messaros, City Solictor Tim Pellish, Police Chief Rick Wojciechowsky, Fire Chief Jim Misstishin, City Administrator Tom Palamar, and City Clerk Lisa Kral. 

Messaros also recognized and thanked the Legislators that advocated on behalf of the city and worked with them to improve.

Before the Mayor gave his address, the city continued a tradition they began in 2018, and recognized their "Partners in Progress"

The first to be recognized was the United States Department of Agriculture.

The USDA has assisted the city in financing the new Mahantongo Parking Garage and have shown interest in sharing their programs and services to assist the Police Department, and other community organization and municipalities in Schuylkill County. 
USDA Representative Tonya St. Clair accepted the award on their behalf.

The second to be recognized was the Lehigh Valley Health Network.

LVHN was recognized for continually investing in the city to bring state of the art care, employment opportunities, and healing to the community.  LVHN also donated ballistic helmets and tactical carry gear to the Pottsville Bureau of Police.

Hospital Representatives Ms. Mary Tirrell, Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Legislative Affair for LVHN and Mr. William Reppy, President of Lehigh Valley Hospital - Schuylkill accepted the award on their behalf.

Mayor James T. Muldowney was introduced to begin his address but began with a moment of silence to honor Pat Murphy.

Muldowney called Murphy, "A man who dedicated so much of his life to our community".

The theme for Muldowney's address was "Respect the Past, Embrace the Future".

"Pottsville has been the home of countless men and women who have served our country, our community, and others with selflessness and courage.  We are proud and grateful for their contributions." began Muldowney.

"Yes, our past is rich, but our future is even brighter", added Muldowney.

"We are in the midst of a historic redevelopment that has the potential to revitalize our City, incite economic and community development and awaken a great sense of community pride.  As we build from the past success and the lessons we have learned along the way, we are rediscovering the key to success."

Muldowney then recognized the City Departments that support the city.

The Accounts and Finance Department, led by Councilman Mark Atkinson, City Treasurer Ellen Micka, City Controller Bill Messaros, City Clerk Lisa Kral, were touted as individuals who view the City as a business.

"The Department has met and exceeded obligations by many vital tasks in an efficient manner.  Those tasks include the collection of all revenue, the payment of bills, working with auditors, meeting compliance requirements and ensuring that ordinances are properly updated.  All this while manag an $8.9 million budget.

Muldowney also noted that the 2019 budget was balanced on time.  He also noted that the City of Pottsville has not raised taxes since 2014.

Next, the Mayor recognized the Department of Streets and Improvements under the direction of Councilwoman Dottie Botto.  Superintendent Tom Whitaker and his dedicated staff were recognized for their continued attack on projects big and small and an efficient manner.

Muldowney reported that the City's internet-based pot hole reporting system, citizens concerns, and ongoing data compiled on road conditions has continued to make a positive impact on the city's streets.

Some stats included
  • More than 600 tons of blacktop were used to repair pot holes
  • 2,275 tons of blacktop were used to complete major paving projects an increase of 575 tons from the previous year
  • In 2018, the Street Department responded to 3,200 citizen requests which included water run-off issues, yard waste pickup and pot hole repairs.
  • In October, during the 2nd Annual Electronic Recycling Event, 11 tons of televisions, computers and other electronics were collected
Mayor Muldowney also talked about the work the department has done after the August 2018 Flooding and the cooperation with FEMA, PEMA, and Schuylkill County Emergency Management.

Next, the Mayor recognized the Department of Parks and Public Property led by Councilman Joe Devine.

Muldowney talked about the improvement projects to Yuengling Park as well as the first Christmas event held there.

He also talked about the projects at the Pat Flannery Basketball Court at Joulwan Park, the JFK Pool and Yuengling Bicentennial Park.

He also talked about the year's events including the Annual Christmas Party, Tree Lighting, New Year's Eve Celebration, Easter Egg Hunt, 3rd Brigade Band Concerts, holiday home and business decorating contests, 3rd Annual Fitness Challenge.

Muldowney also talked about 2019 with more events including the "Summer Concerts in the Ville", Summer Kick Off Concert, and August Jazz Music.

The Hometown Hero Banner Program will also continue through 2019.

The Department of Public Safety under the direction of Councilman Ed Jones was recognized next.

Muldowney recognized Fire Chief Jim Misstishin for his "fine job leading and advocating for the best volunteer fire department in the state of Pennsylvania".

Stats for 2018 for the 7 volunteer fire departments in Pottsville include
  • 1,005 total alarm calls, an increase of 505 from the previous year
  • 18 fires were investigated with the Police and State Police Fire Marshal
  • 1,200 students participated in fire prevention programs
Some notable events held were:
  • The Public Safety Night Out
  • First Annual "Pottsville's Bravest" Volunteer Family Night at the JFK Pool
  • "Sound the Alarm Save A Life Program" with the American Red Cross
Muldowney also noted their partnership with Boscov's for the Friends Helping Friends program that raised money for all 7 fire departments.

The 24 men and women who make up the Pottsville Police Department were recognized for their professionalism and dedication.

The department handled over 12,500 documented incidents in 2018.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Pottsville Police overall clearance rate for 2018 Uniform Crime Report matters continued to exceed 80%.

The officers also participated in over 1,000 hours of training to improve all aspects of police work.  Part of that training included a department wide active shooter training conducted by the FBI.

Through grants, the police department has received more than $125,000 in funding to defray costs for new vehicles, body worn cameras, salary, training, bullet proof vests, and traffic safety enforcement.

Patrol officers have also participated in 30 successful opioid overdose reversals in the field using Naloxone.

Muldowney noted that the City's overall number of crime offenses have dropped 8.5% in 2018.

Looking ahead, a newly formed Community Engagement Team will be established and utilize bike patrols for special events.

The Code and Health Department was also reported to continue to work diligently to protect property values, while improving the health, safety, and quality of life for the city.

Stats include:
  • Taxes and Municipal fees have brought in more than $190,000
  • The department has addressed 1,300 property maintenance complaints and concerns
  • 295 building inspections
  • issued 370 building permits, 42 zoning permits, 40 occupancy
  • 300 rental inspections
  • 23 demolitions
In closing, Muldowney said, "We must ensure that our City continues to be a place where individuals and families can thrive, children can learn, people can heal, and business can grow.  I ask for your support and help.  Our joint efforts will be the key to the future"

The event ended with "God Bless America" being sang by the Minor Notes Chorale.

Video of the Address will be posted Shortly.

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