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Greencastle hires emergency management coordinator

May 05, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- After months of receiving emergency management coordinator services for free through Antrim Township, the Borough of Greencastle agreed Monday to pay its new emergency management coordinator $15 per hour plus mileage.

The borough council appointed former Antrim Township Manager Ben Thomas Jr. to the position in April after interim emergency management coordinator Paul Minnich resigned for what the council said was health reasons.

Thomas said he estimated spending about 100 hours in 2009 on the duties of emergency management coordinator, and if still employed, more hours in 2010.

In a 4-2 vote, the council agreed to pay Thomas for his time, estimated to cost the borough $1,500 in 2009.

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Councilman H. Duane Kinzer said he vocally opposed paying Thomas for his services.

"I have been talking around the townships and I have heard of no other (emergency management coordinator) who is paid," he said. "For us to pay you when I cannot find that others are paid in Franklin County, I'm not sure we aren't opening Pandora's box. I just cannot support this."

Emergency management coordinators are typically employees of the municipality they serve so their services are paid through their wages, Thomas said.

Emergency management coordinators are responsible for evacuation and emergency response plans in the event of disasters both natural and manmade, he said previously. The position also responds to accidents that could pose a hazard by alerting proper authorities in the county, state and federal government.

Thomas served as emergency management coordinator for both Antrim Township and the Borough of Greencastle while he was employed by the township.

Solicitor Sam Wiser said the borough is required by law to appoint an emergency management coordinator.

Council President Charlie Eckstine said the council asked Thomas last month to come up with what he felt was fair compensation for his time.

While Thomas said he will not submit all the hours he worked in April for reimbursement, he asked the council to make a clear decision on whether or not it would compensate him for his time.

"If you do not want these services rendered, please tell me tonight," he said.

Mayor Robert Eberly said the borough is obligated to ensure the safety of its citizens and encouraged the council to fund the position.

"We are talking less than $150 per month," he said. "Council should not have any disagreement about this and should unanimously agree to fund the position because of its importance."

Newly appointed Councilman Mark Singer also voted against paying Thomas, saying that he wanted more information and without it, could not support the motion.

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