Flood Protection Authority still crafting specifics of new deputy position

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
Belleman -

A vote to publicly advertise a new Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority deputy director position was removed from Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

Authority Executive Director Christopher Belleman said he asked the authority board to hold off because he is still crafting a job description.

Four board members had voted to create the position last month, while remaining member Richard Adams objected, characterizing the position as unnecessary. The compensation and job duties are still under discussion.

Belleman has said he supported the position to be filled by an engineer because he needs help managing projects and wants someone else to be trained on the complex 16-mile Wyoming Valley Levee flood-control system. The authority has 11 staffers, and Belleman is the only engineer.

In other business Tuesday, the authority was asked to relocate its warehouse to another building at the Ja-Va Inc. complex on Laird Street in Plains Township. The authority also rents office space in a different structure at the site.

An Allentown company wants to lease the 8,000-square-foot warehouse currently occupied by the authority through 2020, said Ja-Va property manager Mike Detter.

Ja-Va offered the authority a larger 10,000-square-foot building with added insulation nearby at no additional cost through 2020 and will cover the authority’s moving expenses, Detter said.

The authority authorized Belleman to accept the move if those terms are met. The authority stores mowing equipment, temporary flood gates and other inventory at the warehouse, officials have said.

Among other board approvals Tuesday:

• A $31,986 levee landscape maintenance agreement for 2018 with Evergreen Landscaping Services Inc., of Wyoming, which was the only company that responded to a public request for proposals.

• A $24,700 contract with Titan Tree Service Inc., of Olyphant, which submitted the lowest quote to remove approximately 52 trees that are within 15 feet of the levee. Belleman said authority staffers have removed many trees, but a professional is required for the largest ones.

• The $3,946 purchase of replacement tires from Jack Williams Tire and Auto in Plains Township for the authority’s six turf mowers, which have eight tires each.

Adams also brought up the format for public comment, repeating his argument that it should be limited to the start of meetings.

The authority allows citizens to raise their hand to ask questions and make suggestions during the meeting. Authority Solicitor Christopher Cullen gave the board a written opinion saying the current practice of encouraging public input is consistent with the state Sunshine Act and helpful to the authority in “learning of and responding to the concerns and needs of affected property owners.”


By Jennifer Learn-Andes


Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.