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City council pushing Wolf to go ‘Green’

Hearn sworn in as new council member

Photo submitted to Times Observer Doug Hearn is sworn in Monday night to a seat on Warren City Council by District Justice Raymond Zydonik.

Warren City Council is eager to bring the city out from the restrictions created in response COVID-19.

That includes being able to hold some kind of celebration for the Fourth of July.

At Monday’s council meeting, the members unanimously approved a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, making him aware of the city’s circumstances and encouraging him to move the city to the green phase as soon as reasonable.

Council members stressed that the health of the community is the first priority, but that other factors – including “mental well-being and financial stability for all” — should be considered.

“We understand that this has been a very difficult time,” the letter, read by behalf of the council by Member John Wortman, opens. “If our economy continues to collapse too far (it will have) far-reaching effects for many years if not decades.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Installation of the new playground equipment at Beaty Park is expected to be complete by Wednesday morning.

The letter encourages the governor to consider the “fall-out for non-essential small business and those who find themselves suddenly unemployed. People are under economic stress and worry that the foundation of their life is being swept away with little hope of recovery.”

“No resident of the City of Warren, Pennsylvania, has been diagnosed with COVID-19,” Wortman read. “We are adapting to new guidelines.”

“I believe we should do whatever we can within the authority we have to re-open,” Wortman said. He asked that the council meet again on June 3 in anticipation of having a response from the governor regarding that authority.

“I applaud everybody, every citizen, every front line worker for what they’ve done,” Council Member Christian Zavinski said. “I hope that the governor understands how dire this is. We’re looking at businesses that are looking at never opening again. The citizens of this city, the county, and the state, can find a way to open up safely.”

“I firmly support your letter, but we have to be conscious of the science, of the prudent medical advice that guides the whole commonwealth,” Council Member Greg Fraser said. “I do believe that the state agencies… do understand what’s happening in Warren County and they are giving due regard to our situation in becoming a green county.”

“It is presumptuous that we can better inform the health care experts,” Fraser said. “I would recommend that we be cautious in presuming to tell the state authorities… how we should be somehow exceptional.”

“We’ve got to do it right and we’ve got to do it in a sensible fashion,” Mayor Maurice Cashman said.

“I truly believe it’s important… that we find a way to make sure that the people of Warren celebrate the Fourth of July this summer,” Wortman said.

Freenock suggested that, if the traditional observances of a parade and fireworks are not acceptable under the restrictions, the city could hold its own, mini-parade, featuring city vehicles including the new aerial truck.

City Fire Department Chief Rodney Wren said he expects the truck to arrive from South Dakota next week.

New member

The meeting kicked off with new Council Member Doug Hearn being sworn in by District Justice Raymond Zydonik.

“I am proud to be part of the council,” Hearn said.

He brought a crowd with him.

“My nephews and their families Zoomed in from Seattle,” Hearn said. “My brother and his family zoomed in from Port Huron, Mich. We grew up on Lake Huron. My sister and all of her family zoomed in from Washington D.C. It was so cool to see”

Paving

Council approved the $286,000 base bid for the yearly paving project, with the option to include another $270,000 to bring the total to 27 streets.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said the company would not need months of notice to perform the extra work — the equipment and manpower will already be assembled. The additional streets will add only time.

A motion to approve the entire bid was made. City Manager Nancy Freenock brought up the city’s budget concerns.

“Our revenues are running $77,000 behind where they were last year,” Freenock said. “Expenses, we’ve been trying to keep them down. They are a little bit higher than they were last year. The pundits are telling us to anticipate losing about a quarter of your earned income and 15 percent of your revenue overall.”

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