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Summerhill Boro Council frustrated with ordinance restructuring Vol. 117 No. 7

USPS 439-000

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

Approximately six years ago, the Summerhill Borough Council began the tedious task of organizing and updating its ordinances. To ease the task, the council hired a person recommended by several local municipalities. Called codification, this organizational process involves collecting and restating the laws of a municipality, usually by subject, forming a legal code. The purpose is to provide both local governments and citizens with a body of current, enforceable

Portage, Pa.

laws to make the code easy to use and reference. The borough has handwritten ordinances dating back to its incorporation in 1892, and it wasn’t until the 1930s when ordinances were typed. Many of the ordinances are outdated and no longer applicable to modern society, and several include enforcement aspects to organizations that no longer exist, as the borough discovered when it was required to write and adopt new ordinances to regulate raising poultry within the borough limits. Although the process is timeconsuming, it usually takes two

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to three years to produce a codification product that can be placed on the internet for public access. Shortly after hiring the oneperson company to perform the codification, the individual suddenly died, leaving the process far from complete. A large company stepped in to complete the unfinished Summerhill Borough ordinances over five years ago, and this past fall, the borough received the first draft of the codification. The codification, however, SEE ORDINANCE, PAGE 2A

Pre-game fun

Portage Area basketball team members Ashlyn Hudak (left) and Ari Wozniak get warmed up for the Lady Mustangs’ Feb. 12 contest with North Star. Photo by Calem Illig.

Portage Area School Board talks athletics mask policy change

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

Friday fun

Sophia Grove, Arianna Pinto and Leah Lamar take a break on Friday Feb. 12. Portage Area Elementary School rewarded the students for their hard work by giving them some outside time in the snow. Submitted photo.

The uneven application of Department of Health guidelines regarding students wearing masks at athletic competitions was discussed during the Portage Area School Board’s meeting Feb. 10. The school district has a policy that all student-athletes must wear masks during competitions. This policy includes the current winter sports — basketball and wrestling. The discussion centered around other school districts’ policies that conflict with Portage Area’s policy. In one recent basketball competition, the opponents wore mesh style masks, defeating the purpose of COVID-19 protection but staying within the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s (DOH) guidelines. According the the DOH guidelines, athletes are required to wear a mask unless they have a medical exemption signed by a medical

Summerhill Borough reviews uncollected electric accounts By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

The Summerhill Borough Council members discussed what to do with the uncollectable electric accounts at their Feb. 9 meeting. Summerhill Borough is one of only 35 municipalities in the state that still owns the electric service to its area. At the end of the 19th and early 20th century, most local municipalities owned the electrical generation and services along with water and sewer service to local businesses and residents. As the electrical provider to the borough and some surrounding Croyle Township residents, the borough charges for electrical service and has a municipal

department responsible for collecting electrical bills. The council first congratulated the electric secretary for maintaining the number of delinquent accounts to a minimum. The discussion then turned to what to do with the nine accounts that have become uncollectable for several years for many reasons. Some accounts are for buildings with an overdue bill that have been torn down. Others have property owners who have passed away and the statements were not settled when the estate was

closed. Some accounts even include former residents who moved away, leaving unpaid bills. In recent years, the borough took action to make the landlords responsible for unpaid electrical bills to counter some of the uncollectable debts of electrical consumers who rented apartments then moved away, leaving past due accounts. Last month the council decided to research an alternative way of collecting these unpaid debts. One method discussed was pursuing collection through


the legal system, however, there were several problems associated with this method. First, filing a civil complaint about the unpaid bill at the district court or prothonotary’s office, depending on the amount due, requires the borough to pay a filing fee that could be more than the amount of the unpaid electric bill. Secondly, once judgment in favor of the borough is awarded in the case, additional fees would be required for the borough to place a lien against the defendant and, if possible, exe-

cute a judgment and conduct a sheriff’s sale of the defendant’s property to settle the bill. Although the fees paid by the borough would be added to the amount the defendant would owe, there is no guarantee the amount could be recovered from the defendant. The council also discussed turning the unpaid accounts to a collection agency. The borough would not recover the entire amount due, but it would receive some positive income


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