• September 24, 2023

Garbage stickers, traffic lights on Wilkes-Barre council agenda

WILKES-BARRE — Mayor George Brown asked city council at a work session Tuesday to make the temporary garbage bag and sticker system permanent, assume maintenance responsibilities for some traffic lights from the state and reappoint a zoning hearing board member.

Brown wants council to amend parts of the Litter and Disposal section of city code, which establishes that residents’ trash must be disposed of in “authorized city bags.”

Current code sets the price for those bags at $1.25 each for 15-gallon bags, and $2 each for 30-gallon bags. Stores normally sell bags in packs of five.

But last February, the city began selling stickers at $2 each to place on garbage bags that residents would provide because of production shortages and distribution issues related to the large-size bags. The city had an abundant supply of small garbage bags and continued making them available for sale at local stores.

A proposed ordinance amending the code would make the sale of small city garbage bags and stickers for any other garbage bags a permanent change. The prices for stickers would remain at $2 each and, for small bags, at $1.25 each.

Brown said he’s “gotten a lot of positive feedback” on the system now in place, and “we have enough small blue garbage bags in stock to continue to do that. We don’t really sell a lot of them.”

Brown also asked council to authorize an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in which PennDOT would recalibrate traffic lights at five intersections and the city would them assume responsibility for all future maintenance of those lights. They are located at:

  • Hazle Street and Park Avenue.
  • Park Avenue and South Street.
  • Hazle and Blackman streets.
  • Carey Avenue and Old River Road.
  • Spring and Pine streets.

Brown said the agreement is advantageous because the city won’t have to wait for PennDOT to make necessary adjustments or repairs to the lights that could be accomplished much more quickly by city workers.

The final item the agenda is the reappointment of Jerry Altavilla to a second five-year term on the city zoning hearing board.

During council presentations, Councilman Bill Barrett said he’s received reports that people are approaching passersby on South Main Street near Boscov’s and Dollar General and “asking for donations,” and police need to be cognizant of that “because it’s not good for businesses in the area.”

A similar problem is occurring at the Turkey Hill Minit Market on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, Barrett said.

Brown said he would mention it to police Chief Joe Coffay on Wednesday.

Councilman Tony Brooks praised city police for apprehending a 16-year-old boy who, with an accomplice, allegedly robbed and assaulted a couple in their Poplar Street home Saturday in Brooks’ district.

Brooks also commended the family of 41-year-old James Harold “Jimmy” Dorris, of Shickshinny, for including in his obituary the fact that he died of a drug overdose.

“They said in the obituary that people need to get help, and I’m glad that we have the city health department that has a community health nurse that is an opioid awareness coordinator and I’m really proud of the fact that we do that,” Brooks said. “Perhaps in the future, that person can come and give us a little presentation about what we’re doing to combat this surge of drugs in our city.”

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