Firefighters recognized for service
Eight Whitehall Township firefighters, including one volunteer with more than 50 years of service, were recognized by the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners at the Jan. 14 meeting.
Dennis Scholtis, current safety officer for the fire department, received his third commendation from the township in his 50 years as a volunteer firefighter.
Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. called Scholtis “one of the brightest lights in the volunteer and rescue world” and said his accomplishments are “at a national level in both competence and dedication.”
“His service stands as a guidepost for all those who serve,” Harakal said.
Some of the highlights of Scholtis’ volunteer service include designing the township’s first fire training facility; helping to start the township safety response unit, which merged with Allentown and Emmaus to form the Lehigh County HAZMAT team; being instrumental in getting funds for the township flashover unit; and, as president of the township Active Volunteer Firefighters Association, buying the fire department its first class-A uniforms.
He is currently vice president of the township Firefighters Relief Association and a member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors and is active on Lehigh County Special Operations under the Lehigh County Emergency Management Agency.
Also receiving awards were Keith Bilder and Don Genovese Jr. for 30 years of service each and Dave Pearson for 45 years of service. Kyle Kichline was recognized as Fire Police Officer of the Year. Deputy Chief Francis Bilder was named Fire Officer of the Year. Dalton Stettler was recognized as Firefighter of the Year.
Fire Police Capt. Rex McConaughey received the Robert L. Benner Award.
“We appreciate all your service,” Dennis Hower, board president, told the volunteers.
In other business, commissioners approved a resolution to apply for a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Recreation Program to help fund a pavilion in Whitehall Parkway. The proposed pavilion would be identical to the 44-foot-by-30-foot pavilion built last year at the trail head of the Ironton Rail Trail in North Whitehall Township.
Harakal told the board the township had submitted a proposal to the Lehigh County Planning Commission for a multimodal evaluation and study on what the township can do to improve traffic along the MacArthur Road corridor.
Deputy Mayor John D. Meyers reported that 30 of the LED streetlights are out and he has met with PPL Electric to discuss the problem. He said seven of the lights that are out along the Grape Street jughandle are due to an underground issue, which PPL will repair. He said the other lights are out due to connectivity problems, fuse issues or defective products and will be fixed as well. The township started an LED street lighting upgrade program in 2016.
The board also approved a number of reappointments to township boards and authorities. Reappointed were Roger S. Wall to the building code board of appeals; Stephen Burda to the zoning hearing board; Kenneth S. Snyder as alternate on the zoning hearing board; Paul Geissinger to Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority; Richard Fahringer to Whitehall Township Authority; Joseph Wilfinger to the shade tree commission; Neil Ehrlichman and Paul Geissinger to the planning commission; Jeffrey Mackiewicz as alternate on the tax appeals board; and Cara Butz, Cheryl Huckabee and Kent Newhart to the industrial and commercial development authority.
In other business, the board agreed to make a $100 in-kind donation to Whitehall High School’s production of “Mamma Mia!” at the request of Commissioner Joseph Marx Jr.