Monday night’s Emmaus Borough Council began with a moment of silence for the victims of Sunday’s apartment house fire and ended with borough manager Shane Pepe explaining the impact the four deaths have had on the community’s emergency personnel.
“This was a tragic event for the community,” said Pepe.
“Emmaus High School and the student body would like to give their condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in the 5th Street fire,” reported Rowan Hobson, an Emmaus High School student who serves as junior councilman on council. “We lost a student in that fire: Montana Twining. Everyone has been saying he was such a smiling person, such a great kid. It’s such a sad thing that we lost another kid at our school.”
Pepe commended borough police, firefighters and ambulance personnel for the work they did at the fire, which began Sunday morning at 36-38 S. 5th St.
“They’re having a difficult time with the weekend’s tragedy,” said the manager. ‘If you see a couple of them, have a chat with them, ask them how they are doing. I know, talking with them today, it wasn’t a good day.
“We do appreciate everything they do. It’s not all about the boring ride in the fire truck. You have to deal with the hard stuff too. This certainly brings that light. I appreciate everything they do for us.”
Hobson said Twining was 16. After the meeting, he said the boy had many friends at the high school.
Council member Nathan Brown said another Emmaus High student, 9th grader Brooke Woomer, was made homeless in the same fire, but not injured.
On a happier note, council ended a ban on riding bicycles in borough parks.
The vote was unanimous and taken with no discussion.
Bikes now will be allowed in all borough parks, except Triangle Park in the center of town. Also, no bikes will be allowed in picnic pavilions in the parks.
Council member Wesley Barrett, who chairs its parks and recreation committee and made the motion to end the bike ban, doesn’t know when or why bicycles were banned from Emmaus parks. But he said over the years people often have asked: “Hey, why aren’t we allowed to ride bikes in the parks?”
He said the ban on dogs in borough parks also frequently and informally is discussed, but council is not prepared to lift that ban. Barrett said insurance people say dogs are the number one reason for insurance claims in parks.
Also with no discussion, council unanimously voted to apply for a $35,000 grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to develop to a comprehensive plan for recreation in the borough. “You have to have the study to be able to get construction grant money,” explained Pepe.
The grant application is being prepared by Barry Isett & Associates, an engineering firm based in Upper Macungie Township, at no cost to the borough. If the borough wins a grant, it will have to match the state funds to do the recreation plan.
Council also reappointed James Woodeshick to the Emmaus Planning Commission through April 1, 2017.