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The 2024 edition of Lebanon City Council met for the first time Monday evening, Jan. 22, to tackle a brief mid-winter agenda and hear public comment.

Newly elected members Sean Maguire and George Potash joined holdovers Joseph Morales, Karen Haitos, and Brian Martin at the year’s first monthly meeting. Morales had been re-elected as council chair and Martin chosen as vice-chair at council’s annual reorganizational meeting on Jan. 2.

Council unanimously authorized Mayor Sherry Capello to execute a mutual aid agreement with North Cornwall Township for firefighting services. City firefighters will answer fire calls at the North Cornwall Commons apartment complex and a nearby commercial area in the township.

Capello said North Cornwall will make an annual base payment of $25,000 to the city, and could pay more if the value of city-provided firefighting exceeds that amount.

In the only other item of official business, Capello informed council that she has re-appointed architect Robert Hoffman to the City of Lebanon Authority for a five-year term starting Jan. 1. Hoffman has served on the authority for about 23 years, in two separate stints.

The authority provides drinking water and sewage services to the city and other parts of Lebanon County. It draws water from the Siegrist Dam, also known as the High Bridge Dam, in Schuylkill County and the Swatara Creek near Jonestown.

Council hears public comment

Dave and Laurie Funk updated council on operations at the Chestnut Street Community Center in the First Evangelical Congregational Church hall, 611 Chestnut St. Council had awarded Lebanon County Christian Ministries $200,000 of COVID relief funds in August 2021 to renovate the building, with additional funding coming from WellSpan Health and private donors.

Laurie Funk thanked the city for its support and said renovation of the building is complete. Major aspects of the job were the installation of an elevator, HVAC and fire suppression systems, new windows, and a community education space used by Lancaster-Lebanon IU-13.

The Christian Ministries’ Fresh Start Emergency Shelter in the building has replaced the old system of about a dozen rotating shelters.

The center also features a worship center used by Ministerio Vida Nueva en Cristo, and IU-13 conducts English, G.E.D., and citizenship classes in the center for about 60 students.

Funk added that the Lebanon County Coalition to End Homelessness is about to conduct a “point in time count” where volunteers countywide will count “unsheltered” people. The annual count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and used to award funds to communities.

Read More: Point-in-Time Count of homeless population to be held this week in Lebanon

City residents Wiley Parker and Julia McCartney asked council to address what they described as an increasingly noisy city, caused primarily by cars with ear-shattering, window-rattling sound systems. Parker said the problem, which he admitted he had downplayed when he was a city council member, is becoming worse. “I think it’s a kind of ‘broken windows‘ thing that goes to the quality of life.”

Parker also asked council to look into the problem of non-synchronized traffic lights, citing Cumberland and 9th streets as examples where traffic is forced to stop at almost every intersection, rather than cruising through a series of synchronized green lights after starting from a red light.

City Public Works director Chad Yeagley said help may be on the way. The city is one of only three east coast municipalities working with German company Vialytics to test an artificial intelligence-based road management system that could help with the problem and generally make managing and maintaining the city’s streets more efficient.

Cornell Wilson, also a former council member, expressed his concerns about garbage cans left permanently in front of city properties. The city has an ordinance that says refuse containers “shall not be permitted to be stored at the front exterior of a structure,” and “whenever possible” must be kept “at the rear exterior of a structure.” The only exception is that “containers may be temporarily placed at the front exterior of a structure on the day of or the evening prior to refuse removal service.”

Next Lebanon City Council meetings

City Council’s next pre-council planning meeting will be on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 4:45 p.m. The next regular monthly council meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m.

City Council meetings are open to the public. They are held in the City Hall multi-purpose room, 735 Cumberland St., first floor, Lebanon.

Meetings are also streamed live on YouTube, here.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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