Longtime works director retires
After 33 years of service to the Borough of Hellertown, longtime Public Works Director Tom Henshaw has decided to retire. Henshaw joined Hellertown’s Public Works department in 1986, and was appointed director in 1997. At the most recent council meeting, Mayor David Heitzelman proclaimed Feb. 19 Tom Henshaw Day in the borough.
Heitzelman read aloud the proclamation, which in part said, “The mayors, council, staff and residents of this community will always be indebted to his exceptional commitment to his community.” Heitzelman made some personal comments praising Henshaw’s role in a sometimes thankless job and saying he has trained his employees well and gained their respect.
Council President Tom Rieger said, “You have served this borough faithfully through rain, snow, floods, hurricanes, blizzards and really strange events.”
Henshaw, upon being asked for comments said, “Too much and not enough to say. I’ve enjoyed most of my time here, the disasters were tough, but we got through it…my crew, I can’t say enough, they’re probably the best bunch of guys. They’ve taken on every task that’s given to us.” Earlier in the day, a party open to the public was held in Henshaw’s honor at the Grist Mill Tavern Room. Hellertown has appointed Barry Yonney interim director effective March 1.
In other news, Borough Manager Cathy Hartranft provided a yearly report for 2018. Some of the highlights include: the assessed value of properties in the borough increased by $588,000, the general fund income was 7 percent more than projected and expenses were 1 percent more than projected. The borough paid $398,000 for the Water Street Streetscape Project and has already been reimbursed in 2019, unpaid or delinquent real estate taxes and fire taxes amounted to $55,000, which is a low number for the borough; $77,327 was spent on security upgrades, storage racks, a 2018 GMC Sierra, salt build and upgrades, sidewalk and tree improvements.
Also allotted was $1.4 million in grants for various improvements projects with public works, parks and recreation, and sanitation. Hartranft also noted the success of Hellertown events such as Community Day, Light-Up Night and Music in the Park, and the public pool’s attendance of 22,000 people despite a rainy season, the Saucon Valley Compost center visited by 17,900 people and seven new businesses opening.
Hellertown Police Chief Robert Shupp provided his own 2018 report.
A summary includes the following: 4,288 calls received, which was approximately 12 calls a day; a slight increase in theft/robbery calls, however 88 percent of them have been closed out by arrest; 10 percent increase in traffic collision calls; 13 percent increase in traffic citations, which can be attributed to increased traffic in the borough; a total of 416 charges filed – a 20 percent increase from 2017 – 62 DUI charges, 170 narcotics charges, nine possession with intent to deliver, 14 assaults, 39 thefts, 11 fraud/forgeries, 11 sexual assaults, one burglary, 10 robbery or attempted robberies, two cruelty to animals and one child pornography charge.
DUIs increased 32 percent and narcotics arrests increased 15 percent from 2017. According to the Shupp, the DUIs were directly attributed to individuals who are under the influence of narcotics. He also noted multiple tours were conducted of the police department for organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The department installed many car seats and participated in Catholic Schools Week at St. Theresa School, Community Day, Halloween parade and trick-or-treat.
In addition, the department teamed up with 7-11 for Operation Chill, in which officers handed out free Slurpy coupons to kids observed doing something good. New events consisted of the Ice Cream Bike Run and Mayor for The Day. Numerous officers were involved in increased training for various activities as well.