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Prisoner work offer declined

Council says teams will not come to borough, denies suggestion of discrimination.

NUANGOLA – Borough officials refuted a suggestion Thursday they were willing to send prisoner work groups from the Retreat facility to the poorer parts of the borough rather than the better-off sections of the municipality.

The matter had come up at the October meeting, when some residents and council members had suggested the work teams could be “casing homes for future burglaries.” With the suggestion that the state prison inmates could focus their work on the borough building and the recreation area, council moved to accept the offer, but residents living in the vicinity of the borough building protested, and the offer was declined after the October work session, council members said.

One resident asked whether it was discriminatory to assign the work teams to lower-income areas and keep them away from the more-expensive areas, but was told that because the workers were not coming his question was no longer valid.

In confirming the cancellation, Councilman Gerard Maskinas noted that he had no idea how the inmates were invited in the first place. There had been no council vote, or discussion of where they should work, and state inmates were different from county inmates, he said.

Nor did council provide answers to questions involving an ad hoc meeting between representatives of the borough, the sewer authority and DEP on Oct. 27, other than confirming that the meeting took place.

In answer to a public question posed after the 35-minute closed session that presented a summary and two options to the full council in executive session, the only comment council president Regina Plodwick and council member Terry Jones were willing to make was that they were hopeful the ideas discussed at the meeting to settle issues in dispute would not end up costing residents more money.

In other business, council voted to award a new garbage collection contract to the current collector, Dave Evans. At $53,700, his one-year bid represented a $3,600 increase over the current contract but was still almost $5,000 less than the next lowest bidder.

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