SHICKSHINNY – Rumors of a mass resignation of Shickshinny Forward members, including the president, are unfounded, the group's spokeswoman said.
Shickshinny Forward, a volunteer organization that crafted and is executing a long-term recovery and revitalization plan for the borough in the wake of 2011 flood devastation, had an emergency meeting Thursday night to address members' concerns about events at a borough council meeting on Tuesday, said Sara Grier, the group's external relations coordinator.
On behalf of Shickshinny Forward, Vice President Clarence Lewis presented plaques at the council meeting to Art Zehner of the street department; borough council, and Melissa Weber, borough financial officer, for their commendable work in the flood-recovery efforts of 2011.
After the presentation, Lewis criticized Mayor Beverly Moore for comments and actions he said reflected poorly on the community as a result of code violations involving her property and statements to the media after recent arsons in the borough. Lewis called for the censuring of mayor by council at its special meeting on Dec. 19.
Lewis also demanded that Councilman Kevin Morris, the fire chief, make available for public inspection by Dec. 9 several years of fire-company financial records. Morris said he would comply, but he wasn't certain if the deadline could be met. Morris scoffed at Lewis' assertion that money may have been misspent and tax returns filed incorrectly.
Lewis also accused Brian Morris, officer in charge of the police department, of misconduct and wants an investigation by the Luzerne County District Attorney.
Moore's husband, Gary Moore, responded that he was responsible for the code violations that led to the couple getting fined and that he was to blame for problems with securing a permit to construct a garage, not the mayor. He also rebutted charges by Lewis about the fires and the matter of a stolen family truck.
Mayor Moore, in response, raised the issue of funding from a charity getting doled out to friends of certain council members and, in particular, to the family of Councilman Barry Noss. Council President Rosalie Whitebread and Weber denied favoritism. The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation had contributed $25,000 to assist borough flood victims.
Noss later acknowledged that he received a check for $1,000. Lewis said he, too, was one of the recipients.
Grier said no Shickshinny Forward members were at the council meeting other than Lewis, and many became alarmed when they heard of Lewis' comments, believing people thought he was speaking on behalf of the organization. They were unaware that Lewis prefaced his remarks by stating that he was speaking as a borough resident and not on behalf of Shickshinny Forward, she said.
Grier said the group met Thursday to sit down and to figure out what happened. She said President Brian Phillips is not resigning and is very committed to the organization. The same is true for most members, she said.
She said some members are still obviously concerned about what happened because the group is a non-political and non-affiliated community organization. The group will meet in January to address the issue.