UPDATED: Clearfield Borough Feud Persists over Mack’s Employment
This article has been updated since its original publication to include information provided by council member Patricia Kavelak.
CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield Borough meeting became heated Thursday night with current council members James Kling and Fred Wisor and former council member James Leitzinger not only angered over last week’s special meeting, but also offended by being called a “Good Ole Boy.”
In addition, council member Tim Winters firmly maintained his position regarding the borough’s employment of Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack. Council member Patricia Kavelak, who has joined forces with Winters against Mack, wasn’t present at the committee meetings.
“Larry has handled himself very professionally,” said Leitzinger during the public comment session. Leitzinger claimed that Kavelak and Winters have waged a personal vendetta against the borough council. He said that Mack, Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott and Borough Solicitor F. Cortez “Chip” Bell III have been working with Kavelak regarding issues with Kavelak’s business – Dingers Grand Slam Grille.
Kavelak’s business has been charged with various violations that are tied to structural changes to the deck area. The wooden deck has been deemed a fire hazard with only one entrance or exit. Several other violations deal with the business storing materials under its deck, which may run afoul Susquehanna River Basin Commission requirements, Leitzinger said.
In a press statement this afternoon, Kavelak addressed “misleading and incorrect information” that was alleged at the borough council meeting and included in this article’s original publication.
“I have not been cited for anything other than the deck being condemned in December [of] 2011 as an unsafe structure. I haven’t had any other violations,” she said. “Incidentally, when the deck at Dingers was roofed during 2010, I submitted engineered drawings, which were approved by MDIA and a building permit was issued to me by Larry Mack. At that time, there wasn’t any information presented to me, which would indicate by any of the parties involved that my deck was unsafe or would be in the near future.”
Wisor pointed out that Winters is financially-tied to the violations against Dingers, which would potentially be invalidated if Mack would be terminated by the borough. Winters is currently a weekly disc jockey at Dingers. However, Kavelak wrote that Winters doesn’t have any financial liability or obligation to Dingers. Instead, she said they have joined forces as council members to attempt to correct a situation, which is troublesome and could potentially be costly to the borough and its residents.
During the meeting, Kling accused Winters of being on the borough council for the $75 monthly stipend that comes with his position.
“You are threatening these people,” Leitzinger said of Winters. In a press statement last week, Winters called for council members to reevaluate their reasons for serving on borough council. He also wanted Bell and Stott to explore other options for employment.
Leitzinger defended Stott and stated she was one of the best borough managers that he’d worked with in his years on the board. He praised her dedication to assisting each department and even occasionally observing the street crews’ working conditions first-hand.
“I think that’s bull. I think there is straight vindictiveness against Mr. Mack, Mrs. Stott and the council,” said Leitzinger before suggesting that instead of other council members, it should be Winters and Kavelak, who resign their positions.
Winters said that Mack hasn’t met the requirements of his hiring, as provided in the job advertisement for it. He said the advertisement stated the candidate should either have the Building Code Official (BCO) certification or obtain one before April of 2009. Mack has yet to receive this certification. As of August, Mack was hired under different terms. He’s now required to obtain the relevant certifications within one year.
Winters claimed to have photographic evidence of Mack’s signature on building permits. However, he did not present these at the meeting.
“We are all entitled to our own opinions. We are not, however, entitled to our own facts. As I stated previously, I am confident in the information I provided and am just trying to do what is best for my constituents. It seems the facts I presented have upset some people who want to turn this into a personal vendetta. That was never my intention or approach,” wrote Kavelak.
“From what I have read, there were numerous statements directed at myself and my credibility. There weren’t any statements that dealt with the real issue at hand. Larry Mack is still employed by the borough and continues to participate in UCC enforcement by issuing building permits, occupancy permits and such.
“Larry Mack is not qualified to perform any of these duties and has not been since April 1, 2009 when the current UCC code required anyone acting in that capacity to have a BCO certification. Hopefully, as we move forward, council will put their egos aside and deal with issues of the borough and not deflect from what we are elected to do.”