Members of Schuylkill County gathered on Monday morning for a press conference to answer the community’s important questions on the recent humanitarian crisis.
Late Friday news of Susquehanna Steel and the closure of their Kittatinny plant spread across the county. Susquehanna Steel stated that they will be closing the branch on December 1st putting roughly 900 people out of work. This news will deeply affect the community of Kittatinny as they will be losing property tax of $1.6 million resulting in a budget cut of 21% needing to happen.
In addition to this news, Mayor Petykiewiez Will face a charge of causing great bodily harm by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle at 9:00a.m. on Tuesday at the Schuylkill County District Court House after a driving under the influence accident on Saturday afternoon to which he stated “You’d be drinking, too, if you were me”. The victim of the accident is in satisfactory condition and has yet to take any legal action against the mayor.
Frances Bavier, attorney general for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania was in attendance at Monday’s press conference where she inform us that Petykiewiez has not been in contact with anyone since the accident. However, according to Pennsylvania law, if the mayor is charged with a felony he is removed from office. If this is the case, a new mayor will be elected within 6 months. Until then, Denelda Penoyer will be taking on the role of the new mayor.
Gordon Shalikashvilli, president of Steelworkers Union was also in attendance at the press conference and stated that A few workers will hopefully be able to relocate. Although he believes the number will be less that 100 employees.
As of right now the only thing Susquehanna steel has to offer is a pension to anyone who has worked there for at least 20 years and is the age of 62 or older. Although the average worker age for the plant is 55.
Members from all walks of faith were represented by Father Frederick Farkle, president of Schuylkill county interfaith council. During the press conference he stated the Interfaith Council will have a meeting on Tuesday to discuss contributions. This meeting will have roughly 50 churches in attendance. Their overall goal will be to think of ways to raise money while also celebrating community to keep spirits high.
Denelda Penoyer is another important entity at the press conference on Monday where she answered questions both as the President of city council and temporary Mayor. Something unavoidable that will be happening is layoffs from government jobs due to the drastic budget cut that will have to take place.
Penoyer said “It terrifies me to think of what could happen to our community”. As well as that, as of right now they don’t know what will happen. But she would like to avoid raising taxes at al cost as that is money that would be better in the pockets of community members who need it especially now.
Penoyer also mentioned that she, along with other council members, will be going to Harrisburg to meet with legislator and social service council in hopes of receiving any type of aid.
Although what is happening to the members of Kittatinny and Schuylkill County has truly blindsided everyone. Those that we have talked to today have made it very clear that one thing should never change. At that is our sense of community. What is best for the community to do right now is come together and support those working tirelessly to make sure the future of Kittatinny stays hopeful and in good hands.