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Chester County Press

Oxford Borough Council receives update on fire debris clean-up

01/31/2024 01:21PM ● By Betsy Brewer Brantner

Oxford Borough Manager Pauline Garcia-Allen was all smiles as she introduced Yamilet (Yami) Fernandez to Oxford Borough Council at the Jan. 22 meeting. Fernandez will be filling the positions of administrative assistant and right-to-know officer for the borough.

Fernandez previously worked for the the Oxford Area School District in Superintendent David Woods’ office. Her family moved to Florida when her husband’s job took him there.

She explained, “My children were raised here and attend the Oxford High School. We are all happy to be back in Oxford.”

Fernandez, who is fluent in two languages, said, “There are a lot of similarities between working for the school district and the Borough of Oxford.”

Garcia-Allen, who has been working multiple positions, along with other staff members, is delighted to have the full complement of administrative employees that are needed to provide services to the borough residents. 

“With the addition of Yami, we now have a Spanish-speaking person in every department, which helps us provide a more inclusive atmosphere,” Garcia-Allen said.

Oxford Borough is constantly moving forward with new initiatives in all departments, including the police department.

Police Chief Sam Iacono announced that the Live Scan is now up and running and will be a tremendous asset to the department.

The department received a grant in the amount of $77,271 through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) Local Law Enforcement Support Grant Program (LLE). The LLE funding supports the costs of officer training and has enabled the department to add Live Scan fingerprinting capabilities at the police station.

Oxford Borough has been successful in securing numerous grants which not only improve the services offered to residents, but does so without impacting the borough’s budget.

Live Scan fingerprinting is an ink-less technology used by law enforcement agencies to capture fingerprints and palm prints electronically, without the need for the more traditional methods of ink and paper. Fingerprints are then directly submitted into the computer system to determine who a person is, and provides a complete background check on the individual.

This saves time and money. Before Live Scan, when an officer had to positively identify a suspect immediately, the officer had to transport the individual to the nearest Live Scan. For Oxford police officers, the closest location had been at the Avondale Pennsylvania State Police Barracks.

Having the Live Scan at the Oxford Police Department saves time and resources, and has been described as a game changer. In addition to fingerprinting capabilities, the system will include photographs and improve information-sharing with state and county agencies.

The Oxford Police Department is also moving forward with their accreditation process.

“Our mock assessment went well,” Iacono said. Iacono expects the on-site assessment to occur in early February.

Council also discussed the possibility of creating an Oxford Area Recreation Authority and Oxford Library Working Group during the Jan. 22 meeting.

Council plans to work with all groups that the borough supports by bringing them to their Finance Committee meetings and by securing financial supports from those groups.

It was noted that the water bills went out late the last quarter, due to updates for the software that is used. The late fee date has been adjusted as a result. Residents are encouraged to call the borough if they have not received their water bills yet.

Garcia-Allen told council that the fire debris clean-up has been completed at the site of the large fire. The borough has been reimbursed for its costs as part of the project to remove the debris. The total amount to remove the debris was $795,000.

“The Borough is happy with the clean-up. There is a lot of discussion as to what happens next. Our immediate concern is opening up the sidewalk. We are hoping that will happen by the first or second week in February,” Garcia-Allen said.

Emergency Management Coordinator John Reynolds was thanked for his help during and after the fire.

In other business, it was noted that the borough received a $100,000 grant for new water meters. It is hoped that the old meters will be replaced by the end of October. The borough plans to make a software improvement in conjunction with the installation of the new meters.

A complete study of wells at the Cannery was undertaken, and it appears the borough can activate them again as soon as the report is received.

Improvements are being made to the Oxford Borough website that will note the staff changes. Employees will all be trained and the new website will be launched in March.

Council also approved the following:

  • An agreement with the non-uniform union regarding classification of administrative assistant/assistant right-to-know officer position. 
  • A proposal by the Center for Watershed Protection for tasks 1 and 2 of stormwater fee services in the Amount of $17,480. 
  • A proposal by the Center for Watershed Protection for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program Services in the amount of $83,010 (two-year agreement). 
  • A proposal by Pennoni to provide final design, bidding, contracting and construction oversight for the Hodgson and Eighth streets reconstruction project. 
  • A proposal by Pennoni for Broad Street Area Storm-sewer preliminary design in the amount of $7,750. 
  • A police car purchase in the amount of $46,677. 
  • The authorization to advertise an ordinance amending the Code of the Borough of Oxford, Chapter 27, Zoning, Part 2, definitions, §27-202, definitions of terms, to redefine terms related to signs, and Part 16, signs, by deleting and replacing the part in its entirety. 
  • The reappointment of John Reynolds to the Oxford Area Recreational Authority Board for a five-year term ending in 2028. 
  • The Reappointment of Robert Ketcham to the Oxford Sewer Authority Board for a five-year term ending in 2028. 
  • The Oxford Regional Planning Committee request for $200 annually from member municipalities.

The next Borough Council meeting will be held on Feb. 5 at the Borough Hall.