Pubdate: Tue, 12 Apr 2016
Source: Republican & Herald (PA)
Copyright: 2016 Pottsville Republican, Inc
Author: Stephen J. Pytak


Requests Decriminalization of Small Amount of Marijuana

A former Pottsville native Monday asked the city council to pass an 
ordinance to allow residents to possess "a small amount" of 
marijuana, "30 grams or less."

"I am here tonight to request that the city adopt a progressive and 
rational ordinance regarding the decriminalization of marijuana, 
allowing possession of a small amount of marijuana in the city," 
Vincenzo "Vince" Mercuri, the founder of Marijuana Farmers 
University, based in California, said at City Hall.

"This is not a radical request. Other cities have done this in the 
state. Philadelphia was the first, leading with great success in the 
past year," Mercuri said.

He was referring to a law passed in October 2014, making marijuana 
possession a civil, non-criminal offense. According to the ordinance, 
having up to 30 grams, or a little more than an ounce, will result in 
a citation and a $25 fine.

Mercuri gave the Pottsville City Council a draft of such an ordinance 
and asked to meet with them to discuss it.

"Our prisons have become overpopulated with non-violent criminals. 
Someone who smokes marijuana is not a criminal. They may be unlawful, 
but not a criminal," Mercuri said.

"Decriminalization, what it will do is protect those who are using 
marijuana from being arrested if the state passes Senate Bill 3. If 
you look at the draft ordinance in front of you, we'd like you to 
change the offense to a summary offense, so that someone can simply 
pay a fine," Mercuri said.

"It's a misdemeanor here in the City of Pottsville," council member 
Joseph J. Devine Jr. said.

"Yes," police Chief Richard F. Wojciechowsky said.

"Thanks, Vince," Mayor James T. Muldowney said.

The council took no action on the matter Monday.

At the council's April meeting, the city voted to upgrade the 
walk/don't walk signals at the intersection where a blind man 
suffered injuries in an accident Sept. 17, 2013.

That man, the Rev. Darnell Golphin, Schuylkill Haven, said the 
accident at Laurel Boulevard and North Centre Street could have been 
prevented if an audio walk signal helped him decide when to cross.

At Monday's meeting, the council accepted the lowest of two bids to 
bring audible crosswalk signals to Laurel Boulevard and North Centre 
Street. The city hired Telco Inc., Reading, at a cost of $15,931. The 
other bidder was Herr Signal & Lighting Co. Inc., Grantville, who bid $19,000.

"I think they'll be in by the end of May," City Administrator Thomas 
A. Palamar said. The city also took the following actions:

Hired David Clark as parks foreman, a position previously held by 
Thomas W. Whitaker, who became the city's superintendent of streets 
in July. The city hired Clark as a truck driver in May 2008. His 
previous salary was $20.94 an hour. As parks foreman, his salary will 
go up to $22.65 per hour, according to Lisa M. Kral, the city clerk.

Reappointed Vince Wychunas to the Housing Authority of the City of 
Pottsville for a term to expire April 7, 2021.

Reappointed Craig S.L. Shields to serve on the Redevelopment 
Authority for the City of Pottsville for a term to expire May 1, 2021.

Agreed to hire six part-time summer park laborers by signing an 
agreement with the ReDCo Group.

Vacated a 25-foot-wide unopened alley, extending 425 feet east from 
North 16th Street. James L. Miller, who owns property on both sides 
of the alley, requested the alley be abandoned and conveyed to the 
adjoining north parcel of property owned by MBC Grings Hill L.P.

In other matters, Muldowney presented a certificate of achievement, a 
"leadership for the community award," to Khadijah Sanders, 13, a 
seventh-grade student at Pottsville Area's D.H.H. Lengel Middle School.

"I was accepted to go to the Junior National Young Leaders Conference 
in Washington, D.C. I will be attending this conference in June 18th 
to the 24th. And I will be going there to represent our county as a 
leader, and hopefully to be a role model to many fellow students," 
Sanders said.

Sanders is trying to raise $1,500 for the trip, and Muldowney 
encouraged the public to donate.

For more information, visit

Concerning state grant funding, the state Department of Community and 
Economic Development recently approved $5.3 million in federal 
Community Development Block Grant funding for projects across the state.

That included $274,500 to be used in Pottsville to demolish a 
blighted property, sidewalk improvements and code enforcement, 
according to a press release issued Friday by state Rep. Mike Tobash, 
R-125, state Rep. Neal P. Goodman, D-123, and Sen. David G. Argall, R-29.

"Pottsville City Council has proposed using $190,090 of the grant for 
sidewalk improvements on West Market Street," according to the release.

"I'm pleased Pottsville is receiving its share of this important 
funding. I wish Pottsville officials well in all their endeavors to 
improve the city," Goodman said.

"I'm pleased to see Pottsville receive this important investment. 
Blight is contagious, but so is revitalization. This added boost will 
give the city needed funds to demolish buildings beyond repair as 
well as invest in tools to curb urban decay," Argall said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom