Kulpmont rare in still appointing 'borough physician'
By Rob Wheary
KULPMONT - Among the reappointments at the Jan. 6 reorganization meeting of Kulpmont Borough Council were the open records officer, emergency management coordinator, fire chiefs, a new chief of police and - the borough physician?
Kulpmont is a rarity in still appointing a borough physician, in its case Dr. Raymond Kraynak.
But the job entails very little, and pays nothing, said council President Bruno Varano.
"It is merely a ceremonial title that we just never got rid of," he said. However, "If a health issue crops up, we would call upon him to help out. If we have an epidemic, we would ask his advice."
Varano compared the borough physician post to that of the one-member vacancy board, to which treasurer Paul Niglio was reappointed Jan. 6, in terms of being used on an as-needed basis. Niglio would be called upon to appoint a person to borough council if an opening should come up and if council itself does not fill the vacancy within 30 days.
Pennsylvania Borough Code doesn't mention the "borough physician" post, but does allow for boroughs to have either a "health officer" or "board of health." The position is discussed in Article 31 of the code: By ordinance, a borough council can name a health board or a health officer. The only requirement is that the person selected must be certified by the state Department of Health within six months.
When no health board or health officer exists, the borough is under the jurisdiction of the county health department, according to the borough code.
Courtney Accurti, director of communications for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, could not say how many boroughs in Pennsylvania have a "borough physician," but the notion stood out to her.
"In these days when everyone is thinking about emergency management and preparedness, it might be a good idea to broaden their perspective with a physician to help in certain circumstances," she said.
Kulpmont not long ago had a staff of five health officers to look for what's more commonly referred to today as code violations such as high grass or accumulations of garbage. The health officers, the last two being brothers Charlie and Angelo Venna, were phased out in 2011 when the borough created the code enforcement officer position, currently held by Russ Moroz, as a full-time position.
A survey of local municipalities shows Kulpmont is the only one that recognizes the office of borough physician.
Shamokin code enforcement officer Rick Bozza said the city has someone listed as health officer, but officials aren't sure if the person is even aware of the designation.
"It's something we currently have under review," he said.
Mount Carmel Borough, Coal Township and Ralpho Township officials said they have no such health officer position. In those municipalities, code enforcement handles such duties.