KULPMONT - Borough council took steps to help homeowners improve their residences through a new program with the Northumberland County Housing Authority.

At its meeting Tuesday, council voted to accept a service agreement between the borough and the authority to provide $375,000 in funds for homeowners as part of a HOME Investment Partnerships Grant.

Details about the grant will be forthcoming, but council also approved a resolution authorizing council president Bruno Varano to sign paperwork for the grant.

Established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the program will help with home rehabilitation projects in the borough for those with low and very-low income levels.

Fire pits

The other "hot" topic of Tuesday's meeting was a discussion on residential fire pits.

"Last month, we had a number of complaints about the fire pits, and many times, they were found to be illegal," councilmember Nicholas Bozza said.

"I would say the number was about 90 percent," Varano added. "Many didn't have a screen overtop to catch the embers, or they were too close to the residence."

According to the borough's ordinance, all fire pits must be 20 feet away from any structure, and have an ember screen over top the flames.

"When you are building wood tepees over top of the opening, you can't put the screen on it," councilmember Stephen Motyka said.

Code enforcement officer Russ Moroz said a way to combat it was to establish a permit system that residents would have to come in to register the pit and have it inspected to see if it follows the ordinance.

"This way, there will also be a list for the police and fire departments and the code officers to know who have the pits and can check for compliance," Varano said.

Members of the ordinance committee were given the task of coming up with an amendment to the township's burning ordinance for the pit registration.

In other business

Council accepted the resignation of George Malakoski as supervisor of the borough's street department. Malakoski has been employed full-time with the borough for 35 years and will become a part-time supervisor in October.

To handle the supervisory duties on a full-time basis, employee Bruce Graff will be named foreman effective Oct. 1 and will receive a $2 per hour pay increase. Charlie Ross will also be given more duties in the street department and a $1 an hour raise.

The board voted to purchase two handicapped person warning street signs at a cost not to exceed $150. The signs will be placed in the 900 block of Chestnut Street facing north and the 1200 block of Chestnut Street facing south, near the home of Michael Procopio, a handicapped individual that has been having trouble in recent months crossing Chestnut Street, which is part of Route 61 through Kulpmont.

Russ Moroz asked residents to police their children because he has seen increased levels of litter on borough streets and in gutters.

Kulpmont's trick or treat night will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, and the borough's food surplus distribution will be handed out from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday, Sept. 26, for those who have signed up previously.