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Schuylkill County News

Pottsville Mayor Blasts Schuylkill Commissioners Stubbornness on 9-1-1 Dispatcher Pay

On the pay rate for dispatchers, Clews said, “Are you kidding me?”

Boots Hetherington probably looked out at the audience attending Wednesday’s Schuylkill County Commissioners Work Session meeting at the Courthouse, saw Pottsville Mayor Dave Clews wanted to make a Public Comment, and thought, “Finally, someone that’s not going to tear me a new one.”

Oops.

Boots seemed very eager to have Clews speak. The Chairman saw the Mayor’s hand go up, indicating he wanted to speak. So he called on him right away. He almost never singles anyone out to speak, typically letting the serfs decide for themselves who will have temerity to step forward to speak.

Not on this day. Boots called him out, urging him to “come on down,” as he was saying this day for some reason, channeling his inner Rod Roddy.

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The Mayor initially deferred to speak until after someone else spoke – someone who definitely did rip Boots a new one – and then eventually took to the podium aside the assembled Commissioners.

Likely much to the chagrin of Boots, the Mayor did, indeed, want to rip him and all the Commissioners a new one.

Clews shared a personal tragic story of his wife’s accidental death in 2017 to highlight the need to pay 9-1-1 dispatchers more money.

Schuylkill County is facing a shortage when it comes to the 9-1-1 communications center. It’s down 7 dispatchers and the Commissioners recently approved thousands of dollars in overtime pay for those who do work there.

For weeks, the Commissioners have been urged to re-open the contract for 9-1-1 dispatcher pay but so far, have refused.

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When they hear this plea, they typically have this face …

Schuylkill County Commissioner Boots Hetherington clearly wasn’t expecting Pottsville Mayor Dave Clews to rip the Commissioners a collective new one over their unwillingness to open a union contract to discuss paying 9-1-1 dispatchers more money than they’re currently paid. The 9-1-1 center is short 7 employees and is struggling to recruit new help, likely due to the pay rate for dispatchers. (Coal Region Canary photo)

During his comments, Clews told the Commissioners, basically, it’s beyond time to renegotiate the union contract that has 9-1-1 dispatchers starting at $15.50 per hour and $16.50 after training.

“I learned, by contract, their pay level is the same as a secretary or administrative assistant. Are you kidding me,” the Mayor bewilderingly asked. “If you’re in a life-or-death situation, is that your first call? Sure isn’t mine.”

Apart from the personal story he shared (video of his comments below), Clews spoke to the Commissioners from his mayoral role. He said, “It’s important to me that the citizens of my town are taken care of efficiently and safely and by true professionals.

“It’s time for change. You do it all the time administratively. I don’t know of a union that wouldn’t open a contract because their employees were going to get a higher pay,” Clews added. “Consider what those people do every day.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tom

    December 8, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    Great article, Canary! Are you kidding, me?! from Clews sounds like that Melanie who speaks at the commissioner meetings. Glad to see people in this county are going to the meetings and speaking up. I guess we all need to start doing that. I am very upset about the assessment going on. I will try to come to these meetings. Thank you.

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