Police Chief Blasts Removal of Emergency Management Coordinator
Nazareth's police chief calls the removal of longtime Emergency Management Coordinator a 'mistake.'
Nazareth Borough Council continues to hear complaints one month after voting to remove Mike Rinker as the borough’s Emergency Management Coordinator.
“I think it’s a mistake,” said Police Chief Thomas Trachta during Council’s meeting Monday night. “[Emergency Management Coordinator] is not an entry-level position you can learn as you go along.”
Pending the governor’s approval, Rinker, who was in the position for 12 years, will be replaced by the borough’s public works assistant superintendent, James Collins.
Collins is a former fire chief of Vigilance Hose Co. No. 1.
Trachta said it will take Collins “a long time to achieve what Mike Rinker already has in place” and “it feels as though the borough is going backward.”
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Carl Fischl, chairman of Council’s Fire Committee, bristled at Trachta's statement. Almost yelling at times, a clearly frustrated Fischl said he began researching the position after noticing a lack of state-mandated certifications. He also felt Rinker’s time was stretched too thin.
“He can’t be in three places at one time,” Fischl said. “I don’t care how great he is.”
Fischl later added: “I’m very sorry if you people are offended by this. We need to meet state compliances. It’s not getting done. Case closed.”
Councilman Charles Donello was the lone “no” vote when the motion to nominate Collins was made Feb. 4.
“I don’t like highway being involved,” Donello said. “They have enough to deal with to have this fall back on them.”
Rinker, however, is still the borough’s Emergency Management Coordinator. He’ll remain in the position until Gov. Tom Corbett approves Collins' nomination.
Representatives from the borough’s two senior living communities have also rallied behind Rinker.
“When we were told he was being taken out of the position, we were shocked and we were dismayed,” said Sue Drabic, the chief executive officer of Morningstar Senior Living Inc. Moravian Hall Square is owned by Morningstar. “Putting someone in [the position] who has not had that kind of experience is a great concern for us.”
Debbie Oleniacz, an administrator from Alexandria Manor, stood in agreement with Drabic.
“I have 83 residents that I’m responsible for,” Oleniacz explained. “My job is made easier by a person like Mike, who is someone I can count on.”
Oleniacz noted that Rinker helped Alexandria Manor adopt its emergency management plans, in addition to assisting with evacuations, fire drills and more.
Rinker declined comment.