Penn Forest Firehouses, Offices Closed Due to Insurance Issue

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PENN FOREST TOWNSHIP -- On Friday, the sign outside the Penn Forest Township office read,"Closed due to emergency." The township's two firehouses and transfer station were closed as well.

Officials say the move was necessary after it was discovered on Wednesday that the township's worker's compensation policy had lapsed.

Officials declined to explain the cause of the lapse or who was responsible, but tell Newswatch 16 it was discovered by someone at the State Workers Insurance Fund office in Scranton on Wednesday.

On Thursday, township solicitor Thomas Nanovic advised that workers covered by the policy, including volunteer firefighters, should stay home.

Township treasurer Mary Ann Lewellyn says that, as soon as the problem was discovered, she sent in payment, but it took some time for the new policy to be implemented.

The new policy is expected to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and at that time, fire service can resume.

While the Penn Forest firefighters were off the job, fire calls were handled by a number of local companies including Lake Harmony, Albrightsville, and Jim Thorpe.

At the township offices on Friday, a steady stream of contractors and residents arrived expecting to pick up permits and expressed surprise at the situation.

Inge Krehl says that her second-story deck was in danger of collapsing, and she was hoping to quickly get a permit for repairs. She says, "I think it's really unbelievable. There should be someone here to help, at least one person."

Eric LaRouche and his son planned to install a shed this weekend, but they said they are now more concerned about the safety of their home. He says, "I think the fact that we are not going to have fire protection is a much bigger concern than the shed."

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