Lack of answers angers Hollidaysburg residents

HOLLIDAYSBURG – As dozens of people crowded the Hollidaysburg Borough Council chambers and spilled into the hallway Tuesday, many said they’d come for one reason: an explanation of the murky circumstances that led to Police Chief Jeffrey Ketner’s sudden departure.

They received none, with Borough Council President Joseph Pompa explaining repeatedly that the officials were under no obligation to answer their visitors’ questions. Murmurs rippled through the crowd; one man shouted “answers!” repeatedly.

“We’ve got no answers concerning what has happened. We have a whole group of people here who feel that they’re sitting in the dark because nobody’s answering their questions,” Connie Hurd, vice president of the Hollidaysburg Community Partnership, told council members.

Among those attending the meeting – roughly 75 in total – all who took the microphone spoke in Ketner’s favor, questioning the council’s silence and noting that rumors had spread in the absence of reliable information.

Some at the meeting suggested there was more to Ketner’s suspension and retirement than meets the eye.

“If you congratulate a man on his report, you congratulate a man for everything he’s done over the years,” resident Richard Reimer said, “and suddenly you find grounds that, ‘We don’t like the way he runs the department.’ … It tells me that somewhere there’s a rat sneaking around the wood pile.”

While some at the gathering expected a statement or back-and-forth discussion with council members, Pompa noted that the meeting was scheduled solely to vote on Ketner’s retirement deal. While a public comment period is required by law, the council wasn’t required to respond to individual questions.

“Are we allowed to ask questions? What are we entitled to here?” resident Jackie Szymusiak asked. “As citizens, what are we entitled to receive?”

“Nothing,” someone in the crowd replied.