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We’ve been in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic for six weeks. Staying away from friends and loved ones continues to be difficult and following government-issued stay-at-home orders can be tough to bear. While staying home and doing our part to stay well and keep others well is important, it can make us feel a bit restless, wishing for the days of our former everyday living. Hopefully, those days will return soon, and perhaps be even better than what we knew before.

In the meantime, we can still get outside and breathe in some fresh air. And, if you’re so inclined, you can resourcefully use your outdoor time to spruce up your porch, plant some flowers, beautify your yard, and of course, enter your newly refurbished surroundings into the Stay at Home Improvement contest.

The Stay at Home Improvement contest, sponsored by the Avoca Community Committee, offers residents an opportunity to showcase their outdoor home improvement projects which they have completed within the last few weeks up to Monday, May 18. Entrants are asked to take before and after photos of their projects. Winners will be announced Friday, May 22, and receive cash prizes through the generosity of an anonymous resident.

For details, please private message the Avoca Community Committee Facebook page.

Food pantry

Avoca Food Pantry, located in Bethel United Methodist Church, 532 Main St., will be open from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30, for anyone who needs assistance.

For information, please call Jim at 570-921-9899.

State of emergency updates

Avoca Borough is still operating under a state of emergency. The municipal building is closed until further notice, as are the Avoca Community Center, Plane Street Park and Memorial Park.

Anyone who needs to do business with the borough should call the municipal building at 570-457-4947 and leave a message. Calls will be returned as soon as possible.

For non-emergency police department issues, please call 570-457-4011. For emergencies, always dial 911.

Tax and trash payments

Residents cannot pay their Luzerne County and Avoca Borough tax bills or refuse fee at the Avoca Municipal Building until further notice.

The refuse fee for 2020 to have up to three bags collected weekly will remain at $175 through June 21.

Residents may mail tax and refuse payments to Tax Collector Therese Wrubel, 129 Factory St., Avoca, PA 18641 or place them in the envelope outside of her home office at the above address. If you need a receipt, please include the complete bill and a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your payment. Please be sure to issue separate checks for tax and refuse payments and that all checks are dated correctly and signed.

For information, please call Wrubel at 570-457-4891.

Yard waste and recycling

Residents are reminded the borough’s weekly Tuesday yard waste collections have started. Each property may place a maximum of three open containers, preferably with handles, not to exceed 30 pounds, containing leaves, grass clippings, small branches and shrubs. Any yard waste placed in plastic bags, dirt, rocks or animal waste will not be collected.

Recycling is still suspended until further notice.

Anyone who does not have their trash collected can call J.P. Mascaro at 1-800-243-7575.

Sewer maintence bills

Council has extended the April 5 sewer bill due date and will honor the discounted rate of $40 up until Aug. 4 for the 2020 annual sewer maintenance fee invoice billed by Berkheimer Associates. After that, the fee will be $50 from Aug. 5 to Aug. 20, and $52.50 after Aug. 20. Berkheimer is aware of the extended dates. Payments should be mailed to them as outlined on the invoice. Call Berkheimer at 610-599-3145 with any questions.

Masks wanted

Anyone who can make or donate face masks for health care professionals can drop them off in the sanitized lockbox next to the black bench at the entrance of the municipal building, 952 Main St.

Ambulance membership

Avoca Ambulance Association has mailed its 2020 membership packets.

The membership subscription protects the subscriber and family members from out-of-pocket expenses which insurance may not cover. The membership subscription price, which remains the same as last year, is $40 and $35 for senior citizens.

All proceeds are used for operating expenses and to maintain the viability of the Avoca Ambulance Association. The association provides coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week by paid, professional emergency medical providers on duty around the clock.

That’s about it for this week, my friends.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Jackie Borthwick-Galvin writes about Avoca. To list an item, email or call 570-301-2171 by 5 p.m. Monday.