The Pennsylvania Senate has scheduled a public hearing locally, to assess the 48-day manhunt for cop-killer Eric Frein, which rattled the Poconos in the fall of 2014. The hearing is set at Pike County Training Center in Lords Valley, Thursday, June 15, at 10:30 a.m.

WAYNE & PIKE - The Pennsylvania Senate has scheduled a public hearing locally, to assess the 48-day manhunt for cop-killer Eric Frein, which rattled the Poconos in the fall of 2014. The hearing is set at Pike County Training Center in Lords Valley, Thursday, June 15, at 10:30 a.m.

Senator Lisa Baker (R-20th District) called for the hearing to discuss emergency preparedness and ascertain what could be learned from the saga. First discussed in October 2014, the hearing was not scheduled until after the conclusion of Frein’s jury trial.
Among the parties planning to participate is the Chamber of the Northern Poconos, which is looking at it from an economic standpoint.

Debbie Gillette, Executive Director of the Chamber, announced that they will provide testimony on behalf of businesses regarding the local economic impact caused by the manhunt. 

Not the sort of headlines…

“We need your help in order to provide accurate testimony!,” Gillette said in a press release. “We know that our local businesses, schools and families were greatly affected by this massive hunt. This was not a way our region wanted to make national news headlines. The outpouring of support from the community showed the nation what a wonderful place the Northern Pocono Mountains is, in spite of this tragedy.”

She asked local business owners to research their records with information that would be helpful to provide testimony. Questions the Chamber is asking include the following: Were sales down compared to previous years or the several years following?  Did you have to lay off or let employees go because of business being slow? Was the impact so harsh that you had to close your business for a period of time? Did this have a negative impact on your family (i.e. increased cost in daycare because of school closings)?

Gillette asked to be contacted via email to debbie@northernpoconoschamber.com no later than June 8th. She will make arrangements for a personal meeting or phone call to discuss this, or you can simply email the information.

The request is to all affected businesses and those that may have closed since then- and not limited to Chamber members.

She said that the Senate committee wants to hear from the business community directly, how the manhunt impacted them. Also taken into account is the impact on other aspects, including the school districts and county functions.

Big impact

Just one example of the economic impact felt by the shootings was set bi-annual Arts & Crafts Fair hosted by the Chamber in Bingham Park, Hawley. It was set for that very morning, Saturday, September 13, after the shootings last in the evening before. “We were wondering where the vendors were,” she said. “At least 60 of them couldn’t attend.” She said that hadn’t yet heard, early that morning, that roads were blocked. It also cut down on the public coming to the event.

Stressing the good that came out of, just in the initial stages, there was a request for canteen services for the State Police and other emergency responders and management team that were assembling. Gillette contacted the Lake Region IGA, and owner Jim Shook was quick to respond with coffee, bagels and donuts. The IGA turned out to be just one of many businesses that stepped up to help throughout the ordeal, coordinated by the Red Cross.

Parties that she was aware who were expected to present testimony include Pike County Emergency Management; Pike County Commissioners; three school districts, Wallenpaupack, Pocono Mountain and East Stroudsburg; three chambers, Northern Pocono, Greater Pocono and Pike County Chamber; Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau and local State Representatives.

Not to “find fault”

Pike County Training Center is located at 135 Pike County Boulevard, off Route 739, between Route 6 and Interstate 84. This building became the command center during the manhunt.

The hearing falls under the Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Senator Randy Vulakovich and Minority Chair, Senator Jay Costa. Senator Baker serves on the committee.

Andrew Seder, Baker’s Field Representative, stated she had asked that the hearing be held in Pike County rather than Harrisburg, for the convenience of those who will be sharing testimony. She resubmitted her request for the hearing to the committee this year, and it was approved.

In her initial letter to the chairmen, Baker remarked that the hearing is not meant to “find fault, but instead to offer a realistic assessment of what we know, and what we might take into account in the future. Such a forum provides a path to positive action in response to lessons learned.”

Frein was arrested October 30, 2014 in Barrett Township, Pike County after an intense search conducted by approximately 1,000 members of the PA State Police, FBI, U.S. Marshal’s Office and other agencies. This was precipitated by the sniper attack September 12th outside the Blooming Grove barracks of the PA State Police which left one trooper dead and another critically wounded. Frein was convicted in Pike County Court in April 2017, and sentenced to the death penalty.