Police protection sparks debate in Pine Grove Twp.

Supervisors exchange heated words

By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • csrobwheary@gmail.com

PINE GROVE TOWNSHIP – Voices were raised between two Pine Grove Township supervisors as the subject of police protection in the township came up.
At the supervisors’ July 13 meeting, board chairman Bruce Kosack informed the public that the township had been having very preliminary discussions with Pine Grove Borough about responding to calls in the township in the future.
“The state police are worn very thin, and there are times where it could take about an hour or two for someone to respond to a call,” Kosack said. “There are some things that are going on in the township, including the township being a skirt point for drivers under the influence, in order to avoid detection.”

Kosack said that supervisor Ray Stump and township secretary Kathy Ferguson have met with Pine Grove’s mayor, the chief of police and borough officials on the matter, but said nothing is set in stone yet.
“The chief has told us that he gets about 10 to 12 calls a month from people in the township, wondering how they can get a response for something,” Stump said. “We’ve also talked with U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright who said there is grant money available.”
Kosack has earned from township residents, those who are both for or against borough police coming in, and is inviting the public to voice their opinion at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Supervisor Jeffrey Zimmerman cautioned his fellow supervisors about the discussion, saying they better do their homework before hand.
“You better have two items readily available — how much it’s going to cost, and how you are going to pay for it,” Zimmerman told Kosack. “You have to understand that everyone wants a lot of things, but no one wants to pay for it.”
Zimmerman then spoke up about Pine Grove Borough’s involvement.
“From past experience, the borough is not very easy to get along with on anything. Anytime we’ve had any kind of issue with the borough, we’ve gotten zero — and I mean zero — help with anything. They do their thing and we do ours.”
Zimmerman asked if the two municipalities worked together on anything, other than the joint treatment authority, which was forced upon them. When he got an answer of no, Zimmerman said he proved his point.
After his points, Kosach asked Zimmerman to go into the process and the discussion in August with an open mind, and Zimmerman said he does have one, but is saying that there needs to be hard numbers.
Kosach then got a little heated when Zimmerman stated that they better have the numbers ready for a “public hearing” in August.
“We are having a discussion, not a public hearing,” the supervisor chair said. “It doesn’t mean that we are voting that night, it doesn’t mean we will have a decision that night. It’s just a discussion.”
Kosach went on to say that this has been asked for in the past and nothing has been done about it, a fact that Zimmerman took exception to.
“You are absolutely wrong there,” Zimmerman said. “It was asked for but no one wanted to pay for it. There is the difference.”
Kosach said the other part of the argument is waiting for the state police to come in and charge the township for the protection it’s currently providing, charging $75 per person in the township. Using the 2010 census, that bill would come to more than $300,000.
“You are talking about something that might happen, that was a different argument.”
When asked at the meeting about how the Pine Grove Borough mayor feels about the idea, township secretary Kathy Ferguson said it wouldn’t be appropriate at this time to comment, since preliminary discussions are going on.
Kosach invited all members of the public, either for or against police protection to come to the meeting and voice their opinion.
Zimmerman also got into a lively discussion with Ferguson earlier in the meeting when the topic of getting the air ducts in the township building clean. The process was recommended after an air quality study was done after reports of Ferguson getting sick.
Pine Grove Township was given a price of $1,178 to do the work, but Zimmerman could not support the spending due to the township getting only one quote.
“There are other companies that do this. We need to look further,” Zimmerman said. “People get sick in all buildings, it’s a fact of life.”
“We sent out several inquiries. This company was the only one that responded,” Ferguson said. “When I have health problems that only happen here, something is wrong.”
The plan to do the cleaning was tabled so that more price quotes could be gotten.
In other business:
— The board unanimously voted for resolutions to the Commonwealth Finance Agency for grant funding for the Oak Grove Road and Swopes Valley Road bridge replacement projects. The board is seeking $421,095 for Oak Grove and more than $800,000 for Swopes Valley Road.
— Andrew Logsdon was appointed to the township’s planning commission, while Lynn Johnson was named to the township’s recreation board.
— Solicitor Gino DiNicola was asked by the supervisors to clean up a proposed road bond agreement between Pine Grove Township and the Williams Company if and when the company starts up the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project.

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