Day: August 14, 2016

Borough residents invited to hear about fire tax

By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer •

TOWER CITY — Borough residents will have an opportunity to hear the Tower City Fire Company’s sales pitch a tax increase to help fund emergency services.
A public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15 at borough hall to allow the fire company to make their case for a 3.7 mills property tax increase to help fund fire and emergency management services in the borough.
The new tax will increase property taxes from 7.7 to 11.4 mills. Using the average property value, the new tax would designate approximately $33,000 in revenue.
Council does have the authority to impose a tax increase of 3 mills for the establishment of the new tax. Anything more has to be done by referendum on the November ballot. The board authorized its solicitor, Richard Thornburg, to prepare and advertise the ordinance that is needed to be passed before the question is placed on the ballot.
Council member Marcus Riddell said borough fire officials will be at the meeting to speak with residents and answer any questions, hoping to drum up support for the vote in November.
Borough mayor Daniel Daub worried about the timing of the measure, saying it might be too late for it.
“Absentee ballots will be going out very soon, so I wonder if we have enough time to do this,” Daub said. Thornburg replied he is awaiting a reply from an assistant county solicitor to see when the deadline is to have a memorandum passed on the ballot.
Still, Daub worries about it.
“The public will not vote to increase their own taxes,” the mayor said.
The other main topic of discussion came during public comment when a resident mentioned about a group of older kids hanging out at the playground near the swimming pool.
“They are causing nothing but trouble,” the resident said.
The taxpayer, who lives near the playground, said he saw about 15 kids there causing problems.
“They had the garbage dumped all over the place and were working on tearing down the baskets at the basketball court. When the cops would come they would scatter away,” the resident said.
As if the damage to the playground wasn’t bad enough, the resident told borough council that the youths are now going into other people’s yards as well.
“They were hanging out on a porch at one place and swimming in someone’s pool another time,” the citizen told borough council. “They said they didn’t have to leave because there weren’t any ‘no trespassing’ signs. One of the girls was brazen enough to tell someone that they had no respect for young people.”
Council president Bruce Schneck told the residents that they will speak to the police about it and step up patrols in the area.
In other business:
— Council directed the solicitor to help revamp the borough’s parking ordinance, some of the changes being made is that there will be no parking on either side of Second Street north of Colliery Avenue and that no parking zones on Sixth and Seventh streets near the fire company will be lengthened and designated as being for fire and EMS workers only.
— The borough will purchase tar block at a cost not to exceed $2,100 and will look into prices for hot patch for some street repairs in the near future.
— A discussion was held about a piece of property next to a business owned by Gy Rinaldi at 512 E. Grand Ave. Council was split on the idea of either selling the property or leasing it to him for parking. The action was tabled for further discussion.

Washington Twp. proposes zoning changes

Some residents request referendum

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor •

LOYALTON – Washington Township in upper Dauphin County is planning to amend some of its zoning ordinances and a public hearing was held Tuesday evening, Aug. 2.
A few people expressed their concerns and felt the amendments aren’t necessary, while others in attendance are in favor of the changes.
The major changes are proposed for Chapter 22 of the subdivision/land development ordinance and Chapter 27 of the zoning ordinance. These items can be viewed on the township’s website at
According to Lavern Brown, a member of the Washington Township Planning Commission the changes have been worked on for a while and this isn’t something that was done overnight.
“Washington Twp. adopted zoning laws 20 years ago,” said Brown. “We felt it was time to take a look at the zoning and make changes to better fit our area. We want to make these laws fit for the people to do what they want to do with their property. We want the people to have all their rights to their property. It’s time to give the people back their rights as land owners.”
Township resident Edward Bechtel is one resident who is opposed to the changes. He addressed the board of supervisors during the public hearing.
“I’m here tonight to speak against the proposed changes as well detail more serious immediate problems that should be addressed before making changes to the zoning ordinances,” said Bechtel. “Most of my remarks are based on what I learned from attending planning commission and supervisors meetings during the first half of this year.”
Bechtel said when this entire process is all over he will not harbor ill feelings towards no one. He said his conscience dictated that he had to come and speak his mind.
During his presentation and questions to the board he pointed out the following points:
“These proposed amendments are purely agenda driven by a few for the benefit of a few,” said Bechtel, as he read from a prepared statement. “Let’s be clear… I’m pro business… in many ways it’s the lifeblood of the community, but there needs to balance in our land use and zoning ordinances. We are not a township of just businesses. Remember individual home owners pay a lot of taxes. It’s time for supervisors to look out for the people living in Mt. View Terrace, Ky Blue Grass, Pine Acres and the villages of Loyalton, Big Run and the surrounding farm lands and other areas of the township.”
Bechtel also pointed out the supervisors may want to seek legal advice from their solicitor about a voting conflict of interest since they may have business interests that may possibly benefit from these proposed changes.
He also suggested an open house for the average joe and Jane homeowners and let the township officials ask them… what can we do to help you.
Before Bechtel addressed the proposed zoning ordinances he showed the supervisors and audience some examples of hazardous burning and run down properties that need to be addressed before the township allows smaller property set backs, and virtually unlimited use of signs.
“I totally agree we must be business friendly, but we must also control rundown properties and health hazards, or business will not thrive,” said Bechtel. “Just look at all the business that left some of our towns because things got so run down that business fled. If you do what is right for homeowners, business will thrive and grow.”
Bechtel pointed out the major changes that concern him are the set back reductions. For example, side yard setbacks were 30 and now would be 15; rear yard setbacks were 50 and now would be 30; building height limit was 35 feet and now would be 0’; shed set back from adjoining property was 10’ and now 4’; sheds were prohibited from front yards, now they can be placed in the front yard with the new changes.
Bechtel said the major change that will impact the rural character of the area is the gutting of the sign ordinance.
“Why fix something that is not broken?” asked Bechtel. “The current zoning works. There have been very few zoning hearing board hearings in the recent past that I recall. So what’s the need to make these ill thought changes?”
Bechtel requested the supervisors to consider a non-binding referendum for the citizens to vote on the changes.
Township Solicitor Joe Kerwin said he wasn’t sure if this was something that could be placed on the ballot or whether there was enough time to do so.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the supervisors moved into the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the board.
During the regular meeting, the supervisors agreed to have Kerwin look into getting a referendum for the proposed zoning changes and they plan to discuss it again at the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m.

Schuylkill West takes state title


Submitted Photo Members and coaches of the Schuylkill West VFW All-Star Team captured the state VFW 15-16 year-old championship, going undefeated in tournament play in Mount Union on July 30 through August 2.

MOUNT UNION — Schuylkill West became the latest county squad to bring home a VFW Teener State Championship Trophy.
The team got a big game from Dawson Schwalm to pick up a 7-1 victory over Altoona in the championship game Tuesday morning.
Schwalm came up big on the mound, holding Altoona to just four hits in the game, their only run coming in the first with an RBI single.
Schuylkill West took the early 1-0 lead in the first inning, getting its run from an RBI double by Jake Masser. That’s the way the game would stay until the fifth inning when Schwalm gave Schuylkill West the lead for good with a RBI double to the fence, scoring Willie Kimmel from first. Schwalm scored on an Alex Witmer single, making the score 3-1 after five innings.
With the game in hand, Schuykill West kept pouring it on. With two outs in the sixth, Brett Anspach and Kimmel had RBI doubles to push the game to 5-1, followed by a two-run single by Dawson Maurer that put the score at 7-1.