By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org
VALLEY VIEW – With one supervisor accused of doing illegal activity and the road foreman being questioned why there are binoculars on the dashboard of the township truck, the Hegins Township Road Foreman’s report was interesting topic at last Wednesday’s supervisor’s meeting.
Chairman Supervisor Gary Harner questioned Supervisor Brad Carl who authorized him to help with a paving project in Deep Creek back in October? Harner noted that it states in the minutes from the January 2016 reorganization meeting minutes that a supervisor must be authorized by at least three of the supervisors in order to work for the township and will be compensated $12 per hour.
Harner said Carl helped with a paving project and had no authority to do so.
“Why are you bringing this up now, when this took place in October,” asked Carl. “Why, now Gary. What’s the problem with what I did for the township?”
Harner said he was prepared to ask his question at last month’s meeting, but Road Foreman Craig Coleman wasn’t present and he wanted to wait until he was at a meeting.
According to Coleman, Carl loaned his dump truck to the township to haul blacktop and in exchange the road crew put township fuel in the dump truck to replace what they used.
“You can’t put township fuel into a privately-owned truck,” said Township Solicitor Donald Karpowich. “The township doesn’t pay tax on their fuel, so they can’t use it to refuel a truck that is privately owned. The fuel should have been purchased from a gas station and a receipt submitted. What was done violates ethics laws.”
Carl said this has been going on for at least two years. He said the township has used his truck in the past.
“I was only trying to save the township money, by letting them use my truck, rather than having the township spend $75 an hour minimum to rent a truck. This was the cheapest way for the township to get the work done. I was only trying to do good for the township. I won’t do it again, I guess you will have to spend the money and rent a truck.”
Darrell Huntsinger, who was present in the audience made the comment, “I guess it won’t happen again like you said last year when you used the township garage for personal use too?”
“I don’t understand why you didn’t give me a call if you had a problem with this Gary, why wait until now,” asked Carl.
Harner claims he only realized it last month when he was going over the reorganization meeting information. He also said Carl should have known better and to follow the policy in place.
Carl said Harner was okay with it when they did it last year. He said there was no problem then.
“Let’s move on, from now on if the road crew calls, tell them to pound sand, and let them rent a truck, let the township spend money they don’t have,” said Supervisor Mike Begis.
In other road business, Supervisor Bruce Klouser questioned Coleman why there is a pair of binoculars on the dashboard of the township truck.
“Are you using them to watch deer or what?” asked Klouser.
Coleman explained that the state suggests binoculars be placed in the trucks so that when there is a Hazmat incident in the township the first step is to observe from a distance and Coleman said with the installation of the Williamson Pipeline there is even more reason to have them.
“I’m not saying we have never looked at deer in the field with them, but the reason they are there is for Hazmat purposes, but if you’d rather we not have them in the trucks, they can be removed, the choice is yours,” said Coleman.
In other business, the supervisors gave the nod to Police Chief Beau Yarmush to hire a part-time police officer that has been interviewed by Yarmush and Officer Dillman. Chief Yarmush said Chris Thompson would be able to fill some weekend hours.
During the zoning report it was determined that the township is going to take the next step and issue a citation to the property owners of 1459 W. Main Street in Valley View. They said adequate time was given to clean up but there is still more that needs done.
The Rausch Creek land development plan has been extended again. The new extension will take them until April 2, 2018. Solicitor Karpowich said Rausch Creek is still working through their issues with DEP.
The supervisors approved a motion to post the 2018 estimated budget. The final budget will be adopted during a special meeting December 28 at 7 p.m in the office of the township secretary.
Three auditors have been appointed. They are Anna Miller, Sally Bair, and Steve Klinger. The purpose of the appointment is due to the supervisors salary for attending meetings.
The supervisors discussed a possible grant for the Forest Drive Bridge.
After a lengthy discussion with Ty Leinneweber, of Lehigh Engineering, township engineer, the supervisors wanted to know what the cost would be to get the project ‘shovel ready’, in other words have the pre-engineering work already done before the project would go out to bid.
It’s estimated that the cost would be approximately $28,700. It was also explained that just because the township would spend the money to get it ‘shovel ready’ doesn’t mean the township would receive a grant, however the chances are better in obtaining one.
“We don’t have this money in the budget and I’m pretty sure when you get something ‘shovel ready’ you must show that the township would have the means to fund the project and that we don’t have at this time,” said Supervisor Begis. “I’m all in favor of moving ahead with a bridge project, but I believe this is jumping the gun. I think we should be applying for grants, but not to get it ‘shovel ready’.”
The supervisors approved the police to escort the Santa parade on December 16 from the point of Hegins-Hubley Elementary School to Ashland Technologies in Fountain. The parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. at CASA Trucking at the Schuylkill/Dauphin County line.
The supervisors also gave the nod for a 5K run that is set for Monday, Jan. 1, to coincide as part of the Polar Bear Plunge. The run will begin at the Valley View Park, to Gap Street, West Maple Street, Broad Street and back to the park.
Supervisor Brad Carl questioned Chairman Harner about a meeting that he and Harner were to attend sometime this month with Rob Stermer of DEP, Attorney Matthew Boyd, of Elliot Greenleaf & Dean, Scranton, in regards to the Act 537 appeal.
According to Harner, the attorney wasn’t available for a meeting this month and it would be pushed back to January.
“I guess that’s so that I won’t be going because I’m sure someone else will be named vice-chairman of the board of supervisors until that meeting,” said Carl.
“We just don’t know yet, you never know,” said Harner.
Kenneth Richter and LeRoy Shuey, both took time to publicly congratulate Doug Lucas on winning the write-in election for Hegins Township Supervisor.
“I hope Supervisors Begis and Carl open their eyes since they were in denial when the residents spoke out earlier with more than 600 signatures on a petition against the joint Act 537 plan,” said Shuey. “Also the fact that the public supported changing the three-member board to a five-member board of supervisors. It’s time to open your eyes and realize what the township residents want and whats best for everyone.”
“Time will tell, Mr. Shuey, time will tell,” said Begis.
Vicky Harman asked the supervisors why they aren’t using the PA system when conducting the meetings. “It’s very hard to hear toward the rear of the room,” said Harman. The supervisors suggested she move forward. They said they will move the tables and chairs closer to the front for the next meeting. Harner said, “it will be warmer if they all sit closer together anyway.”
Dates to remember
Budget adoption meeting, December 28, 7 p.m. township secretary’s office.
Reorganization meeting, January 2, 7 p.m. Hegins Area Ambulance Association Building.
Regular meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 7 p.m. Hegins Area Ambulance Association Building.
Food pantry, January 17, beginning at 8 a.m. at the township building, Gap Street.