On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

Four out of the 7 days that our Mountaintop meteorologist Tom Clark reported in his weekly weather report were 70 degrees or above. Sunday was an unbelievable 76°. The trees are budding and leafing out, the grass is greener by the day, and now that it is May I hope we have seen our last snowflake or ice crystal.

Charlie and I worked on our yard last weekend. After nearly 37 years at our Wilderness address the trees have grown tall and much of the lawn is moss or bare. We called all the Mountaintop Eagle’s landscaping advertisers and a few more that were recommended to us for estimates to get the lawn back up to its previous glory. Sadly each one told us we need to cut down trees to let in more sunlight and give the yard some air and space. We only got two firm bids for the job. The majority shook their heads and headed for the road.

I’m not sure grass is the way to go. Maybe fine gravel like the desert areas use for their public spaces. No weed control or watering needed. Let the yard go back to nature?

I got out my cultivator and scratched up the earth in the worst bare spots. Charlie spread seed and fertilizer and we topped our efforts with straw. Watering twice a day we are hoping for something before we commit to the bigger project. I look at it as less to mow.

My vegetable garden has been getting more shade the past few years and although it is large I can easily pare down its size and plant just what we can use. I need the tree experts to advise.

After the three-hour lawn project I set out for my daily walk. On weekends I go up in to the Gamelands. My weekday trek is on the Black Diamond Trail, which starts on Route 437 in Wright Township and I can choose my distance. The Gamelands trail is uphill, steep in some parts but manageable and I get many “active minutes” according to my FitBit, an electronic pedometer that I wear on a wristband 24 hours a day. Saturday I had 166 active minutes and 17,701 steps translated to 7.18 miles. It was an energetic day burning 2,458 calories. My dogs were definitely barking after the exercise. I know how the farmers and laborers feel day after day and I only exercise that much once or twice a week.

Sunday was my day of rest. Charlie and I played a delightful round of golf at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Course. The grass was the greenest and lushest ever. The skies were blue and the clouds were gorgeous. It was my fourth outing at Blue Ridge this year and I got my first Birdie for 2015. Golf Course Superintendent Duane Schell is a magician with course maintenance. Blue Ridge is as fine as many resort and private courses. And everybody gets to enjoy it.

Political Season

The political signs are popping up all over Mountaintop this week. With the primary election a scant 2 weeks away, Carl Smith for Rice Township Supervisor is at every Rice intersection and in many yards. Carl is unopposed for the Democratic nomination, but he wants his name engraved on the voters’ minds now in the spring primary and for the November general election against a Republican.

Republican Candy Smith is running for her second Wright Township supervisor term against Republican William Wallick and Democrat Mike Marshall. Marshall is a Wright Township police officer has been on the Crestwood School Board for one term. Smith and Marshall have placed a substantial number of election signs in their town.

The five candidates running for Crestwood School Board are cross-filed and are likely to win seats on the board. A sixth candidate, Justin Behrens, was disqualified for failing to file financial statements in a timely manner and is now advertising his candidacy as a write-in. Nuangola has four candidates on their ballot for three seats. Ted Vancosky, Ronald Kaiser, John Kochan and Michelle Zawoiski are all on board. Each has served one or more terms on borough council. Fairview, Dorrance, and Slocum have uncontested races.

Rice Road Projects

Rice will discuss their engineer’s road paving study before their public meeting Tuesday May 5. The study outlines 15 projects totaling $955,220. My Wilderness Drive Street comes in at Number 5 for $84,597.50 behind the first four streets totaling $498,100. I don’t see the road paving list projects progressing more than $200,000 per year, but I am not the Roadmaster or master planner in Rice Township. The majority of Rice Township’s tax collection for their $900,000 budget is from Earned Income Tax.

What I would really like to see addressed is the upgrading of Heslop Road through the Gamelands to Brown Street in Fairview Township. The distance of most serious disrepair is less than one half mile, 2640 feet of the total 1.5 miles of road from the Gamelands boundary line to the power line cut. Improving that road for emergency access and accessibility for hunters, hikers, and bird watchers should be a top priority. Heslop does not need expensive paving. Grading and gravel will be very adequate.

Pete Sussenbach, Pennsylvania Game Commission Land Management Supervisor and Michael Beahm, Land Management Group Supervisor Northeast Region, made an initial proposal to the Rice Township Board of Supervisors for improving Heslop Road at the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday February 3, 2015.

The PGC proposed taking Heslop Road over so that they could hire loggers and improve the habitat for the critters. The estimated cost of grading and graveling Heslop Road was estimated at $40,000. The PGA said they could not improve roads they did not own.

I believe it is up to the logging company to make the “improvements” they need to haul the harvested timber out of the forest. Private landowners who timber their land do not pay for the road improvements and when the loggers leave there are trails in the woods for hiking, biking and ATV’s. Grading and gravel is all Heslop needs and the price tag is far below a million dollars. Developer Matt McGowan offered to pay for the Heslop renovation. His 500 acres of undeveloped residential development property adjoins Heslop Road south of the PGC property line.

There are plenty of Mountaintop roads that the county and state maintain. Nuangola Road in Wright Township through Rice to I-81 and beyond is in rough shape after the last two hard winters. It is one of two main east-west thoroughfares in Mountaintop. Nuangola Road does not currently go all the way to 309, but that option has been debated in the past and should be revisited. The state needs to repair Nuangola Road in Rice Township as soon as possible. The paving project is long overdue.