School Board, Municipalities Tackle Variety Of Issues In 2013

In the arc of our local government and school board years, each starts fresh with the appointment of officers and set the personnel for the next 12 months.

In 2013, Crestwood School Board’s Eric Aigeldinger was elected president in December. At the first meeting of the new year, colleague Gene Mancini recommended the retention of negotiator Bruce Campbell to assist as needed with support staff contract talks. The calendar year ended without a final agreement.

In February everyone was in agreement that parents dropping students off along Route 309 was creating a dangerous situation. Superintendent David McLaughlin-Smith agreed with a complaint about the problem, stating “We are aware that there have been issues with traffic, I’ve been here nine years. We are looking at traffic patterns. [And] I am waiting for responses from representatives of this area to discuss potential involvement on the state level.”

After researching the problem, a resolution was reached calling for personal vehicles to enter only by way of South Main Road during those crucial minutes before the first school bell. The new pattern calmed traffic congestion on Route 309.

An other complaint about bus stops continued into the year with Maplewood parents protesting a change of that route. The well organized group objected to the elimination of a bus stop within the development and relocation onto the edge of Route 309. The frustrated parents submitted photos of several accidents and a blazing tractor-trailer fire near the new bus stop location. The board agreed with the parents and the safer stop was restored.

Safety for in-school technology was also on the minds of the board which approved the emplacement of a new wireless system for use by educators and students which provides service without exposing the districts’ proprietary system to unauthorized access.

The general election brought new members Maureen McGovern and Randy Swank to the board. They will have to help to resolve the Support Staff contract which Mancini reported was to have run from of July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017. In order to inform the public, he said, the Board decided to upload the latest offer to the districts website and make it available in the school offices.

+++++

In rural Dorrance, a peaceful transition seated Supervisor Gary Zane as chairman of the board in January. Later in the year colleague Royce Engler ran for and won his second six-year term. After Supervisor Ben Ostrowski resignation in late 2012, long-term planning commissioner William Wengrzynek was appointed to the seat. The board appointed Attorney Donald Karpovich as planning commission solicitor, and later in the year he was named township solicitor as well.

January brought the final of a series of nine hearings on the petition from Pennsy Supply to expand the Small Mountain Quarry. The Conditional Approval was predicated on a number of stipulations offered by both professional advisors and highly motivated, self-educated township residents.

At decision time, Zane read a prepared statement from the board. He enumerated 10 summarized conditions, including the regulation of blasting, operating times for both the primary and other crusher units, the protection of Balliets Run and the adjoining “exceptional value wetlands,” protection of wells and water sources, controls on noise, dust, the depth of quarrying operations and protection of the township’s Small Mountain Road.

In March, neighbor Kevin Casey announced that he was appealing the decision.

Having approved the expansion of the quarry, the actual land plan came under review mid-year. Again, conditions were applied to the plan for the 128 acre project area. Per the planning commission’s recommendations, the board required that three legal agreements would be recorded with the plans –an access roadway maintenance agreement, a storm water operation and maintenance agreement and a development agreement.

The supervisors utilized a Community Development Grant to resurface approximately one mile of St. Mary’s Road.

+++++

Also rotating officers in January, Mountaintop’s largest municipality Wright Township named long-term supervisor Dan Frascella as chairman. By year’s end the people of the township elected Colleen Macko to that seat and in December Frascella’s 24 years of service were celebrated.

The Route 309 corridor brought new business projects for the township’s consideration. In April Supervisor Candace Smith advised that a Preliminary Land Development Plan was submitted to the planning commission for a Dollar General Store. The commercial enterprise is located just south of the National Penn Bank on South Mountain Boulevard across from Grouse Hill. The plan was submitted by Pizzman Development, Inc. of Pittston, Pa.

To the north of this new business, a Jack Williams Tire & Service Center is also in the works.

Expansion plans are under consideration for the municipal building itself, the board agreed. A Local Share Gaming Grant application has been submitted in the amount of $710,203. The motion by Supervisor Don Zampetti and second by Jerry Uram at the December meeting supports the plan to expand the municipal building by 1,677 square feet on the main floor over top of three garage bays underneath. Earlier in the year, the group had conjectured that the new area could contain the magistrate’s office and new meeting room. This would allow the expanding police department to move into the space vacated by the magistrate and meeting room move.

The Police Department lead by Chief Royce Engler also expanded, welcoming Patrolman Aaron Fromm to full-time status.

Engler and two other members of the Wright family were recognized 2013. Engler was celebrated for his 35 years of township service. Public Works employee Chris Kania was cited for 40 years of exemplary service. And Secretary-Treasurer Joan Malkemes won honors for her 45 years of “dedicated service.”

Roadmaster Lou Welebob oversaw the $80,000+ Forest Drive Paving Project in the spring. The supervisors ended the year by passing a budget that holds taxes steady for the new year.