March 27, 2003
The Jackson Township Supervisors held their regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Jackson Township Senior & Handicapped Activities Center. Members present were Supervisors David Bracken, Bob Stephens and Bruce Baker along with Secretary-Treasurer / Manager Dave Hirko and Solicitor Bill Barbin. The meeting was called to order by David Bracken, Chairman, with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.
Board Roll Call was taken for the three Supervisors present.
Public Comments Concerning Agenda Items:
Bob Stephens made a comment about Don Knopsnyder video taping the meeting. He stated that the Sunshine Laws states that the video camera must be hand held and not plugged in. Supervisor Baker asked Solicitor Barbin if that was true. Barbin said he didnít believe it was, but couldnít say for certain at that time.
Will Michaels asked what the Maintenance Agreement with Conectiv was all about. Supervisor Bracken said it would be discussed as an item on the agenda. He stated that the Township was like a dictatorship. Solicitor Barbin reminded the board that this was a time for public comment and not debate.
Dr. Don Leckey, President of the Chickaree Ridgerunners Snowmobile & Rescue Club spoke on concerns raised at the last Township meeting on the lease agreement the club has with Jackson Township concerning ground at Mitchell Park. He stated they are a non-profit organization and have been in existence for 31 years and are the oldest snowmobile club in Pennsylvania with approximate membership of 109. He said they provide recreation for snowmobilers and non-snowmobilers alike with various events throughout the year. He went on to say they have performed several rescue missions in the past and wanted to note some of them. Those missions included taking food to families who were snowed-in, providing transportation to the fire company to reach several heart attack victims, providing transportation to a local radio station to reach their transmission tower, helping with search and rescue when an airplane crashed on Laurel Mountain, sponsoring snowmobile related events with the proceeds going towards charities. He went on to say that during the past year, they have helped by contributing towards the cost of a liver transplant needed for a resident of Mundys Corner. He also stated were currently raising money for another Mundyís Corner man to help with expenses related to his heart problems. In addition, the Club participates in the Adopt-A-Highway program by helping keep a two mile section of Route 22 clean in Jackson Township. In closing he said the Club was open to anyone who resides in Jackson Township. He said the lease has been in existence for 16 years and was drawn up by the Township Solicitor, the Central Cambria School Board Solicitor and the Clubís Attorney. He hoped the information would put any concerns "to rest".
Bob Wiktor, Chairman of the Chickaree Ridgerunners Snowmobile Club asked Supervisor Stephens why the Club was being investigated. Stephens responded saying that it was brought up my a member in the audience at the last Township meeting when the Board was discussing the selling of timber from Mitchell Park and the possible legal implications involved. Mr. Wiktor asked if who brought the issue up and Stephens responded by saying he was not at liberty to say at that time. Mr. Wiktor, former Supervisor asked why the individuals didnít fill out a formal signed complaint form. Mr. Wiktor asked why Mr. Stephens didnít look at the lease instead of wasting taxpayers money on legal bills. Stephens said he wanted to be sure something wasnít done illegal. Wiktor explained that the timbering that was questioned only generated $500 for the Club. Stephens asked Mr. Wiktor if he was a Supervisor on the Board when the lease was enacted and he stated that he was. Wiktor stated that he refused to vote on that issue so it wouldnít be a conflict of interest. He invited Mr. Stephens to call him if he had any further question.
Solicitor Barbin explained the Conectiv installation & maintenance agreement for small flow treatment facility that was listed on the agenda. He said Act 537 which is a State Law states that the Township is responsible for all sewage in the Township including approving small treatment plants. The agreement was prepared by former Solicitor George Gvozdich back in November. It allows Conectiv to install the treatment plant provided that it comply with PaDEP regulations and allows the Township to inspect the plant and make sure that itís working properly. The agreement is necessary for Conectiv to get a permit for their treatment plant which will be located near their proposed power plant.
Motion Baker, second Bracken to approve the minutes of the February 27th meeting. Vote-Bracken & Baker-yes, Stephens no because he felt they were incomplete.
Township Financial Report:
|GENERAL||$ 60,921.19||$ 43,347.35||$ 60,154.13||$ 44,114.41|
|CAPITAL RESERVE||$ 1,067,215.97||$ 39,719.69||$ 9,283.03||$ 1,097,652.63|
|HIGHWAY AID||$ 18,908.67||$ 125,858.36||$ 8,948.07||$ 135,818.96|
|SR. CENTER FUND||$ 37,548.10||$ 4,745.00||$ 4,597.74||$ 37,695.36|
Motion Baker, second Bracken to approve the bills from February 28, 2003 to March 27, 2003; General Fund-$60,154.13, Highway Aid Fund-$8,948.07 and Senior Center Fund-$3,686.05. Vote-Bracken & Baker-yes, Stephens no because he felt there were possible inaccuracies on the Solicitorís billing procedures.
Township Police Report
The February, 2003 Police Report submitted by Police Chief Bob Fatula was presented. The figures included 165 - 911 calls dispatched to the police. Reportable incidents were as follows: Harassment-5, Assault-2, Disorderly Conduct-2, Arson-1, Drugs-1, DUI (Driving while under the influence)-1, Public Drunkenness-1, Theft-1, Rape-1 and Vehicle Theft-1. Total accidents handled were 10. Non-Traffic Citations issued were 2. Traffic Citations issued were 32. Criminal charges filed included the following: Disorderly Conduct-2, Assault-1, Burglary-1, Corruption of Minors-1, Criminal Attempted Burglary-1, Criminal Trespassing-1, Drugs-1, DUI (Driving while under the influence)-1, Harassment-1, Indecent Assault-1, Indecent Exposure-1, Rape-1, Receiving Stolen Property-1 and Theft-1.
Letter of resignation from David Cobaugh of the Jackson Township Planning Commission.
Motion Stephens, second Baker to accept with regret the resignation of David Cobaugh from the Jackson Township Planning Commission. Vote-3 yes.
Motion Stephens, second Baker to approve Installation & Maintenance Agreement for Small Flow Treatment Facility for the Conectiv Power Plant. Vote-3 yes.
Motion Baker, second Stephens to find the Chickaree Ridgerunners lease with Mitchell Park to be valid based on; (1) - that the Chickaree Ridgerunners act as a volunteer rescue squad and (2) - that the Chickaree Ridgerunners support public recreation.
Supervisor Stephens stated that based on the legal information they had at this time he didnít feel it was proper for the Board to take a vote on it. Mr. Stephens told Solicitor Barbin that he sent him three letters. Barbin said he believed it to be five. Mr. Stephens read one letter which requested his legal opinion on three items including the selling of timber at Mitchell Field and the need to have a judges ruling before the timber is sold, the previous selling of timber at Mitchell Field and proper legal use of that money and the leasing of part of Mitchell Field to the Snowmobile Club. He asked Mr. Barbin to provide him with the legal options he had in pursuing this matter. He asked Barbin if he responded to him personally. Barbin said he forwarded the response to Mr. Hirko, Township Manager. He stated that it was legal for the Township to cut timber at Mitchell Park as long as the proceeds went towards recreation. Barbin also sent an opinion on the lease of ground to the Chickaree Ridgerunners Snowmobile Club and the prior timbering of Mitchell Park. He stated that contributions from the sell of timber can be made volunteer rescue squads or fire companies. Stephens said he sent him a personal letter and that Barbin shouldnít have sent the letter to the Township Manager who works for the Board of Supervisors. He said that he asked specific questions and expected specific answers in writing. Solicitor Barbin responded by saying that the Township Manager can request specific legal opinions that arise whereas one board member cannot individually do so. A majority of the Board which includes 3 Supervisors can request a legal opinion. After the discussion, a vote was taken. Vote-Baker & Bracken-yes, Stephens-no because he felt he didnít know enough about it.
Motion Baker, second Stephens to appoint Debra Nagel to the Jackson Township Planning commission to fulfill the unexpired term of David Cobaugh through 2005. Vote-3 yes.
Motion Baker, second Bracken on approving the time sheets for February 16, 2003 to March 1, 2003 and for March 2, 2003 to March 15, 2003.
Supervisor Stephens wanted to ask Supervisor Bracken questions about his time. He asked him what time he started work. Bracken replied at 5 a.m. Stephens stated that one day his vehicle was reported to be seen in a white car at Sheetz at 5:05 a.m. Mr. Bracken stated that he stopped for coffee and if that was a crime, then he was guilty. Stephens said he wanted all hourly employees to record their start times. After the discussion, a vote was taken. Vote-Bracken & Baker-yes, Stephens-no.
The Supervisors opened the single bid received for Heating Oil, Premium No Lead Gas and Diesel Fuel from Luther P. Miller.
Motion to accept bid received from Luther P. Miller for Heating Oil, Premium No Lead Gas and Diesel Fuel pending the Solicitorís review. Vote-3 yes.
Motion Baker, second Stephens to approve request from Connie Fetzer to attend seminar for basic & advanced notary training on May 29, 2003 at the Holiday Inn, Johnstown. Vote-3 yes.
Motion Stephens, second Bracken to approve request from The Jackson Township Planning Commission for five members to attend a seminar on Municipal Powers and Land Use Controls Governing Agriculture and Mining Activities to be held at the Best Western University Inn at Indiana on May 7, 2003. Vote-Bracken & Stephens-yes, Baker-abstained.
Other New Business:
Motion Baker, second Stephens to have the Planning Commission do a study of streetlights at "key" intersections.
Will Michaels said he thought it would be a good idea. He mentioned locations such as below Mr. Yuraseks, Dishong Mountain and on top of Chickaree. Supervisor Baker said some of the locations he mentioned would be included in the Route 22 Project. Mr. Michaels said the intersection at Benshoff Hill Road was also another location that needed a light.
George Burkey stated that the Township Code specifies that you can charge the people who live at those locations and wanted to be on record that he did not want to pay for a streetlight.
Don Hildebrand mentioned that Brazil Lane could use a streetlight also being there is a lot of traffic and people walking from Mitchell Park. Supervisor Baker said he wanted to get a study done for the entire Township and start with the most heavily traveled intersections first.
After the discussion, a vote was taken. Vote-3 yes.
Motion Stephens that the Board of Supervisors change their meeting from the last Thursday of the month to the 3rd Thursday of the month. Motion died from lack of a second.
Bob Stephens stated he had a number of things to discuss. He said he submitted a letter to be on the agenda for five items. One was the timbering at Mitchell Field and a lease agreement with the Snowmobile Club. He had a list of items and stated most of them pertained to Solicitor Barbin. He said at the January 30th meeting he quoted from the Solicitors Handbook that the Solicitor was not to give advice unless asked by the Board. He said at the February 27th meeting he violated the request and did so at the meeting tonight as well. Solicitor Barbin said that was not always possible or practical. Mr. Barbin said Supervisor Stephens made several legal opinions of his own this evening. He said it wasnít his duty to correct Stephens from giving his opinion. He did state however it was his duty to stop the board from doing something illegal as his responsibility was to Jackson Township and not an individual Supervisor. Stephens said he sent a letter on March 4th to Mr. Barbin. The letter stated that at 6:59 they went into the room and found it to be about half full. The Chairman said the location of the meeting would be moved to the Senior Center due to overcrowding. Stephens said if the room was overcrowded, what happened to all the people. Stephens felt civil rights and/or discrimination may have occurred in violation of law. His letter went on to say he was requesting legal counsel of his choosing being Barbin may have been involved in this matter.
He read another letter dated March 21st to Solicitor Barbin. He wanted to know why he would not answer him personally and instead respond to Secretary Dave Hirko. He asked if the law firm of Gleason, DiFrancesco, Shahade, Barbin, McQuillan and Markovitz of which he might be a member be held legally accountable of any suit that might be filed against you personally based on any legal action or opinion you might take or give. Mr. Barbin said he did send a response to that letter to the Township Manager.
Supervisor Stephens asked Mr. Barbin if he was financially and legally accountable for any advice he gave tonight. Barbin replied the same as any attorney. He asked if the law firm for which he was a part of be accountable. Barbin said they were all together as partners in the firm. Stephens asked if he did research for any subjects mentioned by Mr. Stephens at the February 27, 2003 meeting. Barbin replied that he research and wrote opinions based on questions he raised in letters that Mr. Hirko authorized me to do as the Township Manager in accordance with Ordinance # 89. He stated that he may file possible legal suits against Solicitor Barbin personally and possibly others who are in Government or Government employment. It was noted by several citizens and Supervisor Bracken that Mr. Stephens was speaking for 9 minutes and that others were waiting to comment. Mr. Stephens asked if he was being denied the right to speak. Solicitor Barbin said that the Township has a resolution which sets time limits for individuals to give public comments and that since it was adopted prior to the new Sunshine Laws it was valid.
Guy Ellenberger asked what was being done about soil testing at Leidy Park. Supervisor Bracken said Mr. Yurasek received a letter and that he was to respond in order for the soil testing to proceed forward. Mr. Yurasek said Norac Labs was supposed to respond. Solicitor Barbin said they did respond and that he sent a letter dated March 19th to Mr. Yurasek and was awaiting a response from him.
Steve Yurasek stated that a letter to the Readers Forum from Don Knopsnyder mentioned that Jackson Township had five churches was incorrect. He said the Township actually has 9 churches.
Bob Wiktor asked why Supervisor Stephens didnít read the Snowmobile Lease Agreement. Mr. Wiktor said that if the Board of Supervisors find the Snowmobile Club Lease to be illegal that they would owe the Club $300,000 or all the money that have invested in the Club facilities, etc.
Barry Hunt stated all he has heard from Supervisor Stephens is negative. He said all he talks about is lawsuits and it's costing the Township about $55.00 per day, seven days a week in legal fees paid for by the taxpayers. Mr. Hunt said he felt if he didnít enjoy the Township it was time for Stephens to move on.
Dr. Donald Leckey thanked the two Supervisors who did approve the Snowmobile Club Lease. He stated that he couldnít understand why Supervisor Stephens didnít feel it was a legal agreement when it was done by three attorneys 16 years ago and the Township Solicitor gave him a ruling and he still couldnít think positively on it.
Eugene Kist stated he asked Supervisor Baker to answer two questions from last monthís Board meeting. Mr. Kist asked Mr. Baker if he authorized Mr. Hirko to send this letter. He then asked if the Board directed Mr. Hirko to send the letter. Kist went on to say that with the letter were copies of minutes from several meetings. The letter included no answer as to if the Township would purchase his non-conforming properties. He stated in the minutes that former Solicitor Gvozdich called Harrisburg on the conflict of interest issue. He wanted to know if there was any official documentation. Mr. Kist stated there was a conflict of interest and that he didnít receive answers. He said if he had to kneel down and beg he would and if people with non-conforming properties started being affected they would cry.
Mike Homan questioned if the Township heard anything about his daughter blowing out a tire on Leidy Lane Extension after hitting a pothole. Supervisor Bracken said the pothole was fixed. Manager Hirko added that the Insurance Company has the bill Mr. Homan submitted and that we were awaiting a response from them.
Motion Baker, second Bracken to adjourn the meeting at 8:21 p.m. Vote-Bracken & Baker-yes, Stephens no because he wasnít finished talking.
David M. Hirko, Secretary