JACKSON TOWNSHIP NEWS
Your Community News
Jackson Township began the new year with a surplus over 1.3 million dollars. The Jackson Township Supervisors passed an approved a budget for 2006 of $2,987,205.00. The breakdown is as follows: General Fund-$1,108,240.00, State Fund-$140,630, Fire Hydrant Fund-$10,500.00, Rescue Fund -$8,500.00, Capital Reserve Fund-$1,661,435.00 and Senior Center Fund-$57,900.00. The Township Capital Reserve Fund is over 1.3 million while we were able to carry out many substantial improvements and projects during the past year. We are fortunate that Jackson will not have to raise taxes as many other municipalities have this year. Also by balancing financial growth while helping the Township move and progress forward, Jackson will remain financially sound for future generations.
Your Community News
LOOKING BACK ON 2005
Several projects are underway that could boost the local economy. The most notable one is the 35 million dollar Route 22 Reconstruction Project which will widen the heavily traveled corridor to 4 lanes and on Chickaree Mountain, 5 lanes. The project includes construction of an interchange at Dishong Mountain Road, improving other intersections and constructing "turn around" roads, service roads and interchange lighting at Dishong Mountain Road and Route 271. This project more than any other could change the landscape of Jackson Township as anticipated development occurs along the busy highway. Completion for the project is scheduled for 2007 but with the nice weather during 2005, they may be finished much sooner. The 8.2 million dollar Landfill Gas Conversion Project is close to becoming a reality as pipe is being laid for transporting gas 1.5 miles from the landfill to a Dominion Peoples distribution line. The project is expected to produce 1.5 million cubic feet of gas per day. Construction has also begun on the Gas Conversion Plant located at the Laurel Highlands Landfill. The project will bring in additional revenue to the Township as well as extend the life of the Laurel Highlands Landfill. Through an agreement with JRE, a coalition of Johnstown Wire Technologies, JWF Industries and the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, the lower cost energy will help sustain nearly 1,000 jobs in the Johnstown area. Work continues with Babcox & Wilcox cleaning up a large "boney pile" located near Route 271 and Loraine Road. The boney is being transported to a co-gen plant in Ebensburg and used as fuel. The site will eventually be completely reclaimed. Interest and inquiries have been made to local realtors on various properties along Route 22 which according to PennDOT has traffic flow of 17,000 vehicles a day. Interest has been expressed on locating a truck terminal along Route 22. Additional interest has been shown on commercial development along Route 271 as well. Jackson Township has been approached by US Wind Force of Wexford on a project that includes the development of windmills across multiple properties for about two miles on the ridge of Dishong Mountain. US Wind Force is getting ready to submit a zoning application for a test tower which will measure wind speeds on the mountaintop for a year to determine whether a wind farm would be feasible. US Wind Force is an independent developer of renewable energy projects with active ventures in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. With Gamesa locating a new plant in neighboring Cambria Township, there seems to be much interest in the development of wind energy throughout Cambria County. At the November Board of Supervisors, a vote was made to hire C.J. Webb to develop an ordinance on windmills for Jackson Township to protect residents by establishing setbacks and addressing other matters or concerns. Attorney Webb developed an ordinance for Portage Township after much negotiation and research with windmill companies and developers.
Planning For The Future
Jackson Township Planning Commission is in the process of developing a much needed Comprehensive Plan which will provide an in-depth analysis of the Township. The plan addresses many subjects including housing, emergency services, economics, education, environment, population, highways, sewer, water, recreation and more. Background studies have been completed and a survey was mailed to all residents in the Fall edition of the Jackson Township News. Public meetings will be scheduled in order that there will be ample opportunity for residents, groups, businesses, churches, schools, etc. to provide input. A Comprehensive Plan is a blueprint and guide and can be a useful tool to help map development and growth within the Township. Richard C. Sutter & Associates of Hollidaysburg is helping to develop the Plan which continues will takes approximately 14 months to complete. The Planning Commission is also working to update the Subdivision Ordinance as well as recommend that the Townshipís Zoning Ordinance are all compatible with each other and the Comprehensive Plan. An additional recommendation was made by the Planning Commission to have Richard C. Sutter & Associates review the Zoning Map. Cambria County completed it's GIS Mapping Project and Jackson Township entered into a user sharing agreement with the County in order that this information can be put on computer and utilized by the Township as well as the Water Authority, Sewer Authority, Fire Company, and others who may benefit. Layers can be added to the online maps which can show sewer & water lines, tax information, drainage facilities and any other information of importance. Eventually residents and others will be able to view maps and tax information on their home computer rather than make a trip to the County Courthouse. The Recreation Commission is also in the process of completing a Master Recreation, Parks & Open Space Plan. This information will also compliment the new Comprehensive Plan. The Zoning Hearing Board continues to serve the Township by presiding over various hearings and matters throughout the year over land use issues and Harry Baker addresses Zoning Permits as applications are submitted as well as other problems and complaints that may occur. An effort is being made to get property owners to clean up their properties. One of the most notable ones that the Township is trying to get the owner to clean-up is Leisure Village. An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance was made which made improvements to the sign section and reduced the new minimum lot size in the Agricultural Zones from 2 acres to 1 acre. Implementation of the Pennsylvania State Building Code has now been existence for over a year with minimal problems. The Cambria County Building Codes Enforcement Agency is appointed by Jackson Township to help administer the code and any necessary inspections. For the 6th consecutive year, building permits in Jackson topped the 2 million dollar mark. One of the largest tracts of land in Jackson Township was recently sold from Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund to The Conservation Fund. The ground involves approximately 3500 acres in the Dishong Mountain area. You can view the website of the new owner at www.conservationfund.org. With proper planning, zoning and land use, Jackson Township can have controlled growth while protecting the residents, businesses and industry that already call Jackson Township home as well as the environment.
Roads and Related Improvements
Many local road projects were completed last year to continue a concentrated effort to maintain local streets and roads on a regular maintenance program to keep them safe and in top condition for residents to use and enjoy. Roads that were paved entirely or in part were Leidy Lane & Loraine Road. Roads that were seal coated entirely or in part were Bald Eagle Street, Broadwing Street, Chaser Street, Cherrywood Drive, Eagle Drive, Finntown Road, Fords Corner Road, Kline Avenue, Lyle Street, Raymond Drive, Smith Avenue, Snably Avenue, Venture Street and Zurenda Lane. Additional road paving and patching on Pike Road East was completed by the Jackson Road Department and paid for by Amfire Mining as part of a six month renewable Road Bond established. The road crew worked endlessly on improving and maintaining drainage along various Township roads as well as overall maintenance. A drainage project in the Adams Area near the Vinco Plaza will be done this year. The project will be completed in conjunction with the Cambria County Conservation District. Guardrails were replaced along Pike Road just past Swigle Mountain Road as well as new guardrails installed along Raymond Drive off of Route 271. Lines were painted on at least five roads and various signs erected to improve safety in certain areas. Another safety improvement was PennDOT posting a reduced speed limit on Swigle Mountain Road after the Township requested that a study be done due to coal truck traffic and concerns from residents. Swigle Mountain Road was also paved in itís entirety by PennDOT. Jackson Township also approved a new 5 year contract with PennDOT to be reimbursed for performing winter maintenance on Benshoff Hill Road. During 2005 several additional street lights were erected and have made a great difference in making Township intersections and streets safer for vehicles and pedestrians. A new truck was also purchased for the Road Department to help keep the Township fleet updated. The old one-ton truck that it replaced was sold to the Jackson-East Taylor Sewer Authority for $1.00. This is a great example of everyone working together as a team. Several unnamed streets were given names to comply with the Cambria County 911 Emergency System. New street names included Cyrus Lane, Deerfield Lane and Stoneridge Street Extension. Traffic signals were also replaced from the old bulb / lamp style to the new LED signals which are guaranteed to last a minimum of 5 years.
Township Remains Financially Solid
Jackson Township remains in sound financial condition with the Capital Reserve Fund finishing the year with about 1.3 million dollars. Local taxes will remain the same for the new year with no increase needed continuing the trend of having no tax increase for over 20 years. In addition to revenues from the Laurel Highlands Landfill, additional revenue of $21,000 to $35,000 annually will come in from the Landfill Gas Conversion Project and could potentially come in from the development of any windmills. With the development of the Brazil-Cherrywood Sewage Project and possible other sewer and water lines, more homes and businesses can be built in Jackson adding to the Townshipís tax base and insuring that local taxes can continue to be one of the lowest in the County. All Township audits conducted by Certified Public Accounts, Federal, State & Local Agencies had no findings and the detailed record keeping was praised.
The Jackson Township Police Department continues to provide 24 hour police protection. More emphasis has been put on patrolling neighborhoods to help make Township residents feel as safe as possible. Another service provided by the Police is making regular security checks to Township businesses. The police recently have made an effort to crack down on coal trucks exceeding the speed limit after receiving several complaints from residents. The Police Department recently received a $15,000 grant from Homeland Security in cooperation with Congressman John Murthaís office. Part of the grant will be applied towards the purchase of a new 2005 Police Vehicle. The Jackson Police Department has a good team of officers. Chief Fatula directs the Department of part-time officers. Officer Melanie Kline, one of Jackson Townshipís full-time officers is currently serving in Iraq with the National Guard and will return later this year. Two Youth Drug & Alcohol Fairs were held during the summer. The program is sponsored by Judge Gerard Long and the Cambria County Courts. Both events were well attended. Leidy had attendance of 46 while over 100 attended the Mitchell Fair. The record turnouts were the result of much promotion and advertising of the events throughout Jackson Township. The Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department provided another outstanding year of service to the residents. There were many activities and events scheduled including the annual Halloween Parade and a Safety Day at the Jackson Township Elementary School. Many fundraising events were held as well which were well supported by the community. One of the highlights was holding the First Annual Aaron Rusin Battle of the Barrel on the Saturday of the Heritage Festival. Money raised was put towards a scholarship fund in memory of Aaron Rusin, a dedicated, young firefighter who was killed in Iraq. The Fire Company also hosted a very successful Cambria County Firemenís Convention. To help out the Fire Company, the Board of Supervisors also approved a Mutual Aid Agreement that would insure that all services and activities performed by the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company are covered for insurance purposes. Jackson Township passed a Resolution that the Township would become NIMS Compliant as required by the State of Pennsylvania and Federal Government. NIMS stands for National Incident Management System and greater emphasis was put on this program after Hurricane Katrina. Township employees along with those from the Water & Sewer Authorities, Police Department and Fire Department are required to take two basic courses which outline what procedures and steps to take in the event of an emergency. By being NIMS Compliant, the Township and residents will qualify for disaster assistance if an emergency should occur.
Recreation Plans for Growth
The Jackson Township Recreation Commission has taken on many projects this year and planning for more. Pashek Associates was hired as a consultant to help develop a Master Recreation, Parks & Open Space Plan for Jackson Township. This is being done with the help of a $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources. The plan will address the current and future needs of Jackson Township. The development of the plan is based on many factors including feedback and input from residents from a survey mailed to 40% of the residents, public meetings and key person interviews. One of the biggest projects completed this year was the Veterans Monument / Memorial which was dedicated on Veterans Day. The monument has over 870 names on it honoring Veterans and was set on a concrete star-shaped base with flags flying representing each branch of the Military and the United States flag which is illuminated at night. Names will be added each year before the Memorial & Veterans Day services. About 30 additional names are ready to be engraved on the monument for 2006 bringing the total to over 900 names. A Dept. of Community & Economic Development grant of $45,000 was received from State Rep. Tom Yewcic which will be used to add lighting along the walking path at Veterans Memorial Park as well as lighting for the parking lot between the Senior Center & Fire Company. As part of this grant, new electrical facilities were added to Veterans Memorial Park for various events including the Heritage Festival. Plans are underway for the 2006 Heritage Festival and an under 21 dance will be added for Friday evening. During 2005 a new handicapped accessible bridge was constructed to join the Senior Center & Fire Company parking lots. Two new backstops were erected at Mitchell Park with the help of a $5,000 grant from the Cambria County Commissioners. Concrete was poured in the dugout areas. A multi-purpose utility field was constructed at Leidy and a $25,000 CDBG Grant was received for construction of additional playground equipment to be installed this year. New park signs were installed at Mitchell, Leidy & Veterans Park. This included some landscaping as well.
Sewer & Water are Key Components
Sewer & Water are seen as key components to the future growth and development of Jackson Township. The Brazil Lane and Cherrywood Estates sewer line is coming nearer to reality as the Sewer Authority (JETSA) is pursuing surveying and getting the permits necessary to approach Pennvest for a loan. A $250,000 grant was approved by the Board of Supervisors to help spur the Sewer Project forward. When completed the new line will serve approx. 200 homes, Mitchell Park and create the potential for new development. Studies are also being done to explore the possibilities of sewage along the Route 22 corridor and possible spur lines on Fords Corner Road, Loraine Road, Finntown Road, Mile Hill Road, Pike Road West and East and Ogden Road areas. Any of these areas would be in the future and would be dependent upon the need and available grants / funding. A grant enabled JETSA to have heavy-duty plastic casing installed under the new Route 22 in order that future expansion could occur. A new sewer line will also be constructed by the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority as a component of the new Landfill Gas Project. The new line will travel along Dishong Mountain Road and will transport sewage / leachate from the Laurel Highlands Landfill to the Dornick Point Treatment Plant. The line will also make sewage available to those who wish to have it but because this is a privately funded project, tap-ins are not mandatory. The Jackson Township Water Authority saw the completion of the Solar Street water line near Route 22 that services 9 families. Community Block Grant Funds helped complete this project. CDBG Funds have also been designated for the last four years towards the Wagner Road and Pintail Road water project which will serve approximately 22 homes, many of whom experienced water problems in the past. Engineering work is moving forward and construction should start in 2006 when the remainder of the funding is in place. A study was also done on part of Chickaree Hill Road but this line would require additional grants or funding to move forward. The Salt Lick-Ebensburg water line was completed and residents along that line from Salt Lick dam to Cambria Township are being advised by the Ebensburg Municipal Authority as to how to tap into the new line. The line will provide water service to approximately 30 homes, install 10 fire hydrants and provide the opportunity for the Jackson Township Water Authority to construct "spur" lines off the main line to service additional residents. One of the spur lines that was completed was a water line along Pike Road. This line will service 20 homes and most importantly provide a backup water supply source to Jackson Township in the event that any problems arise with obtaining water from Nanty Glo if any contamination or drought conditions should occur. Another spur line which was completed was along a portion of Ogden Road which will serve 18 homes. The Jackson Water Authority is in the process of obtaining a permit from the PaDEP before this line will become active. The Board of Supervisors was able to pay for Pike Project and assisted the Authority with a loan for the Ogden Project. In another project, the Authority refurbished the water tank at Mundys Corner. A water improvement project by the Croyle Township Water Authority was also approved which affects 6 families near the Jackson-Croyle Twp. line. The project involves replacing 6" with 8" line and a new water tank.
The Senior Center continues to grow with well over 400 members. The Senior Center held a Memorial Day Service and played a vital part in the Veterans Day Monument / Memorial Dedication Ceremony. The Center played host to a wide variety of activities, seminars and classes during 2005 covering issues that concern Senior Citizens and the Community in general. A DCED grant was received from State Rep. Tom Yewcic for $8,000.00 for the purchase of new computers, printers and high speed internet access for the Senior Center. New fire alarms were installed on the 2nd & 3rd floor of the Senior Center Building as well as a new Wet Chemical Ansol System for the kitchen to stay compliant with current fire & safety regulations. New concrete steps were added on the front of the Magistrates Entrance to the building.
Township Faces Challenging Role
Running a Township the size of Jackson is like running a large business. There are numerous challenges and administrative tasks which seem to grow more each year. The Board of Supervisors get involved in all aspects of the Township and work to insure that Federal and State laws and policies are being followed. Some of the continuing matters being addressed by the Board are sewage regulations, sewer & water line projects, stormwater management, emergency services, developing ordinances and policies, and too many others to mention. During 2005 a new garbage contract was negotiated which allows for unlimited curbside service and large items as well. In addition each household is entitled to receive one free pass to the Landfill each quarter. The Cambria County recycling bins were relocated from Vinco at the Senior Center to Mundys Corner along Pike Road near the Municipal Building. The move was made to make room for the Veterans Monument. In another matter two utility poles were relocated that were on the road right-of-way of Leidy Lane to improve safety. A similar situation exists on Adams Avenue which is not resolved at this time. During 2005 the Board approved a 3 year labor contract with the Jackson Township Police Association and also adopted a new Police Complaint Policy as well as a Property & Evidence Control Policy.
Residents Get Involved
There are countless residents that are involved in serving on various commissions and boards, the Fire Company, Senior Center, churches, schools and volunteer & civic organizations. One project led by Paulette Baker and several local churches was establishing a collection point for hurricane relief at the Municipal Building. The drive was very successful and all items were transported to the Salvation Army to distribute to Hurricane Katrina victims. Elections were held in November and Jackson Township had a higher turnout than Cambria County overall. Precinct # 2 (Fire Hall) had the highest voter turnout of 52% followed by #1 (Pike Church) with 47% and # 3 (Municipal Building) with 43%. Incumbent Bruce Baker won the Supervisors race. Paulette Baker was re-elected to Tax Collector and Alex Ballow won the Assessor position on a write-in. Ed Porada was re-elected as Township Auditor and Marcia Shaheen & Frank Singel won the two Jackson seats on the Central Cambria School Board. Last year many youth got involved in carrying out community projects while qualifying for Boy Scout Eagle Projects as well as Senior Projects for Central Cambria School District. Ryan Hirko & Matt Ocipa completed a stream clean-up and stenciling project along streams and storm drains entering Hinckston Run which will be used for the public participation portion of Jackson Townships MS4 Stormwater Permit with the PaDEP. Other projects completed by Jackson Township youth qualifying for Eagle Scout status were an inventory of street signs and painting guardrail at Mitchell Park by Aaron Henry, putting reflective tape on utility poles and trees near the roadway done by Mike Schenk and the rebuilding of a set of bleachers at Leidy Park by Ryan Davis.
Township Alive with Activity
Jackson Township is alive with activity and considering our prime location in the center of Cambria County, the new Route 22 corridor under construction, and hundreds or possibly thousands of new jobs in the works in neighboring Cambria Township, we are only at the tip of the iceberg. A key component to keeping everyone informed on what is happening is communications. This includes holding public meetings, maintaining a website, emailing online newsletters and publishing newsletters which are mailed out quarterly to all residents. 2006 should be another busy year of growth and development in the Township. The Supervisors welcome you to be a contributing part of Jackson Township's future.
WINTER WEATHER TIPS
~Plow or shovel the snow to the right of your driveway. This will avoid the snow from being re-deposited in your driveway when being plowed by Township Road Workers.
~Use caution and slow down when driving on snowy or icy roads and be sure to leave a little earlier to arrive at your destination safely and on time.
SUPERVISORS REORGANIZE FOR 2006
SUPERVISORS ASK PENNDOT TO ADDRESS ROUTE 22 CONCERNS
TOWNSHIP BENEFITS FROM GRANT FROM JARI
RECREATION SURVEY RESULTS
PLANNING UNDERWAY FOR HERITAGE FESTIVAL 2006
OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE
Help needed for planning the 2006 Jackson
Leaders needed in the following areas:
Volunteers needed in the following areas:
Under 21 Dance
Sponsors & Fundraising
For more information on what each committee entails or If interested in leading or helping on a committee, please call Dave Hirko at 749-0725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
WATER AUTHORITY NEWS
During the winter months we are asking that any resident living close to a fire hydrant makes sure itís accessible for their own safety as well as for others. Within the next couple of months, residents along the Ogden Street and Pike Road will need to be tapped into the newly installed water lines. At this time the new water line is not operational, but the fire hydrants are on-line for fire protection purposes. Once all the legalities are finalized, the Jackson Township Water Authority will send residents along these new lines a letter with all of the details and dates regarding tapping in. In another matter, the Jackson Township Water Authority Board passed a motion under the advisement of their solicitor to require that all new customers physically come into the office and sign a service agreement.
FIRE COMPANY NEWS & EVENTS
SENIOR CENTER NEWS
~Waste Management Spreads Good Will for Christmas - Waste Management who operates the Laurel Highlands Landfill once again distributed turkeys for Christmas to those families in need. Churches in Jackson Township submitted a number of turkeys needed for families they considered to be needy. Approximately 90 turkeys were distributed to representatives of the Township churches. Brad Minemyer of Waste Management said "We are happy with the relationship we have with Jackson Township and we were more than happy to contribute the turkeys during the holiday season".
~Discounts on Insurance - You may qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance rate if you are near a fire hydrant. Also business owners may qualify for a discount being Jackson Township offers 24 hour police protection. Be sure to check to see if you qualify for any discounts with your insurance policies based on this information.www.jacksontwppa.com
PLANNING A BUILDING PROJECT
JUNK VEHICLE REMOVAL
TIRE RECYCLING AVAILABLE
JOIN JACKSON ONLINE NEWS
NEW YEAR GREETINGS
~ Thanks! ~
Frank (Buck) Alexander- Road Crew