LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP – A burn ban has been issued in Lawrence Township until May 15 when the matter will be revisited.
In reaction to the increased number of brush fires in the area, Supervisor Jeremy Ruffner said he spoke with several fire chiefs and due to dry conditions recommended that the township issue the ban.
As a result, no outdoor burning is allowed in the township. Those in violation of the ban face fines, which increase in amount with each violation: $25 for the first, $50 for the second, $100 for the third and so on.
Code Enforcement Officer Debra Finkbeiner added that violators also will be responsible for the cost to put out the fire, and if a fire results in destruction of neighboring property there are even stiffer penalties.
A resident attending the meeting asked about burning in general, noting that his wife has serious breathing problems and in the summer, when their neighbor burns outside, she suffers from the smoke.
Finkbeiner and the supervisors explained that the only burning allowed normally is of brush—trees and grass—and not garbage.
Finkbeiner added she has responded to calls to that residence and asked the owner to stop, but for her to impose fines for creating a nuisance, she needs documentation and asked that residents reporting issues need to also call county control if she is not available.
The supervisors were also addressed by Randy Lemmo and Gigi Gearhart regarding several items that have been discussed in previous meetings.
Lemmo asked about expenditures exceeding revenue for the township and questioned how they can afford a new building, an unfunded police pension and the possibility of fines from the state Department of Environmental Protection for sewer lateral violations.
Supervisor Randy Powell clarified the subject of the building and said it is only something they are thinking about and wouldn’t make any decision unless they were able to find a buyer for the Hyde building.
Later Ruffner explained that he had originally brought up the matter. The township purchased the building in Hyde with the intention of moving all operations there, but that did not happen.
He said the police are in a place difficult to work in, and it would be nice someday to sell the buildings and move into a new location where all the offices can be housed together and they can also have suitable meeting space, etc.
He said they need to present their best face to the public and also stop the drain of money they put into the Hyde building.
Regarding the pension, Solicitor James Naddeo explained that they have a defined benefit plan and about 87 percent of those are in the same kind of situation.
He said there are different reasons for this, including projected longevity and also early retirement, since the plan allows for retirement at age 50. He agreed that the township is going to have to find a way to pay the deficit sooner or later.
The supervisors also talked with resident Glenn Johnston regarding tractor-trailer trucks following bad GPS directions and ultimately ending up on Pifer Road, trying to get to Interstate 80.
For some reason, many GPS maps lead drivers up Flegal Road and indicate Pifer Road leads to I-80 and the supervisors agreed to erecting signs to hopefully redirect truck drivers.
Ruffner said the companies get their maps from the county, and if those maps are wrong, or the GPS isn’t updated regularly, these problems occur.
The supervisors approved purchase of a 2018 Ford F550 with a 10-foot plow, 9-foot aluminum dump body, 304 stainless steel model tailgate hydraulic spreader and other needed features to replace a truck that is on the verge of failing.
The projected cost from Walsh Equipment is a little more than $79,685. The supervisors requested the 10-foot plow instead of 9-foot and that will be an additional cost. The township has budgeted for the purchase.
Ruffner presented a contract for a new government Web site from Revize of Troy, Mich. The contract for four years will cost $3,400 the first year and $1,500 each following year.
The new domain, when the Web site is up and running, will be lawrencepa.gov and the address for the old site will automatically redirect.
Under the police report, criminal arrests for April were 78, slightly down from last year. Traffic arrests were 261 compared to 165, and there were 205 traffic stops versus 120. Altogether there were 975 incidents.