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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dirt roads and firefighter training take center stage at Genesee Twp. meeting

By Sharon Corderman

Genesee Township supervisors voted unanimously at their June 6 meeting to purchase $25,000 of gravel for dirt road maintenance. Supervisors didn’t know when gravel had last been bought for the roads, but said it had been quite some time since material other than what is produced from the leased gravel pit has been used. They cautioned that $25,000 will buy only 1,850 tons of gravel, which will do a little more than one mile of road and therefore will be used just on the worst sections. Genesee Township has 27 miles of dirt roads and slightly more than eight miles of paved roads.

Owners of three properties on French/Rooney Road attended the meeting to complain about the condition of their road, saying that during the Memorial Day weekend the road was worse than they have ever seen it. Another resident on that road had called PennDOT to complain, an action which sets into motion an inspection by the District 2 administrators from Clearfield. Municipal Services Supervisor Randy Albert and Specialist Daren Stover inspected the road on Tuesday, May 30, and reported that, considering it had rained 2-1/2 inches over the previous five days and the spring grading had recently been completed, the road conditions were about what could be expected.

Roadmaster Colby Cooney reported that 22.3 miles of grading was completed during May and cold patch was applied to potholes on paved roads. He apologized for the muddy conditions on some of the dirt roads after the rain storms and added that those roads, as they dried, were being worked with the rake to smooth the surface. Cooney added that the customary grading and roadwork done each spring and fall is not only to repair potholes, washboarding and other damage from the winter and summer months, but also, in the interest of emergency preparedness, provides an opportunity to maintain a full two-lane road, sufficiently wide for emergency responders to stage equipment and move through an emergency scene. He noted that the space to readily get equipment, personnel and continued support, such as water tankers or additional medics, to such a scene could be critically important to the outcome. A resident said that despite the additional time and expense while grading roads he would like to see the material that is brought out of the ditches loaded up and hauled away.

Another resident said he noticed during the winter that when tire chains were used on the plow trucks they weren’t taken off while plowing the paved roads and he believes this could damage the pavement. He said he understands the need for chains on the dirt roads but, since the condition of the township’s paved roads are already a concern, he thinks the chains should be taken off when the trucks enter those roads. Board Chairman Scot Miller said it would be taken into consideration.

Dana Spittler, president of Smethport Fire Dept., presented information about a proposed emergency services curriculum at the Seneca Highlands Intermediate Unit 9 Career and Technical Center (CTC) in Port Allegany. Spittler, who is co-chair of the Essential Emergency Services Training Advisory Board, said the program is intended to add to the declining ranks of emergency responders, especially volunteers, and would involve students in Potter, McKean, Cameron and possibly Elk counties. The costs for start-up through the first year of instruction are expected to be around $200,000 and the board is reaching out to townships, boroughs, industries, hospitals and other entities that are expected to see positive impact from the training course. Local municipal governments are being asked to contribute $2,000 annually during a five-year start-up period. The contributions would be good-faith gestures and, additionally, grants would be sought.

It is anticipated that the program would benefit the communities involved by the additional trained responders qualified to volunteer and would enable the students to get the required training at no cost to local volunteer departments. The amount of training required to be an emergency responder can be an obstacle to attracting new, young members and, through this program, students in grades 10-12 could earn three credits while meeting the required 188 hours of instruction. The program is next in line for consideration when a new class can be added at the CTC.

Supervisors took no action on the request, pending further information.

In a related matter, Secretary Kristine Smith presented information about Act 172, signed into law last November, which grants municipalities the authority to offer active volunteers a tax credit of up to 20 percent of their tax liability based on the number of calls a volunteer responded to or their training or participation in the functions of the organization. No action was taken.

Because of the July Fourth holiday, the next regular meeting will be held Wednesday, July 5, at 7 p.m. at the Genesee Firehall.


A FED UP VOTER said...

"Take the chains off every time you come to a stretch of pavement?" Are you serious? Do you know how time-consuming that would be? Not to mention the safety hazards of working on a truck in the middle of the road, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! Such stupid thoughts should be kept to yourself or whoever put you up to asking them in the first place... I really don't think anyone would be that stupid to ask that of someone. Look out, Genesee taxpayers, there's something else being cooked up. This is just something to divert your attention from the big one.

Anonymous said...

Dumb plan that will never work (training institute at votech). They should stop trying to beg and guilt townships and boroughs into signing on when the plan is unrealistic and will never fly.

Solomon's words for the wise said...

Your anonymous opinion of the firefighter training at Vo Tech is certainly thought provoking. Perhaps you could elaborate on your research on the subject and add your name and qualifications so the public could consider your comment with some kind of merit rather than the ravings of an unhinged alcoholic?

Trained firefighters and EMT's have many opportunities to make that their life's work as paid EMTs, Paid Firefighters, paid 911 dispatchers, etc. There is a great need for these services and the need is growing. Besides the need in the local areas for trained volunteers.

Please tell us why it's a bad idea??