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DeHart, Paul take seats as Lower Swatara commissioners

By Phyllis Zimmerman, Special to the Press & Journal
Posted 1/10/18

The Lower Swatara Township Board of Commissioners gained two new members at a reorganization meeting Jan. 2, as well as discussing other matters.

Chris DeHart and Ron Paul were sworn in to their …

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DeHart, Paul take seats as Lower Swatara commissioners

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The Lower Swatara Township Board of Commissioners gained two new members at a reorganization meeting Jan. 2, as well as discussing other matters.

Chris DeHart and Ron Paul were sworn in to their first terms on the board by Dauphin County Judge Ed Marsico. DeHart, a former township fire chief, and Paul, a former longtime township manager, were elected to their seats in November’s general election, defeating incumbents Laddie Springer and Ben Hall.

Incumbent Jon Wilt was reappointed as board president, while Todd Trunz was selected as vice president. Jean Arroyo was reappointed as secretary, with Paul chosen as assistant secretary, Arroyo reported. Wilt, Trunz and fellow board incumbent Michael Davies welcomed the new commissioners to the board and said that they looked forward to working with them, interim township manager Frank Lynch said.

Also, incumbent township tax collector Julie Wilt was sworn in for another term by Marsico on Jan. 2. Wilt also was reappointed as the township’s treasurer. In a related matter, township commissioners accepted an agreement between Wilt, Dauphin County treasurer Janis Creason, and Dauphin County in which the township’s treasurer appoints the county and the country treasurer’s office to serve as an agent and depository for the township. This is for the purpose of receiving and collecting all taxes levied on real estate by the township and county.

The board reappointed Herbert, Rowland & Grubic as the township’s engineering firm; Peter Henninger of Jones & Henninger P.C. as solicitor; RKL LLC as auditor; Keystone Collections Group as earned income tax collector; Mid Penn Bank as depository; and Rogers & Speaks as delinquent tax collector for Act 511 taxes for 2010 and years prior. Berkheimer Tax Administrator was reappointed as delinquent tax collector for Act 511 taxes from 2011-17.

Confirmed for a special fire police list were Capt. Henry Pickel, Lt. Dave Rhine, Jake Dohmen, Jodie Frazier and Jackie Leonard.

Other business

Also on Jan. 2, the board accepted a request from the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC for a zoning/land use compliance letter for a proposed natural gas extension pipe. The 12-inch, direct-bury pipe would run from Interstate 76 through Penn State Harrisburg to ArcelorMittal Steel in Steelton.

“The CREDC has been working with ArcelorMittal, Steelton, UGI and Dauphin County to help ArcelorMittal with their gas supply issues,” explained Ann Hursh, Lower Swatara’s planning and zoning coordinator. “During times of high demand, gas supply has been shut off to the mill, causing equipment damage.”

To offset the costs of a gas line extension, the CREDC is applying for a pipe grant, which requires the requested letter from the township.

“Since the gas line would be an underground line, no zoning or comprehensive plan issues exist,” Hursh said.

Commissioners also discussed a riparian planting habitat restoration agreement regarding township property along Fulling Mill Road, as well as a tree planting opportunity offered by the Manada Conservancy. The Dauphin County Conservation District is applying for a riparian forest buffer grant through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PennVEST. To proceed, the conservation district is required to obtain a minimum of 12 acres for the project by March 1.

Riparian forest buffers are trees, shrubs, and grasses planted along streams “that play an important role in maintaining the health of our waterways,” according to the DCNR’s website.

The grant program provides financial assistance to identify locations needing forested buffers.

It also funds buffer design, establishment, monitoring, and maintenance.

“The board is supportive of the riparian planting habitat restoration agreement and asked staff to work with our engineer, HRG, on details,” Lynch reported.

Hursh said that a riparian tree buffer planting opportunity offered through the Manada Conservancy could provide up to 500 trees to various municipalities, a portion of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s goal of acquiring 10,000 trees.

“The Fulling Mill site was used last year, but other areas along the creek could be used also,” Hursh noted. “At this time, we do not have a definite area or number of trees, as this is a preliminary stage to find interest.”