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Lower Swatara board does great things for township

Posted 8/10/16

For more than a year now, I have regularly attended the Lower Swatara Township Board of Commissioners’ workshop and legislative meetings. It is one of the ways that I connect with my community since I have retired. It may sound corny to some but I …

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Lower Swatara board does great things for township

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For more than a year now, I have regularly attended the Lower Swatara Township Board of Commissioners’ workshop and legislative meetings. It is one of the ways that I connect with my community since I have retired. It may sound corny to some but I feel it is my civic responsibility as well. 

What I have observed is the responsible manner in which our local commissioners utilize our tax funds. They repeatedly search for ways to save money, provide better services, and repair badly needed infrastructure. They passed balanced budgets the past two years without raising taxes. They apply for, and utilize, grants whenever possible. They partner with other agencies to provide more cohesive services in public works, police services, and essential community needs. They reissued bonds to save hundreds of thousands in tax-payer dollars. In addition, they are reviewing new and old ordinances, studying pension and benefit packages, and evaluating the need for staff positions. And I don’t think I’ve ever attended a meeting where roadwork, park improvement, or storm water management was not on the agenda.

However, lately it concerns me how the Press and Journal reports the news. I expect to see more responsible reporting that covers both sides of an issue and to be able to read the facts without a biased or slanted news article.

The behavior of a few residents who attend the township meetings is also distressing. When residents have a problem that they need help in solving or want a question answered, they come up to the microphone, state their name and address, and then speak directly to the commissioners. The commissioners address their concern by providing timely information in return, explaining they need to seek out additional data, or that they must talk to all related parties. 

However, there seems to be a trend among some residents that when the answer or timeframe is not to their liking, they rudely walk away while the commissioner is in the middle of a statement. What has happened to common courtesy and joint community effort in solving problems? What has happened to a little bit of patience?

I have never seen a commissioner speak offensively to anyone, look down on anyone (regardless of how they are dressed or have acted), or not taken even the smallest issue seriously. I take notes at the meetings and have found they have always followed up with the resident in some manner.

I wrote this letter to the editor because I have lost tolerance with half-truths, unprofessional reporting, and “Sound-Off” assassinations. I’ve attended other area borough meetings and school board meetings that are nowhere near the level of professionalism that I have witnessed at my township meetings. Does everyone forget who was on the board before? When over 700 residents signed a petition against farmland being rezoned for commercial development, the commissioners of the past did not listen to the residents. We are now blessed with intelligent, fair men who are currently our commissioners, who provide positive and constructive feedback, who dress appropriately for meetings, and who use proper decorum at all times. 

In case you are reading this and don’t know the names of the Lower Swatara Township commissioners, they are: President Thomas L. Mehaffie III, Vice President Jon G. Wilt, Commissioner Michael J. Davies, Commissioner Laddie J. Springer, and Commissioner Todd F. Truntz. Along with them every first and third Wednesday are Peter R. Henninger,  our township solicitor; Erin Letavic, HRG contracted engineer; Anne Shambaugh, township manager; and Jean Arroyo, administrative assistant.

If you missed one of the recent township meetings, you should know our current commissioners are interviewing to hire two police officers, have completed the purchase of a new police car (it is being detailed by a local dealer), have approved the purchase of a new truck for the Municipal Authority that will also be used for plowing snow, are looking to begin 2017 budget meetings, and are working to repair two township bridges, while providing other routine duties. 

The public and each commissioner are provided time to speak at every meeting. Even after the public comment period, President Mehaffie usually asks if there are any other questions or comments from the public before the meeting is closed.

I urge you to come to a township meeting and learn what is really happening and what is actually being discussed. Let’s show some support and find out what you can do to help your community become a better place to live.

Nancy Avolese

Lower Swatara Township

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