SHAMOKIN — It was standing room only just five minutes into an event for people wanting to pre-qualify for REAL IDS Thursday evening at the Knights of Columbus.
Residents from throughout the area crowded the organization’s banquet hall while waiting their turn to sit down with PennDOT staff at mobile driver licensing workstations.
Rep. Kurt Masser’s office scheduled the three-hour event for people wanting to pre-verify their eligibility for a REAL ID. Interested parties were asked to bring original documents or certified copies stating proof of identity, such as a passport, certificate of naturalization and birth certificate with a raised seal issued by an authorized government agency.
Those who successfully completed the process are eligible for a REAL ID when PennDOT makes them available in March. They will be able to apply online for their REAL ID, pay the applicable fees and have it mailed to them within 10 business days. A visit to a PennDOT driver license center will not be needed.
Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and IDs from states that do not meet the standards.
Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every Pennsylvania resident will need to present a REAL ID or another acceptable form of identification — such as a passport or military ID — to access federal facilities, enter nuclear power plants and board commercial aircraft.
The act does not require individuals to present REAL IDs where it is not currently required to access a federal facility (such as the Smithsonian), voting, participating in law enforcement proceedings and being licensed by a state to drive.
“I understand it can be difficult for people to make it to the driver’s license center, so I wanted to give them this additional opportunity,” Masser had stated about Thursday’s event.
Though some people were successful in pre-qualifying, others did not because they had improper paperwork. People were declined for various reasons, including marriage certificates issued by a church instead of a government agency and photocopies of birth certificates.
Harold Hurst and Christine Jacoby, from Masser’s office, were on-hand to assist people in applying for birth certificates and for general help as needed. Masser, who was in the state capitol, was unable to attend.
Hurst said Masser plans to hold additional REAL ID events in the Shamokin, Elysburg and Danville areas next year. Details will be released at a later date.
COAL TOWNSHIP — Coal Township commissioners are willing to settle a lawsuit filed against them by Northumberland County Commissioners Rick Shoch and Sam Schiccatano over building permit fees involving the new county prison if the county agrees to donate money toward the township’s recreation facility under construction on West Arch Street.
During their monthly meeting Thursday night, Commissioners Craig Fetterman, Bernie Rumberger, George Zalar and Matt Schiccatano passed a motion to negotiate with the commissioners to end the lawsuit by reaching a compromise on the amount of money Schiccatano and Shoch believe the county was overcharged for the building permits and third-party inspection involving the new prison.
Commissioner Gene Welsh was unable to attend the meeting.
Fetterman said minority commissioner Kym Best, who opposed the lawsuit, supports the proposal to end the suit.
The commissioners approved a proposal by Fetterman, who serves as board president, to meet with the majority commissioners to reach a compromise on an amount both parties feel is fair. In turn, the county would have to commit to donating the amount of money they are reimbursed by the township to the recreation facility.
Coal Township Manager Rob Slaby said approximately $250,000 has been invested in the recreation facility thus far.
About a decade ago, Fetterman said the Northumberland County General Authority, which was comprised at the time of himself, Welsh, Joe Pancerella and Vinny Clausi, donated $50,000 toward the project.
Slaby said the township has spent an estimated $45,000 on attorney fees in defending the lawsuit.
Although Fetterman and Zalar maintain that the township’s building permit fee structure is correct and that the county wasn’t overcharged, they are willing to negotiate for everyone’s benefit.
“This situation needs to be resolved ASAP,” Fetterman said. “I propose we negotiate with the county commissioners and see what amount they feel they are owed. And then we can hopefully reach a compromise on the money even though I don’t think we owe them anything. This way, the taxpayers would get something in return instead of us paying for attorney fees to defend the lawsuit.”
He added, “If the county commissioners truly care about the people of Coal Township, they will agree with this potential solution because it would benefit everyone.”
Zalar described Fetterman’s proposal as a “win-win” for everyone involved.
“We have to try to get this settled and have both boards bury the hatchet,” Zalar said. “We have to work together to end this lawsuit. All this has to stop.”
Rumberger said, “We have to negotiate one way or another. I support this proposal.”
Although he voted in favor of the proposal, Matt Schiccatano did not offer further comment. He is a nephew of Sam Schiccatano.
On Tuesday, Slaby, on behalf of the township commissioners, attended the county commissioners’ meeting to ask for a meeting between both parties in hopes of ending the suit.
Although no action has been taken on the meeting request, Sam Schiccatano said Tuesday he has been meeting privately with a township commissioner about the issue and expressed a desire to end the litigation.
When contacted Thursday night about the township’s newest proposal to settle the suit, Sam Schiccatano said, “I am willing to meet to negotiate, but I don’t consider this proposal an offer to negotiate at all.”
COAL TOWNSHIP — Coal Township commissioners unanimously passed a $3.4 million final budget Thursday night that doesn’t include a tax increase for the third consecutive year.
The $3,472,826 spending plan is approximately $13,000 more than the tentative budget approved last month. The 2018 budget totaled $3,522,698.
Approving the budget were Commissioners Craig Fetterman, Bernie Rumberger, Matt Schiccatano and George Zalar. Commissioner Gene Welsh was absent.
Fetterman, who serves as board president, commended all the department heads for staying within their respective budgets and also praised Coal Township Manager Rob Slaby for balancing the spending plan without a tax increase.
The following is a budget breakdown by department:
General fund: administration, $291,767; recycling, $151,304; police department, $1,039,186; public safety, $500; fire department, $16,850; code enforcement, $82,667; street department, $639,780; assorted expenses, $362,628; insurance costs, $172,120; fringe benefits, $715,500; and unallocated, $524.
Various funds: library, $13,353; pension, $394,450; fire protection, $58,810; special highway, $407,720; and construction code inspections, $86,010.
The following tax levy ordinance was also approved unanimously: 26.4 mills for the general fund; 1/4 mill, library; 1 1/2 mills, business privilege; 1/2 mill, pension; 1 mill, fire protection; 1/2 percent earned income; 1 percent realty transfer; $5 per capita; $52 local services; and 200 percent occupation.
In other business, commissioners awarded contracts to Miller’s Gas & Oil for diesel fuel and heating oil. Miller’s was the lone bidder.
Fetterman, Welsh and Slaby were appointed delegates to the Northumberland County Tax Collection Committee for 2019.
Commissioners agreed to continue to conduct their regular meetings at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.
Commissioners approved a Community Development Block Grant resolution that revises fiscal year 2017 funds by moving the balance of street improvement funds following the completion of paving to housing rehabilitation.
The board granted permission to Salem United Church of Christ to hold its annual festival from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, and to block off the 1300 block of West Pine Street to traffic.
Fetterman warned people who are dropping off unacceptable materials at the township recycling center that they will be cited if caught.
SUNBURY — PennDOT announced Thursday evening that work scheduled today on Route 61 northbound on the Veterans Memorial Bridge, between Sunbury and Shamokin Dam, has been postponed.
Traffic was reportedly backed up Thursday around Sunbury as LTT Trucking began removing debris around several piers of the bridge. PennDOT plans to remove debris from a total of 11 river bridges in Columbia, Montour and Northumberland counties.
The right (driving) lane of Route 61 northbound was scheduled to be closed Friday.
Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting www.511PA.com. The site, which is free and available 24-hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 860 traffic cameras.
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