COAL TOWNSHIP — “We’ve got to do something!”
Those were the words of lifelong area resident Skip Rabuck, who gave an impassioned plea for residents and officials at Thursday’s Coal Township Commissioners meeting.
Rabuck noted that area blight is a depressing thing to think about and how time has only led to further decay.
“I’ve lived here all my life and it’s never been worse,” noted Rabuck.”People who are negligent in keeping their properties clean or paying taxes are kicked out, but wind up right back where they were just months later.”
Rabuck noted there are certainly still some good folks in the area and he lauded the commissioners and local law enforcement on their continued efforts, but noted everyone, the community included, could work harder and together to try to correct some of the issues that have taken a toll over the years on Coal Township.
Township solicitor Vince Rovito broke down the issue in detail to both Rabuck and those in attendance.
“What’s happening, unfortunately, is that people are essentially having other people come in and bid for properties. Generally, it’s a family member. They get the bid for the property and in the next two or three months you see a transfer in the newspaper of a property from one person back to the person who initially lost the property due to taxes,” Rovito explained.
Rovito noted that the Northumberland County Commissioners asked Coal Township Commissioners to do whatever they could to try to limit this issue from happening.
“To the county commissioners’ credit, we now pre-register people bidding for properties, and if you are not on that list on the day of the sale, you do not get in — it’s that simple,” Rovito noted.
“When the bosses speak, you look for ways to assist them,” Rovito continued. “The other issue is that, at some point, there should be something said to state legislature about putting some teeth in the law — because the law says ‘Thou shalt not bid’, but doesn’t say what the penalty is if you do.”
Commissioners took a moment to show appreciation to former Coal Township Police Chief William Carpenter, who was in attendance, who recently retired after 37 years on the force.
“We’d like to publicly recognize our former police chief for his time and service to this community,” said Commissioner George Zalar.
Commissioner Gene Welsh echoed Zalar’s sentiments.
“You were so great for this township,” he said. “We are very happy with our fine officers going forward, but you will be missed.”
Commissioners also took time to commend the efforts of the recently completed paving project that took place on Willow, Walnut and Lynn streets in the township as done by the street department.
“They did an excellent job,” said Zalar.
A pair of bids for the Arch Street Recreation Center project were awarded by the commissioners to Heim Construction Co., for $63,363 (floor bid) and LSI Specialties Inc., for $19,800 (masonry walls bid).
The commissioners approved a motion to set the salary of Acting Chief of Police Ed Purcell at $75,000 per year and the permanent appointment of Patrolman Cody Rebuck effective on his one year anniversary, which was April 23.
An appeal from William Chesney, of Lynn Street, was heard prior to the meeting and his request for a handicapped parking spot in front of his residence was unanimously approved by commissioners.
Chairman Craig Fetterman and Commissioner Bernie Rumberger were absent.