George addresses township officials|
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
ALLPORT - On Friday, the fall Clearfield County Convention of Township Officials took place at Gethsemane United Methodist Church, Allport. This was the final convention for state Rep. Camille "Bud" George, D-74 of Houtzdale, who has attended each convention to briefly speak to the members gathered.
George said he is not practiced at goodbye, but this would have to do. He referred to the upcoming election and said it is being touted as the most important election, but all elections are important. What remains constant is the people.
He talked about his record and successes during the past 38 years, including the Walmart Distribution Center, SCI-Houtzdale, the Quehanna Boot Camp, Lock Haven's Clearfield campus and so on. He said government is not the enemy and can do great things.
George thanked everyone for believing in him and asked them to keep working for the common good. "I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. All I can say is ... so long."
President of the Association of Township Officials, Bill Lawhead, then presented George with a gift of a mantle clock from the association, thanking George for his years of service.
State Rep. Matt Gabler, R-75 of DuBois, thanked George for his years of service, noting he was the last veteran of World War II to serve in the House of Representatives. Gabler also noted some recent accomplishments in the General Assembly, such as finally having adjusted bid limits for inflation. He said the bill has a built-in adjustment for future inflation.
He also talked about prevailing wage and said that it was set in 1963 with a project threshold of $25,000 in order for prevailing wage to be required. Gabler noted that $25,000 is $185,000 in today's money and work is being done in Harrisburg to try to update that law as well.
Three other topics Gabler touched on included House Bill 2359, which would allow municipalities to clear problems in streams to prevent flooding. He also said the fire company grant program was expanded to $30 million. Gabler also pointed to the success of the implementation of the state impact fee for Marcellus shale drilling, adding that the money is best spent by the municipalities impacted by the drilling.
The township officials heard from Michael Keller, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors executive board member, who talked about the PSATS state conference. He said the agenda for the year is set there and the board then goes to the General Assembly and Washington with that agenda. He said the conference is a learning opportunity for supervisors and provides an opportunity to connect with more than 300 vendors and network with each other. He encouraged those present to get involved and even to become representatives to the board.
PSATS Director of Environmental Affairs James Wheeler talked about the advantages of being part of PSATS. He said PSATS provides advocacy for members at the federal and state levels as well as programs and services including lobbying, information resource, e-mail discussion group, public relations, the website and social media. He said it is important to have a presence in Washington because often legislation from there is passed onto the states who have to figure out how to do it.
Other services include drug testing programs, a legal defense partnership, medial/dental coverage, unemployment compensation and more. Webinars and training opportunities are also provided.
Supervisors can get involved by volunteering for a standing committee, Wheeler said.
The 91st annual educational conference and trade show will be April 21-24, and Wheeler encouraged the townships to budget for the conference and send one or more representatives. Legislative issues include developing relationships with the administration and legislators, commonsense reforms, Medicare coverage, prevailing wage reform, unfunded mandates, state police funding and more. More information on these and other issues can be found at the PSATS website, www.psats.org.
In conclusion, Wheeler said two thirds of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the local governments' ability to handle local problems because of the hard work of local officials.
In the afternoon session, the supervisors head from former Congressman Phil English, who talked about the Keystone Energy Forum and who said if the state is going to see its energy potential realized it needs to be done the right way. He said most people want a balanced energy police of conservation and domestic energy. KEF was created as a partnership between the American Petroleum Institute and Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association to improve public understanding of opportunities presented by gas reserves, such as Marcellus and Utica shale deposits, and the issues involved. He said KEF doesn't lobby but is a fact-based, science driven organization based on education that works with local organizations and is a resource for citizens.
KEF wants to put a stop to scare tactics used by those opposing gas drilling operations and referred to a photo of a supposed Marcellus drilling site flooded by Hurricane Irene used by an environmental group recently. He said the photo is actually of a site in Pakistan.
English said the forum wants to provide real information and educate the public on the technology being used. He noted the wells are deeper than the height of the Empire State Building, with many layers of cement and steel casing which, if done right, protects the water aquifer.
Some information English provided included the size of the Marcellus shale formation, which is close to being the largest in the world with more than 489 trillion cubic feet of gas. Since 2009, 72,000 jobs have been created by the industry and 200,000 more are projected in the next 10 years in addition to spin-off jobs in construction, trade, banking, painting, sign making, catering, welding and more. "The potential impact is enormous," English said. He pointed to the trend in costs of petroleum. The cost of one BTU of crude oil is 12 times more expensive than one BTU of natural gas.
More information can be found at www.keystoneenergyforum.com.
Rob Good, community liaison for Keystone Collections Group, spoke briefly to the supervisors as well and said he was available to answer questions for supervisors and their township tax collectors.
The election of 2013 officers for the township association also took place. The only new officer elected was Steve Condo as second vice president. The other officers are: President Bill Lawhead, First Vice President Tom Longe, Secretary Barb Shaffner, Assistant Secretary Jeannie B. Hayes and Treasurer Pam Peters. The members are Don Sheeder, Andy Rebar and Joyce Undercoffler. The proposed date for the spring convention is April 26 at the Brady Township Community Center. More information will be provided prior to April.