West Penn is asking the state for guidance as to how to proceed with fire protection in the township.
At Monday's supervisors meeting held before 50 residents, the board voted unanimously to sign a letter of intent authorizing the state Department of Community and Economic Development to perform a fire delivery system evaluation within the municipality.
The action comes on the heels of last month's suspension of one of the township's two fire companies.
There will be no cost to the township for this service, said Gretchen D. Stearns, solicitor.
According to Stearns, the evaluation would include, among other things, "a review of proper procedures (to follow) at the end of the Andreas Fire Company suspension."
The Andreas Fire Company was suspended from active duty by the board on February 1 for a period of 90 days.
At the time, Chairman Alfonso Martinez said the reason for the action concerned the flow of information.
"We sent them a letter requesting certain information asked for by the township fire chief. Some of the material received was lacking," explained Martinez.
In addition to questions about how money was being spent, the supervisors had expressed concern about safety issues of equipment, training and inspections.
On Monday, Stearns said the DCED review would address those aspects, including "levels of training."
Stearns emphasized that the evaluation would be township-wide. "It is not a specific evaluation of Andreas Fire Company," she said. The DCED has a policy of addressing issues only on a township-wide basis, not specific entities.
The suspension of the fire company is a temporary move and the supervisors have allowed the Andreas company up to May 1 to address the board's concerns. In the meantime, the company has been removed from active duty and is not being dispatched by the county.
In other action, the board voted to switch electricity suppliers. West Penn will take advantage of a program sponsored by the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce in which electricity is purchased from OnDemand Energy Solution. OnDemand Energy will become the township's new supplier instead of PPL.
"We thought it was the best one going," said Martinez, who recently attended a seminar on the program. "It will result in significant savings over what we're paying, about ten percent or more."
In another matter, Stearns reported that neighboring "East Brunswick Township has reached a resolution with the Office of Attorney General with respect to their scope of regulations" regarding the application of sewage sludge. Stearns said the resolution takes into consideration the compliance issues with ACRE regulations. For one, extra signage can be installed as to where sludge is being applied, she noted.
Much discussion centered on West Penn Community Park. Resident Curtis J. Bailey explained that it has become difficult to serve food at the food stand, adjacent pavilion and barbecue pit because the facility is U-shaped and "people get wet." Bailey said the West Penn Lions Club might be interested in perhaps paying one-half of construction costs if the board were to approve installation of a canopy.
Bailey indicated that such a project could cost $8,000 to $9,000, a rough estimate. Supervisor James Akins said funds are tight right now, however, he felt the board generally would be in favor of authorizing needed improvements.
"If money is available, I don't know why we wouldn't support such a project." At one point in the discussion, Akins acknowledged the problem, joking that he, too, had experienced a wet barbecue at the park.
In another matter, the board set the inspection of roads for March 27 at 8 a.m. Martinez also warned that it is illegal to push snow into the streets and those found doing so will be cited.
In other road issues, the board decided to move ahead with a study on proposed culvert repairs to Troxell Valley Road.
The board also agreed to advertise an anti-nepotism ordinance, with Akins reading aloud the legal language as drafted by Stearns.