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New darkness over Jim Thorpe district

Published February 20. 2010 09:00AM

Dear Editor:

Good government starts at the grass roots in the community where one resides. It's unfortunate that a new darkness has fallen over "The Jim Thorpe Area School District;" the good people of the communities of Penn Forest Township and Jim Thorpe Borough are to suffer taxation as never before.

So long as we have a recalcitrant school board whose decision do not fall under the scrutiny of the public preview, the board will make the above communities destitute. The board seems not to be in touch with the people, the taxpayer, just as is the United States Congress and the president! This board is more interested in their kingdom and power they hold than the students and the people of these communities.

Their attitude is that you the public must jump when they say, otherwise, they have no consideration for us bottom eaters who reside on their turf. Their justification is they know best for the masses, they are progressive in their visions! The leadership is against the people, they don't want to understand the level of taxation between the borough, township, county, and federal governments. They are breaking our pocketbooks. They don't care!

I have been around a few corners in my time; far away places where the customs and culture are different from here. However, there is a common thread; the people unite when the tyranny is so oppressive the voice of the people is no longer heard.

So it is here, the actual unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent; it is much closer to 20 percent and headed in the next to years to 35 percent; yes, it's an economic depression that has beseeched America. Moreover, our properties are still being valued at maximum rates while each and every one has last 48 percent of its equity and value. Yet, they keep on taxing us at a very high rate to feed the beast the Jim Thorpe Area School District.

Seeing the impasse of last year's budget crisis compelled me to write a serious letter to the school board in an attempt to get them to understand the present economic situation. Your attention is invited to the letter's date: fall 2009. I have yet to receive reply or an acknowledgment they received it.

They had the unmitigated hubris to give away 30 acres of school board property next to Route 903 highway across from Bear Creek Lakes to Penn Forest Township for a park. How many times was this same property bought and sold by the school board?

Moreover, it seems they have plenty of money to squander when they give 30 acres for a park the majority of us don't want or need. Nobody in the township is looking ahead at the cost it will take to maintain and keep a park in good running order, let alone policed properly. Now again we will be taxed for the park's operation and maintaining the property we already have been taxed on many times before. It's a white elephant we cannot afford.

It is a never ending chain of cascading events of our money flowing outward from the taxpayer into the pockets of our so called government leaders whose friends and cronies in my opinion will make money on this park. It's a gravy train you the taxpayer cannot afford.

A more specific example is the football field at the Jim Thorpe High School.

During a steady downpour of rain the field does not drain well. In fact a well known excavator in the area, who has 30 years of experience, warned and implored the board not to build the sports field in its present location. He knew from his professional experience the field would not drain rain water. As result of this bad decision the taxpayer must forever now pick up the tax of the extra hours to prepare the field each time it's used, plus the cost of maintaining it. The plethora of bad decisions coming out of the board places an exponential burden on each and every taxpayer in the community!

The internal power struggle exists among the board members and is usually display during the meetings. In my opinion there are only three members who keep the students and the taxpayers in mind; Jerry Strubinger, Ellen Kattner, and Dr. McGinley.

The corruption in my opinion is not only with the school board. Recently, there was an election in Penn Forest Township for supervisor. There was a controversy not known to the general voting public concerning an impropriety of one particular supervisor pertaining to the handling of money. The investigation and the prosecution of the events was quashed in a heavy handed manner insuring there would always be a majority voting block against the other supervisors on the board. In the next four years the community can look forward to everything in the township being rubber stamped by Paul Montemuro, Alan Katz, and Judith Knappenberger with no redress by the other two supervisors.

We only have to look at the township transfer station to see how our money is being wasted and squandered. Has our trash removal been improved? No! Now the township has built a pole barn to house it's newly acquired vehicles. Has the clearing of roads during a snow storm improved? No! This last snow storm proved worse than ever for residents.

It's evident that over a million dollars has been spent on the dump. Evaluating the services provided by the township government we come up empty-handed. There are no public plans or shelter for emergencies in the township. We are in a time where the federal government, namely Homeland Security has told us we will be hit by terrorists in the next six months. It will be a strike at the heart of America, not only simultaneously in major American cities but in rural areas too. Rather, than spend money on a dump, the township board should have been spending money on residents' safety and security.

In my opinion both boards act like drunken sailors. They are corrupt with power of their offices they hold but think the taxpayers are their serfs in their kingdom. The taxpayer must rise to this struggle over tax monies by insisting on a forensic audit of both boards. Moreover, I believe a recall vote is in order to remove some school board members and along with Katz in the township. Should the members of these boards not heed the warnings by the residents they know what to expect.

Yes, the swamper's out the mountain and the residents off the mountain are not pleased with the board members performance. Therefore, we may have to wear our red bandannas around our necks, like we did so many years ago in West Virginia against the coal companies, until the both boards understand the taxpayers message: No more taxes!

Walter Shulz

Jim Thorpe

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