Municipal building to be open to residents during power outage
From this day forward, Lower Towamensing Township's municipal building will be open to residents in the event of a power outage.
Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert announced at Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting that a policy will eventually be adopted in lieu of such circumstances.
Walbert said the decision to have the township building open stems from last month's storm, which rendered countless residents without power.
"We had a rare October snowstorm that caused a lot of people to be without power," Walbert said. "In the future, the township building will be open to people."
Walbert said the township is "more than willing to help out."
"That will be the policy in the future, where we will have the people sign their name," he said. "The only thing we ask is they would clean up."
Walbert also encouraged residents to continue to visit the township's web site, www.lowertowtwp.com, for updated information on the township.
Also on Tuesday, supervisors heard a request from a Palmerton Area Library board member to have the library's annual fund drive brochure included in one of the township's newsletters.
Charles Laviolette, library board member, said the library offers free programs such as Teen Advisory Group, Golf Tournament, Summer Reading, and Homework Helpers.
Further, Laviolette said the library has "moved into the age of technology", with an online searchable library catalog, computer stations with connections for the Internet, and access to eAudioBooks and eBooks.
"Attendance at the library has been growing for the last several years," Laviolette said. "Program attendance, circulation, and computer usage is up."
Laviolette said funding for the library is derived from various programs such as State Subsidy, Local Government, Trusts, Building Fund Donation, and Library Generated Income.
The library's state funding has been cut by 30-percent in the past three years, while funding from the Palmerton Area School District - which is comprised of Palmerton and Bowmanstown boroughs, as well as Lower Towamensing and Towamensing townships - was cut by 20-percent this year.
Laviolette said the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the population of the four supporting municipalities has increased from 12,791 in 2000 to 14,056 in 2010.
The increase means the library must increase the number of books available for circulation, as well as the number of staff hours to receive the State Subsidy for 2012, Laviolette said.
Laviolette said the increase in staff hours can be attained through the Volunteer Program that was established last year. However, increasing the number of books for circulation will require additional funds, he said.
One such means of raising funds is the Palmerton Area Library Annual Fund Drive, which Laviolette said he hoped the township would include in one of its newsletters.
"It would be to try to reach more people," he said. "Hopefully, we can increase our annual fund drive amount."
Walbert told Laviolette that while he has nothing against the library, the township could not accommodate its request.
"We had several requests, and we already told the Aquashicola Fire Company that we're not soliciting," Walbert said. "We can include something on our web page."
Walbert then asked Laviolette whether the other municipalities have granted their consent, to which he said all three of them have.
In a related matter, supervisors, on a 2-0 vote, agreed to give a $3,000 donation to the library. Supervisor Todd Solt was absent.
Supervisor Jesse Mendez told Laviolette the township "has to start watching our pennies."
Walbert said "there's going to be no tax increase next year if I can do anything about it."
"I think that the school district and the library board have to work more closely to keep fiscal responsibility in check," he said. "I would like to see the school board and library work more closely."