Runoff Issues Continue to Dog Township Supervisors
The pounding rain and thunder that accompanied yet another heavy rainstorm that began about halfway through the May 3 Wyalusing Township Supervisors meeting was a fitting soundtrack to ongoing discussion and concerns expressed by residents about issues associated with flooding, erosion, and damage to roadways exacerbated by the wet spring weather.
After the minutes from the previous meeting were approved, township resident Bill Blevins was the first to speak. With tongue-in-cheek, he thanked the supervisors for recent work done to correct erosion problems on Moravian Road but noted that a large pothole had already returned. Blevins believes that the runoff issues there were worsened by work done a few years ago that clogged a natural drain and changed the swale. “There’s a large ditch there on one side that was filled in, and they put a smaller pipe in it,” he contended.
Supervisor Marvin Meteer agreed that the area in question has long been a trouble spot and that he would have somebody look into possible solutions.
Meanwhile, Camptown residents Patty Otis and Cora Sutton expressed their shared frustration that the township and several agencies that each claim some responsibility for stretches Sandts Creek that abut their properties have yet to meet and reach an agreement that would resolve a situation there that has caused both erosion and a peculiar localized rise in the water table near their homes.
According to Meteer, PennDOT has agreed to clean out the stream bed under a bridge that carries Route 409 over the gully and 50 feet in each direction, but few if any people at the meeting believed that the fix, which has been done before, will solve the underlying problem.
Otis maintains that, in her conversations with representatives from PennDOT, DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), and the Bradford County Soil Conservation Service, she is repeatedly told to seek funding from the township.
The only potential funding available at this time, Meteer noted, may come from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which is compiling data from storm-stricken areas.
“There is no standard funding available,” Meteer conceded. “They (EOC) create these funds when there are storms.” Although he promised to report the situation in Camptown to the agency, Meteer also advised that there is no guarantee that the area will see any of the money, noting that the combined losses in each county that applies must reach an unspecified threshold before any funds are earmarked for specific projects.
Township secretary Maxine Meteer expressed disappointment with the agencies passing the responsibility back to the township, when the representatives of each should know that the municipality has no funds specifically set aside for stream bed repairs. “If they are going to keep sending people back to us looking for money, (the agencies) should be telling us where that money is,” she stated.
Undaunted, Sutton pressed on, asking why there seemed to be funds available for snow plowing regardless of how much snow falls and money to fix potholes no matter how many new ones appear. Maxine Meteer explained that both of the situations that Sutton cited as examples rely on liquid fuel funds provided by PennDOT, the use of which is limited to roads. She also explained that there are many other instances of erosion and high water throughout the township, and the supervisors have denied other homeowners’ requests for assistance.
“I’m talking about being fair. We can’t take care of people in Camptown and not take care of the people in Homets Ferry,” she stated. “Believe me; it’s not because we don’t care.” Mrs. Meteer also suggested that enlargement of stone quarries, as well as logging operations upstream from Camptown, may be contributing to the increased water flow and adding debris to the stream.
Supervisor Lanny Stethers, who has a farm upstream from Camptown, related that he has had his share of runoff and erosion problems in recent years. He noted also that Wyalusing Creek has radically changed course in some areas, making entire farm fields unworkable.
Before leaving the topic of weather, township emergency management officer Larry Kneller reported that a windstorm in Homets Ferry on April 26 damaged four barns and one house, all which were insured.
In other business, Josh Kilmer of Kilmer Insurance presented the supervisors with an updated annual policy that represented a four percent increase in cost over last year. The $15,177 per year charge includes $2 million in liability coverage. Marvin Meteer asked if limits in the policy were in line with other municipalities of a similar size, to which Kilmer answered affirmatively. “From a coverage point, you are pretty solid,” Kilmer remarked.
The supervisors tentatively approved the package, although they requested the option to read through the materials more meticulously before paying the premium on May 15.
Maxine Meteer detailed official correspondence with the township, which included a certified letter from Cargill notifying the township, as per DEP regulations, that bio solids from waste water treatment would be spread on farms owned by Ken Howard, Richard Howard, and Richard Shaffer. PennDOT, which notified the township last month that the municipality is responsible for the traffic signal at Route 6 and Wyalusing/New Albany Road, send a letter to remind the supervisors that the township is also responsible for pavement markings and warning signs at all at-grade railroad crossings. The latter brought a chuckle from many in attendance as the township’s two railroad crossings are on dirt roads. EPA also notified the township in accordance with the law that there was a release of some sort when digging up tanks at the former Wells Mill site.
Prior to adjournment, supervisor Art Allyn announced that he had found a good deal on a new pickup truck and plow needed by the township after researching options over the past few months. Fellow supervisors agreed that the $26,075 price tag for a new GMC Sierra 3500 four-wheel-drive heavy duty pickup with a nine-foot plow, step bars, rotating beacon light, and visor sounded promising.
“This is a great price,” Marvin Meteer said to Allyn. “We just have to make sure that we are getting what they say we are.” The relatively low price for the vehicle through Bradco Supply is made possible in part through Costars, a state program that supplements sales of equipment to municipalities via approved dealers.