Band Ok'd, but No Church Collection Drive
The Pike County Dispatch, Thursday, July 18, 2019
By Wayne Witkowski
DINGMANS FERRY -- Delaware Township supervisors, at last week's board meeting, encountered a rare municipal issue of a "church and state" conflict amid their lengthy discussion surrounding a Music in the Park performance at Akenac Park for next month.
They approved unanimously a motion for the band Official Representatives to perform on Aug. 25.
But they voted down, in a 2-1 vote, a motion for an accompanying collection drive at the event for juice boxes, snacks, water and other items by Long Meadow Chapel's Youth Ministry TAG Program. Supervisors Jane Neufeld and Rick Koehler voted against the collection and board Chairman John Henderson cast the lone "yes" vote.
It is believed that the band has an affiliation with the chapel.
"I'm not comfortable with the township hosting an event that speaks for religions," Neufeld said.
The Music in the Park event goes through the Recreation Committee in order to go to the supervisors for approval.
Township Solicitor Tom Farley raised the question of whether this becomes an issue of the separation of church and state, which goes back to the days the American Constitution was written.
"It's a township event and should not have any religious connotations to it," Neufeld said.
"You can take the Recreation Board out of it and then the township has nothing to do with it (the concert)," Farley offered.
The board decided to keep the event as a Recreation Committee endeavor and then put it to vote.
"That's why we have three board members with three votes -- each has an opinion," said Henderson after the vote was finalized.
The board approved the Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Company training on three condemned Akenac Park cabins for venting drills on Aug. 20 and 27 and a final training in early October.
Rec Committee member Steve Tarquini at the meeting called it a "regrettable decision" and recommended an Akenac Park site plan review.
The board decided at a meeting last month to remove the buildings because of high costs of replacing badly weathered roofs and other expenses. They felt the costs overshadowed the few times the cabins would be used for township events, particularly its Christmas event.
Tarquini disagreed, saying, "There are a lot of ideas the (Recreation) committee would like to use the cabins for."
Neufeld countered, "The request is a little vague. Some things are prioritized. To put the (repair) money into that idea, it can be fit into many others."
Supervisors approved the motion, citing the need for most of the training work and removal to be done before the township Harvest Festival at the park in September.
In other motions, the board agreed for the Rec Committee to change its meeting from the second Tuesday of each month to the second Thursday. The park is closed on Tuesdays and it was felt that Thursday meetings would give the committee better public exposure.
Line painting, at a cost of $15,283.04, was approved for six roads in the township. Half of the funding comes off Monroe Loan Share Account funds from casino gaming revenue and the other half through the township's General Fund, which may be drawn from the state Liquid Fuels fund to the township. The roads include Doolan, Park, Chestnut Ridge, Log & Twig, Spencer, Emery and Myck roads.
Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Sean Hughes gave his quarterly report, listing 2,097 "man hours" and 88 alarms, including 25 percent for fire calls, 24 percent for motor vehicle mishaps and 24 percent for false alarms. Hughes said three volunteers have put in more than 600 hours of training over a three-month period.
The board approved, at a cost of $247, a motion to send three officers from the township fire department to attend a Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors Strategic Planning Training session on Aug. 9 in Lehigh County. They include fire company President Ed Hammond, Assistant Chief Mike Cairns and Lieutenant Mike Moffa.
It also authorized township Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker to attend an Aug,. 28 workshop called Pipeline Security through the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium in Manheim, with reimbursement for mileage, meals and hotel costs.
During the workshop prior to the regular meeting, Francesco DeMascola of the Penn State Extension Advisory Council representing Pike County spoke about the extension's work statewide and in the county. He said his presentation brings attention to priorities in the area, including tick-borne diseases, the opioid epidemic, water quality and natural resources that include the invasive species (emerald ash borer and gypsy moths), youth leadership through the 4-H program, healthy eating and nutrition, economic development, emergency preparedness, outreach and connecting to the community with the extension programs, farm-to-table initiatives and small business development. He also presented a schedule of webinars and two recently held workshops in Pike County.
Penn State Extension of Pike County is at 514 Broad St. in Milford and can be reached at (570) 296-3400. The website for the Penn State Extension is extension.psu.edu.
"The more the word gets out, the better it is," DeMascola said afterward. "There are programs coming out that will impact some businesses. A lot of people get interest in things that were not brought to their attention (before)."
Also at the workshop, the board discussed the township's receipt of an email from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regarding its PennDOT Connects program, which establishes meetings with municipalities to discuss PennDOT road work and road plans and ideas in that township. "If we have concerns, do we need a meeting," asked Neufeld. She said afterward, "We've decided not to schedule a meeting because everything seems to be moving along."