CLEARFIELD – The Lawrence Township Supervisors faced several residents at last night’s meeting asking that their decision to appoint two roadmasters be rescinded.
At the Jan. 6 re-organizational meeting, Supervisors Edward Brown and Daniel Mitchell Sr. were elected as roadmasters. Supervisor William Lawhead held that position previously.
Peter Smith of Clearfield said he thought the township’s previous move to one roadmaster was the best move they made. He said it has been established that one roadmaster can do the job adequately.
He said the township can’t afford more than one roadmaster. He noted that he had previously been involved with the township audits and the costs for the position then was $40,000 per year.
Smith said he believed the money could be better applied, such as toward police funding or road maintenance. He noted that, without major repairs, Elizabeth Street will be a dirt road in another year.
Bob Witmer of Golden Rod agreed with Smith’s comments. He said he believed if the supervisors do not return to one roadmaster, it will be an issue at the next election. Witmer said he had been living there more than 20 years, and Golden Rod’s roads never had anything more than patch jobs.
Witmer presented a photo of a storm drain, noting that all the storm drains at Golden Rod have drop-offs of nearly eight inches that he considers hazardous. He said the storm drain issue has been brought up before and nothing has been done.
Lawhead said that Elizabeth Street was on the list for paving, but that storm drains needed replaced first. He added that Charles Road is also included on the paving list to go out to bid in February.
Andrea Smith of Glen Richey questioned why the supervisors elected two roadmasters, when Lawhead did it for four years on his own. Mitchell said he was elected to do a job.
Mitchell said people elected him because they wanted change. He said there were many complaints about Lawhead being arrogant. He presented a written statement as follows:
“[There were] comments made about Lawhead. He is arrogant with people when called, and they want to hear more than I’ll put you on the list. So, therefore, I say no to roadmaster for Mr. Lawhead. I have to respect the wish of the people who voted me in as supervisor of Lawrence Township.
“I said in my campaign if you want things to stay the way they are, vote for the other guy. If not, vote Daniel G Mitchell Sr., supervisor, so here I am. And, that tells me they want a change. If not, I would not be here.”
Brown said it was a personnel issue, and he did not discuss personnel issues in public. Mitchell said the roadmaster job was not done efficiently. Lawhead commented that he begged to differ.
Arnold Swales, also of Golden Rod, said he didn’t want any more cold patch. He said he had previously asked about the storm drains – only one was fixed. He said the township only needs one roadmaster.
The supervisors, Swales said, need to put their heads together and get the job done. He pointed out that four years ago when Mitchell was previously supervisor, the township went to one roadmaster because Mitchell was having health problems, and Lawhead had done the job since.
Later in the meeting, Lawhead addressed Mitchell’s comments. He said he did the best job he could as roadmaster and spent the township’s money wisely. He said last year the township replaced 1,600 feet of storm sewer pipe, and 10.5 miles of township roads were paved. He said he supervised the road crews, and the township replaced old broken down equipment to be able to do the work.
He loosely quoted Harry Truman in saying, “I never gave Hell. I told the truth.” He said if he was considered arrogant, he was only telling the truth.
Mitchell said he believed the township needs two roadmasters, as there is too much work for one. It was noted that the approved 2014 budget does not include two roadmasters.
A question was raised about how the second position will be funded. Witmer said if the decision was rescinded they won’t have to worry about how to fund a second roadmaster position.
Brown said the roadmaster decision is in the best interest of the township. He noted he helped make the budget and it will need to be adjusted, but it wouldn’t be a problem.
Lawhead said the roadmaster position is paid $17.60 per hour plus benefits, which amounts to $35,000 to $45,000 for the year. He said he was paid $19 per hour, but he did not take health care benefits.
The residents left the meeting discussing the situation and commented that they would be at the next meeting and would keep on top of the matter.