ALLPORT – On Friday the Clearfield County Association of Township Officials said goodbye to long-time president and member Bill Lawhead, who decided not to run for reelection as Lawrence Township Supervisor and therefore will no longer be president of the township association.
CCATO is an organization where township officials—supervisors, secretaries, auditors and tax collectors—gather to receive legislative and local updates, get needed training and network with each other.
The group has two meetings each year, one in the spring, at the Brady Township Community Center, and one in the fall at Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Allport.
Lawhead said he was first elected supervisor of Lawrence Township 17 years ago in 2000. Four years later, CCATO president Bill Dickson was stepping down and Lawhead was elected to the position, which he has held for the last 12 years.
Being a member of the association, and president, has made a positive impact on his work as a supervisor, he said.
“I like making the contacts I’ve made,” he said. “Our problems in Lawrence Township are not unique; other townships are facing the same issues.”
Being a member allows the townships to share the problems they’ve been experiencing and possible solutions.
Township can work together to resolve problems or even discuss matters to bring to the attention of local, state and federal representatives as well as the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.
Townships face issues with rising costs and stagnant revenues, how to keep roads in good repair, provide police, fire and ambulance coverage, deal with blighted properties, etc. Working together gives them a larger voice.
Over the years, Lawhead said he and the other officers—a secretary, two vice presidents and a couple of committee heads—have worked to bring in better speakers with more relevant topics.
The state Department of Transportation, especially Randy Albert and Shawn Agosti, has been a big help with that, he said, as has North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission. Not only do they have speakers in the morning session, but also in the afternoon the different entities break up for about an hour of training.
One year a Pennsylvania State Police trooper gave a presentation on the methamphetamine epidemic, which proved to be one of the most popular presentations at the CCATO convention.
Lawhead said the association would love to do more with the state police along those lines, possibly a presentation regarding the opioid epidemic.
While on some level retiring from both positions will bring about less stress and worry, Lawhead said there are things he will definitely miss.
“[These include] the people that I’ve served with, especially within the association, and I’ve served with some good people in the township as well.”
He expressed hope that CCATO secretary, Barb Shaffner, who is also secretary for Lawrence Township, will stay on and added that he’s always only a phone call away if they have any questions.
Lawhead won’t be resting on his laurels. He said he wants to remain active and has already been approached about serving either on the township’s zoning hearing board or the planning commission.
“I will stay involved because there is not one else getting involved,” he remarked, adding it’s a problem many organizations are facing, getting people to serve in various capacities not only in local government, but also in other local organizations, which are desperate for volunteers to step in and help their community.
He thanks everyone in the township and association for their help and support over the years and asks that they continue to keep coming to the meetings.
“Stay involved,” he said.