As part of our six-month review series, the news staff interviewed representatives from government entities and select organizations within our coverage area. In doing so, our news staff asked each the same series of questions. The questions were:
1. In the last six months, what have been your greatest accomplishments?
2. In the last six months, what have been some of your greatest challenges?
3. What goals have you met in the first six months of the year? Not met?
4. What events, legislation, etc. have impacted you the most?
5. What are you looking forward to/not looking forward to over the next six months?
Dick Castonguay, Sandy Township manager, said the township’s greatest accomplishment was working on some major municipal infrastructure projects within the township.
“We’ve been installing waterlines, working on bridges, road construction and paving, etc. Over the past few years, we’ve been able to do a lot of this work with our in-house forces,” he said. “It’s saved us considerably.
“Another thing we’ve completed the conversion of our water meters to a radio-read system. We don’t have to go out to each home each month; we do it through a radio system.”
“Probably, the greatest challenge is preparing for the Treasure Lake Borough succession initiative,” Castonguay said.” He said they’ve been preparing and continuing to battle that attempt by the Treasure Lake Property Owners Association to become a separate borough.
He also added the ongoing regulatory mandates that come down from the state and federal governments always pose a challenge to them while trying to keep property taxes to a minimum.
Castonguay said in 2011, the township had purchased used equipment via a PennDOT auction process. Those vehicles were completely overhauled over the winter.
Other goals met were completing two phases of the West Sandy Water project and the transition to the Earned Income Tax Income System with Keystone Collection Services.
One goal that hasn’t been met yet by Sandy Township is the Act 13 Zoning Ordinance changes. There were an initial delay and then a court challenge, explained Castonguay. He said they are trying to stay informed while waiting on some further guidance so far as that ordinance.
“We are also working on an energy cluster report as part of our enterprise zone,” Castonguay said.
For Sandy Township, Castonguay said the most important events have been the Treasure Lake Incorporation attempt, Act 13 and probably the slow pace of the economic recovery.
“I think we’re going to see a slowdown in our area for a while on the Marcellus dry gas areas,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a slowing in some of that economic activity that’s been going on for the past four years.”
Castonguay also explained in Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties, there used to be a lot of coal activity. He said approximately 800 people are employed by the coal industry in these counties.
“With the price of natural gas down, a lot of the power generating plants switched over to natural gas,” Castonguay said. “So the coal companies are having a harder time finding buyers for their coal. That’s affecting us economically also. We’re basically a resource extraction area.
“The price of timber is down because homes aren’t being built. Our area depends a lot on timber, coal and natural gas. Until those things balance out and the economy starts picking back up, it’s going to be harder and harder for us here in the rural areas.”
Castonguay said he hopes there is some resolution to the Treasure Lake process over the final six months of the year.
“Hopefully, it’s us defeating that attempt and remaining a township in Sandy as we are now,” Castonguay said. “If that doesn’t happen, then there will be a lot of adjustments we’re going to have to make here in the area.”