2009-07-16 / Local & State

Cromwell Township Supervisor Ordered To Jail

No progress with sewer system improvements in southern Huntingdon County; Dublin Township moves forward with plans for treatment system
STAFF REPORT

A Harrisburg Commonwealth Court judge ordered a Cromwell Township, southern Huntingdon County, supervisor to jail time last week for failing to make progress in improving wastewater systems in Pogue and Pine Tree Village.

Approximately 80 homes were to be switched from their septic systems to a sewage treatment facility as a result of health hazards cited over decades by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Meanwhile, the township has continue to maintain the creation of a new sewage system was not affordable for the rural township and the existing faulty septic tanks could possibly be fixed.

Last Wednesday, supervisors David Booher and Lewis Fleck appeared before Judge Keith B. Quigley, who upheld a ruling from January 2008 that the Board of Supervisors was in contempt of court for failing to make the specified improvements. Both Booher and Fleck were ordered to report to the Dauphin County Prison to complete a prison term of three to six months. Fleck, 81, reportedly resigned from his position with the township immediately following the July 8 court hearing and was permitted to return home. The township's third supervisor, Howard Clark, had previously resigned from his post on June 1 and did not appear in court.

The possibility still exists, however, that Booher, 49, could be released from jail, but only if he begins taking "significant" steps toward rectifying the township's sewer problems that are identified in the township's Act 537 sewage plan as needing service. Furthermore, an appeal could be made regarding the situation and Booher's imprisonment with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

While the future of Cromwell Township's septic woes continues to unfold, plans in nearby Dublin Township are moving forward. In spite of protests from Burnt Cabins residents, who have aired concerns about a proposed treatment and collection system itself and the financial burden it could place on village residents, reports from Dublin Township's Board of Supervisors indicate plans are rapidly progressing.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the township a total of $1,597,960 in conjunction with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of that money, $395,000 is in loans and the remaining $1,202,960 will come to the township in the form of grants.

The system, according to reports, will "alleviate" discharge into the Little Aughwick Creek. The project will be put out to bid in upcoming weeks.

Just last month during a commissioners' town meeting at the Burnt Cabins Auction Barn, residents learned the proposed sewer system had already been approved to receive a total of $195,500 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. The money had been earmarked to cover tap fees and grinder pumps.

In addition, residents were informed the township is awaiting notice regarding additional funding sought through a competitive grant process that would cover the expense of installing lateral lines as well as electrical upgrades for homes that may not be up to par in meeting hookup requirements.

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