Armagh supervisors face large crowd

MILROY – It was standing room only as residents of Armagh Township flocked to a Monday afternoon meeting of the township supervisors, who were unable to easily conduct the meeting because of the huge turnout.

Chairman Glen Boyer started the meeting reminding everyone that they had to be respectful toward each other and to the supervisors themselves.

“There are a lot of people here and we need to be respectful,” Boyer said. “It also needs to be quiet so that we can conduct the meeting.”

Many of those in attendance were members of a group known as Concerned Citizens of Armagh Township, which believes there is irresponsible spending within the township, specifically by the supervisors.

Most of the meeting was dominated by the public comment portion, where many of the residents shared similar questions or comments about how they feel the supervisors are not catering to them as the taxpayers.

One of these citizens was Allen Harder, who wanted to know why job positions with the borough were not advertised in the newspaper. Boyer and Vice Chairman Mike Reed said that was a personnel matter that needed to be discussed in executive session which was later taken. Several residents believed that the supervisors should cater more to what the taxpayers are saying, as they are working for them.

Most of the comments and concerns from both the citizens and Supervisor Gregg Bitner, centered around the former Armagh Township Elementary School. The building is being refurbished to house the township senior citizen center, township offices and Armagh Township Police Department.

Resident Liza Wilson presented a letter from the Mifflin-Juniata Area Agency on Aging, in which the agency expressed concerns over the move.

“For the agency to move forward, we will need proof of a ‘certificate of occupancy,’ as well as a proposal from the township with a lease offer,” Wilson read. “It is then that we can take the information to our committee for approval, and notify the main office in Harrisburg, until we shall remain at the current building.”

Reed and Boyer said all of this will happen, the opportunity to happen has not yet come.

“We just got the occupancy permit (Monday) which will allow us to move forward with what they need in their letter,” Reed said.

Bitner showed the other supervisors two petitions, which were presented to him by CCAT, asking to either stop the renovations to the school or to sell the school completely and put that money into updating the current buildings.

Boyer said the renovations for the school are complete, which addresses concerns of a leaking or fallen-in roof. Bitner said he had heard there was a leak in the one section of the roof and that another section had fallen down. Reed said he was not aware of any of this, and that if it was needed he would look into it.

“With being given the occupancy permit for what we are ready to use it for, the building is ready to use,” Reed said. “We could move in there and start using the facilities in July.”

Boyer said the company installing the phone lines and doing the finishing touches to the electrical work was ready and that a motion was needed to approve this work being done. Bitner called for a town hall style meeting with the residents to discuss their feelings.

“The feelings and concerns of the residents have never been addressed when it came to this building,” Bitner said. “I know the school was bought before I was elected, but I still feel as if we need to hear them to be able to make an informed decision.”

While Bitner was applauded by residents, Boyer added that with the building ready for use, the meeting was a moot point. The motion passed 2-1 with Bitner voting in opposition.

A similar scenario happened when Boyer motioned to sub-divide the land which houses the current township office and the Milroy Hose Co. This would allow for two deeds and the supervisors would be able to sell the current township office. Again the motion passed 2-1 with Bitner voting in opposition.

One resident in attendance, Charles Deibert, spoke in support of what the supervisors were doing.

“I think you are doing a good job,” Deibert said.

Bitner requested the meeting times be moved to either 6:30 or 7 o’clock in the evening, so that residents would not have to take off work to attend the meetings. This was also asked by several of the residents in attendance. Boyer said the reason for the time change was because it worked best for the supervisors.

The next meeting of the Armagh Township Supervisors is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on June 16 at the Armagh Township building in Milroy.