3 seek Republican nomination in Cook Twp. race
By Jewels Phraner
Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
Three candidates will compete for the Republican nomination in the May primary for one open supervisor seat in Cook Township.
Republicans Theodore Black, Chuck Plahs and Josh Umbaugh are seeking their party's nomination for supervisor for a six-year term. Incumbent Walter Piper is not seeking re-election.
Each candidate identified road maintenance as the top issue.
“Most concerns that people have are with the roads. I know that's difficult because it's expensive and there's a lot of plowing to do in the winter,” said Black, 35.
Plahs, 43, said he wants to examine the budget and see where it's possible to cut costs or reallocate money. He plans to review the possibility of using less expensive materials to stretch the road maintenance budget.
“We have to find different ways of doing things. We have to work to save money. Cook is a nice, affordable community to live in. I want to maintain that,” he said.
Umbaugh, 30, said he would seek additional funding for road repair from local, state and federal sources.
“I know people want to know about the taxes. I'm going to try my hardest not to raise taxes. I don't think we need to,” said Umbaugh, whose uncle, Rich Umbaugh, serves as supervisor.
Black pledge to keep a watchful eye on construction and development.
“I don't think it's time for Cook Township to get zoning yet — that's still probably 10 years off — but it's important to make sure the change from forest to farmland or farmland to forest doesn't have a harmful effect on the environment,” he said.
All three men are seeking the roadmaster title along with the seat.
Traditionally only one of the three supervisors has worked as roadmaster at one time. This year, Rich Umbaugh is serving in that role at a salary of 19.80 an hour, which is set by the township auditors.
Black, who is employed as a window washer, said he has some experience with tri-axle vehicles and he plans to obtain a commercial driver's license if he is elected. He said he's worked several different jobs after serving as a specialist in the Army for three years, earning the National Defense and Joint Service Achievement medals while in Iraq.
“I've had jobs where I've worked outside and I've had jobs where I've worked behind a desk. I much prefer the sunshine,” he said.
He volunteers with Meals on Wheels and is an active member in Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Plahs said his 25 years of experience in construction and mechanics will be an asset. For the past 15 years, he has been employed as a mechanic shop manager for Liberty Transportation in New Alexandria. He's also served the township as a temporary employee in the roads department.
He has been a firefighter for the Stahlstown Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Company for the last 18 years. Plahs and his wife, Cynthia, have two grown children.
Umbaugh said he has always held construction-related jobs and he would enjoy the stability of the township position. He has been a Chestnut Ridge volunteer firefighter for the last 13 years.
Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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