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Perry Township discussing building renovations

| Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Perry Township supervisors decided Tuesday night to meet with Widmer Engineering to discuss the possibility of renovating its building or constructing a new township building that could cost as much as $1 million.

Chairman A.J. Boni said $1 million sounds like a lot of money, but the township owns equipment valued at $500,000.

“It's really not as bad as it sounds,” Boni said.

The supervisors indicated that they plan to consider the possibility of constructing a “green building” that would be equipped with a geothermal heating and cooling system as well as other energy-efficient features.

In connection with the project, the supervisors approved submitting any and all possible grant applications that may benefit the township and help to defray the cost of a new township building.

“We want to try to get as many grants as we can,” Boni said. “We're just in the preliminary phase of the renovating/building project. We want to explore all the options that may be available to us.”

Supervisor Clarence Johnson said it could be a good time for the township to consider a building project because of low interest rates, as well as potential grant funding.

“This could be the perfect opportunity to do this project because of the interest rates,” he said.

Boni said the supervisors hope to make a decision on what direction to take by the end of the year.

The current building, located near the former Perry Township Foundry in Star Junction, is a very old building that is in need of many repairs, Boni said.

“We don't know exactly how old the building is, but it's at least 100 years old,” Boni said. “Star Junction is an old coal mining community that had coke ovens, company houses and an old company store that was located at the site of the McDonald's on Route 51.”

In other business, township resident Wayne Lonce asked the supervisors to consider the possibility of hiring a township police department.

Supervisor Janice Galla said she has researched the financial obligations of the township hiring a police force, but she discovered it would be cost prohibitive.

“It would cost at least $200,000 out of a $600,000 budget,” Galla said. “We would need to hire several police officers, pay them a salary and fringe benefit package and also purchase police cars. It's just not within our means.”

Lonce said he is concerned about criminal activity, including drugs, that could become a problem in the township.

“Any time that you see unusual activity at your house or your neighbor's house, you need to call the state police,” Boni said. “They do a really good job of dealing with the crime in Perry Township. You just have to let them know what's going on, so they will come out to investigate.”

In other action, the supervisors:

• Announced that a meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at the fire hall to discuss the Postal Service's plans to reduce the hours at the Star Junction post office.

• Approved a resolution, increasing pension recipients to $6,000, which was previously approved by the township auditors.

• Agreed to exonerate Donald Pidanich, tax collector, for 2012 taxes not collected.

• Approved a resolution, regarding a petition submitted by Coyote Creek Farms Inc., for Agriculture Secure Areas, which decreases the tax rate on farmland that is not used for other purposes.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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