Hempfield supervisor candidates tackle fire, police issues ahead of primary race
Long-discussed fire and police issues have six candidates at odds for two open supervisor seats in Hempfield.
The debate over how to fill empty volunteer positions in the fire departments and an upcoming New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office Inc., or ISO, rating has dominated board discussions the past few months.
“We have to continue to work on streamlining our fire service protection to ensure all residents will have insurance coverage that won’t skyrocket…” said Republican candidate Dan Galbraith, 54. “We also need to figure out long-term solutions to funding the fire departments without raising taxes.”
Officials were granted a six-month extension in March ahead of the ISO review — a rating that has a direct correlation with a homeowner’s insurance rate. Current supervisors are hoping to make changes to the command structure and implement incentives received last year through a $4.3 million SAFER grant.
“Financial help is now in place so fire departments can lighten their expense loads for equipment and cost of operation,” said incumbent Republican candidate Tom Logan, 63. “Tuition breaks are now offered for those volunteering. The new ISO rating format will accelerate our timeline to assist the Volunteer Fire Services to tackle their issues that threaten their continued existence and consequently the safety of our families.”
For Republican candidate Jerry Fagert, 58, movement on the incentives hasn’t been fast enough, with only about $100,000 spent by February. Fagert, a former township supervisor, also hopes to provide “unwavering support to firefighters” through equipment upgrades.
But candidates are split on implementing a police department, something Fagert sees as an unnecessary expense.
The pending opening of a mini casino at Westmoreland Mall, however, has Democratic candidate Daniel Kremer, 67, vying for an increased security presence.
State police patrol the township, which has almost 42,300 residents.
Other issues facing the township include infrastructure, economic growth and transparency and accountability, said Democratic candidate Scott Graham, 51, who would like to see more utilized greenspace and streamlined codes.
“Our seniors and children need safe and accessible parks to enjoy that are close to their homes,” Graham said. “Not many residents want or will drive 20 to 30 minutes to the recreation center to ride a swing or walk a dog.”
The concept of more greenspace, along with making the area attractive to young adults, is an issue Westmoreland County officials, and now Hempfield candidates, consider a priority.
Hempfield candidates are taking on the county and statewide issue, working to attract jobs, improve infrastructure and create more activities in the area so Hempfield graduates want to stay.
“I believe it’s time for a change,” Kremer said. “In the last few years, I have talked to numerous people in and around Hempfield Township, and they have expressed their desire to see improvement in the way things are done. People have to come first in decision making.”
Incumbent Doug Weimer, a Republican candidate, hopes to attract businesses into the community and partner with outside entities on recreation programs.
“We know that businesses are going to bring good paying jobs and people who want to live here,” said Weimer, 49.
For Logan and Weimer, running together is a nod to their years of working together.
“We have worked really well as a team, and we complement each other,” Weimer said. “He has a lot of fiscal insight; I have a few more years experience in dealing with the public.”
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .