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Carroll Twp. residents worry about safety of coal trucks

| Saturday, April 3, 2004

CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- Tom Taylor has heard occasional complaints from residents about the trucks that leave Ginger Hill Synfuels.

But the Carroll Township-based transportation manager for the company believes he is the hardest judge the truckers will face.

Occasional complaints have been raised by residents over the speed of the trucks or about coal dust emanating from the vehicles.

On Thursday, a truck leaving the facility pulled aside to let a school bus pass and got stuck in a ditch, Taylor said. Police were not called to the scene. Crews from Ginger Hill Synfuels pulled the truck out of the ditch, Taylor said. Although the truck leaned slightly while stuck in the ditch, no coal was lost, Taylor said.

Susan Miskalis, who resides on Lake Leoni Road, just off Crackerjack Road, claims she has seen trucks speeding.

"I'm worried about safety issues," Miskalis said. "My son is seven and he has to catch the bus on that road."

Miskalis said coal dust is also a problem, even though the trucks are tarped.

But Taylor said safety is also his top priority. He meets regularly with state and local police, giving authorities license plate numbers of the company's trucks. He has told police to inform him if any of his drivers are given driving citations and he'll "take care of them."

"If I think they're speeding, I give them three days off," Taylor said. "If they lose coal off of their trucks, I warn them and the next time they get three days off. The third time they're looking for new jobs.

"This is too big a job to let them run rampant."

Carroll Township Police Chief Paul Brand said the road is relatively safe considering the high volume of trucks entering and leaving Ginger Hill Synfuels. Taylor said about 150 trucks a day leave the plant.

"With all of those trucks, they must be doing a decent job because we've had just a couple of accidents," Brand said.

One accident involving a truck and car occurred late last year at the intersection of Keenan Hill Road and Route 136, Brand said. The driver of the car was treated at Mon Valley Hospital for minor injuries.

In one other instance, a car veered too far over the center line, causing a truck to go off the road and onto its side.

Brand said his department patrols the area and writes citations when necessary. He said his department has written "just a few" citations to truck drivers from Ginger Hill Synfuels. He said the company has been cooperative.

"For the number of hours they are on the road, the majority of the truckers are being safe and responsible drivers," Brand said.

Fallowfield Township Supervisor Herman Pennline said he is not aware of any recent complaints from township residents about the trucks entering and leaving the plant.

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