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Antrim residents question officials' actions

August 27, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Antrim Township residents filled every seat and packed the hallway of the Municipal Building along Antrim Church Road on Tuesday to have their say on the recent restructuring of the township staff.

A few residents spoke of the reorganization the board started on Aug. 21 when it terminated the positions of six upper-level staff members, while the majority waited for answers from their five elected representatives.

Many residents questioned the way in which the board reorganized the township.

On Aug. 21, the board voted to eliminate the positions of Township Manager Ben Thomas, Utilities Director Charles Goetz, Utilities Superintendent Larson Wenger, Roadmaster Paul Barnett, Assistant Roadmaster Robert Wible and Finance Secretary Eileen Strausner from township payroll and appoint Supervisors Fred Young and Rick Baer as interim township administrator and interim utilities director/roadmaster/superintendent, respectively.

"I bothers me that there was no transition," Dianne Smith said.

Smith asked the township during both opportunities for public comment why it terminated six employees only to hire two more.

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"So none of the six terminated employees could have been trained to the jobs they are going to advertise for?" she asked.

Smith said she did not feel the board answered her questions and she was not the only one who felt that way.

Mark Shubert, an officer in the Army National Guard, said the actions of the board raised questions. He said he was not satisfied with the board's answer to those questions Tuesday night.

Shubert said he did not know any of the individuals terminated by the township, but said he felt they were not treated with the respect they deserved.

The Rev. Loren Lichty characterized the board's action as "despicable, deplorable and degrading and leaves a very poor testimony for the supervisors' leadership," and was met with applause from some of the 50 residents in the room.

David Minnich cautioned his fellow residents for allowing emotion to cloud their judgment.

"The gentlemen are looking out for the taxpayers," he said. "They are working to save the taxpayers money."

Chairman Curtis Myers said the board acted on the recommendations of its consultant, Dhillon Management Services of Fullerton, Calif., in an effort to save the taxpayers money.

But the argument of saving money did not excuse the board's action to some residents, who asked to see the report finalized by Dhillon.

Myers said he wants to release it in full, but took the advice of township Solicitor John Lisko to hire attorney Thomas Rees of Norristown, Pa., at a rate of $220 per hour to advise the board on releasing the $29,750 study in full.

Supervisor James Byers voted against hiring another attorney. Byers was absent for the special meeting on Aug. 21 when the supervisors terminated the six positions.

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