Commissioners Seek Fund Extension for Environmental Cleanups
October 20, 2006
By James Loewenstein
The Daily & Sunday Review
Towanda, PA - a division of nepanews.com
TOWANDA -- The Bradford County commissioners on Thursday hired a new full-time assistant 911 coordinator and passed a resolution urging Congress to re-authorize a federal fund that has helped address local environmental problems caused by past coal mining.
Asst. 911 coordinator
The commissioners on Thursday hired Robert Repasky of Sayre to be the county’s full-time assistant 911 coordinator.
Repasky replaces Kim Jennings, who was promoted to Bradford County 911 coordinator earlier this month, Bradford County Commissioner Nancy Schrader said.
Repasky is an assistant fire chief for Sayre and is president of the Bradford County Fire Chiefs Association. Repasky is also a Pennsylvania state fire instructor.
For the past three years, Repasky has served as chairman of Bradford County’s 911 Committee, which oversees the operations and budget for 911 in Bradford County.
“We’re very glad that he (Repasky) has accepted the position,” Schrader said. “He comes with a great deal of experience, and he comes with a great deal of expertise.”
Repasky’s salary will be $27,372, and his hire was made effective Oct. 16, 2006.
By a 2-0 vote, the Bradford County commissioners approved a resolution urging Congress to reauthorize the federal Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund. The fund is set to expire in June 2007.
The fund provides money to address environmental problems caused by past coal mining, as well as safety hazards related to the mines, according to written information provided by the commissioners.
“Bradford County suffers from abandoned mine land problems,” Josh First, representing a coalition of coalition of environmental conservation groups, told the commissioners. “You won’t get those problems taken care of unless you get more money.”
Among the problems Bradford County faces from past coal mining are dangerous mine openings, waste piles from past coal mining operations, and acidic streams, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
In the late 1990s, $1.2 million from the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation fund was used to pay for two water treatment projects that reduced the acidity of two tributaries to the Schrader Creek, making it a better environment for trout, said Hugh McMahon, president of the Schrader Creek Watershed Association. The tributaries, located on Barclay Mountain, had been made acidic by past coal mining, McMahon said.
Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko -- who, along with Commissioner Nancy Schrader voted for the resolution -- said that trout fishing is important part of the appeal of Bradford County to tourists.
The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund is a funded by a tax paid by coal mining companies, ranging from 10 cents per ton mined to 35 cents per ton mined.
The resolution, which has been also been passed by more than 40 other counties in Pennsylvania, urges that the per-ton tax be increased by 10 cents per ton.
The tax has not been increased in 35 years, even though the price of coal has increased since then from $4 or $5 per ton to $110 per ton, First said.
The resolution asks Congress to extend the fund for at least 20 more years.
Bradford County Commissioner Janet Lewis was absent from Thursday’s meeting.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
©Daily and Sunday Review 2006