The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 25, 2012

Cooler heads prevailed

Twp. citizens volunteer for Halloween patrols

The Tribune-Democrat

— Last week’s meeting of the Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, supervisors got a little chippy. Nothing unusual for a municipal government meeting. An occasional heated debate isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when it results in a solution that benefits a lot of people.

In the case of the Davidsville meeting, it appears that frustration and disagreement broke out and good government broke through. 

A supervisors’ decision to switch township trick-or-treat night to Oct. 31 sparked a tiff between a fire official and the supervisors.

Here’s what ensued, according to our David Hurst:

Brian Shoff, Conemaugh Township Fire Company’s assistant chief, said no one should expect the customary presence of firefighters and equipment patrolling streets on the night of Oct. 31 because the fire company’s weekly fundraiser is scheduled at the same time.

“You’re choosing bingo over kids’ safety,” Supervisor Albert Zuccolotto responded.

“What do you expect us to do when our numbers are down?” said Shoff, who then invited the approximately 30 residents in attendance to join the company’s ranks.

“We have bills to pay,” he said. “We’re struggling right now.”

No one should dispute what the assistant chief had to say. The plight of volunteer departments statewide has been well documented; they’re strapped for cash and short on manpower. 

What happened next was the good-government part.

By early next morning, several residents who had attended the previous night’s meeting, along with others who weren’t there, stepped forward to volunteer to help the firefighters in whatever way they could on Oct. 31.

“We talked with Albert (Zuccolotto) ... and he’s working with us to get as many volunteers as we can find,” Jim Carr said. “If that means walking the streets, helping at bingo or sitting in the fire trucks, we’ll do it.”

Good stuff.

“It’s a difficult situation for everyone. We can understand that,” said Carr, a retired Conemaugh Township Area elementary principal.

He’s right on, and so are the others who have volunteered their services to ensure the safety of the young trick-or-treaters, while at the same time assuring that the firefighters reap the benefits of their fundraiser.

Good local government is all about elected officials and the residents they serve working together for the well-being of an entire community.

In Conemaugh Township, they know that.

Anyone interested in helping on Oct. 31 can leave a message with the township office at 288-1400.

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