Candidates surface for West Cocalico supervisor vacancy

By on June 29, 2017

With the clock ticking on replacing West Cocalico Supervisor Ray Burns, two candidates introduced themselves to the board during a June 20 meeting. A third name is also on the township’s desk.

Supervisors have 30 days, starting June 23, to appoint a replacement for Burns, who joined the board in 2016, and now is moving out of the township. The remaining two supervisors, James J. Stoner and Leon Eby, are likely to make a decision at the board’s July 18 meeting, the only public meeting of the month.

On Tuesday, the board heard from residents Jeff Sauder and Lori Berger.

Sauder said he has lived in West Cocalico Township for more than 50 years and has a 30-year career with Windstream, formerly D&E Communications. Sauder is the director of operations.

“I’m interested because I’d like to help the township,” Sauder said.

Lori Berger has 35 years of experience as an educator and has taught in Cocalico district schools. She moved into the township in 1989.

Berger said she was initially drawn to attend a public meeting due to the contentious decision on contracting for police services last year. The West Cocalico supervisors ultimately made the choice to partner with the Ephrata Police Department rather than continuing a long-standing municipal police contract East Cocalico Township. (Adamstown Borough officials also decided to contract with the Ephrata police.)

“I was fascinated by the police controversy,” Berger said. Since then, she said, she has attended many more board meetings.

“I would love to serve as a supervisor,” she said.

Supervisors also received a note of interest from Mike Geller, who did not attend the meeting.

In discussing the process of picking a replacement for Burns, Stoner stressed the importance of moving quickly. The township, he said, has a tradition of only holding one public meeting in July, rather than two, mostly to accommodate family summer vacations. Although the board could call a special meeting, he said, it’s unlikely, barring more new interest in the position.

“We have three excellent candidates,” township Manager Carolyn Hildebrand said. Stoner agreed, adding that in his opinion, it’s important to get a third board member in place.

In other township news:

* Supervisors voted to approve seeking financing, in the amount of approximately $140,000, to fix the Sportsman Road Bridge, which has structural deficiencies. Currently, barriers are in place to move traffic toward the middle of the bridge, per advice from the state. Stoner said the state has recently inspected the bridge, and it doesn’t need to be closed at the moment, but word could come from the state in the future requiring closure if the bridge is not fixed. Supervisors are hoping to get the project out to bid this year, but it may have to wait until 2018.

* Board members weighed in on a proposal to close four of Lancaster County’s 19 magisterial offices. Local officials would like the office of Nancy Hamill of Stevens to remain open, partially to add convenience for residents.

Stoner asked the board who would like to meet with officials from Denver Borough to brainstorm ways to keep the office open.

“I think it would be a very wise idea,” Burns said of saving Hamill’s office. “I think there are some workable solutions that do make sense.”

Supervisors agreed that one board member will meet with Denver. The topic may also be addressed at the area’s next Cocalico Regional Leaders’ meeting scheduled for July 25.

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