East Cocalico votes on Drug Task Force resolution

By on November 13, 2019

On Nov. 7, the East Cocalico board of supervisors voted on a resolution to urge the Lancaster County Commissioners to fully support the county’s Drug Task Force, allowing it “to continue this vital county initiative” and fully fund it “in a sustainable manner.”

Currently the county pays just $100,000 of the $1.4 million operating costs for the task force, according to the District Attorney’s Office website. Other funding sources include forfeitures and donations by municipalities. Some also comes from the state Attorney General’s Office, but those amounts have been decreasing.

Prior to the vote, Police Chief Darrick Keppley said he’d attended a meeting of county leaders and brought up a harsh discussion he heard between the commissioners and District Attorney Craig Stedman.

Keppley recommended that if the township votes in the 2020 budget to give financial support to the Drug Task Force, “we hold that money until the fourth quarter of the year to determine what the county commissioners have decided to do to resolve the issue.”

Currently the township pays to support the task force at a rate of $1 per resident, or just over $10,000.
Supervisor Douglas Mackley said residents recognize the task force’s importance “but unfortunately the commissioners don’t see it that way.”

Fry said, “With the opioid crisis all across the country to not fund this is stupid.”

The board voted to approve the resolution but will take Keppley’s recommendation under advisement as they prepare the 2020 budget.

Keppley also asked for permission to hire a new police officer, bringing the force to 15 uniformed patrol officers. Stressing the important job of the School Resource Officer, Keppley said his patrol shifts, especially evening shifts, are often short-handed by one officer and overtime is often needed, especially in late summer. Overtime hours from all reasons for 2019 came to 667.5 hours or about $36,000. Another officer would bring that figure down.

Supervisor Romao “RC” Carrasco said the overtime adversely affects the township’s Municipal Minimal Obligation (MMO), or the amount the township contributes to police pensions.

“Bringing another officer on is actually a positive in keeping that MMO number down,” Carrasco said.
After being given the okay to proceed, Keppley said he hopes to have the new officer on-board by February or early March.

“January might be pushing it,” he said.

The board also approved signing a joint request for certification acknowledging that their public works department has formed a union. After the certification is signed it will go to the Labor Relations Board which must approve the workers as an official union.

By unanimous vote, the board approved the sale of 1925 N. Reading Road. A former site for Four Season’s Produce then owned by DenTec, the seven acre tract was jointly purchased more than a decade ago by East and West Cocalico townships and Denver and Adamstown boroughs as a location for a community center but the project fell by the wayside. The land will now be sold to Cross Town Realty for $350,000 ($329,000 after realtor fees). With the purchase at the end of January, the four municipalities will share the money with East Cocalico receiving 46 percent, West Cocalico 32 percent, Denver 16 percent and Adamstown six percent.

The supervisors approved purchase of a new mower and assorted attachments. The tractor — a New Holland T56-145 — will have an enclosed climate-controlled cabin for year-round use, plus a 63-inch flail mower and 50-inch rotary boom mower, plus other accessories. Cost of the two, minus $15,000 for a trade-in of their current John Deere 5520 tractor, is $146,068.84.

Pollick commented that the price was “a lot of money” and asked road master Chris Flory if there was no used equipment available to rent. Flory said he had been utilizing a rental, but that one needed to do the job thoroughly runs $7,000 for two weeks, plus delivery charge.

The present tractor is 18-years-old and has suffered frequent breakdowns because “it’s not built for what we’re using it.”

“We’ve put a lot of money into that tractor over the last 5 years,” he said.

The new mower should be good for “20-plus years,” Flory predicted. “We can mow all summer and when we come to stuff we can’t reach, we strap the boom onto it.”

Larry Alexander is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. He can be contacted at larry2851@yahoo.com.

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