Down River – Jan. 21, 2015

Getting Close: 

People who know about these things say all four greater Renovo area municipalities are in the process of completing the preliminary steps which hopefully will lead to a study on regional police and ultimately (many in western Clinton County fervently hope) a bona fide regional police force.

We may be hearing more from officialdom soon as to if and when the movers and shakers from Renovo, South Renovo, Chapman Township and Noyes Township all sit down to at the least undertake the study to determine the feasibility of establishing a regional police force.

How can they say no if they truly care about the safety and wellbeing of their constituents? It doesn’t take Dick Tracey (anyone under 40, Google Dick Tracey) to figure out that one certified police officer (he being in Renovo) among the four western Clinton County municipalities is not enough.

It will especially be not enough in another year or so when the western end of the county will be all but deluged with up to 700 newcomers for better than two years, members of the construction team for the proposed $800 million natural gas to energy plant in Renovo.

This isn’t to say these temporary inhabitants come to the western end of the county to cause trouble; that obviously won’t be the case. But do the math. The greater Renovo area has an approximate population of 3,000. Jump that by 20 percent or more for a couple years and there will be a significantly increased demand/need for services, among them the maintenance of law and order.

Needless to say, the task would be daunting for one policeman working as a stand-alone in Renovo, this with any state police assistance more often than not 30 minutes away in the other end of the county.

So it behooves the municipal fathers and mothers in Renovo, South Renovo, Chapman and Noyes Township to reason together. And time is of the essence as if the Renovo Energy Center project stays on track, the old rail yard buildings will be coming down a year from now and the energy center going up shortly thereafter.

We’ve heard from more than a few western Clinton County residents that the time is now to do the regional study and at the very least give regional police a fair trial.

We’ve also heard from a couple power brokers that a regional force can’t be afforded, it will cost too much. Which leads to the question: what is a fair price for public safety? How do you put a dollar figure on the well being of western Clinton County citizens? And what of its young people transported to Bucktail High School and Renovo Elementary in the heart of a township, Chapman, without police?

We won’t guess what the proposed cost of regional police might be. We’ll find out once the state comes in and, with the blessing of the participating municipalities, does the study.

But a look at the money currently flowing from the state to the four Renovo area municipalities sure makes it appear enough local dollars could be found to protect the greater Renovo community.

You can double-check the numbers if you choose, but according to the Down River reading of Public Utility Commission information relative to Act 13 money channeled back to the western end of the county, there are some significant gas tax dollars these Renovo region communities were not getting prior to 2011.

The most recent numbers we could find were from 2014.

They show South Renovo, with a population of 442, got better than $3,900 last year. Noyes Township, population 360, got some $58,000. Renovo, with a population of 1,237, received over $10,000 and Chapman Township, population 861, took in a cool $136,000.

Add those numbers up and you should get well over $200,000 for 2014. And this found money has been provided to these communities, in varying amounts, going back to 2011. We won’t speculate on how the local elected officials have chosen to utilize those dollars that suddenly appeared from Harrisburg. (We do remember a conversation from a Grugan Township supervisor a few years back, Grugan the major recipient of this state-provided windfall; he said the township was looking at getting a new truck).

All we’re suggesting here is that as representatives from Renovo, South Renovo, Chapman and Noyes Townships sit down to ponder the need for and the implementation of regional police protection they be open-minded as they weigh the need for the safety of their community members versus the costs to provide the service.

Certainly some portion of that $200,000 in Act 13 money could be wisely earmarked to make regional police protection a reality, for the common good and safety of the folks of western Clinton County.

Let’s okay the study, see what the state has to say, see what the state has to offer in terms of financial assistance in doing a regional trial run, do that trial run and determine if the benefits are equal to or greater than the costs. In terms of police protection, this common good should include all the residents, young and old, in Chapman and Noyes Townships and Renovo and South Renovo boroughs; police protection and the cost of providing it should not end at a municipal line.

Circulate Your Petition:

The Record thought by this time we’d have one or two candidacy announcements ready for publication in this week’s print edition. But as of the composing of this week’s column, that hasn’t happened yet. But it likely will soon so here are some key dates for those of you who might like to go Harrisburg and Washington to see if you can do better than the incumbents.

The spring primary is set for Tuesday, April 27. First day to circulate petitions is next Tuesday, Jan. 26; the last day to file is Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Your move.