Woodward to fix bridges, assist fire department

LINDEN – Woodward Township supervisors learned more about the needs of local emergency service personnel and discussed upcoming repairs on two bridges during their meeting Wednesday evening.

The Woodward Township Volunteer Fire Co. is seeking to recruit new members and is in need of funding from the township, according to Rick Whalen, fire chief.

Currently, the fire company has 15 active members who do everything from answering phones, to fundraising and responding to emergencies. While they have been able to meet all of their responsibilities, Whalen admitted running a department with so few members causes challenges.

“We respond to all types of situations, including fires and auto accidents and medical emergencies,” he said. “It has been a challenge to respond to all of the demands. While we are successfully responding, it is taking time. More members would help us be more effective and efficient.”

He said he would like 25 or more members in the company. With this goal in mind, the fire department will host an open house at the fire hall on Oct. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“People can come in, look at our equipment and see what we do,” Whalen said.

Full members need to be over 18 years of age, fill out an application and pass a background check. Junior members range in age from 14 to 17 and become full members after turning 18 and completing necessary training. All members need to be prepared to attend meetings, training and emergency response calls, Whalen said.

Last year, the supervisors wanted to allocate about 22 percent of the township’s Act 13 funds to the fire department. However, after learning what their total Impact Fee allotment would be, they had to reduce the donation by about $25,000.

In addition to their low membership, the fire company is trying to make payments on several vehicles – the most expensive of which is a $1,000 monthly payment for a rescue truck.

The company still owes about $28,000 on the truck, Whalen said. Though they have sought funding through a variety of grants and fundraisers, the company still expects to need about $15,000 to pay off the rescue truck.

Whalen asked the supervisors if they would be able to donate any of their 2013 Act 13 funds to the department this year.

“We had spoken about giving you the balance that you should have received from last year, which was about $25,000,” said Vice Chairman Thomas F. Franz.

He explained that it would not be possible to find more money in the budget to give the department.

“We appreciate what you all do so much, but right now we have allocated money for road and bridge repairs,” Franz added.

The township is planning on repairing bridges on Turkey Path and New East Road, according to Wayne Robinson, road superintendent.

Engineers will move the guardrail in on Turkey Path and will close down one lane of the bridge while the repairs are being enacted. This bridge needs to be finished before the end of October, he said.

The new East Road bridge also will need repairs, but Robinson did not yet know what requires fixing.

He noted that these immediate repairs will cost about $2,000 to $3,000. However, more extensive repairs will need done eventually.

“They will each probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to completely repair, eventually,” Robinson said.

Both bridges have a possibility of being completely replaced in a couple of years. Currently, Robinson is working with members of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, trying to determine if the state will reimburse the township for the cost of the new bridges.