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M AI NLI NE newspapers

Summerhill Twp. tables bids; discusses options Vol. 115 No. 28

USPS 439-000

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

The Summerhill Township Supervisors opened bids for stone and asphalt for road maintenance projects for the upcoming year at their July 2 meeting. Only one bid was received from New Enterprise Stone and Lime. After discussion on prices, the

Portage, Pa.

supervisors voted to table the bids until next month. The supervisors will now look to the state’s COSTARS program for purchasing the needed stone and asphalt. The COSTARS program is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s cooperative purchasing program administered by the Department of General

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Services. The program allows local governments to purchase items under pre-negotiated, cost-effective contracts from registered suppliers. This is permitted under the state Procurement Code, and material must meet state specifications. COSTARS was established to reduce the cost of state and local government purchasing by elim-

Since 1904

Newsstand Price 75¢

SEE BIDS, PAGE 3A

Bridge replacement

PA House bill introduced to require agenda availability prior to meetings of Mainline Newspapers

In an effort to make local government more transparent, state Rep. Aaron Bernstine, of the 10th District, and Rep. Justin Simmons, of the 131st District, have introduced a bill in the state House of Representatives in Harrisburg to make the Sunshine Act laws more effective. When the current version of the Sunshine Act was passed in 1998, its intended purpose was to give the public the right to “be present at all meetings of agencies and to witness the deliberation, policy formulation and decision-making of agencies [which] is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process and that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public’s effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society,” according to a legisla-

tive memo published by Bernstine. The proposed change to the Sunshine Act would require that all meetings governed under the Sunshine Act publicly post an agenda no later than 24 hours in advance of a meeting. The agenda would need to list any business that may be subject to deliberation or official action at the meeting. Although many municipalities and school boards make agendas available at their meeting — other than what is sent to the media — few agencies publicly publish advanced agendas in this area. Many local governments do not list specific topics on their agendas, but instead outline topics as new business or old business. There also are times when no specific topics are listed under these categories, so these items for discussion are not known until they are broached at the meetings. Under this bill, a provision would restrict actions and deliberations to what is listed on the agenda. According to the wording of the bill, “An agency may not take official action on a matter of agency business at a meeting if the matter was not included in the notification required section.”

Any business that arises within 24 hours before a meeting that is not published on the agenda could only be discussed by the agency if the matter is “de minimus in nature” and does not involve spending money or entering contracts or agreements. In legal terms, “de minimus” is a subject that is trivial or minor. However, the bill would allow for emergency exceptions involving “clear and present danger of life or property.” The bill also covers matters raised during public comment portions of meetings if the topic raised is not on the published agenda. This occurs frequently at local government meetings when taxpayers or residents bring up topics, such as road conditions or blight, to the attention of the council or supervisors. The bill would allow that agency to refer the matter to its staff for research and for inclusion on a future agenda. If the matter is considered “de minimus,” that agency may consider the matter as long as it does not require spending money or entering contracts or agreements. If this bill passes, it may require local governments to

SEE AGENDA, PAGE 6A

28 Pages

inating the costs to publish and review bids by establishing the lowest price with pre-negotiated contracts. The supervisors authorized applications to the Cambria County Conservation District for two grants. A dirt and gravel grant application will be submitted for

State representative Frank Burns (front, left) presents a symbolic grant check to Croyle Township supervisors Richard Potter and Lynn Bourdess for the replacement of Croyle Township’s Oak Road Bridge. The bridge replacement work is expected to begin in early 2020 and is administered by The EADS Group. Taking part in the presentation are Brandy Davis, The EADS Group, Cambria County Commissioner B.J. Smith and Brad Motchenbaugh, The EADS Group, Steve Sewalk vice president/Johnstown office manager of The EADS Group Photo by Ron Portash.

By Ron Portash

(814) 472-4110

Rainy day

Happy 4th

A very patriotic Isabella Keithley enjoys the Immaculate Conception Parish’s annual picnic at New Germany Grove July 4. Photo by Ron Portash.

A little bit of rain could not keep the Millward family away from the Immaculate Conception Parish picnic. Madison (front) Levi, Kendal and mom, Christy, enjoy the games at the kids activity tent July 4. Photo by Ron Portash.

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