RICE TWP. — After reorganizing last Monday at their first meeting of the year, Rice Township supervisors have resolved to bring transparency to their governance as they seek to carry out the residents’ will.
During the reorganization meeting, former Chairman Miller Stella nominated Supervisor Marcia Thomas to replace him as chair of the three-member board. His motion met unanimous approval.
“It is my intention to do everything I can to regain the trust of our residents and restore the peace,” Thomas said Saturday in an email. “To that end, I want this administration to personify the highest standard of government transparency, efficiency and respect for the public we represent.
“We are so fortunate to have top-quality uniform and non-uniform staff, wonderful natural resources, extensive recreational options and a central location. Rice Township is a great place to live.”
The board voted for Alicia Stier to replace Don Armstrong as secretary/treasurer, a full-time paid position. The secretary/treasurer’s salary was reduced from $37,534.85 to $30,000 annually.
Incoming Supervisor Mark Taney replaced George Venesky on the board and was voted to serve as vice chairman. Taney also will serve as the township’s roadmaster, a position Stella had filled. The part-time position pays $200 a month.
Taney said Saturday he campaigned on restoring an open form of government, a goal by which he still stands.
“I want us to turn into a peaceful, progressive community that cooperates in moving forward,” Taney said.
Taney said he believes strongly in democracy and wants the public to be aware of board decisions as they are being considered.
Robert Pipech was elected to be the township’s new zoning officer, and Jack Dean will replace William Higgs as township solicitor.
After reorganizing, the board continued with its regular monthly meeting, during which Thomas said she would like to see the township auditors to review the Rice Township Volunteer Fire Department’s assets.
Equipment, real estate and any funds may be in jeopardy as the state Attorney General’s Office has filed a petition to dissolve the department in Luzerne County Orphan’s Court.
The attorney general’s petition follows the department’s decertification by the township supervisors in June.
Wright Township Volunteer Fire Department was contracted to provide fire-protection service for Rice Township residents, and it keeps a reserve pumper/rescue truck stationed behind the municipal building.
Following Thomas’ request, the board voted to have the auditors review the events leading up to the attorney general’s petition.