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Last updated: February 16. 2013 4:25PM -

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RICE TWP. – Supervisors agreed at Tuesday night's meeting to reach out to their volunteer fire department, requesting more open communication.


The township supports the department in operating expenses, but, because state-required financial, personnel and equipment records have not been properly kept, the supervisors' hands are tied in releasing funds. Solicitor William Higgs said violations have been documented with the state Auditor General's Office.


Unlike other departments, the fire department submits no monthly operations report to the supervisors. Higgs said these regular reports would be a good place to start reopening communication.


"We've got to get (the department) to comply," Higgs said. "We have a contract with them and they're not keeping up with it."


Supervisor Marcia Thomas assured the residents in attendance that the supervisors were doing what they could to address the situation.


"Obviously, we want to see the fire company come out of this hole," Thomas said.


Chairman Miller Stella spoke highly of the department for its service, saying it had missed only one call this year.


"This fire department does a great job. They just need some accountability," he said.


He said the township gave $5,700 to the department three weeks ago, money that should have been given last year.


Because the department was late in filing its 2010 reports, the funds were withheld.


In other business, the supervisors have received a community development grant to install a handicap accessible floating dock on one of the township's Ice Lakes.


It was agreed that Thomas will oversee the project as she has spent considerable time working on it already.


Thomas said she and the township's treasurer, Donald Armstrong, will work with Carl Schimmel of the Quad3 engineering firm, who is also the township's engineer, to design a dock that includes handicap access and lowered railing portions that will allow those in wheelchairs to cast fishing lines.


The dock is to be built at the Nuangola Road lake access.


She said she hoped to break ground next spring as the rest of this year's workable weather will be spent planning.


Concerning Heslop Road's resurfacing, Stella said he spoke with a state Game Commission representative earlier yesterday about the proposed logging project that has delayed resurfacing the route, which most agree is in deplorable condition.


Stella said the state commission has reached no decision about whether they will timber game lands adjacent to the decrepit road, but, as road master, he said he would not resurface the main access road for the pending project.


"I will not pave that road until they make a decision," Stella said. At the beginning of the year, the game commission predicted a decision by fall.


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