Submit Your Citizen Communication Contest Entries by Aug. 31!
If your township has published a newsletter or other publication to communicate with residents in the past year, show your pride in a job well-done by entering it in PSATS’ 48th Annual Township Citizen Communication Contest. Eligible publications or other forms of communication must have been produced between August 1, 2014, and July 31, 2015.
Entries must be received by August 31.
Thirty-one awards in eight categories will be up for grabs. Winners will receive a framed certificate and coverage in the Township News. All entrants will also compete for the 25th Annual Outstanding Citizen Communication Award, which will be presented at PSATS’ Annual Conference to the township that exhibits an exceptional commitment to informing its residents.
The contest honors townships for their citizen communication efforts in the following categories:
- Most improved newsletter
- Electronic newsletters (This category is for electronic newsletters that are produced strictly for the Web. Printed newsletters that are posted on a township’s website as a PDF are not eligible.)
- Annual reports (Year-end budget or financial reports that include figures but no text or graphics are not eligible.)
- Other publications, including brochures and calendars of events
- Cable TV channels and programs (Audiotapes are not eligible.)
- Social media (Judges will evaluate townships’ overall use of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other resources to communicate with their residents.)
Entries in the printed newsletter category will be judged according to the following population ranges:
- 2,000 and under
- 10,001 and over
Entries in the remaining categories will compete against one another regardless of township population.
Each entry will be judged on the usefulness of information presented, how well the information is communicated, and the entry’s attractiveness, readability, or technical quality, depending on the media being judged. First-, second-, and third-place awards will be given in all categories unless the entries fail to meet the minimum standards of the judges.
Awards will be mailed to winners in November, and the Association will publish an article in the Township News about the winning entries and send news releases to the winners’ local news media.
To enter, provide the following:
- For newsletters and other printed publications, send three copies of each entry.
- For websites and social media, send three printouts of the home page and the Internet address for judges to access the sites.
- For cable TV channels and programs, send three DVDs of each entry. Please note: Each township is limited to three entries in this category.
Each entry must be accompanied by a cover letter noting the category being entered and, for printed newsletters, the township’s population.
If submitting multiple publications in one category, such as Newsletters or Other Publications, please indicate whether they should be judged as one entry or separate entries. Multiple issues of the same newsletter, such as the spring and summer issues, will be judged as a single entry.
Townships entering the Most Improved Newsletter category should state in their cover letter who was responsible for the redesign, such as staff or outside agencies, and include three copies each of “before” and “after” newsletters.
Note: Once-a-year tabloid-type newsletters that contain a map of the township and business advertisements and are produced by outside firms are not eligible.
Mail all entries to: PSATS, 4855 Woodland Drive, Enola, PA 17025, Attn.: Brenda Wilt.
PSATS Applauds Auditor General’s Municipal Pension Task Force
On Tuesday, June 30, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report, “Pennsylvania’s Municipal Pension Challenges,” which included a number of recommendations for reforms.
PSATS Executive Director David M. Sanko released the following statement to the media in response.
“State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and his colleagues on the commonwealth’s Task Force on Municipal Pensions have developed fair, insightful, action-oriented recommendations that, if carried out, will help to strengthen the future of Pennsylvania’s municipalities.
“In particular, PSATS commends the task force for asking the General Assembly to exclude municipal pension benefits from the collective bargaining process. The practice, prevalent throughout Pennsylvania, has allowed third-party arbitrators to drive up the costs of pension and other post-retirement benefits in uniformed plans without taking into consideration the impact on the community and its taxpayers. Meanwhile, these generous post-retirement arbitration awards – the cherries on top of benefits already mandated by law – are driving up costs for municipalities, crippling local budgets, and increasing fears of layoffs and local government bankruptcies.
“We think the auditor general said it best about these pension reforms: ‘Continued inaction is simply not an option.’ The issues swirling around state and local pensions have been studied, and the time to act is now. Therefore, PSATS encourages Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly to embrace the task force’s recommendations as a starting point and solve our pension challenges sooner rather than later.”
Bigger-Truck Legislation Creates Safety Concerns in Townships
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development bill, which includes amendments that would require every state in the country to allow double 33-foot tractor-trailer trucks, commonly known as Twin 33s.
This configuration is 10 feet longer than the current Twin 28s. More troubling is that many in the trucking industry who oppose this configuration believe this will replace the most common truck on the road today, 53-foot single-trailer trucks.
These Twin 33s are 17 feet longer than 53-foot singles, and this extra length will create greater safety issues, such as longer stopping distance, higher risk of rollover, and increased blind spots. On township roads, this additional length could present even greater challenges.
Apply by Aug. 7 for FY 2015 FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is accepting grant applications for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Flood Mitigation Assistance and Pre-Disaster Mitigation programs through Friday, August 7.
These grant programs provide states, tribes, territories, and local governments with funding for eligible mitigation activities to reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages.
Applicants are encouraged to review the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Unified Guidance for detailed eligibility information and to contact their FEMA Regional Office for additional information.
Grant applications must be submitted to PEMA by 3 p.m. on August 7, 2015.
Venango County Township Wins Build a Better Mousetrap Contest
Cranberry Township in Venango County took first-place honors in PennDOT LTAP’s 2015 Build a Better Mousetrap Contest for its portable spreader box pump (shown immediately below in red), which the roadmaster and mechanic built for about $100. Rome Township in Bradford County placed as runner-up for its "trip" plow wing.
Cranberry Township has nine plow trucks and spreader boxes that require repair and maintenance before and during the winter season. Any system maintenance would put the trucks, and the spreader boxes, out of service.
The township needed some kind of portable hydraulic system to operate the spreader boxes independently of the trucks. Over a few days, roadmaster Ted Williams and mechanic Paul Vanslyke constructed a device from scrap parts lying around the shop.
The holding tank and hydraulic assembly were salvaged from a road paver; the electric motor came from an old air compressor; the relay and switch assembly were taken from an old oil pump station; and the wheels came from an old cart. The metal cage cover that allows access to the motor and hydraulic filter was also taken from the paver. The men added a long-corded handheld switch to allow one person to run the machine and examine the spreader boxes simultaneously.
“Besides the fact that it only cost the township $100, the pump solves every issue we needed to address and operates flawlessly,” the township’s submission stated. “This machine permits our trucks to be free for other important jobs in the fall and reduces the amount of labor needed to service each spreader box by more than half the time. In the winter, trucks can spend more time treating the ice and snow.”
As the first-place winner, Cranberry Township’s invention will be entered in a regional competition with winners from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as in the national LTAP/TTAP competition.
Runner-up creates plow wing
Rome Township in Bradford County placed as runner-up in the Build a Better Mousetrap Contest for a “trip” plow wing, shown at right.
The township wanted to add a wing to one of its plows to be able to push snow back from roadside ditches to allow water to drain efficiently. However, the cost was prohibitive, so the road crew devised a homemade solution.
By cutting a 4-foot piece from an old V-plow, the men created a wing extension for the township’s 11-foot snow plow. To minimize the risk of damaging the plow, they designed the wing to trip when it hits something hard. Using the truck mounting brackets from the V-plow and another old plow to create a hinge, they welded it at a slight angle so that when the wing trips, it lifts and swings back. Two trip springs from an unused plow add tension, which allows the wing to trip without affecting the 11-foot plow.
The project took about 40 man hours and cost about $60 in supplies.
“We are now able to push snow back beyond the ditch to allow water to run off the road, push drifts out of the way to reduce drifting in roads, and get roads open more quickly for our residents,” the township’s submission stated. “Plus, with the wing out front, we can see where it is so fewer mailboxes get hit.”
Apply for 'Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania' Grants by July 31
Could someplace in your community use a fresh coat of paint? If so, apply for a Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania grant from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful for up to 20 gallons of paint.
Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania is designed to provide community groups with paint and painting supplies to turn a community structure in need into something beautiful through the application of fresh paint and a lot of elbow grease.
This event is held in partnership with support from Glidden Professional and The Home Depot. The 2015 Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania will take place in September. During this month-long period, eight grant awardees, along with their volunteers, will be eligible for up to 20 gallons of exterior paint and a gift card for painting supplies courtesy of The Home Depot.
The Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania grant is available to any tax-exempt group within Pennsylvania. Private property owners or individual applicants cannot apply. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will select the eight winning projects from among applications submitted.
Applications must meet the following requirements to be considered: only one building per application, proof of liability insurance, signed permission to paint from the building owner, and two "before" photos of the intended project. Selected awardees must also agree to provide a final report with "during" and "after" photos.