Did you hear that faint rumbling in and around DuBois?
The creakings and groanings echoing from Morningside Cemetery in Sandy Township’s northeastern quadrant to the historic Rumbarger Cemetery located near the hospital in DuBois just reflects corkscrew movements.
Some ancestors might be turning over in their graves, that’s all. No sign of zombies climbing to the surface. The noises might be just reflexive rumblings based on Jan. 8 headlines in the Courier-Express. The rumblers could be previous generations whose battle cry of opposition to consolidation equated to “Over my dead body!”
By itself, the “Consolidation back on the table” headline is not shocking. In three previous years, 1989, 1995 and 2002, voters were asked whether the City of DuBois and the Sandy Township municipality that surrounds it should become one government. Three times, city voters said, “Yes!” Three times — but by decreasing margins each time — township voters said, “No!”
So what is earth-shaking about the Jan. 8 headlines?
Check the next headline: “Sandy Township to initiate talks with City of DuBois.”
Sandy Township? THAT Sandy Township? The township whose citizenry, led by its fire department, rejected jointure three times in succession? Now, IT is taking the lead in talking about consolidation?
Times change. New supervisors have been elected.
Consolidating the two governments makes sense, just as it did in 1989, 1995 and 2002. Back then, township residents got scared by claims that if the two governments consolidated, the taxes paid by Sandy Township residents would increase to bring them closer to the higher taxes paid by City of DuBois residents.
Well, D’uh. Yes. Sure.
Some folks did not understand that trading a $50 annual increase in taxes for smoother paved streets, better sewers and water pipes, a for-real health department, a more responsive police force, and even, down the road, perhaps some end to duplicative fire station sites would more than offset any tax increase.
Previous consolidation attempts were largely self-doomed. Some were decided in low-turnout primary elections, where change-resistant voters predominate. Some were touted by well-heeled groups perceived as elitist. Some just were not clearly explained along the lines of the state’s path toward Home Rule communities.
Now, some leaders of Sandy Township see some sense in taking a fresh — and unbiased — look by having the township itself lead the process and seek expert guidance.
There is no harm done by looking, and possibly much good done by bringing DuBois and Sandy Township into the 21st Century.
— Denny Bonavita