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Sandy Twp. no longer opposed to mini-casinos

Sandy Township has reversed its stance on the possibility of a mini-casino opening in the municipality.

In a 3-2 vote Monday, the supervisors rescinded a 2017 resolution which prohibited a “Category 4” casino within the boundaries of the township. Supervisors Jim Jeffers, Mark Sullivan and Kevin Salandra voted to rescind, while Andy Shenkle and Dave Sylvis voted no.

According to the resolution, Pennsylvania Legislative Act 42 of 2017 authorizes a municipality to prohibit or “opt out” of having a Category 4 casino located within the municipality.

The resolution notes that a Category 4 license allows a mini-casino to operate between 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 50 table games.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, the topic sparked discussion between the supervisors and audience members.

Sam Mollica, of Central Christian Road, asked if any of the revenue from a casino is returned to the township.

“The municipality gets 2 percent, but the school district gets even more than that,” said Sullivan.

“So it will be a benefit ...,” said Mollica.

“It will be a benefit tax-wise,” said Sylvis.

“Yeah, I know there’s problems created ... and I can see the objections with that, too, with all the addiction caused by gambling. It’s a hard choice,” said Mollica.

Chuck Johnson, of Harold Bundy Road, asked for more clarification on the supervisors rescinding the “Category 4” resolution.

“What is that ... and where is that going to be?” said Johnson.

“It could be anywhere that zoning allows it in our municipality,” said Sullivan.

“Okay, so basically you’re going to allow a gambling casino if somebody wants to do it?” said Johnson.

Rescinding the resolution will let the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board know that the township is not opposed to keeping that type of business out of the municipality, said Sullivan.

“And why are we lifting that now, when we’ve had restrictions on it before?” said Johnson.

“Because, in my opinion, high-paying jobs, tax breaks to the residents,” said Sullivan.

“But there’s also a flip-side of that coin,” said Johnson.

“There sure is,” said Sylvis.

“And, usually it’s worse,” said Johnson.

Sullivan said that point has been mentioned previously.

“Somebody said, ‘What about the poor people who gamble? What’s to keep them from going to Salamanca, Pittsburgh, any of the other casinos in the area?’” said Sullivan.

“Right. But crime goes up. Burglaries, everything, goes up with that,” said Johnson. “And then you’re bringing those problems here. I mean, I realize it’s money, and you’re looking at that aspect too. But, everything that goes with it, it’s not good.”

“Thank you. I agree,” said Shenkle.

“That’s this month, the gambling,” said Sylvis. “Next month, your governor is already working on legalizing marijuana ... recreational marijuana. So, that’ll be (more) dollars coming in for us, at what cost?”

“Well, bottom line is it’s money that’s driving it,” said Johnson.

“I agree with Mark,” said Salandra. “It brings a lot of jobs to the community. It helps the tax base. You know, unfortunately, it’s a personal decision, whether the people want to partake in going to a casino or not. So, I don’t feel that my job as a supervisor is to legislate things like that. If it’s there, you can choose to go or not to go.”

“And just because we’ve made it possible for somebody to apply for a permit, doesn’t mean, to my knowledge, that there’s anything in the works,” said Sullivan.

“It’s my understanding that there are four licenses going up for auction in Pennsylvania. So that was the reason for timing now,” said Salandra.

Poverty simulation, awareness event draws 115 people to Johnsonburg

JOHNSONBURG — About 115 people gathered at the Johnsonburg Fire Hall recently to put themselves in the shoes of those fighting poverty, according to Elk County Community Foundation Executive Director Paula Fritz Eddy.

The Poverty Simulation Event, hosted by the ECCF, Community Education Center and Northern Tier Community Action Corporation, was Aug. 13.

Eddy said the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS), a unique tool that helps people better understand the shortage of money and abundance of stress, was started around 10 years ago. Staff members of human-service agencies, school district representatives and local civic leaders participated.

“Understanding the day-to-day reality of poverty is important for everyone involved in fighting poverty — from policymakers to service providers,” Eddy said in a previous Courier Express article.

In a news release, CEC Executive Director Kate Brock said awareness is the key to more effectively addressing poverty issues.

The presentation used a simulation kit and represented low-income families such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, disabled people or senior citizens.

Participants were tasked with providing basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget throughout four 15-minute “weeks,” interacting with human rights agencies, bill collectors, police officers and others.

A recent study by the United Way of Pennsylvania called ALICE — Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed — showed between 24 and 36 percent of households in the area fall within the “working poor” range, Eddy said. The report also indicated between 10 and 15 percent of households in the Elk County area fall below the federal poverty level.

“This is the everyday reality of thousands of our neighbors,” said NTCAC Deputy Director Randy Metcalf in a news release. “Understanding that reality will help us change it.”

Family dispute blamed for uncertainty at Clarion auto dealership

CLARION — The sales department of a Clarion car dealership has closed indefinitely, and while the business owners are staying mum about the future of Seidle Chevrolet Buick GMC, the recently ousted general manager has cited a family dispute as the reason for the uncertainty.

Signs went up at the dealership Friday along Main Street in Clarion stating that the sales department is closed indefinitely. Owner Doris Seidle did not respond to a message for comment, and newly named general manager Tim Seidle said Monday that he had no comment at this time.

A comment issued late Tuesday by Kyle Suba, East Coast Lead, Chevrolet Communications, stated that: “We are currently in the process of working with Seidle Chevrolet on appropriate next steps. Due to the ongoing nature of our efforts we have no comment at this time.”

While Doris Seidle and Tim Seidle are not talking, the long-time general manager of the business, Tom Seidle, who says he was fired by his mother from the position several weeks ago, said on Monday that there was no reason to put the livelihoods of 35 employees on the line over what he considers a family dispute.

Tom Seidle, who lives in Seminole and is a Mahoning Township supervisor, said Monday that the dealership, founded by his great-great-grandfather W.H. Seidle in 1932, was doing very well in all aspects, including the sales and service departments.

“We had been really busy,” he said.

On the morning of Monday, July 22, Tom Seidle said his 85-year-old mother, Doris, offered him the right of first refusal to buy the business and when he declined, she fired him.

Tom Seidle said that his brother, Tim, who had been in charge of the company’s bookkeeping, was appointed to run the business.

After he was fired, Tom Seidle said he started to get used to the forced early retirement, but that he heard last week that the sales department had been closed, and it appears that other parts of the business will close soon.

Tom Seidle alleged that his brother had cut pay and benefits for the employees, which prompted a number of the workers to seek jobs elsewhere. He said he heard that the sales department was down to one salesman, and that it was possible General Motors intervened when it learned of the staffing issues.

Tom Seidle said that rumors that there were financial problems with the dealership are not true.

“There’s no money trouble up there,” he said. “We’re not snowed under with bills. It’s a profitable business.”

Tom Seidle said he is concerned about his customers, many of whom have been buying cars and getting their vehicles serviced at the Clarion location for generations.

He said on Monday that he has confirmed that both Redbank Chevrolet and Brookville Chevrolet have agreed to service all of the Seidle customers’ vehicles under the same circumstances, including the free state inspections for those who purchased a car at the Clarion dealership.

With Doris and Tim Seidle staying quiet, it remains unclear what the future holds for Seidle Chevrolet Buick GMC. However, Tom Seidle speculated Monday that it’s no easy task to shut down a dealership.

“There’s two issues here: the property and the franchise,” he said. While he noted that Doris Seidle could sell the property, General Motors has control over the sale of the franchise.

He also disputed rumors that the business is for sale, noting a group of people was ready to buy it, but was told it’s not for sale.

“The statement that it has been for sale for months is not true,” Tom Seidle said.

Photo by Craig Moyer 

DuBois' Jayden Fulkroad chips out of the rough on the second hole during a match against Brockway at Owens Brockway Golf Course Tuesday. Fulkroad shot a 46 to help lead the Beavers to a 175-228 victory.

Sandy Township
Residents ask for road repair in Sabula area of Sandy Twp.

Two Sandy Township residents, appearing at Monday’s supervisors’ meeting, asked for help in getting roads repaired in the Sabula area of the township.

“I’d like to know what the supervisors’ plan is in getting our roads shaped up in our area. They’re in pretty rough shape,” said Dale Kilmer, of Yale Road.

“I’ll agree with you, Dale, and the other people that live on that road,” said Public Works Director Matt Cook. “We did that grind like seven years ago, tar and chipped it. That has not held up the way that I personally would have hoped that it would have held up.”

“What we’re doing now is we’re going to the rough areas, taking recycled asphalt, touching it up with that, rolling it in, tar and chipping that in place,” said Cook. “That seems to be lasting the longest. But we haven’t made it up your way yet. I’m hoping to get up there in September and do something with the circle, meaning, Sierra Heights, Yale Road.”

Kilmer, noting that water seems to be the biggest problem on those roads, asked if anything will be done with the ditches.

“The water has to be taken away from the road in order for it to keep from eroding the road,” said Kilmer.

“Yes, it’s just a constant struggle keeping ditches clean, keeping leaves out of ditches,” said Cook.

“Well, those roads haven’t been ... the ditches haven’t been pulled for years. You know that as well as I do,” said Kilmer.

“Yes, it’s been a while. I’ll agree with you there,” said Cook. He said somehow years ago, there were ways to get almost every road, every ditch, but now there is so much more that some things suffer.

Kilmer said some spots in that area, such as Harold Bundy Road, are particularly bad and are going to get worse.

“Right. We’ll be up in September to address the ditches, and I won’t say we’ll get all the bad spots smoothed out, but we’ll get most of them,” said Cook.

“Whatever you can do, we’d appreciate it,” said Kilmer.

“It just seems like we’ll fix the ditch, and then turn around next week, and the ones that we worked on, of course we loosened up everything there,” said Cook. “It’s hard to get away from the same ditch to get the new ones.”

Chuck Johnson, of Harold Bundy Road, said there has been no attention given to their roads for quite some time.

“And it’s really frustrating. So, I’m here to back up his comment, but also make sure it’s Harold Bundy Road that’s being fixed, too,” said Johnson.

“I appreciate that. It’s been a wet summer. We had a wet one last year, too,” said Supervisors’ Chairman Jim Jeffers.

“But realistically, we kind of seem to be forgotten about. And it’s been going on for years,” said Johnson. “This isn’t just this year, this has been years. I’ve been living up there for about 22 years. And that road kind of gets ignored.”

Cook said it’s not on purpose.

“A lot of the time it has to do with traffic count, and where we just have to do the work. But, like I told Dale, we’ll get up either this month, next month for sure. And it’ll get fixed,” said Cook.

BriFleming90 / Brianne Fleming  

Ridgway Borough Council members met Aug. 19.