DuBOIS — Citizen petition signing in an effort to put the consolidation between the City of DuBois and Sandy Township on the November general election ballot started Monday.
After the township supervisors reversed course and pulled the plug on any further support from the township in June, township Supervisor Sam Mollica and township resident Barry Abbott decided to move forward to try and get enough signatures from registered voters in each municipality to let the voters decide in the upcoming election. Mollica was the only one of the five supervisors wanting to continue with the consolidation process, while Jim Jeffers, Mark Sullivan, Kevin Salandra and Bill Beers voted against continuing.
Starting at 11:45 a.m. until about 5 p.m. Monday, Abbott was sitting in the shade in the front yard of the DuBois American Legion Post #17 on Liberty Boulevard where residents of Sandy Township and the City of DuBois could stop by and sign the consolidation citizens’ petition.
Voters can also stop by the American Legion to sign the petition each day through Thursday, starting at 11:45 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. If needed, the petition will be available to sign on Friday, July 23, starting at 11:45 a.m.
Debbie Mechling and Blaine Carr, both city residents, who both worked to place the consolidation referendum question on the general election ballot in 2002, set up a table Monday at the corner of Franklin Street and Long Avenue in downtown DuBois.
“Barry and Sam both called me and asked if I would help,” said Mechling, who was most recently a citizen representative on the consolidation study committee and helped hire the Pennsylvania Economy League, which completed the consolidation study earlier this year.
“We’re going to sit down on the corner of Franklin and Long tonight (Monday) because we want to get people as they’re getting off work, and we’re going to do that again tomorrow night (Tuesday),” said Mechling. “We’ll sit there until probably 7:30 or 8 to try and get signatures from city residents who are going home from work.”
Like in 2002, Mechling said she is still in favor of consolidation between the two municipalities.
“Especially after this study, it’s the only way that we’re going to get growth,” said Mechling. “And I think we need to do this, and move forward with it, before we’re mandated to do it from the state. At least we have choices now, as to how it would move forward.”
Early Monday, Mechling said she only had about 15 signatures from city residents.
The goal is 360-plus signatures for the township and 260-plus for the city.
Before the citizens’ petition drive started on Monday, Abbott said they already had 201 signatures from township residents while standing outside of the post office at Treasure Lake over the weekend.
“They’re calling, and texting, it’s unbelievable,” said Abbott, noting people can also sign the petition for the next three days at Treasure Lake.
Bob Good of Lincoln Drive in Sandy Township, who was one of the first to sign the petition at the American Legion on Monday, said he is happy that Mollica and Abbott are pushing to get the referendum question on the November ballot.
“I am truly disappointed in the four township supervisors that stopped it,” said Good. “I mean, the residents are the ones who should decide. Whatever we vote, I’ll go along with it.”
Good, who is in favor of consolidation, said he believes it will benefit everyone in both the city and township. He cited less duplication of services and cost reductions as some of the advantages of combining the municipalities.
Earlier this year, the city and township decided to collaborate on a study by the Pennsylvania Economy League on the pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks of combining the two municipalities.
In order to appear on the November ballot, supporters must secure and submit 219 valid signatures from the township and approximately 160 from the city to the county Election Office by Aug. 3.
Since 1989, the question of consolidation has been approved three times by city residents and rejected three times by township voters. In order for consolidation to take place, voters in each municipality must vote separately and affirmatively to move forward.
Abbott also noted that the signing of the petition is not that one approves it, but it is a vote to get the consolidation issue on the November ballot.