Supervisors React To News Of Safe Haven Closing
By Wayne Witkowski
DINGMANS FERRY -- Delaware Township's Board of Supervisors at its bi-monthly meeting last week passed a number of procedural motions, including one involving the municipal building's re-roofing project.
The board decided, after ongoing discussion at recent meetings about two options, to pay contractor H&P Construction doing the roof job $12,887 toward a continuous snow guard on the roof, rather than a staggered snow guard that some township employees had said may help reduce problems from ice buildup.
Also approved was $650 to renew a preventative maintenance traffic signal agreement with Kucharick Construction, Inc., plus cost of materials. That signal work is on Route 739, which has gotten added importance these days as groundbreaking and preliminary work has begun for the Delaware Plaza project, anchored by a Weis Markets store that reportedly will employ about 150 people.
Some unspoken, interesting information of the meeting was left in a handout for the public attending the meeting. It was an announcement made earlier in the day by Safe Haven, which is closing at the end of the month after nearly 30 years of service to Pike County victims of domestic and sexual abuse and transitioning its services to Victims' Intervention Program, which has been making major strides of serving the county as well.
"We have to see how this plays out. Safe Haven has had its ups and downs," said Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson after the meeting.
Supervisor Jane Neufeld recognized the organization's service to residents of the county but said "like lots of organizations, it has had its ups an downs." She took note of the two organizations' "competitive services" but said she hopes all good services for victims of domestic violence and abuse will continue.
The release hailed Safe Haven's many achievements, including convening the first meeting of the county's Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence in 2011 and its hosting the Tri-State Conference on Human Trafficking in 2014, a training for criminal justice agents and other involved professionals. The release pointed out that in 2016 Safe Haven opened the county's first Children's Advocacy Center, providing sensitive investigations into child abuse cases that minimize trauma experienced by the victimized child and provides the integrity of justice.
It also took credit for the Paint Pike Purple campaign that put purple ribbons up throughout Milford and a candlelight vigil to honor victims and survivors of abuse. Safe Haven established that there are men, as well as women, who are victims of abuse.
But the supervisors have had a spotty relationship with Safe Haven with some tension at times in ongoing efforts to support the nonprofit.
During recent annual appeals to Delaware Township's supervisors for a donation, supervisors argued repeatedly in meetings that they were not getting necessary financial data supplied by many other organizations to get approval for donations.
They said that, in order to make a donation, they needed to measure the impact of the organization on Delaware Township residents, asking how many residents actually received services from Safe Haven, which provides counseling and short-term shelter for victims.
Former Safe Haven Executive Director Tamara Chant, at a meeting two years ago, had brought in some new board members to one meeting, including a new financial officer, to indicate that the organization was revamping its troubled finances. Current Safe Haven Executive Director Christina Byrne and former director Chant had both informed supervisors when asked in meetings over recent years that they had difficulty providing those numbers out of respect for the victims' privacy. Some residents objected to giving a donation without seeing those numbers.
With those obstacles, the board did not always approve funding. With that experience and an increase in funding requests from nonprofits that could not always supply needed information, the board last year amended the township code to reflect the requirement that any nonprofit requesting a donation needs to provide financial information and date to show the extent that agency serves township residents.
Safe Haven's release reads, "We would like to thank the survivors. The brave souls who took a stand against the abuse. The individuals who showed us the true meaning of strength. The women who empowered others to speak up. The men who refused to accept the female victim stereotype. The people who gave hope and inspiration to others in similar situations. YOU are true advocates and heroes."
In other meeting news, Supervisor Neufeld was appointed as a liaison with the Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Company to communicate any news and needs by the fire company to the township's Board of Supervisors.
Township fire company President Ed Hammond, in the company's quarterly report, said it was a very active three months, with 81 fire calls and 45 emergency calls for things such as road accidents that called for an unusually high 1,662 volunteer hours. Thirty percent of the calls were for fires, 24 percent for motor vehicle mishaps and 22 percent were false alarms.
The company received three first place awards and two second place awards as part of the Sussex County Fireman's Association Inspection Day Parade, including Best Overall Out of County Fire Company. It also won first place for Best Appearing Company and Best Hose Laying Team and a second place for Best Appearing Color Guard.
The board unanimously approved renewing the State Workers Insurance Fund policy for the township's fire company workers compensation for Nov. 30 this year to Nov. 30, 2020 for $20,059 to be paid in 11 monthly payments.
Township Administrator Krista Predmore said there was a 5 percent discount pending and the insurance fund already was reduced by a $3,000 credit because the township has a Safety Committee that meets monthly that includes one representative from the fire company, one from the township's Volunteer Ambulance Corps, one from the township Public Works Department and a township official.
The fire company also was approved for a $33,384.13 third-quarter tax distribution unanimously by the board of supervisors.
Henderson commended the "excellent" service the fire company has provided for the township.
A budget workshop on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. will include meeting and reviewing data with the Delaware Township Volunteer Ambulance Company that has expressed concern over some of its financial difficulties at prior board meetings.
Predmore said during the workshop prior to the regular meeting that Delta Dental increased the township employees' dental coverage by 3.75 percent at $7,729. Supervisor posed that dental insurance perhaps can be covered for a lower rate as part of a bundle with other insurance coverages.