By Wayne Witkowski
Pike County Dispatch – December 28, 2017

DINGMANS FERRY – A resident told Delaware Township supervisors that they would be “shocked” to discover the number of township residents, mostly women, who are victims of sexual and domestic abuse. 

The woman, who had gotten help from Safe Haven of Pike County, had talked about the agency’s service to victims in her community during a board of supervisors’ workshop before last week’s regular meeting when they discussed whether to donate to the nonprofit in Milford, which had requested $10,000 starting in a meeting held about a year ago.

Pike County Habitat for Humanity also requested a donation of nearly $3,000.

During the supervisors’ meeting, donations of $1200 to Safe Haven and $200 to Habitat for Humanity were approved.

But there was lengthy discussion during the workshop on both requests.

“Safe Haven helped me and my children out, “ said the speaker.  “I don’t know where I’d be today without it.”

Township supervisors were invoking for the first time a recently passed ordinance regulating donations to nonprofits with guidelines, particularly how much the agency requesting the donation is involved with the Delaware Township community.

Interim supervisor Ron Hough remained opposed to Safe Haven’s sizable request that was re-examined at previous meetings, with the agency deflecting his request to say how many of the clients it has served reside in Delaware Township.  Safe Haven says client information is confidential and provided only general data from Pike County.

“This is the third time (for discussing it) and all I’m asking for is numbers (of people served), not names, just numbers.  They said that’s against their policy,” said Hough.

The resident said she knows from her own firsthand experience with Safe Haven of many people reporting to the agency from the township.

“There are many people from Delaware Township who are victims of abuse.  I don’t have it but you’d be shocked at the numbers,” she said.

Hough then reconsidered his stance, saying he was “ashamed” as a township official to learn of what seems a large number of residents who turned to Safe Have for help.

He said many families struggling with alcohol and drug addictions triggers much of the problem.

Hough’s change of heart carried approval of the donation during that meeting in a 201 vote, with Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson opposed.

Interim supervisor Jane Neufeld said that residents have been put off with giving generous donations in the past, including to Safe Haven, and are hesitant to see that again.  But she said she had been looing into the work of the agency and commended the range of services made up largely of volunteers under Executive Director Tamara Chant.

Chant has turned the agency around from its financial difficulties and commandeered better budget control, which she indicated in a report shared with the supervisors back in the early spring.

“I’m impressed with their effort to continue to educate in the school system about abuse, bullying and respect,” Neufeld said.  “It’s been a bumpy road with how we look at Safe Haven.  Large donations in the past put people on edge, which led to our development of the donation policy.”

“I have to represent the taxpayers, They’re asking for $10,000 which is more than what we have in our donation account,” said Henderson.

Another female resident also spoke up for donating to Safe Haven saying, “I think considering who they are and what they do, it’s the only right they to do.  I wouldn’t like to see us shut the door on them based on what they did in the past.”

Neufeld said there are about a thousand township children and youth from ages 5 to 19 in local schools and having Safe Haven as a resource is “incredibly valuable.  I’m impressed with the programs they’ve done at schools, the only organization that does that in the county.  We’re trying to look at interests of all residents, not to limit numbers.  We are a community and are working the best interests to give support for services that will be there,”  Neufeld said, suggesting a $1200 figure.

Habitat for Humanity Request

Habitat for Humanity, meanwhile, requested $2,940 for needed scaffolding to replace the old scaffolding that no longer meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.  The money would go for its new construction projects in 2018, which includes a structure in the township.  It originally needed $3,438.72 but had received $500 from other charitable funding sources.

Supervisors pointed out that the township again would waive permitting fees for the project, which it has done for other Habitat for Humanity projects in the township in the past.  That credit brings the total to around the $2,940 requested.

Also at the meeting, the supervisors approved a resolution to move $150,000 from the $155,00 surplus of the 2018 budget into the General Fund Capital Reserve.  They agreed to table resolutions to move available money from the 2018 budget into the General Fund Capital Reserve Fund and the Recreation Capital Reserve Fund after further study by April 1.  Neufeld has said these additional categories give better transparency and clarity for residents to see where money is appropriated.

The supervisors unanimously agreed not pay for the $630 Constables Professional Liability renewal application for township constable Ed Hammond that he had paid himself in the past.

“He does not work for us but for the county courts, and I do not find it appropriate to pay for that,” Neufeld said.  Constables, who are elected to their position, are paid from court fees.

Supervisors also approved $1,029.74 from Safety Smart Gear for uniforms and required safety equipment for compliance with federal standards.

 Henderson at the end of the meeting commended the work of Hough, who was appointed supervisor when Tom Ryan resigned in January.  “I’m impressed working him how he is his own man and I appreciate his efforts for the township,” Henderson said.

“We’ve worked together, not always with the same idea, but everything is negotiable,” Hough said.  He also praised the quality of work of the municipal building office staff as well as the emergency response personnel and Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker.

The township reorganizational meeting is 7pm on Jan. 2 and its next regular meeting is Jan. 10.