‘Speedwellcome’ news

By on February 13, 2014

Drained lake should be full by 2016

The Speedwell Forge Dam replacement project is on schedule and we should see water in the lake in the spring of 2016.

Elizabeth Township Supervisor Rodney May received a call from State Rep. Mindy Fee last week to convey the good news. The Lancaster County Conservation District approved the dam reconstruction project as presented, and it will be put out for bids early this spring. Construction of the new dam should begin in August or September, and should take about a year.

The 106-acre Speedwell Forge Lake was drained in October 2011 after the dam on the Hammer Creek was damaged by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

May also received a letter from Milt and Judy Lausch of the Save Speedwell organization, informing him that permits are now in place to remove sediment from the lake bed. Most of the sediment will be deposited at the nearby Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania.

“Things are moving along,” May said.

He asked Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman if Speedwell Forge County Park will remain in its natural state. The park is located at the inlet end of the now-empty lake.

Lehman said that no improvements are scheduled and he is not aware of any water easements.

Lehman is making his rounds of all the county municipalities; he visited Elizabeth Township this week. When he was elected, he set a goal of visiting each of the county municipalities during his tenure. He attends about two local governmental meetings each month in pursuit of that goal.

Lehman mentioned three non-lake items of interest:

• The Farmland Preservation Trust approved a program that will enable the county to leverage state funding. Although county funding for ag preservation has gone down, access to state monies will result in a net increase in funds. Last year Lancaster County received $3.7 million of the state’s $30-35 million designated for farm preservation.

• The Public Safety Radio System, which has been working on system upgrades for more than a decade, is nearing completion of an improved system. The project is on budget and on time for a probable year-end completion. The new system will use old television frequencies in the 400 megahertz range. “Every area of the county should see improved coverage.”

• Lancaster County passed a 2014 budget with no tax increase and no new structured debt. Because of litigation last year, the county’s reserves fell to 3.5 percent of the fund balance. Lehman said the county must monitor expenditures and grow the balance over time.

Supervisor Jeff Burkholder thanked Lehman for the way he and his fellow commissioners are running the county. “It’s a big improvement from the past,” he said.

In other news:

Brickerville Fire Company Chief Jeff Strauss and Penryn Fire Company Chief Shannon Martin each reported good years for their respective organizations.

Brickerville responded to 157 incidents in 2013, with a total loss of $74,000 and total property saved of over $200,000. Fifty-one of those incidents were motor vehicle accidents, with fourteen involving entrapment. Firefighters logged over 1,100 hours of training and calls, in addition to fundraising activities and weekly bingo.

Straus kept a crew in the fire station during recent snow and ice events. There were 12 storm-related events, not to mention 273 people without power for 36 hours.

This year the fire company hopes to replace some air packs.

“Next to a firefighters personal protection gear, the air pack is the most important piece of equipment,” said newly-elected Deputy Chief Matt Sherk.

The cost will be about $50,000, which is expected to be covered by a state grant. The air bottles last about 15 years.

The new air bottles will be good for about an hour of breathing air, compared to 30 minutes for the old style. Additionally, the new air bottles are smaller because the air is under higher pressure.

Strauss noted that the fire siren will be silenced between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. out of consideration for neighbors. The siren will be able to be activated locally or by county control if necessary.

Although his Brickerville volunteers train monthly with their Warwick Emergency Services Association partners, Strauss hopes to also train with the Penryn and Durlach-Mt. Airy fire companies in 2014. Most of the mutual aide used by and provided by Brickerville Fire Company is with those two companies.

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