Portage supervisors stress safety after residents’ complaints

PORTAGE – Portage Township supervisors assured people this week that Amfire Mining Co. officials have committed to making some safety changes to address Shoemaker Circle residents’ concerns.

Chairman Supervisor Bill Cooper said supervisors sat down Monday with company engineers and officials, who assured them work was being done to number trucks to help identify them and deter speeding and to place warning signs and boulders around a retaining pond to prevent someone from falling in.

In addition, he said, traffic was supposed to have been reduced to a fraction of what it was during train loading days, with some trucks diverted to another cleaning plant near Armagh, Indiana County.

But residents at a Wednesday meeting accused company officials of telling one story to supervisors and another to the people.

“I can’t see where the volume has been decreased any,” said resident John Nicholson.

Resident Renee Maul invited supervisors to sit on her porch to count the trucks, so they could see for themselves that nothing’s changed.

Maul said whenever she’s called to make complaints about speeding trucks and coal dust, officials have told her it’s not the company’s problem, since they don’t own them.

But the biggest issue, residents said, is whether Amfire is looking for an alternate route to get the trucks off Shoemaker Circle.

Supervisors agreed that a new route is the ultimate goal, but they’re hoping to come to an amicable solution. If they push the issue, Supervisor Richard Olshavsky said, it could result in a lengthy and expensive legal battle.

“We have not given up,” he assured residents, but said discussions take time.

Nicholson said previous promises have either been ignored or taken years to fulfill. Residents can’t wait until after a child is killed by a speeding truck to act, he said.

Cooper said the company has been “hem-hawing” the township around, but supervisors will keep pushing.

Amfire representatives could not be reached for comment.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.