Reade has chance for new start

“Bury the past,” “avoid new distractions” and “concentrate on the work at hand” are three good recommendations for the Reade Township Municipal Authority, going forward.

The authority has been unfortunate in having had to deal with a number of persistent controversies.

However, now, barring any new bases for friction, it would seem that a window for shedding its unflattering past exists, if authority members and customers alike allow that proverbial window to remain open.

Unfortunately, the authority’s situation is likely to remain fragile as long as the current sometimes-warring personalities continue to be in charge of the municipal entity that controls water for several hundred northeastern Cambria County customers.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that people who have been put in charge of such an important public entity ought to be willing to commit themselves to a reasonable degree of harmony on the customers’ behalf.

That’s true even if they don’t agree routinely on some or many issues and choose not to be friends outside of the authority’s meeting room.

Their job is to meet customers’ water needs and ensure that the authority operates within ethical and legal parameters. How authority members regard one another personally is secondary and should not detract from the mission with which the authority is entrusted.

It was good, as well as a basis for future hope, that last Thursday’s meeting didn’t erupt into a brouhaha over the seating of Kate Malon, who was appointed by the township’s board of supervisors to fill an authority vacancy.

Malon, a former authority employee, has been a lightning rod for criticism.

She was banned from the authority’s offices for allegedly accessing customers’ documents after business hours, but she never was charged criminally regarding those actions.

Having been appointed to an authority seat by the township supervisors presumably is ample evidence that the municipal leaders have confidence in her ability to carry out her duties correctly and responsibly.

It is as much an obligation for Malon to try to build a good working relationship with other authority members and employees as it is for them to be receptive toward her efforts.

It’s unfortunate that there are other troubling issues dogging the authority, such as questions over members’ loyalties and goals, even ethical and legal violations.

However, those items also will have to be resolved, sooner rather than later, if the authority is dedicated truly to accomplishing what right-thinking customers expect of it.

Still, there were some disputes on Thursday, although none reportedly centered on policy or other issues that would affect customers.

Although not being strong evidence of a healing movement, the Thursday session can be regarded as a start toward possibly better times. But that result must not get sidetracked by personal interests or feelings toward one another.

Most municipal governmental bodies and their associated entities — especially in rural areas such as Reade — are able to avoid friction like Reade has experienced, because their operations aren’t complex and don’t involve a lot of money.

Reade has been a highly visible exception.

The three recommendations at the beginning of this editorial can be springboards toward better, more harmonious times.