Attitude in Reade ridiculous

Reade Township in northeastern Cambria County remains a municipality in need of soul-searching.

That suggestion isn’t directed at the township’s residents, who must watch while unrest encompassing the township’s municipal authority and board of supervisors prevents smooth operation of one of the township’s most important assets, its water system.

Rather, it’s the officials — elected and appointed — of those two municipal bodies who need to reflect on how the controversy and personality conflicts they continue to foment really aren’t at all productive.

It’s important that the current attitudes change, and those who refuse should evaluate whether their continued service really is in the best interests of the people they are supposed to be serving.

This should not be construed as implying that the township is on the verge of an all-consuming crisis. However, there can be no guarantee that the current unrest won’t spill onto issues beyond what’s already occurred.

For now, the biggest issue sparking friction is the fate of the water system — whether ownership should remain with the Reade Township Municipal Authority or whether the system should be sold to the neighboring Glendale Valley Municipal Authority.

Last summer, Glendale Valley offered to buy the Reade system for $500,000 but now has upped its offer to $1 million.

While some support for the purchase exists in Reade, some customers fear rate hikes and that their money will be used to pay for upgrades in other areas of the expanded Glendale system.

There’s also the argument that a recent audit had placed the value of the Reade system at $1.5 million, making the Glendale Valley offer appear paltry.

But beyond the water system’s sale are the personality clashes involving people on the Reade authority and board of supervisors who apparently don’t like one another — people who have been unable to put aside their personal feelings during their handling of official duties.

Rubber-stamp municipal service sometimes is counterproductive; officials don’t always have to agree in order to carry out their responsibilities productively and make the right decisions.

But when continuing friction opens the window for something as sleazy and unlawful as forgery, and when that friction leads to the resignation of someone apparently performing his duties capably and responsibly — both are new developments in the prolonged Reade saga — it’s time for residents to demand municipal peace, with or without the current players.

The resignation of Manager Vince Burr, who pointed to a hostile work environment, and the letter carrying the name of Jim Thompson, a Reade authority member who said he never sent the letter, are indicative of the depths to which Reade controversies have plummeted.

The forged letter “notified” the township supervisors that they no longer were permitted to hold meetings at the water authority office.

The upcoming water system decision will touch all of the Reade authority’s several hundred customers, but so does officials’ inability to get along.

Reade residents have the right — indeed, the obligation — to demand that peace supplant friction in all of the municipality’s conduct of business.