BLANDBURG - Three Reade Township Municipal Authority officials have announced their resignations within the past week, and all three said two men are to blame.
Board member Barb Rickard, who also worked in the RTMA office for a number of years, announced her resignation at a March 3 township supervisors' meeting.
That was quickly followed by the resignation of Manager Jim Scott, who announced his plans to quit a little over two weeks ago, but then told board members his resignation will be more immediate.
Finally, board Chairman and Township Supervisor Tom Hollis said Tuesday he will be resigning at month's end.
Their reason? Residents Robert March and Jim Thompson.
"I just have a lot of personal issues, and I can't deal with Thompson and March," Scott told the Mirror on Monday. "I told [the board] they need to start interviewing people."
March and Thompson have long been aggressive and outspoken critics of authority and township management, citing what they believe to be rampant cronyism and corruption within Reade Township.
"If the truth pushed them out, then so be it," March said. "What I've posted [on Facebook] is the truth and the records show it."
March said officials are mad that he's published documents obtained through right-to-know requests.
Thompson said he feels that he and March have been made into scapegoats.
"They've kind of been blaming us because we ask questions. ... You go to the meetings. They won't talk," Thompson said.
But Hollis said March and Thompson have waged war against the board without showing any willingness to take on leadership roles themselves.
"If the negative ringleaders in the community would show support instead of negativity, it could be a viable operation, and it would be wonderful for our whole community," Hollis said. "Nobody seems to be able to step up and take over."
Hollis said he's offered the chairmanship and information-officer positions to Thompson, who turned both down for health reasons. March also said he has no interest in joining the board.
With three officials now out and possibly more behind them, RTMA's future might be in question.
Authority solicitor Tim Burns was unavailable for comment, but Hollis said if they cannot find a manager and other board members resign, there are few options left for the authority.
The township could temporarily take control of RTMA to restructure it, he said, or it could merge with Glendale Valley Municipal Authority, a bulk water customer of RTMA. Also on the table is a takeover of RTMA, where GVMA's board would run operations while Reade maintained ownership.
Board members from RTMA and GVMA were scheduled to meet in an executive session Tuesday evening to discuss what to do next.
Asked whether March and Thompson could cause the authority to collapse, Hollis said the damage already is done.
"I can't imagine [RTMA] will continue," he said. "It may. I hope it does."