AOAA offers $2K reward for vandal tips
SHAMOKIN - There is a $2,000 "bounty" being offered toward the arrest of the vandals who cut down metal gates at access roads to the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA).
The reward consists mostly of pledges from local elected officials, AOAA Authority board members and its solicitor; the money coming from their own pockets.
The gates were erected in May at the entrances to dirt roads known locally as "Red Ash Road" and "Tower Road" along Route 125, south of Burnside. They were built by students in a welding class at the Northumberland County Career and Technology Center, Coal Township, and were in place a little over one month before they were cut from wooden posts and tossed roadside between July 1 and 11.
Jim Backes, chairman of the AOAA Authority board, said during Monday's monthly meeting that "we're working with the Coal Township Police Department and we have a $2,000 bounty."
He added that the authority doesn't care to know the name of any tipster who provides information leading to an arrest and successful prosecution in the case.
Tipsters can work with township police and also receive the reward through the department.
Pledging toward the reward are Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi, $500; Coal Township Commissioners Bernie Rumberger and Gene Welsh, $250 each; Backes and fellow authority members Dave Crowl, Mike Schwartz, Pat Mack and Barry Yorwarth, $100 each, and authority solicitor Frank Garrigan, $100. The remaining $300 would come from the authority's coffers.
- Rules and regulations governing visitor behavior and equipment was adopted. There are 66 rules on the document. Yorwarth called it a "living" document that will likely be amended over time. Among the provisions: no alcohol, no firearms except those approved during hunting season, no construction and no "blazing" of new trails. Also, don't feed the animals. There are varied stipulations on vehicle equipment and permissible riding areas. The full list is available from the authority.
- Construction of the trail head is underway. A concrete pad and the main catch basin have been installed, and the authority voted to allow the county planning department to cut a check totaling $68,667.30 to Paul Risk Associates, the general contractor. The authority is awaiting PennDOT's approval of specifications to put the access road construction project out to bid.
- There's been a snag with the electrical contractor on the welcome center construction project. J.B. Electric Corp., of Minersville, submitted a low bid of $92,390 to work on the project. However, Backes said their "good faith" documentation had been rejected by the state. It asks that disadvantaged businesses, minorities and women be offered the opportunity to compete for contracting, or in this case, subcontracting work. One of the firms listed on J.B. Electric Corp.'s "good faith" documents was rejected as ineligible to meet those standards, he said. If the matter isn't cleared up, they'll contract with the second lowest bidder. None of the authority members knew the name of that firm, they said.
- The public trail ride that authority members had hoped to host in June remains on hold. Backes said they're "shopping around" for insurance, and until an insurance contract is ratified the AOAA won't be hosting a public ride. Organizers of events held at the site carry their own insurance, he said.
- Upcoming rides are Anthracite Trail Riders, Saturday; a Polaris group, Aug. 2; Eagle Valley Off Roaders, Sept. 21-22.