ATLAS - Mount Carmel Township supervisors awarded contracts Wednesday night to CZOP Specter of Norristown for engineering services for the Strong storm water project and demolition of four to seven homes in the 100 block of West Girard Street in Atlas.

The township will use Community Development Block Grant funding to pay a total of $45,990, including $22,990 for the engineering services and $23,000 for the demolition work.

Although the bid received from CZOP was the highest of three proposals, supervisors Reynold Scicchitano and Joseph Zanella said they approved the contracts because they best suit the needs of the township. Zanella said CZOP will have an engineer on site every day of the projects.

Supervisor chairman Charles Gasperetti was absent.

By hiring CZOP, solicitor Vincent Rovito told the supervisors, "You are getting way more bang for your buck."

Jamie Shrawder, project coordinator for community development with SEDA-COG, discussed the work with supervisors prior to their vote to award the contracts, which are pending county approval.

John A. Bucanelli, senior municipal and environmental engineer with CZOP, also attended the meeting to explain the work and answer any questions.

Other bids for the projects were received from CES Engineering, $25,000 combined price, $12,500 separately for the storm water project and $19,500 separately for the demolition; and Arm Group Inc., $26,300 total price ($21,900 for storm water project and $4,400 for demolition).

In other business, code enforcement officer Don Geary said township residents are not taking advantage of a quality of life ordinance passed last month that lowers the initial fine from $100 to $25 and gives violators 10 days to comply before facing stiffer penalties.

The ordinance pertains to high grass and weeds, garbage accumulation, abandoned vehicles and littering and gives Geary, police and other public employees designated by the supervisors the power to issue tickets.

Fines are $25 for the first violation, $50 plus costs for the second, $100 for the third and $150 for each violation thereafter within a 12-month period.

If the fine is not paid within 10 days, the ticket will become a citation and will be forwarded to the magisterial district judge, who could set a fine of $500 to $1,000 if the violator is found guilty.

In addition, if the township or a third party solves the problem causing the violation, the judge can award restitution or put a municipal lien against the property.

Violators also will be listed in the criminal justice computer system as having a criminal record if they fail to pay the fines and costs.

The supervisors and Chief of Police Brian Hollenbush presented Patrolman David Stamets Jr. with a certificate for his outstanding performance in passing an exam to become a drug recognition expert (DRE). A DRE is a highly motivated police officer trained to recognize impairment of persons under the influence of drugs other than alcohol.

Stamets completed 100 hours of intense drug evaluation and classification program classroom and practical study. The exam lasted 10 hours.

There are only 129 DREs in the state.

Supervisors agreed to purchase a property in the 100 block of West Girard Street in Atlas and receive funding from the Northumberland County Housing Authority to raze it. The housing authority will be given a three-year option to construct low-income or elderly housing at the site.

Zanella and Scicchitano approved the township's annual $500 donation to the Mount Carmel-Mount Carmel Township Joint Recreation Committee and agreed to have Realty World sell a parcel of township land at Maple and Center streets in Natalie since no bids were received through advertising the property.

Supervisors agreed to use Experience Works to supply workers 55 and older at no cost to the township.

The board amended an ordinance that now prohibits burning in the township at all times.

Hollenbush informed township resident Rich Mychak that a subsidence along Route 2038 near St. Joseph Cemetery at Beaverdale is PennDOT's responsibility because it is a state highway.

Mychak also inquired if part-time township workers receive benefits. Zanella said township secretary Marian Klingerman, who is the only part-time employee beside police officers, receives benefits because she works more than 30 hours per week.

Klingerman said the township's website is in operation and encouraged residents to visit it at www.mountcarmeltownship.org.