COAL TOWNSHIP - The current president of the township board of commissioners is seeking a third consecutive term .

In noting accomplishments achieved by commissioners during his past two terms, Gene Welsh, 54, of 3 Oak Gardens, pointed to the creation of Coal Township-SEEDCO Industrial Park


recruitment of Reinhart Food Services to the park, along with the opening of the Coal Township Recycling Center.

The recycling center opened in 2005 and turned a profit for the first time last year to the tune of approximately $12,000. Through September, the recycling center neared $40,000 profit, due in part to a large state grant based on its tonnage.

It's now considered a self-sustaining facility that, down the road, will generate increased revenue for Coal Township.

"The recycling center has really turned around and really helped us and the area," Welsh said during a telephone interview Tuesday.

Regarding the township's budget, Welsh said, "I really enjoy helping people out. I think we've been fiscally sound in how we've managed money, and I think we've provided good services for citizens for what we have to work with. We still have money in the bank."

He noted the township's purchase of its own street paver. This has allowed the township to pave more streets at a lesser cost to taxpayers versus hiring a contractor to do the same work, he said.

Welsh is president of GDK Development, GDK Properties and Hospitality Systems, and is also, among other things, president of Hillside Coaches Association and a member of Lower Anthracite Regional Recreation Committee.

He said he still has an eye on recruiting industry to the area. In this respect, Welsh said it's imperative local and county governments cooperate for the sake of regional interests rather than acting as separate entities.

Welsh was among area officials who were highly visible at many sites impacted during September's flooding and attends meetings with state and federal officials regarding public and residential assistance.

One of the responsibilities of Coal Township commissioners along with their counterparts on Shamokin City Council, is to appoint members to the Shamokin-Coal Township Joint Sewer Authority - a separate governing entity that makes decisions regarding the sewer system's operations.

Authority members have been under fire for a rate increase they have said is needed in large part to pay debt service related to the federally mandated sewer separation project.

When first elected to the township board of commissioners, Welsh was the commissioners' liaison to the authority. He said he recommended raising rates gradually to sit local funds aside for the project, but his idea was turned down - a move an authority member said earlier this month wasn't legal.

Welsh wasn't so sure. "The only thing I would have done differently would be to further look into putting money aside," he said.

In any event, he said a large part of the problem of funding the project is that federal grant funding has been slashed across the board, something no one locally can control.