RIDGWAY — James McClain of Highland Township addressed the Elk County Commissioners on Tuesday to discuss possible changes in precinct locations in his township.
McClain received a letter from Kimberly Frey, director of the Elk County Board of Elections, which states the board has filed with the Elk County Court of Common Pleas requesting the court consolidate the James City precinct, which is located at the Highland Township firehall in James City, and the Highland precinct, which is located at the mountain clubhouse of Pennsylvania Snowseekers Snowmobile Club Inc. on Route 948.
The proposed new precinct location would be at the Highland Township municipal building in James City.
McClain believes the move would make voting more difficult for those who live in the far reaches of Highland Township, such as Owls Nest, which is located 14 miles from James City. The Highland Corners precinct location is approximately six miles from James City.
McClain said with no public transportation in Highland Township, hazardous weather could affect voter turnout on election day, particularly with the elderly. He also pointed out the Highland Corners location is more centrally located for the 125 registered voters who vote at the location than James City would be.
The current James City precinct has 176 registered voters.
Commissioner Dan Freeburg asked McClain if the Highland Corners location would be the more desirable of the current two locations if they were to keep only one. McClain said both locations are needed.
Freeburg also pointed out the Snowseekers location has concerns with a gravel parking lot and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. However, McClain described the claim as “petty.” Freeburg said the mandates are still in place.
A hearing on the possible consolidation of the two precincts is scheduled in the main courtroom of the Elk Elk County Courthouse next month.
In other news, the commissioners moved to advertise the 2016 county budget. Commissioner Jan Kemmer said there will be no tax increase for the coming year.
The commissioners also approved a contract for services by and between the county and Tabia J. Cole, Esquire, to fill the vacancy in the office of public defender. Cole replaces James L. Martin, who was recently elected magisterial district judge in Johnsonburg.
Meanwhile, retiring Commissioner June Sorg was recognized at her last regular meeting by Freeburg and Kemmer.
As Sorg was given a shirt which read “The Legend Has Retired,” Kemmer said she was sorry to see Sorg go. The outgoing commissioner expressed her gratitude to the people of Elk County who she has served.
“It's been a joy,” Sorg said. “I'm going to miss everyone. It's been an honor to serve Elk County.”
Former St. Marys Area School Board director Matthew Quesenberry will replace Sorg and take the oath of office on Jan. 4.
A special meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 22 to adopt the 2016 budget.
(Editor’s note: To view a photo of outgoing Commissioner June Sorg being recognized at the meeting, visit The Era’s website at www.bradfordera.com)