Lehigh Valley

Salisbury to Mother Nature: Bring it on

SALISBURY TWP., Pa. - Salisbury Township is ready for whatever Mother Nature plans to start throwing at it this weekend.

That was the optimistic assessment presented by township officials at Thursday night's commissioners meeting.

"We're ready for Sunday," declared township manager Randy Soriano.

As much as a foot or more of snow - or snow mixing with ice -- is expected to fall Sunday into Monday.

"It seems like it's going to be a plowable event," said John Andreas, Salisbury's public works director.

Despite widespread publicity of municipalities facing salt shortages used to keep roads clear, officials said Salisbury has enough salt and related materials to meet the coming snowstorm.

And, while other municipalities are finding this winter to be a budget buster, Soriano predicted: "We'll be able to weather the storm in terms of the budget. The money is there."

"Great!" responded township commissioner Debra Brinton.

Soriano reported the public works department has used up about 84 percent of its annual overtime budget. "Compared to last year, obviously that number is way up."

He said Salisbury also has spent about 52 percent of the money budgeted for salt for 2014. He said last year at this time the township had spent only 33 percent of that money.

The manager said calls are coming into the municipal building from residents who think Salisbury is running out of salt. "I don't know where they got that, but that's really far from the truth. We have no salt shortage."

Andreas indicated the township has been getting regular salt deliveries, even one on President's Day. "We work diligently to try to maintain our material throughout the winter."

The public works director said Salisbury has more than 250 tons of "anti-skid mixed material" and at least 75 tons of salt, as well as magnesium chloride, a liquid mixed with salt and anti-skid material before they are put on roads, to improve their effectiveness in very cold temperatures.

"It's been way too cold for way too long and way too much snow," Andreas told commissioners.

"Hopefully, with March right around the corner, the sun will be up a little longer, a little higher and a little stronger and we can turn this around, because it's been a very long and challenging winter."

"It's not the normal winter," agreed Soriano. "The worst is over - I think."

Brinton said two residents called her just to say how much they appreciate the work the township's public works department has done to deal with the ice and snow.

Those residents told her Salisbury's roads are in better shape than those in neighboring Bethlehem and Fountain Hill.

Brinton added she can see the same thing when she drives on Cypress Avenue, which becomes Carlisle Street when it reaches Allentown. "You definitely notice the difference between 'this is Salisbury and this is Allentown'."

She told Andreas: "You guys did a great job, in a really bad storm. And it looks like you're gong to be doing it again."

Soriano said the ice and snow will be followed in March and April by pothole repairs and other road restoration. He said the township also has enough money in its budget to do that work.

Annual police report

In other business, Salisbury Police Chief Allen Stiles presented township commissioners with his annual report for 2013.

Stiles said his 19-member department is at full-strength, serving a township with 13,505 residents.

The most frequently reported crime in 2013 Salisbury was theft (248), distantly followed by burglary (46), assault (38), sexual assault (11), auto theft (10) and robbery (2).

Fifty-nine adults and three juveniles were charged for those crimes in 2013.

The value of property stolen in 2013 totaled $481,966. The value of property recovered was $67,172.

The report does not compare the number of those crimes with the previous year, but the chief said the numbers were about the same in 2012.

He noted one major difference is no homicides occurred in Salisbury in 2013, compared to two murders in 2012.

There also were no arsons in Salisbury in 2013, according to the report.

The police department's 2013 budget was just over $1.7 million.

With 5,285 housing units in the township, the chief reported the per-housing-unit cost to run the police department was $346.69 in 2013.

The township covers 11.4 miles but is in two separate sections, called eastern Salisbury and western Salisbury. It stretches from the Lehigh River at Bethlehem southwest to Lower Macungie Township near Emmaus.

Stiles reported police department vehicles responded to nearly 7,000 calls and traveled a total of 196,067 miles last year. "Interstate 78 is our main street," he said.

The report shows the department made 2,038 traffic arrests and 210 non-traffic arrests. It also made 43 DUI arrests.

Those 2,038 traffic citations were a 133 percent increase over 872 citations issued in 2012.

The township is getting a $3,500 state grant that soon will be used to increase traffic enforcement on Susquehanna Street, E. Emmaus Avenue and Seidersville Road, said the police chief.

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