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Township trying to communicate better

Supervisors (inset) Bob Cocchi, left, and Mike Mancino are pictured addressing an audience of some 60 people who turned out last Thursday to talk about ways to better communications between residents and township government.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
February 5, 2014

LACKAWAXEN, PA — Bring cookies and let’s talk about our website, was the gist of a recent township email inviting residents to an informal January 30 town hall meeting.

Local governments historically have called residents to public hearings and special meetings about budgets, proposed ordinances and emergency issues, but newly seated Supervisor Mike Mancino had a new request. He called on folks to talk about how the township communicates with them and his email brought out some 60 local residents on a cold evening.

The cast looked much the same as a regular supervisors’ meeting, and solicitor Anthony Waldron explained at the outset that this was not a regular legal meeting and not the place to introduce any specific issues.

That said, Mancino said he hoped to better connect the township government with its residents and businesses. He said his feeling was that email and the township website was “the best way to create a constant conversation, for the sake of transparency and openness. What we do, at the end of the day, is represent you.”

Having asked them to attend, he introduced all the township employees, from the road crew members (who received applause) to the tax collector.

Using a projection screen, Mancino went through the menu of the website ( line by line. Noting that it has not been updated recently—Mancino’s name for example does not appear among the supervisors—he asked for suggestions about information that should appear.

The lack of information helps generate misinformation, said Chairman Bob Cocchi. “If you don’t see it, call here. This township is known as a great rumor mill,” he said.

Several people wanted more local road information.

One man noted that while alternate routes exist, when a tree blocks a main road in the Masthope community, many people don’t know about the alternates and feel trapped.

A woman, who said she was “GPS challenged,” wanted practical information about navigating the roads.

Others questioned why the website was not up to date and suggested that if the township’s part-time, part-volunteer webmaster can’t keep it updated, someone else should.

They talked about providing advertising on the site and if they do, who should pay and who should not need to pay.

“Facebook, email, a newsletter and the website are the four media we’re going to use. They cost a lot less to use and there’s no tax impact,” Mancino said.