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Exeter supervisors and residents air their thoughts about the township’s past and future

The Exeter Township supervisors convened a special meeting Monday to discuss goals and priorities in the township.

More than 30 people attended the meeting, which was at times contentious, and they proposed some new ideas.

During public comment Carol Laibe of East 34th Street told the board there was no need to badmouth former management and officials, but asked instead to focus on the positive and the future.

“I would like if we could say the words ‘Reading Country Club’ without hostility,” Laibe said.

The township-owned facility has been a lightning rod before and after an unauthorized wedding was held there last year.

Supervisors recently scuttled a former board’s plan to construct a township facility on the site of the former Exeter Promenade shopping center in the 3600 block of Perkiomen Avenue, and called the idea poorly thought out.

One at a time on Monday night, the supervisors went over their goals and priorities.

Supervisor George Bell listed the Reading Country Club and hiring a township manager as critically important.

“We need as wide of a funnel as we can get with candidates,” Bell said. “We need to invest the time. And the same with the Reading Country Club to get the right vendors.”

Bell also brought up a new idea, which he said he had discussed with Supervisor David Hughes.

The idea includes using the former district judge’s office at 10 Fairlane Road, opposite the township building at 4975 DeMoss Road, for township administration and possibly as a site for ambulances, giving more room for the police department in the township building.

The 2,000-square-foot building housed DJ offices and the tax collector. They moved in December to a location farther east on Perkiomen Avenue next to Walmart.

Bell said the building is not move-in ready but viable for conversation. It wasn’t clear who owns the building.

Bell said it was also prudent to facilitate website improvements to include driving business roundtable discussions to entice new business.

Supervisor Dianna Reeser agreed with Bell’s priorities.

According to Reeser, moving township ambulances to 10 Fairlane would help prevent the township from falling into debt.

Reeser also suggested a new meeting space for the township board with a better audio system to engage residents.

The long list

Hughes said he disagreed with some of what had been by residents and board members, but did agree with some.

“This is a toxic environment (for a township manager). There are no job descriptions and no policies,” Hughes said.

Hughes suggested contracting with a human resources firm to help find a township manager and to find a Reading Country Club contractor to run the business.

Recently Hughes voted against rehiring Morningstar LLC to operate the club. A previous board had hired Morningstar, but the current board gave the firm the boot.

He also suggested coming up with a master plan for the golf course and club, encompassing all repairs and needed improvements.

Hughes also suggested a forensic audit of all past financial documents, and to hold those accountable who are no longer on the board.

He also accused former township officials of mismanaging township business.

Also, Hughes recommended reverting to the old township logo, citing the fact that police uniforms and township vehicles still had the old logo due to costs of changing them.

He also suggested creating a trust and depositing $20 million of sewer fund money to subsidize future taxes and improvements.

Hughes, who monopolized most of the comment time, also suggested three supervisor meetings per month.

In addition, he suggested hiring The Devil’s Advocate Legal Fee Management & Litigation Consulting, Great Falls, Va., to audit, for free, legal billing and to receive money back for questionable past bills.

More priorities

Supervisor Michelle Kircher said she would like to see a new meeting space with a new audio-visual system, and a new township manager who lives in the township or will move to the township.

Kircher also suggested forming a historical society to boost the Daniel Boone Homestead, among other sites, and hiring friendly staff who will get along with personnel and the board.

Supervisor Carl Staples said his priorities are taking care of the fire department and police department and growing commercial business. But he worried that businesses might be reluctant to come to Exeter due to negativity at township meetings, which are broadcasted on YouTube.

Staples suggested bringing young people into the mix for future generations of leadership.

“Maybe we should get the next generation involved, stop creating a toxic environment and then move forward with a conservative mind for spending,” Staples said.

During the last public comment session, Ronald Floyd of Eagle Drive scolded Hughes.

“You don’t become a successful change agent by running a bully pulpit. … We should be forward focused, not through castigation and indictment,” he said. “We want to be represented, not embarrassed.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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