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In Upper Mount Bethel, the ‘show’ goes on

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 28 2014 05:16:14 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 09:15:19 AM CDT
UPPER MOUNT BETHEL TWP., Pa. -

Upper Mount Bethel Township supervisors on Monday could not get beyond the first step in a compromise plan that some said would stop landowner Ron Angle from spreading sludge on farmlands, an issue that has embroiled the township for months.

As a result of the latest impasse, Angle said he will begin spreading sludge “as soon as they can fit me in the (trucking) schedule.”

Angle, who owns substantial tracts of land and rents to farmers, has state permits allowing him to spread sludge on his property, a possibility that has energized a small but impassioned group of township residents, both for and against the idea.

The proposal, supported by Angle and many others at Monday’s meeting, was modified several times. But even in its stripped down version calling for the formation of a committee to study cover crops, it failed to pass.

Diane Zimmerer was outraged when the idea of supporting the formation of a committee was voted down.

“Step up or step down,” Zimmerer shouted at the supervisors. “We’re asking for your resignations.”

Zimmerer said she was referring to supervisors Larry Hallet, Dennis Jones and David Due.

Supporters of the plan, presented by the Farmers Heal the Land Project, said it would cost the township only $12,500 to support the cover crop plan, though at a previous meeting a $100,000 figure was cited for a two-year proposal.

Supervisor Jerry Geak said money or lack of money was not blocking the plan.

“If the money fell out of the sky, they wouldn’t vote for it,” Geak said, after the meeting.

Outside the meeting hall, Angle, wearing his trademark red, white and blue suspenders, said the board of supervisors “has brain damage.”

“This is mind boggling,” Angle said. “They won’t even take baby steps.”

Angle said he will not be spreading sludge in the new few days because rain is forecast. Angle has promised several times this season that he would soon begin spreading sludge.

“I think this is a circus for one man,” Jones said, referring to Angle. “He wants the show to go on.”