SUMMIT TOWNSHIP — Harry McGrath won’t have to get up at 2 a.m. every day this winter to check the weather conditions and see if Summit Township’s roads may need to be plowed.
McGrath resigned this week after serving as a township supervisor for 36-plus years.
Citing personal reasons, McGrath submitted his resignation at the regular supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday.
One of his duties for many years was township road master, which means he was responsible for making sure the roads were cleared of snow in the winter and also maintained during the summer.
Following his resignation, supervisors named Dennis Agnew and Jerry Smith as co-road masters.
Applications are now being accepted for the township supervisor position. McGrath still had four more years of his six-year term remaining. Whomever is appointed would serve the remaining four years of the unexpired term.
McGrath, 72, said it was just time to resign and “hopefully relax.” McGrath is not sure who will replace him, but he said when Joel Stone, another supervisor, resigned six months ago, several people were interested in the position.
A lot of people don’t realize what the job entails and that supervisors are working with taxpayers’ money, McGrath said. He emphasized the need to respect the residents of the township, saying if you treat people with respect, you’ll get respect.
McGrath said things haven’t changed much in his 36 years as supervisor, but there has been some increase in the tax base.
He is hopeful township residents believe he accomplished as much as possible with the money available.
One change he did experience during his time as supervisor was the increase in state mandates for various work — with all the funding needed.
McGrath said the proposed plan for major improvements at Gibson Park is moving forward and will include walking trails, which are very popular.
One big issue which still must be addressed is the need for a municipal building, which must be done with limited funds. He said the current building is pretty antiquated, but funding issues are the major hurdle in that project.
McGrath said taxpayers have “reached their limits” regarding what can be taken out of their paychecks.
Regarding the issue of foreclosing on Conneaut Lake Park for unpaid back taxes, McGrath said he doesn’t want to see the park closed and “no one wants to be the bad guy” and file to have the park sold at a sheriff’s sale. But he said Conneaut Lake Park is no different than others — it has to pay its taxes.
“We’ve got to collect the taxes,” he said.
One of the biggest changes in the past 36 years has been the increase in permits which must be obtained from the state before any work is done.
“You don’t put a shovel in the ground (to do any work) without calling someone,” McGrath said.
The township has many underground fiber optic cables which if struck accidentally could cause major problems and cost millions of dollars to fix, McGrath said.
McGrath was on voluntary leave from the paid road master position when he resigned as supervisor.
The township had five men work on the roads, including McGrath, when he took the layoff because of finances, he said.
McGrath said the township residents were very supportive of him during his time as supervisor and road master and believes he had a good relationship with the residents.
He said the people were fantastic to work for and if there were complaints, they were usually about road conditions. He said no one wants to live on dirt roads and some people wanted more of the 42 miles of township roads to be paved, but it wasn’t able to be done because of finances.
All in all, McGrath’s career was supervisor and road master has been “fantastic,” he said.
“It (the job) can be very time consuming if everything that needs done is done,” he added.
McGrath plans to spend more time enjoying his hobbies of hunting and woodworking and spending more time with his family, which includes his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
You can help
Those interested in filling the Summit Township supervisor position vacated by Harry McGrath must submit their letter of interest and resume by Oct. 20 to Township Secretary Cindy McCoy, P.O. Box 231, Harmonsburg, Pa. 16422. As a township official, a supervisor must be a resident and elector in Summit Township. More information: Call 382-8208.