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Shober doesn’t disapprove of paving projects but would like to alter park-related projects process

May 9, 2017

Unanimity usually reigns when it’s time for the Washington County commissioners to vote on just about anything. On more than 30 agenda items last week, members of the board all voted yes, except to award a paving bid for the Panhandle Trail from Francis Mine to the West Virginia border and for the Washington County Fairgrounds, which lies within Shober’s home community, Chartiers Township.After the Thursday meeting, Shober assured constituents feeling either project is unworthy had nothing to do with his “no” vote. His issue, he explained, is the money for the paving projects - $526,802 for the trail and $74,525 for the fairgrounds to be done by Tresco Paving of Pittsburgh - will be provided from the part of the Natural Gas Act 13 impact fee designated for greenways. Voting in favor were Commission Chairman Larry Maggi and Commission Vice Chairman Diana Irey Vaughan.“The project’s great,” Shober said. “The bottom line is, I have other ideas about how I’d like to use the greenways money - local parks and recreation, local ballfields, sort of like we do local share. Other counties have done this.“The Local Share Account of revenue from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino had no guaranteed revenue stream for the county’s 67 municipalities with the advent of legalized gambling at a temporary slot-machine facility in 2007. The following January, road supervisors climbed down from their snowplows and arrived hat in hand to request money for projects like township salt sheds.Within a few years, the local share program evolved to include a per capita component for most of the municipalities in the county so townships, boroughs and cities could rely on income from gambling without the rigmarole of filling out an application and making a special trip to public hearings in Washington.Shober, president of County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, said, “Parks and recreation is usually the last thing people can come up with money for.“There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing with it. I’d like to see some other things happen. I heard from constituents they’d like to put bleachers at their baseball or softball fields. They’d do the labor.” Building rest rooms or installing roofs on open-air structures are other projects Shober has heard mentioned.“You’d have to put a procedure in place,” he said, to distribute greenways money.Chartiers Township built Arnold Park and opened a community center during Shober’s years as a Chartiers Township supervisor, an office he pursued to restore harmony to an often-contentious board.When it comes to choosing nay over yay, “That’s the second one in my 5 ½ years,” Shober said. “We work together. This is basically our job.”