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Bald Eagle residents and Pyramid Healthcare still unresolved

Despite Pyramid Healthcare Inc. officials explaining the concept and motivation of the therapeutic group home being placed in the community of Bald Eagle, local residents still are making every effort to prevent the opening of Greentree Village.
Many of the concerns of Bald Eagle residents at the community meeting Wednesday evening, at the Bald Eagle Fire Hall, continued with the safety and security issue, along with whether or not the facility will provide drug and alcohol treatment, which residents’ highly oppose.
“This is not a drug and alcohol treatment program,” said Jonathan Wolf, chief executive officer at Pyramid. “We are willing to put that in writing.”
Wolf explained that the kids who are brought to Greentree Village are almost entirely from the Children and Youth system, and have been taken out of their homes for a variety of reasons. The youths that come from the Tyrone School District are kids that, for a number of reasons, are unable to function in the school district.
“There are some kids that need more than just an education,” added Wolf. “When we make a commitment that we’re going to focus on the people here in this community and that we’re not going to do anything that would tear down the community, we will live up to that.”
Frankly, the people of Bald Eagle don’t want to see Pyramid Healthcare open their doors in their community, no matter how safe and secure the program is. Resident Ed Schenck presented a petition signed by over 550 Bald Eagle residents, which offered further proof of the displeasure shared by the people within the community.
Along with resident concerns, there is more to the issue especially pertaining to the inspection of the building and a supposed on going sewage problem. Charlie Diehl, chairman of the Northern Blair County Regional Sewer Authority stated, “This facility will not pass inspection. There’s only one of those buildings (on the property) that’s hooked to the sewer line and there are septic tanks still in that area that were supposed to be removed.” Diehl continued, “The building that is hooked up is in violation because the sewer line that comes out of the building is above ground, and it’s suppose to be buried.”
Diehl added that Tom Templeton, owner of the property, knew about this violation last November and has yet to fix the problem. Diehl noted that there has been extensive repairs such as windows, siding and wiring done to the property by Templeton without permits from Snyder Township.
Jim Daughenbaugh, Snyder Township chairman, didn’t understand how Pyramid can move into the building and do all these renovations without any permits. “I can’t understand how the Department of Labor and Industry can give them permission to go ahead and use a building that has been closed down and not officially opened and do renovations.” Daughenbaugh added, “All this has to be inspected and I don’t recall anybody inspecting it.”
Pyramid’s Greentree Village could also be lacking water according to Oak Ridge Water Authority because the facility has a past bill that needs paid.
Pyramid chief operations officer, Jim Vernarsky, said that they have been in contact with Labor and Industry and the initial one house they have said is appropriate for Pyramid to operate out of on Monday. Vernarsky noted, “We follow the rules and if there’s something wrong with a septic line or sewage line, we’ll be more than happy to fix it. Before we use the other buildings, we will also add them to the septic line. If there’s something we need to do about them, we’ll do it.”
Jim Chronister, Snyder Township supervisors vice chairman, wants to put an ordinance in place at the September 3rd township meeting. Chronister noted, “They might be able to start what they are doing now, but there’s going to be an ordinance in place.”
State Representative Larry O. Sather R-Huntingdon attended the meeting as a moderator and took no sides on the issue. Sather added of his intent, “I want to make sure this community’s voice is heard.”
“My opinion is that it may be in the best interest of this firm (Pyramid) that they reconsider opening as quickly as they plan to do because of what I have heard tonight,” said Sather.
The Bald Eagle residents continue to stress that they do not want Pyramid Healthcare in their community. Resident John Snyder said, “Not that we are opposed of helping children in our community, we just want it somewhere else.”
Snyder continued, “Most of the people in this community are elderly. I’m talking about the people who helped build this community. Did Pyramid come and ask them how they felt about this?”
“Pyramid does what they want to do,” said Snyder. “They’ve done everything up to now by how they wanted to do it.”
On the other hand, Wolf pleaded that Pyramid is a valuable service, adding, “Nobody can guarantee the future, Unfortunately there’s more and more need for these kinds of services. Treatment is important and it has to be done right – and we’ll do it right.”