By Peter Becker

Managing Editor

The community of Woodloch Springs in Lackawaxen Township was thanked for contributing over $80,000 to local emergency services over the past few years.

John Kerkowski, chairman of the Lackawaxen Township Commission, presented the certificate of appreciation at their monthly meeting Jan. 17th, to representatives from the Woodloch Springs Emergency Services Support Initiative (WSESSI).

The Woodloch Springs community established WSESSI about eight years ago to make it easier for residents to donate to all of the emergency service providers who have responded or may be called upon to respond to the community's fire, medical or rescue needs.

While there are over 400 homes in Woodloch Springs, they are not all occupied by permanent residents. The WSESSI members, however, reached out to every homeowner and not only asked them to contribute as part of a community effort, but to consider a monthly donation as part of their community fees.

Kerkowski said that Woodloch management graciously collects this money, gratis, and turns it over to WSESSI for distribution. One hundred percent of the money collected is distributed to the Township's emergency service providers and there are no administrative fees. As a result, WSESSI has been able to donate over $80,000 since its inception, with a community response rate of over 75 percent.

Representing WSESSI at the meeting were Art Sullivan, chairman; his wife Virginia Sullivan; John Zulch, Dick Quince and Ted Edgar.

Ambulance Corp joining

The Lackawaxen Twp. Fire Commission was formed in 2011 as a coalition of the four fire companies serving within the Township, Lackawaxen, Central, Forest and Greeley. In 2012, Greeley Fire Department left the Commission. Presently, the Commission is reorganizing, to also include the Lackawaxen Ambulance Company. Pending approval by the Township Supervisors, the organization will become known as the Lackawaxen Township Emergency Services Commission.

A resolution to establish the reorganized Commission was expected to be taken up for a vote by the Supervisors at their meeting on January 22.

Kerkowski said that the ambulance company is expected to share in the benefits of working together with the three remaining fire companies in the group. In February, agents from two insurance companies will make presentations to the Commission on joint policy proposals. Kerkowski estimated that collectively, the three member fire companies and the ambulance company should see $15,000 to $20,000 savings a year on insurance.

As agreed, Lackawaxen Ambulance Company will continue to do their own fund-raising appeal. The three fire companies will continue their joint fund-raising letter to Township property owners, splitting the proceeds equally.

He stated that 2012 was the first time they tried a joint letter. This included Greeley Fire Company, which was on board when the agreement was made. Two letters were sent, which brought in $12,000 for each of the four fire companies.

Kerkwoski stated that the representatives of the three remaining fire companies in the Commission agreed that by doing one letter, they saved a large amount of man hours. About 35 volunteers from the fire companies got together one evening at Central Fire House to prepare the pieces for mailing.

Previously, each of the companies sent their own letter, blanketing the same people in the whole township. Now, one letter was sent. Kerkwoski said that Lackawaxen Fire Department reported that their share was down from the amount they were used to collecting. Central's and Forest's collection were a lot closer to what they would have done on their own.

In 2013, Kerkowski noted that all of the proceeds from the letter will go to support the three fire companies. In 2012, each fire company contributed $1,000 "seed" money, for mailing expenses, which won't have to be paid in 2013.

A price on joint fuel purchases is also being investigated, which could benefit the three Commission fire companies and the ambulance company.

Although Greeley Fire Company is no longer a Commission member, the company continues to work together with the other three fire companies as they did before, Kerkowski noted.

The Commission assembles on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., at the Lackawaxen Township Municipal Building on Urban Road.