The Jay Township Supervisors meeting was filled to capacity Thursday evening as residents gathered to voice their thoughts and opinions about ATV use within the township.
Lengthy discussion at the meeting was in response to Spring Run Road resident Mary Culver's statement at last month's supervisors meeting in which she stated the township should revoke its ordinance permitting ATV use on a portion of its roads. She brought up the issue following the deaths of two 16-year-olds, Steven Glatt of St. Marys and Allen Gursky of Weedville, who were recently killed in an ATV accident in the township.
On Thursday evening, Culver was the first visitor to speak and clarified that she is pushing more for safety and awareness.
"We need to try to understand what we can do to make this sport safer, to make our streets safer and to make sure this type of accident doesn't happen again," Culver said. "At the end of last month's meeting, we had more questions than solutions."
Culver said following last month's meeting, she had people approach her who were both very supportive and very angry about ATV use in the township. Just over 500 area residents signed a petition requesting the removal of signs permitting ATV use on township roads.
"The intention is also to educate ourselves and others," Culver said. "ATVers want to do this right and are committed to doing so legally; that's going to control 90 percent of these accidents. That was my mission. We need to protect and preserve our sport by practicing and preaching safety for people both inside and outside the sport."
According to Culver, Pennsylvania State Police troopers informed her the only way they can enforce the roads is if the ATV use signs are removed.
There were no representatives from any law enforcement, including the Pa. State Police or personnel from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), in attendance at the meeting.
A majority of those in attendance agreed that taking the signs down will not solve the problem of reckless ATV riders and that parents need to be held responsible for their children's activities while using ATVs.
The standing-room-only crowd included ATV riders and enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels, many of whom said they have been riding on the township roads for several years without incident.
William Culver Jr. read a letter which he submitted to the DuBois Courier Express in which he emphasized the need for positive parental supervision on the issue. He added that as a former California police officer for 15 years, he was frequently called out to "save people from themselves," citing some people's disregard for safety for both themselves and others.
Culver added that he has witnessed one of his neighbors driving his ATV with one hand and holding his six-month-old daughter on board with his other hand, and that neither father or daughter was wearing a helmet.
Another resident added that he has seen one rider driving around his five-year-old daughter in the same manner.
Jack Douglas, a Mt. Zion Road resident, stated a major problem is speeding. Douglas said he has witnessed on numerous occasions ATVs speeding past his home in excess of speeds of 45 to 50 miles per hour.
"Parents should be more involved. The kids are running wild and rampant at all hours," Douglas said.
Helen DeCarli said the township needs to pick their battles and focus on more important issues, including Marcellus Shale companies tearing up local roadways.
"If you ask some of these young riders to slow down, they will," DeCarli said. "We have always had ATV riders in Jay Township. The parents are the problem."
One woman stated that riders need to apply some common sense, as ATV activity on local roads is not going to change whether the signs are taken down or not. She asked why the rest of the riders should have to suffer for the mistakes of a few.