Sunday, December 4, 2016

Carbon County arms some park rangers

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Carbon County PA Dec 4 2016 Carbon County commissioners will be allowing rangers at Mauch Chunk Lake Park to carry guns for their own protection starting next summer after numerous incidents with out-of-county visitors.
“We’re going to have rangers carrying weapons because of the nature of the incidents that are happening out there,” Commissioner William O’Gurek said. “The guests have more imposing resources. We’re going to get tough at that park. We’re taking our park back from the outsiders (who are) coming in and taking over that park.”
More people from out of the area are coming to the park, especially when nearby Beltzville State Park is closed, he said, and they have no respect for the park or the rangers, whose only protection has been Mace.
One of the rangers, a retired state police trooper, told commissioners he didn’t feel safe without a weapon.
“Safety is the bottom line. We know we have a problem out there. We know it’s time to act,” Commissioner Tom Gerhard said.
Among the issues are alcohol, drugs, domestic disputes and guests carrying weapons, Commissioner Chairman Wayne Nothstein said.
“We’re taking a good, firm stance. We will not tolerate any of the (misbehavior),” Nothstein said.
The park is currently patrolled by two rangers, but Nothstein would like to see four or more rangers at the park, possibly providing 24-hour coverage,
“It’s going to be expensive,” he said. “I think this is an expense well spent.”
The commissioners also adjusted rates for memberships, cabin and pavilion rentals, camping and boat mooring to keep up with the rising costs of salaries of employees at the park, Nothstein said. Some of the increases were aimed only at non-county residents.
“We can’t stop them from coming here, but we can charge them accordingly,” O’Gurek said. “If that discourages them ... I’m OK with that.”
The increased safety at the park justifies the rate increase, Gerhard said.

“You can’t put a price on someone’s life,” he said.
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