Teen Questions Board's Actions

Posted: May 12, 1986

A Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School senior who was satisfyng a graduation requirement by attending the monthly meeting of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors recently added spice to the usually smooth proceedings.

During the Thursday night meeting, the supervisors adopted minor resolutions, heard committee reports and set dates for public hearings. When the agenda is not controversial, business and housekeeping items normally move swiftly.

At Thursday's meeting, however, Plymouth resident Michelle Noble, 17, questioned township officials about many of the routine discussions that took place.

When raising her hand shyly for the third time, Noble was instructed to identify herself each time for township records. "It's Michelle again," she said.

She questioned police Chief Richard A. Zolko about the frequency of juvenile drunken-driving incidents, asked finance officer John Donnelly how real estate taxes collected from township residents were spent, and asked township manager Lawrence J. Gregan "who is in charge of construction on the Blue Route" and when it would be completed.

Patiently, board members responded to her queries. The officials explained that no statistics were available on the yearly increase of juvenile drunken- driving offenses, that real estate taxes were paid to the township and county, and that PennDOT was expected to complete Blue Route construction in one or two years.

After leaving the meeting, Noble said she was not satisfied with the answers she received. The information she most wanted concerned teenage drinking. She said the issue was important because many students might be drinking during their proms and graduations.

"I want to be a private investigator and work with the police force," Noble said outside the meeting room. "I am concerned about drunken driving."

Noble, who plans to study law enforcement in college next year, must attend two township meetings to pass a voters' preparation class at Plymouth- Whitemarsh. She chose Whitemarsh as opposed to her home township of Plymouth because Thursday's meeting "was the first one I heard about."

Although her grade in the course does not require participation in the meetings, Noble said she was prompted by curiosity to ask questions.

"It was interesting," she said. "A lot of my questions weren't answered, but. . . ."

Gregan said Friday that Noble was "inquisitive" and that her questions were good ones. He also said her participation afforded board members the opportunity to further the topics discussed.

"I thought it was rather enjoyable to have somebody getting up to ask certain questions," Gregan said.

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