Outdoor annual meeting replaces G-A Chamber banquet due to COVID-19

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet was replaced this year with a casual outdoor annual meeting in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines.

Chamber members gathered Thursday evening in a pavilion at Antrim Township Community Park to socialize and hear remarks from Mike Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp.; Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.; and state Rep. Paul Schemel.

Michael Gratton, a member of the Kauffman Scouts BSA Troop 413, led the Pledge of Allegiance and was on hand to talk with chamber members about his proposed Eagle Scout project. The son of Mike and April Gratton and an eighth-grader at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, he has been involved in Scouting for eight years. For his Eagle Scout project, Michael hopes to build a veterans memorial at the Ruritan park in Kauffman.

Scout Michael Gratton, shown with Valerie Meyers, led the Pledge of Allegiance

Valerie Meyers, interim executive director of the chamber, told members how much she admires them for how hard they work in their businesses and their commitment to the Greencastle-Antrim community.

Ross called 2020 "a year to forget" and looked ahead to all the growth and development that is in the works and will bring significant employment "up and down the I-81 corridor."

"Antrim Township is a magnet for development," Ross said, noting well over 2,000 jobs on the horizon around Exit 3 of Interstate 81.

"You are the hot spot in Franklin County," he said, noting the challenge is to manage growth and development and maintain the area's quality of life. "Our goal is not to pave Franklin County."

Chad and Tricia Murray with daughters Rachel and Grace

The meeting fell during National Small Business Week and Thomas talked about the small businesses in the community, many represented in the pavilion.

"We are so blessed during the challenges of 2020 for these businesses to continue," the mayor said.

It is important to support small businesses because "every dollar you spend is going to circulate many times in the community," Thomas said, adding, "I'm preaching to the choir."

1st Ed Credit Union sponsored the annual meeting. From left: Amy Bortner, Kelly Daugherty, Sara Hollinshead, Danae Diller, Amanda Dickson

Schemel provided a few updates on what's happening in the state, including changes regarding COVID-19.

"It's a daily game to keep up," Schemel said. He talked about the federal court striking down the limits on gatherings and the appeal by Gov. Tom Wolf.

"It's in limbo," Schemel said. "Does it apply? Doesn't it? The rules change all the time."

He is very concerned about the impact of regulations on restaurants and other businesses, as well as funds being spent during the pandemic.

"We are part of the commonwealth," Schemel said. "At some point we're going to pay for some of the things we are doing."

He also addressed election safety, explaining the measures in place concerning mail-in ballots.

"Mail-in voting's gotten a bad rap," Schemel said. "The Pennsylvania system is secure."