Greencastle Borough Manager Lorraine Hohl resigns

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot
Lorraine Hohl will leave her post as Greencastle's borough manager later this month.

The resignation of Lorraine Hohl, borough manager, was accepted by Greencastle Borough Council members at Monday evening's meeting.

Several council members jokingly voted "no" before accepting, with regret, her resignation effective Oct. 22.

"I have some personal health reasons that require my resignation to get better. My husband, Josh, and I decided it was best for me to resign from the borough," Hohl said. She has worked for the borough since June 2017 and became borough manager a year ago.

Hohl recapped highlights of her time with the borough and offered messages — positive, challenging and critical — to borough council, staff and the community in a statement she read at the meeting.

The position is being advertised, some applications have been received and the goal is to fill the vacancy as soon as possible, Steve Miller, council president, said after the meeting.

However, Miller added, council wants to get the most well-qualified person for the job and "will be going down the road the best we can" in the interim.

"Council members have offered their services. We're so short-staffed we can't encumber them ... We're figuring it out," Miller said. In addition to Hohl's upcoming departure, the billing clerk position is currently vacant.

Qualifications for borough manager outlined in the ad for the post include graduating from a four-year college or university with a degree in public management, public administration or a related field with a minimum of five years of progressively responsible experience or a combination of education and at least eight years of municipal experience.

The borough manager oversees day-to-day operations of the borough; 13 full-time and three part-time employees; the administration, HR and finance, public works, wastewater and water departments; and combined budgets of $5 million. The salary range is advertised as $60,000 to $80,000.

Lorraine Hohl was instrumental in starting the Greencastle Farmers Market in 2019. It was canceled this year due to COVID-19 and Hohl hopes her successor will be able to revive it.

Serving her hometown

Hohl got her first taste of local government as the Greencastle-Antrim High School student representative to the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors. After graduating from G-AHS in 2013, she went on to major in history and minor in political science at Eastern Mennonite University.

It wasn't necessarily her goal to work in municipal government right out of the gate, but shortly after she graduated from Eastern Mennonite in 2017 she was hired as Greencastle's finance and human resources manager. She became assistant borough manager early in 2019 and borough manager in October 2019, following the resignation of Eden Ratliff.

She's liked the diversity of leading her hometown, all the different hats she got to wear and what's she's learned in her various roles, Hohl said in an interview with the Echo Pilot.

A highlight was researching, advocating for and obtaining a five-year waiver from costly MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) mandates from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

In the interview, she also spotlighted her involvement in hiring staff members Donna Irons-Zimmerman, administrative secretary; Bob Manahan Jr., public works manager; Emilee Little, finance/HR manager; and Michael Lehman, public works employee.

Hohl said the staff is "beneficial entire community. We operate extremely efficiently with a lot on our plates. Residents and businesses are getting the most bang for their buck with current staff."

A farmers market in Greencastle was a long-time dream for Hohl, who got the Greencastle Farmers Market up and running in 2019. With fresh produce, baked goods, homemade merchandise, food, beer and wine vendors, it was held on the parking lot of The Life Center on North Carlisle Street one Thursday evening a month in the spring, summer and fall.

"I absolutely loved it. People didn't just walk through and leave, it was really a community event," Hohl said, noting people mingled with neighbors and supported their neighbors in agriculture.

The farmers market was canceled this year to COVID-19, but Hohl hopes the next borough manager will revitalize it.

Although she is small in stature, Hohl's successor will have big shoes to fill, Miller said at the meeting.

Her departure will create a huge void in the borough, Councilman Larry Faight said, adding, "You gave me more initiative to be a council member."

Councilman Joel Amsley, who retired as senior vice president after 30 years at Jerr-Dan, called Hohl "one of the best employees I've ever seen."

Amsley added that some members of council made her job difficult with constant badgering and questions.

"If we don't stop, the next person won't be here long," Amsley cautioned.

Hohl's statement

To the Council, Mayor and community, I am formally submitting to you my resignation as your Borough Manager effective October 22. This decision has not come easily as my husband and I have made the decision together in the best interest our family needs. I am grateful to be raised, taught, live and work within a town that emphasizes the importance of family above all else. While this decision has been challenging and not one that I easily came to grips with, I appreciate your understanding and grace.

In parting, I would like to leave with these words.

To the Borough Council — Take a moment to relish with me that together we made our case to the DEP and received an MS4 waiver — this is something that many deemed impossible especially outside the waiver period. Next, we mustered managing through a pandemic, making decisions to keep our public and staff safe along with our first ever Borough virtual meeting. More recently and as publicly requested, we reduced the stormwater fee substantially and have returned thousands of dollars back to our community members — something the government doesn’t often do and within months to boot. All while administering and creating effective programs of service for our community. I am elated to have accomplished these items and so much more alongside you.

To the Community — I respect your presence, your desire and compassion to the Borough of Greencastle and its government. I encourage you to do your research and pose well-informed and well-rounded questions in the interest of moving the Borough forward. Coretta Scott King once said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Use your compassion to positively influence your town, not destroy it. Show up — be present —be active.

To the Staff — The last year has been challenging as we continued to operate short-staffed and have been directed to complete many tasks, yet I am extremely proud of you. You have provided a level of service to this community that is immeasurable. You are effective, knowledgable, hardworking, respectful and a joy to be around each and every day. You all are the reason that this decision has been emotionally taxing as I consider you my family. My challenge to you is to continue to do what is right in the midst of adversity — continue to respect one another, laugh with one another and support each other.

To conclude, a local and well-admired reporter recently asked me "What have you learned from the Borough?" and I owe an answer. The generic and most obvious answers would be, well I’ve learned to manage various personalities to accomplish a greater goal, I’ve learned to think quickly and analyze policy — asking critical questions to create a quality product. I’ve learned more about wastewater processes than I ever thought I would. And while all of these are true, there is more to the story — the Borough has taught me that many walls are still built up around Greencastle and those walls continue to interweave into decision-making, how we treat others and the perception we have of them whether that be because we have normalized our built up walls or because we fail to tear them down. I have learned that when we begin to tear down walls or we begin to focus on forward progress rather than history, opposition strikes. In ways, while history provides context, it has also held Greencastle back from progressing forward. To endure the opposition, you must have stamina and grit and the willingness to think more openly.

So, I thank you Greencastle Borough Council, Mayor and community for providing me with the opportunity to crack a few walls, strive to move the Borough forward and serve you to the best of my ability.