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The Mayor's Report by Ben Thomas Jr.

Ben Thomas Jr.
For the Echo Pilot
Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So I typically author these reports on Sunday afternoons. It’s another beautiful weekend and this afternoon I’m finishing my morning coffee. I just came in from the side porch where it’s a little cool and windy so I’ll just sit at my little antique desk and join you. Feel free to have something hot or cold to drink with me.

Army veteran Jeff Cordell of Greencastle received the Vietnam Service Pin from fellow Vietnam veterans Randy Heckman and Bruce Wesley at American Legion Post 373's 'Vietnam War 50th Commemoration Program.'

Last Sunday, Oct. 11, I was honored to attend the Frank L. Carbaugh Post 373 “Vietnam War 50th Commemoration Program” at their picnic grounds. The original program, scheduled for this past March, had been postponed due to COVID. Some two dozen local veterans received Vietnam Service Pins at this special ceremony. I know there are many area veterans that served between 1955 and 1975. At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the first name to appear is Richard B. Fitzgibbon of Massachusetts who was killed on June 8, 1956. His son, Lance Corp. Richard Fitzgibbon III, died in Vietnam Sept. 7, 1965. There are seven names on the Greencastle-Antrim area memorial at borough hall that paid the ultimate sacrifice. They are Joseph Beck Jr.; Robert Bowman; Thomas Cook; Kenneth Hornbaker; Randy Kendle; Donald Toth; and Omar Witmer Jr.

The guest speaker at the commemoration was Lt. Col. (Chaplain) Kevin Wainright of the Army War College in Carlisle. Lt. Col. Wainright has served for 30 years in the United States Army, having graduated from West Point Military Academy. What a powerful message he imparted to the veterans and guests present. He advised that after serving multiple deployments, upon returning to a U.S. airport, the troops would receive a standing round of applause from civilians! That didn’t happen with our returning Vietnam veterans. To all the men and women who served, I humbly thank you.

Greencastle Police Officer Jim Bradley and Washington Township Officer Terry DeWitt show fishing skills to children.

That Saturday, Oct. 10, I attended the “Fish with a Cop” event at the Greencastle Sportsman’s Association lake. What an exciting program seeing area police officers bonding with boys and girls teaching them how to fish. Also a great big thank you to the sportsman’s association members who helped out and to the businesses that donated a wonderful lunch to the children and helpers. A special thanks to GPD Officer Jim Bradley and his family and others who organized the event. Officer Bradley has been a Greencastle police officer for many years and was formerly a school resource officer for Chambersburg PD and the Chambersburg Area School District.

So have you registered for the 2020 Census? The Franklin County census seems to be going well according to the Pennsylvania State Data Center. The deadline is just days away at the end of October. Accurate data helps older citizens and low-income populations; municipalities like Greencastle and Antrim; college students; and young children with education, and nutrition programs which I believe are very important. To register, go to 2020census.gov. It takes less than 10 minutes to answer a few questions.

At the council meeting of Oct. 5, I planted a couple of community initiative seeds. A special thanks to council members for approving my suggestion to add the month of November for free parking downtown to support our small businesses. Council will also review replacing the Center Square light posts which were donated in 1988 with a project by the Borough and the G-A Chamber of Commerce. That year I worked with Franklin County Vo-Tech School faculty and students (now Career and Technology Center) who designed the corner flower and shrubbery islands. If memory serves me correctly, Ron and Randy Eberly formed and poured the curbed islands. For many years, local business owners and employees would plant and care for the seasonal flowers planted in these islands.

More:CENTER SQUARE DAMAGED

More:THE MAYOR'S SPECIAL REPORT

Writing about downtown, council approved the repair of the “rotary traffic island” damaged recently by a hit-and-run tractor-trailer operator. That driver was found with appropriate citations filed. Thanks GPD for your immediate professional investigation. The insurance company will reimburse Greencastle for the $7,000 damage. Ralph Tolbert Masonry of St. Thomas will soon make the repairs. 

The wonderful Greencastle Public Works leaf collection program is in full swing. The borough has four quadrants where leaves placed along the curb are removed weekly. Quadrants are separated by Baltimore and Washington streets. Check out Greencastle’s web-site for quadrant pickup days or call the borough office.  

When I began authoring these articles in The Echo Pilot, I would occasionally write about Pa. Vehicle Code laws. It’s the old police officer in me as I believe public education is a part of my continued service. Pennsylvania has a move over for emergency responders and roadway workers law. Each day, police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, fire police, towing service operators and other responders on Pa. roadways respond to assist others. These emergency responders face danger while working at emergency scenes. The law requires you “move over” or slow down if unable to do so when approaching and passing stopped emergency or service vehicles and personnel. Please do so! During my career I stood beside a trooper who was struck by a passing car during an emergency incident. He suffered a femur fracture and was off work for many months. Fortunately, Trooper Smith was able to return to work and ultimately retire. “Smitty” was a Vietnam veteran. 

Goodness ... there’s so much more I could write about, however, that will have to wait for another Echo Pilot edition. Stay tuned for how this “single source trash system” would work if ultimately passed by council. Would you like to possibly save money and be provided with more services? Also, what’s happening at the Chesapeake Bay that effects we Pennsylvanians? Again, stay tuned.

It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as a public servant, your mayor. Thanks for your on-the-street comments. We are blessed.