THE MAYOR'S REPORT: Check your smoke detectors right now

Ben Thomas Jr., Greencastle mayor

Friday night, a good friend asked me when the “porch side chats” would begin? Soon, my friends. Tina and I can’t wait to do some side porch sittin'! This Sunday afternoon, the rainfall is continuous with a fortunate 43-degree temperature. so this is a fireside chat from the family room.

Monday is (was) the first day of “meteorological spring” while “astronomical spring” joins us March 20. We change our clocks the morning of March 14. Greencastle’s public works personnel will climb the town clock tower and the many trap doors and narrow steps to change the clock late Saturday night, March 13. What an experience that I enjoyed doing over many years in the past. The view from up there is beautiful.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

OK. I have a huge favor to ask of you. Tragedy struck last week in neighboring Hagerstown, with the fire related death of three individuals, two reportedly were children. Here’s my request for you to complete right now. Put the paper down or step away from the computer or smart phone and go test your smoke detectors … again, right now. I’ll go test mine now and then wait on you.

Welcome back! Did they all test OK? Do they need new batteries? Mine tested fine on all three home levels (or divisions as it’s called in the fire service). Your system may be a combination electric (AC) and battery backup. If they need maintenance, please do so. Ionization smoke detectors first came on the market in 1972. Heat detectors had been around for nearly 100 years. By the mid-1970s the Rescue Hose Company Public Relations Task Force was very pro-active in getting smoke detectors in Greencastle-Antrim homes. They must be maintained with fresh batteries and tested often.

Though we commemorate fire prevention one week in October, practice fire prevention in your homes weekly. In my nearly 50 years serving in emergency services I have, unfortunately, witnessed my share of tragedies similar to what was experienced in Hagerstown last week. I just received my monthly copy of ‘The Pennsylvania Fireman” publication. In 2020 Pennsylvania had the highest number of civilian residential fire deaths (128) than any other state in the nation. Thank you for testing your smoke detectors. Two of the most common causes that I’ve observed resulting serious dwelling fires are (1) overloaded electrical outlets and (2) careless smoking. 

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So, my main intent was to write about the opioid crisis in this nation. Overdoses and deaths have dramatically increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Centers for Disease Control, this “other epidemic” highlights the need for essential services for citizens most at risk. I personally believe it is so important for people to be able to go to work, stay busy and affirm faith-based support. I do not believe in locking everyone up unless they are distributing and selling this poison that not only affects the user, but their families and friends. Look no further than the tragic death of 3-year-old Logan Starliper who died in January 2018 at a dwelling on West Baltimore Street at the hands of many irresponsible (alleged) criminals. You, the taxpayers, pay for these dysfunctional life styles. Yes Logan ... we remember you. Common calls for our local ambulances and paramedic units (EMS and ALS) are “overdoses” and “mental distress” patients. Please, oh, please seek help with your challenges. Kay Martin is with Keystone Mental Health and is assigned to work with the Greencastle Police Department. Please call 717-709-7930 for help.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter this week from Randall Schultz of Hagerstown. His Mother’s family grew up downtown that included Belle’s Dry Goods that, if you’re of a certain age, may recall being a local business. n 1965 Belle’s Dry Goods was located in the first block of South Carlisle Street beside Barkdoll’s Quality Market (before the alley). During Old Home Week 2001 (yes 2001) I interviewed his Mom, Margaret Schultz and Ollie Smith, entitled “growing up in the Square.” Thanks to the Allison-Antrim Museum he has video copies of that interview and shares it with the next generations of his family. He ended his letter by writing “Thank-you for keeping Greencastle the unique and special community it is.”

I impart those words to you as you deserve that very special thank you for serving and supporting G-A. We are one special community.

I’ll have lots more to write about in the future. I so appreciate the Echo Pilot allowing me to communicate with you in their print publication, website, and Facebook. Support your family, friends, neighbors, and our local businesses. Remember … we are blessed.