THE MAYOR'S REPORT: Women's History Month, agriculture, MS4 and a family loss

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

Goodness, gracious, it’s cold outside! So it’s late Sunday afternoon and March Madness (collegiate basketball) is in full swing. With a temperature at 34 degrees and winds at 19 mph there’s no side or front porch sittin’ today. Tina and I and other family members ventured to Bedford County yesterday and saw lots of snow flurries. More on that trip in just a few minutes. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me. The porch sittin’ is just around the corner. Think about planting a victory garden!

Good things to eat:Farm Market and Food Truck Friday will be held in Greencastle monthly June to October

Good things to drink:Craft Beer and Wine Festival will be back in Greencastle after COVID-19 absence

March is Women’s History Month (WHM). I was looking forward to writing about Women’s History Month, however, respectfully, where does one begin? I want you to help me with this writing because there are so many influential women who have touched my life in so many ways. I decided not to actually name names as I would go on and on so, I think you’ll understand. WHM had its origins in 1981 when Congress authorized and requested President Ronald Reagan to proclaim a week as Women’s History Week in 1982. Congress designated March as WHM in March 1987.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

My first thought honors my mother, grandmother and aunts who nurtured and taught many children (siblings and cousins) in the family. Dozens of cousins. Women have led and continue to lead the Greencastle community in churches, civic organizations, business, industry, education, public service, volunteerism, and government at the local, county and commonwealth levels. The war effort of WWII was so important in protecting our freedoms by working at Fairchild, Camp Ritchie, Landis, Frick, Letterkenny, the factories and canning operations right here in Greencastle and providing medical and logistics support around the world. So who are the women in your lives? Go to them this week and thank each one for what they do.

Women were important in the fight for freedom during World War II, working at Fairchild, Camp Ritchie, Landis, Frick, Letterkenny and the factories and canning operations in Greencastle.

March 22 was National Ag Day. Agriculture produces and supports our important food supply and sustains our economy. Franklin County boosts nearly 250,000 acres of farm land. Preservation of prime agricultural land is extremely important as more and more of this natural resource is covered by other uses. Pennsylvania has an agricultural easement purchase program that partners with counties and sometimes local governments to fund agricultural preservation. Several farms in Franklin County have been preserved since the program’s inception in 1988. Applications for ag preservation are available through the Franklin County Planning Department.

So what’s the latest regarding MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) mandates that are unfunded? Greencastle received our waiver letter from the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection dated May 12, 2020, for a five-year period thru May, 2025. The March 2022 edition of the Chesapeake Bay Journal’s FORUM states that Pennsylvania remains far off track for a pollution reduction date of 2025. Unlike Maryland and Virginia, Pennsylvania does not have a dedicated cost-share program to provide technical and financial assistance to farmers wanting to implement conservation practices. I personally believe Pennsylvania’s nitrogen reduction success can occur with agricultural best practices funding from the commonwealth and the federal government. Greencastle will be pro-active in the next three years in planning for  another five-year waiver from MS4 requirements. Our little 1.6-square-mile area pales in comparison to what can be accomplished with county and regional best management practices partnerships.

Uncle Fred Thomas

So the Thomas family ventured to Bedford County for Uncle Fred Thomas’ memorial service. After 98 years and three months, Uncle Fred’s journey continued. It was an honor to write about Uncle Fred last November 2021 after Veteran’s Day and honor the veterans who have served this great nation. Thank you Uncle Fred for your service, and for teaching your family the importance of our freedom … 'til we meet again.

So how did your house number or street name come about?  Do you remember the rural routes and box numbers. What are road segments and offsets? I enjoy writing about planning. Stay tuned in two weeks and you can read all about it.

Happy spring to all! We are so, so blessed.