THE MAYOR’S REPORT: Rescue Hose Company awards and the PA Farm Show

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

It’s a chilly, damp Sunday afternoon in Greencastle as the rains have begun to fall with a temperature of 35 degrees. Feels awfully good in the warm family room as the fireplace makes sure the chill in the air is suppressed. Grab a cup of coffee or some hot tea and join me for a few minutes as I journey around town and the surrounding area.

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Last night (Saturday, Jan. 21) I attended the Rescue Hose Company’s 43rd annual banquet at Green Grove Gardens. I guess that’s accurate as no banquet was held over the past two years due to COVID restrictions. I’ll honor our evening together, then I’ll write about agriculture as the Pennsylvania Farm Show has another year in the books.

Let me do the math … 43 plus two years would take us back to 1978 for the first Rescue Hose Company awards banquet.

Banquets were actually held before that if you were a member of the ambulance squad. Those gatherings were held at the former Potter’s Restaurant on South Carlisle Street, then at the VFW Post. Fire department banquets would be held at the “new” American Legion, then the Special Events Center, in the engine room of the fire station and then at other locations.

Award recipients at the Rescue Hose Co.’s 43rd annual banquet on Jan. 21 included, from left, front: Riley Bitner, Firefighter of the Year; Donna Bricker, President's Award; Virginia Barnes, President's Award; Shelley Koons, Life Membership; and Ronald Barnes, 50-Year Membership Award, Fire Police Certificate of Appreciation. Back: Jared Harman, Fire Officer Award; Jason Koons, Life Membership; Tom Bricker, Apparatus Operator of the Year; Brady Papa, Junior Member of the Year; Alison Luger, Life Membership; and Bill Hull, President's Award.

The banquet begins by memorializing our deceased members over the past year and family members are invited to attend. A memorial service was conducted by the company’s chaplain, Dave Delauter.

Awards and honors were bestowed by President Cheryl Mowen, Fire Chief Kevin Barnes, junior members adviser William Sellers and Fire Police 2nd Lt. Denny Kerlin.

The Outstanding Service Award is the highest honor bestowed with one member each year. The 2022 honoree is former Fire Chief Richard “Dick” Mellott. Chief Mellott joined the department in 1965 and served in many line officer positions over the years including fire chief. His wife, Sherry, is also being recognized for her 50 years of membership. Former Fire Police Capt. Ron Barnes was honored for his 50 years of service as well.

Some of the fire department’s accomplishments were acknowledged as the call volume continues to increase for this organization that has served the Greencastle-Antrim community since 1896 and ambulance service since 1967.

In 2022 there were 1,950 ambulance (EMS) responses and 692 fire and rescue calls. Additionally, fire police assisted at many civic events during the year. Thank you to anyone who currently volunteers or who has served the Rescue Hose Company in the past for your service.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So why should the mayor of a borough write about agriculture? With local, national and world events, our agriculture businesses are so important to all of us. Pennsylvania is a prime example with agriculture being the commonwealth’s largest business entity. There are 59,000 farms that are 97% family operated on over seven million acres of farmland. Some 2,900 food processing centers help feed the world. One in seven jobs are related to agriculture. Meat, milk products, vegetables, fruit, nuts and a variety of other foods products and animal husbandry come from the fertile soils of Pennsylvania and right here in Franklin County. The county is home to nearly 1,600 farms representing over a quarter of a million acres of land.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show annually highlights the many aspects of agriculture and the innovative technology used in agriculture to produce great, quality yields. The first PA Farm Show was held in 1917. Today, over half a million visitors attend the event in January.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture is Russell Redding from Adams County as he grew up near the Gettysburg National Military Park. He has served as secretary of agriculture under four governors.

Although it’s still January, our agricultural professionals are preparing for the spring season. I, for one, am very grateful for the men, women and families that feed the world starting right here in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. You are to be commended for working seven days a week to sustain and produce what we take for granted when visiting the grocery store.

Because of our fire and EMS personnel and our agricultural community, we are certainly blessed.