Ben Thomas Jr. Mayor of Greencastle
American flags are flying and the Bradford pear trees are blooming in downtown Greencastle. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

I so appreciate The Echo Pilot letting me author additional Mayor’s Reports during this challenging time in our community, commonwealth, country and globally.

Spring has arrived! Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of tea and sit with me for a few minutes. I was able to scoot out and do some side porch sittin’ this past week so this is my first “porch side chat” of the season. Neighbors Linda and Art walked over. We kept our safe social distancing. In 20 minutes we were able to solve a lot of the local and world’s issues. Tina is enjoying cleaning out the flower beds and planting beautiful flowers in between the March and now April showers.  

 Speaking of getting out … I encourage you to take a drive (or safe social distance walk) around town. Have you observed the beautiful flowering trees? That should put a smile on all of our faces with the beauty of spring and the sounds of the birds busily planning their spring as well. Thank you to our Shade Tree Commission members past and present for planting these healthy community trees over the decades that produce oxygen and act as our environmental filters. National Arbor Day is April 24. The Shade Tree Commission will have a commemoration some time this year, which may be delayed for obvious reasons. I so appreciate what they do as a Tree City USA community for environmental stewardship. 

Over 30 years ago I borrowed a big DANCO rollback from Dan and Darlene Reynolds as I have my CDL. One chilly, rainy fall morning, then-Shady Tree Commission Chairman Harold Zimmerman and I went truckin’ in that diesel rollback to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, to the state prison. At the time the commonwealth had a beautiful tree nursery where inmates would tend to fantastic rows of young trees that would be made available to state systems (colleges and campuses) as well as the some 2,562 municipalities. Inmates loaded up that rollback with beautiful trees ordered by the Shade Tree Commission and approved by the borough council and we headed back to Greencastle. Over the next two days that fall the trees were planted by borough employees and a tree contractor around Center Square and other parts of downtown. Those trees are still there today and are mature. They work every day for us. For some reason, while we were parked at that beautiful prison nursery surrounded by inmates with large grappling hooks to drag the tree balls around, Harold wouldn’t get out of the truck. It was a great day for the late Mr. Zimmerman and me. Thanks to Dan and Darlene for the use of that big rollback truck.

 Are you doing OK? One minister I spoke to said his congregation is keeping the telephones busy calling each other. Keep it up, Greencastle! Many church services are available online. You can be a missionary right here at home just by calling someone and orally displaying your support and concern.

I’m doing a daily Mayor’s Report on WRGG around 7:40 a.m. during this CV thing. One morning we talked about the WWII blackouts in Greencastle and how families sheltered in place back then. I talked to my Aunt Wilda after that discussion. She was a teenager during the war. I asked her how the blackouts were for her growing up on my grandmother’s farm in Western Maryland. She said it didn’t matter much to them because they wouldn’t have electricity on the farm until 1951. Grandma, sister and one brother ran the farm while the other brothers went off to serve our country. Kind of puts it in perspective.

 A special thanks to all of our health care workers and first responders (EMS, police officers, firefighters, fire police) who are available to help us 24 hours a day. A special thanks to our agri-businesses (our farmers). Keep doing what you do to serve Greencastle, America and the world. To my friends of the greater Greencastle community ... if you’re able, fly the flag of the United States of America! Be it a small, hand-held flag or a large one. Greencastle is strong thanks to you. Fly it proudly. I firmly believe that with the sacrifices millions are making, we will be a stronger community and nation. We are blessed!