New mayor lays out action plan

Shawn Hardy
Magisterial District Judge Duane Cunningham swore in council members, from left, Larry Faight, Craig Myers, Steve Miller and Matthew Smith, as well as Barbara Bock, tax collector, Tuesday night. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT.

Ben Thomas, sworn in earlier in the day, presented The Mayor’s 2018 Strategic Plan at Tuesday night’s Greencastle Borough Council meeting.

Later in the meeting, Councilman Duane Kinzer took issue with Thomas’ plan.

“Some points were well-said, but I felt like you were questioning what we’ve done,” Kinzer said. “I think we’ve done a hell of a job.”

During the reorganization portion of the meeting, Kinzer was elected vice president of the council after two rounds of voting. No quorum was achieved in the first voting which went two for Craig Myers, two for Steve Miller and three for Kinzer. The second go-round went four for Kinzer, two for Myers and one for Miller.

Frank Webster Jr. was unanimously re-elected president.

At the start of the meeting, Magisterial District Judge Duane Cunningham swore in Miller, who is new to council, and re-elected incumbents Larry Faight, Matthew Smith and Myers, as well as Barbara Bock, tax collector.

From the mayor 

Thomas said he looks forward to working with council, discussing issues and working for the “great, great community of Greencastle.”

In response to Kinzer’s remarks, Thomas said, “On occasion we will disagree.”

Thomas stressed the importance of communication with council, staff and citizens. As head of the police department, he wants to:

Create a police department mission statement.

Expand the monthly police activities report to council and the community.

Conduct monthly budget review.

Hold two police town hall community information forums a year.

Expand news releases for community awareness.

Author a monthly column in the Echo Pilot.

Do long-range police budget forecasting with a five-year budget plan and a 10-year capital equipment budget.

Research grants, endowments and gifts for specific projects

Assign special police details for business visits and community relations programs.

The future of the K-9 program will be analyzed later. At the end of 2017, council was poised to considered eliminating the police dog program when Rony, the K-9 officer was hit by a vehicle and killed while off duty,

Thomas noted communication requires time and factors like the workload and vacant shifts will play a role. In addition, he noted the “loss of a very efficient and highly trained police secretary.” The resignation of Nicole Bowser, secretary for the last 12 years, was accepted Tuesday night.

Thomas also wants to promote volunteerism and service, support veterans and establish a proactive drug and alcohol community action plan.

“Most area crime is drug or alcohol abuse related,” Thomas said. “Communities must be proactive in offering to help those challenged with addictions and offer prevention programs in our schools and community.”

His message: “Drug dealers? Stay out of Greencastle. Drug users? How can we help you with your recovery and future success?”

The mayor’s plan also includes working with council, staff and Franklin County economic development agencies to promote business success and reinvent vacant sites; promoting cooperation with Antrim Township and other municipalities in Franklin County; and promoting long-range budget and strategic planning for Greencastle.

He also asked council to rethink two moves made late in 2017. The first is increasing the employee health care contribution from 25 to 40 percent and the second is the sewer rate increase, with the suggestion to create a tier system lowering the minimum use.