Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Former mayor, councilman receives O'Connor Public Service Award

Former Elizabethtown Mayor and Councilman Ken Reighard received the Vincent W. O'Connor Public Service Award at the Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner Friday, March 26.

A lifelong resident of the borough, Ken served Elizabethtown's municipal government for more than 30 years as mayor and a member of council. (Here's a bit of trivia: Ken was mayor during the emergency at Three Mile Island in 1979.) During those years, he also was a director with the Elizabethtown Area Water Authority, a member of the Planning Commission, the Parks Commission and the Civil Service Commission.

Ken retired from public service about two and a half years ago after deciding not to run for Borough Council again because of health concerns.

I can give credit to Ken for my being elected to Borough Council after his decision not to run again. I met him initially in 1999 when I served as editor of the Elizabethtown Chronicle and covered Borough Council. Later, when I realized that he and I attend the same church, Christ Church United Church of Christ, we connected more frequently and often discuss local politics. 

After having served on the Elizabethtown Zoning Hearing Board for nearly four years, I remember Ken approaching me in church one Sunday morning.

"Jeff, I'd like you to replace me on Borough Council," he said.

Replacing wasn't the right word to describe someone who committed so much of his life to serving the community. Consider that Ken's civic service also includes involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, American Legion and the VFW. He was a charter member of Willowood Swim Club where he served as director for several years. And at Christ Church, he served as a trustee, deacon, elder and consistory president.

And that's why Borough Council selected him to receive the 2010 O'Connor Award. The dedication to making Elizabethtown a better place is something we all talk about and want for our community. Ken actually made that happen over the second half of the 20th century, and for that I -- and I think I can say the rest of Borough Council -- am eternally grateful.


Here is some additional biographical information about Ken Reighard:

He graduated from Elizabethtown High School in 1949 and completing his higher education at Central Penn Business College and Elizabethtown College. In 1952, he enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Korea. After the war he returned to Elizabethtown where he eventually became manager and owner of Shearer’s Furniture Store and Bob’s Flower Shop.  Before retiring in 1995, he was vice president of Mutual Inspection Bureau.

Ken and his wife, Clara (Betz), had three children, son Ted, daughter Shirley Byron and son Kim (deceased), five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Return your 2010 Census questionnaire

If you're like me, you received your 2010 Census questionnaire in the mail recently.

On behalf of Elizabethtown Borough, I encourage you to fill out the form and return it right away. The government uses the information gleaned -- which is the age of everyone and the number of people in a household -- to determine representation in Congress. It also uses the information to determine how to distribute federal money.

I have heard some people say that we don't have to give this information to the government, which really floors me. If they're scared that the government is going to use the information for nefarious purposes, everything I have read and heard says the information remains confidential. Here are some common questions about privacy with the census and some additional information about that.

It particularly irks me that some people would encourage others not to return their forms because it undermines one of the basic tenets of our democracy: representation in Congress. Already, state officials are projecting that Pennsylvania will lose a seat in the U.S. House after the census statistics are compiled. That means one less person on Capitol Hill fighting for the Commonwealth and airing our concerns in Washington, D.C.

So if you haven't yet returned your form, please take 10 minutes to fill out the 10 questions and put it in the mail. It's good for our country, our Commonwealth and the Elizabethtown community.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Delegation from E-town's sister city vists borough

A delegation from Letterkenny, Ireland, visited Elizabethtown this week between St. Patrick's Day parades in Philadelphia and New York City. Letterkenny is Elizabethtown's sister city, and the two towns established ties in the last decade.

In the accompanying photo, from left, are Jimmy Harte, Letterkenny's deputy mayor; Mayor Jim Lynch; and the Town Clerk Paddy Doherty.

Their visit to Elizabethtown was just a few hours on Monday, giving them an opportunity to meet with Mayor Chuck Mummert, Borough Manager Roni Ryan and Assistant Borough Manager Cindy Foster. They also had lunch at Elizabethtown College, where they met with Beth Bergman from the Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce and some college officials.

Mummert reported at this week's Borough Council meeting that the Irish visitors would like to establish some trade ties with Elizabethtown by having businesses send goods and products to sell. There are some obvious ties, thanks to the M&M/Mars factory here, and E-town College might be able to promote some of its sweatshirts and other clothing.

There are any number of smaller businesses, too. I'm thinking about Spence Candies, which produces delicious handmade candy, or any others that can make a solid connection to Elizabethtown. If you have any other ideas about businesses that might want to export goods to Ireland, let me know, or follow the link to the Chamber of Commerce above and give them a call.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to save a quarter-million dollars

It's not often elected officials can save taxpayers more than a quarter-million dollars.

But with a unanimous roll call vote, that's what Elizabethtown Borough Council did earlier this month in voting to refinance the borough's debt. And just by lucky timing, interest rates were low and investors were hungry -- so council refinanced to an interest rate of about 3.3 percent, saving more than $265,000 because of the lower interest rate.

As the borough's financial adviser, Chris Gibbons of Concord Public Finance stated, it's just like refinancing the mortgage on your house to a lower interest rate.

The borough has authorized Gibbons to recommend refinancing if it will save taxpayers a minimum of $150,000. This time, Elizabethtown lucked out -- and I think I can speak for all of Borough Council that we're pleased.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Add phone numbers to ensure emergency notifications

During last months snowstorms, Elizabethtown residents received automated phone calls from the Swift911 service to announce a snow emergency and information related to impact the storms had on services such as trash removal.

By and large, the system worked very well. Speaking from personal experience, I picked up the phone and heard the first message in its entirety. I was pleased to know that the message looped so that anyone could hear the whole thing.

Now, the borough is asking all residents to make sure their phone numbers in the database are accurate. This really is critical, especially in these times when many people don't have traditional phone service and use just cell phones. By filling out the form at the link above, residents can add more than one or two phone numbers to ensure they receive important emergency notifications. They also can opt to include a phone number where they can receive text messages.