Let’s partake in a roundtable discussion with some folks from Greencastle and a County Commissioner

June 25 – The Franklin County Commissioners evening meeting in June took the show on the road, so to speak, and held the session in the boardroom of the Antrim Township Supervisors. 

The agenda wasn’t terribly overwhelming, but the venue was new and novel. 

Franklin County Commissioner John Flannery said, “We were so excited to take the county commissioners meetings on the road for the first time that anyone I know can remember the commissioners actually went. I was very happy and proud that our first meeting was in Antrim Township, in the Greencastle area where I grew up most of my adult life and raised my family. It was a great meeting. We did have probably eight or 10 members from the public there. We were represented by people from the commissioner’s office as well as the mayor.”

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas was in attendance. 

Flannery said, “Ben talked a little bit during public comment. He talked about some of the great things that are happening in the Greencastle area. I said last Wednesday night that I really think Greencastle is a phenomenal, phenomenal area to live and raise your family. Ben Thomas is a great mayor and they had a tragedy there not too long ago. He had two of his individuals in the police department with him. They were so supportive to be there.”

The commissioners will meet tomorrow in Chambersburg at 10 a.m. 

Flannery said, “We may have a budget update. I’m not sure about that yet, but last month’s budget update, we were on or performing better than budget halfway through the year. I believe we have six or seven board actions. They’re all just basic contract renewals. There is nothing crazy going on right now. We’ve got Franklin County under control.”

Fred Young, Antrim Township Supervisor and newly reelected Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman, said, “It was really great to have the county commissioners come to Antrim Township and utilize our facility for their meeting this past Wednesday. Attendance was pretty good. A lot of spirited public comment during the meeting. There are a lot of exciting things coming up here in Antrim Township.”

As the chair of the Franklin County Republican Committee, Young has some ideas on how to get former president Donald Trump back in the White House – and it includes embracing mail-in voting. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “We know there is a statewide GOP initiative to do exactly that, and we’re not talking about illegal harvesting or anything like that. We’re talking about just making sure those voters who may be less apt to go on voting day understand they can either vote in person, single visit to the county capital. They can do that at the voters of the election office, or they can do the whole mail in routine, of getting the application mailed to them, filling that out, sending it in, then getting the ballot, filling that out, sending it in. Where are we with that in terms of encouraging that for GOP voters?”

Young said, “Well, the GOP has embraced, has been forced to really embrace mail in balloting, at least for now. It’s the law. It’s here to stay. It’s not going to change in Pennsylvania anytime in the near future. The current administration that composes the upper echelon of state elected governments are not going to make those changes to do away with or restrict mail in balloting. So rightfully so, the Republican committees have had to embrace this and are embracing it and are promoting it. We feel that the biggest thing right now is trying to convince Republicans that don’t vote as often, to embrace this and actually use the mail in balloting and bank their vote is what we’re calling it. There’s an initiative that was started actually before the primary and it actually goes back to the last election cycle, back in the fall of this past year. But that’s the big challenge, because for so long, Republicans were saying, don’t mail in your ballot. It’s not going to be secure or safe and now we’ve had to flip that narrative a bit because of the reasons I just said. So that’s a lot of people really trying to up the numbers of voters to embrace this. The Democrats embraced it a long time ago. They’ve been embracing it for years, and they’ve used the mail in balloting to their advantage, as evidenced by the results of 2020 and 2022, they used it very well there. So we need to embrace that. We are and that’s the big goal is to get more low impact voters to embrace the mail in balloting. I just want to remind everybody, do vote. If you don’t believe you’re going to be able to vote in person in November, it’s very, very important, obviously. We have a very big election coming up, and we encourage everyone to vote. Your vote does matter. It really, really does.”

On July 26 and 27th Greencastle will be celebrating the 175th anniversary of Martins Mill Bridge. 

Antrim Township Manager, Chris Ardinger, said, “One of the neat things that we do is that on Saturday, we will actually open the bridge up from 8am to 11 a.m. and people will be able to drive through it. So that’s a neat thing. Everybody enjoys doing it. That has been load tested. It can handle that. So that’s a neat event coming up here at the end of July.”

Moving to the schools in Greencastle, what are the rules about cell phones? 

Eileen Dickinson, Greencastle-Antrim School Board President, said, “Right now, we do allow cell phones with the students in the classrooms, because we actually use them as tools. They can download different things and help them, but we haven’t had any real issues. If we do, then we will definitely address that. But right now, they’re still allowed to have them in the classroom.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “Do you think this is becoming more and more of a danger? We’re hearing it from the LA public schools in California have recognized that this is trouble and it’s dangerous, has anybody brought that to your attention? I’m very surprised that that is not something that’s on your radar screen in Greencastle-Antrim in the school district.” 

Dickinson said, “I think we have really great kids and great parents that support their children and teach them the values of the importance of using the cell phones in the correct way and our staff and teachers, administrations also do the same thing, and we keep a tight eye on everything. So far, we have had no issues to really be concerned about.”

Jansen noted, “I have an issue though, the distraction. It’s the distraction level that’s the problem. Even if there’s a tight look on everything that doesn’t stop students from serendipitously looking, taking looks, maybe having the watch on their wrist. Even if the teacher misses it, they’re still constantly distracted by it. That’s why I think a blanket law of getting rid of these devices out of all classrooms, not forcing teachers to police it is going to be the better choice. Studies are supporting that, so hopefully we can all come to a conclusion. I know there’s a state law proposed right now to make it mandatory for all school districts to eliminate these devices, putting them into a locker type of situation, a special bag at the beginning of the day. I think more and more you’re going to feel the pressure for that to happen. We’ll have to see how that goes.” 

Growth in cities and towns can also bring issues to municipalities. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll added, “All of these places, they’re experiencing growing pains, and at what point is that starting to create some issues from an infrastructure standpoint? Might anyone go as far to say the population growth could trigger the need for expansion of school buildings. I mean, that’s something that would affect everyone.”

Dickinson said, “It is definitely something that we are keeping our eye on. We haven’t noticed any increase in student enrollment here recently or anything. So we’re happy about that. However, we do have our new ACE building that is going to be completed here in August. It’s running on schedule, so we’re very excited for that, so we will have more room for more students if we encounter that. We’re excited because all our administration will now be together in one building, instead of scattered out through the different schools, so they’ll be able to collaborate a lot better. We’re excited because our first board meeting in August, we’ll be able to be in our new ACE building instead of the township building.”