Let’s talk Franklin County

October 19 – Commissioner John Flannery joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen this morning on First News to discussed issues facing Franklin County.

The group began with the Franklin County Job Fair on Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m. at World Harvest Outreach, 1090 Wayne Ave.

Flannery said, “Hopefully the Unemployment Office isn’t there or they should be there getting everyone that is on unemployment off unemployment because there’s no reason that we should be paying a dime in unemployment right now with all these jobs available.”

Ryan said, “Couldn’t agree with you more. The folks that are handing out, and very well-meaning and a good idea, when they hand out boxes of food, right alongside of that should be some sort of job board. Here’s the jobs. Here’s the pay. Here’s how you get there. They can’t wait to train you. I know you need something now, but what’s the long play and how can we help you?”

Discussion then turned to local school board races, specifically in Greencastle.

Jansen said, “There’s a smear campaign. I’m just going to call it out for what it is. It’s a smear campaign against the five candidates who are running as a group. They’ve identified themselves as having not all the same thoughts exactly on things, but having a common, grounding in wanting parents to be more involved and stakeholders outside of the education community to start looking at some of these things that people have grave concerns about and having to do more with ideology being taught in school and some of those issues. Of course we have all the masking and the vaccines and all of that that has come to be a part of all of this as well. It is not what is being suggested and full disclosure, your sister is one of the five. They are being smeared, saying that they’re doing this for some personal agenda and personal profit, which I just find hilarious. Because that’s where everybody goes for personal profit. You join the school board. It’s just insane to me.”

Ryan joked, “I thought it was art.”

Jansen continued, “It’s coming to light and some information that you shared with us, John, is making me see how they’re trying to say this. They’re trying to say that somehow they’re getting in there to give some kind of secret vote that will somehow profit them, which is insane.”

Flannery said, “The township is involved in that and there was a rumor I just heard this past football game, supposedly they were out putting flyers on everyone’s cars.”

Ryan said, “We got a snapshot of that of cowards that don’t sign their names on things and leave little love notes on people after a football game. That’s cowards.”

Flannery said, “That letter was also sent to our local representatives here with my name on it as well, being accused of getting some kind of profit working with the township, which trust me, I have no agenda whatsoever in Antrim Township or Greencastle other than my wife and I do own a business there. But I don’t have time to even think about worrying about the development off 81, which I was accused, I guess…conspiring with the township supervisors. It’s actually humorous.”

Jansen said, “Please, people in Greencastle-Antrim, don’t fall for this. I also understand there’s a rumor that somehow they’re against teachers. This is awful. Instead of coming out and saying why other candidates should be either incumbents kept or other candidates win and what their reasons for winning are, no. Their only tactic is to go out and try to smear other people who are running. I find it sad and pathetic and I don’t think the people of Greencastle-Antrim are going to fall for it because parents are not stupid. They see there’s stuff going on in the schools that the schools are not being as transparent as they should be and I’m not saying it’s intentional necessarily by the admin. It’s just when you have people in that education bubble and so many of the people on the school board right now are tied to the education system through their spouse’s occupation or even their own occupation or whatever. We need some perspectives outside that bubble.”

Ryan said, “This is how engaged the parents are. You can send out all the dopey letters that are unsigned, you cowards. You can put all the letters together you want here, but when you see the National School Boards Association getting a big hit the bricks out of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association because the Pennsylvania School Boards Association are smart enough to go oh man, we do want parents involved. It’s very important to the whole procedure here than you letter writer cowards that are out there, hiding behind a pen and a typewriter instead of going, oh, look what the Pennsylvania School Boards Association setting the tone for what the rest of the country should be doing to the FBI and the DoJ.”

Flannery said, “Agree one hundred percent.”

The five school board candidates running as a group are Eileen Dickinson, Janon Gray, Christopher Bonillas, Rich Davis and Hal Myers.

Jansen said, “I have talked to all of these people multiple times since the spring and the idea that there’s anything behind that is just so false and so defamatory.”

“It is,” Flannery agreed. “And you have five people that got together because they were unhappy with the way things were moving forward in our school district there in Greencastle and they decided, as we should be able to do in a democracy, to get together and initiate change. Initiate change for the better. They put themselves out there. They’re all very busy people. They’re all employed. They’re all hardworking people within our communities and they’re trying to do the right thing. It’s a darn shame.”

With the American Rescue Plan Act, Franklin County will receive $30 million and the commissioners will decide what will be done with that money.

Flannery said, “We have to be very, very careful and we are going to take the next few months and hopefully decide by the end of the year how we’re going to spend that money. My biggest fear and I’ve stated it numerous times is that we have to be careful that we don’t spend it on programs that are going to hit the budget down the road. You can’t start hiring people. You can’t start creating plans that are going to add to an ever-increasing budget that we have now. I look forward to, heck, I’d put it all towards the courthouse if I could to be honest with you.”

Ryan suggested, “Why not a chunk of it at least?”

Flannery said, “We’re trying. Some of those funds are applicable to do that. We’re still waiting on some of the regulations on how we can spend that. It’s not completely clear yet, so we’re taxing our administration with figuring all those details out on how we’re able to spend those funds.”

The county, like everyone, is looking for employees, including guards for the prison.

Flannery said, “I think the pay’s good. The benefits are good. They are union, by the way. The union works really well with the county out there.”

The prison likes to maintain 104 guards. They are in the high 80s right now, which makes it tough for the ones that are there now.

In terms of the $30 million, public comment is welcome at commissioner meetings.

Flannery said, “I encourage every, single resident in Franklin County to come to our meetings, speak. We open the microphone at the beginning of the meeting for public comment. Speak out. Talk about it. Let your commissioners know, let the county know, where you want this money spent. It’s really important to be heard.”

Jansen brought up the Chambersburg Borough looking to use $4 million in ARPA money to purchase the Southgate Shopping Center in the hopes of redeveloping it.

She said, “I heard the borough saying at their meeting the week before and I think they said well, we’re paying $4 million so whatever we get from a developer it’s to the good and I’m thinking well wait a minute, you’re forgetting that that money is actually our money. You can’t say oh it’s free and if we make a million selling it to a developer well that’s a million to the good. No, you’ve spent $4 million of hard-earned, taxpayer money. I don’t like it when entities kind of forget that because oh we didn’t have to do anything for it. It was handed to us, therefore we can pretend that if we only get half of that back, it doesn’t matter. No, it does still matter. That’s still money we and our children and grandchildren have to pay back at some point.”

Ryan said, “This is the difference between a business owner and what is called a government pro. Government pros forget quickly that it’s not your money. You work for me and if you a real government pro, cut the red tape, get out of my way, cut some fees, cut some staff, cut, cut, cut and cut some more.”

Jansen said, “And if this whole thing is worth it, what they want to do at the borough, you’ll sell it for more than the $4 million you paid for it. That would be the benefit to the taxpayers if you could do that.”

Anyone who would like to have their voice heard at a Franklin County Commissioners Meeting, but can’t be there at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. on a Wednesday, you can submit your comment here: https://portal.co.franklin.pa.us/Forms/4PssJ and it will be read for the record.

There is also a live feed for commissioners meetings, too. They are not recorded, though.