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County Hall Corner 
By Larry Stout
Working Together

This past summer, there was a major battle over a proposed county ordinance for a five-dollar county fee on every non-exempt vehicle registered in the county. Hours and hours of debate ensued over it before it was finally passed at a County Commissioners Meeting on June 15, 2017, as Ordinance 2017-02. The story "The Five Dollar Fight" was featured in this column at that time.
The issue was birthed out of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Act 89 of 2013 allowing counties the discretion to impose this $5 fee specifically for transportation issues. There is no transportation issue as critical as deficient bridges. Pennsylvania bridges have the distinction of being ranked among the worst in the nation, and Lycoming County has its share of these bridges that need attention.
Local bridges (those not owned by the county or PennDOT) are the most serious concern. Roads are difficult enough to maintain, but townships and boroughs responsible for repairing and even replacing bridges experience a serious financial burden.
Mark Murawski, the county’s Transportation Planner, had been working for some time on an innovative idea to address this local bridge problem. In the early part of 2017, he initiated an intensive study and came back to the commissioners identifying 40 structurally deficient bridges in the county, in nineteen different municipalities. Then, Mark presented his plan to a county meeting of township supervisors in April to gauge their interest in a joint plan. He offered these municipalities an opportunity to have a bridge repaired with a 5% of cost buy-in, with the remaining 95% coming from the Act 89 money. Following this would be the process of securing a bond in which the income stream from the county vehicle fee would cover the payments.
At the annual convention of the Lycoming County Association of Township Officials held in Pennsdale on October 25th, Mr. Muroski announced that seventeen of the nineteen townships had agreed to partner in on the county program. He had contacted these townships and told them that they needed to prioritize what was their most critical bridge that would need to be repaired. These seventeen bridges would require a $7 million price tag to fix, which the Act 89 money and the subsequent bond would make possible. There are more bridges that will need to be repaired, but this is an excellent help to addressing a very challenging problem.
Nothing happens instantly, of course, especially when the government is involved, so actual construction is still at least a year or two away. But there is something rather elegant about this whole process. The state government allows the county government to improve its infrastructure if it so chooses (rather than mandates), and the county government likewise allows local government to voluntarily participate in a program that will directly benefit the local population.
This is a great tribute to the county and all area governments involved and also true democracy in action. As Ronald Reagan once reminded us, “Cooperation and goodwill among free people will carry the day.”



Pine Street United Methodist Church
To Host Free Brunch For Veterans
Sunday, November 19
By Lou Hunsinger Jr.

Bill McKay was a proud U.S. Navy veteran of World War II who loved his country and the men and women who served it in the military in peace and in war. It is with that in mind that McKay provided a generous bequest to his beloved, home church, Pine Street United Methodist Church. Some of the funds from that bequest are being used to finance a special free, catered brunch for all armed forces veterans to be held Sunday, November 19. This event is held in honor of McKay and will also be preceded by a church service honoring veterans at the church at 11 a.m.
“The Witness Committee at Pine Street UMC was looking for a special way to honor those who served our country. We started to put together a nice event and shortly thereafter remembered our dear friend Bill McKay who was a faithful member of Pine Street for 59 years, and dedicated a large part of his life, after having served in WWII, to helping veterans,” Nicholas Grimes, one of the organizers of the event told Webb Weekly. “We felt this event should be held in his honor because of his faithful service to this country, to veterans, and to Pine Street. We also thought it would be a great way to honor his legacy by using part of that bequest to make this a really special event and do all we could to give back to veterans. We believe this service is a great way to honor Mr. McKay’s legacy and be responsible stewards of the McKay bequest.”
Bill Kieser, chair of Pine Street United Methodist Church’s Witness Team, who is organizing this veterans’ event stated, “Bill McKay exemplified the spirit of honor with which all of our military personnel have served. He felt honored to have served his country. He honored God with his life, often noting God providing for him and by honoring God with his faithful presence at worship on Sunday despite the hardships he had physically as he grew older. He honored his marriage vows. He was always quick to recognize and praise his fellow veterans.”
Kieser continued, “The Pine Street United Methodist Witness Team wants to honor all veterans and servicemen and women in gratitude for their sacrifices they and their families have made in order to allow us to enjoy all of the inalienable rights and freedoms with which God has endowed us.”
A little bit about McKay. He was a sailor who served on the U.S. Navy tanker, the U.S.S. Cacapon, AO-5, in the Pacific Theater of the war.
He was described by both Kieser and Grimes as living a very humble lifestyle. He lived in a modest apartment with no car, walked to church, private clubs, grocery stores, etc. and he was an active member at Pine Street for almost 60 years. He lived this very humble life in order to exhibit extreme generosity to all who needed help. McKay died at the age of 91 in 2016.
Grimes noted, “This brunch will be to honor veterans and their families, however, anyone who attended the worship service (veteran or not) will be welcome at the brunch. During the brunch we will be giving each veteran in attendance a special gift and thanking them for their service. We welcome and encourage ALL veterans and their families to join us at Pine Street UMC on November 19.”
Grimes said that Don Waltman’s Meats and the Harvest Moon were very generous in helping to provide some of the food for this brunch.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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