Summer Smiles, Grad Gifts, and Great Giveaways
- May 31, 2023
This is my First Annual County Hall Corner Award presentation. In 2018, 52 articles covered many areas of county government, and as I reviewed them, I came up with four categories of awards. First is the MOST FUN AWARD for the article that was the most personally enjoyable for me to research and write. There
This is my First Annual County Hall Corner Award presentation. In 2018, 52 articles covered many areas of county government, and as I reviewed them, I came up with four categories of awards.
First is the MOST FUN AWARD for the article that was the most personally enjoyable for me to research and write. There were many candidates for this, but far and away the winner was “Dog Days” which covered the new courthouse dog, Jedi. Technically, his title is Lycoming County Courthouse Facility Dog, and he is assigned to the Common Pleas Court of Judge Joy Reynolds McCoy. This big adorable lab is cared for by Executive Secretary Jerri Rook who had to attend an intensive two-week training program to learn how to use Jedi’s commands and properly care for him. I was present on Tuesday, December 18th at the Judge McCoy’s chambers to help celebrate Jedi’s third birthday. As the Family Court Judge, it is amazing how in such a short time this dog has become such an integral part of assisting children that are caught in matters of child custody, child support, and protection from abuse. Jerri Rook spoke with pride about Jedi’s help in putting children at ease, and she is not alone. Everyone that encounters this incredible canine has nothing but praise for him.
The next award goes to the MOST MISSED AWARD for those who have left or departed, and that I will personally miss the most. I have tremendous respect and admiration for individuals such Mark Murawski, who retired after 32 years of service to Lycoming County as Transportation Planner, James Pfleegor who retired after 34 years in the Department of Public Safety, and Scott Metzger, who retired after 32 years serving as deputy chief for the Adult Probation Department. These county servants and others like them who have gone on this year will be deeply missed for their depth of experience and knowledge and the quality of their work. But personally, the individual that I know I will miss the most is Marci Hessert, the Administrative Manager for Lycoming County Board of Commissioners. Marci departed in July after nearly 23 years to have her talents utilized by Penn College.
When I began covering the County Commissioners Meetings in April of 2016, much was going on that I did not completely understand. Marci had worked in her position since January of 1995 and seemed to have a photographic memory for everything that happened since that time. She became my “Google” whenever I had a question about an issue, a reference, a person, or practically anything else. What spoiled me was that Marci never acted like I was a bother, although I am sure I was. My tribute to her in July entitled “We’ll Miss Marci” did not begin to do her justice.
In the category MOST AMAZING AWARD, for those that impressed me the most, there are many possible candidates, but the Planning & Community Development Department earns my highest praise. In
July of this year, this department completed a two-and-a-half year project updating the county’s comprehensive plan. It is impossible to summarize the mammoth amount of work that went into this critically important report. They did this project on-time, under budget, and every member of the department was involved, adding to their already heavy workload. Not a single new person was hired to assist in this work, and in fact, due to a cost-cutting initiative by the county commissioners, the department had cut three and a half positions over this time period. Hats off to Director Kurt Hausammann Jr. and Deputy Director Kim Wheeler, for leading such an amazing team. I appropriately titled that article, “A Lesson in Leadership.”
The last award is MOST FEEDBACK AWARD, which was far and away for the series on the Williamsport government ballot issue entitled, “Preparing for the Polls.” Total strangers were coming up to me and thanking me saying, “I had no idea what was going on until I began reading those articles.” Truth be told, the real credit should go to Jim Webb Jr. He approached me about writing on the ballot issue, and I was less than enthused about the prospect. Like others, it appeared to me like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma, and I doubted I would be able to make any sense of it all. Hats off to my publisher for having that kind of faith in me, and also for his courage in taking the lead in this crucial public concern.
In conclusion, a huge thank you to all those who helped me through 2018 to write the County Hall Corner. I could not do it without you.
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