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South Williamsport, PA
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County Hall Corner: Leading and Learning at the Same Time

Scott Metzger could arguably be considered one of the best prepared Lycoming County Commissioners given his three decades of experience in the Adult Probation Department, half of those years as Deputy Chief, as well his lifetime experience as a business owner. Seeing from both the government and business sides of the coin, Scott is also

Scott Metzger could arguably be considered one of the best prepared Lycoming County Commissioners given his three decades of experience in the Adult Probation Department, half of those years as Deputy Chief, as well his lifetime experience as a business owner. Seeing from both the government and business sides of the coin, Scott is also well educated and has dedicated innumerable hours in community service. He has been recognized twice by Lycoming County for Humanitarian and Volunteer awards for his efforts. It was not a surprise that Metzger was the highest vote-getter among nine candidates running for County Commissioner in 2019. This entitled him to become chairman of the new board that held its first meeting on Thursday, January 9th, 2020.

I remembered that meeting well, as Scott Metzger opened the meeting with a stirring prayer and a list of priorities for Lycoming County in the coming year. Obviously, he wanted to shake up the status quo and move the county forward. I watched every county commissioner meeting through that year and the next, either at the meetings themselves or online. Considering the number of highlights and struggles through the numerous challenges of these past couple of years, I believed the board did about as best they could. What was their perspective?

I interviewed Commissioner Metzger to get the impressions of his first couple of years in office. He instantly noted the impact COVID had on everything, every walk of life. Yet, rather than using this as an excuse, he stated that it was simply a hurdle to jump over.

Metzger stated his primary focus has been on improving the business environment, for this is the engine that powers the economy and rebuilds a community. The reason why this is so critical is because Lycoming County has been losing population, and this has been primarily because of the lack of job opportunities. Yet the opposite is also true; economic growth also needs a viable labor force. Too many young people have left the area to secure jobs, yet there are a growing number of opportunities right here. The county commissioners have recently visited three outstanding companies that are looking to hire. And there is more good news on the horizon.

Commissioner Metzger was quite excited about the business environment in recent months. He cited Timber Run Industrial Park across from the county landfill, where Digger Specialities, Inc., an aluminum and vinyl coating products manufacturer, will be opening their new facility in a few months, hiring some 150 new workers. There are ongoing negotiations with other companies that could possibly double that number.

Businesses are attracted by a strong infrastructure, which will be considerably improved with better broadband. Metzger noted that progress is being made with a four-county initiative working through SEDA-COG (the economic development agency that assists 11 central Pennsylvania counties). He hopes to see this take shape in the near future.

When asked what gives him the greatest satisfaction, Commissioner Metzger answered without hesitation that it was celebrating people. Watching this take place time and time again in the commissioners’ meetings, I knew he was sincere. Be it Boy Scouts, successful business owners, local agencies, fire companies, or dairy queen princesses — the joy seen in his eyes, as well as Commissioners Mussare and Mirabito, demonstrates that this is probably the thing they enjoy more than anything else. Metzger noted, “It makes me proud to share in their celebration. I feel honored to live in the county they live in because I know that these people are only as good as the people that surround them.”

There have been disappointments, of course. Metzger noted how much he wished to be able to attend local government meetings but preferably as they begin to meet in person once again. “Local government is where things can be accomplished. The township supervisors and borough council members know better than anyone what is the heartbeat of their communities. I want to listen and have that dialogue so they know the County can be a partner when possible. Every community that succeeds helps to make Lycoming County a place where people want to call home.”

Looking ahead, despite COVID and the other challenges, Commissioner Metzger is excited about the future. It was because of people like Loren “Digger” Graber, CEO of the Indiana-based Digger Specialities, Inc. He was considering opening his new company in North Carolina but saw the possibilities that were here in Lycoming County. Charlotte, North Carolina, was known for NASCAR but rebranded itself into an economic hub. Digger Graber saw Williamsport in the same light — famous for Little League, but potentially could be much, much more, and he wanted to be a part of that.

A growing community requires a growing economy, which is highly dependent on good government. Scott Metzger is an instrumental element in this equation, and we all are the better for it.