Volunteer keeps Chambersburg freshly painted

May 27, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Harry Stepler is painting Chambersburg green, at least the poles that hold up its streetlights and signs.

Stepler, 68, has painted more than 80 poles a pretty emerald green since he started his one-man civic project in April. He has no particular goal nor specific number of poles to paint. Like movie hero Forrest Gump, Stepler said he'll stop when he gets tired.

"I paint at my own pace, usually three or four hours a day when the weather's good. I don't have a schedule. I just do it when it suits me," he said.

Stepler, who lives at 42 Rose St., got the idea to paint posts when city officials sent out a plea for citizen volunteers to help out during Chambersburg Pride Day, an annual cleanup day sponsored by the borough. Stepler said he agreed to volunteer if he could pick his own project - painting poles.


The borough reimburses him for the cost of his paint. He uses his own brush and stepladder, he said. His stepladder is yellow and bright red suspenders hold up his pants while he's painting. "It's a safety thing. I want to be seen out here," he said.

Richard Hamshire, superintendent of the borough electric department, said department officials are grateful for Stepler's effort.

"The posts need to be painted. Somebody's got to do it and if it was up to us it would take a lot longer. We don't have the time to paint them as often as we should," Hamshire said. "Harry is doing us a nice favor."

Stepler retired as supervisor of safety, salvage and housekeeping at T.B. Woods & Sons Co. in 1990. He worked for the company for nearly 40 years.

A lifelong Chambersburg resident, Stepler knows many local people. Many pass by when he's painting. Most give him a hail or a toot of encouragement, he said.

He said he started out with the idea of only painting the posts in his immediate neighborhood - Rose, Poplar, Vine and parts of Commerce streets. He hadn't finished those streets when residents of Philadelphia Avenue, which runs north of the downtown area on U.S. 11, asked if he would paint the lampposts on their street.

He started near downtown and began working his way north. "I'm going to go as far as Penn Hall," a distance of more than a mile, he said.

Stepler said it takes up to an hour-and-a-half to clean, scrape and apply two coats of paint to one of the Victorian lampposts that line many borough streets.

Signposts take less time. "I can paint one of them in about 15 minutes," Stepler said.

The Herald-Mail Articles