Three Pa. town managers show they have staying power

January 13, 2001

Three Pa. town managers show they have staying power

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Lloyd R. Hamberger II, Michael A. Christopher and Kenneth E. Myers are bucking a national trend that says town managers in small communities stay on the job for less than five years.

All three have been serving their southern Franklin County, Pa., communities for more than two decades.

Hamberger, 51, who cited the national average, has been manager in Waynesboro for 20 years. Christopher, 48, has been in Washington Township for 23 years. Myers, 41, has been manager in Greencastle for 23 years.

Their kindredship doesn't end there. All three say they want to raise their families in a small town.

Myers has four daughters, ages 11 to 17, Hamberger has a 14-year-old son and Christopher has two children.

"One is a junior in college and one is a junior in high school," he said.


"If I could design a small town for myself it would be like Waynesboro," Hamberger said. "It's a good fit for me and that's what counts, how a manager fits in a community."

The three administrators were interviewed Friday in Hamberger's office in the Waynesboro Borough Hall.

"The budget for Washington Township was $700,000 when I started working here. Today it's $7 million," Christopher said.

"There were only 10 employees when I started working. Today there are 20," Myers said.

The three managers agreed that the biggest change they've seen was the introduction of technology, especially computers.

"We used to do everything by hand," Myers said. "I did my budget in pencil."

"It makes cranking out the numbers faster, but there's a lot more state and federal rules that trickle down now that weren't there before," Hamberger said.

The three agreed that government on all levels is growing more complicated.

"Everybody is looking over our shoulders today when before we used to be able to fly by the seat of our pants," Christopher said. "Today there's the state, federal and county governments, the courts, the district attorney's office and special interest groups.

"They come out for significant issues," Christopher said. "These groups hire attorneys and specialists and their points of view are very well represented."

They said another mark of success is how well managers mesh with their elected borough councils or township supervisors.

"We all know our roles. Our boards tell us the direction they want to go in and we steer the boat for them," Hamberger said.

The make-up of the borough councils and township supervisors in the three jurisdictions has changed little over the years.

"The same people with the same thought processes have stayed on our boards," Christopher said. "Think of the continuity that brings to our communities.

"Southern Franklin County is conservative Republican and the managers reflect that philosophy," he said.

Waynesboro has had a borough manager since the 1930s. Christopher is Washington Township's first manager.

"Prior to that there wasn't any demand for one," Christopher said. "The elected township supervisors only had to deal with roads.

"There are many small townships that are still like that, but when public water and sewers come in and things like planning and zoning, then managers are needed."

Seeing the results of efforts that bring about improvements is a plus to being a town manager in a small town, Myers said.

"You can get a great sense of accomplishment in seeing a problem solved and from seeing an issue through, even it some things take a few years to get done," he said.

"We are government generalists. We have to have a lot of different skills to do our jobs every day," Hamberger said.

"It turns on our ability to accomplish things, things like building a new park system, a ball park or even paving a road," Christopher said. "It's a great feeling to drive over a stretch of road that is baby butt smooth because you had it repaved."

"Yea," said Myers. "Until the gas company comes by a week later and tears it up."

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