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Funkstown Planning Commission member likes town the way it is

August 13, 2002|by CAILIN MCGOUGH

cailinm@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - Since joining Funkstown's planning commission in 1982, Sonja Feiser has had a hand in making decisions for the town.

"I don't like to sit back and see what's happening. I like to get in there and find out," Feiser said.

Although the commission has not had success in getting a bypass built, Feiser said she is pleased that the town did not overdevelop as they feared it might.

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"We wrote up a lot of plans for this area, like not to let big business take over our small community," Feiser said.

A longtime Funkstown resident, Feiser, 62, has seen vacant lots fill up over the years, but said she is hopeful the town will stay much like it is.

Born in Funkstown, Feiser lived in Bushtown, where she began school at a one-room schoolhouse before returning to Hagerstown at age 6. Two years later, her parents built Richardson's Restaurant in Hagerstown, where Feiser later worked for more than 30 years.

The restaurant was originally a snack bar in the 1950s, Feiser said.

"It was a happening place back in the 50s. Kids would be driving around and you could hardly get into the restaurant," Feiser said, adding that even back then teenagers cruised Dual Highway.

Feiser remembers helping out at the restaurant as a child, and later worked there in her early 20s, when she moved back to Funkstown with her newborn son after a divorce.

At the time, Feiser lived in an apartment in her mother's home. Now she owns both the house and Copper Kettle, a mobile home park she and her mother developed on land adjacent to the house. The property, which started as two trailers connected to the main house with a garden hose, now has nine mobile homes.

She gets a hand from one of her three sons, who looks after things she can't take care of anymore, she said.

Feiser was married in 1963 to Cecil Feiser, a former classmate at South Hagerstown High School, where she graduated in 1957.

"Our birthdays are the same day, so we got together for our birthday and ended up six months later getting married," she said.

Members of the Hagerstown Moose since the early 1980s, Feiser and her husband danced at the club every Wednesday and Saturday for years, she said. Feiser achieved the rank of senior regent in 1989, and after the Hagerstown club closed in the early 90s, she helped to develop the women's chapter of the Williamsport Moose.

Until four-way heart bypass surgery in 2001 and a fall in May forced her to cut back, Feiser was still busy working, swimming and dancing.

"I'm always doing something. It's been hard having to sit around with this thing," Feiser said, nodding toward the shoulder injury she underwent surgery to repair last month.

Since her heart surgery, Feiser has worked full time in the cafeteria of E. Russell Hicks Middle School. Until her accident in May, she also worked weekends at Richardson's.

Feiser said she is eager to return to planning meetings and her job at the elementary school, though she is not sure she will be able to return to waitressing at Richardson's.

"I really do enjoy my customers and miss them," Feiser said.

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