New mayor wants to be cheerleader for Mercersburg

April 22, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Mercersburg native James C. Zeger, the borough's new mayor, says his first order of business will be to get things calmed down on the seven-member Borough Council.

Zeger, 56, of 40 Church St., was appointed by a 3-2 vote earlier this month to replace Harold Wagner.

Wagner, 78, resigned the post over a flap involving Borough Manager Thelma Ambrose and her alleged unauthorized use of a police car radio during a fight outside a local bar in February.

The Federal Communications Commission ruled that Ambrose did not break any rules when she called for backup for the two local officers who responded to the incident and who had not asked for her help.


The borough is the licensee for the radio.

Wagner served as mayor for six years. He said he grew tired of taking verbal abuse from some council members over his handling of the radio incident.

Council President Brooks Harryman served as interim mayor until Zeger was appointed.

Zeger, long active in community affairs, served on the Tuscarora School Board for 22 years. He stepped down five years ago.

A graduate of Mercersburg Academy and Juniata College, Zeger teaches at the Maryland Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown.

He has either chaired, co-chaired or been involved in all major community events, he said.

Zeger said he has received letters and calls from borough residents thanking him for seeking the mayor's job.

Zeger plans to use the position as a bully pulpit to promote the borough, maintain calm in council deliberations and "generally be a cheerleader for the community," he said.

Council members Joshua Meyers, Roger Defibaugh and Thomas Heefner cast the votes that put Zeger in office, Ambrose said. Members Michael Schaub and Michele Quattrociocchi cast votes for Jo Ellen Schaub, she said.

Jo Ellen Schaub is Michael Schaub's wife.

Harryman, as acting mayor, only could vote to break ties. Councilwoman Jeanne Rader was absent the night the vote was taken, Ambrose said.

Three council seats are up for re-election this year.

Rader, an eight-year council veteran, is not seeking re-election.

Schaub, who was appointed when Councilman Ron Simar resigned, and Meyers, who was appointed when Councilman Thomas Suddeth resigned, are running to keep their seats, Ambrose said.

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