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Mayor announces his plan after swearing-in ceremony

March 22, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Two weeks after unseating a five-term mayor, James G. McCleaf II on Monday announced a "90-day plan" as he was sworn into office.

McCleaf announced plans to revive the town of Williamsport's museum, revitalize the town's portion of the C&O Canal and start a merchants' association.

He also wants to increase citizen participation in government, find corporate sponsors for the July 4 fireworks event and have a town meeting to discuss skateboarding.

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Plus, "we want to look at our parking meters right off the get-go," McCleaf told the crowd of close to 100 people. Some residents recently questioned why the parking meter program runs at a loss.

More goals will follow after the first 90 days, he said.

After Washington County Circuit Clerk Dennis Weaver administered the oath of office to McCleaf on Monday, the new mayor did the same for his running mates - Assistant Mayor Monty R. Jones and council members Jeff Cline and Nelson F. Deal.

McCleaf and his slate soundly defeated John W. Slayman and his ticket in the March 7 election after a sometimes contentious campaign. Slayman had been mayor for five terms, or 20 years.

Town Hall was uncharacteristically crowded and buoyant for Monday's swearing-in ceremony and organizational meeting.

The audience roundly applauded elected officials' remarks.

"We want to keep this the most-open form of government possible," Jones said, pledging to support both young and old town residents.

Deal joked that Little League players he knew 40 years ago helped elect him this year.

He said he's had offers to live in Baltimore, but "I can't think of a better place" than Williamsport, Deal said.

"The winds of change blew through Williamsport on March 7 and it came through with hurricane force," Cline said.

Even two council members who supported Slayman's re-election bid had conciliatory things to say Monday.

"I look forward to working with you," Councilwoman Gloria J. Bitner said.

Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr. concurred and added, to the audience, "We're going to represent you to the best of our ability."

Last week, when Slayman, in his final meeting, appointed James C. Kalbfleisch to an open council seat and swore him in, McCleaf, Jones and Cline criticized the move.

But Monday, McCleaf said that's behind him.

"I welcome him with open arms," he said of Kalbfleisch, who did not attend Monday's meeting.

After new officials took their seats, McCleaf assigned the council members committees to oversee: Cline - parks; Bitner - buildings; Jones - streets and alleys; Deal - the swimming pool; Pereschuk - water and sewer; Kalbfleisch - electric.

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