Jobs, public transit top the agenda at Greencastle candidate's forum

October 16, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The four candidates vying for three seats on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners fielded questions Monday night about jobs, taxes and public transportation during a forum hosted by the Greencastle-Antrim Democratic Club and the Greencastle Republican Club.

On Nov. 6, voters will choose three from among Democrats Cheryl Stearn and Bob Ziobrowski and Republicans Bob Thomas and David S. Keller to serve as county commissioners.

A major concern of all the candidates is jobs in Franklin County. Ruth Jordan, who served as moderator of the forum and is the chairwoman of the Greencastle-Antrim Democratic Club, asked the commissioner candidates what they will do to bring high-wage jobs to Franklin County.

Bob Thomas and Bob Ziobrowski both began their answers disputing the idea that Franklin County has not attracted high-wage jobs in recent years.


"All one needs to do is look at major employers - like Grove (Manufacturing)," said Thomas, praising the work of Franklin County Area Development Corp., the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Chambersburg Area Development Corp. "There are a lot of good jobs in this community."

Thomas said when industries look to move to an area, they look at the schools and the schools in Greencastle are some of the best.

"I agree with Bob - I dispute the premise of the question," Ziobrowski said. "Many of the high-wage jobs in this area go wanting - we have to attract people from out of the area."

Ziobrowski said the best thing the commissioners could do to bring new jobs to Franklin County is to support the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

"I think if we get our math and science programs improved (at local colleges) we're going to attract those high-paying jobs," Keller said, referring to Shippensburg University, Penn State Mont Alto and Wilson College.

Keller said he would also like to see all three county commissioners continue to serve on the board for the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

"I'm probably the one person who thinks we can do better," said Stearn, claiming that Franklin County wages are 2.9 percent below where they were a number of years ago.

"I think one of the keys is supporting small business," Stearn said. "They are the engines of economy."

The county commissioner candidates were asked what programs they would advocate to create public transportation in Franklin County.

"I would certainly be in favor of doing a citizen's survey," Keller said. "If there was a demand, would they actually use it?"

In addition to being in favor of the study, Keller also said the commissioners should look in to the failure of the Chambersburg Transit Authority (CTA), which shut down in 2004.

"David alluded to the 100-pound gorilla, which is the failed CTA," Stearn said. "I believe we need to study who, where, why; and study what some other counties have done."

Stearn said the only public transportation in Franklin County is for those older than 60.

"The people who get transportation, need it in Franklin County," Thomas said, referring to public transportation for senior citizens.

Thomas said he fought for Franklin County to get a grant from Pennsylvania for public transportation for those with disabilities because one of his daughters was born with cerebral palsy.

Ziobrowski said the Chambersburg Planning and Zoning Commission determined that a fixed route bus system is not economically feasible and that he did not want to spend money on something people did not use.

"People say they want a transportation system, but they don't want to use it," Ziobrowski said. However, he did say that the issue of public transportation could be revisited in the future if it became feasible.

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