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Four seek three spots on Fulton County Board of Commissioners

November 02, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - One thing is certain among the four candidates running for three seats on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners; all are concerned with preserving the county's rural roots.

Incumbent Republicans Daniel H. Swain Jr. and Bonnie Mellott-Keefer and Democrats David R. Hoover II and Irvin Dasher are competing for the three seats. Ellis L. Yingling is not seeking re-election.

The top three vote-getters in the Nov. 6 general election will serve four-year terms, which pay $36,187 annually, according to Tim Stanton, Fulton County business manager.

Swain, who has served two terms as county commissioner, is a lifelong resident of Fulton County and lives on a farm in Needmore, Pa., that has been in his family for 130 years.

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"I just really love public service and really love the work of county commissioners," said Swain, 42.

Swain is concerned about preserving Fulton County's rural community, planning for the future and improving technology.

"I think one of the things that came out at a candidates forum ... was that there's a good concern about keeping Fulton County's rural character," said Swain, who has his own part-time software development business. "I have a passion to see things improved in our county and a desire to help Fulton County retain its rural nature."

Swain said his background in technology and work as planning director of Fulton County from 1989-1992 have helped him as county commissioner.

"My technology background has been extremely useful in the fact that I'm just interested in a lot of different things," Swain said. "From my previous work, I have knowledge of the subdivision and land development process and how land surveys work."

Mellott-Keefer, 53, of McConnellsburg, is running for a second term as county commissioner. She was born and raised in Fulton County.

"There are things that need to be done," Mellott-Keefer said. "The board has accomplished a lot, but there's still much to do."

Having grown up on a farm, Mellott-Keefer is concerned about future development in Fulton County.

"Primarily we need to find a balance in preserving agriculture and encouraging economic development," she said.

When Mellott-Keefer worked as Fulton County treasurer from 1992 to 2003, she served as a representative on boards for the Fulton County Commissioners.

"I actually learned some of the jobs of commissioners as treasurer because I was serving on the boards on their behalf," she said. "It also helped me to see things that they had done on a county level."

Mellott-Keefer believes her diverse background makes her an asset as county commissioner.

"I have nine brothers and sisters, and I worked my way through college," Mellott-Keefer said. "My diverse background enables me to see things from very many different perspectives."

Hoover, 61, of McConnellsburg, is a retired elementary school principal who said he has considered running for county commissioner for a number of years.

"I just wanted to do something after I retired," said Hoover, who retired five years ago and has lived in Fulton County all his life. "I just think I can help the community."

Hoover said he believes the county commissioners need to plan for the future of Fulton County.

"The comprehensive plan is in place, but there's no bite to it," Hoover said. "They (the commissioners) have to go to the next step."

Hoover also wants to preserve farmland in Fulton County and develop other areas for industry and housing.

"I feel I do a lot for the community and I feel I can carry this over to the political side now," said Hoover, who has been named outstanding citizen for Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Fireman of the Year for McConnellsburg. "I've just had Fulton County in my heart my whole life."

Dasher, 53, of McConnellsburg, said his major reason for running for county commissioner is to keep Fulton County rural.

"I want to discourage development at least on a large-scale basis," said Dasher, who moved to Fulton County five years ago from Howard County, Md.

"Fulton County is pretty much rural," said Dasher, who owns a farm and small trucking system. "I was born in Howard County and that's the way Howard County was."

"I witnessed pretty much firsthand what the lack of information and planning did for Howard County ... I think I can help Fulton county avoid that if that is what the constituents want," Dasher said.

Dasher also wants to maintain tax levels in Fulton County.

"Taxes are a big issue in the county," Dasher said. "When taxes go up it really hurts us."

Dasher worked as an electrician in Baltimore for 20 years and believes the leadership skills he gained can be utilized if he is elected as a Fulton County Commissioner.

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