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Former Sen. Punt leaves legacy of serving his people well

December 31, 2009

Terry Punt was a lot of things to a lot of people.

One thing he wasn't: Above the people.

Punt, the longtime public servant who died this week at his home at the age of 60, was a man of the people, who cared about them and wanted to do things for them.

He was a local boy who did good -- for himself and the people he served.

He dedicated three decades of his life to representing the people of Franklin and Adams counties. From 1979 to 1988, he served as a Pennsylvania state representative of the 90th district and from 1988 to 2008, he represented the 33rd Senatorial District that includes all of Franklin and Adams counties and a small portion of York County.

And by most accounts, he represented it well. He was a stalwart supporter of his hometown of Waynesboro, Pa., and home county of Franklin, and provided a steady pipeline of state grants for dozens of projects large and small.

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He believed in getting grants for things that mattered, projects that would make our communities better not just for now, but for generations to come.

A quick list of his support:

n $34 million to widen U.S. 30 east of Chambersburg, Pa.

n $1.2 million to add a truck-climbing lane on Pa. 16 east of Rouzerville, Pa.

n $16 million to renovate the Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg, Pa.

n $2.5 million to save and renovate The Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg.

n $3.3 million for the Trinity House senior living facility in Waynesboro.

n $3.3 million to upgrade Waynesboro's sewage treatment plant.

n $2.1 million for a state welcome center in State Line, Pa.

n $500,000 for the brick sidewalks just installed in downtown Waynesboro.

n Several millions for the recent square reconfiguration and synchronization of traffic signals in Waynesboro.

Punt also initiated programs that funded the Main Street Waynesboro program and facade grants that have helped tidy up some awful-looking buildings downtown.

Even if you disagree with using taxpayers' money in this way, you can't argue with the impact these projects will have. Safer roads, better water, preserving our history, helping our seniors, boosting downtowns.

That's a pretty solid legacy.

But there was more to Terry Punt than just "bringing home the bacon." A lot of state senators did that.

Terry was also a guy to fight for what he thought was right and what he thought was best for his constituents. He also was a politician who crossed the aisle on occasion to vote for what he believed in -- no matter which party was behind the issue.

He also was a guy whom you could approach and chew the fat with. He had a solid handshake and looked you in the eye when he talked to you. He supported local businesses and was their champion.

He was a reporter's dream as well. He was very accessible and was never afraid to speak what was on his mind.

A few years ago, we asked him why he voted himself a controversial raise along with the majority of the state House and Senate. His reply: "Because I deserved it."

A sad epilogue to Punt's story is that he didn't get to spend more time with his children and grandson after he retired at the end of 2008.

His children and grandchildren -- along with the rest of us -- will reap the benefits of his lifetime of service for decades to come.

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