Democrats Honor Arlene Nesbitt
Having logged just under 50 years of service to Ayr Township, longtime tax collector Arlene Nesbitt took center stage for her years of dedication during a special presentation at Saturday evening's annual Democratic spring dinner.
In recognizing Nesbitt, Joy Dasher, vice chair of the party's Executive Committee, reported times have changed since the tax collector first took office in the early 1960s. A total of $4,475 was collected from 482 taxpayers in 1962 in comparison to today's tax revenue for Ayr Township that now tallies more than $1 million.
Even though the amount of money being collected by Nesbitt has jumped drastically in well over four decades, several things that haven't changed are Nesbitt's demeanor and her method of collection. Nesbitt has never used a computer to aid in her record-keeping, Dasher said, and she still greets taxpayers with a hello and a smile.
"If there was ever a tax collector you could love, she's the one," added Dasher of Nesbitt, who is one of the longest serving tax collectors across the commonwealth. Nesbitt has logged approximately 48 years in the capacity of tax collector after running a successful write-in campaign at the prodding of then elected official Hays Richards.
Nesbitt told the crowd she has enjoyed her time in office and will sorely miss her 15- minute talks with Ayr Township taxpayers.
Harrisonville resident Brandon Fletcher, the Democratic Party's lone candidate for prothonotary, touched upon his campaign efforts for office and qualifications. Fletcher is a graduate of McConnellsburg High School and Shippensburg University, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in the criminal justice field.
He noted he logged five years as a juvenile probation officer in neighboring Franklin County and since 2005 has worked as a customer support professional for JLG Industries. Through his duties at the McConnellsburg plant, Fletcher stated he processes 350 to 400 customer requests on a weekly basis.
"You're faced with a lot of adversity and a lot of opportunities for decision-making," said Fletcher, who noted the end result is a better knowledge of working in a team atmosphere and time management. He added after much deliberation he opted to launch a campaign for the county office as a result of missing involvement in the court system.
"My background and education would serve me well in the position," Fletcher stated. "... I don't have a lot of political experience but when you select a candidate do you want knowledge and background or someone with 15 years in politics?"
"Nobody starts a job as an expert. Everything has to have a starting point ... . I'm looking for that starting point," he concluded.
Making references to his personal background and legal experience, Eric Weisbrod was one of two judicial candidates for the Fulton/Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to appear before local Democrats at the Mc- Connellsburg Firehall on April 18.
Weisbrod, a graduate of Mansfield University and Dickinson School of Law, has been practicing law since 1997 and currently operates his own practice in the Waynesboro area. He has practiced criminal defense, family law and civil law over the years.
Weisbrod mentioned both his personal and legal background would serve him well if elected to one of two available judicial seats. Due to the death of his father at a very young age, Weisbrod stated he was raised solely by his mother, who was responsible for instilling in him both a good work ethic and a sense of perseverance.
"I want to take those attributes with me to the bench," said Weisbrod.
Weisbrod told those on hand that not one candidate knows everything and urged registered voters to make an educated decision by looking for a solid-core person with a good foundation.
Angela Rosenberry Krom
A native of the Chambersburg area, Angela Rosenberry Krom also touted her folks' parenting skills as the reason and basis for her "good foundation" in life. Since graduating from Elizabethtown and the Dickinson School of Law, Krom has been employed for 13 years with the Franklin County District Attorney's Office as a full-time district attorney.
Krom noted she has "more than held her own" against criminals and some of the best defense attorneys around on a variety of cases, including armed robberies, drug trafficking and sexual assaults. Outside of the courtroom, Krom said she has worked with current District Attorney Jack Nelson in revitalizing the county drug task force that now consists of a three-person department.
Krom said further that while the campaign trail often takes its toll on a family, and especially young children, her son, Riley, realizes that her work stems from wanting him to have a safe home and environment.
"I believe in our communities and keeping them safe and secure for our children and grandchildren," she concluded.
One of two Democratic candidates seeking the party's lone nomination for Ayr Township tax collector on May 19, Julie Shearer noted, if elected, she hopes to serve in a way similar to current tax collector Arlene Nesbitt.
"Everytime I've paid my taxes, Arlene always greeted me with a hello and a come on in," said Shearer. "That's how I want to be."
Shearer is a stay-at-home mom and helps operate her family's rental business. She said that being at home and not always on the go would be an asset to Ayr Township taxpayers, who need a tax collector who is available for them.
Fellow Democrat candidate Kim Fisher was also scheduled to speak at the annual banquet but was unable to due to an emergency.
Wendy Richards Mellott
Incumbent Wendy Richards Mellott, a Democrat, has crossfiled to be listed on both the Democrat and Republican ballots on May 19 in hopes of retaining her seat as magisterial district judge for residents of the Mc- Connellsburg Borough and Ayr and Todd townships. She is currently unopposed on the ballot.
Mellott stated she is seeking her third six-year term of office and touched briefly upon her involvement with and the benefits of the community service program. Mellott said along with fellow judges Devin Horne and Carol Jean Johnson, a total of 100 jail days were saved in 2008. The current cost to house prisoners is $65 daily.
In return, Mellott noted those ordered to participate in the program are completing a lot of work in the area, which is a direct benefit to the community and area organizations.
The lone school board candidate to appear at the function, Central Fulton School Board candidate Matt Wakefield said he had initially submitted his name a year ago for consideration when a vacancy came to light due to a sudden resignation. Wakefield, who is seeking a four-year term of office, said that he views the position as "an opportunity to do something useful in the community."
Wakefield said he is a 1991 graduate of McConnellsburg High School and has served as director of IT infrastructure services for 16 years. He oversees a staff of approximately 30 in his duties at JLG.
Jury commissioner Doretta Mellott is seeking re-election for another term of office and thanked members of the community who have served in the capacity of jurors. Mellott added that her position includes compiling lists of possible jurors and ensuring the selection process is just and fair.
Mellott concluded that several bills have emerged in the state Legislature trying to abolish the position of jury commissioner. Residents were urged to speak to local state representatives and area officials to retain the positions.