2009-12-31 / Front Page

2009 Review

With a sincere wish for the safety of our troops and for the prosperity of our readers as a new year and a new decade dawns, here is a recap of the stories that dominated Fulton County’s “News” in 2009:


As the New Year began, McConnellsburg Borough Council continued end-ofcontract negotiations with the borough police department that was disbanded 12/31/2008. The police officers received additional pension and healthcare benefits, paid time for any future required court appearances, as well as payouts for sick leave, personal leave and vacation days accumulated but not used by the end of their contract in the binding arbitration agreement finalized last year. That agreement cost the council about $53,500 in leave payout and up to $24,000 per year for three years in health benefits. Additional contributions to the pension fund will be taken out of the police pension fund;

The Needmore and Mc- Connellsburg volunteer fire companies held their annual banquets;

JLG announced the layoff of 100 white-collar employees, bringing the total layoffs to 1,500.


JLG announced additional layoffs; bringing the total number of layoffs to 1,670, or 37 percent of the company’s 4,500 worldwide workforce.


Ground was broken for a Community State Bank of Orbisonia branch office on Fulton Drive. The Huntingdon County-based bank has a main office in Orbisonia, with branches in Smithfield, Waterfall, Mount Union, Saxton, Three Springs and now McConnellsburg.

The Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Co. held its annual banquet;

Fulton County’s jobless rate climbed to 16 percent in February, the highest since 1982. The March rate was 14.8 percent;

The Tower Bank merger with Graystone was completed.

In a census report released, Fulton County was among the top 20 counties in Pennsylvania for population growth. The county had a higher rate of growth than the state;


JLG received an Army contract to build 214 ATLAS all-terrain telehandlers. The contract was worth $37 million;

The Fulton County Historical Society held its annual meeting and banquet;


The Chamber of Commerce held its annual recognition banquet;

Richards Auto Sales learned that after 52 years of business, its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep dealership would be dropped by Chrysler as part of a bankruptcy reorganization plan that would likely go into effect on or before June 9, 2009. Richards was on a list of a total of 789 Chrysler dealerships, or about 25 percent of its retail showrooms, that closed across the country as of June 9. Richards Auto Sales remains open, selling used cars and doing repair work;

Attorneys Shawn Meyers and Angela Krom were elected as judges of the Court of Common Pleas of the 39th judicial district. They were elected in the May primary from a field of four candidates and secured both parties’ nominations for the November ballot;

The economic turndown that stalled construction in this country and abroad forced JLG Industries to shed another 100 jobs and cut pay at its North American facilities;

Both Central Fulton and Forbes Road school districts announced they would raise property taxes by one mill. Southern Fulton’s property tax millage remained unchanged.


JLG announced the layoff of 210 more employees;

McConnellsburg Borough Council awarded bids to the highest bidders for the borough police weapons. An Ithaca 12- gauge shotgun, model 37; a Colt AR 15; two Colt Python .357 magnums, one with satin finish and one with satin finish and extra grip, and a sizeable supply of ammunition were sold for a total of $2,711;

Ground was broken for Fulton County Medical Center’s 16,000- square-foot patient services/ administration wing. Construction on the $4.5 million addition is scheduled to be completed in June 2010;

The Department of Defense awarded a $76.9 million contract to JLG to rebuild 500 All Terrain Lifter Army (ATLAS) telehandlers and 300 other rough-terrain forklifts.


JLG Industries got a muchneeded shot in the arm when parent company Oshkosh Corp. announced it had won a billiondollar U.S. Department of Defense contract that would bring laid-off workers back to JLG’s McConnellsburg plant. The $1.05 billion order for 2,224 armored vehicles (M-ATVs) addressed the immediate need of ground forces fighting in Afghanistan for explosion resistant trucks that are lighter and agile enough to navigate the country’s harsh terrain;

Commissioner Daniel H. Swain Jr. resigned his elected position as county commissioner and was named the county’s chief clerk. The chief clerk position was vacant pending the September 1 retirement of longtime chief clerk Richard Wible. The vacant commissioner position will be filled by the Common Pleas president judge;

JLG announced the recall of 550-650 laid-off workers;

A census report showed that Todd, Thompson and Bethel townships are the fastest-growing municipalities in the county;

Sgt. Troy Park took over the reins as the local Pennsylvania State Police station commander. He succeeds Sgt. Jesse Zorger, who retired from the PSP.


The Securities & Exchange Commission alleged that Robert G. Bard and his investment firm, Vision Specialist Group LLC, made bad investments and lied to clients about account values. The case has been scheduled for trial in January 2010;

The 89th annual Fulton County Fair was held;

JLG receives a second order for an additional 1,700 M-ATVs. The latest order is worth $1.06 million;

Southern Fulton School District Superintendent Ralph Scott announced his retirement to be effective at the end of the 2009-10 school year. Elementary Principal Kendra Trail was named assistant to the superintendent and later in the ;year named superintendent;

Central Fulton School District Superintendent Julia Cigola announced her retirement also to be effective at the end of the 2009-10 school year;

The Forbes Road School District’s superintendent’s resignation earlier in the year means that all three of the schools in the county will have new leadership within one year’s time. At Forbes Road, high school Principal Fred Foster was named acting superintendent, while Christina Ramsey was named high school principal;

A new branch bank of the Community State Bank of Orbisonia opened on Fulton Drive;

Local businessman and philanthropist Ray Koontz died at the age of 93.


Fulton County received final approval from McConnellsburg Borough Council for its county rehabilitation and renovation project. The three-phase plan to refurbish the courthouse and an adjacent parking lot was first brought to Borough Council in April 2009. Phases one and two of the plan include a geothermal heating and cooling system for the courthouse and the replacement of the bell tower. It will also include replacing windows panes with double-pane glasses, relocating restrooms on the first floor of the courthouse and replacing the stairway to the second floor. The plan also includes work to be done on McConnell Park, but a portion of the county’s plan brought objections from council when the engineer announced that West Spruce Street would be made one-way gong west, and that the roadway out of the parking lot to the north of West Spruce Street will be closed off entirely, all to limit access on North Second Street/Route 522. Although council was divided on the alley request, final approval was given in September;

Longtime Fulton County chief clerk Richard Wible passed away at the age of 57 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Work began on the Mc- Connellsburg Water Authority’s new 12-inch water main and upgrade. The $7.5 million upgrade includes a new water treatment plant and a 10,500-foot-long water main around the town to double the capacity of the water supply. Although the project was scheduled to be completed in November, work has been hampered by weather and is not completed, leaving several streets filled with potholes and uneven cold patch until the ditches cut into the streets can be properly repaired;

JLG received an additional order for 352 M-ATVs. The order is worth $189 million;

Fulton County Medical Center held a “topping out” ceremony for its new patient services building;

The Fulton County Library celebrated the completion of its $1.2 million renovation project. In addition to a full exterior facelift and the addition of an elevator, several new or improved areas that drew attention at the library are the public coffee machine, quiet reading and study areas, special teen area, a larger Historical Society room and a small meeting room.


Court of Common Pleas President Judge Douglas Herman named Craig C. Cutchall, a Hustontown resident and retired school teacher, to fill the county commissioner seat vacated by the July resignation of Daniel H. Swain Jr. Cutchall was chosen from a field of 16 Republican candidates and will serve at least until the expiration of Swain’s term in December 2011;

The 36th annual Fulton Fall Folk Festival was held. It was plagued by inclement weather, but the annual three-day festival was filled with good food, fellowship and, of course, tractors. This year the Prairie Gold Rush returned as the Minneapolis-Moline tractors and equipment were featured;

JLG received its fourth order for an additional 923 M-ATVs. The order was valued at $408.5 million


McConnellsburg adopted a preliminary 2010 budget that called for no tax increases. The budget sets spending at $448,000;

JLG received a fifth order for an additional 1,000 M-ATVs. This brings the total number of the MATVs ordered to 6,219 at a contract cost of $3.2 billion;

Fulton County Medical Center held its annual “state of the company” meeting and reported operating profits of $680,000;

A Save-A-Lot supermarket opened in the old Bi-Lo storefront in Penn’s Village Shopping Plaza.


The county unveiled a barebones budget that will include no tax increase for 2009. The commissioners made various cuts to their budget, both within county government and in their grants to agencies and organizations outside of county government;

Southern Fulton School District board President Dwight Bard announced he would step down from the president’s office, and the board elected Kenny Wuertenberg to serve as Bard’s replacement;

The Forbes Road School District board re-elected Terry Brant to serve as president, while at Central Fulton, Cory Gress was elected president. He replaces longtime board President Dennis Richards;

JLG ended the year with yet another Christmas present when it received a sixth order for 400 additional M-ATVs. This order was worth $175 million;

A late autumn snowstorm blanketed the county with 15 inches of snow;

Tragedy marked the year’s end as 2-year-old Kylie York succumbed to injuries allegedly inflicted on her by her mother’s boyfriend. Shane Pittman was arrested and is being held on charges of criminal homicide.

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