2014-01-02 / Front Page

One Thumb Down

One Thumb Up

As the year ends and 2014 looms ahead, the “News” offers a “one thumb down” and “one thumb up” on the 2013 year.

One thumb down to the elected officials of both Ayr Township and the borough of McConnellsburg for striking a remarkable resemblance to the national political scene in their handling of the “case of the missing sidewalk” on South Second Street near Ayr Town Center. The discussion began early in the year about the portion of sidewalk on the east side of South Second Street that forces pedestrians into the street until they can regain sidewalk access at the entrance to Giant Food Store parking lot. It has been noted many times that this creates a public safety issue for pedestrians and for those pushing strollers and walking with children on their way to the Giant.

The discussion continued over the entire year, with both the Ayr Township supervisors and the Borough Council members disputing where the borough-township line was and whose responsibility it was to construct the sidewalk. The borough also noted at one point that they believed it was the property owner’s responsibility, but then took no steps to contact the property owner. The Ayr supervisors concluded that the portion of the area that is geographically located in Ayr should be fixed by the Ayr Town Center property owner and so the shopping center’s sidewalk was extended to South Second Street by the center’s property owner. Ayr concluded that they had met their obligation and that the remaining portion was the borough’s responsibility. At the end of the year, the borough said they were awaiting news from the county as to the availability of grant funds to do the job. In the meantime, the borough made no move to acquire an estimate or to move the project forward in any way. And so at the end of the year, the missing sidewalk is still missing and lives are still being put in jeopardy. In true political fashion befitting politics on a national level, all of the parties involved have done a magnificent job of refusing to acknowledge that “the buck stops here,” or anywhere for that matter.

One has to wonder what could have been had the Borough Council members, early in the discussions, sat down with the Ayr Township supervisors, the Ayr Town Center owners (and the property owner, if deemed appro- priate) to discuss the problem, to ascertain for certain where property lines are and to agree to work together financially to solve the problem. Perhaps, the end result could have been that each entity would have only had to contribute a little to solve the problem. But even if they had to contribute more than a little, what is the price of human life? And isn’t one of the functions of all governments, whether local, state or national, to provide for the safety of its citizens? And so, we give a “thumbs down” to all that have carelessly spent a year passing the buck on this critical safety issue.

As we bid goodbye to 2013, our “one thumb up” is for Shain Mellott and all of the organizers of the Festival of Lights at the fairgrounds just prior to Christmas. The idea, conceived by Shain Mellott, was discussed with the Grease, Steam and Rust Association and the Fulton County Fair Board and their support and enthusiasm allowed the concept to come to fruition on December 13 and 14. Mellott also received support from churches and businesses as he spread the word about nativity scenes or any other Christmas setting with lights or music. Mellott added vehicles ranging from lawn mowers and tractors to dump trucks and man lifts could be decorated to the hilt as a display.

Mellott recommended that each light display be powered by a “quiet” generator as only limited slots on the grounds have access to power. Some displays located side-by-side shared a generator by making necessary arrangements through event organizers.

A $25 fee was charged for each space to help cover the costs associated with putting on the Festival of Lights.

To round out the event, Santa Claus and his elves were at the 4- H rabbit barn to greet youngsters as well with an array of goodies such as coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, oranges, candy canes and popcorn balls. A specially designed and decorated setting by McConnellsburg resident Kent Fraker depicted a home from the 1940s and 50s and provided the perfect place for area children to have their photo taken with Santa Claus.

It was a rousing success as a total of 450 vehicles drove through the festival on Friday night with an additional 120 on Saturday night that had to brave snow and sleet that added an additional layer of beauty to the various light displays.

The display took a large number of volunteers and cost, perhaps, more money to pull off than was anticipated. But Mellott said volunteers were always ready to step forward and everyone looks forward to next year. Mellott wrapped up his project by saying, “This wasn’t about the money. This was about doing something for the community.” Yes, it was, Mr. Mellott. Shain Mellott is our “Person of the Year.”

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