Mahoning welcomes two new supervisors
DAVID WARGO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Mahoning Township seated two new supervisors and a solicitor this week. Seated left to right are new supervisor Linda Benner, George Stawnyczyj, Chairman John Wieczorek and new supervisor Franklin Ruch. Standing in the back row are Vice Chairman Travis Steigerwalt, new Solicitor Thomas Nanovic and Secretary-Treasurer Natalie Haggerty.
With 2010, Mahoning Township welcomed two new supervisors to the table.
Lifelong residents Linda Benner and Franklin Ruch won the two seats in last November's election to become the freshmen supervisors, replacing former supervisors Pat Snyder and Bruce Steigerwalt, the interim supervisor for Dawn Blocker, who retired last year. Snyder had lost her seat in the general election last fall while Steigerwalt opted not to run for a term, remaining a member of the Planning Commission instead.
All of the supervisors welcomed the newcomers to the table and wished them all the best.
Chairman John Wieczorek told them he was looking forward to working with them and hearing what ideas they have in the coming months. Both of the new supervisors thanked the incumbents and Secretary-Treasurer Natalie Haggerty for helping them get oriented to their new positions.
Benner said, "Natalie was very helpful in getting information out to us."
She said it helped her get acquainted with issues.
Both candidates spoke after the meeting briefly about their backgrounds and interests in the township.
Benner said, "I am a lifelong resident of Mahoning Township and I wasn't happy with the direction in which the township was going."
One of her biggest concerns was with how residential developments were overtaking the rural nature of the township.
She added that she lives in her family's homestead in the house that at one time was her grandparents and indicated she wants to see better control of the spread of development into the agricultural areas.
Although this is Benner's first opportunity to hold public office, she is no stranger to administration or management having worked and run an insurance agency for thirty three years before retiring. Currently she is an administrative assistant at the Carbon County Area Vocational Technical School in Jim Thorpe. In addition she is a long-time member of the Lions Club and a past regional chairperson for the local Lions District 14. She is also a recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship award, which is the highest award given to someone in the Lions for humanitarian efforts.
Ruch is also no stranger to local politics having been most recently the vice president of the Lehighton Area School Board and chairman of the CCAVTS Joint Operating Committee. In the November election, he had dual wins for another school board term, as well as the supervisor position for the township.
"I could not serve in both capacities at the same time so I had to give up one position."
Ruch chose to accept that post as supervisor and resigned from the school board.
Ruch said he is also a lifelong resident of the township but has lived in several different locations over the years. He became interested in the municipal post in recent years also because of the concerns over development.
"I was concerned with the direction the township was taking and how it was affecting the agricultural parts of the township," said Ruch.
Both supervisors have legitimate concerns as many acres of land that were once farms are currently being developed or are in the planning stages for development in the township.
It is clear that the existing supervisors are looking forward to their ideas and discussing what can be done in the future to achieve their goals for Mahoning in coming years.
Also new to the board is Solicitor Thomas Nanovic who was previously the solicitor of the township's planning commission. He is replacing long-time solicitor and now Judge Steven R. Serfass, who ascended to the county's bench as its first third judge after winning the election last November.
Nanovic's firm will continue to represent the planning commission while he will serve the township as its solicitor.