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Whitehall Township mayor makes the list

Lehigh Valley Business, a news source focusing on business, has included Whitehall Township Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. on its Power 100 list - a listing of individuals, in no particular order, who shape the greater Lehigh Valley and supply tangible change.

The news source, located in Bethlehem, recognized Harakal’s ability to build and nurture a healthy work environment - an integral part of creating a happy community. The segment noted his acquirement of the Whitehall Parkway and the Ironton Rail Trail are some of his proudest accomplishments for Whitehall Township.

Garry Lenton, Lehigh Valley Business managing editor, had each person share a personal statement “because no matter how high up the ladder they are, they’re all human.”

“Most people have a good heart,” Harakal said. “Sometimes, you have to help them feel safe enough to let it shine.”

How the individuals are selected for the Power 100 is unknown, but Harakal believes he made the list because of the current land development going on in Whitehall Township.

“I was stunned to find out that I was included,” Harakal shared with the Whitehall-Coplay Press. “It is kind of surprising to find my name on the list with federal legislators.”

When reflecting on his return to office after filling the township executive role from 1984 to 1992, he said he does not find it to be that different.

Harakal is responsible for hiring many of the vital roles found in the municipal building today, including Jack Meyers, deputy mayor; Lee Rackus, bureau chief for the planning, zoning and development department; and John Rackus, bureau chief for the public works department.

He said filling the mayor position “is a little easier” now because of all of the knowledge those three have accumulated over the past 30 years.

“It’s just like fitting into a family again,” Harakal said.

During the gap between the two township roles, Harakal spent his time developing and running an online marketing company with his son. He has always had an interest in local government and stayed on top of township news, so it is no surprise he found himself coming back to another township role in April 2018.

The Power 100 list also included some other notable Whitehall residents.

Jack Gross was recognized for his role at Gross McGinley LLP. Gross is the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners solicitor.

Mary Kay McMahon, president and CEO of Fellowship Community, made the list for her oversight of all operations at the senior living facility.

Abe Atiyeh, CEO of Pennsylvania Venture Capital, appeared on Power 100 for his firm’s major development with Whitehall Manor, Bethlehem Manor and Saucon Valley Manor.

The Power 100 list can be viewed at lvb.com/power-100-list-2021.

Michael Harakal Jr.