Down River — May 12, 2016

Renovo at a Crossroads:

Let’s hear it for Renovo, this weekend officially celebrating birthday number 150.

Renovo, built on real national infrastructure a century and a half ago.

Renovo birthplace of The Record, Clinton County’s oldest newspaper.

Renovo, proud of its hoops, proud of its history.

Renovo, fallen on hard times with the demise of the railroad (this country really needs to bring the railroad back, but that’s another column for another time).

Renovo, experiencing a resurgence with non-stop clean-up, fix-up activity, some of it from outside grants, some of it from volunteer hometown elbow grease, lots and lots of it.

Renovo, struggling with drugs, not unlike much of the rest of the county, the rest of the country.

Renovo, going it alone at this point relative to police protection in the western end of the county.

Renovo, ready to build on its next great opportunity, the proposed $800 million natural gas to energy plant, a project still on track for the start of construction in something less than a year from now.

Renovo, building its future hopes on that Renovo Energy Center project, hoping and praying it will be the springboard to an economic renewal, the springboard to attract additional new industry, create new jobs, offer opportunity to western Clinton County young people who otherwise will finish their schooling and be gone.

Renovo, an up-and-down first 150 years, but continuing to fight the good fight, poised to make the next few decades the best in a while in western Clinton County.

The Record has been proud to write about and record Renovo’s first 150 years; here’s a toast to Renovo from The Record and therecord-online to the next 150!

This Is Why We’re Angry:

  We know too well there is a tremendous groundswell of anger across the country directed at Washington D.C. and the folks inside the beltway, those living off the fat of the land and producing not much.

Here’s another example of why we’re upset. It is not important that you know the identity of the family herein described, but you can probably figure it out if you want. He’s U.S. senator from a Plains state.

He’s a senator, his wife is the top Washington lobbyist for Kraft Foods. His son served a term as governor and is now directing the main lobbying group for Detroit car builders. His other son and a daughter are both lobbyists back in his home state, one of them directing the father’s Senate re-election campaign.

There’s nothing inherently illegal about the pursuit of politics, nothing illegal about this kind of elected official/lobbying crossbreeding. But when this stuff becomes the norm, not the exception, when not much good gets done in D.C., we get upset. In 2016 we’re upset.

It’s Never Too Late:

Earlier this year Down River wrote about the possibility of combining Clinton County voting districts if practical and legal, a cost-effective move and not a major stumbling block to the relatively few of us who still go to the polls to vote.

An even better idea, it says here, is to actually combine municipalities. Yes, just like school districts went through over the last half century or so, why not combine some of our townships, boroughs and cities, creating that “critical mass” to offer more people more basic services.

What was the last such municipal consolidation? Short of asking Lou Bernard to research this (and I will), the only one vaguely recalled was Allison Township surrendering a portion of its holdings to become Lock Haven’s Fifth Ward maybe 75 or so years ago.

But these things still happen and they should. You may or may not know that Pennsylvania and Illinois have the most municipalities of any states in the United States, some 5,000 or so. That’s too many, makes things too unmanageable.

Make that number 4,999. Strausstown Borough and Upper Tulpehocken Township voters agreed in the April election to combine effective July 1. And the Berks County communities did it overwhelmingly, the Strausstown folks voting 97-6, the Upper Tulpehocken residents approving the merger on a 318-107 vote.

A longtime Strausstown borough resident told The Reading Eagle the move was a good one, stating the borough of just over 400 residents didn’t have room to expand “and with the expenses we either have to struggle or keep putting the taxes up, so it did benefit the people.”

With the merger borough residents will see their real estate taxes drop from 3 mills to 1.8 mills.

Somebody around here really should look at these kinds of consolidations. Many smaller townships have difficulty in filling their elected offices. How about a study on the pluses and minuses of bringing abutting communities together? Why shouldn’t South Renovo be part of Renovo? Or Beech Creek Township and Beech Creek borough joining together? And Castanea or Flemington hooking up with Lock Haven?

Are these suggestions heretical to raise? Why not a study to find out? Anybody have Rick Vilello’s Harrisburg number? We could do these things once we get that regional police study completed in the Renovo area.

Sounds like a plan.