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- Sweigart foundation awards $405,000 in grants for 2015
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Akron Mayor will seek third term
By: JAMES MCGINNIS Review Correspondent, Staff Writer
Now in his fourth decade of public service to the town of Akron, John McBeth recently announced that he plans to run for a third term as the borough’s mayor this spring.
McBeth, who owns a print shop in town, does not have any official opponent and has been endorsed by the Republican Committee. This means that unless someone launches a write-in campaign, he is guaranteed to win a third, four-year term as the borough’s Mayor.
McBeth said that he had no problem making the decision, proudly stating that he is not yet ready to retire from a career dating back over 30 years, to 1981, when he first joined the borough planning commission. He was subsequently elected to the borough council in 1989 and served a term as the board’s president before deciding to run for mayor in 2005.
McBeth explained why he decided to run for mayor after serving 16 years on the council.
"(I) wanted to take on new and different challenges to serve the town of Akron.
"It definitely wasn’t the pay that led me to switch," he jokes.
Although he spent his childhood in Elizabethtown, McBeth moved east to Akron in 1965 and has lived there ever since. He established his eponymous printing business, McBeth Printing, in 1976, and says that his heart remains in the small, northeast Lancaster County borough.
"I’ve lived in the borough for over 47 years and owned my own business for 37 years," he said. "It’s located in what used to be the Akron Public School near the traffic light at Main and 7th Street. You want to see a print shop, I’ll show you what a working print shop looks like."
The Akron borough code stipulates that the mayor oversee the town’s police department. Other unofficial, but better known, duties involve representing the town at public and community events, and being a spokesperson for the press.
"It is expected that the mayor will be the face of the borough government and promoter of the community," he said.
Noting that it lacks the large industrial and commercial base of nearby Ephrata and Lititz, McBeth has worked to promote Akron by working with "various groups" that start the annual Shoe-In Celebration, which features a shoe dropping in the Broad Street Park on New Years’ Eve. He also teamed up with councilman Perry Lorah to begin another annual tradition, "Akron Night At the Barnstormers," where borough residents attend a baseball game at Lancaster’s Clipper Stadium every June.
McBeth also said that he likes to stay visible by frequently eating at local restaurants and shopping at the borough’s other businesses. "I’m known for being out there," he said. "I am always eager to discuss ways to improve the town of Akron."
One of the most visible ways that McBeth has improved the borough during his time as councilman and mayor, is expanding and improving the town’s recreation facilities. While on council, he worked with the borough’s Centennial Committee to revitalize and upgrade the Broad Street Park.
"At that time, the Main Street entrance was created and accented by the town clock.
"Since that time, other improvements have been made to that park," he said. "These include a street hockey rink, pavilion, new playground equipment and the installation of modern restrooms."
This commitment to parks and recreation has continued into McBeth’s time as mayor. In recent years, he has been a vocal advocate of constructing a rail trail along the defunct Reading Railroad line that crossed the northern portion of the borough and once connected Lititz and Ephrata; and of developing the town’s newest park, Colonial Park, adjacent to this new trail.
"I have been active with the surrounding neighborhood in developing this park," he noted. "It was decided that it would be designed by neighbors, for neighbors. We did a survey to see what the surrounding community wanted to see in this park. To me, that was a very important concept."
Plans for both the park and trail are moving forward. The first section of the trail, which will eventually extend west to Warwick Township, is slated for construction from the southern terminus of the Ephrata Linear Park southwest to Main Street in Akron, later this spring or summer.
Colonial Park, which was little more than a soccer field until last year, is also being developed with new trees, picnic facilities and playground equipment, as well as a spur trail that will connect Colonial Avenue to the rail trail.
McBeth said that he was pleased with these developments and promised to continue to work toward expanding and improving the borough’s park system in his anticipated third term as mayor. He said that he does not foresee any major challenges for the borough in the near future.
"Over the years, Akron has developed into a bedroom community. We aren’t known for our commerce or industry," he concluded. "My goal is to work with what we have and make Akron the best residential community in the county." More MCBETH, page A6
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