NEW BETHLEHEM – A month since taking on the title of New Bethlehem Mayor, Gordon Barrows gave notice last week that he plans to be more than just a figurehead for the borough.
At the Jan. 21 meeting of New Bethlehem Borough Council, Barrows presented a two-page mayor’s report, chocked full of new initiatives and plans the former councilman-turned-mayor hopes to implement in the near future.
Barrows resigned from his council position in December and was appointed to the mayoral post following the resignation of former mayor Tim Murray.
He began the new year by calling on the council to begin each meeting with a prayer, and followed up by proclaiming April as PA One Call’s Safe Digging Month.
In addition to announcing recently completed and soon-to-happen community events, Barrows said that in his role as mayor, which traditionally oversees the police department, he would like to schedule ride-alongs with the chief and sergeant, and to job shadow the department’s office secretary in order to get a better idea of how the department operates.
One initiative that Barrows touted is an effort to have New Bethlehem selected for a new HGTV reality show, “Hometown Takeover.”
Barrows said that Ben and Erin Napier, hosts of HGTV’s Home Town, are looking for a community of less than 40,000 residents to take part in the Hometown Takeover limited series.
Barrows said the deadline to apply for the show is Feb. 7, and he asked the council’s permission to proceed with the application.
“I love the idea,” Barrows said, noting that he wanted to investigate further before applying to find out if there was a “catch” or downside to taking part.
According to an HGTV press release, the network is seeking submissions from a community with historical architecture, and a main street that needs a face lift.
Two other initiatives the new mayor announced last week include a “Thank You” campaign and the Key to the Community program.
Barrows said the Thank You campaign would recognize volunteers, veterans and other VIPs in the community who “make New Bethlehem a great place to work, live and raise a family.” Those being honored would receive a letter of thanks from the mayor and council, and possibly a certificate of appreciation. The recipients would also then be invited to a council meeting for the presentation, and would have their photo published in the newspaper.
As for the Key to the Community proposal, Barrows said he would like the borough to work with the Redbank Valley Chamber of Commerce to take part in promoting local businesses, ribbon-cuttings and more. The chamber currently hosts ribbon cuttings with its large scissors, Barrows said, and the borough could use a large key to symbolize the key to the community that would be presented to the business as well.
“It would be good public relations for the borough,” Barrows said.
Barrows also announced plans to host a Mayor’s Social at the Redbank Valley Community Center on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 1 to 3 p.m., in order to meet and greet the public and field comments and suggestions. He said that council members, along with borough police and public works department employees, would also be invited.
• In her first regular meeting as council president, Lisa Kerle told fellow members that their committee assignments are not set in stone, and that she hoped to move people around each year so that they could gain experience working with various borough committees.
• Executive sessions were held at the start and end of the meeting for legal consultation with the borough’s solicitor.
• The council approved a procedure and waiver for a ride-along program with the borough’s police department.
• East Brady Borough Councilman Joe Hillwig was in attendance at the meeting, telling his New Bethlehem counterparts that his council has been very pleased with contracted police services from the New Bethlehem Police Department. “It’s been a big turnaround and has helped East Brady considerably,” he said.