PUNXSUTAWNEY — After 12 years as a member of Punxsutawney Borough Council, President Susan Glessner resigned Friday as president and as a member of council, effective immediately.
Glessner, who had two years left on her term, said the reason she decided to resign at this time is because with the new council coming in, it would be a good time for her to move on so the incoming council will have the chance to start fresh.
Glessner said she was originally approached to join council by current Councilman William Spencer, and she was appointed in 2000 when Jim Infantino resigned his seat.
"I had thought about (serving on council) earlier, but I was busy being involved in my children's school activities and PTO business," she said. "One of the first calls I received (after being sworn in) was from Jack Vancheri, who asked if I could work to have the house that was located at the corner of Route 36 and 436 by the Margiotti Bridge torn down.”
Glessner said that was something that remained a goal of hers all along, the demolition of that vacant duplex, the dilapidated red-sided house that was located across the street on the east side of North Main Street and the flood-damaged house on Carter Avenue.
All three were demolished within the last two years, she said.
Glessner said some of her other accomplishments included renovating of all of the borough's recreational areas, including Barclay Square, Harmon Field, the Community Center, Patsy's Park and the Carter Avenue playground.
The demoliton of the ATA buildings, the new construction of the ATA Punxsutawney Transit Center, the Torrence Street widening project and the new traffic light system on North Findley and Pine streets are also progress in the borough of which Glessner is proud, in addition to the sewage treatment plant renovations and sewer construction to eliminate the inflow and infiltration into the sewage treatment plant.
Marlene Lellock, executive director of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce, said that Glessner and her fellow council members have accomplished quite a bit in Punxsy.
"I think the council, since Susan and (former councilman) Roger Steele were elected, has been very progressive," Lellock said. "From a Chamber point of view, there's been some major accomplishments, but overall, they've been successful in moving things forward in the borough."
Lellock said she wanted to thank all of the outgoing members, including Steele, Robert Reesman and Donna Lellock, for their efforts.
Lellock said she supports Glessner's decision to resign; thinks she did a terrific job in moving the town forward in a positive direction; and she'll be missed.
Steele said a lot of things happened because council wasn't afraid to take the lead on doing things, including the skate park, the industrial park, expansion of IUP and renovating the Fairman Centre, among others.
Glessner said the last two years have been the toughest of her tenure, due to the Aug. 15, 2009 death of Stephen Obbish, 48, in the back of a Punxsutawney Borough Police cruiser, and the council vote to fire Officer Brian Androkovich from his position on the force.
"I think there were some mistakes made," Glessner said. "Personally, I don't think Mr. Obbish should have been left in the police car. ..."In this whole two-year period when we talk about how hard it has been on the borough and everyone else, the bottom line is, somebody died," Glessner said, adding that borough council members are currently involved in litigation regarding the case.
Glessner said she remembers exactly where she was and what she was doing when she received the news about Obbish's death.
"We had company visiting from Florida, and we were sitting in the living room when I received the call from (Borough Manager) Ben White, and I couldn't believe what he was telling me, never in a million years (did I think) that this would happen," Glessner said. "And I hope in a million years that it never happens again.
"People don't realize once you become a member of council, even if you have a pre-conceived notion of what it's all about, it's not as easy as you think," Glessner said, adding that serving on council takes time away from yourself, family and friends.
"Most people think because you ran for the position that you're just going to do the job, no matter what time of the day or night," she said. "I always tried to help most people with their problems when they would call me, if possible."
Glessner also addressed not voting to hire Sean Weaver as a full-time officer when his probation was about to expire.
"Pennsylvania is an at-will state, which means that when someone is on probation, (potential employers) don't have to give a reason when someone is not hired following their probation period," she said.
"Contrary to public opinion, we did have our reasons as to why we didn't hire him full time."
Glessner said she wanted to thank her family, husband, children and grandchildren for putting up with her being absent so much.
"I want to thank all of the borough employees, office staff, police, public works and the people of Punxsutawney for giving me the opportunity to do this," Glessner said, adding that she's not sure what she'll do next. First she just wants rest for a while, and then she'll move onto something else.