West Reading recognized for ‘Responding to Adversity’ at 2024 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence

On behalf of Governor Josh Shapiro, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis and Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Rick Siger today recognized Pennsylvania municipalities and local government officials for their dedication to strengthening their communities and better serving their residents.

During the 28th Annual Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence, 14 communities, three organizations, and nine individuals from across the Commonwealth were recognized for excellent service.

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“During Local Government Week, we are privileged to celebrate the local officials and organizations from all across Pennsylvania who dedicate their time, effort, and passion to getting stuff done and delivering real results for their communities. Our city and local governments are where the rubber meets the road – and our 2024 award recipients have shown exceptional dedication, the capacity for innovation, and an unwavering focus on making their communities a better place,” said Governor Josh Shapiro.

“From working directly with the people in their communities to provide essential services, to answering calls for help in 911 dispatch centers, to helping their most vulnerable neighbors during challenging times – each of these awardees has made a positive difference in Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth is proud to recognize them for their excellence.”

The recognitions occur each year on Pennsylvania Local Government Day, which focuses attention on the need for strong, independent, and active local government in the Commonwealth and celebrates the valuable contributions made by residents serving their communities.

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“As someone who got my start in public service working for local government, I know firsthand the positive and meaningful impact that local leaders and officials can make in their communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis. “The Pennsylvanians being recognized today have built partnerships, responded to adversity, created health and wellness initiatives, and promoted community and economic revitalization through collaboration and innovation. We congratulate the 2024 award recipients and thank them for all they do, every day.”

In Berks County, West Reading Borough was recognized in the category Responding to Adversity for the R.M. Palmer Explosion Recovery & Mayor Samantha Kaag’s Leadership. On March 24, 2023, the R.M. Palmer Chocolate Factory explosion claimed seven lives. The West Reading Borough responded quickly and efficiently, with the volunteer fire department and the Mayor leading the effort to put out the fire and rescue victims. The Public Works Department played a crucial role as well. The Borough Council kept residents and the media informed throughout the incident, and the community rallied together, raising over a million dollars for the families of the victims.

DCED’s Governor’s Center for Local Government Services sponsors Local Government Day annually to honor local governments and officials who serve their communities and improve their quality of life.

“Local government has the most direct impact on our daily lives and the Shapiro Administration is thrilled to celebrate the municipalities, counties, organizations and individuals who are dedicated to providing the highest level of service to their communities,” said Secretary Rick Siger. “The important projects and passionate individuals recognized today truly help to make Pennsylvania the best place to live, work, and thrive.”

Detailed information about this year’s recipients can be found on DCED’s website.

The following local government officials were recognized: Preston Boop, County Commissioner – Union County. John Jablowski, Councilmember, Wilkes-Barre Township – Luzerne County. Bruce Koller, Finance Director and Deputy Director, Allentown Parking Authority – Lehigh County. Melissa Komar, Executive Director, Johnstown Regional Sewage and the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority – Cambria County. A Lewis, Executive Director, Tri-COG Land Bank, Executive Director, Steel Rivers Council of Government – Allegheny County. Rebecca Ross, AICP, Principal Planner, Delaware County Planning Department – Delaware County. H. Scott Russell, Township Supervisor, East Hempfield Township – Lancaster County. Amy C. Seeley, Borough Manager, Canton – Bradford County. Derek Slaughter, Mayor, Williamsport – Lycoming County

The following municipalities, organizations, and counties were recognized: Building Community Partnerships: NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania and the City of Carbondale – Lackawanna County. Environmental Wellness Initiatives: Pine Township – Lycoming County. Fiscal Accountability and Best Management Practices: City of Scranton – Lackawanna County. Health and Wellness Initiatives: Greene County Human Services and Food Security Partnership/MAGIC – Greene County. Innovative Community/Governmental Initiatives: Central Keystone Council of Governments – Union County. Dormont Borough – Allegheny County. Mt. Lebanon – Allegheny County. Intergovernmental Cooperation: Johnsonburg Borough and Ridgway Borough – Elk County. Tarentum Borough and Brackenridge Borough – Allegheny County. Innovative Planning and Sound Land Use Practices: East Cocalico Township – Lancaster County. Promoting Community/Economic Revitalization: Mayor Thomas Guzzo and the City of New Kensington Council – Westmoreland County. Responding to Adversity: Darlington Township – Beaver County. West Reading Borough – Berks County. Technology Advancements: Middletown Township – Bucks County

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