The news that Crawford County commissioners plan to use some of the COVID-19 relief funds to purchase and install new windows in the courthouse brings back a lot of memories from my days covering county government as a reporter.

Way back in the mid-1980s, then-Commissioner Gene Rumsey (who has since died) wanted to replace the windows and the boiler system. He said it was ridiculous to be opening windows in the winter (to leave out heat) and closing them in the summer to keep air conditioners running. However, the expense was too great and the county didn't have the money.

In more recent years, then-Commissioner Sherman Allen, as one of his first acts as commissioner, proposed getting quotes for window replacement — citing the same arguments. Again, there was no money to be found without raising taxes and there was no support for that.

Now that the federal government is giving the county $7.2 million from relief funds, commissioners announced they are hiring a firm to come up with the plans to replace the windows — which date  to the 1950s.

At least they won't have to raise local taxes to pay for them.

With all the COVID-19 relief funds being paid out, it's a sure bet that somewhere down the road, somebody will be paying to repay that debt!

• • •

It appears Meadville Democratic voters will have at least two contested races on the May 18 primary ballot.

Four candidates are vying for two positions and two candidates are vying for the nomination for city mayor.

Three candidates — two council and one mayor — are running as a team: Gretchen Myers and Jack Harkless for council and Jamie Kinder for mayor. Harkless ran the last time for council, but the other two are newcomers. Also running for the two Democratic council nominations are Sean Donahue and Andrew Herbstritt. Mayor LeRoy Stearns is seeking the nomination for re-election.

Republicans have only two candidates for council — Jim Roha and Nancy Mangilo Bittner — and no candidate for mayor.

• • •

While the players are lining up for the 2021 election, others are starting to line up for next year — including some names for governor on the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian party ballots.

It's early yet, but in politics, it's never too early. However, it is a matter of timing activities right so candidates don't "peak" too soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed how campaigning is done so it may be a little more difficult — or easier — to campaign, depending on one's point of view or personality of the candidates.

To me, some of the better candidates (politically) didn't fare as well as others because they were not extroverts and not comfortable public speaking.

And, in today's "politically correct" atmosphere, others are hesitant to get involved because of possible backlash.

No easy answer for sure, but to me, democracy is still the best government.

• • •

While newcomers are lining up to get involved, other candidates are stepping down — not because they don't enjoy the work. They don't enjoy some of the personality conflicts and bickering. There has to to be a happy medium with those serving and must be a respect for each other even if one doesn't agree with decisions made.

I've always been pleased to watch one members of Linesville Borough Council.

Many times the votes are close for various decisions, but once they are made, council members move to the next issue without any bickering or long-standing issues. They may still have long-standing issues, but they are mature enough to keep them private.

Serving on small town (or county) government boards is not always easy, but it's important work.

• • •

At the state level, despite the fact the federal government has not approved an increase in the minimum wage, state Sen. Dan Laughlin, a Republican from Erie County, is proposing legislation to increase the state minimum wage to $10 an hour and then tie it to the cost of living after that.

So far, I've seen no reaction to that proposal.

Of course, businesses don't have to start employees at only the minimum wage. Many local businesses are advertising starting wages at $9 or more.

• • •

One big question on many people's mind now is whether Crawford County will have a full-fledged fair this year — with the big-name entertainers and a full schedule of events.

Although it's only March, August is only five months away!

And, with all major events, there's a lot of planning and preparation to do.

• • •

The county Office of Voter Services is already planning for the May 18 election. The county has a new voter services director and new director of the machine operations so it will be a learning experience for them as well.

Former employees have promised to be available for any assistance they may need.

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