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Broadband Internet Looms Large in County Commission Election

“There are actual job opportunities ... and without (high-speed) internet, they don’t have that capability,” said Joseph Feehrer, one candidate running for a seat on the Snyder County, Pa., Commission.

(TNS) — Five Snyder County, Pa., commissioner candidates will vie for two spots on the Republican ticket in the May primary as the two Democrats are mostly assured a place on the general election ballot.

The five Republicans facing off for the two slots are incumbent Commissioner Joe Kantz, Selinsgrove businessman Charles Steininger, former Beavertown Borough Council member Joseph Feehrer, Rylan Ebright of Middleburg and Mount Pleasant Mills pastor Bob Pyle.

The two Democrats are Mary Bannon, a Selinsgrove Area School Board member, and McClure Mayor Adam Ewig.

The two highest primary vote-getters in both parties will vie for three seats on the county board in November.

The Daily Item videotaped each of the candidates and asked them five questions: What they view as the most challenging issue and how they would address it; what services should be consolidated; what areas in the budget should be expanded or increased; how important is it to fund social service programs and what separates them from the other candidates.

Access to high-speed Internet is a priority for several of the candidates.

Steininger, the owner of Steininger’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning, said prospective business owners need a qualified employee pool and sufficient infrastructure, particularly expanded broadband.

“Businesses look for Internet and what other infrastructures are available to meet their needs,” he said of the county’s challenge to provide services.

High-speed Internet, workforce development and improved transportation are the main challenges the county faces, said Bannon.

“There are plenty of social services in Snyder County. There needs to be a little bit more communication about that. People need to get to where they can get the services,” she said.

Kantz said the county is working with Union County officials to study the issue of expanding high-speed broadband Internet access, a successful partnership in the recent regionalization of the 911 Emergency System which is expected to save more than $1 million over the next decade.

“We’re well on our way to saving $1 million or more,” he said.

Partnering with Union County to improve broadband is a step endorsed by Feehrer.

“There are actual job opportunities ... and without (high-speed) Internet, they don’t have that capability,” he said.

Developing a business environment that helps retain local youth is a priority of Ebright, a recent Midd-West High School graduate who works at the regional 911 Center.

He touts his youth as an advantage on the county board.

“Being young provides a new perspective to voters. When we integrate old and new together we have much more and broader ideas,” said Ebright.

Ewig, who also works at the regional 911 Center, said transparency in government is most important as well as improving public safety and treatment to deal with the opioid crisis.

“I look at (public office) as an opportunity to impact many more people for the good each day,” he said.

For Pyle, the main challenge is property taxes and maintaining fiscal responsibility.

“Anywhere there is fraud, waste or abuse it needs to be adjusted,” he said.

A well-traveled lifelong resident, Pyle said he has a “broader” perspective on many issues.

“We want to maintain our unique country life. ... But we have to be aware we live in a world that’s changing,” he said.

©2019 The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.