Jersey Shore FBLA visit commissioners

Dozens of members of the 127-strong Future Business Leaders of America chapter at Jersey Shore High School made up the bulk of the Lycoming County commissioners’ audience Thursday morning.

County officials took advantage of their “captive audience,” taking the time to explain what their respective job is, how it affects community members and why the students should consider becoming active with their local governments.

“I was glad that Jack called me because every government official loves to have a captive audience,” joked Forrest Lehman, director of voter services. “If you’re 18 already, you can register (to vote). If you’re not 18, you may still be able to register.”

Young adults can register to vote in time for the primary if they will turn 18 before May 21. Likewise, they can register to vote in the November election over the summer if their 18th birthday takes place before election day, he said.

“Everybody’s recognizing you today for being successful,” Lehman said, “but with success comes responsibility. We want you to engage with your community. We want you to make your community a better place — which you’re already doing in a lot of good ways, but voting is another good way to do that.”

Williamsport resident Scott Miller also encouraged the students to vote and interact with their local government officials.

“I can tell you, if you vote, they listen to you,” he said.

Miller was a proponent of single-stream recycling before the commissioners at that time were willing to consider it, but he kept bringing up the idea and encouraging the commissioners to look into it. Once they did, they decided it was the way to go, Miller said.

Similarly, Miller was one of those who pushed for funding to improve safety for Route 15, and state and local government made it happen, he said.

“I can say I’ve helped save the environment and I’ve saved lives just by speaking up,” Miller said. “So, please, get involved and speak up. Don’t be afraid, they will listen.”

In addition to encouraging the students to participate in local government, the commissioners asked the students to provide feedback to the county that could help officials make improvements.

As the students are nearing college-age, they’re likely considering whether to stay in the area, move away and then come back, or possibly to not come back at all, said Commissioner Jack McKernan.

“One of the things that the county’s wrestling with, along with the Chamber of Commerce and the business industry, is how to keep youth not only in Lycoming County but in Pennsylvania,” McKernan said. “If there are things that are missing that you think need to be here to make it more attractive for you to stay here, improvements that you want to see made in the county, we’re certainly receptive to those ideas.”