HUGHESVILLE - It might as well have been dubbed Gordon Hiller Night at the annual Lycoming County Pomona Grange Dinner Friday night.
The longtime Grange member was recognized for many years of service to the rural and community service organization, his civic activities and his contributions to agriculture and conservation.
One by one government officials and others came to the podium with words of praise for Hiller and his wife Mary, his bride of nearly 66 years.
Gordon Hiller sits with his wife Mary at Friday night’s Lycoming County Pomona Grange Dinner at Hughesville. Hiller was honored for his many years of service to the Grange and for his community and civic contributions. Mary was recognized for her Grange activities as well.
When it came time for Hiller to speak, he kept it short.
He called for those in attendance to keep supporting the Grange and conservation.
Elizabeth Downey, who serves with Hiller on the Pomona Grange Legislative Committee, traced his life. She noted his days as young farmer in the Muncy Hills and Warrensville, his years working for various governmental agencies including the state Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection.
Hiller, she said, served as a leader of the Pennsylvania State Grange Delegate Body. She noted also his efforts in forming the Loyalsock and Muncy Creek Watershed Associations, his church affiliations and with groups including the Odd Fellows Lodge of Montoursville.
Hiller has been a member of the West Branch, Eldred and Bottle Run Granges.
Downey noted that Mary served as his helper with many of his activities over the years.
Among those addressing the audience were state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, state Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, and Lycoming County Commissioners Ernie Larson and Tony Mussare.
Yaw said the state General Assembly has accomplished much.
"Don't confuse us with what happens in Washington," he said. "We actually do things."
He noted that for the first time in nearly a decade a balanced budget was passed on time last year.
He said various pieces of legislation have been enacted.
A voter identification bill requiring everyone to have a photo ID at the polls will go into effect later this year.
Also passed, Yaw said, was the gas impact fee, which brings funding back to counties and municipalities.
"This could be the most beneficial piece of legislation for rural Pennsylvania," he said.
The Senate, he said, approved an amendment to the Constitution making it unlawful for anyone to be forced to purchase health insurance.
A measure Yaw said he won't support is the House bill to reduce the size of the state Legislature.
He said shrinking both Houses will only make it more difficult for constituents to see their representatives. In addition, he said it would bring minimal - if any - savings.
Mirabito said he favors a unicameral, or single House Legislature.
He said he voted against the voter ID bill, noting that there have been no documented cases of voter fraud in the state. He said implementing voter ID statewide will cost $11 million.
Mirabito said the proposed state budget includes funding reductions to education and human services that hurt rural residents.
He revealed a chart showing median household incomes of school districts in suburban Philadelphia counties ranging from $94,753 to $112,640. By comparison, the median household income of Lycoming County is just $41,856.
"If your income is greater, you have more discretionary income," he said.
That means more pressure on citizens paying property taxes in the poorer school districts to fund their educational needs.
Among others attending the dinner were Luana Cleveland, Democratic candidate for 23rd state Senate, Harry Rogers, Republican candidate for 83rd state House, and Charles Hall, an aide to state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy.