TROY - Charles Fox was sworn in as a Pennsylvania Game Commissioner by Magisterial District Justice Jonathan Wilcox, of Troy, on Oct. 23.
Although Charlie could have had a more impressive ceremony, he chose to have only a simple one, with his wife, Ursula, and myself the only ones present. For those of us who know Charlie, this was no surprise, for he always has tried to stay out of the limelight.
As a commissioner, Charlie will represent Region 5, which includes Lycoming, Bradford, Tioga, Sullivan, Northumberland and Union counties.
His term will run for eight years. We here in Bradford County are excited about Charlie's appointment because he will be the first person from our county to be appointed since the Game Commission was formed in 1895.
Charlie Fox was born and raised in Williamsport and graduated from Williamsport High School. After graduating from Lycoming College, he came to Troy, where he was hired by the Troy School District as a biology teacher. He spent the next 40-plus years in the district, teaching and serving as a school administrator.
Soon after Charlie moved to Troy, Richard Donahoe, who was the district game protector, sent a letter to the Troy Rod and Gun Club, asking for help in instituting a hunter education course.
Charlie volunteered and assisted in the first course held in the Troy area. It wasn't long before Charlie became a deputy game protector for Donahoe and served in that capacity until he reached the commission's mandatory retirement age.
On Nov. 17, 1897, six commissioners were appointed by the governor. The sportsmen served without salary or compensation.
Today, eight commissioners serve the state. They still are appointed by the governor and serve without salary.
Although the early commissioners had a very daunting task, the task is no easier today.
One outdoor writer told Charlie that the word around town was that he was in the Game Commission's pocket, meaning that he would allow the commission to do whatever it wanted.
Those who know Charlie all would agree that statement is absurd. Charlie will bring to the commission his vast knowledge of wildlife, special interest in youth and support for the sportsmen of the state.
When I questioned Charlie as to what he hoped to accomplish in his term as a game commissioner, I was not surprised with his answer. He wants to focus on youth programs, create more opportunities for hunters and possibly create an adult mentor program. He also said one of the greatest threats to wildlife within the state today is chronic wasting disease, or CWD.
On his thoughts of the commission buying more game lands, Charlie said it should purchase as much land as possible, within its budget. He added we are blessed with the fact that the early game commissioners knew how important hunting lands would become and they took steps to purchase the lands.
At this time, Charlie said, it appears that the commission only is trying to purchase land that either is connected to game lands, or large acres of land for creating new game lands.
It also is pursuing private acres within established interior holdings. However, the commission is missing out on some opportunities to purchase smaller parcels of land.
Charlie actively serves as the chairman of the State Youth Hunter Education Challenge; event director for the National Youth Hunter Education Challenge; National Rifle Association; chairman of the Friends of the NRA annual banquet, which is held to raise funds to be used for sports programs within the state; president of the Mill Creek Association, which has leased land from the Army Corps of Engineers in Tioga County for outdoor activities, with one project to include a shooting range that is handicap accessible. His list of involvement goes on.
Charlie is on a committee for Mt. Pisgah County Park and also a member of the Friends of Mt. Pisgah State Park.
I applaud the governor on appointing Charlie as a commissioner because I know of no one who would do a better job.