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Montgomery: ‘Growing Toward Tomorrow’

The phrase, “Growing Toward Tomorrow,” greets motorists as they enter the borough of Montgomery along the main arteries feeding into this small Lycoming County community.

The slogan would seem to fit Montgomery, a municipality like so many, which tries to move forward and reach to the future, as it emerges from its industrial past.

Serving and meeting the needs of the 1,570 residents of the community is a challenge that borough officials such as Donna Miller comes up against each and every day.

Miller, who serves as borough coordinator, is one of just six municipal employees.

That doesn’t include the small police department comprised of one full-time and three part-time police officers.

As Miller sat behind her desk in the downtown borough building, she ticked off some of the projects that are being targeted. Indeed, they are the sort of projects that take up the budgets of most communities.

There’s the replacement of a waterline to be done on West Houston Avenue and paving projects.

“We have a lot of aging waterlines,” she said. “I’d like to get street paving done next year. Some streets are in good shape, some are not.”

With an annual municipal budget of about $500,000, it’s challenging to meet all expenses and needed projects.

Grant money is a godsend, Taylor noted.

She proudly referred to the reopening of the skateboard park in the community park which had been damaged by flooding.

“It had been closed a few years. It needed work,” she said.

A grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation was a big help, but there was also community support in the way of individual donations.

Taylor credited the borough’s parks and recreation committee for stepping forward with plans.

Recently, a community day was held in the park.

“We will do this on a yearly basis now,” she said.

Volunteers, including a local Girl Scout group, have spruced up and planted flowers at Stackhouse Park. In the park, a tree has been planted in remembrance of Angel McLaughlin, a former Montgomery Police officer, who died of cancer in 2019.

Once again, Montgomery will hold an annual Halloween Parade on Oct. 31.

It’s such activities and volunteerism that help highlight and bring pride to the community.

The small downtown remains viable while struggling to keep businesses.

Earlier this year, Montgomery’s Pharmacy, a longtime presence on Main Street, moved out.

Other downtown businesses manage to continue operating despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, including two restaurants, a convenience store, a tattoo parlor and an art and music studio.

The public library at Houston and Main street remains a viable part of the community.

Taylor said it’s not easy attracting businesses to Montgomery.

“We have no new businesses coming. We are landlocked,” she said.

That can make it hard to bring in tax revenues to fund municipal services in a community already comprised of many senior citizens on fixed incomes, Taylor noted.

On the plus side, Montgomery is a small town made up of many people who live by the credo of neighbors helping neighbors.

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