Glen Osborne mayor set to retire
By Bobby Cherry
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 2:54 p.m.
When Bill Boswell exits Tuesday's council meeting, he'll do so for the final time as Glen Osborne mayor.
The retired Air Force colonel said he has mixed feelings about leaving public office.
“I've done it for 30 years, (and) I hope I've made a difference,” he said. “I've certainly tried to.
“On the other hand, I've done it for 30 years, and it's probably time for someone else to do it.”
Boswell, 67, began serving on Glen Osborne Council in 1983. Five years later, he became council president and was elected mayor in 1997.
Councilwoman Barbara Carrier will succeed Boswell in January.
“She's going to be a great mayor,” he said. “She thinks outside the box.
“She's a kindergarten teacher … so she knows how to deal well with herding cats — which is sometimes what the job is.”
For Boswell, creating an identity for the borough of less than 600 has been a focus of his elected time, he said.
“When I moved here (in the late 1970s), I thought I was living in Sewickley,” he said. “You drove through Glen Osborne in those days, it looked like it was attached to Sewickley.”
Now, Boswell is quick to rattle off the highlights of the borough laying claim to its own identity through signage and public beautification.
“As far as I'm concerned, the pièce de résistance of the borough is Mary Roberts Rinehart Park.”
The park — created in 2006 next to Osborne Elementary School by a group separate from the borough — will be part of Boswell's legacy to the borough, mayor-elect Carrier said.
A piece of Boswell's legacy residents might not notice was his ability to communicate with neighboring municipalities, Carrier said.
“He is good with our neighbors,” she said.
“That's a really important job of the mayor — work well with the other communities.”
Boswell said he told himself and others he wanted to remain an elected official until two major milestones were reached in the borough: a $6-million multi-municipal sewer system was completed and the roads were paved.
Both projects were completed earlier this year.
“I told Barbara, I wanted to create a situation where she had as little to do as possible, so she could focus on the things she was most interested in,” he said.
Boswell said he was approached to join borough government, and said he'd recommend it to others considering being part of the process.
“Most organizations that we all grew up with are having a harder time getting people to even join,” he said. “People are very busy.
“On the other hand, local government cannot work without interested people willing to invest the time.”
Boswell said he learned to listen as an elected official — not only to fellow council members, but constituents.
“A lot of times, the stuff they're talking about, you have no control over,” he said. “The usual calls include, ‘Why don't you do something about the train whistle?' and ‘Why do the trains shake my house when they come through?' And I'd tell them, ‘We don't regulate trains.'
“You have to empathize with people, and you have to accept the fact that they're talking to you because they have a problem, and a lot of times what they want is someone to listen.”
He likened serving in local government to doing household chores.
“I love vacuuming,” Boswell said. “You know why? Because you see the results.
“You see dirt (and) dust on the rug, and you run the vacuum over it (and) it's clean. It's the same thing with the borough. It may take a little bit longer than running a vacuum over a rug, but you can see things get done.
“If people paid more attention to local government, they might be able to extrapolate a little bit and tell their state and national leaders to start operating a bit more like my borough does, because they get things done. They don't just talk about stuff, they do stuff.”
Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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