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Bipartisan support best for Armstrong County, Battaglia, Bower say

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Armstrong County's two Republican commissioners said they don't see an advantage for their county in having a Republican governor, U.S. congressman, state senator and legislators in office representing the county.

Not when it comes to creating jobs and economic growth, they said.

Commissioners Dave Battaglia and Bob Bower, in their first year elected to the three-member board, made it clear that working together in a bipartisan way is the best thing for Armstrong County.

“Economic development has nothing to do with the “Rs”versus the “Ds.” My impression of economic development is what we can do on the local level to improve the economy of Armstrong County,” said Bower. “I'm more interested in that.”

“Whether they're an “R” or a “D,” we get equal representation from our legislators,” he added. “Therefore, how can I say that because I'm aligned with the Republicans that it makes it any better for Armstrong County?”

Battaglia said the lines of communication are open between the county and its state and federal elected officials.

“They all communicate well with the county regardless of party affiliation,” said Battaglia. “We've had good responses from (Republican state Sen.) Don White and (Republican state Rep.) Jeff Pyle, and so too from (Democrat and U.S. Rep.) Mark Critz (who lost to Republican Keith Rothfus in the November election) and (Democrat and U.S. Sen.) Bob Casey.

Battaglia said they tell those officials about the county's strengths and discuss getting the county's message out to potential companies.

“We've gotten respect and help as a county from the state and federal lawmakers regardless of their party,” said Battaglia.

Bower believes there is some advantage to his having a working relationship and dialogue with the county's Republican lawmakers.

“It's certainly in our favor,” he said.

Bower said the commissioners haven't had the need to run to those officials this past year.

“The legislators like for us to think on our own and do what we can for ourselves before we come to them,” said Bower. “When they're here, they ask us if there is anything they can do. They're willing to help, but they say you have to do something for yourself.”

Bower said the county is looking to generate its own revenue sources and decrease its spending. Development associated with Marcellus shale gas production had helped the county's finances, according to Bower.

“We're looking to help ourselves and then go to the state and see where they can make it up,” he said. “So they're more apt then to go after whatever funding we need. Don't stick out your hand asking for help — stick out your hand when you find you have nothing left to generate.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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