Youngwood mayor wins state honor
Ask almost anyone in Youngwood about Mayor Joan Derco and they'll rattle off a list of good deeds the 81-year-old has done for the bustling little town of about 3,000 during the last several decades.
She's everywhere, doing everything she can to keep the town moving ahead — and having a little fun in the process.
So it came as no surprise when Derco recently was named 2013 Mayor of the Year by the Association of the Mayors of Boroughs of Pennsylvania.
“ ... We award people for good deeds and dedicated work for the borough,” said association President Mayor Tom Reenock of Northampton County.
Derco said she was elated when she heard about the award.
“Oh, it's a wonderful feeling,” Derco said. “I felt really honored to be getting the award.”
Derco beams with pride when she talks about her love for the 1.3-square-mile town where she grew up and later raised five children, all on the same street.
It is, in part, because of those children that her history of service to the community began long before she became an elected official.
While her kids were growing up, she ran the gamut from Cub Scout den mother to Girl Scout troop leader to softball coach.
“When you have children, you get involved,” Derco said. “I was born here in Youngwood and I felt I had the opportunity to become involved in everything.”
She served on borough council for eight years before running for mayor and winning.
That was 16 years ago.
“Well, I like talking to people and I like listening to people,” Derco said. “I was born in Youngwood and it's my town, so anything I can do for my town, I will.”
In 1999, she served as co-chair for Youngwood's centennial celebration, marking the start of the town built on land owned by a farmer named John Y. Woods — hence the name Youngwood — that later grew up around a booming rail yard.
But she speaks with special pride about events that bring the town together, in particular the annual Youngwood Community Picnic, which she began more than 20 years ago while serving as a council member.
Derco says that each year, she loves the time she spends serving up food to those attending the picnic.
“It's a wonderful event for the people in the town,” she said.
Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.