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Ross commissioner's dedication earns state recognition

| Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sometimes, life gets in the way of Peter Ferraro's civic duty. For instance, a conference in Harrisburg several weeks ago meant the Ross commissioner would miss a meeting.

Instead, Ferraro sat in a hotel room on the other side of the state commenting on motions and voting by phone.

"I felt like my conscience bothered me that I was not participating," said Ferraro, 64, of Ross. "I don't want to abuse that privilege, but I ran with the idea of serving and that's what I intend to do."

After 19 years of service on the Ross Board of Commissioners, Ferraro, president of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners, was honored last month for his dedication to community leadership at the PA League of Cities & Municipalities Local Government Day. He was one of 17 people and government entities honored with the Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence.

"Commissioner Ferraro has certainly earned the recognition given to him by the governor," said Dan DeMarco, president of the Ross commissioners. "He is a dedicated public servant, and devotes a tremendous amount of time to lobbying for the residents of Ross Township in Harrisburg. His efforts, in turn, benefit municipalities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"The residents of Ross Township should be very proud of what Commissioner Ferraro does to ensure a high quality of government service from Ross Township."

Ferraro and his wife moved to Ross in 1970 and say they wouldn't even consider leaving after 38 years. He initially ran for commissioner at the urging of a neighbor. He's sat on the board throughout the development of McKnight Road and helped institute the Steep Slope variance that keeps new developments from drastically altering the North Hills landscape.

"It was a nice tribute. I thought it was kind of neat to receive it," Ferraro said. "You don't go into local government to receive awards, but it's nice to be recognized."

Ferraro is a member of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners, the Allegheny County Association of Township Officials and the Allegheny County League of Municipalities. He has devoted his time to improving the North Hills since his retirement from Equitable Resources, where he was a department head for accounting and depreciation of fixed assets.

Prior to his recent award, one of his biggest personal honors was being named to the advisory committee for the Pennsylvania State Planning Board by Gov. Ed Rendell.

"I was pretty impressed with and surprised by that," Ferraro said.

Juggling all four positions plus family life while holding season tickets for Penguins games keeps him plenty busy, but never too busy to help a resident. On a recent visit to the Ross Municipal Building, Ferraro took the time to help a man confused and angry because of gas line problems. While the township has no control over gas lines, Ferraro helped him to find the right people to talk to and to help alleviate his worries.

"I still have that desire to help people who are less fortunate," Ferraro said. "It's amazing to just get a thank-you from a guy who is harried and distressed. That's what this job is about -- helping these residents."

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