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2 longtime Ligonier Twp. employees vie for supervisor post

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 6:57 a.m.

Ligonier Township residents ought to recognize the candidates for supervisor in the Nov. 6 general election: Both men are longtime employees.

Incumbent Supervisor Keith A. Whipkey, 45, has been the township's secretary-treasurer for 11 years. Challenger Timothy R. Komar, 40, will mark his 20-year anniversary of township employment as a heavy equipment operator-mechanic in December. The two are vying for a six-year term.

Whipkey, a Republican, points to his record in helping to acquire $1 million in federal, state and county grant funding for township projects as a reason for his re-election. Other assets, he said, are his in-office work as secretary-treasurer, and his availability to answer residents' inquiries.

"I think people appreciate having an elected official available to talk with in the office. And I think the three of us (Supervisors Grover Binkey, Carl Penrod and Whipkey) have worked pretty well together ... although I think there is still of a lot we can accomplish," Whipkey said, such as expanding sewerage in the township.

"We don't always agree on everything, but we're able to work things out and address the problems," he said.

Among the grants the township received during Whipkey's term are $339,000 in PennDOT funding for the Austraw Road bridge project, $55,000 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for a walking trail and a wetlands near the township's new office building near Oak Grove, and a $32,000 state Department of Environmental Protection grant for cleaning up old tires.

Whipkey, who is single, is a Ligonier Valley High School graduate. He holds a degree in accounting and management from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

Komar, a Democrat, believes township residents have missed having a third working roadmaster since the death of former Supervisor Leon Smithley in 1996.

"I feel that to be effective, a supervisor has to be out on the roads with the crews and talking with the people. You can see what's going on outside the office and talk with the residents to find out what the need," he said.

Komar added that he has experience working on the township roads and bridges and is fully qualified for the position.

"I have a lot of people skills. I think the township also has to improve its working relationship with Ligonier Borough," he said.

If elected, Komar vowed to work to expand the public sewage system into the villages of Darlington, Laughlintown, Waterford and Wilpen, and to complete the comprehensive sewage plan. He would seek grant funding for the projects, Komar said.

"We have to get an intermunicipal agreement completed with the borough to make this happen. We have to because we have to use their sewage treatment plant," he said.

Komar, a lifelong township resident, has been involved with the Westmoreland Fair for more than 20 years and has served on its board of directors for the past 12 years. He's been active in the Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club for two decades and has been involved with the Ligonier Country Market and Overly Country Christmas for several years.

Komar graduated from Derry Area High School's agricultural program in 1979. He is a member of the Darlington Volunteer Fire Department.

He and his wife, Carolyn, have four children.

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