The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

April 23, 2014

Bird leads township supervisors in real Mayberry

DANVILLE — MAYBERRY TWP. — David E. Bird served the township where he was born for nearly 50 years.

Bird, chairman of the Mayberry Township supervisors, will have completed 49 years when his current six-year term expires in December 2015.

“He’s our book of knowledge and sharp as a tack,” said township secretary-treasurer Pat Fahringer.

Bird, 85, is believed to have the most years of service among supervisors in Montour County.

Judy Achy isn’t aware of any current supervisor in the county with as much time serving a township. She is secretary of the Montour County Association of Township Officials.

“He’s definitely one of the longest serving supervisors in the state,” said Ginni Linn, director of communications of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.

“Anything close to 50 years is certainly a milestone,” she said. She said the longest serving supervisor in the state she was aware of was the late Harold Shultz, a supervisor in Cooper Township, Montour County, for more than 50 years.

“Montour County has claim to two of the longest serving ever,” she said.

Bird said he first took office after straws were drawn when he and Paul Woodruff received tie votes for the office. “He didn’t want to serve anymore and gave it up,” said Bird who has served most of his years as board chairman.

His son, Rodney, has been a township supervisor nearly 30 years.

Another son, David L., previously served as a supervisor for 36 years before deciding not to run for re-election. His wife, Norma, was township secretary-treasurer 31 years.

The tradition to serve their community began with David E.’s grandfather, William E. Bird, who served as a township supervisor from 1947-53.

David E. Bird’s father, Edward W. Bird, was a supervisor from 1955-61.

Mayberry Township is the only township in the county that doesn’t have a township building. As a result, the supervisors meet around the Fahringer kitchen table which is about 2-and-a-half miles from where David E. and Rodney Bird live.

Fahringer joked at their meeting April 7 that she should go change since the supervisors were all wearing plaid shirts. That includes her brother, Robert Dressler Sr., who is starting his second term. Fahringer’s been secretary-treasurer at least five years.

When people find out he’s from Mayberry, Dressler is often asked, “How are you Andy,” referring to Andy Griffith.

“This is the real Mayberry,” he said of their township with a population of about 250.

Mayberry Township is also the only township in Montour County which is across the Susquehanna River.

David E. Bird said people occasionally attend their monthly meetings with issues often related to storm water running across roads. “Owners have been very cooperative with us in alleviating water problems,” Rodney said.

Through the years, they have seen more people move to the township including two new Amish families.

“We have had more oil and chipping to do on the roads,” said Rodney who recently retired from PennDOT and still farms with his dad. Rodney is also township planning commission chairman.

Dressler, who is retired from PPL, serves on the township planning commission and as township emergency management agency coordinator.

Mayberry hosts a meeting of the Montour County commissioners every July. “We have a nice turnout,” said Fahringer of the session held on her patio or inside. “Last year, it was so hot we met inside,” she said.

The township supervisors plow the 10.5 miles of roads and also patch roads. “Whatever it takes to maintain them,” David E. said. They contract out road projects.

Each supervisor is paid $600 a year plus an hourly wage when working on roads.

“It’s more of the satisfaction to keep your community together,” Fahringer said.

David E. is a lifelong township resident, having been born in the family homestead where he lives. “My dad talked about the doctor coming from Catawissa in a horse and sleigh,” he said.

When asked if he’ll run again, he said, “Let’s see what happens.”

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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