By proclamation of its elected leaders on June 20, July was officially proclaimed as Ice Cream Month in Wayne County.
While this may sound frivolous to some, in Wayne County it is economic recognition of an important industry. Wayne County is home to some 65 active dairy farms, which produce some 92 million pounds of milk annually, which in turn brings in approximately $20.3 million of income each year—and that is not frivolous money.
So, when the county commissioners presented their proclamation to Dairy Maid Brea Rutledge, it was one of those times public officials relish, when important business can be recognized in a lighter vein.
Commissioners’ chair Brian Smith, himself a dairy farmer, appeared to especially enjoy the festivities, suggesting a “food fight” might ensue following the meeting, when the celebration moved outside to Central Park.
There, numerous gallons of vanilla ice cream were employed in a sundae-making contest between the commissioners and the Dairy Maid. A noon-time crowd awaiting the free ice cream voiced their choice of Rutledge’s efforts, and a good time was had by all.
The proclamation, which also named June as Dairy Month, noted “the importance of the dairy industry in Wayne County to both our local economy and its contribution to our families and to our local rural way of life.”
In more routine and less fattening business at the meeting, the commissioners also approved their recommendations for distribution of $194,693 in annual, federal Community Development Block Grants. Nine projects were named for Paupack ($20,000), Berlin ($10,000), South Canaan ($14,650), Clinton ($35,000) townships, Waymart ($15,000) and Hawley ($15,000) boroughs, Pleasant Mount Community Center ($20,000), the Wayne County Historical Society ($15,000), and $50,000 for the commissioners’ recommended footbridge, connecting Court Street and Riverside Drive.
They also accepted $50,000 in state supplemental funding for long-scheduled repairs of the county-owned Cummings Bridge, near Equinunk.
They also approved Ordinance 2013-6-20 to establish a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) on 190.7 acres in Sterling Township. The Wayne Economic Development Corp. (WEDCO)-sponsored plan also requires the approval of the township, the Western Wayne School District, and finally the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Smith said the park was needed to compete for new business development, noting that there are 27 industrial parks in surrounding counties, but none in Wayne.
They also endorsed a block grant application for an anticipated $2.2 million in state funding of various county welfare services, following a presentation by county human services director Andrea Whyte. Whyte said the county has a very unique culture that allows those services to work together without competition. “It’s close knit. All want the best for one another,” she said.