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Fundraiser To Benefit Police July 11, 2018

A fundraising campaign is underway to help equip the New Holland Police Department with Cuddle Bear book and plush sets to offer to children that they encounter during police calls.

The goal, with the help of community members and local businesses, is to provide a way for officers to comfort young children at crash scenes and in other situations where children are traumatized. The practice simultaneously fosters good relationships between police officers and the community they serve.

Through the Literacy for a Lifetime program of Usborne Books and More, donations will be matched at 50 percent. Donations of any amount will be accepted.

The fundraiser will continue through Thursday, July 26. For more details, readers may visit www.gofundme.com/cuddle-bear-to-the-rescue.

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Board Recognizes Police, Community Members June 20, 2018

The West Hempfield Township board of supervisors presented its annual West Hempfield Township Police Department awards and commendations on May 1 at the board's regularly scheduled monthly meeting at the West Hempfield Township Municipal Building. The honorees were recognized for actions they had taken during 2017.

Officer Robert L. Small and Officer Karl J. Hartranft received the Life Saving Award. The award is given to individuals whose actions prevented the death of a person or persons. On Aug. 25, 2017, officers were dispatched to a hotel, where a person intended to take his own life. The officers successfully defused the situation, and the individual was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Both Small and Hartranft are trained members of the Lancaster County Crisis Intervention Team.

West Hempfield Township Police Department Corporal Ryan P. Draper; Draper's wife, Erika Draper; and Officer William Ceravola from Reading Township Police Department also received West Hempfield Township Police Department's Life Saving Award. On March 27, 2017, the Drapers and Ceravola were traveling in separate vehicles across the Route 30 bridge between Columbia Borough and Hellam Township when they observed a female standing at the edge of the bridge. The Drapers and Ceravola were able to remove the female from the edge of the bridge, and she was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Ryan is a trained member of the Lancaster County Crisis Intervention Team. Both he and Ceravola were off duty at the time of the incident.

Officer Richard Bowermaster Jr. of West Hempfield Township Police Department and Officer William Watt of East Hempfield Township Police Department received Commendation Awards, given to an officer for an outstanding act that involved performance above and beyond his or her basic assignment.

Watt and Bowermaster have been leaders in the Beards for Brothers Campaign, a local fund drive started by Watt. Since 2014, officers from across the county have raised money for local first responders and their families who are dealing with cancer or other debilitating disease or organizations that help these individuals and their families. Since 2014, a total of approximately $30,000 has been raised. Monies have gone to two different organizations and to a junior firefighter from West Hempfield Fire and Rescue and the daughter of a Lancaster City police officer, both of whom have rare diseases.

Corporals Douglas Ober and Ryan Draper also received Commendation Awards. On Jan. 30, 2017, officers were dispatched to a bank, where a robbery had just occurred. Ober and Draper responded while in civilian clothing and in an unmarked police vehicle. Their investigation led them to locate the subject in a crowded restaurant. The subject was taken into custody without incident and with no other restaurant patrons being endangered.

Officer John J. Schwab received the Perfect Attendance Award, recognizing him for taking no time off during the 2017 calendar year for injury or illness. Additionally, he reported for his scheduled shifts on time and was prepared for duty.

The West Hempfield Township Police Department presented its Certificate of Appreciation to the Paul Revere Leber Post 372 of the American Legion and Buckeye Corrugated Inc. All-Size Division. The Certificate of Appreciation is awarded to citizens, organizations, or businesses that distinguish themselves through the accomplishment of an extraordinary act or service to the police department or to the community.

This year's honorees made significant contributions to the police department, which helped with the purchase of equipment, training supplies, community outreach and educational supplies, and first aid equipment and supplies.

Officer Michael P. Murray received the 2017 Officer of the Year Award. The award is given to an officer who distinguished himself or herself through either an accumulation of exceptional contributions or a single incident and whose actions clearly place the individual well above others of equal rank or grade.

Murray has been a member of the police department since January 2016. He was honored for distinguishing himself as a leader in his number of criminal arrests and in traffic enforcement; for displaying exceptional courage, fortitude, and resourcefulness during critical incidents; and for effectively testifying in numerous criminal prosecutions leading to successful convictions. He was also honored for having a positive attitude, promoting West Hempfield Township, and striving to enhance intradepartmental effectiveness.

Additionally, four officers were recognized for their involvement in saving the lives of six individuals who overdosed on drugs and had to be administered naloxone. All individuals survived because the officers acted quickly and had naloxone on hand. The honorees were Murray, Schwab, Ober, and Hartranft.

Earlier this year, the United States Marine Corps Reserve honored Corporal Douglas Ober, Officer Bart Hollis, and Officer Ben Johnson for their assistance with the 2017 Toys for Tots program.

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Resident Designs Police Patch June 15, 2018

Matthew Frey of Mount Joy is a former law enforcement officer who has collected police patches for years. Six years ago, Frey began designing and producing patches for police, fire, and emergency medical services teams, operating his business as Susquehanna Valley Emblems in Mount Joy. When Frey learned that Northwest Regional Police Department was starting its first K9 Unit, he decided to help.

The K9 team consists of handler Officer Tyler Seidel and his partner, Arlo, a German shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix. Starting a K9 Unit is costly, and the success of the unit relies on donations and support from the local community. A K9 patch design was created, and Frey's business produced the new patches and donated a supply to Seidel.

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Township, Police Memorialize Schuler June 14, 2018

West Lampeter Township and The Friends of the West Lampeter Township Police Department (WLTPD) recently dedicated a white dogwood tree and a plaque to honor the memory of Detective Jere "Bip" Schuler at the West Lampeter Township Municipal Building. Schuler, a longtime detective with the WLTPD, passed away on Sept. 30, 2017.

Schuler was hired as a West Lampeter Township police officer in 1986 and was promoted to detective in 1992. He was a member of the Lancaster County major crime unit, where he assisted in several high-profile cases. He attended various investigator trainings and was considered an expert interviewer.

Schuler received many awards during his 31 years of dedicated service, including the WLTPD's Officer of the Year Award in 2009. Because of his work in the community, Schuler was awarded the Lancaster County Human Relations Commission Award.

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Church Honors Police, Fire Departments June 7, 2018

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Friends Of The Force Contributes To Software Purchase June 7, 2018

The West Lampeter Township Police Department (WLTPD) has changed its electronic records management system, and the Friends of the Force has helped to make it possible with a financial gift of $15,000.

WLTPD Chief Brian Wiczkowski explained that in Lancaster County, until recently, practically every policing agency used a records management system called PREX that enabled the departments to input and track incidents. Lancaster County had maintained PREX, but it will cease in 2020. As a result, all of the agencies have had to find replacement systems.

The WLTPD has opted to use an integrated public safety software system created by Pottstown-based CODY. This particular system was selected after considering several options. One of the factors in the new system's favor is that the police departments in Lancaster city and East Lampeter Township are already using it.

"Two of our bigger neighbors had CODY, so it made the most sense for us to go with it," Wiczkowski remarked.

Versions of CODY have been installed on the desktop computers at the police station, located in the township municipal building, 852 Village Road, Lampeter, and on the laptops in the police cruisers. CODY representatives spent several days at the station last fall to train officers and staff members on the system. The WLTPD began using CODY fulltime in January 2018.

Wiczkowski noted that not quite a half-year into using the new system, the department is only scratching the surface of its capabilities. "We're still learning. It's like trying to change a tire while driving," he said.

CODY hosts an annual conference in Hershey, and WLTPD administrative assistant Rachael Odenwalt was among the WLTPD representatives who attended. Each attendee selected which breakout sessions to attend, and Odenwalt opted to learn about running reports and other administrative tasks that can be done through the new system. "For us, being so new (to CODY), it was beneficial for us to keep learning," she said. "We haven't used everything because it's so in-depth."

Other departments in Lancaster County are in the process of switching to CODY; East Hempfield Township has been using the system for five weeks. Until PREX goes dark in 2020, the database will continue to be searchable. An electronic bridge was built from CODY to PREX, so the WLTPD can still access information in that database. Additionally, the new system is able to interface with other electronic records management systems used by Lancaster County agencies, including county dispatch.

"It allows us to do our jobs better - to be more effective and efficient," Wiczkowski commented. "We spend a large percentage of time with a small percentage of people. A lot of the time, the data is already there. We can see how other police departments deal with people, and a tremendous amount of time is saved."

The new system cost $42,000, and the Friends of the Force provided $15,000, which is the largest one-time expenditure by the nonprofit organization, Friends president Jim Kulp noted. The Friends raised the money through its annual donation request letter sent to West Lampeter Township residents.

"(The letter) has worked really well for us," Kulp said. "We're really fortunate."

"The ability to write a $15,000 check saved the township a lot of money (in interest fees)," added Friends treasurer Steve Musser.

The Friends of the Force is a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the WLTPD. Volunteers are needed to join the Friends to provide fresh ideas and new energy. Interested individuals may email Kulp at jimkulp@verizon.net to learn more.

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Sheriff's Office Welcomes Deputies May 22, 2018

Three new deputies joined the Chester County Sheriff's Office on May 14. During a swearing-in ceremony in Courtroom One of the Chester County Justice Center, Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh explained that the positions were highly competitive and welcomed the new deputies, Marian "My" Inderelst, Keith Neiswender, and Howard "Larry" Sipple.

Welsh said the three deputies, who already have their Act 120 police certification, will participate in a rigorous 11-week regimen of orientation and field training. Inderelst and Sipple will then travel to Harrisburg for two weeks of state training, a program that Neiswender has already completed.

Inderelst, a Chester County native, began her working life in her family's fourth-generation sand-mining business. After her father sold the company, she became a licensed veterinary technician and worked at the University of Pennsylvania's small animal hospital. As a vet tech, she developed interest in police work through an affiliation with a SWAT team, and she decided to attend the Delaware County Community College's Police Academy. She graduated in 2017 and accepted a part-time position with the West Brandywine Township Police Department. Part of her attraction to the Sheriff's Office was its K-9 Unit.

Neiswender, a native of Birdsboro, graduated from the Montgomery County Community College's Police Academy in 2005 after stints in the Navy and Army National Guard. Neiswender comes to the Chester County Sheriff's Office with experience in the Berks County Sheriff's Office, where he attained the rank of sergeant and worked in a variety of areas, including the civil and warrants divisions, as well as Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He maintains a strong commitment to fallen law enforcement officers, participating annually in a bike ride to Washington, D.C.

Sipple grew up in a military family, with his father having a military service background and his uncle being employed as a state trooper. Sipple earned an associate degree in arts and sciences from the University of Delaware, joined the Navy, and graduated from the Delaware County Community College's Police Academy in 2002. He spent 13 years with the Caln Township Police Department and has worked part time for the police forces in Sadsbury Township and West Grove.

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Agencies Post Road Safety Information May 15, 2018

To encourage safer driving in the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the State Police recently urged drivers to review and obey driver safety laws that may not be well known among the public.

Pennsylvania's Blind Pedestrians law mandates that the driver of a vehicle yield the right of way to any totally or partially blind pedestrian carrying a visible white cane or accompanied by a guide dog. The driver of the vehicle shall take any precaution necessary, including bringing the vehicle to a stop, to avoid injuring or endangering the pedestrian. This is a summary offense and in punishable by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $150.

The Prohibiting Use of Hearing Impairment Devices law prohibits any driver from wearing headphones while behind the wheel. The section does not prohibit the use of a headset in conjunction with a cellphone that provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other. Wearing headphones while behind the wheel limits the driver's ability to hear sirens belonging to emergency responders.

Title 75, Section 3112 under Traffic Control Signals dictates laws surrounding traffic lights. As part of a 2016 amendment, the law includes instruction on what may be done if a driver believes the traffic light is not functioning properly. This includes when the light's sensor does not detect the vehicle. In this case, drivers are instructed to stop in the same manner as they would at a stop sign and proceed when it is safe to do so.

The Unattended Motor Vehicle law limits where a vehicle may be left running and unattended. The law states that a person may not leave a vehicle unattended while the engine is running or while the key is in the ignition. The law, however, does not apply to private property such as private driveways.

The agencies also reminded drivers to always wear a seatbelt and to never drive while impaired.

For more information on highway safety, readers may visit www.PennDOT.gov/safety. Readers may join the conversation on social media using #PATrafficLaw on Twitter and Facebook.

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Police Enjoy Catered Luncheon May 11, 2018

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Organization Holds Memorial Service May 10, 2018

The Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) recently held its 25th annual memorial service at the Forum Auditorium in downtown Harrisburg. Members of law enforcement, their families, and local elected officials were in attendance. Gov. Tom Wolf offered remarks in tribute to members of law enforcement who have given their lives while serving.

The Central Dauphin High School singers performed, and the Capitol Police F.O.P. Lodge 85 and Harrisburg City Police, F.O.P. Lodge 12, served as the color guard. The service included a remembrance for four fallen officers: Deputy Sheriff Scott Alan Moyer of the Lehigh County Sheriff's Office, Officer Shawn D. Rager of the Johnstown Police Department, Trooper Michael Paul Stewart III from the Pennsylvania State Police, and Officer Brian David Shaw of the New Kensington Police Department.

Wolf also remembered state Correctional Officer Mark J. Baserman in his remarks. The memorial service took place during National Correctional Officers Week, celebrated annually in the first full week of May to recognize and honor the work of correctional officers and personnel nationwide.

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Ceremony Honors Department Members May 9, 2018

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Dayspring Holds Appreciation Dinner April 27, 2018

Dayspring Christian Academy's National Honor Society (NHS) members recently served community servants at the fourth annual NHS Community Appreciation Dinner.

The NHS members hosted the dinner event for the Mountville Borough Council and staff, Mountville Borough Authority and staff, Mountville Fire Department No. 1, West Hempfield Township Police Department, and local veterans. In attendance were the Mountville mayor, police and fire chiefs, a crossing guard, and local veterans, along with their immediate family members.

Dayspring's NHS students prepared a dinner and program for guests. They created and hosted the program, designed and prepared the meal, and served as the hospitality, setup, and cleanup crews. The program included choral and ukulele performances, an appreciation video featuring Dayspring students, a testimonial by Dayspring senior Emily Hilton, and two musical pieces performed by John and Gloria Hess, who are members of the Mountville community.

The Community Appreciation Dinner began four years ago with the name "Thank You Dinner" as the result of NHS students who desired to host an event in honor of local community servants. Approximately 13 attendees from Fire Company No. 1 were present at the first dinner. In 2018, there were about 45 participants including NHS student members.

Donna Hurley, NHS adviser at Dayspring Christian Academy, oversees the Community Appreciation Dinner.

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Prescription Drug Take-Back Site Announced April 19, 2018

Garden Spot Village, 433 S. Kinzer Ave., New Holland, and the New Holland Police Department will provide a collection site at Garden Spot Village on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Saturday, April 28. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., community members may drop off expired, unwanted or unused prescription and over-the-counter medications for safe, secure disposal.

Pills, capsules, creams and liquids will be accepted, but syringes and other sharps will not. The event is free and anonymous. Participants may remove personal information from drug bottles or packages. A law enforcement officer will be present during the collection. Directional signs will be posted on campus.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is a program of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and its state and local law enforcement partners.

For more information, call Colleen Musselman at 717-355-6007 or Police Chief William Leighty at 717-354-4647.

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Easter Bunny Visits Hospital April 4, 2018

For more than a decade, the Chester County Sheriff's Office has teamed up with Chester County Hospital and Easter Bunny Inc. to spread cheer via a visit by the Easter Bunny. This year's visit took place on March 29 and included appearances in the maternity, pediatric, and emergency wings. The bunny, portrayed for the first time by Deputy Josue Pifer, skipped down corridors and responded to requests to visit rooms.

Hospital volunteer Dennis Ayotte served as a guide for the bunny and Deputy Brian Carr also accompanied his colleague Pifer on the two-hour holiday detail. Chief among Carr's responsibilities were keeping the bunny hydrated and carrying a large basket overflowing with small stuffed rabbits and coloring books. According to Carr, the event offered a fun way to bring joy to those who would not be able to celebrate Easter at home this year.

One of the pair's first encounters was with Pifer's sister, Elizabeth Pifer, who was waiting in the hospital lobby with her 9-month-old son, Jaden Kopietz, when the Easter Bunny entourage arrived. She had made a special trip to the hospital to see her brother's bunny debut.

Sam and Eleanor Meiner founded Easter Bunny Inc. in 1995 to put a sparkle in children's eyes during the Easter season. The Florida couple, who received 501(c)(3) status for the program, realized that sheriff's offices could help them expand their reach. In 2004, they began soliciting partnerships at the National Sheriff's Association conference.

Thanks to the pitch, Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh, whose grandfather's pet name for her as a child became her lifelong moniker, signed on to participate in 2005, receiving a free costume and stuffed bunnies to distribute.

Welsh eagerly awaits the annual event, but this year she was only able to participate in spirit, having undergone double knee replacement surgery at the hospital a month ago.

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Police Department Receives Donation March 21, 2018

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Grimasuckas Honored As Officer Of The Year February 22, 2018

Southern Regional Police Department (SRPD) has named Officer Charles "Grim" Grimasuckas as Officer of the Year for 2017. The award was presented at SRPD's annual Officers Appreciation Dinner sponsored by the Friends of the Southern Regional Police Department. Grimasuckas was honored for showning outstanding commitment to his job, family and community.

Grimasuckas had worked for the SRPD part time since 2009 while working at another Lancaster County police department full time. In June 2017, he left the other department and transitioned to full-time work at SRPD. After beginning to work with SRPD full time, he led the department in traffic citations and had the second greatest number of driving under the influence arrests. He is also among the leaders in criminal arrests.

In November 2017, Grimasuckas was credited with his lifesaving efforts on a male who was in cardiac arrest due to a drug overdose. Grimasuckas arrived on the scene and quickly applied an AED to the unconscious man. While the AED was processing, Grimasuckas searched the subject's vehicle and found evidence of drug use. He administered a dose of naloxone, after which the male began breathing on his own and ultimately regained consciousness.

In October 2017, Grimasuckas and other bystanders worked to apply a tourniquet to a severely injured motorcyclist after a crash on Marticville Road. Doctors credited the use of a tourniquet with saving the woman's life.

In December 2017, Grimasuckas worked with an anonymous donor to obtain 30 new bicycles for children in a Pequea Township neighborhood.

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Police Department Receives Donation February 21, 2018

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Organization Thanks First Responders February 15, 2018

Columbia-Middletown Elks 1074 hosted a dinner in honor of Columbia's first responders to thank them for their daily sacrifices. The Columbia Borough Police Department, Columbia Borough Fire Department, Columbia EMS and Susquehanna Valley EMS were honored at the event on Feb. 10 at the Columbia Borough Fire Department.

Attendees were treated to a barbecue dinner, music by disc jockey Mike Nikolaus and a slideshow presentation by police officer Holly Oster, featuring pictures of the four organizations. Mayor Leo Lutz and several council members recognized the sacrifices of the first responders.

Judge David L. Ashworth was the guest speaker. He spoke about the Lancaster County Drug Court and the overuse of opioids. Ashworth is on his second 10-year term with the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas and also serves as a senior adjunct professor at Franklin and Marshall College and a drug court technical consultant with the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance.

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Police Department Takes Pledge February 9, 2018

The East Hempfield Township Police Department has pledged to take action in support of the International Association of Chiefs of Police's One Mind Campaign. The intent is to unite local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations in such a way that the three become "of one mind."

The local department is one of the first in Pennsylvania to have taken the pledge and will likely be one of the first to complete the components. Trainings took place all day on Feb. 6 and 13.

The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness. To join the campaign, the department has committed to implementing four promising practices over a time frame of 12 to 36 months: establishing a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with one or more community mental health organizations, developing and implementing a model policy addressing police response to persons affected by mental illness, training and certifying 100 percent of the agency's sworn officers in Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety, and providing Crisis Intervention Team training to a minimum of 20 percent of the agency's sworn officers.

For more information on the One Mind Campaign, readers may visit http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign. A copy of the full report, "Improving Police Response to Persons Affected by Mental Illness"; links to additional resources; and a list of all agencies that have taken the pledge are also available on the website.

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Sheriff Receives Public Service Award January 24, 2018

Citing a long and distinguished career of outreach, the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce (ERCC) bestowed the 2017 Sen. Robert J. Thompson Public Service Award on Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh on Jan. 9. More than 100 people attended, including all three county commissioners.

State Rep. Becky Corbin, a past recipient, presented the award at the ERCC annual Review Luncheon at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Malvern. She explained that Thompson, a former state senator, had set the bar high during his 30-year career while maintaining a sense of humor often punctuated by Snoopy neckties and red suspenders.

Corbin detailed Welsh's achievements, including her election as the first female sheriff in Chester County and her leadership roles with state and national law enforcement agencies. Corbin described community initiatives such as "Shop with the Sheriff," a program that annually brightens the holidays for 100 elementary school students, and a recent effort that delivered thousands of pounds of relief supplies to hurricane victims in multiple states.

Jeannie McGinn, an ERCC member, submitted Welsh's nomination for the award, and the ERCC board voted unanimously.

Welsh said that the award was special because of her personal connections to Thompson. She expressed gratitude to Thompson and to her office, including her 95 employees, both deputies and civilians. Responsibilities of the Sheriff's Office include serving civil papers, transporting prisoners, overseeing firearms permits, apprehending fugitives, and maintaining security at the county's government buildings.

In addition to the Sen. Robert J. Thompson Public Service Award, Welsh received citations from the Chester County Board of Commissioners, the state Senate, and the state House of Representatives. Chester County Commissioners' Chair Michelle Kichline, who presented the commissioners' citation, called Welsh a mentor as well as an inspiration to other women in public service.

During the luncheon, Laurie Kerkering, ERCC's president, explained that Thompson helped ensure the construction of the Exton Bypass, a decades-long process that represented the foresight of a group of Exton businesspeople who created the ERCC.

Welsh, the 10th recipient of the Thompson award, has served as Chester County sheriff since January 2000. She is active in many community organizations, including the Rotary Club of West Chester. She is vice president of the Chester County Hero Fund and serves on the boards of the Chester County Family Academy, the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, the National Flag Foundation, and the Chester County Industrial Development Authority.

Thompson, who died in 2006, served the 19th Senatorial District from 1995 to 2006. Prior to that, he was a Chester County commissioner from 1979 until 1986. Thompson was a resident of West Goshen and was a West Goshen Township supervisor. He served as the founding executive director of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce. His community service also included the boards of the Chester County Historical Society, the Westtown-Goshen Rotary Club, the West Chester Area Day Care Association, and SEPTA.

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