By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
SOUTHWEST MERCER COUNTY —
Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission said goodbye to two key people Tuesday, one who helped create the police department and another who played a big role in keeping it running through the years.
The commission presented plaques and gifts to Wheatland Mayor Tom Stanton and desk clerk Phyllis Townsend, both of whom are retiring at the end of the year.
Their roles were very different but essential in their own ways, said Police Chief Riley Smoot Jr.
Stanton was honored for a total of 21 years over two stints broken up by his last retirement.
Stanton is ferociously loyal to his borough but also open to joint ventures, including consolidation and sharing services, that he believes add to the quality of life in Wheatland.
Farrell and Wheatland were the founding municipalities of the regional police force, with West Middlesex and Shenango Township joining later.
In addition to his plaque, Stanton was given a department badge, something the retired army colonel teasingly had asked for for years.
Townsend started as a part-time employee of the former Farrell Police Department, and her job was absorbed into Southwest when the new department was created. She has 22è years of service with Farrell and Southwest, Smoot said.
As desk clerk, she often is the first person someone who walks into the station sees, and her voice usually is the one on the telephone when someone calls.
Her commitment to her job has had an impact outside of Southwest. She found bugs in the standardized computer booking system that benefited all departments in the state, Smoot said.
Outside of her job, Townsend helped organize Harvest Day, Farrell’s alternative to trick-or-treat, and the former Day in the Square festivals in Farrell, and knocked on doors looking for people to participate in neighborhood watch groups for Sharon/Farrell Weed and Seed.
Townsend, who will work as a part-time attendant at the Shenango Valley Lock-up, Farrell, also received a music box decorated with the department’s logo and a personalized book mark for her bible.