Union Bridge is a small town with a few big problems, but its residents are blessed with a spirit of determination. They'll need it because Union Bridge often seems to be an afterthought in county planning and budget deliberations. Residents also need a strong constitution to deal with Lehigh Portland Cement Co., the town's largest employer and taxpayer.
The Carroll County commissioners have a history of neglecting the town. That situation has improved slightly in recent years. Through the determined efforts of town officials and residents, the woefully outdated Elmer Wolfe Elementary School is to be replaced by a new school. Town officials have done an admirable job of making their needs known without alienating the commissioners.
By virtue of its size and the number of townspeople it employs, Lehigh is sometimes the town's 800-pound gorilla. The municipality seems to harbor a love-hate relationship with Lehigh. Without the plant, Union Bridge would probably cease to exist -- and many residents are quick to point that out. At the same time, when a kiln malfunctions and toxic fumes are released into the air, Union Bridge residents must scurry indoors. The truckscoming in and out of its plant tear up streets and generate dust and noise. Dealing with this company takes considerable skill.
Next Tuesday, Union Bridge residents will elect a mayor and two councilmen. Incumbent councilmen Bret Grossnickle and Donald D. Wilson have no opponents and will be returned to office. Mayor Perry L. Jones is being challenged for his seat by Roger Holmes, a community volunteer.
Mr. Jones has done a remarkable job of keeping Union Bridge functioning. The owner of a garage, he is always available and accessible to residents. He cares about Union Bridge and endeavors to put town interests ahead of his own.
Mr. Jones has also been an effective petitioner for the town on the county level, and has been able to communicate its concerns to Lehigh. He has carefully monitored planning for the subdivision of the 171-acre Phillips property and pushed the developer to craft a residential project that is compatible with Union Bridge's historic theme and character.
The Sun endorses Perry Jones for re-election as mayor of Union Bridge.