News Release: PSATS 2013 Founders Award


April 29, 2013

Contact: Ginni Linn
Director of Communications
(717) 763-0930

Retired State Official Honored with PSATS' Highest Award

Don Grell, the recently retired executive director of the state House Local Government Committee, was awarded the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors’ Founder’s Award at the organization’s 91st Annual Educational Conference and Trade Show in Hershey in April.

Named for the association’s founder, H.A. “Cappy” Thomson, the award recognizes individuals or groups whose outstanding efforts on behalf of local governments have resulted in significant benefits to townships. The honor is presented only when there is someone deserving of it, and this was the first presentation of the award in five years. Past recipients have included Gov. Tom Ridge, Gov. Dick Thornburgh, Gov. Robert P. Casey, Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker, and the late Sen. John Heinz.

Grell, who oversaw the House committee for more than 30 years and is a member of the Carlisle Borough Council, was included in this elite group because he understands the challenges municipalities face and has worked closely with PSATS and Pennsylvania’s other local government associations to overcome them.

“When some people talk about Don Grell, they refer to him as a ‘go-to’ guy, a person who knows how to make things happen. He’s that, and much more,” PSATS Executive Board Chairman Tim Horner said. “To me, Don is a man who understands local government, and it’s because he has walked in our shoes.

“As a member and former president of Carlisle Borough Council, Don knows what it takes to balance budgets, cope with unfunded mandates, do more with less, and deal with an ever-changing array of state and federal regulations. He used that knowledge to help all of us, and his actions speak volumes about the kind of public servant he was – and is.”

Grell, for instance, ushered numerous pieces of legislation through the House that were beneficial to Pennsylvania’s township officials and their constituents. He also played a key role in modernizing the Second Class Township Code and in bringing the building code to Pennsylvania, which, thanks to his efforts, was introduced as an option for municipalities, not a mandate.

Pension reform was another of Grell’s pet projects, and he worked closely with PSATS to develop bills that would soften the blow of this burdensome mandate, which adds significantly to the costs of certain public projects.

Grell told the conference crowd that the honor was especially touching because it came from his peers in local government and because his mentor, the late Virgil Puskarich, was also a recipient of the Founder’s Award. Before his death in 2004, Puskarich was executive director of the Pennsylvania Local Government Commission.

“I have nothing but respect for the work that Pennsylvania’s township officials do every day,” Grell said, “and it’s been an incredible honor to not only serve them but to also count them among my colleagues.”

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The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors represents Pennsylvania’s 1,455 townships of the second class and is committed to preserving and strengthening township government and securing greater visibility and involvement for townships in the state and federal political arenas. Townships of the second class cover 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s land mass and represent more residents — 5.5 million — than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth.

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