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Lebanon County Commissioners were graced with royalty at their biweekly meeting on Thursday, April 20. 

Chloe Bomgardner, a senior at Northern Lebanon High School and the 2023 Pennsylvania State Fair Queen, discussed the statewide pageant and highlighted her obligations as queen this coming year. She also presented at the meeting the same speech that helped her win the state title at the competition in January in Hershey. 

2022 Lebanon Area Fair Queen Chloe Bomgardner immediately after she was named the 2023 PA State Fair Queen during a program on Jan. 21, 2023, at the Hershey Lodge. (Tim McGowan)

Read More: Lebanon County’s Chloe Bomgardner crowned 2023 PA State Fair Queen

In presenting her speech on Thursday, Bomgardner spoke with passion about why she loves the Lebanon Area Fair, held annually the last week in July at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center. She won the right to compete at the state pageant after being named the 2022 Lebanon Area Fair Queen.

Read More: A new reign: Chloe Bomgardner is crowned 2022 Lebanon Area Fair Queen

From highlighting the judging competitions to the many fabulous food choices to all of the  fantastic entertainment at the fair, it is clear to see why her speech began with the following statement: “Coming to the Lebanon Area Fair is truly the best way to experience the heart of Lebanon County.” 

During her speech, Bomgardner had a printed copy of it in front of her, but she never looked at it during the just over four-minute presentation, giving a near flawless performance that was energetic and exuded her love of the Lebanon Area Fair.

LebTown asked her how many times she’s practiced the speech and how many times she has presented it to an audience. She replied that she practiced it nearly every day leading up to the state pageant and that she has presented it, including at the pageant, about half a dozen times.

Before the speech presentation, the 17-year-old daughter of Corwin and Tara Bomgardner said she lives on the family farm, located in the Jonestown area, that raises a variety of animals. She is the third oldest of her nine siblings.

“I live on a small dairy farm where we raise dairy heifers – we don’t milk cows – we do dairy beef, a small beef herd, market hogs and some chickens, and I like to do some small local, state, and national shows, occasionally,” Bomgardner said. 

Her work to show animals at judging competitions will pause this year due to her appearances at other county fairs as the state’s fair queen.

“This year will look a little bit different since I have the title, so I will be going to about 30 to 40 fairs this summer. I will stick to only showing at the Lebanon Fair this summer,” added Chloe, who later noted she will also attend two other fairs that same week. 

She is also active in agricultural classes at her high school, is the vice president of the Future Farmers of America at Northern Lebanon and president of the North Lebco 4-H Dairy Club. She will attend the Berks County campus of Penn State University’s College of Agriculture this fall with an undeclared major, with plans to eventually transfer to the College of the Ozarks in Missouri. There, she plans to major in agricultural education and minor in large animal science.

Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz noted that this is the second time in recent memory that a local youth has been named the state fair queen.

Chloe responded that it was exactly five years ago that Elizabeth Voight of Fredericksburg was the state fair queen, adding that Voight was named two days ago as first runner-up at the 2023 Miss Pennsylvania pageant. 

Commissioner chairman Robert Phillips said the county is proud of her many achievements.

“It’s such a proud time for us to have somebody with your grace and all you’ve put into this,” said Phillips. “It really comes across, your passion for agriculture and tourism, (and) we really appreciate it.” 

Commissioner Mike Kuhn echoed the sentiments expressed by Phillips. 

“I can’t think of a better example or person to go out and represent – based on how you handle yourself, your remarks, your passion, you make us all proud and showcase Lebanon County,” said Kuhn.

Other business

Moving to the next presenter on the agenda, Phillips joked with Michael Anderson, director of Domestic Relations, that Bomgardner’s act was a tough one to follow. Anderson responded that he did not know how he would measure up to the standard set by the state fair queen. 

Anderson presented two minor revisions to the language in a contract signed last December by the commissioners and President Judge John Tylwalk concerning the administrative duties of contractors, specifically as it pertains to stenographers who provide services to the county. 

The language added concerned suspension and debarment of non-federal entities and contractors who would be “restricted from receiving rewards, subawards and contracts with certain parties that are debarred, suspended or otherwise excluded from or ineligible for participation in federal assistance programs or activities.”

The revisions are needed, Anderson added, so that the county remains eligible to receive its 66 percent reimbursement from the state for expenditures related to these services. The revisions were approved unanimously by the commissioners. 

In other business, county administrator Jamie Wolgemuth presented three loss prevention grant applications for funding to help lower the county’s liability risk as part of its insurance coverage through the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP). 

The three CCAP grants are in the following amounts and items:

  • $4,864 – six hard plate body armor vests; 30 CAT tourniquets with carry case; two ballistic Shields III; 24 3M gas mask filter cartridges; and a 4-foot stainless steel all catch dog pole. All of these items are designated for the county’s sheriff’s department.
  • $2,110 – installation of four additional monitors in the sheriff’s office for monitoring the county building. This grant also covers additional hardware and micro PCs related to the project.
  • $1,200 – for RFID ID cards to be used at the county correctional facility. These ID cards help to log inmate activities faster and more accurately.

The commissioners also approved the promotion of Megan Tidwell from assistant public defender 1 to chief public defender at a biweekly rate of $3,082.63, effective May 1. The commissioners said three applications were received for the position and three people were interviewed for the job. 

This promotion comes after several individuals who were working in the public defender’s office were hired by the district attorney’s office a month earlier at the March 16 commissioners’ meeting.

Read More: Lebanon Valley Rail Trail gets county approval to apply for state funding

At that meeting, the commissioners approved the transfer of Christopher Rothermel from an assistant public defender 1 apprentice at the public defender’s office to assistant DA 1 in the DA’s office, effective April 17, at a biweekly rate of $1,956.57.

Other moves included the transfer of Kevin Dugan from his assistant public defender 1 position in the public defender’s office to senior deputy district attorney in the district attorney’s office at a biweekly rate of $3,064.61, effective March 20.

A similar move was granted for the transfer of Brian Deiderick, chief public defender to senior deputy district attorney in the district attorney’s office at a biweekly rate of $3,807.69, effective May 1.

In other county business, the commissioners voted to: 

  • Accept the following applications for county aid from the following municipalities for highway projects to be conducted in the coming year. The requests are listed by municipality, project description, total estimated project cost and allocation requested approved by the commissioners as part of the liquid fuels tax program: North Londonderry Township, paving, $278,000 project cost; $8,911 allocated by the county; Annville Township, general road maintenance and equipment, $5,170 project cost; $4,759 allocated by the county.  
  • Grant three funding applications via the hotel tax grant program for events to be held across Lebanon County in 2023. The event, amount requested and amount received are: Spinstock Flow Arts Festival on June 10 at Coleman Memorial Park, $16,500 cost; $4000 allocated by the county; Historic Old Annville Days on June 10 in Annville, $8,000 cost, $6,000 allocated by the county; and Hinkelfest on Sept. 15 in Fredericksburg, $43,631.84 cost, $7,500 allocated by the county. 
  • Approve three real estate tax exemptions for fully disabled veterans.
  • Accept the treasurer’s report and the minutes of their April 6 meeting. 
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James Mentzer

James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; and Lancaster...