RICHBORO >> As part of its Patriots Flag recognition program, the Northampton Township Board of Supervisors at its March meeting virtually welcomed home Army Specialist Even Exten from a combat tour of Iraq.
Exten deployed to the Middle East in May 2020 and returned home to the United States in February 2021. He was escorted home from the airport by a parade of local police and emergency vehicles.
Exten enlisted in the US Army while still in high school and went on active duty in March 2017. Prior to deploying to Iraq, he was was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.
Exten will be returning to his home base early next month resuming his duties as a maintenance mechanic with the 17th Combat Sustainment Unit. His next assignment will be with an artillery unit at Fort Hood, Texas.
Exten’s US Army service flag, now on display behind the dais in the township’s meeting room as part of its Patriots Flag display, will be given to Exten as a token of thanks for his service and replaced with an American flag.
Armed service flags in the display represent patriots still on deployment in hostile areas of the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, while American flags represent patriots who have returned home.
Two American flags located front and center in the display represent two Northampton Patriots who did not make it home safely. They are Army PFC Robert Dembowski Jr. and Army Master Sgt. Ken Elwell. Dembowski paid the ultimate sacrifice on May 24, 2007 and Elwell, 10 years ago on July 17, 2011.
“If Even is listening tonight we thank you for your service and wish you well in your future assignments,” said Supervisor Frank O’Donnell. “I would also like to thank Even’s mother, Denise, and his stepfather, Billy Leck, for all that they do for the members of the military and veterans. Both of them are members of the Warriors Watch, an outstanding organization that is always there for military members.”
The Northampton Township Board of Supervisors established the Patriots Flag Program in 2003 to publicly recognize and thank residents serving in harm's way.
Since then, the township has been honoring its active duty military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other active combat areas by placing a military flag in the display during their deployment. Each of the more than 90 American flags in the display contains a yellow streamer with the person’s name affixed to it.
In other business at its March meeting, the supervisors moved forward with a project to construct 2000-style sidewalks and ADA ramps on portions of 2nd Street Pike and Newtown-Richboro Road in downtown Richboro.
The board voted 4-3 to award the project to G&B Construction Group of Willow Grove for $626,392.50.
The township will use $500,000 in grant funding to pay much of the cost of the project. The balance will be funded mostly with fee and lieu dollars paid to the township by developers.
As part of the project, conduits will be installed in the sidewalks for the installation of future streetlights.
“It’s always been part of the mission of this board to make downtown Richboro more walkable and safer for people,” said Supervisor Barry Moore. “I know it’s a challenge to do that, but we’re systematically trying to make those improvements.
“We also have another grant coming up for almost a million dollars to put in sidewalks on both sides of the road where Iron Creek Park is,” said Moore. “So hopefully in the next year or so we will have all of downtown Richboro completely covered with sidewalks on both sides of the street.”
“This is one of our dreams to make Northampton walkable, especially our downtown Richboro,” said Supervisor Dr. Kimberly Rose. “And I’m excited that it’s coming to fruition.”
Supervisor Eileen Silver added, “Not just being walkable, sidewalks will also make it look very nice downtown where everyone in front of their business will have the same thing.”
Supervisor O’Donnell voted against the project, voicing dissatisfaction with the style of sidewalk.
“I do not oppose sidewalks. Putting sidewalks in downtown Richboro is a good idea. My problem is with the decorative portion of brick running beside the sidewalks,” he said. “I spent time on two separate days walking downtown Richboro to see what all the sidewalks looked like.
“We know what Township Road is and we know the problems with the brick coming out there. It takes away from the appearance of the road. It doesn’t add to it,” continued O’Donnell. “The same thing is true if you start at the beer distributor and walk down to the light. The brick is either raised or suppressed or it’s separated. And it just doesn’t look nice at all ... My concern is that this stuff has not been holding up and we really need to address that.”
In other action, the board of supervisors awarded a bid to James D. Morrissey Inc. of Philadelphia for $171,622.68 to mill 16 roads, or about seven miles of the township’s road system.
The board also authorized its township manager to execute and file the proper paperwork with PennDOT to upgrade the traffic signal at Newtown-Richboro and Holland roads.
The upgrade is needed to accommodate the Estate of Tyler Park, a new development coming online on the north side of Newtown-Richboro Road at Holland Road.
In other news, Selisker announced the retirement of longtime district judge William Benz.
Prior to becoming the district magistrate for Northampton and Upper Southampton townships, Benz served Northampton as a member of the zoning hearing board and the board of supervisors, including a stint as its chairman.
In 2017, Benz won his third six year term in office as district magistrate. He was first elected to the office in 2005, winning re-election in 2011 and 2017.
In addition, he has volunteered as an adult advisor to the Boy Scouts of America, chairman of American Red Cross Blood drives, director for La Salle College High School Alumni Association and a board member for the Miracle League of Northampton Township.
“He put a lot of time and effort into the community. He was always very professional, always great to work with and always community-minded,” said Selisker. “We wish him and his family well and we thank him for the time he spent here. If you see him give him a thumbs up and wish him well.”