Commissioner Crooks

Bedford County Commissioner Paul Crooks speaks during a Dec. 14, 2017, town hall meeting at Raystown Ambulance’s station in Everett. Crooks, a two-term Democrat, said he won’t seek re-election.

Bedford County’s Democratic commissioner said he won’t seek another term when his expires at the end of 2019.

C. Paul Crooks of Cumberland Valley, elected to his first term in 2011, said he officially told the board members of the Bedford County Development Association Thursday morning he wouldn’t seek re-election.

“I think it’s time for my wife (Mary) and I to have some time together,” Crooks said in an interview Thursday.

“I’ll be 78 1/2 years old and this is my third job after I officially retired,” Crooks said.

He said he and his fellow commissioners were able to accomplish projects and improvements he wanted to see when he first wanted to become commissioner and then when he sought reelection.

“When I ran this election (in 2011), there were things I wanted to get accomplished and I’ve seen them accomplished,” he said.

Among the efforts he saw advance are the solar project that is estimated to save the county $5.3 million over 30 years including about $100,000 the first year in the operation of the jail, county office building, and the Bedford County Library building. The project is scheduled to be ready in July.

“I’d like to see first full year electric bill for the jail and courthouse and part of the library building,” he said.

A six-acre solar project based at the jail will provide the power.

Another project that is moving ahead after years stuck in neutral is The Old PA Pike trail near Breezewood. An authority from Bedford and Fulton counties is shepherding the project that will redevelop the 8.5-mile section of the old turnpike into a hiking/biking trail.

“They now have the money the Bittners gave both Bedford and Fulton counties,” Crooks said of the Gateway Travel owners. The Bittners donated $10,000 in 2014 to the establishment of the authority.

“I’d like to be involved in the big deal when it’s opened and people are hiking and biking on it,” Crooks said. When that might occur is still undetermined.

Another project that will become reality is cell phone coverage for emergency services in the Hyndman area. The project received significant backing from state and local officials and from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey following the Aug. 2, 2017, CSX train derailment that caused an explosion and fire that caused the town to evacuate temporarily.

He also said it’s significant that he and fellow commissioners have restarted the county’s agricultural land preservation effort that is guided by the Bedford County Conservation District and the county planning commission.

“For a long time, we didn’t have our farmland preservation program and we were able to get that back together.” A committee has been appointed to oversee that program, he said.

Fellow Commissioner Josh Lang said Crooks’ experience in the private sector has been a benefit for the county.

Crooks was a retired plant manager with more than 37 years of experience in all phases of manufacturing when he first ran for commissioner.

He was born and raised in Everett and graduated from Everett High School in 1959. He spent four years in the military and then returned to Bedford County. He worked and was a business partner in Everett before working at Kelly Springfield Tire Company, formerly located in Cumberland, Md., where he worked for 18 years.

Crooks announcement now leaves the field wide open for the Democratic candidates. Typically, the Democrat is the minority commissioner in the county where Republicans have about a 2-to-1 advantage.

Crooks said his eight years were successful as a whole.

He said he was thankful for the opportunity.

I thank people for having faith in me,” Crooks said.

Contact Elizabeth Coyle at ecoyle@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 105.

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