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Eichelberger announces bid to seek third commissioner term

In the locker room of the Altoona Curve, Blair County Commissioner John Eichelberger announced he will seek a third term in the office of Blair County commissioner.
As commissioner, Eichelberger played a prominent role in the existence of Blair County Ballpark, an addition to the Blair County Courthouse, a new wing at the Valley View Home Home, the Blair County Convention Center and changes at the Altoona-Blair County Airport and the Blair County Prison.
Before Eichelberger took the podium, Sinking Valley resident Frank Long talked of Eichelberger’s commitment to farmland and watershed preservation.
“I would like to put three words together – agriculture, conservation and John Eichelberger,” said Long, the chairman of the Blair County Conservation District Board. “John has been very active in the Farmland preservation part of the County. This covers all parts of the agriculture land in the county. At the present time we have 23 farms and 3,619 acres in farmland preservation.”
John has energy, passion and commitment,” said Don Ruggery, Blair County Airport Authority chair. “John explained to me his vision of privitazing the Blair County Airport. That meant seeking out a company with proven success to properly manage the county’s airport. Up to this point John was met with considerable resistance. John’s motivating skills have greatly contributed to transforming the Blair County Airport from a financial loser, I mean using thousands of Blair County citizens tax dollars to an independent profit making airport. Believe me, this was no easy task. At the end of the first year under private management, I held up a check for $7.85. That was the profit we made in the first year. We saved thousands of tax dollars for the people of this county.”
Eichelberger is working with the commissioners to preserve the heritage of Fort Roberdeau.
“We have a great relationship in Blair County with the elected officials and employees of the county,” said Eichelberger. “We have a lot of people who do a lot of good work and don’t get a lot of recognition. I want to say how important we have in Blair County together.
“I want to thank the many people who serve on the boards and authorities that the county has in place,” said Eichelberger. “Those people serve without any pay and with very little recognition. There is a lot of heartache and a lot of hours. It is phenonimal and they are they give up time from their businesses and away from their families. There is a lot of people who know what it is like and I appreciate it.”
Eichelberger looked to the future of Blair County.
“We’re seeing improvements here at the ballpark,” said Eichelberger. “The new ownership group has taken the Altoona Curve to a new level. They are making a big private investment here and they will continue to do that.”
Eichelberger talked about some future developments at the Blair County Airport.
“This spring we will start construction of a state police aviation unit,” said Eichelberger. “This will serve our area as well as the region. We will have one plane or one helicopter stationed at the airport 24 hours a day. That was a competitive process that we won. That is due to the great staff that we have out there. We will see a new fixed-based operator terminal in the next two years. We have announced a blue ribbon panel to study flight’s east. We will see if we can draw a carrier in who will have flights east which will benefit our airport.”
Eichelberger has questioned making the records of the Blair County Convention Center public.
“I am going to continue to push for full financial disclosure at the Convention Center,” said Eichelberger. “I think there is a lot of questions that need to be answered there. I am not getting a lot of cooperation on that end from the authority. We need to be vigilant. We need to have more information about who uses the facility, what the bottom line is there, what their expenditures are on a monthly basis and what their income is on a monthly basis. Every convention center operator that I have had discussions with give full financial disclosures monthly to their operating authority. We don’t do that here.”
Eichelberger also spoke of the 65-bed, two-story expansion of the Blair County Prison that is scheduled for completion this year.
Eichelberger addressed challenger Barry Wright’s claim that Wright will be a full-time commissioner and Eichelberger isn’t.
“I will attend at least 240 meetings this year,” said Eichelberger. “I have attended over 96 percent of the county meetings and boards that I have been part of since January 1996. The commissioner meetings I have a 99 percent attendance rate. I work more than 40 hours per week for Blair County and will continue to do so.”