Voter guide 2023: Interim Palmyra trustee seeks to keep the job

Palmyra township hall and fire department. Jeremy Brown/The Portager

Interim trustee Ricky Bennett and Robin Tittel are squaring off for trustee in Palmyra this November.

Recently retired after 30 years as a Sherwin-Williams maintenance supervisor, Bennett also served the township for the last seven years as a road department employee, plowing roads and caring for Palmyra’s park and cemeteries.

Bennett said township officials asked him to put his name in the ring when former trustee Bob Dunn moved out of the township and was one of several people interviewed for the position.

“I wanted to continue to work and have something to do,” he said.

Having moved to Palmyra in 1998, Bennett said he coached youth wrestling, baseball teams and flag football for Southeast Local Schools. More than anything, he said he wants the township to remain the way it is.

“I think there’s a reason people live in our community,” he said. “The majority of the people like living out in the country, and I want to make sure it stays like that.”

Ensuring the township fire department has sufficient funds to purchase necessary new equipment and maintain its level of service is important to Bennett.

Should township voters elect him to Palmyra’s board of trustees, Bennett said they will know where he stands.

“I’m really kind of a simple person. I don’t have a very big gray area. I don’t have trouble making decisions and moving forward. Usually I can determine whether something’s good or not good,” he said.

Tittel was born and raised in Palmyra, where she still lives next to her parents’ farm.

She said she is passionate about her community and involved in Southeast schools. She also leads Pioneer Girls, a local organization similar to Girl Scouts.

“Every summer, we run a community garden and put produce out on a stand. It’s donation based: Take what you need; leave what you can. We teach kids the skills of our grandmothers, so it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Tittel said she is running because she sees opportunities to better use the township park, where she would like to see a summer farmers market set up. Vendor fees from the market could fund a scholarship for Southeast students, she said.

The township could and should be taking better care of its senior citizens by ensuring they are monitored during bad weather and power outages, she said. That way, emergencies arising from lack of medical care, heat or food could be averted.

“This presents a great community service opportunity for teens in our school district,” Tittel said.

Tittel said she derives “true joy out of being able to help the community.” She said she and her daughters sewed more than 3,000 masks when Covid-19 hit, leading a group that donated more than 50,000 masks to Southeast schools, nursing homes, hospitals and medical offices.

“I don’t want to change a lot about the community. I think that Palmyra is really great the way it is. We’re a small town. I don’t think we need a ton more businesses being set up in the community,” she said.

There is, however, room for improvement as far as communication goes.

“Not everybody is on Facebook. I’d like to figure out a better way to get information out to senior citizens to make sure everyone knows what is going on and when events are happening,” Tittel said.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.