BEAR CREEK VILLAGE — Residents gathered next to the historic Bear Creek Dam on Saturday morning as they prepared the celebrate the borough’s 25th anniversary.
Opening the ceremony was council president Doug Straub, who took a moment to recognize council members of past and present as well as borough mayor Walter Mitchell Jr.
Once a part of Bear Creek Township, Mitchell explained that the start of a separation occurred in September 1991, after the township denied repeated pleas for help with road paving and more from the 142 Bear Creek Village residents.
“We went to them year after year and were denied, denied, denied,” Mitchell recalled of the situation. “Finally, we said we don’t have any choice. We have to become a borough so that we have some taxing authority and the ability to raise money so we can help our area.”
By that November, he said the idea of Bear Creek Village Borough was approved. And after the implementation of a governing body in 1993, it had officially broken away to become its own municipal entity.
Rep. Mike Carroll, who represents the borough in the state House, provided an official state proclamation for the occasion.
For Mitchell, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs offered the Carol Sambol Award for over 25 years of dedicated public service.
Mitchell thanked attendees for making the area an incredible place to live, calling the borough a “gift from God” while announcing his plans to stay in the area for as long as possible.
After the ceremony, Ellen Smith, a founding member of the borough and former council vice president, reminisced on creating a government and the partisan choices that had to be made.
“One of the things that happened once we became a borough is that we had to have political representation. Nobody knew anybody’s party affiliation — and it didn’t matter (to us),” she said. “So all of a sudden we had to have this party affiliation which was very curious. I think that was probably the most traumatic thing we had to do, because we never saw each other that way.”
For Ann Lewis, watching the village progress has been personal.
Her grandfather, Albert Lewis, created the Bear Creek Dam and owned the historic village land for his ice and timber mills back in the 1900s. Looking around the area, Ann said she is proud of what the borough has become — and is sure her grandfather would be, too.
“It evolved beautifully,” she said. “I think it’s an evolution that came about naturally and through the determination of the village property owners and residents to make it wonderful and keep it wonderful.”