PA Governor Tom Corbett paid a visit to the 42nd annual "Ice Fishing Party" in Blooming Grove. hosted by Pete Helms, a principal of Davis R. Chant Realtors, Thursday, Feb. 6.
The atmosphere was relaxed at the Tall Oaks Farm lodge, where hundreds of local business people, county and municipal leaders and friends had a chance to mingle and enjoy the food. Helms and the late Dick Sheetz started this party with a dozen guests in 1972. Sheetz managed the Erie Oil Company in Hawley. The party was held at various lakes in the area, including Lake Wallenpaupack at PPL's old lodge. Originally a men's social, both women and men now attend. Helms purchased Twin Oaks a few years ago. Attendance today reaches 400 to 450 guests.
Helms said it was a way for he and Davis Chant to give back to the community.
He kept Corbett's visit as a surprise to most, only saying he had a special guest coming. Corbett came to the party once before when he was Pennsylvania Attorney General.
It was also a chance to celebrate some of the economic progress in the greater Pike County region. Governor Corbett had a chance to meet Kook Jin "Justin" Moon, president and CEO of Kahr Arms. The pistol manufacturer based in New York State will soon be relocating corporate offices as well as a manufacturing facility to the Pike County Business Park in Blooming Grove Township.
Moon is departing from New York due to stiff regulations on the firearms industry. During 2013 the company, through Saeilo Enterprises, obtained township approval for their land development plan, and purchased the entire 620 acre business park on Well Road for $2 million. The park has sat empty for approximately 10 years. Corporate offices are scheduled to be erected in 2014, and a new firearms factory by 2019. The initial facility will cover 40,000 square feet, with plans for a 20,000 square foot addition. Eighty to 100 jobs are anticipated.
The firm was founded in 1994 by Moon. Kahr has a manufacturing plant in Worcester, MA and Pillager, MN.
Corbett also met with Todd Nelson, owner and president of Kalahari Resorts & Convention Center, who expects to open a $230 million water-park, hotel and related facilities at Pocono Manor in Monroe County, in the spring of 2015. The Nelson family's third resort will have an African theme. They anticipate creating 1,000 jobs at the onset and increase the staff to more than 1,500 with phase two. Kalahari Resorts is based in Wisconsin.
The Governor attended the groundbreaking for Kalahari Resorts Pocono Mountains on October 1, 2013.
Standing by the lodge fireplace, Corbett spoke briefly to the assembly of guests. He said he was by no means trying to be "political" but stated in his last three years in office, a lot has been accomplished. His administration, he added, had to recover from a deficit he had inherited as governor.
Page 2 of 2 - "You have to believe in Pennsylvania the way I believe in Pennsylvania," Corbett said. "Our best days are ahead. We have advantages other states don't have with our energy, our workforce and our location..." He said Republicans and Democrats must work together to build Pennsylvania's business climate, noting we compete with other states and nations.
"My whole goal is to grow the economy and allow you to grow your business and bring more business to Pennsylvania," the Governor said, "so future generations will want to stay here, grow here and make Pennsylvania what I know it is already, the best state in the Union."
Corbett gave a brief press conference where he discussed the state budget, economic prospects,the Transportation Bill and legalization of marijuana.
The Governor had a busy week, having a $29.4 billion state budget proposal before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday and dealing with a snow emergency on Wednesday.
Legislators attending the party included PA Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) and State Representatives Mike Peifer (R-139), Rosemary Brown (R-189), Sandra Major (R-111) and Mike Carroll (D-118).
Someone with knowledge of the Governor's visit posted colorful signs in a snow bank on Blooming Grove Road, where he would be expected to see on his way in. They asked the Governor to protect his kids and Blooming Grove from hydraulic fracking. A second sign asked Corbett to "leave the coyote problem to the PGC (PA Game Commission) and use the $700,000 on this road."
A Pennsylvania House bill, 1534, was passed in December allowing the Game Commission to place a $25 bounty on coyotes. Funding for the Coyote Control Incentive Program would include transfer of $700,000 annually from the Game Fund to a special account. The rest of the balance would be used for other purposes.
House Bill 1534 was sponsored by Rep. Peifer, whose district includes part of Wayne County and most of Pike County.