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Windber’s new mayor has law enforcement background

September 23, 2018

Windber officials said the borough’s new mayor, Michael Thomas, is a great fit for the area because of his experience as an officer.

The borough’s former mayor, Scott Penrod, stepped down after he moved to Paint Township.

Thomas, 64, has lived in Windber all his life and served as a borough police officer for 16 years. He also worked at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown for 21 years managing the hospital’s security.

While there, he worked closely with Windber’s police chief, Andy Frear, who was with the Johnstown Police Department at the time.

“I’ve always had a positive work relationship with Mike,” Frear said. “He’s always done a good job for us.”

“I’m sure his familiarity with the borough will be a benefit, benefit, benefit all around.”

As mayor, Thomas will mostly deal with issues at the police department. The mayor also offers input at borough council meetings, breaks tie votes and serves as the face of the borough.

He said he is getting familiar with the department’s operations for now.

“We’ll look at it and see where we can go from there to make it better,” he said.

Thomas was chosen out of six candidates at a council meeting Sept. 11. Council President Mike Bryan said that Thomas’ extensive police experience was crucial.

“I thought that he would be a really good fit for us,” he said.

Thomas also has an FBI certification in crisis negotiation with the Cambria County Correctional Emergency Response Team, an associate degree in criminal justice and was a crisis intervention training instructor.

“After I retired,” Thomas said, “I thought it’s time to give something back. I didn’t have time while I was working, but now I have the time to help the community.

“The community is doing well and I want to help it continue moving forward.”

Borough Manager Jim Furmanchik said Thomas impressed him with his vision and ability to get things done.

“He had a good rapport with Andy Frear in Johnstown. They worked together in the past on many occasions and developed a good rapport, which will do nothing but add good to the community of Windber by letting them put their minds together and establish policies in the police department to serve the community,” he said.

“The police department takes up a big part of our budget, so it’s something we have to pay strict attention to. We’re proud of our police department now. It’s better than ever before.”

“I’m happy to see those two cruisers in town patrolling 24/7/365. I believe it’s all about police presence and we have a nice presence in our community.”

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