Harrisburg's Council Faces Uncertainty

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By Sam Jones
By Andy Shofstall

SALINE COUNTY -- Harrisburg’s found itself without a leader, as the mayor deals with serious health problems.

Mayor Ron Crank has been fighting brain cancer for years. Now, he's taken leave as his condition worsens. In the meantime, one council member is acting as interim mayor. Leaders say it's business as usual for them, as they pull for one of their own.

“I know he hates that he can't get up, run around town, drive his motorcycle, go to all the coffee shops,” Commissioner John McPeek explained.

“He's doing okay. He's holding his own and we’ll leave him alone to deal with his illness,” said Commissioner Ron Fearheiley.

Crank is at home, receiving care from his wife who is a nurse, focusing all of his strength recovery. McPeek says it’s a daily battle for Crank. However, the council is focusing on the task at hand: running the city without him.

“Harrisburg is a commission form of government. We're not a home rule city, so the finance commissioner has always stepped in for the mayor when the mayor's out, as the mayor pro-tem,” McPeek added.

Fearheiley's embraced that challenge, acting as the interim mayor for the last three weeks. He still keeps in contact with Mayor Crank regularly.

“Mayor Crank asks how everything’s going and whenever we talk to him he's just [saying] ‘keep going, keep doing what you guys are doing.’ He has a really positive attitude and he's a strong person,” he urged.

The council is able to vote with as few as three councilmen, and the leaders are doing just that.

“We will continue to do business as usual, thinking Ron is still the mayor of Harrisburg,” Fearheiley explained.

He says it's still a productive time for Harrisburg. One filled with progress as businesses come into town and a new tax financing district looms on the horizon.

“We are pretty busy. We've got some projects in the works and we’re very excited,” Fearheiley enthused.

There's no word on when Mayor Crank will return to office. The council has adjusted its schedules so at least three commissioners are at every meeting.

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