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Hopkins Retiring from Pennsburg Borough
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            In the spring of 1979, Phyllis Bittenbender turned down an offer to work as Pennsburg's secretary. In December, when Bittenbender accepted an appointment

to Borough Council, she met Jeanne Hopkins, who took the job during that summer.

            As the only two women in municipal government, Bittenbender said she and Hopkins bonded immediately. Both were mentored by Mayor James Mullen.

            "It was a learning process for both of us," Bittenbender said. "Jeanne had a bit of a head start."

            For nearly 38 years, Hopkins has served the borough as its secretary, treasurer and administrative manager. She has thrived in role of being responsible for "the whole operation" of municipal government, according to Bittenbender.  "Jeanne does it all," Bittenbender said. "It's kind of like a one-man show."

            At the end of the month, Hopkins, 65, will retire from her job with the borough. In December, Pennsburg council accepted her resignation letter with regret.

            "I think it's time to move on," Hopkins said last week. "I love working for council. Everyone is wonderful."

            According to Bittenbender, Hopkins has played a crucial role in the borough's financial operations, as well. Hopkins described the work crafting the annual budget and procuring millions in grant money as her most significant contributions.

            "Jeanne did a hell of a good job," said Bittenbender, 81, who served more than 25 years on the council. "She's going to be very hard to replace."

            This week, Hopkins completed her final grant application for a Community Development Block Grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development with the goal of completing planned improvements to 2nd Street. She figures her work over the years has generated several million dollars for the municipality.

            "I love to get the money because it keeps the taxes down," Hopkins said. "It has allowed us to make road improvements we could never afford otherwise."

            In June or July of 1979, after Bittenbender turned down an offer from Mullen to work as the borough's part-time secretary, the mayor called Hopkins at her home on Main Street to make a similar offer.  "I didn't even know Pennsburg had a mayor," Hopkins said.

            Initially, Hopkins worked out of her home, then did additional work in the office as her son grew.  Meanwhile, she benefitted from the guidance of Mullen, who served as Pennsburg's mayor for 27 years.

            "Jim Mullen introduced me to everyone," Hopkins said. "He taught me how things should be done. He was very giving. I respected him so much."

            Hopkins identified the mentorship of Larry Roeder and Bittenbender – who served as the president and vice president, respectively, of council in the late 1980s and early 1990s – for teaching her the proper way to treat people.

            In 1981, borough officials added the title of treasurer to her responsibilities. Around 2002, with the continuing population growth and addition of services, she became its administrative manager.  "The job is never finished," said Hopkins, who completed a five-year program at Shippensburg University in 2004 to achieve the International Institute of Municipal Clerks certification as a Certified Municipal Clerk. "But it is very exciting."

            She described her work on the annual budget, in conjunction with the borough's finance committee, as the most satisfying part of her job. According to Hopkins, municipal officials are serious about making the sure the community lives within its means.

            "Our budget doesn't have any fluff," she said. "I'm really proud that we don't have to fudge any figures, because if it doesn't work, the process will really bite you in the end."





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