by Lisa Tome
Joe Fisona would like to set the record straight.
After six years as a town commissioner and a dozen years as Elkton's mayor, Fisona is still not a politician.
"I'm an ordinary man doing an extraordinary job," said Fisona.
"I like helping the people of the town. I have no personal agenda. It's all about the town and its residents. I'm here to make the town a better town."
During the last two years of his present term, Fisona, 71, has gotten to do something he hadn't before.
He retired two years ago and has been able to give more time to serving. That doesn't mean he's collecting a bigger paycheck. The salary for the mayor is $9,000 per year.
"I don't do it for the money," said Fisona, who explained how he got his start in Elkton politics.
"I was commissioner for six years. When (former mayor) Rob Alt didn't run again, people asked me to run. I resigned my commissioner's seat and had a lot of support. I took a shot. I thought I could do it, but I never thought I'd do it (for this long)," he said.
Within the community, he has belonged to Singerly Fire Company for more than 30 years and is a life member. He is also a member of the Elkton Alliance and Elk Landing. He is former president of the Turnquist Community Association, chairs Wilmapco, is active with Cecil's Bicycle Committee, and founded the Mayor's Drug Task Force.
He is proud if his work with the bicycle committee. Nearly $40,000 in grant money was obtained and divided between various towns.
When it comes to Elkton's flooding problem, the mayor talks about what has been done and what's to do. "They raised the road. If there's a small flood, it helps. If there is major flooding, it's a major undertaking. State Highway has worked with us to keep it clean," he said. The new plan calls for a pedestrian bridge on Delaware Avenue. That is currently in the design phase.
He talks about a vast number of projects which have come to provision under his leadership. Numerous restaurants have opened in Elkton including Sonic, Golden Corral, Hurricane Grille, Minihane's Pub, and more. Wawa is coming to the 300 block of West Pulaski Highway. Hertrich is also bringing a large auto dealership to Route 40 later this year.
Senior housing has also come to the town. And a senior housing project is underway on North Street which will reuse the former Elkton jail as homes.
Fisona has focussed on working to bridge the 20 mile gap in train service. Currently MARC is planning to bring train service to Elkton in 2020. It was to be in 2029, and he considers that a victory. He continues to work with Maryland Transit to move that deadline closer.
During his tenure the town also built it's largest project ever, a $40 million sewer plant. The town also paid down debt and received numerous grants including one for $117,000 in playground equipment. Elkton also has a dog park and has received recognition for financial management excellence.
"I think we've done a lot of improvements. We've seen a lot come to fruition and we've gotten a lot of new businesses," he said
He continues to work on Elkton's drug and homelessness problems. "I just maintain myself as an ordinary man. I go to people for help and suggestions and work with them. A lot has come to fruition because of working with people," he said.
Personally, Fisona and his wife, Ellen, have been married for 48 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.
"A lot of people don't realize what this job is all about. There is a lot I can't accomplish due to state regulations. We do try but at times we come against a brick wall," he added.