Uniontown, PA - Jim Means has been a Wharton Township supervisor for more than 30 years. His career will come to an end this fall, but his legacy will live on in a new scholarship established in his name.
The Fayette County Association of Township Supervisors bestowed the first Jim Means Scholarships recently, doling out $500 awards to four deserving students in the county.
“It’s great. It’s quite an honor,” Means said. “The supervisors from Fayette County, they’re tremendous people. I’ve got a great bunch of guys that work with me; there’s a great group of people there.”
Means said Perry Township Supervisor A.J. Boni posed the idea for a scholarship during an association meeting. “It’s just something we needed to do,” Boni said.
He explained that the supervisors of the county’s 24 townships are out among their communities all the time, getting to know people and their circumstances.
“They knew there was a need,” Boni said. “They see the need to help the kids coming out of high school.”
Boni said the association wanted to create a scholarship that didn’t benefit only traditional academic disciplines, but also recognized students learning trades. Hence, the Jim Means Scholarships recognize two students at Fayette County high schools, as well as one student from each of the county’s two technical schools – Fayette County Career and Technical Institute and Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center.
Earning scholarships this year were Connellsville Area High School graduate Jocelyn Gratchic; Uniontown Area High School graduate Lucas Moody; Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center graduate Brett Lancaster; and Fayette County Career and Technical Institute graduate Riley Jenkins, who attended Laurel Highlands High School.
Means said next year’s scholarships will again honor a student from each of the technical schools, but winners will be chosen from different high schools.
“We hve two technical trade schools in Fayette County, and we have six high schools,” Means said. “So, we’d like to do two different school districts every year.” He said the scholarship winners are chosen by the school districts.
Boni said naming the awards in Means’ honor was an easy decision.
“Our association wouldn’t be what it is without Jim Means,” he said, noting that Means stands out even among the many hard-working association members.
“He’s one of the leaders. He beats the drum every day for our association, to make it work,” Boni said. “He works really hard to make our yearly Fayette County convention one of the best in the state.”
Boni said everyone knows Means. And Means said the people are his favorite part of his job. “I like meeting the different people,” he said. “And I always did road work and mechanical work all my life.”
Means won’t run for re-election this fall, and he expects he will miss being a township supervisor. “You know it,” he said. “I always put my heart and soul into whatever I do.”
In addition to spending more time with family, Means said he anticipates he will stay busy helping out anyone who might be in need of a hand. “I plan on helping other people do some work. I’ve got lots I can do to keep me busy,” he said.
Means said whether it’s helping at the township garage or helping someone cut hay, he will be there if asked. “Whoever needs help,” he said. “I’ve been very, very fortunate. I’ll give anyone in the township a hand; that’s no problem.”