By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

During the 12 years that F. Palmer “Pal” Durborow served on the Elk Township Board of Supervisors, he set an example for how government should work.

That’s according to longtime township resident Steve Roberts, who is among the many residents who appreciated Durborow’s work during his back-to-back six-year terms on the board.

“His two terms were not for his gain,” Roberts explained. “They were for the good of the township. That’s how government should work.”

Durborow said that he initially got involved in Elk Township government because some people in the township who he respected asked him to run for supervisor.

One of the most important functions of the local government is to make financial decisions regarding how the necessary services are provided. Elk Township supervisors have been particularly careful with taxpayer money, and property taxes haven’t increased in years. In fact, Roberts said that his 2013 property tax was less than it was in 1989.

Elk Township has only one employee, township secretary Terri Kukoda, who maintains part-time office hours. Consequently, the elected supervisors must handle a lot of the issues themselves. As the longtime chairman of the board of supervisors, Durborow received a lot of the calls himself. Roberts recalls a time when he saw Durborow took a call about a squatter in the Chrome Barrens Preserve. He didn’t contact the police or refer the issue to someone else. Instead, he stopped what he was doing and went out himself to evaluate the situation.

“They {Elk Township Supervisors} don’t think about who they can send. They just go do it,” Roberts explained. 

Kukoda, who has been the township’s secretary for the last 12 years, said that it was obvious to those people who dealt with Durborow regularly that it meant a lot to him to serve his township.

“He grew up here,” Kukoda explained. “His love of the township is evident. He cares.”

The job of being a supervisor, she said, is much more demanding than some people would suspect.

“I think there’s a lot more to being a supervisor than what people realize,” Kukoda explained. “And they don’t get paid much at all.”

Durborow said that supervisors were willing to help whenever they could because it allowed the township to function more efficiently.

“We’ve been able to keep the budget down,” he said. “The supervisors have always pitched in whenever they could. As a group, the supervisors have always worked well together for the best of the township.”

Kukoda explained that she would frequently reach out to Durborow whenever issues arose—sometimes during the day, other times at time. 

“He was always available for me to talk to,” she explained. Sometimes, she would even send people over to visit him at the Crown Stone Feed Store that the Durborow family owns.

Kukoda said that Durborow was heavily involved with expanding the trail system in the township. He worked with the Nature Conservancy and other organizations to add a trail to the Chrome Barrens Preserve. He put the signs up for the trail himself. He also regularly kept an eye on the trails to make sure that they were maintained.

Durborow said that he was particularly pleased that Elk Township was able to preserve open space and expand trails.

“We’ve had a lot of success with open space and we did it without borrowing money,” he said. “We also got a couple of parks and trails.”

At township meetings, Durborow worked collaboratively with his colleagues on the board of supervisors, regardless of party affiliation.

“They would vote based on what their hearts and their heads told them to,” Kukoda explained.

Roberts said that during public meetings Durborow took the time to adequately explain each issue that was being discussed so that the audience fully understood the discussion. He also made sure that residents had the opportunity to ask questions whenever they needed to.

“He worked hard to make it clear what they are talking about,” Roberts explained. “He makes it clear that it’s okay to ask questions at any time. It’s the way that you’d like to see government conducted. It’s refreshing.”

Durborow, whose father was also a supervisor in Elk Township for more than 20 years, explained his dedication to the township.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” he said. “It’s a really, really good place to live. You want it to stay as good a place as it can be.”

Talking about his decision to retire from the position, Durborow said simply, “Twelve years is enough. I’m sixty-six. I would be seventy-two at the end of another term.”

While Durborow decided that 12 years was long enough to serve as supervisor, he is hardly leaving the township behind.

“He’s agreed to stay on as our trail coordinator,” Kukoda explained. “But I’m going to really miss working with him all the time.”