A final look: Chapman today
In 2002, when I researched the history of the Borough of Chapman, I attended both services at the Methodist church and a borough council meeting to better understand the community.
The council meetings are held in a building dating back to 1909 when a bond for $1,000 was issued to pay for the building. The stove for the new hall cost $37. The borough had a balance of $177.44 in its ledger. The structure even had a jail to house any law breakers. In those years, the population peaked at 700. Presently, the population is estimated at 200 residents.
Harold “Sonny” Kocher, mayor for 28 years and friend of this writer, graciously answered a multitude of questions I asked him.
The borough council has seven at-large councilmen. To my knowledge, they are the only community in the Lehigh Valley where all candidates on the ballot are write-ins. That’s close to a direct democracy. The last contested election was for one office more than 10 years ago.
The annual budget is in the area of $60,000, with a tax rate of four mills. Moore Township, Chapman’s friendly neighbor, has been contracted to provide police, fire and snowplowing services. The borough has no paid employees.
I asked Sonny, “Do you have many complaints at the meetings?”
He replied, “There are very few, maybe six annually. In my tenure, we had one large community meeting in the church to debate the merits of police protection.
“In the last 10 years, I think we had one or two outside visitors to our council meeting.”
I asked about original Chapman families.
“I believe there are four of those families in the borough,” he said. “Over the years, the mix of the population has changed. Today, we have quite a few rentals. Years ago, I knew every resident of the community — even their family pets. It’s more difficult now because renters come and go.”
Chapman Borough geographically is surrounded by neighboring Moore Township, so a common bond exists between many of the residents. Chapman’s area is 0.36 of a square mile.
I asked Sonny what main issues Chapman faces today.
“Water and sewage could be an issue in the future,” he said. “Wells provide our water supply, and homeowners have their own sewage systems.”
Sonny works closely with council and borough Secretary John Defassio, who has served the borough faithfully for over three decades.
What’s the future of Chapman?
“We hope to continue to keep the borough a friendly, pleasant community,” he said. “My father always encouraged me to be involved in the community we all love.”
When this writer visits Chapman, I always enjoy the fellowship and meet many people. Some are former students who are proud to reside there. I hope some of our loyal readers drive through Chapman some Sunday afternoon. You will enjoy the visit.
A thank you to Mayor Harold “Sonny” Kocher, Dana Ackerman, Ralph Dech and John Defassio for your friendship and cooperation; Carol Bear-Heckman, author of “Bath and Its Neighbors”; and Larry Oberly for the hundreds of photographs he has taken for our columns.
In two weeks, we’ll share cement memories.