Shuster To Call Meetings To Order Using Gavel Made In Somerset

Somerset Daily American

The gavels Shuster will use during the ceremony and as committee chairman were made from wood from his family home near Everett. They were manufactured by Somerset Door & Column Co.

“It is a great honor to have been selected by my colleagues to serve as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and I thank them for the confidence they have placed in me,” Shuster said in a written statement. “I’m also incredibly proud to have a piece of the 9th District and my family history at the Committee. These gavels keep me connected to home and remind me that my job is always to be a strong advocate for the people I represent.”

Shuster’s father, Bud, explained the gavels’ significance. Two gavels, including one that will be used during the ceremony, were fashioned from a 180-year-old beam of hickory from the Shuster family farm. The other two gavels are made from locust wood his son split on Thanksgiving Day.

“We have a family tradition,” he said. “Every Thanksgiving morning the family gets together — all 24 of us, which is five children, their spouses and 12 grandchildren — and splits wood for the winter. Bill runs the wood splitter.”

Shuster said he is happy his son will have a little bit of home in his hand when he calls his first meeting to order.

“Bill as a little kid worked on the farm.” he said. “Bill was deeply involved in the farm growing up.”

Bud Shuster served in the House from 1973 to 2001 and was transportation committee chairman from 1995 to 2001. He resigned in 2001 and his son ran to replace him.

“I’m very proud of him,” he said. “I knew he would do well. He exceeded my fondest expectations.”

Bill Shuster was named chairman of the transportation committee in November, even though there were five members with more seniority.

“I think it was reasonable to expect Bill had an outside chance with five senior members,” Bud Shuster said. “It ended up none of the senior members even contested him. They supported him and elected him unanimously.”

Bruce Hottle, whose father is the president of SDC, said he was contacted two weeks ago by Bill Shuster’s staff about making the gavels. He said that several years ago Shuster was given a tour of the facility.

Hottle said they traveled to Shuster’s farm to collect the wood.

“I had a gavel in my office to use as a pattern,” he said. “Steve Martinko (deputy chief of staff for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) also sent me a drawing of Sam Rayburn’s gavel when he was in Congress. The guys at SDC used those as patterns to make the gavels and used extra wood to make the sounding blocks.”

On Tuesday Hottle and his father were traveling to Washington, D.C., to deliver the gavels.

“I think that helps tie the whole area together,” he said. “When he is transacting business and he picks up the gavel, he’ll have something that was made in Somerset County from his home farm in Bedford County.”

Hottle said he also thinks Shuster will think of Route 219, a project the congressman has worked on for several years. Hottle quipped that he thought about having 219 engraved into the gavel.

“I think he’s well aware of 219,” he said.

Although these gavels were the first set manufactured by SDC, the company has done special requests in the past. In 1906 the company made 22,000 rolling pins for the Army during World War II. A few years ago the company manufactured handrails for the new Library of Congress.

Bud Shuster said he and other family members will travel to Washington, D.C., today for the ceremony. A reception will be held afterward. Shuster admits that his son will have some challenges ahead of him as committee chairman.

“He needs to find the money to do what needs to be done, to build America’s infrastructure,” Shuster said. “He’ll be working very hard on that fundamental issue.”

But Shuster said he will only offer advice if his son asks.

“Not unless he asks,” he said. “He’s his own man.”

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