MOUNT CARMEL - Growing up in this small borough, Philip "Bing" Cimino would always find something to occupy his time, whether it was playing basketball in Apple Alley or running through the bush.

When he got older and served on borough council for eight years, four as president and four as vice president, he made recreation a priority, too, by helping find funding to construct the Sixth Street Tot Lot and a baseball field.

Now, he said during an interview New Year's Eve at his two-story, two-bedroom East Buick Alley home, he will be making recreation a priority after he is sworn in as mayor today.

"I want to see the parks and recreation committee back. Council did away with it, and we never got a good reason why," Cimino said. "This town can come together. They showed it could be done in the past, and they can show it again in the future."

A Democrat, Cimino is replacing the Republican J. Kevin Jones, who retired after 16 years as mayor. Cimino had no competition in the general election in November and won with 1,071 votes. In the primary election, he had defeated both Republican Jason R. Bower and Democrat Cynthia Clayton by winning the Democratic nomination and also the Republican nomination through write-in votes.

He's a self-described "background man" with no desire to be a politician, and his wife of nine years, Charmange, said he's an optimistic and honest individual.

"He never sees the downside to anything. Never. He's always truthful," she said.

Cimino said that, "Any time you get up on this side of the earth is a good day. It's what you make it. If you want to have a good day, make it a good day. If you want to have a bad day, you make it a bad day."

One of six brothers

Cimino grew up in Mount Carmel as one of six brothers living in a two-bedroom house with their parents. His father, the late Samuel Cimino, gave him the nickname "Bing" because he loved the ice cream truck when he was a child. Samuel Cimino gave nicknames to his other sons, too.

Cimino graduated from Mount Carmel Area High School and Northumberland County Vocational-Technical School. Serving more than 8 1/2 years in the U.S. Air Force, he was honorably discharged with the rank of staff sergeant after a back injury. During his military service, he worked on aircraft armament systems and later with wideband

communications/security systems.

While in the Air Force, he received two associate degrees, one for electronic technology and the other for aircraft armament systems. He earned his electromechanical teaching certification and master's equivalency from Temple University and his bachelor's degree from Penn State University in workforce education and development and certifications in cooperative education and electronics.

He came back to Mount Carmel to live with family and looked for a job. He has been employed as an electromechanical instructor at Schuylkill Technology Center in Frackville for 23 years.

"I have no plans on retiring (soon). I'm having way too much fun," Cimino said.

He also has always had close ties to The Clover Hose Fire Company, of which now he serves as lieutenant. His father was involved in the department, one of his children and one of his grandchildren are firefighters, and his great-uncles founded the organization.

"We bleed green. The whole family bleeds green," said Charmange.

Between all of his responsibilities, Cimino tries to collect model trains and restore cars. He owns a 1954 Ford pickup truck and more than one Ford Mustang. He also maintains two of the old Clover Hose fire trucks in local garages.

Show 'CPR,' and listen

Cimino said he tries to teach his students "CPR:" Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect, and he applies that to his life. He'll take that approach as mayor.

"I feel everyone deserves it. You show them respect, they'll show you respect," he said. "You show people you trust them and believe in them, they'll show you they can come through."

His strategy as mayor is to listen to people and tap the knowledge and skills of individuals who know what they're doing, including the youth of the borough.

"They'll take ownership. If they take ownership, they're not going to destroy it," he said.

Most of all, Cimino said he wants to evaluate issues in office before he makes any changes.

But he knows he wants to see a better recreation effort and relationship with borough merchants.

"I just hope to make the right decisions for the town. I'm always willing to work with people, and my biggest thing is to listen to people," he said.

Cimino and his wife live on five acres of land with their grandson Trevor.

"We're just two simple people who live on a house up on a hill," said. "We just go to work every day and take care of our families. We're not showy people."