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Friday, January 18, 2008

Former Bolivar, NY Resident Running For Congress

By James Jones

State College, PA businessman, Matt Shaner, 28,(R) a former Bolivar,NY resident is running for US Congress in the 5th district, a seat held by Rep. John Peterson, (R) Pleasantville, for 30 years. Peterson is stepping down from that post at the end of the year. Matt was the first major party candidate to announce for the post.

Matt is President of Shaner Investments, a firm dealing with real estate in the State College area. He is the son of Lance Shaner, who is President of Shaner Hotels in State College. The Shaner family was active in the oil industry in the Bolivar area from the time of the oil boom in the late 1800's until the 1980's when oil production in that area had become almost non-existent due to low oil prices and increased cost to retrieve it from the ground.

Matt lived with his family on Wellsville Street in Bolivar, where his father, Lance, and uncle Fred had begun to invest in building small apartment buildings and entered into the cable TV business, and began investing in hotels.

As the economy in the Bolivar area dwindled, and faced with no good access to major interstates, Lance and Fred moved the family and business to State College. Many family and friends worked for the company and accompanied them on the move. There Shaners sold most of his other interests and invested in hotels. The result was a wonderful success and Shaner Hotel Group now has hotels all over the country.

Matt's grandparents also moved to the State College area. Since the 1990's most of the Shaner family has called the State College area home. Currently Matt's first cousin, Meghan Mitchell, still lives in the Bolivar area and Matt's aunt and uncle Ellen and Paul Joliet live in Portville, and there are other more distant relatives in and around Bolivar.

Although it was not the primary focus in the 1990's and early 2000s, the family has always had some business in the oil industry. In the last five years that interest has grown considerably under the leadership of Lance Shaner and Ben Hulbert (who married Lance's niece). The Shaner family now owns many of the shares of Rex Energy which is a publicly traded oil and gas company, that was formed around five years ago by Lance and Ben, and was taken pubic in the summer of 2007.

Two years ago, Matt came in second in a four-way race for the nomination for the 77th District State House seat.

Shaner is currently the president of Shaner Investments Limited Partnership, a mixed-use land development company that builds both commercial and residential properties with a focus on hotel development.

Among the company’s more recent projects is a proposal to build a 60-room Fairfield Inn, two 6,000 square-foot restaurants and an 18-unit condominium at the site of Lock Haven’s Painter Stadium later this year.

Shaner served as a county chairman for President Bush in 2004 and has worked on Capitol Hill as a staff member in the United States Senate for Rick Santorum.

He is a former member of the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Tourism and Lodging Association and is currently on the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, Kicks 4 Kids charity and the Penn State Quarterback Club. Shaner is also a member of the Pennsylvania Society and the Elks Club.

Matt’s wife, Andrea, a daughter of Roy and Barbara Pederson, is originally from Bradford. Together, they have two daughters Grace and Rose with a new baby expected to arrive in March.

Shaner said his small-business experience, and conservative politics in the Ronald Regan tradition, give him the right kind of background to represent the large and diverse district.

He said it would take several hundred thousand dollars to win the Republican nomination in the April 22nd primary election. Shaner said we feel we have a strong base for it, to be able to raise that amount of money, and believing in what he is doing, will be spending some of his own money to get elected. He shares Peterson's view that Interstate 80 should not be turned into a toll road.

Matt says he will be able to campaign full time throughout the entire 5th Congressional District and would have the resources to get the message out.

Matt's cousin and political adviser, Patrick Joliet, was helpful in supplying background information for this article. Additional information was found in the Lock Haven Express, and the Centre Daily Times.

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