Boro OKs school officer through ’16

By on November 13, 2013

By:

MICHELLE WALTER FRY Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Ephrata Borough Council unanimously renewed the School Resource Officer (SRO) agreement with the Ephrata Area School District which the borough cost-shares with several municipalities and EASD.

"The Public Safety Committee discussed the agreement to provide and fund law enforcement resources within the Ephrata Area School District through a School Resource Officer (SRO), for 2014 through 2016," stated council member Robert Good. "The SRO acts on behalf of our police department to the school district which covers mainly the middle and high school with certainly the ability to go to other schools if needed."

The role of the SRO, currently held by Officer Pete Sheppard is three-fold – law enforcement, counseling and teaching. He also assists with drug testing, handling bullying issues and works with the crossing guard program. In addition, he is in uniform and a handgun is a part of his equipment – if there is a criminal event, he has better means to protect the students.

"If you’ve looked at the responsibilities of the SRO, they are quite numerous. Officer Sheppard has been our SRO over there and has done a tremendous job as not only being a security element, but also in dealing with the students and teaching and all the different responsibilities which he has," Good added.

The SRO program was originally created and funded by a federal grant, but is now supported through funds provided by the district and municipalities it serves.

Borough Manager Robert Thompson, gave the funding breakdown.

"For 2014, the overall cost of the program is $121,594. EASD would contribute 50 percent; Ephrata Borough would contribute 44 percent; Ephrata Township would contribute 25.76 percent; Clay Township would contribute 17.88 percent and Akron Borough would contribute 12.37 percent," said Thompson.

In other news, a new public recreational trail was discussed at council meetings recently.

Ephrata Borough voted to transfer a former railroad right-of-way located in Ephrata Township to a developer in exchange for the construction of a trail by the developer.

"The quitclaim deed through GRH Development Inc. is concerning the right-of-way through the Autumn Hills development in the Ephrata Township," said vice president, Susan Rowe. "The Rail Trail right-of-way bi-sects part of the development property and this is something that first came before council in 2009. We are quitclaiming the right-of-way to them through their development and they in return going to provide a recreation trail."

After the meeting, Thompson was asked for more specifics.

"We are currently working with Ephrata Township, Akron Borough and Warwick Township to extend Ephrata Borough’s trail to the south and ultimately connect to Warwick’s," said Thompson. "The issue discussed is to the north of the Borough. The developer of the Autumn Hills development and the Borough agreed to basically swap areas to allow the development to move ahead and to provide an area for a public trail in Ephrata Township should they decide to build something."

The borough also did get some positive comments from a visitor Monday regarding the electric utility.

"I just want to thank and compliment the electric department for Nov. 1 with that storm of wind and rain. We lost electricity and it was back on in 45 minutes. This is another reason why it’s nice to have the electric department in town, so thank you," said Ginger Gregson from Maple Street.

"Thank you so much for that compliment. Most times we don’t get compliments." President Dale Hertzog.

More BOROUGH, page A18

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