EDO votes in permanent board

By on January 9, 2019

Strong group of local leaders will direct new Ephrata economic group

The Ephrata Development Organization is moving forward and has voted in a permanent board, Borough Manager D. Robert Thompson told the borough council at its work session Jan. 7.
Chosen by the interim board, the EDO board is ready to take the reins of the new organization, effective Jan. 15.

Names of the new board members were supplied by Lisa Willwerth, administrator for the EDO.

They are Robert Harter, owner of the 1777 Americana Inn and Black Forest Brewery; Megan Lane, Ephrata National Bank; Christy Anderson, owner of Hometown Refurnishing; David Boland, owner of The Groves; Penny Talbert, executive director of the Ephrata Public Library and HUB; John Stevens, attorney; Dr. Brian Troop, superintendent of the Ephrata Area School District; Rebecca Gallagher, owner of the Historic Smithton Inn; Anthony Kilkuskie, attorney; Josh Gluck, owner of the Douple Insurance Agency; Nancy Harris, Ephrata Borough; Linda Martin, Ephrata Borough Council member, and Bob Thompson, Ephrata Borough manager.

The EDO replaces three other public relation and economic development organizations; the Ephrata Alliance, the Ephrata Economic Development Corporation, and Downtown Ephrata Inc.

“Those organizations no longer exist and their assets will be transferred to the EDO,” Thompson said.

Last spring, the borough had proposed the creation of one economic development organization to steer the community to greater prosperity and more social activities and events by merging the three main non-profits currently working in the borough.

Streamlining events seemed a more efficient use of time and resources.

Kelly Withum was chosen as executive director last year and the borough authorized offices for the EDO at the town’s former railroad station. Borough council also approved leasing the offices to the EDO without charging rent or electric utility fees, since the non-profit EDO is the only economic development group in the borough. Council also approved the EDO’s funding request of $158,256.

The EDO will be in charge of community events such as the community Christmas tree lighting, Whistle Stop Night Markets, Brewfest, and Veterans’ Day Luminary Trail. Seeking to foster a more prosperous Ephrata, more public events will be planned, as well as a business forum to examine the needs and resources of area businesses. In another matter, one resident told borough council about the damage his home incurred from heavy rains this past year.

Raymond Boynton Jr. of the 100 block of Bellevue told council members Monday evening that his property was flooded twice in August. Advance notice might have helped the family to get belongings to higher ground before it was too late, Boynton said.

“My property is prone to flooding, but I’m asking if there could be some kind of early notification in the borough to let residents know of imminent threats,” Boynton said. “I know nothing can be done about the weather, but it would be a service to the borough if there would be some kind of notification system to let us know what’s coming.”

Boynton suggested possibly radio alerts or text messages as a public service. In December, Boynton told council that he missed a day of work after staying awake and alert all night, monitoring a possible flooding situation. “Having advance warning would be helpful in case we would need to leave, that we could grab our pets and some necessities and get out in time,” Boynton said.

Council President Susan Rowe turned the matter over to Police Chief William Harvey and also advised Boynton to attend the next public safety committee meeting, to be held the third Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the borough hall. Chief Harvey spoke with Boynton outside of the council meeting Monday evening to see if they could come up with a solution.

In another matter, council approved the hiring of Becker Engineering of Lancaster to observe and monitor the installation of the UGI gas line, a project which should be starting later in January.
A request from Cocalico Place was also approved to close East Franklin Street on Tuesday, Feb. 12, for safety reasons. Karl Keath of Womelsdorf will be replacing a rooftop A/C unit and will be using a large crane to do the work. No parking will be allowed in the area that day, from Lake Street to South Maple Street.

“All residents in the area will get advance notice before that day,” said council member Ricky Ressler.

Keath’s firm will also meet with borough officials regarding emergency vehicle access during the HVAC installation, which is expected to take only one day. In other matters, the borough is also in discussion with Ephrata Township regarding a new five-year police contract which would begin in 2020.

The next regular borough council meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m., and is open to the public.

Marylouise Sholly is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. 

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