Ephrata Township to upgrade HVAC system

By on July 31, 2019

Ephrata Township’s office building in the 200 block of Akron Road will be undergoing some renovations in the weeks to come, but don’t look for lace curtains.

Instead, the heating and cooling guts of the building, its aging HVAC system, are going to be replaced.

At the supervisors’ July meeting, approval was granted to seek bids for a specific HVAC system, known as a seven-unit mini-splits system. Cost of the system is expected to be in the range of $140,000, according to Township Manager Steve Sawyer.

Sawyer explained that the building’s current HVAC system is 27 years old and is incurring significant costs through repairs and replacements of the old components.

At a prior meeting, the board directed staff to move forward with Vertex Mechanical to create bidding specifications for the project.

Vince Youndt of Vertex showed the supervisors two different types of systems and explained the difference between the two options.

Along with the seven-unit system, a three-unit system was also considered. That unit would cost about $25,000 more than the seven-unit system, and the mini-split system is considered to be more effective with stable heating and cooling capacity, Sawyer said.

With either system, Youndt estimated that the township should see at least a 50 percent energy savings.

The project will be done in two phases, beginning with the upstairs of the building. If appropriate bids are accepted, the project may begin as early as this coming fall.
In another matter, a few members of the Akron Fire Company, including Akron Deputy Chief Justin Gehman, attended the supervisors meeting to confer about the upcoming community fire company study.

“We’re here to cooperate and assist,” Gehman said.

Gehman added that the Akron company would like to know of plans before any decisions are made so their company can have input.

“Any decisions you make regarding funding, whether it’s a fire tax or whatever, since that may affect all fire companies in the area, we’d like to be informed,” Gehman said.

Recently, Ephrata Borough decided to try to help their local fire companies by conducting a study for the Pioneer and Lincoln fire companies.

Cost of the study is expected to be $14,520.

Ephrata Borough has agreed to pay $7,260 and is asking Ephrata Township to pay $4,355, and Clay Township, $2,905.

Township Manager Sawyer recommended that the township participate and pay a portion of the fee with the condition that volunteers of Pioneer and Lincoln agree to participate in the study.

The purpose of the study is to address both funding and personnel issues and to see progress between the local fire companies and local government to ensure adequate emergency response.

The study is also expected to come up with a “strategic plan” to identify future fire and rescue systems to serve the community.

Jerome E. Ozog, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute, has prepared an initial “scope of project” to give some direction to the study.

“The study is mainly for the Pioneer and Lincoln companies because they’re having difficulty getting enough volunteers and enough funding,” said Supervisor Tony Haws.

Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey is chairing the steering committee for the study, Haws said.

The fire company study is also asking for one citizen and one elected representative from each municipality to attend the eight or nine meetings that are planned.

Haws agreed to be the township’s representative and Larry Ray, an appointed member of the zoning hearing board, will act as the township’s citizen representative.Chairman Clark Stauffer thanked the members of the Akron Fire Company for their assistance.

“Thank you for your service,” Stauffer said. “Training takes a lot of time and not everyone is able to do that…and fund-raising is getting tight, that’s an issue for everyone.”

In another matter, the supervisors approved some minor modifications to the township’s employee handbook that concern employee benefits.

While full-time employees are scheduled to work a 40-hour week to qualify for health insurance, the township’s current health insurance provider requires 30 hours a week.

To be considered a full-time employee and to receive health insurance, an individual may work a minimum of 30 hours per week, if approved by the Ephrata Township Board of Supervisors.

For this change, the supervisors must receive appropriate documentation, including a written statement from a certified physician, indicating that working less than 40 hours a week is necessary due to health reasons.

The township also has the right to change work schedules and to determine how long an employee may work less than 40 hours per week, based on the needs of the township.

The supervisors also approved the purchase of a 2000 Caterpillar grader, for the price of $71,500, with the trade-in of the township’s current 1980 John Deere grader.

“This is a fair price, considering the mechanical problems our current grader has,” Sawyer said.
In their June morning meeting, the supervisors were told that the Conestoga Valley Mennonite Church is planning to develop a 245-seat church adjacent to 548 Stevens Road.

Ted Cromleigh of Diehm and Sons told the supervisors that the closest public sewer and public water mains are about 1,000 feet away from that location, in New Joy Drive.
The church wouldn’t be able to move forward with the project if they would be required to hook up to public sewer and water, Cromleigh said.

It was also requested that the supervisors defer construction of a curb and sidewalk for the new church building.

After discussion, the supervisors said they would consider deferring the sewer and water hook-up and the curb and sidewalk until the township would decide that the connection to water and sewer and the road improvements are necessary.

Marylouise Sholly is a freelance feature writer for The Ephrata Review. She welcomes your comments and questions at weezsholly@verizon.net. 

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