Fair tells borough it needs to move rides

By on April 4, 2012

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

It may barely be spring but some significant changes are already taking shape for the 94th annual Ephrata Fair.

During its working session Monday night, members of Ephrata Borough Council were briefed by Matt Smith, President of the Ephrata Farmers Day Association, on key changes to this year’s event.

Due to the new ownership at the former JCPenney/Ephrata Flea Market building, rides will no longer be set up in the corridor between it and The Ephrata Review building. Currently the owners of the new business, Wiggles and Giggles Daycare, have not provided proper permissions for right of way and access to that side of the building. Without it, there would not be enough room for both rides and fair patrons. As such, plans are now under way to expand the fair up State Street toward Fulton Street to provide more ride space.

The newly designated space would make up 238 feet, down from the 370 feet used in the former location. However, council member Vic Richard pointed out that this new space would be a very good spot for rides and did not see it as a huge problem.

Concerns were raised with regard to road closures and barricades in the vicinity of the Pioneer Fire Company. Chief Allen Pettyjohn was on hand for the meeting to express concern that enough space would be reserved in the thoroughfare for company apparatus to maneuver should there be a fire emergency during fair week. Chief Pettyjohn’s concerns about quick removal of barricades would also need to be addressed prior to a final layout being approved.

"None of the concerns returned to committee seem insurmountable," said Councilman Anthony Kilkuskie. "Chief Pettyjohn returned to me today his concerns. We will need to be able to remove barricades to allow apparatus to get through, and then replace the barricade. We would find certain reasonable accommodations on this."

For his part, Smith expressed his deep appreciation for the borough’s efforts to keep the Ephrata Fair a viable part of the annual calendar of events. In a letter to council members, Smith reminded council about the impact the fair has on local businesses as well as local organizations which use the fair as a means of raising funds.

"The impact of the Ephrata Fair goes far beyond the five days in September," said Smith who went on to detail the positive impact groups such as Ephrata First United Methodist Church and Washington Avenue Bible Church make on the community during the week’s festivities. "The local economy also benefits significantly from the popularity and appeal of the Ephrata Fair through thousands of visitors from all over the tri-state area. Many local businesses such as gas stations, hardware stores, grocery stores, campgrounds and hotels have historically seen an increase in revenues during fair week."

Smith said the Akron Lions generate over 85 percent of their fundraising from the Ephrata Fair stand. He cited one recent survey which indicated that local organizations and churches participating in the fair and farm show found that profits still exceed $150,000 annually. Those profits are in turn spread out throughout the areas for the benefit of the local community. Specifically, Smith listed 33 local organizations who have been active participants in the past.

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In other borough council news, the Public Safety Committee will ask council to approve a request for relief regarding the borough’s livestock code. It has come to the attention of the borough that a property owner on East Main Street has maintained sheep on his property for the past 35 years without issue or concern. However, borough code prohibits this.

"The borough had no idea sheep were kept there," said committee chair Robert Good. "The property owner is asking for relief of that part of the borough code."

Good stated that the proposal being brought to a vote at next Monday night’s regular session would allow the property owner to keep the three sheep currently residing at that address, but would not allow any additional, nor the replacement of any of the sheep as nature takes its course. Councilman Melvin Weiler posited the opinion that council should consider allowing the current property owner to keep up to three sheep for the duration of that owner’s lifetime or ownership of the property. Despite Weiler’s idea, the original proposal brought forth by Good will be voted upon Monday night.

"After 35 years I could understand that with no harm done we could let it go," explained Good. "But if we take that approach then we dilute our own borough code to the detriment of all. The question we need to be asking is, are we going to enforce the code or look the other way? That’s kind of the problem here."

Council will also act Monday on the renewal of the Lancaster Chief of Police Association Hiring Consortium cooperative agreement. This is the renewal of an agreement authorizing the LCPAH to act as the agent for the Ephrata Police Department in the initial testing for preliminary eligibility for prospective police officers. In a memorandum of understanding, the local police force would contribute three personnel and the resources needed to conduct the examination process. After completing the physical agility and written test, the borough would then be given a list of eligible candidates for further consideration. This provides a better process at less cost to the borough. This agreement would be used for potential future hiring. It was pointed out that this testing process in no way guarantees an officer borough employment and all candidates would still need to complete rigorous local testing and interviews prior to final consideration.

For additional information Ephrata Borough, visit ephrataborough.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail at klingerglobal@gmail.com. More RIDES, page A6

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