Food trucks ‘booked’

By on January 21, 2015
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Library begins new fundraising

endeavor; furloughed workers return

The Ephrata Public Library staff is again at full strength.

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Library director Penny Talbert on Monday welcomed back 10 of 11 employees furloughed in November due to a budget crisis.

Talbert said working shorthanded for six weeks was a struggle but it provided a chance to “regroup and catch our breath.”

“If we hadn’t put on the breaks in November we would be looking at a very different situation,” Talbert said.

A razor-thin, balanced $828,000 budget includes $90,000 in cuts. But things aren’t as bad as people perhaps think, Talbert said.

Talbert’s office is flush with toilet paper donated from patrons who responded to her lament that funds might not last as long as the library’s toilet paper supplies.

“It’s really not necessary,” Talbert laughed. “We’re fine.”

She said the library is taking a new course, “trying a new strategy to grow with our community and change,” Talbert said.

Talbert is relying heavily on Joy Ashley, Ephrata’s new director of development, who hit the ground running.

“I’m very optimistic; we have a lot of initiates already going,” Ashley said Tuesday.

Ephrata resident Stephanie Samuel, owner of Sugar Whipped,  was the first to take part in the food truck experiment Tuesday. Despite a constant drizzle and some snow flurries, her dessert truck attracted lines of library patrons and loyal customers who track her travels on Facebook.

Ephrata resident Stephanie Samuel, owner of Sugar Whipped, was the first to take part in the food truck experiment Tuesday. Despite a constant drizzle and some snow flurries, her dessert truck attracted lines of library patrons and loyal customers who track her travels on Facebook.

Ashley plans to capitalize on the heavy late afternoon library traffic by inviting food trucks —something near and dear to both Ashley and Talbert — to set up shop in the new skateboard parking lot.

Ephrata resident Stephanie Samuel, owner of Sugar Whipped, was the first to take part in the experiment Tuesday. Despite a constant drizzle and some snow flurries, her dessert truck attracted lines of library patrons and loyal customers who track her travels on Facebook.

The food trucks, which will alternate , will donate a percentage of their proceeds to the library.

“It’s perfect arrangement,” Samuel said. “I was looking for a way to give back to the library.”

Samuel and Ashley came up with the idea to bring food trucks to the library while attending a Women in Business mixer at the Smithton Inn  in November.

Talbert said the arrangement perfectly reflects the library’s relationship with the community.

“It’s a partnership really,” Talbert said “We’re going to make sure this town gets what it needs but we’re going to need its help.”

Other new endeavors include  one linked to the Shamrock & Shenanigans event that Ashley helped coordinate with  Black Forest Brewery’s inaugural Sixth Tap Competition. A home brew competition, which  kicks off Jan. 26, will have their recipes brewed on Black Forest Brewery’s system. That beer will then “own” the Sixth Tap until the next competition begins.

Linked to that Black Forest Brewery, Shamrocks & Shenanigans is a St. Patrick’s Day  scheduled March 7 at the American Legion Post 429. Shamrocks & Shenanigans is a  live Irish-music party that will jointly benefit the library and the Winters Leadership Memorial.

Guests who attend the Shamrocks & Shenanigans event will be the first to taste the winning ale from the Black Forest Brewery competition.

(See list of bands  http://wp.me/p47KNa-2Em  )

“This partnership with Black Forest Brewery is a perfect fit for our new event,” Ashley said. “I’m grateful that it’s worked out.”

The library has found success carving inventive ways to increase revenues over the years. One of note was the launch of its passport center a decade ago. The passport center, which draws people from Reading and beyond, brings in $180,000.

“It’s amazing,” Talbert said. “The first year we budgeted $6,000 (in passport revenues) and we did $60,000.”

January begins the busy passport season as people “gear up for cruise vacations,” she said.

Ephrata Library handled more than 100 passport requests last Monday and Tuesday. The library, which makes $25 per order, processed 3,700 new passports, about 1,000 renewals, and almost 4,200 photos in 2014.

“It’s amazing, we couldn’t survive without (passport business); it makes up 20 to 25 percent of our budget,” Talbert said. “This place is hopping.”

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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