Making history: Borough officer saluted statewide

By on March 16, 2016
Lowell Haws (right) was presented with a plaque by Chuck Mummert,  1st vice president of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs,  to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ephrata’s incorporation  as a borough

Lowell Haws (right) was presented with a plaque by Chuck Mummert, 1st vice president of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ephrata’s incorporation as a borough.

Last August, Sgt. Eric Schmitt of the Ephrata Police Department was called to a non-responsive victim in the Ephrata Walmart parking lot.

Within minutes of arriving, he recognized it was more than a simple case of someone struggling to breathe but a heroin overdose. Thinking quickly, he administered a dose of Narcan, an emergency medication which can reverse the effects of an overdose, and saved the victim’s life.

Schmitt’s quick thinking that night not only made him the first law enforcement officer to use Narcan since local police became equipped to do so in July but he also caught the attention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3376.

Amy Mackenzie, VFW Post 3376 Quartermaster /Adjutant, told Ephrata Borough council members Monday night that Schmitt was nominated by the local veterans organization for honors due to his service with outstanding results.

“Cocalico Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3376 (“The Ephrata VFW”) is pleased to announce that our post’s nominee, Sgt. Eric Schmitt of the Ephrata Police Department, earned the 2016 John Radko Award for outstanding service as a law enforcement officer,” said Mackenzie. “Sgt. Schmitt is the first place winner in the VFW Department of Pennsylvania.”

Mackenzie explained Schmitt was nominated for the award based on his resume, his community service record, and overall personal and professional conduct. She said what was most impressive to the local VFW was that Schmitt was the first officer in Lancaster County to administer the heroin antidote and was able to revive a heroin overdose victim, thus saving that person’s life.

“We first thought of Sgt. Schmitt as a candidate when we read the article (following the Aug. 21, 2015 rescue),” she said. “We are proud that Sgt. Schmitt was chosen from dozens of nominees across the Commonwealth of PA to be the first place winner statewide. The VFW state commander and other VFW and local community dignitaries will be in attendance at our awards banquet on Saturday, April 16, to celebrate Sgt. Schmitt’s accomplishments.”

Mackenzie also publicly thanked Lt. Chris McKim of the Ephrata Police Department for his assistance in compiling background information for the nomination form.

HSCV set for anniversary celebration

In other council news, Lowell Haws, president of the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley also addressed council during the monthly Municipal Moment. Haws’ comments came the day after the society’s private reception for the exhibit which commemorates the 125th anniversary of Ephrata’s incorporation as a borough.

Haws said the special exhibit will be on display for the duration of the year. He noted that key draws to the exhibit include the crown and gown of Ephrata’s own Miss America 1954, Evelyn Aye, as well as the newly-restored covered bridge sign and a recently acquired and restored fraktur from the Ephrata Cloister.

“The other thing that’s happening this year is the Architectural Tour of Historic Places, which the society will jointly sponsor with the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County on Oct. 22,” Haws said. “Other local organizations will also be assisting with the tour, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Ephrata Cloister. The tour is being planned to coincide with a visit from a delegation from our sister city, Eberbach, Germany, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship.”

Later this fall, HSCV is also planning to release its next publication, a book of pictures featuring old photos of local structures, juxtaposed with what those structures look like today. The society’s new journal is also due to be released, which will examine the history of manufacturing and industry beginning with the era of the borough’s founding.

Haws thanked council for its on-going support, especially for funds which made it possible for the society to acquire new microfilms preserving the Ephrata Review from the period of 1998-2009.

“Those newspapers are being preserved right now,” said Haws. “They picked up the newspapers last week.”

Upon completion of his presentation, Haws was presented with a plaque by Chuck Mummert, 1st vice president of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ephrata’s incorporation as a borough.

A charter to incorporate Ephrata into a borough was presented April 20, 1891. After much debate, the rapidly growing village was finally incorporated on Aug. 22, 1891. The population at the time was about 2,200 people.

Chandra Mast from the Ephrata Shade Tree Commission addressed council seeking at least one member of council to step forward to complete training as a tree tender.

“As part of our effort to renew our designation as a Tree City USA-recognized municipality, we need one council member to become a ‘tree hugger’ and go through tree tender training,” said Mast, who explained that there are a number of upcoming training sessions.

The closest session is in Elizabethtown in June. Training is held on a Saturday and only requires a one-day time commitment. Despite Mast’s plea, she yielded no initial takers on her offer although council member Tom Reinhold did express interest and committed to giving it consideration.

“You get to talk about trees, learn all about proper planting and growing and enjoy a nice lunch,” said Mast.

Council president Sue Rowe took information from Mast and said she would see what she could do to find someone to represent council at the training.

Contained within reports to council, the Special Projects Committee updated council on the process of reviewing the wording of Ordinance 1494.

This ordinance relates to the not-for-sale supply and consumption of alcoholic beverages at borough owned facilities. Following some confusion on this matter raised late last year, council member Dale Hertzog requested this ordinance be sent back through committee for review when the new council convened in January.

Special Project Committee Chairman Rick Ressler said his committee created draft revisions to the ordinance which would simplify the wording and also remove mention of any specific borough properties.

“Our work has now been sent back to Solicitor (James) McManus for review and then it will come back to our committee to submit to the full council,” said Ressler. “This should make it much easier to understand.”

According to Ressler, a proposal to update and revise the ordinance could be presented to council for consideration by May or June.

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, visit their website at Gary P. Klinger welcomes your questions and feedback via email at

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