Mowen will run for a sixth term Pioneers also announce positive changes coming

By on January 16, 2013

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen made it official at Monday night’s borough council meeting that he would, indeed, seek a sixth term.

Having served 14 years initially as a member of borough council, Mowen will have served as mayor for 24 years if elected for a sixth term.

With very little fanfare, Mowen made the announcement at the end of the meeting during open comments by the forum.

"With the announcement of the Harrisburg Mayor (Linda Thompson) earlier today I feel it would be appropriate to announce that I plan to run for mayor again, if I can get the (Republican) committee’s approval," said Mowen.

In other borough leadership news, members of the Pioneer Fire Company were on hand to announce some very big changes within the groups ranks.

"We are here tonight to announce some significant changes within the organization," stated Pioneer’s president Jim Kiefer. "There will be two major changes with regard to our chiefs."

Kiefer explained that Deputy Chief John Eitnier has stepped aside to be replaced by Ken Weber. Assistant Chief Vernon Schmuck has stepped aside to be replaced by new Assistant Chief Mike Kiefer.

According to Kiefer, among Weber’s many responsibilities will be to act as a liaison between the fire company and borough council. That will include attending council and committee meetings and being available to answer questions.

"We’re really looking forward to a good year," noted president Kiefer. "We intend to focus a lot more on pre-planning."

Pre-planning with the fire company is the company’s process of visiting commercial buildings throughout the area to make detailed note of building layout, hydrant locations and stair towers within the location. There is also an attempt to understand what if any hazardous materials may be on site and the locations where they might be found.

"Once we get that (plan) we can work with (borough code officer) Nancy Harris with regard to changes and updates to the buildings which could impact our pre-plans for each location," explained Kiefer.

Outgoing deputy chief Eitnier will be working hard on the pre-planning effort.

Joel Callihan from the Ephrata Planning Commission was on hand for Monday’s "municipal moment" portion of the council meeting. He weighed in on the community effort to keep pre-plans up to date.

"We also take into consideration fire access when considering items before the planning commission," said Callihan. He explained that among things considered by the commission was making sure fire apparatus could get in and around new construction projects in the event of a future fire.

President Kiefer was joined by Pioneer’s chief Allan Pettyjohn and incoming Deputy Chief Weber.

"I look forward to working with council and the planning commission as liaison with the fire department," stated Weber.

Weber elaborated on the company-wide effort to have effective pre-plans in place for all local commercial buildings.

"To elaborate, we are already going into a hazardous situation," said Weber. "We want to know about confined or hidden places or hidden basements which could pose particular hazards to our crews before we get there. We also try to get these plans electronically so that they can be accessed on our laptops and iPads."

According to Weber, the Pioneers are trying to introduce technology which could help assure the best possible outcome should they be faced with a fire event. He added that by using technology to access these plans through laptops and iPads, the plans can be readily shared with sister Lincoln Fire Company. In addition, neighborhood plans are also shared with Lincoln as the two company may need to assist each other, especially in larger call-outs.

Council Member Susan Rowe thanked the Pioneer leadership for the update and invited them to also attend meetings of the Public Safety Committee on the third Monday of each month.

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

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