Vote on $26K Rec consultant Monday Ephrata documentary unveiled; effort to secure Winters statue praised

By on April 3, 2013

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Nearly a month has passed since Ephrata Borough Council first considered hiring an outside consulting firm to work with the Ephrata Rec Center to address on-going financial concerns facing the Rec.

Now council stands poised to approve hiring Jennifer Silbert of Silbert Fund Raising at an expected cost of $26,000 to take a multi-pronged approach to reversing the Rec Center’s current financial challenges.

Rec Center Executive Director Jim Summers, along with several members of the rec board were present for Monday night’s meeting as a show of support for the proposed project.

Community Services Committee Chairman Tom Reinhold told council that the measure would be the biggest thing on his committee’s agenda for next Monday’s voting session. And he explained that if approved, Silbert Fund Raising would be working directly with the rec center for consulting services and for a professional viewpoint on raising funds.

Council member Bob Good voiced his support for both the Rec and the Silbert measure, but not before expressing regret that he could have perhaps expressed himself better in his previous comments on the proposed action.

"I could have used better words," said Good. "So looking back at my comments, I think that was the case. If any of the board of directors took offense to what I said at that meeting, I can assure you I did not mean that. And as a councilman up here, I back this effort to be able to move forward with you to be successful. We all want that; we want the Ephrata Recreation Center to be successful. I myself did not intend the comments to be negative toward the current recreation center. There are concerns, but we all have those concerns."

Good acknowledged that the undertaking that the Rec would be taking on would not always be easy, but offered to be of any help possible to support the efforts.

Mayor Ralph Mowen acknowledged the presence of several rec center board members and noted that they are in full support of the proposed Silbert action.

In what is expected to take up to approximately four months to complete, Silbert would spend the first three months doing a feasibility study by actively conducting in-person interviews of people across the Rec Center’s service market. Silbert’s work would begin with a feasibility study looking at community perceptions, as well as what community support funds may be as of yet untapped. The goal of the work is to draw on this information to customize an approach which will lead to greater corporate contributions and local donations. During her presentation in March, Ms. Silbert emphasized that the rec center simply cannot make it on memberships alone. She added that the community needs to embrace the fact that the center is a community center meeting a number of very specific needs across the community.

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In other council news, Good presented council and the borough with the premier of a new video documentary featuring Ephrata Borough and narrated by NFL great Terry Bradshaw.

"In March of 2012, borough council approved public funding for a video to be made of our community by means of production called ‘Today in America’ with Terry Bradshaw, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback," explained Good. "This video is introduced by Bradshaw and highlights our community."

Good explained that the completed production will air on national TV and then become the property of the borough for use as it determines appropriate.

"This is a viable method to display our community to a large segment of the population and will be used as a positive marketing tool for economic development and business ownership in the community at large," added Good. "This portrays our uniqueness as a community and presents our town as a pretty good place to live."

Producing such a film required a very specific process with a local committee appointed to work with the production team. That committee included Good, Penny Talbert from the Ephrata Public Library as well as Andy Fasnacht, editor of The Ephrata Review and borough manager Bob Thompson. Among those with speaking parts in the documentary included Mayor Mowen, Talbert, local businessman Gil Sager and State Senator Mike Brubaker.

Response to the premiere was overwhelmingly outstanding and was met with a round of applause.

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And finally, Council President Hertzog took time to thank Mayor Mowen for stepping forward to spearhead an effort to bring to Ephrata a replica of the Major Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument through private funding.

"Last Wednesday, Mr.(Larry) Alexander had an article in the Lancaster paper highlighting an effort to procure a statue in the likeness of Major Winters, for the borough of Ephrata," stated Hertzog. "On Thursday, Mayor Mowen was interviewed as part of Cable 11 newscast discussing a committee he’s forming and the challenge of raising the $90,000 needed to get the statue through private funding. Also, kudos go to Mr. Larry Alexander and Mr. Brian Dell Isola for their ongoing efforts and passion with respect to this project. Their tireless work has not gone unnoticed. These three gentlemen have provided, and I’m sure will continue to provide, leadership on this initiative as this is a privately-sponsored project; one that Council has not yet analyzed or authorized using taxpayer resources."

Anyone interested in contributing to the effort to raise the $90,000 needed is asked to contact Mayor Ralph Mowen directly. More REC, page A6

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