Wellspan wants boro name on $3M grant

By on February 8, 2017

Borough officials say municipality would bear no legal or financial liability for grant to help fund $10 million expansion of WECH’s cancer treatment center.

Wellspan Ephrata Community Hospital is seeking a grant to help fund a possible $10 million expansion and renovation of its cancer treatment center.

The state grant is part of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) administered by the Office of the Budget.

To qualify for the RACP grant, the project must have “a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.”

RACP projects cannot obtain primary funding under other state programs.

Jason M. Trout, chief development officer for Wellspan, explained what such a grant would mean to WECH’s cancer treatment center at 460 N. Reading Road.

At Monday night’s Ephrata Borough Council meeting, Trout said RACP funds offer the best possibility for the expansion and renovation of the cancer treatment center.

“The renovation would add capacity and allow for additional services, including the integration of CT simulation,” he said. “Preliminary cost estimates are $10 million, including a RACP request of $3 million.”

WECH officials appeared before borough council to seek support in the application process in the exact same manner the borough had supported WECH in seeking grant funds in 2010.

Trout explained further.

“This relationship is similar to the role the borough played a few years ago, when WECH completed expansion of emergency room capacity and services with the help of RACP funding,” he said. “In this role, the borough would serve as a pass-through organization with WECH, the sub-grantee, bearing associated costs for filing the application and any subsequent costs for preparing a business plan and special conditions compliance should an award be forthcoming.”

WECH officials are requesting that the borough partner with the hospital by acting as the lead grantee for the grant for the amount of $3 million.

Trout urged quick action on borough council’s part explaining that due to the late announcement of the grant open application period by the Wolf Administration, there was only a 30-day turn around period. He further explained that if awarded the grant, WECH would have to secure matching funds as part of the process.

Successful candidates that receive an RACP grant award in the next round will then prepare a formal Application and Business Plan to include details and documentation not supplied during the e-RACP Application submission period to continue through the grant funding process.

Trout likened the application process to driving a car while it is being built, acknowledging that his organization is having to scramble to get the application together. As such, more exacting details for plans on the renovations and expansion of the cancer center may be months off, depending on the outcome of the first round of award announcements.

“So, we have no liability in this whatsoever, right,” clarified Mayor Ralph Mowen.

Borough Manager Bob Thompson confirmed that indeed, the borough would bear no legal or financial liability. Council President Susan Rowe added that the borough had done this process before, most recently for the Ephrata Public Library.

“This is just the way the Commonwealth sets things up,” added Thompson. “But again, this is pretty much a [funds] pass through.”

The grant application is just the very first stage of promises to be a very long process which could take several years.

In other news, Mowen suggested the borough consider instituting a fire tax.

Mowen, who recently attended a firemen’s banquet, said services provided by the volunteer fire companies across the state would amount to more than $10 billion per year.

“In Ephrata, only 16 percent of residents have given to the fire company,” said Mowen. “That’s poor. Absolutely poor. That is why I feel a fire tax should be strongly considered. It is not right that that many people cannot even see fit to give the fire company a buck. So, if you have not given to the fire company, why not pull out your checkbook?”

Mowen said there’s a prevailing attitude that assumes fire insurance would cover the loss of a structure or personal property due to a fire. But, he asked “without the countless hours of training and willingness of volunteer emergency workers, who would be there to put out the fire in the first place? “

He strongly urged residents of all communities but especially Ephrata to make even a small contribution to their volunteer fire companies.

For more information on the Pioneer Fire Company (and perhaps find instructions on how to make a donation), please visit www.ephratafire.org or www.lincolnfireco.com.

For additional information on Ephrata borough please visit their website at www.ephrataboro.org. Gary P. Klinger is in his second decade serving the community as a free-lance correspondent, welcoming your questions and comments via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com.




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