WellSpan contributes to Ephrata’s safety initiatives

By on March 14, 2018
Pictured (left to right) with check: Chief William Harvey, Mayor Ralph Mowen, Council President Susan E. Rowe, Wellspan President Carrie Willetts, and Kim Stonebraker, manager of safety, security, and emergency management. Photo by Marylouise Sholly

Pictured (left to right) with check: Chief William Harvey, Mayor Ralph Mowen, Council President Susan E. Rowe, Wellspan President Carrie Willetts, and Kim Stonebraker, manager of safety, security, and emergency management. Photo by Marylouise Sholly

While everyone knows crime doesn’t pay, WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital’s recent gesture shows that safety and concern for the community certainly does.

Ephrata Borough was the recipient of a $10,000 donation from WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital at Monday evening’s borough council meeting.

WellSpan President Carrie Willetts and Kim Stonebraker, Manager of Safety, Security, and Emergency Management for WellSpan, presented the check to Council President Susan E. Rowe, Mayor Ralph Mowen and Chief of Police William Harvey.

The contribution was in gratitude for the borough’s commitment to safety in the community, and specifically to thank Mayor Mowen for his leadership of Ephrata Cares, a group dedicated to alleviating addiction problems in the borough, and to Chief Harvey and the police department for training WellSpan staff in “active shooter” response.

“We deeply appreciate your contribution to preparing our community for safety events,” Willetts told Chief Harvey. “You have trained hundreds of our employees…and we honor your commitment to public safety.”

Mayor Ralph Mowen is responsible for pulling together community leaders and borough residents to form Ephrata Cares, a group dedicated to lessening addiction problems and decreasing overdose deaths in the borough.

“You are leading the charge against opioid addiction and we thank you for your contribution,” Willetts told the mayor.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a difference regarding the substance abuse crisis that is in this community and throughout the country,” Mowen said. “It makes us feel very good, the recognition of community involvement and training that we’ve been doing. It feels wonderful that WellSpan has stepped forward and given us funding to advance our program and move us forward. We’re grateful for their very strong support.”

Chief Harvey taught active shooter response to council members before the meeting began Monday evening. He takes the training to various groups throughout the year.

“When it comes to citizen outreach, the theory is that for every ten people trained (in safety response) one will save a life and hundreds of people have been taught in our community,” Harvey said. “We’re trying to make Ephrata a safer place.”

President Rowe was grateful for Wellspan’s contribution.

“I am very pleased on behalf of the city of Ephrata, that they would recognize the safety concerns that are being addressed, and recognition for that, especially, for these two gentlemen,” Rowe said.

How the money will be used has not yet been officially decided.

“We have a lot of needs that this ‘new normal’ requires, things that are far from traditional needs,” Harvey said. “This will fill a gap for equipment we’re looking for.”

In another matter, Mayor Mowen read a proclamation designating March 2018 as Irish-American Heritage Month.

Part of the proclamation reads “for hundreds of years, Irish men, women, and children left the homes of their ancestors…and looked to the horizon with hope in their hearts. When they landed on our shores, they shared their gifts generously, adding immeasurable value to the cities and communities throughout our nation….

These sons and daughters of Erin demonstrated extraordinary strength and unshakable faith as they gave their all to help build an America worthy of the journey…during Irish-American Heritage Month, we recall their legacy of hard work and perseverance.”

In other business, the Ephrata Public Library was denied a request to have building permit fees waived for Phase II of the Exploritorium construction.

Fees were expected to be about $2,000.

Presented to the development activities committee, the request was brought to borough council twice for a vote, amid discussion on the pros and cons of honoring this request.

Recently, when the committee met, the library’s request did not receive a majority vote and so was not brought to Council.

President Rowe said, on the advice of their solicitor, the building permit fee should not be waived and will need to be paid by the library.

In another matter, and despite President Rowe’s concerns, Council voted to approve a request from Property Investing and Management Inc. (PIM) to draft a letter from the borough supporting PIM’s request for grant funding through PennDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program.

President Rowe voted against writing a letter to increase the chances of PIM receiving a grant because of traffic concerns if the development would be built.

The requested grant amount is $2,200,000 plus $1,400,250 of private funds contributed by the developer to support specific public transportation improvements at PIM’s “Ephrata Crossing” development.

While the development will take place even if PIM does not receive the grant, Rowe said it’s possible it will be a smaller development without the grant money.

“I’m very concerned…he (developer Richard Stauffer) agreed to improve the Bethany Road area, but there’s nothing binding him,” Rowe said.

Rowe was the lone dissenter on the matter. Council person Linda Martin was absent.

“Without the grant, he’ll still develop the property, but he might scale it back,” Rowe said.

Stauffer has said he will make a dedicated right turn lane from Bethany Road onto eastbound Route 322, but only if he gets the amount of grant funding that he feels he needs.

Council discussed what might happen if Stauffer received some of the funds he’s asking for; enough to build the development, but not enough to make the traffic improvements.

Rowe also voted against a request to hold the Ragnar Relay, a 200-mile running relay race that begins in Lancaster and ends at Mt. Pocono. The race is scheduled to begin Friday, June 15, ending Saturday evening, June 16.

“It’s another safety issue,” Rowe said. “They’ll be running across two major highways, crossing State 272 at Old Mill Road and Route 322 at Academy Drive on a Friday when traffic is heavy.”

The organizers will station their own traffic guards, Rowe said, but she wasn’t comfortable enough with the safety plans to agree to the race.

Monday evening, council also approved the new rate structure for membership and day passes for the Ephrata Community Pool, as presented last week by Jim Summers, executive director of the Ephrata Recreation Center.

Increases will be at about five percent, making the adult resident fee $121, and family resident, $220.

Families of non-residents will be charged $270, and non-resident adults, $146.

Senior residents will be $92, and senior non-residents, $113.

The new rates also include a new day-pass with member rate, at different levels for various age groups. New incentives include an expanded “members only time,” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, and a members only picnic.

Council also approved a request from Wellspan Ephrata Community Hospital to use Grater Memorial Park on Friday and Saturday, June 1-2, to host their annual “Day in the Park” event.

In other business, two new wildlife habitat preservation areas may be added to Ephrata Borough through the auspices of the borough’s Shade Tree Commission. Chandra Mast, chairman of the Shade Tree Commission, said the group is putting together a proposal for the preservation areas. The locations weren’t disclosed.

Mast spoke to borough council this week during the “municipal moment” part of the borough meeting, detailing the goals and the accomplishments of the shade tree commission.

“We want to enhance the environmental health and enrich the appearance of our community,” Mast said.

The group is also dedicated to proactive tree care and management, she said, and intends to expand the borough’s tree inventory.

They are currently trying to replace “vacancies” of fallen or removed trees in the city.

In 2017, some of the costs associated with caring for the urban trees included about $18,000 for direct labor costs and $3,000 for spraying.

Mast showed council a view of Ephrata’s Main Street, with the tree canopy in full leaf, to illustrate the importance of a green urban buffer.

“There are many benefits of public trees, from reducing storm water runoff to carbon reduction to increased property values,” Mast said.

The group is always looking for new members or volunteers to help, Mast said.

“We need volunteers; this is always our number one goal,” Mast said. “We also want to increase community awareness of the Commission and our projects for urban forestry.”

The Shade Tree Commission would also welcome more certified tree tenders, Mast said, and asked for any interested Council members to join.

For Arbor Day, the Commission is going to place tags around some of the larger and more notable trees in the borough. The tags invite folks to “Be a Tree Champion,” and include facts and figures relating to the benefits of trees.

“Every tree counts,” Mast said.

Mayor Ralph Mowen added to the conversation by informing Council that an arborist had told him another tree needs to be planted whenever one is cut down.

The Shade Tree Commission meets the third Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. in Ephrata’s Borough Hall and anyone with an interest in urban forestry is invited to attend.

In another matter, borough council approved a number of cultural art grants for 2018, including: $2,850 for the summer reading program of the Ephrata Public Library; $1,800 for Center Stage Theater Camp, a project of the Ephrata Performing Arts Center; $1,900 for Free Concerts in the Park, Ephrata Concert Band; $700 to the December programs of Ephrata Cloister Associates; $950 for off-site exhibits by the Historic Society of the Cocalico Valley; $1,100 for summer camp programs of the Ephrata Area Recreation Center; and $500 for free community events, Eicher Arts Center.

Council also approved a request from Hope Roaten, Disaster Program Manager of the American Red Cross, Central Pennsylvania, to use 75 parking spaces in the West Franklin Street parking lot on Friday, April 27, from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to accommodate American Red Cross and community volunteers who will be going door to door installing free smoke alarms and providing safety information.

Council approved a request from Ben Lee, Regional Director for the Make A Wish Foundation, for travel through the borough with their 29th annual Mother’s Day Convoy on Sunday, May 13.

Approval was given to the Ephrata Recreation Center to conduct the First Annual Memorial Day 5K Race to be held Monday, May 28, beginning at 8 a.m.

The race will use a number of streets in the Lincoln Heights section of the borough. This event replaces the 5K race series conducted in previous years.

Approval was also given to the Ephrata War Memorial Association to hold the 41st Annual Firecracker Run on Wednesday, July 4, to be held on the streets of the borough.

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