Ephrata

A view of downtown Ephrata from the site of the former Mountain Springs Hotel, looking west along Main Street. 

When: Council meeting, Aug. 12.

What happened: Kelly Withum, executive director of Mainspring of Ephrata, updated council on the organization’s mission to improve the quality of life through economic development. The gist of her message: Ephrata is doing well but the future could be even brighter.

Background: The economic development organization has been in place for a year, after consolidating three organizations: Downtown Ephrata Inc., the Ephrata Alliance and the Ephrata Economic Development Corp.

The first year: Much of the new organization’s work has been behind the scenes, Withum said, such as implementing a new website and getting all documentation in place. But the group also has been busy on the front lines, Withum said. She noted, for example, that Mainspring had partnered with Millersville University, the Council for the Arts and the Ephrata Area School District to create a mural at the Whistlestop Plaza. It also held nine events during the year and partnered in a number of others.

What’s ahead: One of Mainspring’s biggest projects now is to see the Heatherwood Bike Park to fruition, a task it is taking on with the Susquehanna Mountain Biking Association. The park will be opening in late September or early October, Withum said.

Other business: Borough resident Jim Sandoe spoke to council about the plan to use diesel-powered generators as a stand-by power resource in the community. The borough is planning to use the generators during peak times of power usage in order to save money. Sandoe is concerned about pollution from the diesel-powered generators and instead, would like the borough to work on a gasification project, producing power from an organic source, which produces an end-product called biochar. The gasification project didn’t come up for a vote at council because not enough information was available, President Susan E. Rowe said. That doesn’t mean they are totally against the idea, Rowe said, and council may consider it in the future when more facts are available.

Also: Council voted unanimously to opt out of allowing video gaming terminals into the borough’s truck stops and gas stations. The vote came after Senate Bill 321 was signed into law, giving municipalities the choice.