When: Ephrata borough council meeting, May 11.
What happened: In a split-vote, council voted against a resolution seeking to reopen Lancaster County and Ephrata Borough immediately. Mayor Ralph Mowen broke the tie, voting with council President Susan E. Rowe and members Greg Zimmerman, Ricky Ressler and Victor Richard against a measure that would defy Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order. Voting for the immediate reopening of the county were council Vice President Thomas Reinhold and members Linda Martin, Melvin Weiler and Tim Barr.
Background: The resolution came about by way of a letter from West Hempfield Township, where officials drafted a resolution for the reopening of the county and sent it to other municipal officials in Lancaster County.
Mayor’s position: “I don’t want us to go back to where we have 100, 200, 300 cases a day,” Mowen said. “I don’t feel and haven’t been able to find any information that shows (elected officials) have any legal authority to override the governor’s authority.”
Council president’s position: “From an economic perspective, I understand the need to reopen,” Rowe said in an email statement. “However, since Council has no authority in matters of public health, I voted ‘no.’ ” Mowen had issued an emergency declaration, she said, and council could not pass a resolution negating that declaration.
An opposing view: Council member Linda Martin said she was in favor of the governor’s stay-at-home order when it began 53 days ago, but she feels the goal has now changed. “Everyone was doing due diligence, staying home to flatten the curve and make sure the hospitals had enough (personal protective equipment) and ventilators ... and I believe we’ve achieved that goal.” Martin added, “If you let small businesses open, they will practice social distancing and CDC guidelines, and if you don’t feel safe, don’t go. That way, your personal choice is not taken away from you.”
Other business: Council approved the request of Ephrata Area School District Superintendent Brian Troop to close Old Mill Road to accommodate a procession of vehicles with high school seniors for their graduation on June 5. In this drive-thru ceremony, the vehicles will file past the high school in order for the students to each receive their high school diploma.
Editor's note: This story was originally wrong in reporting who voted for and against the resolution. It has been corrected.