THE ISSUE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County. Some of these items are welcome developments on the economic front or for neighborhoods across the county. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light in a still-difficult time of the pandemic. All of this news deserves a brighter spotlight.
We start this week with an accolade for Elizabethtown’s singing mayor.
Clarence “Chuck” Mummert Jr. has been named Mayor of the Year by the Association of Mayors of the Boroughs of Pennsylvania, LNP | LancasterOnline’s Carter Walker reported recently.
The 74-year-old Mummert said he was “caught by surprise” by the award, which recognizes a mayor who shows outstanding service and commitment to the community and its residents.
Mummert has been doing that since he was first elected mayor in 2009. He’s running unopposed for another term in November.
He said he likes visiting nursing homes along the East Coast to sing, boost spirits and praise life in Elizabethtown.
“He also enjoys visiting elementary schools to tell students about the borough, his role in it and to encourage them to get involved in civic life,” Walker reported.
That gets a big round of applause from us. We’re all for anything that boosts civic education in schools. And for anyone who takes the time to visit nursing home residents. Bravo.
Quality rain gardens
Dan Nephin’s “Lancaster Watchdog” column in the Sept. 5 Sunday LNP | LancasterOnline gave us some great insight into an ongoing project in Lancaster city that helps the environment.
A reader had asked "Lancaster Watchdog" about the purpose and upkeep of the city’s curbside rain gardens.
“The quick answer ... is that the rain gardens help reduce the amount of stormwater that flows into the city’s combined sewer system by collecting it and enabling it to absorb slowly it into the earth instead of sending it down storm drains,” Nephin explained. “Too much rain overwhelms the sewage treatment system and can send untreated wastewater into the Conestoga River, and, ultimately, to the Chesapeake Bay, where, among other things, it can help to fuel algae growth that depletes oxygen needed by aquatic life.”
The city’s approximately 140 rain gardens are part of its strategy to reduce the pollution entering the bay.
And the strategy has been a success.
“I am happy to announce that the gardens are working really, really well,” Sybil Gotsch, an associate professor of biology at Franklin & Marshall College, told Nephin.
In studies of selected rain gardens over the past year, Gotsch and her students found that, on average, they were able to facilitate the absorption of about 71 inches of water an hour. The Environmental Protection Agency considers a rain garden effective if it absorbs at least 10 inches of water an hour.
Kate Austin, the city’s green infrastructure asset coordinator, told Nephin that the city does monthly maintenance and inspections for plant health and erosion. And its overall stormwater management projects, “which also include green roofs and porous pavement ... help divert more than 40 million gallons annually from reaching the combined sewer system,” Nephin reported.
One last added environmental bonus: Rain gardens provide a habitat for bees and other pollinators.
This last segment might get your stomach rumbling.
First off, kudos to New Holland-based Savencia Cheese USA, which won awards for two of its branded cheeses in the 2021 World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest.
“Savencia’s Supreme brie oval and single-serve brie bites earned second and third place respectively in the soft cheese category,” LNP | LancasterOnline reported. “Its Chavrie plain goat cheese log won first in the goat milk cheese category.”
Meanwhile, if you’re aiming to eat locally, this a great time to do so.
Lancaster City Restaurant Week, a twice-yearly campaign to promote local food businesses, begins today.
At least 29 businesses are participating, and that “includes sit-down restaurants, food trucks and a food stand,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Kim O'Donnel reported. She added, “As was the case in the spring, menu specials and deals will also apply to takeout orders as a nod to continued social distancing.”
The event continues through Sunday. For a full list of restaurants and other details, visit lancastercityrestaurantweek.com or see the event’s Instagram page at instagram.com/lancastercityrestaurantweek.
Also on the calendar: Lancaster VegFest will be an outdoor event Saturday and Sunday in Lancaster city. It bills itself as “a free public event whose mission is to provide information about the benefits of a plant-based diet for health and the benefit to animals.”
Due to COVID-19, there will be no bands, speakers or chef demonstrations this year, but at least 40 food and drink vendors will be participating.
“To help with crowd control and social distancing, the event — in its fifth year — will be held over two days at Buchanan Park,” O'Donnel noted.
While admission is free, attendees are encouraged to sign up at pavegfest.com for time-released tickets in advance, to help with crowd control and social distancing.