LEWISTOWN - A number of generous donations from local businesses, community leaders and local residents have put Downtown Lewistown Inc. on a track to sustainability.
President Jon Zimmerman, who is also on the Pennsylvania Downtown Center Board of Directors said no other community with a revitalization organization has been able to achieve sustainability.
"There is not another community doing what we are doing with the budget cuts," Zimmerman said, adding that the people who have pledged money see the positive things happening in the community and want them to continue.
The board discussed a number of topics during their annual meeting on Thursday, including the Fountain Square Park.
Executive Director Jim Zubler said the park will have to be completed by the end of June in order to take advantage of some grant money the board managed to secure for the project. This does not however include the fountain itself, which will be put in place after the board finishes their fundraising campaign.
Zimmerman said the recent vandalism at the park was unfortunate, but the response in removing the graffiti was prompt.
Zimmerman praised the quick response by Zubler to have the graffiti removed and the police in apprehending those responsible.
Mifflin County Planning Director Bill Gomes brought up a project that had taken a back seat in recent years, that of possibly placing a replica of the original Seth Thomas Clock along Market Street, near the Five Points intersection.
Gomes has spoken with a contractor about starting the first phase of the project, which would essentially be the installation of the infrastructure. The board agreed to pick up the costs of the construction in the hopes that in the coming years funds could be secured to install a clock at that location.
The board also took up the topic of the Pennsylvania Cable Network's offer to film a 30 minute segment on the Lewistown area. The board agreed to secure costs for the filming which is expected to take place later this year and will appear on television in January 2014.
In addition, the board discussed the recent train excursions over Memorial Day Weekend which DLI helped with. The excursions ran from Lewistown to the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona and were a huge success with hundreds of people participating.
Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation President Rob Postal said this event brought in a lot of revenue for lodging and restaurants.
Zubler and DLI Treasurer Gerry Hummel took one of the excursions and said people from as far away as Ontario and Missouri came to ride the rails.
At one point during the meeting Zimmerman switched gears a bit to talk about the Lewistown Hospital merger.
Zimmerman, who also sits on the board at Lewistown Hospital, was joined by Lewistown Police Chief William Herkert, the current Lewistown Hospital Board Chair in praising Geisinger's decision to merge with the hospital.
Zimmerman said the hospital would not have survived without affiliating with another entity.
"The Geisinger option is the best ... they have committed significant capital. There'll be more services than they currently have," Zimmerman said.
In other news, Lewistown Mayor Deb Bargo announced that there are plans in the works for another mural downtown on the square. Paul Wilson has offered up the wall of his business, located at 13 E. Market Street as the canvass for artist Dwight Kirkland. Kirkland has done three other murals in Lewistown. Bargo is on the Embassy Theater Board, which will spearhead this project. The mural will be a tribute to the old theaters of Lewistown, along with some actors who graced the silver screen, one of which was a Lewistown native.
Other business conducted at the meeting includes the following:
The board also continues to work toward finalizing a strategic plan as part of their application process for the Keystone Communities designation. The new Keystone Communities program, replaces Elm Street and Main Street funding revenue for revitalization projects. If awarded Keystone Communities status, significant revenue would be available to continue with revitalization projects, more than was available under the Elm Street program.
Rec Park Farmers Market is up and running and DLI is helping by assisting with the EBT machines, which accepts SNAP Access cards, FMNP Benefits, Visa, Mastercard and Debit Cards. The Farmers Market is open from 3 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays until late October. In addition to fresh produce, baked goods and meat, there will be live music and cooking and nutritional education workshops.
Former Lewistown Borough Manager Dave Frey was elected to the DLI Board of Directors on Thursday for a three year term.