Thursday, October 31, 2013

Getting ready for holiday festivities

Elizabethtown is getting ready for holiday festivities, including the holiday parade at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14.

This year's theme is "The Twelve Days of Christmas." And if you've been around E-town for the parade, you know it's one of the largest community events. Every year, thousands of people jam the downtown to see Santa Claus, floats, bands, fire trucks and an array of organizations.

Last year, the borough changed the parade to a Saturday evening instead of a Friday, and by all accounts (at least from what my colleagues on Borough Council and the staff at the borough have said), it was a great success.

This year, the downtown organization Market Street Improving Business is shadowing the borough staff since MSIB will take over organizing and running the parade in the future.

In fact, MSIB has taken over the upcoming New Year's Eve celebration "Let E-town Ring." According to discussions at Borough Council earlier this year, MSIB President Andrew Schoenberger said the event would be expanded to include the Dove Promise Drop at midnight EST rather than at 7 p.m. to match the time of Elizabethtown's sister city Letterkenny in Ireland (as has been the tradition for the event). This year will also include fireworks, which were featured for the first time at last year's event.

It is great that a community organization like MSIB is taking on these events. When the Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce decided to hand over the events to the borough to run last year, we were looking for community groups that would be interested in taking them over. I am pleased that MSIB has stepped up because it means they are taking ownership of them, which I hope will ensure they will be successful well into the future. The parade and "Let E-town Ring" are established events, and I think new people with new ideas can make them even better.

So if you're around for the holidays, I encourage you to support the community -- and downtown Elizabethtown -- and come out for these great events.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review Elizabethtown Community Park on mobile app

If you have a smart phone or a tablet, download the app ParksNReviews. It's a nifty little program that uses your device's GPS to help locate parks when you're out and about. You can also post reviews of the parks.

As an elected official for Elizabethtown and a community booster, I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to post a 5-star review for Elizabethtown Community Park. We are fortunate to have such a great resource in the borough, with the Fun Fort, picnic pavilions, basketball courts and a softball field.

If you have any doubt about how much people use the park, just head down to the softball field between, say, April and November. In fact, the field was the subject of a lengthy discussion at Borough Council's meeting in August because it needs serious maintenance.

And that's not to mention all of the use the basketball court gets or all of the kids who have grown up playing at the Fun Fort. I suppose you could say the second generation of kids is now playing at the Fun Fort.

So take a moment to download the app and review our great community resource!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ridership at Elizabethtown Train Station jumps nearly 10 percent

Thanks to a post on the Elizabethtown Advocate's Facebook page yesterday, I learned that ridership at the Elizabethtown Train Station has jumped nearly 10 percent for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2013.

Here's what Dan Robrish, the Advocate's editor and publisher, posted:

Holy Toledo! Amtrak released ridership figures today -- for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, there were 123,153 passengers boarding and leaving trains at Elizabethtown. That's a 9.8 percent increase over the previous year and puts Elizabethtown ahead of the busiest Amtrak stations in 25 states -- including Toledo, Ohio, which had 68,463.

By contrast, Pittsburgh has 135,137, Robrish reported. Paoli, which is a stop on the Keystone Line between here and Philadelphia, has 175,299.

The numbers jibe with the growth in ridership at the train station over the past 10 to 15 years. Even during construction of the new facility, we on Elizabethtown Borough Council received reports that ridership jumped considerably.

This news comes on the heels of the construction of overflow parking at the end of Wilson Avenue where the train station is located. That lot was finished during the summer, bringing the entire train station project to completion. The project was funded through a $9.3 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.