Cambria County Announces Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Cambria County in coordination with the state of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce the ERAP program.  The ERAP provides assistance with Rent payments including arrearages as well as utility assistance.

The current income guidelines are as follows:

-$36,350 (single person)

-$41,550 (two persons)

-$46,750 (three persons)

-$51,900 (four persons)

Interested applicants can apply online at https://www.compass.state.pa.us or by contacting Cambria County at (814)535-8531, Monday thru Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Please pass this on to neighbors and Cambria County friends that may be having a difficult time payment utilities.

To view the full press release, click here.

Ebensburg Recognized as Certified Sustainable Borough

Ebensburg Borough recognized as certified sustainable Borough

(Ebensburg Borough, PA) Ebensburg Borough announced today it is among a select group of high performing municipalities to become certified through the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program. Ebensburg Borough is recognized at the Gold level of certification for meeting the program’s rigorous performance criteria which track 131 policies and practices that define a sustainable community.

The Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification, managed by the Pennsylvania Municipal League in partnership with Sustainable Pittsburgh, is designed for municipalities that are working to save money, conserve resources, and serve vibrant communities. The certification is implemented statewide, recognizing boroughs, municipalities, cities, and home rule municipalities across the Commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Municipal League and Sustainable Pittsburgh applaud municipalities for their demonstrated commitment and sustainability performance.

In earning the Gold certification, Ebensburg Borough is acknowledged for its progress in such areas as community design and land use, energy efficiency, health and wellness, intergovernmental cooperation, recycling and waste reduction, fiscal controls, and internal management and operations. Details about Ebensburg Borough’s certification performance within these topics can be found on the certification program’s website: http://www.sustainablepacommunitycertification.org/users/certified_municipalities.

“Ebensburg Borough is proud to be recognized as a Gold Certified Community by the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program,” said Borough Councilman Scot May. “The Borough has a long history of commitment to saving taxpayer dollars, using resources efficiently, and applying best practices in municipal government and community development. We are pleased to be recognized and be part of the regional community of good government. I would also like to thank Mayor Randy Datsko and Community Development Director Danea Koss for all their hard work in making this possible. It was definitely a team effort.”

“We are delighted to see Ebensburg Borough distinguished among local governments that are leading the way in applying sustainability to both their operations and management as well as within the community,” said Anne McCollum, Director of Training and Development, Pennsylvania Municipal League.

The Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification is intended to bring recognition to municipalities that are implementing the policies and practices of sustainability to advance community and regional prosperity. It also serves as a mechanism for sharing best practices for creating a more sustainable Pennsylvania. “Municipalities that earn the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification have demonstrated a commitment to advancing sustainable best practices to foster thriving and vibrant communities where people long to live, work, and play. Commitment to continuous improvement and innovation is at the heart of sustainability and the Certification program is a means to accelerate municipal performance,” said James T. Price, Sustainable Community Manager, Sustainable Pittsburgh.

For more information, please visit www.sustainablepacommunitycertification.org or contact Danea Koss at 814-472-8414 or dkoss@ebensburgpa.com.

About Ebensburg Borough

Ebensburg Borough, the seat of Cambria County government, is situated on a plateau in the geographic center of the county along the eastern fringe of the Laurel Hill Ridge. Ebensburg is located 19 miles north of the City of Johnstown, 24 miles west of the City of Altoona, 74 miles east of Pittsburgh, and 140 miles west of Harrisburg. The Borough has a population of 3,122 and encompasses 1.7 square miles.

“Ebensburg, the first settlement on the Allegheny Front, was founded by Rees Lloyd. Ebensburg developed as a mountain resort as word of the area’s scenic beauty spread. Many of the ‘summer cottages’ containing fifteen to twenty rooms built by the urban rich can be seen today.

From its humble beginnings as the landing site of the Welsh advance party to its fame as a mountain resort, Ebensburg has enjoyed continuous prosperity while retaining its small town charm.” From Historic Ebensburg, W.R. Davis and Dave Huber.

Today, Ebensburg boasts an active and vibrant downtown with a thriving business community. Its nationally accredited Main Street program works to advance historic preservation and economic development, in part by hosting an annual schedule of community events including a summer Concert series, Farmer’s Markets, Movie in the Park, PotatoFest and more. Ebensburg’s downtown Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019 for its significance in the areas of commerce and architecture. Its recreational amenities are abundant with a world-class Tennis Center, Young Peoples Community Center, Nathan’s Divide Watershed Education Center, Lake Rowena and, last year’s PA Trail of the Year, the Ghost Town Trail. For more information about Ebensburg, visit ebensburgpa.com.

About the Pennsylvania Municipal League
The Pennsylvania Municipal League (PML) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1900 as an advocate for Pennsylvania’s 3rd class cities. The PML represents participating Pennsylvania cities, boroughs, Boroughs, and home rule municipalities that all share the League’s municipal policy interests. PML provides a wide array of municipal services including legislative advocacy (on both the state and federal levels), publications designed to educate and inform, education and training certification programs, membership research and inquiries, consulting-based programs, group insurance trusts, and the statewide Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification. Specific to Southwestern Pennsylvania, PML is partnered with Sustainable Pittsburgh for outreach.

About Sustainable Pittsburgh
Sustainable Pittsburgh works to support decision-makers in the Pittsburgh Region to improve the integration of economic prosperity, social equity, and environmental quality through fostering sustainable solutions for communities and businesses. Over the past 20 years, Sustainable Pittsburgh has proven adept at building coalitions for the policy and practice of sustainable development for southwestern Pennsylvania. SP educates and engages decision-makers and in turn elevates expectations for integration of the 3Es (environmental conservation, social equity, and economic prosperity) among government, businesses, nonprofits, and academia.

Request for Bid Proposals

The Borough of Ebensburg is currently seeking proposals for the following projects:

1. 2021 Sidewalk & Curb Project

– Invitation to Bid
– RFP
– Standard Specifications
– Project Plans
– Sidewalk Q&A

2. Tree Cutting Project

3. Griffith’s Field CSO Abandonment Project
Invite to Bid
Griffith’s Field Plan Sheet – Part 1
Griffith’s Field Plan Sheet – Part 2
Griffith’s Field Technical Specs
Griffith’s Field E&S Control Narrative
– CSO Q&A

Volunteer Opportunities

Ebensburg Borough is seeking volunteers to serve on the Ebensburg Borough Planning Commission, the Ebensburg Recreation Board and the Ebensburg Municipal Authority.

The Planning Commission writes and maintains the Borough’s comprehensive plan and prepares and manages the zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance and land development ordinance. The Commission reviews and forwards to Council for final approval all applications for subdivision and land development. The Commission meets on the 1st Thursday of the month at 6:30, as needed. There are usually 6-7 brief meetings during the year.

The Recreation Board is a seven-member advisory board that coordinates all recreation related programs within the borough. It oversees programming at the YPCC and provides recommendations for improvements at all parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities. The Board meets on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 6:30.

The Municipal Authority is a 5-member government agency, appointed by Borough Council, that owns all water, wastewater and stormwater facilities. They are responsible for capital projects incurring debt and setting rates. The Authority meets on the 3rd Monday of the month at 4:00.

Interested individuals should complete the statement of interest form linked below:

View Statement of Interest Here

Public Meeting Notices

All scheduled meetings of the Council of the Borough of Ebensburg will be conducted as scheduled on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m., but by teleconference. Members of the public wishing to observe or participate must contact the borough office by telephone (814-472-8780) or by e-mail (eburg@ebensburgpa.com) no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day of a meeting to receive the access code and/or password in order to join the tele-conference.

MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY MEETING
The next Ebensburg Municipal Authority meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 19th at 4 p.m. and will take place via Zoom. Members of the public wishing to observe or participate must contact the borough office by telephone (814-472-8780) or by e-mail (eburg@ebensburgpa.com) no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day of a meeting to receive the access code and/or password in order to join the tele-conference.

EBENSBURG BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING
The next meeting of the Borough Council of Ebensburg is scheduled for Monday, April 26th at 6:30 p.m. and will take place via Zoom. Members of the public wishing to observe or participate must contact the borough office by telephone (814-472-8780) or by e-mail (eburg@ebensburgpa.com) no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day of a meeting to receive the access code and/or password in order to join the tele-conference.

 

Ebensburg Borough Council President’s Town Hall Meeting Address

EBENSBURG BOROUGH COUNCIL PRESIDENT’S TOWN HALL MEETING ADDRESS
June 17, 2020

As indicated in the Agenda, my comments are broken down into three main areas: 1) the parade itself, 2) post-parade activity, and 3) some steps moving forward. Please understand that many of these comments reflect my personal thoughts and opinions, and as such, do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of the Mayor, other Council members, or Borough staff. Any formal statements or actions resulting from this meeting would require discussion, deliberation and potentially voting during a regular public meeting of Ebensburg Borough Council.

THE PARADE

I’ll start by providing some background information about the recent Ebensburg Memorial Day Parade, which has been an annual community tradition as long as any of us can remember. The event is a cooperative effort between the Borough, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Dauntless Fire Company. Over the years, the Borough has evolved somewhat into the lead role as the overall event planner and organizer. In particular this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, planning was disrupted, and it appeared there would not be a formal celebration. But the idea for a “roving parade” emerged, and plans were quickly implemented, on somewhat short notice. In an attempt to make the event as meaningful as possible and to appropriately honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans, an open invitation was offered for the solicitation of participants. As is in the past, participants were requested to contact the Borough office ahead of time, but not all did.

When the parade began to form, an individual from outside the Borough displayed the confederate flag, together with the American flag, on his tractor. The judgment of Borough police at the scene was that the use of that symbol was protected by the individual’s First Amendment rights, and as such, no action could be taken to stop the participation of the individual or to force him to remove the flag. This was confirmed by our Solicitor’s formal legal opinion which states:

“Had the Borough attempted to prohibit the flying of the confederate flag when participants were lining up, the Borough could have violated the First Amendment rights of the individual flying the confederate flag. The same could have been true had the Borough attempted to remove the flag from the parade once it began.” He goes on to say that the Borough “cannot prohibit individuals from presenting the confederate flag on public borough-owned property and in borough-organized parades open to the public and on public streets.”

Before going any further, I want to make it totally clear that no person or group involved with the Borough in any way had prior knowledge or indication that the confederate flag would appear in the parade. To the contrary, given that such an issue had never arisen in past years, its appearance was completely unexpected. That said, we do understand that the image of the confederate flag, especially with a Borough police car directly behind it, could give the impression that the display was somehow pre-planned or organized by the Borough. I am 100% confident in stating for the record that it was not.

From a purely legal perspective, the bottom line is this – as a governmental body, the Borough does not have the constitutional authority to limit speech, including the display of flags or other symbols, on public property. Period. Given that, although it may be deemed as offensive by some, in this instance, the display of the flag was perfectly legal and constitutionally protected. With that as a basis, please understand that we are not here this evening to discuss or debate the merits of the First Amendment. It is the law of the land, and it remains alive and well. As with all laws, the Borough will continually strive to fully respect it and abide by it.

But as we all know, just because something is legal, does not necessarily make it “right”. Regardless of one’s personal feelings regarding the confederate flag, the appearance of the symbol in our parade flies in the face of the very freedoms that so many before us have fought for – and died for – men and women, of all races, religions and backgrounds. Earlier today, I spent a few moments at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in downtown Ebensburg which lists thousands of the names who served – all Cambria County citizens – and of course, some of were killed in combat. Almost 3,000 names appear on the 19 plaques dedicated to our Civil War servicemen. I was personally surprised by the fact that I recognized many surnames from families who still reside in town. Unfortunately, the presence of the confederate flag in our parade dishonored what was otherwise intended to be a meaningful and solemn tribute to those who paid the ultimate price in defending our country and our freedoms. If for no other reason, all of us, as Americans, should be outraged and offended.

But, there is more…. When a distinguished and noble institution such as the United States Marine Corps or the United States Navy takes the bold step to ban a symbol from their installations, we should all take notice. On April 20 of this year, in a letter to members of the Corps from Marine Corps Commandant, General David Berger, states that:

The Confederate battle flag “has the power to inflame feelings of division.” He added, “I am mindful that many people believe that flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride. But I am also mindful of the feelings of pain and rejection of those who inherited the cultural memory and present effects of the scourge of slavery in our country.”

I understand that it can be difficult for some to comprehend how a singular image – like that of the confederate flag – can elicit such fear, anxiety and division. But it does. And, it did in the case of our parade. Should an Ebensburg family ever feel the need to quickly rush their children into the house immediately as the confederate flag is paraded by their front lawn? Imagine the horror as their sense of elation, their uplifting spirit of patriotism and their feelings of gratitude toward our departed military were suddenly shattered by the passing image of that confederate flag. That thought disturbs me deeply.

Clearly, as a country, we have much work to do to address racism and intolerance at all levels – interpersonal, structural, and institutional. As a Borough, I believe we have an obligation to our community members to do this as well, and I, for one, take that obligation very seriously. For these reasons, I respectfully invite the Mayor, my fellow Council Members, and all Borough staff to join me in the formal denunciation of this offensive and hurtful display.

POST-PARADE

I believe that even before the parade had ended, the Borough began receiving complaints regarding the presence of the flag. These came from both white residents and residents of color, who told us in respectfully written messages, that they felt that the confederate flag was not welcome in the parade and that they and other community members watching with them were hurt to see it.

Let me just say that our overall response as a Borough was well below our own standards. Mistakenly, we handled this situation in the same manner as with other complaints – assess the relevance and urgency of the issue, consider possible courses of action, etc. This case was inherently more complicated by the legalities involved, which required research and input from our Solicitor. Although some Borough work was underway in the background, our limited communication created the perception that the issue was not viewed as important and was not being given adequate attention. An informal group named “Inclusive Ebensburg” was formed, and an online petition seeking a ban of the Confederate flag at all Borough-sanctioned events was launched. In short, we were slow to react and did a poor job of communicating in a timely manner with those who complained. As Council President, I accept full responsibility for this communication failure, and I offer my most sincere apology to those who had initially reached out to us, as well as to all other borough residents who are being negatively affected by this situation.

MOVING FORWARD

The online petition I mentioned seeks the banning of the confederate flag from all Borough events. Recently, both the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat and the Altoona Mirror have published editorials in support of that idea. But as already stipulated, as a governmental body, the Borough has no authority to limit free speech in public areas, including the streets and sidewalks where events are held. Therefore, no matter who might support the idea, or how many signatures may be obtained on a petition, we simply cannot legally do what is asked.

Yet, I believe that some concrete actions are warranted. All of us should be able to agree that the Borough and its residents do not want the Memorial Day Parade, or any other festival, event or celebration to become a hurtful or divisive issue in our community. We want Ebensburg, and any events that take place within it, to be welcoming and family-friendly to all residents and visitors. As such, and in accordance with the Solicitor’s advice, it is anticipated that the Borough would take future action which “prohibited the Borough itself from organizing parades, and required future parades and events, such as PotatoFest, to be organized by private groups. Any content restrictions would then be permitted at the sole discretion of the private organizer.”

The fact is that essentially every event held within the borough, with the exception of the Memorial Day Parade, is already sponsored and/or managed by independent, third-party organizations. Most fall under the umbrella of the Ebensburg Mainstreet Partnership, a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit that represents business interests in both the Borough and the surrounding Cambria Township. The Partnership has its own board and bylaws, and although it works in cooperation with the Borough in many areas, it remains a separate entity. Another example is the Thanksgiving Day “Turkey Trot” 5K, which is sponsored and organized by the Ebensburg Running Club, again, a totally separate organization. Such groups are free to design, organize and implement events and activities that they deem are appropriate to the message they wish to convey.

In addition to the Borough’s expected action to divest itself from the “organizer” role in parades or events, I further hereby request that the Borough Manager draft an ordinance to regulate parades, events and other demonstrations for future Council consideration. Such an ordinance is very common in other municipalities and cities around the Commonwealth, providing a general framework for various organizations to follow with regard to these activities.

Thank you all for your time and attention. For the record, I am happy to provide a full copy of these remarks in writing to the media or to anyone else who desires.
Faithfully prepared and submitted by:

Doug Tusing, President
Ebensburg Borough Council

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD

We will now move on to the Public Comment portion of the Town Hall Meeting. To safely maintain a smooth flow of speakers, we will entertain comments in the following order:

1) Members of the group “Inclusive Ebensburg” and/or others who submitted written/email complaints
2) Ebensburg Borough residents and/or taxpayers
3) Any other participants who wish to speak

CLOSING

– I sincerely thank all who participated this evening

– I give my personal commitment to carefully consider all comments made from either side

– I am sorry that this incident occurred and for the hurt it has caused

– I appreciate those who were willing to step forward and bring this issue to the forefront

– This is a wonderful town, full of good and well-meaning people. Yet, we must all strive to do better with regard to tolerance and inclusion – not just with regard to race, but in other areas of diversity as well

– The only real way forward is through open dialogue, education and discussion; there are many resources available

– While we do have some specific actions to work on, we should all recognize that this is the beginning of a journey, not the end

– So let’s join together, as a community, and build a model to set an example of how this can all work – peacefully, intelligently and respectfully

– Because in the end, we cannot allow this incident to define us and we must not allow this incident to divide us

Thank you, good night, and please continue to be safe.