The Boil Water Advisory for Ebensburg has been lifted.
The Boil Water Advisory for Ebensburg has been lifted.
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:
EBENSBURG BOROUGH RECREATION MEETING
The next meeting of the Ebensburg Recreation Board is scheduled for Thursday, May 20th at 6:30 p.m. and will take place via Zoom. If you would like to participate, please contact Dirk Johnson at 814-472-47277 for the login information.
EBENSBURG BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING
The next meeting of the Borough Council of Ebensburg is scheduled for Monday, May 24th at 6:30 p.m. and will take place in-person in the Community Room of the Ebensburg Municipal Building.
Due to the surge of Covid-19 cases in Cambria County, Ebensburg Borough staff has decided to close the Municipal Building to the public. Staff are still working and payments may still be dropped off onsite in the mail slot.
General inquiries can be directed to 814-472-8780
Tax Office inquires can be directed to 814-846-4764
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.
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.
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.
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
– 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.
EBENSBURG BOROUGH SET TO REOPEN RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
Ebensburg – Ebensburg Borough has announced the reopening of the Ebensburg Tennis Center, Memorial Fields, Lake Rowena Field, parks & playgrounds effective Friday, June 5th. The Young Peoples Community Center (YPCC) will reopen effective Monday, June 8th.
“We remind all residents that the threat from Covid-19 is not over, and that basic precautions are still important,” said Recreation Director Dirk Johnson. “All adults should still be wearing face masks and social-distancing guidelines should still be followed.”
The Borough of Ebensburg is currently seeking proposals for the collection of garbage, rubbish, refuse, recyclable materials, and an annual spring trash pickup for the period January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023. Click on link below to view attached document:
INSTRUCTIONS TO BIDDERS – SPECIFICATIONS & BID FORM
TEMPORARY OPERATIONAL CHANGES DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
The Borough’s focus is to work with county, state and Federal officials to limit the spread of this virus. This being the case, the Borough of Ebensburg is modifying its operations to protect our residents and employees as a response to the current Coronavirus outbreak. All interaction between the public and borough staff will now be conducted by telephone or e-mail.
BOROUGH-OWNED BUILDINGS ARE ALL NOW CLOSED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. PAYMENTS FOR BOROUGH WATER/SEWER/STORMWATER/GARBAGE AND ALL PERMITS, PROGRAMS AND PARKING TICKETS WILL BE ACCEPTED IN A DROP BOX AT THE FRONT DOOR OF THE MUNICIPAL BUILDING, ON-LINE, THROUGH THE MAIL OR BY TELEPHONE.
At this time, our offices will remain open for essential Borough business. We are promoting the practice of social distancing. Visitors are not permitted in the building for any purpose. No meetings with visitors will be scheduled at this time, and it is requested that residents call our office, or email Borough staff, to discuss concerns or ask questions before coming to the Borough offices. By working together to limit social contact, we all can aid in protecting the most vulnerable residents in our community.
In order to ensure the safety of all our residents and staff, the following operational changes for the following Borough departments have been implemented until further notice:
The Administrative Offices are working under normal office hours, with the exception of in-person meetings. Any emails, telephone calls, as well as complaints will be responded to as soon as possible.
The collection of your garbage and recycling has not been affected and is still on your normal collection day.
Contacting the Borough Departments:
Borough Manager Dan Penatzer – 814-472-8780 firstname.lastname@example.org
Borough Front Office – 814-472-8780 email@example.com
Public Works Director Jeff Evans – 814-472-8780 firstname.lastname@example.org
Recreation Director Dirk Johnson – 814-472-4277 email@example.com
Tax Collector Charlene Remillard – 814-846-4764 firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Dev. Director Danea Koss – 814-472-8414 email@example.com
Police Department – 814-472-8930 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Randy Datsko – 814-472-8780 email@example.com
Building Codes & Permits – 814-471-0424 firstname.lastname@example.org
Police emergency operations will not be limited, however, the method of communication and service for non-life-threatening calls will be altered. Police Officers may limit their own access to confined areas including homes and businesses. Officers may be requesting callers to meet outside and will maintain a social distance. If and when possible, Officers will be requesting phone numbers to take reports by phone or may request e-mails for detailed information.
We strongly request that you be honest about any illnesses when requesting assistance from police, fire, and EMS. Our first responders cannot provide the necessary services if they have been exposed to a potential virus. If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of the Coronavirus, follow the directives of the CDC and communicate with your doctor to determine the best measures.
The police, fire and EMS services are here and will continue to provide the services you need. It may look and feel much different, but they will provide the service regardless.
COMMUNITY SERVICES DEPARTMENT (RECREATION & PUBLIC WORKS):
The community parks and playgrounds are still open at this time. Parks are not cleaned on a regular basis, and the public uses those at your own risk. Please take the appropriate steps to social distance and no gatherings more than 10 are recommended. Restroom facilities at all parks are closed.
The YPCC is closed to the general public and staff is taking this time to do extra spring cleaning in anticipation of your return later this year.
The Tennis Center is closed to the general public.
The pool is still scheduled to open on May 23rd subject to the situation at that time.
LAND USE, ZONING OPINIONS, LAND DEVELOPMENT APPLICATIONS, SUBDIVISIONS
Contact the Borough Manager’s office above.
MEETINGS OF BOROUGH COUNCIL AND ALL BOARDS, AUTHORITIES AND COMMISSIONS
Meetings are being held as scheduled, but only by teleconference. If the public wishes to submit issues or questions to Borough Council or any board, authority or commission, it must be submitted to the Borough Manager by mail, e-mail or telephone prior to the meeting. If it is desired or necessary for any person to speak or actually participate during the meeting, arrangements can be made through the Borough Manager’s office for joining the teleconference.
All applications relating to borough business can be found on-line at www.ebensburgpa.com under “On-line Applications”.
PLEASE MONITOR THE BOROUGH’S WEBSITE AND FACEBOOK PAGE FOR INFORMATION REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS, CDC AND COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS AS WELL AS BOROUGH OPERATIONS AS WE MOVE THROUGH THIS CRISIS TOGETHER. THANK YOU!