Articles by Jonathan Cortez

Electric Meeting Set for Monday

A town hall on the Ellwood Borough Electric Department will be held on Monday, Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. in the borough auditorium. An official from American Municipal Power (AMP) will be present. The electric department has been subject of citizen criticism after bills dramatically increased in July, bringing to the forefront concerns over customer service, billing and the necessity of the department itself. Over 50 visitors attended council’s agenda meeting on July 11 and over 100 at the regular meeting on July 18. A Facebook group titled “Standing Up to Ellwood Electric” has over 1,100 members. Previous articles on…


Residents, Council Set Up Town Hall to Further Discuss Electric Department

“Many of you are here because you want to have freedom of choice,” borough solicitor Ed Leymarie told a crowd of over 100 visitors at Monday’s council meeting. “But the Pennsylvania government took away that choice.” Leymarie was referring to a state law allowing municipalities with government electric departments to require residents to purchase power from them. Monday’s crowd stemmed from a Facebook group, “Standing Up to Ellwood Electric,” with over 1,000 members. At the agenda meeting on July 11, over 50 residents showed up to protest electric rates and customer service policies at the Ellwood Electric Department. This in…


Zoning and Pandering: Council Approves New Zoning Ordinance

Following a length visitor portion concerning the Ellwood Electric Department, the Ellwood City Borough Council proceeded with Monday’s agenda. On that agenda was an amendment to the zoning ordinance dividing the business district into four sections. Council passed the new zoning in a 6-1 vote. At a public hearing on June 27, several business owners and realtors opposed the zoning ordinance. The passed ordinance was created by council over a several year period in conjunction with Town Center Associates, a downtown consulting agency. The vote was not without discussion. Council member Judi Dici, who took office in January, was not…


Council, Residents Divided Over Electric Department

Last Monday’s council meeting highlighted a number of potential issues in the Ellwood City Borough Electric Department, namely customer service concerns and the advantages of private utilities over a municipal-owned utility service. As explained in a previous article, Ellwood City Borough has its own Electric Department, which belongs to a consortium of municipalities called American Municipal Power (AMP). The borough uses a consulting group, Utility Engineers, for its purchasing agreements, and in 2015 entered a five-year contract with an electric provider. The borough purchases electricity at a yearly rate of $.08529 per kilowatt (kWh). In turn, it sells electricity to…


Heat Doesn’t Deter Good Works: Carpenter’s Project 2016

Despite an exceptionally hot, humid week, volunteers weren’t deterred from the Carpenter’s Project. Throughout the week, over 100 volunteers divided into 18 crews will work on an estimated 100 projects at 58 houses. The Carpenter’s Project is a volunteer, community organization that provides external repairs to the houses of the elderly, disabled and others who are unable to perform the work themselves. Projects range from painting (the most predominant), to porch railings, demolition, concrete pouring and yard work. The Carpenter’s Project is formed by a collaboration of local churches. Equipment and food are all purchased from local businesses. This year,…


In Depth: Residents Protest Electric Rates, Council Proposes Resolution Amending Rates

Over 50 residents attended Monday’s council agenda meeting to protest a spike in electric bills from May to June, forcing the meeting to be moved from council chambers to the auditorium. Council had forewarning of citizen unrest and had already prepared a preliminary resolution adjusting electric rates. Ellwood City Power and Light The Ellwood City Borough has a municipal-operated electric company, Ellwood City’s Power and Light. The borough purchases power from the American Municipal Power Supply [AMP] at a current rate of $.08529 per kilowatt and resells it to Ellwood citizens for a profit. Funds are subsequently transferred from the…


Opinion: Festival!

It’s the most exciting time of the year in Ellwood City! The time that Ewing Park gets filled with tents, trailers, humans and food. Everybody in the Ellwood area should go to the festival! We should all unabashedly promote the festival. This year’s festival is under almost entirely new leadership, and they’ve done a wonderful job marketing and organizing. Thank you and congratulations to chairperson Becky Guisler and the festival committee consisting of Beth Kingston (Treasurer), Raylene Boots (Secretary & Food), Renee Radevski (Crafts), Nikki Mars (Crafts), Vic Rangel (Entertainment), Paul Dici (Food), Sam Pawlowski (Grounds), Mike Sinclair (Parking) Ralph…


Festival Band Previews: Nickel Plated Revolver and Brok’n Pic Band

The 2016 Ellwood Festival will emphasize the entertainment part of Arts, Crafts, Food and Entertainment at an unprecedented level. All of Friday is dedicated to showcasing Ellwood-based bands and Saturday and Sunday will see additional local entertainment. The previews will be updated throughout the week to highlight different bands. All information taken from interviews or social media. All photos used with permission of the band. Friday, July 1- Community Day 12:30 p.m. Wine & Spirit Perennial festival performers Wine & Spirit will open the musical acts on Friday. “I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve played at the festival,”…


Several Ellwood Property and Business Owners Oppose Proposed Zoning Ordinance

“Over the years, your business district has sprawled and lost purpose,” Mark Pelusio of Town Center Associates said at the beginning of a public hearing on a proposed zoning ordinance for the Ellwood City Borough. In brief, the proposed zoning would divide Ellwood’s core business district into four sub-districts with the intention of creating a pedestrian dominated area on Lawrence Avenue from Fourth to Eight Street consisting primarily of retail and dining establishments. Council worked on the new zoning with the aid of Town Center Associates [TCA], a consulting agency based in Beaver, and an urban development company, Environmental Planning…


Annual Ellwood Festival Features More Vendors and More Local Bands Than Ever Before

This year’s Ellwood City Arts, Crafts, Foods and Entertainment Festival intends to focus more on the entertainment part than any previous festival. Indeed, Friday will be entirely oriented around local entertainment. While in previous years, the festival has pulled entertainment from around the greater Lawrence/Beaver County area, Friday will be all about Ellwood City. The festival will kick off with a “community day” beginning with the Little Miss Firecracker Pageant, which was a success in previous years. The rest of the day’s lineup will feature five bands from the Ellwood City area: Wine & Spirits, D Major, Nickle Plated Revolver,…