Organizations in two Panther Valley communities are pooling their resources in an effort to get better results for both towns.
The Lansford-Summit Hill Community Partnership was created by Lansford Alive and the Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization (SHCIO).
Sara Ruch of Summit Hill will be serving on a part-time basis as project manager of the partnership, working about 25 hours per week.
The partnership has seven directors, three from each of the two groups. The seventh member is Dale Freudenberger of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
The directors representing Lansford Alive are David Benevy, Mark Sverchek, and Chris Ondrus.
SHCIO is represented by Debra Ranck, secretary; Harry Miller, treasurer, and Michele Toniati.
Freudenberger said the partnership was started last year as a joint effort. He said that hiring a project manager "will assist both organizations with coordinating and executing a variety of community projects."
Ruch, who assumed the project manager position on April 4, said her initial project was helping to establish priorities and goals for the two organizations, and then move forward to executing them.
Numerous "priorities" were identified, but Ruch said the main ones are different for the two organizations.
Summit Hill lists community parks developments as its main concern; specifically improving Memorial Park (old Presbyterian Center) and Ludlow Park. In 2014, the 100th anniversary of Ludlow Park will be celebrated.
In Lansford, the priority will be marketing vacant commercial structures.
"Lansford Alive believes there is great values in the commercial properties because they are reasonably priced. We hope to market these properties to bring more businesses into Lansford," Freudenberger said.
"I think it's great to have two organizations working together with the two boroughs for the common good," Ondrus said. "I think there is a lot of potential. A lot of work went into this to get it this far."
Sverchek added, "We're very excited to join together with Summit Hill so we can achieve our goals in each community. Sara will spearhead that drive."
"Neither community could have done this ourself," Benevy said. "We're not only sharing the time (with Ruch) but sharing our resources."
Freudenberger said Ruch's time will be spent equally between the municipalities.
He added that an agreement was reached with Summit Hill Heritage Center to provide office space.
Ruch will be attending a lot of meetings of community organizations and municipal groups such as borough councils. She said she welcomes invitations from organizations to come and speak to them about wat the Lansford-Summit Hill Community Partnership is about.
"One of Sara's big roles is to be the organizer," said Freudenberger.
Ruch and her husband Kevin own and operate 14 Acre Farm in Summit Hill. A native of the Lehigh Valley, she moved to Summit Hill seven years ago.
She is presently enrolled at Lehigh Carbon Community College, seeking a degree in marketing and management.
Last year she served as marketing director for Jim Thorpe Farmers Market.
She has attained Master Gardener status from the Penn State Extension Service.
Ruch can be reached at LSHCPmanager@gmail.com or by calling 570-645-7561.