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Ministry's pantry must vacate

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Charlie Silliman, pantry coordinator for the Christian Action Council of Palmerton Area Churches, explains to members of the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that the ministry has been told it has until July 1 to…
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Charlie Silliman, pantry coordinator for the Christian Action Council of Palmerton Area Churches, explains to members of the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that the ministry has been told it has until July 1 to relocate.
Published May 13. 2011 05:00PM

A ministry of 15 Palmerton Area churches that assists those in need has until July 1 to vacate its headquarters.

Drew Harris, president/Chief Executive Officer of Blue Mountain Health System, addressed the situation with members of the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Harris announced that a physician who has a practice at the Blue Mountain Community Services Center, located at 217 Franklin Avenue, has agreed to purchase the building, which currently houses physicians offices, a community center, an adult day care, and the Christian Action Council of Palmerton Area Churches, also known as CACPAC.

"One of the physician groups has outgrown the space for their practice, as they joined with several other practices in the Lehigh Valley," Harris said. "It's an opportunity for them to purchase the building, they'll get more space, and continue to serve in Palmerton."

Harris noted that Blue Mountain Health System's Adult Day Care Services will stay at its current site for "at least another year."

The Blue Mountain Health System Community Center, in Bowmanstown, which is currently used for storage purposes, will be renovated to allow for physician offices, outpatient behavioral health, and a new community room that may be utilized by the public.

But, Charlie Silliman, pantry coordinator for CACPAC, said he is concerned that the ministry will have to relocate.

"Where does CACPAC go" Silliman asked. "The hospital has provided us with room on the lower level of the building, rent-free."

Silliman, who took over as pantry coordinator for CACPAC in Sept. of 1999, said he was upset by the news.

"I returned from vacation when I received the disturbing news that we would have to vacate the premises by July 1," he said. "It's very upsetting to me."

Silliman said CACPAC is open the third Friday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"I'm concerned about having to relocate," he said. "If the Chamber has any ideas for our relocation, I'd be interested in listening to you."

Silliman noted that Richard Nothstein has offered the former Golden Key Market along Delaware Avenue for its use on a temporary basis.

But, Silliman said he "would like to be able to move somewhere permanently."

George Ashman, a volunteer for the pantry, said a building with a groundlevel location would be "highly desirable".

Silliman said the pantry started sometime in the 1960s, at which time it served between seven to 10 families. At present, he said "it continues to grow."

As of 2010, Silliman said the pantry served 150 families, or, an average of 383 people per month. This past November, it served 188 families, or, 496 people; and this past December, it served 187 families, or, 475 people, he said.

Silliman, who noted that the pantry's next collection date is May 20, said that once a month, the pantry gets an order from the Second Harvest Food Bank, in Allentown, as well as the Country Harvest Food Market in Palmerton.

"We receive funding from the Shepherd House Inc. in Lehighton, and donations from the community," he said. "We still have to purchase more food than what gets distributed."

Ashman said that due to the age of the people who live in the town, combined with the number of widows living on Social Security, he believes the number will continue to increase.

Peter Kern, Chamber president, told Silliman that the Chamber will do its part to help CACPAC find a suitable replacement.

"It's one of those things that's unfortunately devasting for you," Kern said. "We'll see what we can do."

Kern said it's important to understand that residents will continue to receive excellent services.

"We've got two great ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) physicians serving Palmerton," Kern said. "It's highly unusual to see such specialties in Palmerton where the demand for these services is greater than the number of physicians available."

In other Chamber business:

• Kern announced that a joint lunch meeting between the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce and Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce will be held at noon on Tuesday, June 14, at the American Legion - Allen O. Delke Post -16, in Slatington. The meeting will give a municipal update on future projects by representatives of Palmerton Borough, Slatington Borough, Walnutport Borough, Washington Township, Lehigh Township, and North Whitehall Township.

• Kern announced that the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce will meet for an evening dinner on Sept. 20 at the Blue Ridge Country Club to kick off the Centennial Celebration of the incorporation of the Borough of Palmerton.

• Joan Turko announced that the Palmerton Concourse Club will attempt to promote the Centennial by asking each business to display a scarecrow in front of their establishment in the month of October.

• Dawn Ferrante, executive director of the Carbon County Economic Development Corporation, announced that Leadership Carbon has returned after a one-year absence. The deadline to apply for the Class of 2012 program is June 30.

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