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Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority formed

A new authority has formed between Washington Township and the borough of Slatington to better the shared community. In December, five township residents joined three borough residents in the Slatington Borough building chambers to elect officers and approve bylaws for the cooperative authority dubbed Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority.

"We decided to join the authority because we felt there is a real need in our area to expand recreational activities, particularly for adults. Our youth organizations do a great job with the kids, but we wanted to grow opportunities that would be available to everyone post high school," said board member and Washington Township Supervisor Josh Friebolin. "Those that joined from our township have varying backgrounds that I thought could help us."Plans for the new group include getting a long awaited recreation center up and running."Right now, the main goals for the authority are to pursue grant opportunities from the state. The state looks favorably on multimunicipal cooperation and is more likely to fund projects where more than one municipality would benefit," Friebolin said.The Pennsylvania Automotive Association Foundation donated $4,765 in early January through Rentschler's automotive dealership located in Slatington for the continued construction of the center.According to Connie Berger of the Northern Lehigh Community Center Board, the donation came from the association to match a 2015-16 United Way Fund Drive conducted by the committee.The Northern Lehigh Community Center Board will be absorbed into the fresh authority in the upcoming months, according to authority vice president and center board member Paul Gass. Gass said the point of forming the authority was to better the community."As a citizen dedicated to improving Slatington, I wanted to be on the NLRA board. The goal is to help finish the NL Community Center and add to the parks and recreation of our beautiful area."The community center building began construction at 545 W. Church St. in Slatington."The roof repairs are holding up, the building is in good shape," Gass said.An application for the Trexler Foundation grant will be filed later in the year to help with remaining construction expenses of the center. According to Gass, the community has already started to come together with donations, "The Rotary Club donated $1,000 for the set of glass doors that will go into the center," said Gass.The current authority board is committed to a five-year stint."At that time we hope the authority is up and running on its own," said authority member and borough council David Schnaars.Officers for the authority include Debra Klocek as president, Paul Gass as vice president, and Taylor Jones as secretary.Meetings for the authority will be conducted the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Slatington Borough Building.

Rick and Fred Rentschler presented a donation check for the community center to Bob and Connie Berger of the Northern Lehigh Community Center Board in January. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS