Shamokin now has an action plan to help achieve the community’s vision of substantial rebirth.
Through a series of meetings and partnerships, and an effort that began nearly two years ago, the Shamokin Community Rebuilding Action Plan was drafted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An interfaith and multi-stakeholder collaborative partnership formed to create the Faith Alliance for Revitalization (FAR), which helped the city and community establish a set of goals and implementation of activities in the plan. In addition to identifying goals, the plan also has a comprehensive list of resource providers.
As part of SEDA-Council of Governments’ (SEDA-COG) ongoing revitalization efforts in the Shamokin Area, SEDA-COG Revitalization Coordinator Betsy Kramer also gave input and helped coordinate efforts between this action plan and another Shamokin revitalization plan SEDA-COG is spearheading, due to be released this summer. SEDA-COG also was identified as a resource provider.
Shamokin Mayor John Brown said the effort to transform the city accelerated in a short time.
“I started as mayor 2.5 years ago with a city in distress. I am amazed at how within months, it went from nothing to overwhelming. State Rep. Kurt Masser stepped forward and helped to bring funding to SEDA-COG to coordinate the effort to revitalize the city. Thanks to that effort, strategic plans are being developed so all the players have a common path to a successful city,” Brown said.
Friar Mike Lasky and Father Martin Kobos helped to form FAR and coordinated the faith community’s efforts with the support and participation of the local Ministerium members. Friar Rich Rome is the director of FAR.
“It has been inspiring to see the citizens, faith communities, businesses, and government agencies come together in support of this revitalization plan. Even though COVID-19 interrupted implementation, the working groups continued to meet and now, as restrictions are lifting, the pace to implement the action plan is increasing. The enthusiasm for the revitalization effort, especially at EPA and SEDA-COG, never flagged. It is a wonderful partnership that continues to strive for a better tomorrow for Shamokin,” Rome said.
“We Franciscan Friars are inspired by all who have come together to begin a new dialogue, shaping the future by overcoming indifference and seeking concrete solutions to the difficulties that confront us today. FAR is not a place but a network of relationships that help us to inspire one another, while coordinating our working toward the common good,” Lasky said.
“The Franciscans who minister in Shamokin/Coal Township and Trevorton are so pleased to see efforts of FAR bearing such positive results in our local communities. Seeing the cooperation between the area’s Ministerium, civic, business and government agencies is most gratifying. The friars look forward to sustaining that positive momentum into the future in partnership with our local brothers and sisters,” Kobos said, pastor of Mother Cabrini Parish, Shamokin.
As a partner in the effort, SEDA-COG helps fill the gaps where coordination was needed, Kramer said.
“Shamokin is ripe for revitalization and there are tremendous efforts coming from multiple fronts; we are pleased that our coordination helped to bring this to a congruous result with the plans,” Kramer said.
The plan was built on discussions at the Shamokin Community Rebuilding Workshop on Feb. 11-13, where 165 people participated.
The plan’s goals are as follows:
- · Attract and support the development of new businesses, and support job creation activities/programs and current businesses;
- · Bring citizens together to work toward a common goal of increasing pride and ownership in our community;
- · Foster and nurture productive partnerships;
- · Redevelop/demolish/rehabilitate/cleanup blighted commercial and residential properties throughout the city;
- · Enhance positive relationship building, inclusive communities, fostering human dignity and respect;
- · Make Shamokin healthy, green, and clean now and tomorrow. The plan can be found at: https://www.franciscancenterpa.org/.
All residents are invited to attend the monthly meetings of FAR. To become involved with the volunteer efforts in the Shamokin Area, please contact: Friar Rich of FAR at firstname.lastname@example.org, Kathy Vetovich of SABER at email@example.com, or Betsy Kramer of SEDA-COG at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.