‘Ramp Ministry’ helps individuals struggling with disability
In Russell — Akeley Life I usually write about some aspect of the previous history of Russell and Akeley.
In today’s column I’ll go a little farther afield into New York state and a larger area of northwestern Pennsylvania. First, let me ask you what you would do if you had a temporary or permanent disability and were not able to negotiate steps into and out of your house? There are many people in our area who have this disability.
Several years ago, my friend Ron Casteel introduced me to an answer to this question. He had become involved in a “Ramp Ministry” operated by the Kane District of the United Methodist Church. The ministry was actually started in Cortland New York in the Finger Lakes area. It migrated to the Erie, Pa., area before coming to the Warren County area (also including Cameron, Clarion, Elk, Forest, McKean and Potter counties) about 2013, when the first project in the county was completed.
Folks participating in the Ramp Ministry build ramps from a convenient door in a house to the ground. The ramp has an easy gradient and hand rails, allowing a person with a walker or wheel chair to move easily from the house to the ground level. When a ramp is requested, a member of the ramp team visits the home to determine the ramp configuration needed. Drawings are made to ADA specifications and lumber is acquired. Ramps are constructed using pre-built modules which permit an on-site installation in approximately half a day. The Ramp Ministry maintains a trailer with all of the needed tools, including portable saws for cutting lumber at the site and power tools for driving screws and nails.
Once the materials have been acquired, a day is set and the team of builders comes to the site with the tools, lumber and plans. There is an infectious camaraderie in the group.
Each person takes on a job, cutting lumber to size, screwing or nailing the assembly together. Each person knows his / her job and the structure goes together quickly. The Ramp Ministry does not charge a fee for a ramp, though families are asked to evaluate their ability to contribute to the project. Funding for the project comes through a variety of channels including offerings from participating churches, private donations, grants from foundations and other philanthropic organizations.
The temporary ramps remain in place for as long as they are needed. If / when they are no longer needed, they are disassembled and the modules are used at subsequent locations.
Finally, those who need a ramp can contact the Kane District Office of the United Methodist Church, PO Box 767, Sheffield PA 16347; or call 814-837-6115. Dean Clough is in charge of the project.
FEBRUARY 1, 2021
ROAR has not met in person so far in 2021, though some business has been conducted via the internet. It was voted to retain all previous officers for 2021. They are Linda L. Farnsworth, president; Katie Walker, secretary; Linda Nelson, treasurer; Mark and Faye Schwanke, special events; and Steve Horsley, correspondence and historian. Committee chairs are: Karen Martin, Beautification; Priscilla Powley, Banners Flags; Art Sager, Canoe/Kayak Launch and Katie Walker, Walkable Russell. More committees will be set up as the group moves forward with fundraisers and projects.
ROAR is be being hampered by COVID-19. Decisions will be upcoming concerning the events the group can have and when it can have them.
ROAR has received donations $500 and $25 to be used respectively in revitalization and beautification efforts. A grant was approved from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for $4,000 to be used for improvements to the Larimer Park Canoe/Kayak Launch and $1,000 to be used for maintenance over a decade.
Several large, dead Ash trees have been removed from Larimer Park near the site of the proposed launch area due their hazardous nature and safety of park and launch users. Several additional trees were taken down in the launch area at the same time. In all, 14 trees were removed. The supervisors have approved the draft and design of the launch area. The goal is to have the launch ready by Memorial Day, the start of summer activities. A walking trail around Larimer Park is being discussed.
Donations to ROAR can be sent to ROAR, P.O. Box 303 Russell, PA 16345. If for fireworks only, designate the donation on the check.
FEBRUARY 10, 2021
With more typical winter weather now here, the township’s main concern is maintaining safe and passable roads. If any resident has a problem with winter maintenance of Russell’s roads, call the township office at 757-8112 to report the concern. Township will do their best to respond to the issue.
As the road maintenance/improvement season will soon be here, the road foreman and supervisors are finalizing plans for seasonal road work and maintenance. In 2020, the township spent $235,000 on road improvements, and supervisors said they want to come close to that amount in 2021. Developed in 2020, the major goal of the township’s strategic road plan is to bring all of roads and streets to a rating of “very good condition” by 2022. The township is now beginning year two of that plan and are making good progress, but achieving the goal is dependent upon township revenues remaining essentially steady. At this point, supervisors don’t know what the impact of the pandemic will be upon revenues. Some predictions are that there will be a significant loss. More information should be available within the next few weeks whether this prediction is accurate or not.
All of the dead ash trees have been removed from Larimer Park in preparation for the building of a canoe/kayak launch there, as noted in the ROAR report above. The launch will be completed this summer and include a picnic area, as well as the launch. The supervisors also are considering other improvements to the park. One suggestion has been to build a walking trail around the perimeter of the park. If any resident has a suggestion on how to improve the park, let supervisors know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other township business, the supervisors have reviewed how the street light tax has been applied and find that the burden of paying for the lights has been placed on a few residents that happen to live near a street light. Feeling that the street lights are a benefit to all township residents, the supervisors are considering whether the light tax should be paid by all residents that pay township property tax. The annual bill for the lights is around $13,000 and if billed out to all taxpayers, the cost would be about $10 a year.
Township residents are reminded that the Board of Supervisors meets the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the township office in Russell. The township does comply with CDC COVID-19 guidelines when conducting business. The township office is closed to public access, but anyone wishing to meet personally with one or more of the supervisors can attend a monthly meeting, where social distancing and masking is required or attend a meeting remotely using Zoom or Skype. Telephone conferencing also is available. Calls to Supervisors with resident concerns or needs will be returned by one of the supervisors as soon as possible.