LOCK HAVEN - Who are our hometown heroes? In Lock Haven, the answer is evident.
All you have to do is stroll downtown or along the levee and you are greeted by red, white and blue banners honoring veterans.
In 2013, the program will expand to include first responders. For the first time, their friends and family members will have the chance to honor them with their own banner.
The banners with photos of individual firefighters, EMTs, police officers and others who render emergency aid will be posted in their own special section of the shopping district, Downtown Manager Dawn Snyder told City Council on Monday. A parking lot is being considered, she said, but if the program proves popular a larger area may be needed.
She also showed a print-out of the design of the next round of banners, featuring a bright red background.
The price of the banners will remain $200.
Downtown Lock Haven Inc. will start to accept photos, information and payment for banners on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11. This is also the date of the Holiday Open House when stores will offer holiday specials from noon to 4 p.m. The Downtown Inc. office at 205 E. Main St. will be open at the same times to take banner applications.
Snyder was joined at the council meeting by Downtown Board President Pete Lopes, Past President Bob Rolley, members Sue Foust and Mike Hoy, and assistant Carol Colucci.
They asked council to consider increasing the city's support for the agency from $10,000 to $20,000 next year.
The program has been totally self-sustaining for the past few years, Snyder said, with no state grant money available to operate it. To be able to continue to help fill storefronts, apply for facade grant money, and run annual events that bring people into the commercial district, Downtown Inc. has launched a campaign with the goal of raising $175,000 over two years.
The money will not only help pay the manager's salary, bring in new businesses and conduct the community celebrations, it also will help the non-profit organization work toward the designation of the "Keystone Main Street Community." This designation will open a funding door and allow the agency to compete for facade grant dollars and anchor-tenant funds.
Downtown Inc. presented a letter thanking the city "for all of its help and financial support in the very important mission of bringing more economic vibrancy and overall well-being to our community."
The letter reminded council of its partnership with Downtown Inc. and concluded with, "Your help plays a big part in our ability to make a difference in our community."
Mayor Richard P. Vilello Jr. said council would take up the request during its budget sessions.
"I suspect we will do as much, and whatever, we can," he said.
"Everybody at the table has been supportive," he said, indicating other council members.
Council Vice President Stephen L. Stevenson remarked that council increased its support of the agency just a few years ago with the thought that funding would stay on that level for a few more years.
Snyder said the agency is now relying on local support and still must face the same price increases on goods and materials as everyone else.