- Associated Press - Friday, January 23, 2015

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - They won’t be serving prison food, but operators of a restaurant proposed for the old Cambria County Jail in Ebensburg expect to capitalize on the theme to create a destination for entertainment and dining, a key player says.

Cambria County commissioners cleared the way for development of what may be a microbrewery, tavern, restaurant and more in the front portion of the behemoth stone structure on Center Street.

“I think it’s going to be a win for Ebensburg Borough,”?Commissioner Mark Wissinger said. “We might see some tourism around there. It will definitely improve the looks.”

Commissioners officially voted to terminate the Cambria County Historical Society’s lease that was to continue through 2098, but the group is expected to approve the termination at its meeting next week.

President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder gave credit to Borough Manager Daniel Penatzer and Executive Director Larry Custer of the Cambria County Redevelopment Authority for spearheading the project. In October, commissioners turned the building over to the redevelopment authority to look into new uses.



Earlier last year, commissioners awarded a contract to have an extensive amount of pigeon droppings removed from the building.

Steps also were taken to prevent the birds’ re-entry. Work has been completed and roof stabilization is needed.

“We had to clean up the pigeons before we could get anybody to look at it,” Lengenfelder said.

“We actually used a drone to fly around the roof and look for problems,” Wissinger said.

The redevelopment authority has received two proposals and expects to award the lease to a local group, Wissinger said, declining to identify the group or its members.

“We’ve been trying for two years, hard, to find an alternative use for it,”?Penatzer said when reached at home.

The group being considered has looked at the market that includes the State College, Altoona, Indiana and Johnstown areas, Penatzer said.

“We thought that would be one of the best uses,” Penatzer said. “These have been successful in other areas. Williamsport is a similar situation.”

Penatzer said the group plans to capitalize on the prison theme.

The borough has obtained a $250,000 grant that will be turned over to the selected tenant, Penatzer said.

“The borough is anxious to see it take off,” he said.

News of the old jail’s proposed reuse highlighted the commissioners meeting Thursday evening at Richland High School.

About 40 people, including about a half-dozen civics class students, were scattered through the Richland Performing Arts Center auditorium.

Lengenfelder took additional time to explain each of the agenda items and procedures, often addressing the students directly.

After a vote to void a tax claim sale for one property, Lengenfelder meticulously explained that the Tax Claim Bureau had not been notified of a prior sale of the property in 2010, so the rightful owner had never received a tax bill or notice of the sale. That makes the tax sale invalid, Lengenfelder explained.

“You are going to find that all through life that miscommunications occur,” Lengenfelder told the students. “You have to make it right.”

In other matters, commissioners approved refinancing of?Cambria Somerset Authority bonds. By getting a better interest rate, Cambria and Somerset counties will share in savings of about $700,000.

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Online: https://bit.ly/1EBeXvu

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Information from: The Tribune-Democrat, https://www.tribune-democrat.com

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