It’s not hard to find ways to improve a small community, says Dennis Dieffenbach.

“As in any small town, if you look around, there are always small ways of making improvements that have a big impact,” Dieffenbach, a board member of the Myerstown-ELCO Rotary Club, said Friday. The club, he added, “has a history of seeking out beautification projects in the community.”

The latest beneficiary of the club’s good will is the Isaac Meier Homestead, a 282-year-old limestone house in the Myerstown Recreation Area along Route 501.

The Isaac Meier Homestead is one of the oldest buildings in Myerstown, and the home of borough founder Isaac Meier. According to Visit Lebanon Valley, the house was built by Valentine Herckelrod in 1738 and purchased by Meier, Herckelrod’s son-in-law, in 1757.

This project was chosen because there were two old telephone poles on the ground to serve as a traffic barrier,” Dieffenbach said. “We saw an opportunity to make an upgrade.”

Before Photos

So the club replaced the poles with a raised shrubbery bed featuring period-era plants, shrubs and flowers. The project also included installation of a new sign at the Recreation Area Fish Pond identifying the park and the decorative fountain that was installed by the Rotary Club in 2018.

Costs of the project were covered in part by a Rotary District Grant, which the club submitted along with a landscape design plan.

“The grant was approved for the maximum amount allowed, $2,500, and the balance, $2,500, will be paid by the Myerstown-ELCO Rotary Club,” Dieffenbach said. “The club also agreed to pay for annual maintenance, trimming, edging, mulching, etc.”

He said he and Althouse’s Nursery & Landscape Co. in Myerstown designed the landscaping, and installation of the new bed was done by Althouse.

After Photos

Sharon Althouse, office manager for the company, said Friday it was “nice to be involved with the project.” A lifelong Myerstown resident, she said it “was nice to see some changes” and she’s excited to see what it will look like in the spring.

Their efforts included hauling in topsoil, grading, planting, and mulching. She said plants used in the project include lilacs, black-eyed Susans, hydrangea, inkberry and anise hyssop.

Borough manager Michael R. McKenna said the local Rotary Club “is well known for their community service in Eastern Lebanon County,” and “they are always working on projects that make Myerstown a more healthy, vibrant, and welcoming community.”

The Rotary Club has tackled other grant-based projects over the years, McKenna noted, including an illuminated stone “Welcome to Myerstown” sign, a decorative fountain in the nearby fish pond and the annual “Flags for Heroes” campaign benefiting the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors and local first responders.

“Finding projects to do is easy,” Dieffenbach said. “Having a community that supports our club financially and in so many other ways is key.”

The project was proposed by the club, McKenna said, and the borough did not provide any financial assistance or labor.

“The effort was entirely from the Rotary Club,” he said.

The borough, he added, “is extremely grateful for the work of the Myerstown-ELCO Rotary Club on this project. Our local civic organizations are truly among our most valuable assets. They meet many of the community’s needs that are untouched by government or the private sector.

“Projects like these are what define the character of the Myerstown community.”

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.


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