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Students propose Biglerville community development projects

Written by Davin Jurgensen/Hanover Evening Sun | Dec 10, 2015 3:54 PM
gettysburg_college_abby_hoelzer.jpg

Gettysburg College student Abby Hoelzer smiles after finishing a proposal to Biglerville Borough Council and Biglerville residents for a town cafe and re-use store for refurbished architectural material Tuesday night Dec. 8, 2015 at Harbaugh-Thomas Library in Biglerville.(Photo: Shane Dunlap, The Evening Sun)

(Biglerville) -- A multi-use park, a community gathering point and a volunteer program could all be implemented in Biglerville this upcoming year.

Gettysburg College students presented their research on community development projects for the borough on Tuesday at Biglerville Library as part of professor Andrew Abel's sociology class.

Abel incorporated Biglerville into his course material this year, encouraging his students to create practical, affordable projects that take advantage of the borough's existing character, according to a news release from Gettysburg College.

Students' proposals included preparations for a possible telemedicine movement and an enhancement of Biglerville's Internet media platform.

Claire Benoist d'Etiveaud, senior, and Anne Lacey, sophomore, presented proposals involving the addition of hard cider as a way to allow the borough's apple niche to grow to its fullest potential.

Benoist d'Etiveaud used her background in event planning to recommend a hard cider festival, while Lacey chose to focus on functions the National Apple Museum could use to expand its horizons.

"Everyone enjoyed the project, especially since the ideas could stem from our own interests," Benoist d'Etiveaud said.

The class of eight took field trips to the borough to attend events like the Apple Harvest Festival and to sit in on borough meetings, Abel said. He also introduced his students to the basics of community development by using current and historic maps and analyzing census data.

"The big advantage of a course like this is that it gives the town council and the mayor new ideas to consider," said Abel. "Communities - small towns in particular - have a really big need to try new things. Simply doing things together keeps a town in the practice of working for the benefit of their community, which enables a town to be more resourceful and better prepared for those times when it needs to rely on its citizens."

Abel looked at a variety of community areas, he said, before ultimately deciding to choose Biglerville.

The area needed to be close to Gettysburg, include interesting options for development and have a welcoming environment, Abel said.

Biglerville had just that.

"The danger is people think we're going to bound into town and tell them what to do," he said. "But making suggestions can be helpful because it can spur creative thinking, and I think young people are very good at that."

Biglerville Mayor Alyssa Biesecker was actively involved in the students' project, partaking in meetings and offering suggestions.

Although she was skeptical at first and didn't understand how the proposals would help Biglerville, she knew she had to give them the opportunity, she said.

"We can take something that's just about perfect and make it even better," Biesecker said.

After hearing the presentations, Biesecker felt several of the proposals were worth implementing, she said.

"I'm really excited. All the ideas are practical and doable," said Biesecker. "I'm going to have a hard time choosing what to go through with first."

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