Garrard food pantry move saves more than $1,000 in bills

October 05, 2010|By BEN KLEPPINGER |

LANCASTER — When the city of Lancaster began discussing moving the Garrard County Food Pantry out of the back of city hall, it wasn’t necessarily a popular idea.

But regardless of opinions about where the pantry should be located or how the city council handled the whole matter, one thing is now for sure — without the pantry there, the city is saving money.

Major savings

Mayor Don Rinthen presented the City Council Monday evening with the city’s most recent electric bill for the portion of city hall formerly occupied by the county school board and food pantry.

Instead of what Rinthen said would usually be an $1,800 bill, he displayed a bill for $371.84.

The savings was realized after Rinthen went through the entire vacant building “turning everything off that could be turned off,” he said.


Rinthen even ventured onto the roof and shut down one of the three HVAC units used to heat and cool the building.

Because the space is now unused, Rinthen said he set the building’s heat to come on at 50 degrees and the cooling to come on at 80.

Lights on or off?

The matter of whether the food pantry could remain at city hall first came up earlier this year, as the Garrard County School Board was preparing to vacate the building and end its $2,800 per month lease.

The food pantry had been fortunate enough to use a portion of the space unused by the school board, rent-free.

But with Lancaster losing more than $33,000 a year in lease payments from the school board during an already-tough financial year, some council members and Rinthen questioned whether the city could afford to keep the lights on for the non-profit.

Councilman Chris Davis also pointed out that potential future tenants of the space might require use of all the space in the building, at which point the food pantry would have to find a new home anyway.

The council allowed the food pantry to remain in the building while it and Rinthen also worked to locate potential alternative locations.

A new undertaking

A possibility was found in the form of an unused house on the property recently acquired by Mine Shields Inc. for its mine refuge chamber manufacturing business.

Since that time, the director of the food pantry, Jeanette Aldridge has stepped down from her position and the food pantry has temporarily closed.

Councilwoman Brenda Powers said Aldridge stepped down in part because she was spending more of her own money running the pantry.

Restoration of the pantry has been undertaken by the Garrard County Ministerial Association, whose president, Gary Durham, criticized the council for its handling of the matter at its September meeting.

Durham, like Aldridge, told the council he wished the pantry could just remain at city hall, but also announced that it would be moving to the house on Mine Shields’ property and hopefully reopening sometime in October.

Monday night, Councilman Leonard Smith said the new, lower electric bill seems to vindicate the City Council to some extent.

Rinthen said he is continuing to try other ways to drive the electric bill for the empty building even lower, including putting insulating Styrofoam in the windows and possibly turning another of the roof HVAC units off.

“It’s going to help if I can get the windows covered up,” he said. “I’m going to do everything possible to get it to drop just a little more.”


In other business on Monday, the Lancaster City Council also:

* designated 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31 as the official time for Halloween trick-or-treat in the city limits; and

* received five applications for community funding from the Battle of Lancaster, Rural Heritage Festival, Garrard County Arts Council, American Red Cross and Kerrington’s Heart. The applicants will address the City Council next month to explain their funding requests. The City Council has allocated $5,000 to give to community organizations in the 2011 fiscal year.

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