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United Way of Lancaster County


County honors family’s donation to parks & rec

Officials and relatives of John and Anna Erb pose after dedicating a bench at Speedwell Forge Park on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Seated are Claudia Himes and Betsy Holran. Behind them, from left, are: Sam Bressi, CEO, Lancaster County Community Foundation; Peter Holran; Jill Kurash; Jeff Himes; County Commissioner Josh Parsons; county Director of General Services Bob Devonshire; and commissioners Ray D’Agostino and John Trescot. (Photo: Justin Stoltzfus)

Lancaster County leaders joined county staff and others on Thursday to honor a family’s donations to the county’s park system.

Barbara Holran and her late husband, Bruce, are giving the county park system $210,000 in establishing the John and Anna Erb Fund. John and Anna Erb, Barbara Holran’s parents, owned land that is now part of Speedwell Forge Park in Elizabeth Township near Lititz.

At Thursday’s event, the county commissioners thanked the family and dedicated a park bench in their honor.

“We are Lancastrians, county commissioner Ray D’Agostino said, “and we love our place in the state and in the country. Preserving our heritage is something that unites us all. We are here to thank you – so that people know that these families have been helpful to Lancaster County for many years to come. We appreciate you very much.”

Commissioner Josh Parsons called the donation a “significant gift,” not just to the local government, but to the people of Lancaster County.

The size of the county’s population, he said, surprises a lot of people, but “we still have a small-town feel,” he said. “We want to be known for being preservers of natural areas.”

Parsons noted the county’s work with the Lancaster Conservancy and the Lancaster Farmland Trust.

“Our goal is to preserve the quality of life, so that our children and grandchildren will have that,” he said. “We hope that this will let people learn about the good work that your families have done.”

Commissioner John Trescot said the county’s park land totals about 2,000 acres, Another 6,000 acres or so of publicly accessible lands are managed by the Conservancy.

“This is part of enhancing their investment,” he said. “Your families got together and thought about this: it’s a tremendous statement.”

He said the contribution sets a good example that the county takes seriously the stewardship of donated funds. Each year, 4% of the fund will be disbursed for enhancements and upkeep of the park system.

Lancaster County Department of General Services Director Bob Devonshire said about half of the money will go to investments in trees and other plant species for the parks; the other half will go to long-term projects.  

He cited the theme of this year’s National Parks & Recreation Month: “Where Community Grows.” “What you have done today is planting that seed,” he said.

Family member Jeff Himes reminisced about visiting the site with his grandparents and about all of its uses, including a Boy Scout camp and a place for family to gather.

“How this has all worked out, it’s really great,” he said. “Hopefully it will stay that way. Thank you for what you do to keep everything going in the right direction.”