Franklin County Visitors Bureau Announces 11/30 Visitors Center 2019 Speakers and Tours

Franklin County Visitors Bureau Announces 11/30 Visitors Center 2019 Speakers and Tours

With the opening of the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center, the Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB) is creating a year-long series of speakers and tours to showcase Franklin County history, architecture, outdoor beauty, and one-of-kind stories.

January launches the year with a paranormal investigation of the 11/30 Visitors Center, an 1865 former bank. The investigation will be conducted by the Ghost Pit team on January 31 and discussion of the investigation will follow on February 2 at 2 PM.

February emphasizes history by focusing on hallowed grounds, freedom seekers and equality. February 23 includes a presentation of Hallowed Grounds by Dr. Arnold Hence in the morning and a bus tour of Franklin County’s Road to Freedom sites.

During March, the Franklin County 11/30 Center will explore famous women of Franklin County. A panel will discuss contributions of the county women on March 23, from Revolutionary heroine Margaret Cochran Corbin to 20th century philanthropist Emma Geiser Nicodemus.

April is Spring into History Month in Franklin County and is highlighted by tours and discussions throughout the month, including Waynesboro’s industrial and Civil War history, frontier and colonial history of Mercersburg and Fort Loudon, and presentation by author Cindy Ross on using local assets of history and culture to educate children.

May puts the focus on Harriet Lane, the First Lady of Franklin County. June launches the Franklin County barn quilt trail and tour. September explores Franklin County’s role in the conservation movement. October brings together the beauty of fall foliage, the importance of farming in Franklin County, and a prominent concentration of Cumberland Valley bank barns.

Further details of the month’s itineraries and how to register will post on ExploreFranklinCountyPA.com in early January.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites all to explore history, arts and architecture, recreation, natural beauty, fresh foods and the warm hospitality of communities like Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. Franklin County PA is located just north of the Mason Dixon Line and is an easy drive to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Plan a visit at ExploreFranklinCountyPA.com, by contacting 866.646.8060, or stopping by the new Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center on the square in Chambersburg.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau Teams Up With Ghost Pit For Paranormal Investigation

Franklin County Visitors Bureau Teams Up With Ghost Pit For Paranormal Investigation

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau is pleased to name the Ghost Pit as the official investigation team of the Franklin County Visitors Bureau and announce a third investigation of paranormal activity at the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center in downtown Chambersburg on Thursday, January 31, 2019. The investigation, led by Ghost Pit founder Brian Phillips, begins at 8 PM and runs until 11 PM. The Ghost Pit team performed two investigations prior to the nine-month renovation of 15 South Main Street.

The property, built in 1865 as the National Bank of Chambersburg, served the community as a bank for 150 years. It replaced a previous bank, burned by Confederate soldiers in July 1864 when residents of Chambersburg could not pay a ransom demand of $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in Yankee currency.

FCVB launched its relationship with the Ghost Pit in December 2017 with an initial investigation of the property. A second investigation was completed two months later, just before renovation of the property began. In these investigations, the Ghost Pit documented several paranormal interactions, including a playful exchange with a young boy, who played a game of hide and seek. Though all interactions were benevolent, a 19th century bank executive was worried about the security of bank funds as was a 20th century bank guard.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites the public to join the paranormal investigation. Tickets are limited to the first 26 participants and are $10/person.

Following the January 31 investigation, the Ghost Pit will give an update of paranormal activity at 15 South Main Street during IceFest Saturday, February 2, in the second-level Great Room of the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center at 2 PM.

Exploring paranormal activity with The Ghost Pit is just one way to discover Franklin County PA. The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites all to explore history, arts and architecture, recreation, natural beauty, fresh foods and the warm hospitality of communities like Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. Franklin County PA is located just north of the Mason Dixon Line and is an easy drive to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Plan a visit at ExploreFranklinCountyPA.com, contacting 866.646.8060, or stopping by the new Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center on the square in Chambersburg.

CTA Prgoram Grows To 100 Strong

CTA Prgoram Grows To 100 Strong

As 2019 begins, the Franklin County Visitors Bureau recognizes the growing CTA Program and reflects on a year of progress toward expanding the mission of both the FCVB and the CTA Program.

The Certified Tourism Ambassador Programis a multi-faceted program that seeks to increase tourism by inspiring front-line employees and volunteers to turn very visitor encounter into a positive experience. When visitors have a positive experience, they are more likely to return and share their experience.

In the beginning of 2017, Doug Harmon, Certified Tourism Ambassador Director with the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, began training members of the community and staff. 2018 has continued to be a busy year, with now over 100 CTA’s trained and promoting Franklin County.

“We are extremely happy with the results we’ve gotten from participating in the CTA Program for 2018,” Harmon said.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau would like to thank the many generous local organizations that have opened their doors for training and have joined the Franklin County CTA’s including Quincy Village, Ragged Edge Inn, Penn National Golf Community, Coyle Free Library, Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce and Holiday Inn & Express in Chambersburg.

“This remains a great networking opportunity,” said Harmon. “It provides great growth for individuals and for our local businesses.”

Franklin County CTA’s have continued to do many outreach events, the most recent, serving as ambassadors at the Franklin County 11/30 Center, where they have assisted members of the public about what to do, where to dine and where to stay in Franklin County. They have also done a bus tour to Waynesboro, a hiking and nature walk to Caledonia State Park and meet and greets at local wineries and breweries.

Dudley Gayman, 2018 Franklin County CTA of the Year, was involved with early stages of the program and its development in 2017.

“My experience has been both positive and rewarding for a host of reasons. The training and learning experience is a benefit as well as actively reaching out into the communities in Franklin County,” Dudley said. “Meeting and mixing with individuals and businesses is an excellent way to increase your knowledge about our surroundings. Promoting and educating locals and visitors about the rich history we have right here in Franklin County is the “icing on the cake.”

Tyler Baum, CTA, said he has extremely enjoyed representing his community in public, with friends and participating in events. Baum has served at the CTA informational desk at the new 11/30 Visitors Center, attended meet and greets and has spoken widely about the program.

“Being a CTA has given me the opportunity to meet people,” he said, which has helped his own work in sales and in getting to be a part of the community. “The CTA Program has an emphasis on face-to-face communication. I love it!”

Upcoming classes for Certified Tourism Ambassador training will be held on:

  • January 15 at the Cumberland Valley School of Real Estate
  • February 26 at the Orchards Restaurants
  • March 26 at Menno Haven Retirement Community
  • April TBD at the new 11/30 Visitors Center

If interested in learning more about becoming a member of this growing community-oriented program, contact Doug Harmon 717-552-2977 extension 106.

Save A Vet Save A Pet

Save A Vet Save A Pet

Dogs are more than just a friend to many; they can be life-savers. A local program aiming to help both veterans and shelter dogs is Operation Save-a-Vet Save-a-Pet.

Through a grant from the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund, Veterans Outreach Fund, and donations, Franklin County veterans can receive a service dog that has been trained to help with their disabilities, free of charge. Veterans can also enter their own dog to attend classes to become a service dog at a small fee.

This service is dedicated to helping Franklin County veterans with service-connected disabilities that will help them life happier, healthier and more productive lives.

Disabilities that dogs can be trained to help veterans with include seizure disorders, diabetes, PTSD, psychiatric disorders, stability and traumatic brain injury.

Dogs come from local rescues and are put through a year-long training at no cost to veterans by Helen Carlson, who owns and operates Good Dog Boarding, Doggie Day Care & Training with her husband, Brad, in Greencastle. Carlson, has been training dogs for over 36 years and leads the dogs in the three-phase intensive program which ends with a final phase between the veteran and dog before being certified.

The public can support the program by making a donation to the Franklin County Veterans Affairs Office at 425 Franklin Farm Lane, or by indicating a preference to donate on the PA driver’s license or registration renewal for the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.

For more information about Operation Save-A-Vet Save-a-Pet, contact Justin Slep at the Franklin County Affairs Office at 717-263-4326.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau joins Certified Tourism Ambassador Program and hires CTA Director

Franklin County Visitors Bureau joins Certified Tourism Ambassador Program and hires CTA Director

Tourism in Franklin County is growing. As Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB) moves closer to creating the 11/30 Center in downtown Chambersburg, it is joining the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program. The CTA program empowers communities, residents, organizations and businesses to better serve visitors with consistent, quality information. To develop the program in Franklin County, FCVB hired Doug Harmon as CTA Director.

“I am so pleased to be part of the Franklin County Visitors Bureau,” said Harmon. “I am a native of Franklin County, PA and love the opportunity to help promote local events, festivals, entertainment, dining and lodging to explore Franklin County.”

Harmon said the benefits of the CTA Program are numerous. Each builds on the other and leads to a benefits cycle, which includes enhancing the visitor experience. In turn, the CTA program builds a positive destination image, increases community economic impact and then continues the cycle.

The CTA Program is a nationwide certification, customized to each destination. In Franklin County, the CTA curriculum will highlight the county’s natural, historic, and cultural assets. Visitors ask questions. The CTA program prepares people to give the best answers. In turn, visitors have a positive experience. It creates a Franklin County brand, gives quality service, and grows the tourism industry. Annually, Franklin County secures more than $326 million in visitors spending.

The initial hiring of a dedicated CTA Program director was funded with a Regional Capacity Building Grant, which is made by possible by the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Franklin County Visitors Bureau was part of the South Mountain Collaborative and received a Regional Capacity Building Grant for $20,000. Capacity Building grants help to build civic engagement and social understanding of conservation and environmental respect in all aspects of community life with a diverse spectrum of partners.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau now joins over 17,000 workers and volunteers in the network of CTA programs.

The 11/30 Center makes securing, housing, and training a county-wide corps of these interpretive volunteers achievable. In addition to the space to house the volunteers, the 11/30 Center provides the necessary space to house the volunteers but provides a visual and interactive platform for docents to launch tours and enthuse visitors into planning itineraries one-on-one. The center will host a wide range of tours on a weekly and monthly basis, using interactive exhibits, library, and mobile promotional materials. In addition, the second level of the property is a space that can be used for other special events to complement special events, presentations, book signings and more.
This dynamic center will also be handicap accessible enabling all to access displays, exhibits and event space.

Becoming a partner with the Visitors Bureau will then lead to great experiences, Harmon said.

“The value of the initial visit or purchase, with a positive experience and image, will then continue the cycle of growth,” he said. “The CTA program will help us to better serve visitors and grow tourism throughout the county.”

The CTA initiative involves a seven-month development process,. FCVB begins the process on October 25 with a series of focus groups, a subject matter expert panel, and an extensive online/print survey of front-line and management personnel. This extensive research will help FCVB and CTA to summarize perceptions of the current service level in Franklin County, ascertain needs, and obtain your thoughts and opinions.

If you are interested in finding out more about the CTA program, please contact Doug Harmon at dharmon@explorefranklincountypa.com

Franklin County Visitors Bureau was awarded a Regional Capacity Building Grant by the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network.

Allison-Ebbert House

Allison-Ebbert House

Greencastle One Step Closer to Ebbert Spring Heritage Park & Archaeological Preserve

At the end of August, Andy Stout, Greencastle native and Eastern Regional Director of The Archaeological Conservancy (TAC), and Bonnie Shockey, President & CEO, on behalf the board of directors of Allison-Antrim Museum, Inc (AAMI), signed a 99-year lease between TAC and AAMI, which transfers the care of the standing structures, within the Ebbert Spring Heritage Park & Archaeological Preserve, to Allison-Antrim Museum.  The original house (on the left), with three-feet thick walls, was built in 1750 by William Allison, father of John Allison, founder of Greencastle. 

It was the wish of the late Al Bonnell, owner of the property for 50 years, that the grounds, structures, and archaeological artifacts, and its archaeological history be preserved not only for the Greencastle-Antrim Community-at-large but also for Pennsylvania and American History.

Al passed away in April 2016 and since then his son Terrance “Terry” Bonnell has been diligently working to bring his father’s wishes to fruition.  On Tuesday, August 29, the ownership of the property was conveyed to The Archaeological Conservatory, which was made possible through a grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Antrim Township.  Other partners in the overall project include the Greencastle-Antrim School District, Shippensburg University, and Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority.

The archaeological sites have been dubbed a “super site” by the state.  The artifacts range from prehistoric to early contact with white men.  The archaeological artifacts are housed in Allison-Antrim Museum’s climate-controlled storage area. 

Over the next two years, TAC will create trails with archaeological, historical, geological, ecological, and environmental history kiosks throughout the property. The trails will be completed by Old Home Week 2019.

The Allison-Ebbert House will be on the 2017 Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas house tour.