Kevin O'Neil (Sewer Plant Operator) & Bill Kalp (Water Plant Operator) raising the flag at the dedication ceremony.
On Monday, October 11, 2021, Aqua of PA water company held a small dedication ceremony in honor of Bob & Beverly Eckelbarger of Emlenton. An inscription at the base of the flagpole reads, “This flagpole is dedicated by Aqua of PA to Bob and Beverly Eckelbarger in grateful recognition of their many years of steadfast commitment to provide the Emlenton Community with safe drinking water.”
& Bill Kalp of Aqua
In April of 1879 a group of local residents incorporated the Emlenton Water Company to supply water to the Emlenton citizens. At the time the Emlenton Water Company was a stockholder held company.
In 1960 Bob Eckelbarger became employed as the Operator of the facility which was located just below the old Fuch’s property.
In 1961 Bob and Bev purchased the majority of the stock from George A. and Jane Crawford Breene. As a private, stock held company, the Emlenton Water Company was governed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection. Beverly who served as the Office Manager of the Emlenton Water Company recollects, “The biggest challenge was being able to keep up with new technologies in water treatment with such a limited budget, governed by the PUC.
The Eckelbargers took pride in serving the community and often you would find Bob doing much of the digging and replacement of lines himself.
After nearly 40 years of serving the Emlenton Community, the Eckelbargers sold the water company in 1999 to Jeff Foley of Butler, PA. Foley operated the facility for ten years before selling it to Aqua of PA in January of 2009 for $475,000.
Bob and Bev were very active in the Emlenton community. They were members of the Emlenton Methodist Church where Bob served as the Chairman of the Building Committee. Bob was very instrumental in the construction of the new church in 1994.
Bob, with Bev always by his side, was always looking to improve Emlenton. He built the first car wash, refurbished the laundromat along with Sam Orton and built the Uni-mart with Joe McNany.
Bob, who had a love of (fast) cars, purchased the Bishop Motor Company where he sold Buicks and Pontiacs.
When she wasn’t assisting with the business endeavors, Bev served as Secretary for the Emlenton Chamber of Commerce and Treasurer of the Emlenton Civic Club.
Bob and Bev were named the Emlenton “Citizens of the Year” in 1994, an annual Chamber of Commerce award.
Bob who passed away on January 7, 2019 had stated, “The best thing that ever happened to Emlenton is that Aqua came to town.” And he was correct, eventually Aqua made many upgrades and installed a new state of the art water treatment facility up on top of the hill. In 2017 Aqua of PA invested $1.6 million dollars in its Emlenton waste water facilities; $1.1 million on collections system repairs and $500,000 for waste water treatment improvements.
For Bev who attended the dedication ceremony with her three children (Deb and husband Ted King of Thayer, Kansas, Carla and her husband Fred Hays of Emlenton and Barry Eckelbarger of Emlenton) it was a moment to reflect on the years of time well spent helping and building a community with her husband.
In great appreciation of the ceremony, Bev stated, “It is an honor to have our names on a plaque at the base of our nation’s flag at the Aqua’s Water Treatment Plant.”
Members of the community that attended included Barry Louise, Amy Whitehill, Nancy Marano, Chris Hile and Dalton Parker.