The Village of Lancaster is sporting a snazzy new welcome sign at the corner of Broadway and Central Avenue – reflecting the colorful ambience of the village’s bustling business district in the 1950s.
But one detail makes it far from your typical municipal sign.
In the lower left corner of the photograph is a picture of a man in a dark suit and tie and holding a white walking cane, looking out toward the current-day Central Avenue.
Jeffrey Stribing, who was a household name for many Lancaster natives, is part of the sign. The 55-year-old village development director and former village trustee, who was legally blind and unable to drive, was a fixture in the community and served in many capacities. He often was seen walking in town with his walking cane. He died unexpectedly in February.
His most recent project was the decades-long effort to reopen West Main Street, just off Central Avenue, an area that hasn’t been accessible for more than 40 years. And while the village’s community development director didn’t get to see it come to fruition, his picture tucked within the welcome sign has him “looking” down the street toward where preliminary work on constructing a new West Main Street is expected to begin by fall.
“It’s a tribute to his efforts for the community and West Main Street,” said village Public Works Superintendent William G. Cansdale, the former mayor and a close friend of Stribing’s.
It was Cansdale who, while the village was having the welcome sign made, thought how fitting it would be if Stribing’s picture could be included.
“It’s so Jeff, with how people would remember him in a suit and with a smile, holding his cane,” Cansdale said. “I told the Village Board about it, and they loved it. So I just did it.”
Village Attorney Arthur Herdzik is pleased the village found a way to incorporate Stribing into the sign.
“Jeff gave his heart to many endeavors – including the Lancaster Lion’s Club and Village of Lancaster - and it’s nice to see he will be remembered in such an appropriate fashion,” Herdzik said. “I think it’s a great idea.”
Cansdale said the idea came to him after reviewing an old photo of West Main Street. So he approached Garland Graphics of Alden, which designed the new sign, and asked if a photo of Stribing could be incorporated.
Stribing was heavily involved in securing grants to help revitalize Central Avenue and promote facade improvements. In recent years, he also played the village’s Santa Claus at Christmasville and appeared at the Bloomsbury Lane Toy Shoppe on Central Avenue.
“The revitalization effort, and the whole business district, were his one true love,” Cansdale recalled. “He wanted to see the community’s business district restored for residents.”
The village decided to replace its old sign, dating to 1999, because was worn-out and got blown over by wind in February, requiring repairs. Cansdale said the old sign “looked terrible,” and plans for a new one began. The new sign also contains improved emblems for village-based community civic organizations.