Borough of
New Bethlehem

210 Lafayette Street
New Bethlehem, PA. 16242
Phone: (814) 275-2003
Fax: (814) 275-4269
[email protected]

About, Mission, History & Council Members


About New Bethlehem

Historic New Bethlehem was incorporated in 1853. It has a central tri-county location, about 20 miles from each of the County Courthouses and hospitals of Clarion, Jefferson and Armstrong Counties and is only about 60 miles from Pittsburgh. The downtown area lies at the intersection of State Routes 66 and 28 with easy access to Interstate 80.

andrews-houseNew Bethlehem remains a charming community with grand old single family homes and hometown values nestled among tree-covered hills along the Redbank Creek in Southern Clarion County. In the early days, it boasted a lumber company and sawmill, brewery, grain mill, bank, railroad station and thriving commercial downtown area which served the Redbank Valley.

peanut-butter-factoryToday, the New Bethlehem area continues to serve the Redbank Valley with a public library, police department, volunteer fire company, U. S. Post Office, 4 banks, insurance, financial, real estate and mortgage brokerage firms, drugstores, furniture store, lumber company, jewelry store, feed mill, car/truck dealers, equipment and service shops, flower shops, barber/hair salons, an old fashioned ice cream parlor/restaurant, several restaurants with good food at reasonable prices, dentists, doctors, lawyers, assisted living facilities and elderly housing, other stores and services. A natural peanut butter plant established by local entrepreneurs in the late 1940’s is now owned by Smucker’s and is one of the Borough’s largest employers. New Bethlehem also offers affordable housing and business opportunities.

feature3New Bethlehem’s hometown values are evidenced by the many churches and service organizations that are located within the Borough limits and nearby. Annual events supported by the Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations and businesses include a Memorial Day Parade, 4th of July celebration, Art in the Park (weekend after Labor Day), the Peanut Butter Festival and races (2nd Friday-Sunday after Labor Day) and the Christmas Parade (1st Sat. in December).

redbank-creek8-08Downtown lies less than 3 miles from the Redbank Valley Municipal Park, home of the Clarion County Fair during the last full week of July. Recreational opportunities include camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, kayaking and bird watching, among others.

If you come to visit, you just may want to stay.

Our Mission:

New Bethlehem Borough Council fosters business, community, and personal growth within the borough while maintaining the small town appeal and family friendly environment that makes New Bethlehem such a great place to work, live and raise a family.

Goals & Objectives:


  • Promote, support and retain businesses in New Bethlehem
  • Improve job opportunities throughout the community
  • Identify and market New Bethlehem’s assets
    • work w/ Chamber, Trail, Redbank Ren & other community organizations
  • Work toward a fiscally sound Borough organization while avoiding unnecessary tax increases
  • Monitor employee performance
  • Enforce collection of taxes, fees and solid waste bills
  • Promote use of automatic bill pay for solid waste
  • Update reserve schedule for equipment, buildings and vehicles
  • Monitor finances and work with accounting and insurance professionals
  • Negotiate contracts (Comcast, Lighting, Utilities, etc.)
  • Maintain vehicle fleet and equipment
  • Begin budget work in August
  • Promote and support events that showcase the community
    • work w/ Chamber & other community organizations
  • Work to increase the number of owner occupied homes
  • Lobby and seek state and county assistance to deal with blight
  • Lobby state to increase prevailing wage threshold above 1967 level to lower contract costs
  • Seek and apply for grants as available
  • Continue work on updating ordinances and zoning


  • Continue work to eliminate drug trafficking
  • Improve police visibility and effectiveness
  • Develop standards for public safety services
  • Improve traffic safety, replace signs and reduce congestion
  • Maintain streets, plan for maintenance and repaving
  • Improve proactive code enforcement efforts including sidewalk repairs
  • Work to promote a safe community environment
  • Lobby state to allow radar use by local police to control speeding
  • Coordinate law enforcement with local communities
  • Be prepared to deal with accidents, natural and man-made disasters
  • Work with engineer, insurance, police on damaged traffic, light poles and signs
  • Coordinate with gas line and other utility replacements


  • Improve gateways to the borough
  • Improve signage and promote wayfinding
  • Improve proactive code enforcement
  • Improve building and grounds maintenance throughout the community
  • Improve the appearance of the cemetery
    • Fundraise for stone repair and resetting
  • Improve the image of the borough
  • Improve customer service


  • Begin work on Decennial census
  • Update County Emergency Management Plan
  • Review and comment on proposed County legislation
  • Take required classes and tests (FEMA/PEMA)
  • Review and comment on Penn Dot plans and actions


  • Enhance communication with public, organizations and businesses
  • Respond promptly to citizen requests
  • Promote, coordinate, and support events that showcase the community
    • work w/ Chamber & other community organizations
  • Measure and improve citizen satisfaction
  • Sponsor opportunities for public participation
  • Update and digitize records
  • Maintain communication with local municipalities, County, State and Federal Representatives

new-bethlehem-history-11History of New Bethlehem

The town of New Bethlehem, which is located just ten miles south of Exit 64 off of I- 80 on Route 66 south, was originally named Gumtown. The name Gumtown came about after a group of men went out searching for honey. The men would often go out and cut down a bee tree and collect the honey and carry it home. Henry Nolf, one of the pioneers of southern Clarion County and a very active citizen of the community, had accompanied these men. He very enthusiastically cut down a gum tree, which had no bees. His comrades did not try to stop him and instead dubbed him “Gum” Nolf. The first name used for the settlement was then “Gumtown” in honor of Mr. Nolf, one of its leading citizens and operator of a grist mill, saw mill, and store.

68__220x140_new-bethlehem-history-12In 1756, a Moravian Christian, Frederick Post, left eastern Pennsylvania and came west with the intention of starting an Indian mission. He crossed the Clarion River, then known as Stump Creek, and continued south. When he saw the valley that later became known as New Bethlehem, it is reported that he exclaimed, “It looks like Bethlehem.” Whether he was referring to the settlement in eastern Pennsylvania or to Bethlehem of Judea, it has never been made clear. The community began to be called Bethlehem and later the postal authority added the word “New” to distinguish it from the town in the east.

new-bethlehem-history-3Harry B. DeViney founded the H.B. DeViney Company in 1946 and used the old New Bethlehem Brewing Company’s facility to create peanut butter for the J.M. Smucker, Inc. company, which is the nation’s leading producer of jams, jellies, preserves, ice cream toppings, natural and specialty peanut butters, and natural fruit beverages. The H.B. DeViney Company changed its name to J.M. Smucker (Pennsylvania), Inc. in 1997, reflecting its relationship with the J.M. Smucker Company headquartered in Orrville, Ohio. Today, the New Bethlehem plant produces all of the peanut butter products under the Smucker’s and Laura Scudder’s label. A significant portion of its volume is exported.

96-floodIn July of 1996, a devastating flood destroyed many homes. Redbank Valley High School was shut down. It took a few months to clean and fix the damage until students where allowed to attend again. On a garage east of the Redbank Valley High School there is a line that shows how high the water level was at its highest point.

flood-memorial-96Proving that the town was resilient and strong, the Redbank Valley Chamber of Commerce organized a peanut butter festival later that very year, and it is now an annual event. The festival is held the second weekend after Labor Day in September and includes carnival rides, crafters and sidewalk sales, food vendors, music, a parade, and lots of other fun.

New Bethlehem Borough Council & Mayor Gordon Barrows

From left-to-right: Mr. Rich McGarrity, Mayor Gordon Barrows, Councilman Brian Fox, Councilman Scott Barrett, Councilman Bryan Ruth, President Lisa Kerle. Not Pictured: Vice President Donald Heeter, Councilman William Rupert

Contact the Mayor of New Bethlehem as well as New Bethlehem Borough Council Members!

Rev. Dr. Gordon V. BarrowsMayor814.275.6714
311 Lafayette Street

New Bethlehem, PA 16242
[email protected]
Lisa D. KerlePresident318 Penn Street
New Bethlehem, PA, 16242
[email protected]
Don HeeterVice President814.275.4123
509 Liberty Street
New Bethlehem, PA 16242
[email protected]
Bryan RuthPresident Pro-Tempore814.229.1170
432 Broad Street
New Bethlehem, PA, 16242
[email protected]
Richard McGarrityExecutive Secretary814.275.2003
309 Broad Street, Suite 2

New Bethlehem, PA 16242
[email protected]
 Nevada BoyerJunior Council Member Penn St.
New Bethlehem, PA 16242
Brian Fox Council Member408 Penn St.
New Bethlehem, PA 16242
[email protected]
 William Rupert Council Member301 Penn St.
New Bethlehem, PA 16242
[email protected]
Scott BarrettCouncil Member814.229.4793
700 Penn St.
New Bethlehem, PA 16242
[email protected]
Blane GoldCouncil Member604 Lafayette St.
New Bethlehem, PA 16242
[email protected]

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