Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Truck leased. police cars put on hold

After sitting through a public hearing on proposed changes to its zoning ordinance and related maps, borough council had just four items on its regular agenda that looked as though they could be rubber stamped.

However, the one issue that took up most of the discussion on the agenda was a proposal to approve a lease with the Wells Fargo Bank not to exceed $95,000 over a four-year period for a Ford F-350 Super Duty truck for the highway department and two new Ford Expedition police vehicles.

The motion was questioned by citizens and members of the borough council.

Vern Detz, a former member of the council, asked if all members of the council had reviewed the documents and bids that were reviewed recently by the council’s finance committee.

Council President Mary Wickenheiser said the lenders wouldn’t consider separate bids for the leases and the truck was needed immediately for use by the highway department.

Another former member of the council asked which vehicles would be replaced. The new truck would replace a 1993 truck and the two police vehicles would replace the two SUV vehicles.

Just as the council was prepared to vote on the motion, Mayor Leo Lutz threw a monkey wrench so to speak in the vote.

He said he wanted the purchase for the police department to be, an Expedition and a Dodge Charger and it would save about $6,000 on the lease agreement.

“Having four wheel drive vehicles wold not be beneficial to the department and not make policing easier,” Lutz said.

Lutz said he’d settle for one SUV and a car, a Crown Vic or a Charger.

“This was recommended out of committee that because of the condition of our roads and its intended use, we stick with what we proposed,” said Kelly Murphy, a member of the council.

“If we change, we have to go back to the banks and get new quotes,” he said.

“There is a need for this highway vehicle. With the police vehicles, there is no documentation as to the need. I am not in a position here tonight to vote on these police vehicles because there appears to be a conflict between the police and administration on this,” said Mary Barninger, council woman.

However, another member of the council, Sandy Duncan, didn’t see any problems because the items were budgeted.

“Right away,” Barninger said, “just because it is budgeted that is the justification.”

Another member of the council, Mike Buery, said the last time police vehicles were purchased, the department got their way.

“The police want another race car,” he said.

Lutz defended the move, saying that twice in his eight years as mayor, council failed to purchase or replace police cruisers on an yearly basis and ended up the following year making two purchases.

“Police vehicles are never an easy discussion for us,” Wickenheiser said.

The vote to lease all three vehicles failed by a 5-2 vote. A vote to lease just the truck passed 7-0.

Voting for the three vehicle lease were Duncan and Beury, while the remaining members voted against that lease.

The police vehicle lease will be reviewed at the committee level and could be voted on at the April meeting of the council.

The state needs to get moving

It sits there idle. It’s been cleaned up and somewhere down the road, the idle property owned by Columbia Borough at Third and Linden streets is expected to become the Turkey Hill Experience.

The inter-active museum, designed something like Hershey’s Chocolate World and a multi-million dollar project for those involved was suppose to open sometime this year, perhaps as early as spring.

Well, as you can see when you drive past it, there is no Turkey Hill Experience, just a neatly cleaned up plot of land with a shell of a building.

So what gives?

At Wednesday’s special meeting of Columbia Borough Council, it was explained that all of the T’s have been crossed and I’s dotted on the borough’s end, that of its broker for the sale, the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, Turkey Hill and Museum Partners, who will purchase the site and develop it.

So, who hasn’t dotted its I’s and crossed its T’s? Apparently the state of Pennsylvania.

At the meeting, council approved extending its deadline with CEDC and Museum Partners until at least, if not before, April 30, to complete the deal. The property was suppose to be settled by the end of the month.

The state or at least the Department of Environmental Protection’s approval is needed because of some soil contamination at the site.

“It is the same problem we have been dealing with since last July,” said Council President Mary Wickenheiser.

The borough has been told the project should get its needed DEP approvals, but, state budget cutbacks at the DEP office, have delayed the approval process.

The approval process is expected to take at least another four weeks, Wickenheiser said.

“We are very frustrated about it,” she said.

“Columbia Borough wants to settle this and sell this property. The developer wants this and Turkey Hill is very anxious because they need to purchase the equipment that goes into the facility,” said Mayor Leo Lutz.

“They are all under the gun and pushing Columbia Borough to entice the state to sign the documents. There is no dragging the feet on this because everyone involved in the process wants to get this done,” Lutz said.

Did a council member swear at a citizen?

At the last few borough council meetings, there has been plenty of discussion on issues of respect.

Respect in how members of the borough council treat its citizens, who attend the meeting and others and vice-versa.

This was all prompted by a change in how meetings were run by the use of Roberts Rules of Order. Earlier this month, there was some lively debate about the change from a couple of citizens and members of borough council.

Wednesday night, the issue came up again at a special meeting of the borough’s governing body.

A citizen, who is a former member of the borough council, Vern Detz, said an unnamed member of the council showed “a lack of respect toward a resident” at a recent committee meeting.

Detz, who did not name the council member, but promised too release more details of the alleged incident at council’s April meeting, said a profanity was used toward a citizen at a meeting.

“I would like to see a public apology tonight or that person resign,” Detz said.

There was no comment from borough council on the issue.

Stormers-Revs game to benefit chamber

Baseball fans mark Saturday, Aug. 14 on your calendar. That's when the Lancaster Barnstormers play host to the York Revolution at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales that night will benefit the Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce and its Visitor's Center.
Tickets are $10 for the game and they are available by calling the chamber at 684-5249.
Tickets can also be ordered on line by following these steps:
1. Go to lancasterbarnstormers.com.
2. Click on the fund-raising log-in button.
3. Click on the SVCC logo at the top of the page.
4. Enter SVCC when prompted to enter a group fund-raising code.
5. Click "buy."
6. A schematic of available seats will be shown in green. Select the seats you want by clicking on the individual locations.
7. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete your order.

Fourth Friday upon us again

Downtown art galleries and shops will be open this Friday from 5-9 p..m. as Columbia celebrates another Fourth Friday event.
For more information, follow this link: http://www.fourthfriday.hitart.com/

A Night of Jazz

Perfect Settings, 200 Locust St., Columbia will host Another Night of Jazz, Friday, March 26 from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Featured will be Mitch Cooper, Jeanne Cooper, Chris Cooper, Tom Witmer and Bruce Campbell.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
For more information, call 684-2347.

Antique Appraisal Faire reminder

Treasures in Your Attic, an antique appraisal fair, hosted by the Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce will be held Saturday, March 27 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at 116-118 North Third St., the site of the former Revival Skate Shop.

Local antique dealers and appraisers Dave Dickson, Ron Madar and Harold Keller will be on hand to lend their assistance in appraising family heirlooms and treasures. No stamps, coins or military items are allowed and all items must be hand carried to the event.

Tickets are available at two prices – $5 for a verbal appraisal for one item and $10 covers the verbal appraisal of three items.

Tickets can be purchased at the chamber’s visitor center, 445 Linden St., or at the door the day of the event.
Sponsors for the event are the Rivertowne Antique Center, Burning Bridge Antiques Market and Partners and Friends.

For more information, call the chamber at 684-5249.

Columbia athletes are honored

A number of Columbia winter sports’ athletes were recognized in the annual supplement of Winter Sports All-Stars published by the Lancaster Newspapers earlier this week.

In boys’ basketball, senior Brandon Arnold and junior Tre Simms were named honorable mention all-stars in Section 4,

Named Wrestling Academic All-Stars, for maintaining an A-B average throughout wrestling season were Joey Charles, Brandon Felus, Ben Hank and Rachel Knighton.

Named first team Section 3 All-Stars were Nate Warner (160), tied with Pequea Valley’s Mitch Ball and Brandon Felus (215).

Named to the second team were Jordan Halter (135), Joe Ronca (140) and Marcus Fischer (189).

Named honorable mention were Derek Zercher (125) and John Markley (130).

Sports Hall announces inductees

The Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has announced its 2010 class of inductees.

The induction banquet will take place on Saturday, May 1, at the Susquehanna Fire Company.

Tickets for the banquet are available by contacting Rich Gerfin at 684-4772 after 6 p.m.

The inductees are:

Ron Caulwell, former athletic director at Columbia High School.

Gayne Deshler, former football coach and athletic director at Donegal High School.

Glenn Robinson, basketball coach at F&M.

John Thomas, former Columbia wrestler.

Leslie Bair Vink, former gymnast at Hempfield.

Jon Witman, former Eastern football player and Pittsburgh Steeler.

Mike Wolfgang, former Columbia football player will be honored as the deceased inductee.

The hall holds its monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of each month at the Knights of Columbus, Fourth and Maple streets at 7 p.m.

For more information on the hall, contact George Seibert at 684-6739.

Wrightsville not too excited over police plan

Here is a link to a story that appears in the York Dispatch about regionalization of police services in York and Lancaster counties. By this and a recent article in the Intell, it appears the regionalization effort is failing.