Friday, December 31, 2010

Are police fully equipped to do their job?

Columbia Borough passed its 2011 budget this week.

The good news, property owners in Columbia will not face a tax increase for 2011.

The bad news was that the budget exposed other issues. (

Those issues involve the police department, which were exposed at this week’s special meeting.

The council overturned Mayor Leo Lutz’ veto of the budget by a 7-0 vote. The mayor wanted an additional officer and two vehicles purchased among other issues.

The bone of contention during the meeting was the lack of a police budget submitted to the borough over the last three years, not having a working Breathalyzer for the department and only one AED.

The Breathalyzer has been out of service for at least three years, according to what COLUMBIA TALK has learned. It would cost more to replace the out-of-service equipment, than it would to purchase a new one. Without the equipment, police have been transporting alleged DUI suspects to Lancaster General Hospital for blood tests.

Therefore, without the Breathalyzer, which can test blood alcohol contents immediately, taking officers off the street to run to Lancaster was the only option.

So as this information comes to light, one has to ask a few questions again.

One, wouldn’t it be cheaper for the borough to replace the broken unit, tan take officers out of Columbia and run to Lancaster for BAC testing?

Two, since there has been no working Breathalyzer for at least three years are the officers still certified or if one is purchased will the4re be training required?

Three, why wasn’t this pointed out until this week that no police budget has been submitted for the last three years?

In most places, heads would roll if this type of information wasn’t provided.

Four, have we sacrificed the safety of our citizens by not having one?

This raises even more questions:

What about the rumor circulated around town this week that possibly one council member wants to disband the police department? Columbia is use to police coverage 24/7 and having another department or state police serve our town, would make open season for the criminal element.

Are the certifications of the officers to use the lone AED the department has up to date?

There are many other issues within our borough, but one thing that should never be sacrificed is the safety of its people. Right now, there seems to be a lot of playing around with that.

As Eagles coach Andy Reid says weekly at his post-game news conference, “Times’ yours.” The time is now for Columba Borough to explain this mess and if someone has to take the fall for it, so be it.

Market stands leaving

As 2010 turns into 2011, big changes are coming to the Columbia Market House and it is not very good.

As of today, three stand holders are leaving, as is Brian Long the acting market manager. To say the market is in a state of flux is a huge understatement.

The three stands who are leaving are Sadie’s Pretzels, M&M Meats and Sunnyside Pastries.

Mahlon and Ruthie Stoltzfus, the owners of M&M Meats and Sunnyside, were thanking their customers today. The pastry stand is expected to reopen in May at the Turkey Hill Experience.

The lunchmeat stand is staying open.

Friday will be Long’s last day as market manager. He is leaving to pursue other ventures.

Depending on what day you go to market, who you talk too, etc., there have been good days and bad days for stand holders at the Columbia Market.

With the recent improvements made by the borough from government grants, the market has gotten a little bit of a new look. One of the big problems, in addition to the lack of people venturing into the market, is the lack of hot water for the stand holders to properly clean their stands. It was suppose to be installed by the borough as part of the grants, but never was.

Can you say code violation, right under the borough’s nose? Yes.

Whether you want to believe it or not, the Columbia Market House is on the decline. For months, there has been talk of a private market trust taking over running the facility from the borough, but nothing has moved forward and the market is floundering.

The stand holders are not making a lot of money is another issue.

I might be in the minority on this one too, but with other markets in the area (Root’s, Green Dragon, Central Market in Lancaster, and close markets in York), our market is not a two-day market.

Brian Long has tried hard to make the market work, but his hands are tied by the politics of our town.

That needs to change.

I am just going to point out some other issues. Since the bucks are tight in our town, what are we losing each week keeping this facility open? Second, perhaps if there were some other events in the facility, it might work. Third, Columbia Borough still hasn’t learned it should not be in the real estate business and fourth, will those who gave our town the grant money look into how the money was used, if the job (no hot water, etc.) was not completed or if the facility were to close?

Plenty of questions, not a lot of answers, but I really think the market could work if it was marketed right and politics were taken out of the equation.

Just right now, things are broken and need fixed.