Sunday, March 18, 2018

Resident asks why Columbia doesn't have a police dog

Frank Doutrich posted a banner on his 9th Street property about Columbia's need for a police dog.

A long-standing controversy surfaced once again at Monday night's borough council meeting when resident Frank Doutrich asked Mayor Leo Lutz why Columbia doesn't have a police dog. Doutrich said he saw that two other municipalities just got police dogs.

"I never heard it from the chief, why we don't have a police dog. I'm tired of hearing, 'It's the kids.'" Doutrich said, referring to the mayor's stated concern about the dog intimidating children. "Isn't there kids in any of these other municipalities?"

Lutz replied, "But they're not using the dogs on the kids like you suggested."

"Other municipalities are using it [a K-9 program]." Doutrich said. " Why aren't we?" He said the program was funded.

"In order to have a K-9 assigned to the police department you have to have an officer that's willing to take on the K-9," Lutz said. "We do not have an officer willing to take on the K-9. So, therefore, we cannot have a dog." Doutrich said Columbia does have an officer available, but Lutz heatedly replied, "That officer will never have a dog in Columbia Borough."

Doutrich accused the mayor of being political about the issue. Lutz denied the claim and said the issue is about liability.

According to a February 26, 2014 LancasterOnline article, the issue was visited in a heated back-and-forth at that month's borough council meeting. At the meeting, Lutz said the reason for discontinuing the K-9 was due to the officer's concern about having a dog in his home that is trained to bite. One council member said he had spoken to the officer and Lutz's assertion was incorrect. According to the article, Lutz said that a second officer considered taking on the role of handler but was also concerned about having such a dog in his home.

In a comment following the article, a Columbia resident stated, in part: "Seems as though someone is hiding something and now the Borough is without an asset in its crime fighting arsenal. The lack of a handler is pure balderdash."

Engraved bricks to honor military personnel are available now - Dedication to be held May 26

Order form for bricks

The public is invited to purchase bricks in honor/memory of individuals who served, or are currently serving in, the armed forces. Purchase of bricks are available to honor military personnel from any area, not just Columbia Borough.

The cost is $50 per 4” x 8” brick, each of which may have up to three lines of text, with up to 15 characters per line. Bricks will be engraved in all capital letters and will be placed in a walkway at the Veterans Memorial Bridge plaza to honor veterans and provide a grand entranceway to Columbia Borough from the bridge.

Plans for the "Veterans Memorial Bridge Island Gateway Project" call for a number of additional improvements: an array of flags representing all branches of the military, lighting, and updated landscaping. The fundraising portion of the project includes the development of brick walkways at the bridge plaza. Part of the project's backstory can be found HERE.

A dedication is planned for May 26, 2018, the day before Columbia’s Memorial Day parade. The deadline for ordering bricks to be included in the May 26 dedication is April 15.  There is also a deadline of July 2 for an August  install, and a deadline of October 1 for a November install.

Completed purchase forms along with payment should be sent to:
VFW Veterans Memorial Flag Project
c/o Kevin Kraft
PO Box 231,
Columbia PA 17512
Questions should be directed to Kevin Kraft at 717-684-2370.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Randy Howard unable to post $250,000 bail - Hearing set for next week

Randy Cornell Howard

Randy Cornell Howard, who was apprehended by Columbia Borough and West Hempfield Police yesterday, is now in Lancaster County Prison. Bail was set at $250,000 (monetary), which he was unable to post. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday, March 20, at 9 a.m., at Magisterial District Judge Miles K. Bixler's office. He is charged with aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy in connection with the September 3, 2017 wolfpack attack on a Columbia man on the 600 block of Walnut Street.

Docket Sheet:

Court Summary:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Borough reports that 75% of its streets are excellent to good, a 12% increase from 2014

The following information is reprinted from the Columbia Borough website.

2014 Map

2018 Map

Above are links to street mapping that compare how far the Borough has come with the maintenance of streets within the last few years. The 2014 map contains the rating assigned to each street when a conditions assessment was completed in October 2014. The 2018 map captures all of the projects completed within the Borough between 2015 and 2017 and those projects scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The Borough is happy to report that 75% of Borough streets are currently rated in Excellent or Good categories. That is an increase of 12% since the initial assessment in 2014. Another impressive stat is the mileage of streets categorized as poor fell from 8% to 3%. Poor streets are the most expensive to repair considering they typically require extensive base work.

The Borough is also happy to report by the end of 2018 12% of all streets will have been paved with 62% being the worst streets in the Borough.

(note: a visual re-assessment of streets was not completed for this mapping. Any street that may have deteriorated (dropped a category) since 2014 was not factored. )

APPREHENDED! RANDY HOWARD | Columbia Borough Police Department

On March 15, 2018 at approximately 1900 hours, members of the Columbia Borough Police Department along with West Hempfield Township Police Department arrested Randy C Howard a 22 year old Columbia resident for an outstanding felony warrant.  Howard was wanted for a aggravated assault and conspiracy charge which occurred on September 03, 2017 in the 600 Blk of Walnut Street.  Howard attempted to flee by jumping out a second floor rear window and was quickly apprehended in an adjoining rear yard.  His co-conspirator Shakim McIwain was convicted of the same crime by a jury in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas last month and is awaiting sentencing.  Howard was taken to Lancaster County Central Booking awaiting arraignment.  Parties are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  
Incident Date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 7:10pm

Incident Type:

Case Number: 



146 Locust Street
Columbia, PA 17512

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Man beats quick ticket, charges dropped due to errors

A Summary Trial Notice shows an incorrect name for the defendant.  The mistake was initially made on the quick ticket that was issued.

A Columbia man successfully beat a quick ticket charge due to mistakes by the officer who wrote the ticket. At a March 13 hearing before District Justice Miles Bixler, the defendant, Angel Rodriquez, said the name on the ticket - "Angela" Rodriguez - was incorrect. Rodriguez also said he does not own or rent property at the Union Street address listed on the ticket. According to Rodriguez, he entered a plea of "Not Guilty," and charges were dismissed based on the errors. The quick ticket was issued for a small TV placed on the sidewalk outside the address.

The mystery of the wrecked police car SOLVED (Sort of)

A Columbia Borough police cruiser has been sitting at the Midway Collision Shop since last month.

During the citizens' comment section of Monday's Columbia Borough Council meeting, former councilman Frank Doutrich asked council for information about a wrecked police cruiser (currently sitting at the Midway Collision Shop on Lancaster Avenue, where it's been since last month). Mayor Leo Lutz responded in the following exchange:

Doutrich: " I understand there's a wrecked police car. What can you tell me about it?"

Lutz: "The officer was involved in an accident. It's being repaired."

Doutrich: "What happened? Anybody know how it was involved? Somebody hit it? It hit somebody?"

Lutz: "The officer hit somebody, going out of the alley, responding to a call."

(Columbia Spy spotted the cruiser sitting at Midway Collision yesterday.  It had been moved from its previous position.)

The cruiser sustained front-end damage in a traffic accident.