Sunday, June 29, 2014

What now? Solutions needed for Columbia schools. Here are some options.


Failing in slow motion: A community's helping hands

More on Columbia's condition:

What I saw recently

Some shots from around town recently . . .

A peek inside the mausoleum at Mount Bethel Cemetery

A miniature crucifix at the port hole

One ancient myth says that when a person dies, a crow carries the soul to heaven.

 On Friday (June 27), a conservation officer kept watch on the river from a vantage point at River Park.

 Four Waterways Conservation vehicles were parked there, two with empty boat trailers.
One assumes the officers were out patrolling the river.

 The two vehicles with trailers were parked in the appropriate parking spaces.

 But wait, what's this - a violation?

 Meanwhile, a stray cat checked out a dobsonfly.

 On the 100 block of Locust - a sign of Columbia's more prosperous past.

Skeletal frame of the River Park center

Artists at work on Saturday morning (June 28) . . .

 Seen in Wrightsville yesterday.  What is it?

 May as well park on the sidewalk, especially since there are at least half a dozen empty parking spaces available.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Do-Nothing Dave" sidesteps again

Today, Lancaster Newspapers began an informative series of reports on Columbia Borough's financial state, an apt time to do so, considering Monday night's council vote on LASA.
As I read the report, I found it quite troubling that PA State Representative Dave Hickernell, who represents the borough, refuses to state whether or not he supports a natural gas extraction tax or other tax to help fund education. Setting aside my belief that in politcalese that means "no," I have to ask Rep. Hickernell two questions:
1. What is your stand?
2. Why are you afraid to make your views known?
We, as taxpayers, have the right to know a public servant's stance as well as the justification for it.

Rep. Hickernell must have built-in night vision, considering how he operates so much in the dark.  For example, when questioned by Columbia Borough Councilman Jim Smith at a town meeting last December on why the borough did not get any of the extra $30.3 million in state funding, Hickernell replied, "Most representatives were unaware of the 'carve out.'"  He added that it was clear "most of us were in the dark."

You certainly nailed it there, Dave. You were in the dark. Blindfolded and wearing sunglasses.  But the nagging question remains: "Why were you?"
Unless Rep. Hickernell gets on the ball, keeps his constituents informed, and works for them instead of his cronies in Harrisburg, we'll just have to call him "Do-Nothing Dave."

Taxes increasing 3% in Columbia school budget

Property owners in the Columbia Borough School District will face a 3.06 percent tax increase under a new $22.3 million school budget approved on June 19.

The budget, passed unanimously, will raise Columbia's tax rate to 28.2 mills — one of the highest rates in the county.

The 0.838-of-a-mill increase will mean an additional $67.46 in taxes per year for a property assessed at $80,500 — the median homestead value in Columbia.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A few quick thoughts on the sale

Several points stand out from last night's Committee of the Whole meeting.

First, the unexplained absence of Councilman Jim Smith - peculiarly, during a very significant vote for the borough. Perhaps there is an acceptable, legitimate reason for it, but residents are owed an explanation. Without one, speculation will continue to run rampant.

Second, Council President Mike Beury's assertion that, despite the audience's expectations, a vote would not take place due to the lack of a full council, which made Smith's absence even more peculiar. His disdain for the sale and disregard for residents' wishes was expressed in his casual dismissal of the petition presented to council, his attitude throughout the meeting, and his vote.

Third, in a transparent stalling tactic to further delay a vote, several officials and council members attempted to muddy the waters with contrived questions and minutiae that should have been presented months ago. The Ad Hoc Committee was formed, and a consultant employed, to investigate the possibility of the sale.  Their final report recommended moving forward with it. Officials requesting further answers were essentially ignoring the findings of a study the council commissioned.

Councilman Kelly Murphy finally cut through the miasma by making a motion for the sale, which Councilman Barry Ford seconded. If they hadn't, the process may have dragged on for several more months or even years, question after question, doubt after doubt, study after study.

Congratulations to all on the council who voted for the sale, as well as those on the Municipal Authority, because it demonstrated forward, progressive thinking and was the right thing to do for the future of the borough.

As Councilman Murphy stated, there are other equally difficult decisions in the offing. He reminded us that Columbia has an "us and them" mentality - Dark Ages thinking that has to stop.

I agree.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Council votes YES on LASA

In a 4-2 decision, Columbia Borough Council voted at tonight's Committee of the Whole meeting to sell its wastewater treatment assets to the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority. Voting for the sale were Councilpersons Ford, Murphy, Gable, and Barninger. Weisser and Beury voted against. Councilman Jim Smith was absent.

Tonight's vote follows last week's 4-1 vote for the sale by the Columbia Municipal Authority and eliminates the final barrier to the sale.

After continued deliberation at the meeting by the council and other officials, as well as input from citizens, it seemed the matter would be delayed indefinitely. Councilman Barry Ford stated his wish to move forward with the issue. Councilman Kelly Murphy cut through the Gordian knot by making a motion for the sale, which Ford seconded, and a vote was taken.

LASA Executive Director Mike Kyle addresses Council at the Meeting of the Whole

Coming this week: A special report on Columbia's public schools

Suspect in 3 Columbia burglaries is arrested

A suspect in the burglaries of 3 businesses in Columbia has been arrested.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Committee of the Whole Meeting scheduled

The Columbia Borough Council Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 23, at 6 p.m. at the Borough Office, 308 Locust Street.
Council is expected to vote on the LASA sale.

What I saw recently

Some recent pics from around town . . .


 I wonder if they caught the perpetrator.
(Laurel Hill Cemetery)

 Smoothing . . . 

 the concrete.

 Mark Kise's masterpiece is finished.



 Peeking out

 Out Off Business
(Does that mean they're out of business, because business was off?)

 Ribbed sky

Progress at River Park

Vehicle fire on Route 30 Sunday afternoon

Saturday, June 21, 2014