Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Snow Emergency in Effect

A Snow Emergency will be in effect in the Borough of Columbia beginning at 12:00 Noon, Wednesday, March 21, 2018. The Snow Emergency will remain in effect until further notice. The Snow Emergency will be to facilitate clean-up efforts in the Borough.

Vehicle travel on Borough Streets marked as "Snow Emergency Routes" shall be in accordance with the Borough's "Snow Emergency Ordinance" except for emergency situations. No person shall operate a vehicle on any Snow Emergency Route in such a manner or in such condition as to allow or permit such vehicle to become stalled on a "Snow Emergency Route" either by reason of the fact that the driving wheels are not equipped with chains or proper tires, by the exhaustion of the fuel supply to the vehicle, or by abandonment of the vehicle.

Parking on "Snow Emergency Routes" shall be prohibited. Parking is available in Borough Parking Lots located at Front and Locust Street, next to Borough Hall on Locust and in the former telephone company lot in Avenue H between 2nd and 3rdStreet. Parking will be permitted after the street has been cleared. Residents are reminded it is illegal to throw snow in the street and to place various items along Borough Streets to reserve parking.

The Borough shall have the authority to remove and impound, or to order the removal and impounding of any vehicle parked or abandoned on a "Snow Emergency Route" during the Snow Emergency and to remove any items left on the streets. During clean-up residents will be notified to move their vehicles on a street by street basis.

Residents are further reminded to remove snow from sidewalks per Columbia Borough Code.

The following Streets have been designated "Snow Emergency Routes":

Locust Street, Front to Fifth Street                             

North Third Street, Locust to Cedar Street

Chestnut Street, Second to Fifth Street                      

North Fifth Street, Chestnut to Locust Street

Lancaster Avenue, Locust to Malleable Road           

Kinderhook Road

Ironville Pike, Ninth to Borough Limit                      

Ninth Street, Ironville Pike to Lancaster Ave

Declared this 21st Day of March, 2018

Leo S. Lutz, Mayor

Borough of Columbia

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - Columbia Borough offices closed, HARB meeting postponed

Due to continuing snow and unsafe travel conditions today, Columbia Borough offices are now officially closed. The HARB meeting scheduled for tonight is also postponed and information regarding the reschedule will be posted as soon as it is available. Please be safe in your travels today.
- Columbia Borough Council President Kelly Murphy

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Little's Retail Theft Solved | Columbia Borough Police Department

The retail theft at Little's Beverage has been solved. Thank you to those that submitted tips.

Multiple victims, Route 441 closed on Chickies Hill after icy accident

Route 441 between Columbia and Marietta is closed because of an icy vehicle accident with multiple injuries.


Howard granted continuance, has no attorney

Randy Howard (crouching, third from left) attempts to evade cameras as he is taken into District Judge Miles Bixler's office building this morning. 

Randy Howard's scheduled preliminary hearing today at District Judge Miles Bixler's office was continued because he doesn't have an attorney. A public defender cannot be appointed, because it would create a conflict of interest due to the fact that he would be represented by the same group that represented a person recently convicted in the incident. A pro bono private attorney will be appointed instead. The hearing will most likely be rescheduled in two to four weeks when all attorneys clear their schedules and are available on a "block day," several of which are held each month.

Howard 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.

According to a source, a person was recently picked up by police for allegedly harboring Howard.  

Coffee With LNP postponed until April 2

Because of the snow, the Columbia edition of CoffeeWith LNP planned for today has been rescheduled for 6-8 p.m. April 2.

Public Works & Property Meeting Rescheduled

Due to the weather, The Public Works & Property Committee Meeting scheduled for tonight has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 6:00 pm.

CVS RETAIL THEFT HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED | Columbia Borough Police Department

Thank you to all who provided tips.  The individual pictured earlier in connection with the CVS retail theft has been identified.

The Columbia Borough Police Department Appreciates your willingness to help.

Retail Theft: 2 Cases of beer fron Little's Beverage| Columbia Borough Police Department

Suspect in beer theft at Little's Beverage

On 03-19-18 at approx. 7PM the pictured male took a case of beer from Little's Beverage at 1224 Lancaster Ave. The male in the photograph also took a case of beer earlier in the day at approx. 9:20AM as well. The male was described as a black male wearing blue jeans, black sneakers, a black jacket and a red hat. In the morning the male had black colored Nike back pack with him. If anyone knows the identity of the pictured male they are asked to contact the police department at 717-684-7735 or submit a tip below. The male was last observed travelling west through Ave V to the Holy Trinity Cemetery then into Ave W towards Plane St.
Monday, March 19, 2018

Case Status:

Case Type:

Retail Theft at CVS - Can you ID this woman?

Suspect in baby formula theft at CVS

On 03-19-18 at approx. 7PM a retail theft occurred at the CVS located at 615 Locust St. The pictured female took baby formula from the store without paying for it. The female was last observed in the area of 4th and Locust St. She is described as a white female wearing blue sneakers, gray sweatpants and a leopard print jacket. If anyone has any information on who the person may be, they are asked to contact the police department at 717-684-7735 or submit a tip below.
Monday, March 19, 2018

Case Status:

Case Type:

Monday, March 19, 2018

Major reconstruction project could shut down Veterans Memorial Bridge in 2020-21

The Veterans Memorial Bridge might be shut down during a major reconstruction project.

A major reconstruction project currently underway might shut down the Veterans Memorial Bridge in 2020-21. Mayor Leo Lutz made the announcement at last Wednesday's Safety Committee meeting.

The $54-60 million reconstruction and rehabilitation project will include a refurbished deck with an 8-foot-wide walking lane, two 8-foot bicycle lanes (on the north and south sides), and two 9-foot traffic lanes in the center. The narrower traffic lanes will be a deterrent for speeders, Lutz said. All lanes will be separated with white traffic lines. Additional construction will bring the bridge into compliance. Of concern is a bridge arch that has "frozen" into place above its bearing and caused a significant crack. (All bridge arches rest on bearings, allowing expansion and contraction.) Despite the cracking, the bridge is rated "fair" and is considered safe. The underside of the bridge will be completed before deck work begins, Lutz said. Lights might also be added to the underside to help keep mayflies off the road surface and to beautify the bridge.

Two options are being considered for construction: closing off one lane of the bridge and having traffic flow in one direction in the remaining lane; or shutting down the bridge entirely, allowing the project to be completed more quickly (in about a year), since workers would not have to interact with traffic. Lutz said the second option is unfavorable because a traffic accident on Route 30 could shut down the Wrights Ferry (Route 30) Bridge also, preventing all traffic from crossing the river. He added, however, that the four lanes of the Wrights Ferry Bridge could quickly be converted to two in such a case, using existing median barriers as "gates."

A portion of Rotary Park will be used to stage construction equipment and materials, and the former Columbia #1 Fire Company building along Front Street could serve as offices, Lutz said. RK&K Engineering, PennDOT, and the Lancaster County Planning Commission have already met to discuss the project. Preliminary engineering design work is scheduled for the next year and a half.

Columbia Spy previously posted these related articles: 

Part 1 – Columbia to Chickies Rock: Explore the geology of Chickies Rock, other areas on trail along Susquehanna River

Columbia is located within the Piedmont Lowlands Section or locally known as the Conestoga Valley.


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. 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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Street Sweeping to Resume March 19

(From the Columbia Borough website)

Street Sweeping will begin Monday, March 19, 2018.  Please be sure to move your vehicle on the designated street sweeping days in your neighborhood.

Borough hires Susquehanna Heritage to run the trolley

Columbia Trolley Works trolley
[Columbia Spy file photo]

At Monday's meeting, Columbia Borough Council unanimously approved an "Addendum to Professional Services Agreement Between The Borough of Columbia AND The Susquehanna Heritage Corporation..." for management and marketing of the borough-owned Columbia Trolley Works trolley.

As part of the agreement, the borough will provide $11,000 annually to Susquehanna Heritage "for costs associated with management of the Trolley." The breakdown of anticipated annual costs is as follows:
  • Trolley Management: $4,000
  • On-Board Interpretation - (Trolley Guides-formerly known as volunteers), two part-time positions: $4,000.
  • Support costs: (Equipment, signs, brochures, insurance, miscellaneous): $2,000.
  • SHC Administrative Support: (Accounting, Personnel Management, etc.):  $1,000

Excerpts from the agreement:
  • Trolley Maintenance: The borough shall ensure that the trolley is maintained and operated in a manner that complies with local, state, and federal laws and regulations relating to its operation, including licenses and other requirements of the public utility commission and/or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Costs associated with maintaining and fueling the Trolley are the sole responsibility of the borough. The Borough shall maintain and fuel the Trolley so that it is readily available for use year-round, including maintaining a fully functional heat and air conditioning system. The Borough shall immediately inform Susquehanna Heritage of any mechanical or other issues that prevent the Trolley from operating. The Trolley shall be housed and maintained by the Borough at a location to be determined by the Borough.
  • Scheduling and staffing: The Borough shall be responsible for recruiting, selecting, training, supervising, and compensating employees assigned to drive and maintain the Trolley. All such employees shall be employees of the Borough and not employees of Susquehanna Heritage... It shall be the responsibility of the Borough Manager to handle any personnel issues relating to Borough employees and the Trolley operation.
The complete document can be found HERE.

Former Columbia police officer charged with harassment

A former Columbia Borough police officer is charged with harassment by the West Hempfield Police Department. Dale Niles Wiley, 52, of Mount Joy was charged after an alleged victim said he had forced her to the ground and grabbed the sides of her neck during an argument that occurred at their home on Sunday, February 25, 2018. Officers reported that the victim had red marks on her cheek and neck. The defendant denied any physical contact with the victim during the argument.

On Friday, March 2, 2018, West Hempfield Police filed a charge of One count of Harassment Section 2709 A 1 (S) against Miley at MDJ Miles Bixler's Office in Columbia.

Charges were also filed against Miley in December 1994 for holding a gun to his girlfriend's head and threatening to kill her, according the March 2, 1995 edition of the Lancaster New Era. The victim, Rhonda Diehl, said she "was afraid for her life." After a preliminary hearing Miley, then 29, was ordered to stand trial on charges of terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, and simple assault. According to court records, Miley pled nolo contendre in March 1996 in that case.

Will a residence near a junkyard become a religious retreat?

1029 Lancaster Avenue
[Google Maps]

Fralu Realty LP is requesting special exceptions and/or variances to convert a residential use property at 1029 Lancaster Avenue into a religious counseling retreat, according to a legal notice published in Lancaster Newspapers today.

The notice (shown below) indicates the issue will be brought before the Zoning Hearing Board of Columbia Borough on March 28.  

Records from the Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds show that the property is one of three transferred in 2011 from members of the Sahd family to Fralu Realty, whose address is 1045 Lancaster Avenue. The address is also that of Sahd Metal Recycling. Total assessment for the entire tract (land and building) at 1029 Lancaster Avenue is listed as $552,200. The 16.5 acre tract includes a residence and a junkyard.

Fralu Realty LP and Sahd Metal recycling share the same address.

The property is assessed at $552,200.

The 16.5 acre tract, outlined in blue, includes a residence and a junkyard. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sunshine is Always Right

March 11-17, 2018

By Jim ZacharyCNHI Deputy National Editor
Editor, The Valdosta Daily Times
Open government is not a political platform.
It is a basic American right.
The political landscape is more polarized than ever and there seems to be little common ground for conservatives and progressives.
Transparency — keeping the light on the people's business — ought to be something everyone can agree on.
Instead, conservatives want to reveal the secrets of liberals and liberals want to expose the actions of conservatives.
Openness in government is not a liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, independent, Libertarian or freedom caucus issue.
It often appears that whatever party is in the minority becomes the champion of transparency right up until the time it is in the majority.
Politicians stump on transparency and are all about open access, until they have something they want to keep secret.
The need for transparency in local, state and federal government transcends parties and political ideologies.
Checks and balances provide few checks and little balance when officials broker deals behind closed doors and conceal documents that contain important information that the public has the right, and often the need, to know.
Local government has the biggest impact in the lives of people on a day-to-day basis.
Whether it is in the form of property taxes, sales taxes, business taxes, state-shared dollars or federal grants, loans and funding, local government is 100 percent taxpayer-funded.
The public has the right to know how its money is being spent.
The decisions being made, the dollars being doled out and the records being kept by city hall, the county commission, the board of education or the utility district all belong to liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, independents, Libertarians and even politically disinterested individuals.
All stakeholders have a stake in open meetings and public records and should care about transparency issues.
The lack of and need for true government transparency should be about the most bipartisan cause that exists.
Any elected official who truly cares about public service in a real and meaningful way and fully understands what a representative form of government is all about, should not only champion openness in government, but should be the most effective watchdogs, looking out for the public trust.
Sadly, those kinds of elected officials are hard to find.
The press tries to keep an eye on government and expose clandestine actions and in response journalists are often ridiculed, belittled and even threatened for just doing their jobs, as they work to keep government honest by making use of access laws.
But, the public needs to understand that access to government documents and actions is not just a media right.
It is your right.
Jim Zachary is the deputy national editor of CNHI, editor of the Valdosta (Georgia) Daily Times, president and chairman of the Red & Black Publishing Company serving the University of Georgia, vice-president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, director of the Transparency Project of Georgia and a member of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications Board of Trust. He can be reached at

Columbia man charged with DUI; other charges

Giles, Primie Demosthene - One count of DUI Section 3802 A-1 (M) One count of DUI Section 3802 b (M) and One count of... | West Hempfield Township Police Department

Primie Demosthene Giles


Columbia Borough deeds recorded: March 12, 2018

Columbia Borough

Brandon C. Kalbach conveyed 328 Union St. to Jason E. Noel and Linda L. Harris for $81,000.

Wgmc Properties LLC and Walter L. Siderio conveyed 571 Walnut St. to Joshua T. and Samantha N. Anderson for $76,350.

The estate of Richard K. D. Markley conveyed 238 S. Eight St. to Christopher M. Lenker for $40,000.

Bruce E. and Angela M. Gross and Harvey W. Harple Jr. conveyed property on South Sixth Street to Jonette R. Hall for $125,500.

Flinchbaugh Holdings LLC and David J. Flinchbaugh conveyed 468 Locust St. to Roundhouse Partners LLC for $60,000.

The estate of Deborah K. Ames conveyed 522 N. Third St. to Lorenzo Vale and Whitney Rivera for $90,000.

Columbia Borough conveyed property on Locust Street to Lancaster County Land Bank Authority for $1.

Bruce R. Roberts conveyed 219 Lawrence St. to Joseph Welsh for $55,000.

Jason M. and Jill L. Strange conveyed property on Avenue North to Ashley T. Seifried for $60,000.

USA Housing & Urban Development conveyed 236 S. Second St. to North Star Properties LLC for $18,610.

Groff & Ranck LLC and James M. Groff conveyed property on North Fifth Street to Acemac LLC for $210,000.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

About Town

Pics from around Columbia over the past week...

 Bunny with baby

 There's that one-footed gull again.

 Warthog - one of two that fly over our area almost daily.

 A speed bump - on a sidewalk?

 The Yellow Submarine, now with four-wheel drive.

 Parking lot-to-be on Commerce Street

 Ferals at Take Away Refuse.

 Wishful thinking or just dirty windows?

 Don't lose your drawers.

Decorative railing at the window of Rocky's BBQ.

 Decorative railing at Stover's.

 And in Stover's window - a sign expressing exasperation at customers being ticketed by parking enforcement officers.
Nothing like discouraging customers of a long-standing Columbia business.

 Case in point.

 There goes one of the enforcers, off to check the Avenue H lot.
Gotta stay ahead in the daily competition.

 Sticker shock

 More abuse of eminent domain.

 The shape of the signpost actually does indicate the bend in the road ahead.

 Houses at the bottom of Locust to be demolished for the planned apartment building.

Two parking spaces here will be allotted for vehicles during construction of the building.
According to the draft agenda for the 2-27-18 Public Works/Public Property Committee meeting: "Von Hess Foundation gave approval for right to sub-lease 2 of the spaces to 789 Main Street, LLC and permission to use their lot for the storage of necessary vehicles and equipment during construction."

 Owned by a proud miser?

 Into the drink?

 Well-fed feral who apparently depends upon the kindness of strangers.

 Litter on Locust

 The 400 block

 Some folks can't function without the street sweeper.

 A well-known local artist just bought this building at 475 Locust.

 Similar to the Google Car, it's the "Here" Car.

 It's a 3D mapping vehicle, as described in the article..."HERE"!!!

 A classic-looking light globe at LGH Columbia

 This one's on the 600 block of Poplar.

 Complete with rosette (and spider nest?)

 Over the moon.


Spring is right around the corner.
The evidence is easy to see....