Thursday, July 31, 2014

Watch "Our Susquehanna Story - Claire and Leo of Columbi…" on YouTube

Our Susquehanna Story - Claire and Leo of Columbia

Where have all the Columbia roses gone?

Most of the roses were casualties of sidewalks replaced when those mayfly-attracting art deco bridge lights were installed in June. Rose roots had encroached on the old sidewalks, so flowers and roots were removed with the concrete.

Columbia woman, 42, killed in car crash on Pennsylvania Turnpike

A sick river: Susquehanna should be declared 'impaired'

There was a time when you would not hesitate to eat a fish caught in the Susquehanna River. As recently as 2005, Bassmaster Magazine listed the Susquehanna as one of the best “smallmouth (bass) destinations” in the country.
But if you catch a smallmouth bass in the river today, you might be grossed out by what’s at the end of the line.
The Susquehanna is now home to transsexual and mucus- and lesion-covered smallmouth bass.
Because the fish do not tolerate pollution well, it’s a strong indication that the river is polluted.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Columbia Borough Council Committee of the Whole Meeting July 28, 2014

The regular monthly meeting of the Columbia Borough Council Committee of the Whole was held Monday, July 28, at 6 p.m. at Borough Hall, 308 Locust Street. Highlights of the meeting are as follows:

Council President Mike Beury announced that voting will no longer take place at Committee of the Whole meetings but only at regular monthly council meetings. Topics will require a motion in order to be taken up at the next council meeting, at which time a vote would take place. Exceptions would be an emergency or situations involving a deadline. When councillors questioned the new procedures, the meeting briefly turned contentious, with Beury stating he would step down as president and challenging any councillor to take his position, saying, "Who wants to take president? I'll step down." He added he would prefer going back to committee meetings (as opposed to meetings of the whole).

Columbia Historic Market House Trust:  Council discussed concerns about the trust's lack of communication with vendors and council. Councillor Barry Ford stated that he, Mayor Leo Lutz, President Beury, and Borough Manager Sam Sulkosky met with six members of the trust and their consultant, Ken Kauffman, last Wednesday night. According to Ford, the trust wants to increase vendors and foot traffic in the Columbia Market House and attract more "green" stands. It would also like to implement improvements and a second phase of a 1998 study, which include interior renovations, a refrigerated area, and repairs to the brick floor to make it level. 
Ford said he was concerned about the secrecy of the trust's meetings but reported that the trust wants to be more open. He also said, "Something needs to be done over there," referring to the lack of market house vendors (only five or six currently remaining.) Ford said  one day a week for the market was plenty and three is too much. He said that Thursday had originally been chosen to eliminate competition with Root's Market and The Green Dragon. Ford commented that he is concerned the market is failing.

Ford said the picnic tables previously reported missing had been sold to a youth group in Donegal. He added that there is a procedure for getting rid of borough property, and said, "I don't think the proper procedure was followed in this case.” He added that the tables could have been used elsewhere in the borough. Former Councillor Renae Sears said the eight tables cost about $119 each.   A vendor at the meeting stated that tablecloths purchased by a vendor also disappeared.  Sulkosky said the trust apologized for the removal.  

Lutz mentioned seasonal produce stand holders leaving after their produce is no longer in season. He said they do not all want to ship produce from other areas simply to maintain a stand all year long. He said if the trust wants "ag in there," they [the trust] have to be more flexible. Lutz also said that a trust newsletter has not been distributed for a year. He said that when the trust was created, market committee meetings stopped but now need to be resumed. Lutz said that in the short term, the trust should open the lines of communication with the council and stand holders.

Sulkosky said the trust is a year away from having a written plan. He said there were communication problems between the trust and vendors as evidenced by the recent vendors' petition. Sulkosky said the council needs to bring the trust into compliance from a financial reporting standpoint. He said the annual audit report is due within 90 days from the first of the year. Lutz said lack of compliance would give the borough grounds for breach of contract.

A vendor present said "It's about what they [the trust] want, not what the customers want. They don't listen."

Trash at River Park and on Locust Street:  Councillor Ford suggested removing trash barrels from River Park due to people depositing their trash from the river islands (in Manor Township) when they disembark at the park. Council also discussed posting signs informing the public to take their trash with them.   Ford made a motion to put the issue on August's regular council meeting agenda. Renae Sears stated that some residents along Locust Street place trash in public trash receptacles along the street. Council noted that rental properties on Locust have dumpsters in the rear but that it is more convenient for tenants to deposit trash in the public receptacles.

Traffic Concerns:  Council heard from George and Janet Scwhwert of 901 Park Avenue regarding traffic hazards near their property. Janet Schwert said their porch has been hit twice by vehicles and that cars regularly travel at high speeds up Ninth Street past their property. She said he is afraid to sit on her porch and commented that Manor Street used to be the “racetrack,” and now it's Ninth Street.  Council discussed installing speed limit signs at the intersection.  A borough resident asked whether a speed bump could be installed, but Lutz replied that doing so would hinder snow plowing.  Councillors said installing 4-way stop signs would require an ordinance change. Finally, Councillor Smith made a motion to advertise an ordinance change for items b and c on the meeting agenda: 
  b. Discussion regarding a 4-way stop sign at 9th and Ridge Streets and 9th and Locust Streets.
  c. Discussion on School District request for a 4-way stop sign at 8th and Locust and Permit Parking  for 600 block of Cherry Street.

Budget:  Councillor Smith stated he wants money the borough gets from the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and Verizon to be earmarked for continued road work in the borough. Finance Manager Georgianna Schreck stated that the $62,000 from those entities is being used to balance the budget. She said the amortization payments for police pensions has jumped from $270,000 to $420,000, and the water company got a 40% increase in health insurance. She said this year should be a “wait-and-see” year in terms of budget purchases. She added that the borough farm could possibly generate some income. She stated that the total shortfall this year is $700,000. Sulkosky added that the first priority is to balance the budget.

Quick Ticket:  The “Quick Ticket” ordinance was also discussed, which allows parking officers to become enforcement officers in citing code violations. Ford stated he wants application of the ordinance to be consistent and  there should be “no selective enforcement.”

Parking Meters:  Council also discussed the recent parking meter rate increase. It was noted that currently the only notification of the increase on the meters is a handwritten note inside the clear cover. Stickers will be soon be applied to the meters announcing the rate change.

Bridge Lights:  Lutz clarified funding for maintenance of the new bridge lights. He stated that PennDOT has allocated $10-12,000 for the maintenance, and that any maintenance done by the borough will be billed to PennDOT.

A ribbon-cutting for bridge lights is set for Friday September 19, 2014 at 3 p.m. (per a council member, but the meeting agenda listed it as 2:30-4:30 p.m.)

Detour:  Council also discussed recent confusion regarding the truck detour due to closing of Front Street as well as solutions to remedy the problem.

It’s deja vu for vendors of struggling Columbia Market

Columbia Borough Council's unanimous decision Monday to send the Columbia Historic Market House Trust a letter, claiming violations of the trust's agreement for managing the market, was prompted, in part, by a petition from market vendors and by missing financial reports from the trust.
Once notice is given, the trust has 45 days to correct the problems or it will be in default of the management agreement with the borough, formalized in January 2012.

Columbia council orders crackdown on code violations

Columbia Borough Council is making sure that enforcing the law is a priority and that borough departments have the resources they need to deal with violations.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Coming next Tuesday

Some still confused by detour route

Some drivers are still confused by the route of the recent detour.  This trucker turned down Walnut Street from Second and, after seeing the signage at the end of the street, turned right onto Front Street.  Similar replays have occurred in the surrounding blocks over the past two days.

Sinkhole reroutes detour during railroad work in Columbia

The detour route for the railroad crossing closure on Route 441 in Columbia Borough has been changed to repair a sinkhole.


Monday, July 28, 2014

New parking rates

Don't forget: Parking meter rates recently doubled from 25 cents for 60 minutes to 25 cents for 30 minutes.
Plug the meter for the appropriate amount.
Violators will be ticketed.

Construction is underway

Construction on the railroad crossing on Route 441 between Locust and Union Streets and adjacent areas along the railroad tracks got underway today.  Detours have been set up to reroute traffic around the area.

Veterans Memorial Bridge cleanup costs

The cost of the recent mayfly cleanup on the Veterans Memorial Bridge was absorbed by the  construction company, according to Ahmad Mahmoud, project manager for Kuharchik.
Borough Manager Sam Sulkosky said that instead of multiple cleanups, they waited until the mayfly season was over.
"There's no use cleaning it up and coming back two weeks later to do it all over again," he said.
In the future, the borough will be responsible for maintenance, including mayfly cleanup, which will cost about $2,000 for labor and supplies.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Puerto Rican Americans rally for statehood

At Locust Street Park today, Puerto Rican Americans rallied to promote the addition of Puerto Rico as 51st state of the United States.  The rally coincided with various rallies around the country, including those in New York, New Jersey, and Washington DC.
Island residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, yet they cannot vote in presidential elections, though Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States can.
Today's date also marks the birthdate of Dr. José Celso Barbosa (July 27, 1857 – September 21, 1921) a Puerto Rican physiciansociologist, and political leader known within Puerto Rico's New Progressive Party as the father of the "Statehood for Puerto Rico" movement.

Mayflies without end

 At River Park this morning, mallards were busy scooping up mayfly carcasses, some of which may have been washed off bridge lights last week, as seen HERE.

Unfortunately, many live ones are hanging on, like the one seen above on the window of Burning Bridge Antiques, which appears to be trying to mate with its reflection(s).

Columbia Borough Council Meeting of the Whole

The Columbia Borough Council Committee of the Whole Meeting will be held tomorrow, Monday, July 28, at 6 p.m. at Borough Hall, 308 Locust Street, Columbia, PA 17512.

A tour of Mount Bethel

 This past Friday, Ron Mable, volunteer superintendent of Mount Bethel Cemetery, gave an informative tour of the cemetery grounds.  The tour was sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce.  The 300-year-old cemetery holds the remains of veterans from all our country's major wars, as well as local personages from the past, including Columbia poet and painter, Lloyd Mifflin, and his father, John Houston Mifflin.
Currently, the cemetery is struggling financially.  If it "goes under," Columbia Borough will take over ownership and be responsible for the maintenance of the grounds.

Here, Ron Mable shows the grave marker of Joseph S. Hagman, a Union Civil War veteran who was a prisoner at Andersonville, a Confederate prison in Georgia.

What I Saw - Sunday, July 27, 2014

From around town . . .

 A "drive" wheelchair at BruceKie's.
Just don't drink and "drive."

 Down on Second Street, it's time to mow the sidewalk or break out the RoundUp.

The detour starts tomorrow.
More info HERE.

What I Saw - Saturday, July 26, 2014

From around town . . .

 Follow those Marines!

 to the reception at the Hambones.

 Go home, Bear - you're drunk.
(He even fell off the chair!)

 With a little TLC . . . 

 these post offices lights could really look like something.

 I don't know whether to call this "Faded Glory" or "Stars and Strips."
I guess I'll just call it a disgrace.

 Have a seat . . . 

from this line-up.

What I Saw - Friday, July 25, 2014

From around town . . .

 Wingin' it

 Mirror image

 Fixing the dings and wiping the glass

 Roll out the barrels - or at least the barrel lids

Movin' on

What I saw recently

Some pics from around town over the last week or two or three . . .

 Quite a catch

 A flathead catfish

 A big 'un

 The tying of the shoe

Abandoned stroller - and bike (It's there, deep in the foliage.)

 Abandoned ancient technology

 Abandoned modern footwear

 This way 'n' that

 At Laurel Hill


 Y ?

 Biking is good exercise

 Now we know why the rates went up - to pay for the paint.

 Delivering the goods

Keeping a watchful eye

Friday, July 25, 2014

Repairs set to begin Monday at railroad crossing in Columbia

South Front Street will be closed between Union and Locust streets until Aug. 18. The road will be closed at the crossing in both directions. A detour will be posted.

Columbia Plaza is getting a facelift

The following flyer was distributed recently at the Columbia Plaza on Lancaster Avenue.  The "facelift" will be undertaken by Paul Risk Associates, Inc., whose websites are HERE and HERE.
More on this as it develops.

These barriers are being stored beside The Dollar Store at the Columbia Plaza.