Friday, October 30, 2015

Walk on Columbia's new 'bypass' bridge

People will be able to walk on the new span Sunday afternoon without having to worry about traffic. They also will be able to trek on a portion of the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail that is finished. The trail, when completed, will connect historic towns, including Columbia and Marietta.

Museum at Gap a tribute to officer from Columbia

USAF Maj. Gen. Frank H. Smoker, Jr. (retired) was commander of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and one of eight flag officers from Columbia.

Bypass and Trail walk-through this Sunday

Restaurant inspections: What's Columbia waiting for?

The following article linked to this post lists the results of recent restaurant inspections conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which does them without charge to the respective municipality.

Currently, Columbia Borough conducts its own inspections - through an overwhelmed and understaffed department - and at a cost to the borough.

At a recent meeting, Columbia Borough Council said the matter is under review, and it is considering turning over such inspections to the state. We wonder why this was not done long ago.

Here is your opportunity, borough council.

The phone number is 866-366-3723.

What are you waiting for?

The codes department decoded

At Columbia Borough Council's October Meeting of the Whole, Code Enforcement Officer/Supervisor Jeffrey Helm explained some of the workings of the codes department. Helm defined the purpose of a recent "courtesy notice" process - a reminder issued for a first time minor property issue to save clerical costs and time. He described it as more of a communication tool than an official notification. The form is a template containing a time-frame for corrections, which Helm claims residents appreciate, because it allows time for rectifying problems. He reported a 60-70% compliance rate, which he deemed "very successful." Council noted that the current ordinance may have to be changed to include the courtesy notice.

Councillor Kelly Murphy noted negative feedback about the borough's current rental registration program and asked Helm for an assessment. Helm characterized the program, which monitors 800 buildings, as "a monster," because it consumes clerical time, especially from May to September.  He added that although the third-party inspection process is not ideal, the system works overall.  Helm said he reads every report received from the 8-12 certified inspectors contracted by the borough, and for violations, a "notice of violation" letter is sent. If a property is not brought into compliance, the owner can lose his or her license.  Properties that meet code requirements are registered for a fee of $100 per building.

Helm reported that since July 31, 50 landlords with at least one property each are currently delinquent in completing the rental registration process due to lack of a deficiency-free inspection report. Although landlords have been issued 30-day notices, most of the properties are currently being occupied without a valid certificate of occupancy. Councillor Mary Barninger emphasized that 50 landlords' properties have been out of compliance for nearly 90 days - 60 days past the first 30-day notice. Helm blamed a bottleneck in the system, which he said is logistical rather than clerical. He cited as an example properties that are sold without notification. He also said inspectors sometimes cannot complete inspections due to occupants' personal possessions blocking windows, receptacles, and other areas. An inspection order contains a disclaimer that the inspector will not move anything. He said it is impossible to do a thorough investigation. Helm added that many municipalities do not have a rental registration program or certificate of occupancy requirement.

Councillor Murphy recommended that council review the current fee schedule, especially fees for non-compliance. "We seem to be very kind and generous," he said. "There are a lot of things we could be doing."

In response to a citizen comment, council noted that Columbia Borough currently does its own restaurant inspections. Council said it is considering transferring that responsibility to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which would perform inspections at no cost to the borough. Currently, inspections are done at the borough's expense.

Council reiterated its plan to add a full-time codes position, the title of which is yet to be determined.

Council also announced the resignation of Thomas James Millhouse, whose employment as part-time code enforcement officer was approved on December 22, 2014.  Sources tell the Spy that Millhouse submitted a ten-page resignation letter outlining various concerns. The employment of Code Enforcement Officer Robert Osborne had been terminated previously, effective August 10, 2015.

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Trick or Treat 6-8p.m.

Trick or Treat tonight, 6-8.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

717 Tattoo artist on website

Biomechanical art done by 717 Tattoo artist Jackie was posted here:

Vehicle accident at 5th & Maple

Tonight . . .

(Submitted photos)

Columbia Borough Police Department now on Crime Watch

Dealer charged for overdose death of man in Columbia

Police are charging a drug dealer for the overdose death of one of his customers. On September 5th, Columbia Police found Kody McKain, deceased in the Turkey Hill convenience store located at 301 Linden Street.

Through an investigation, police identified Victor Nelson Virola, 22, of the 100 block of North Third Street, Columbia, as the person who sold McKain the narcotics that ultimately caused his death.

More road work in town today

Seen today . . .

Finishing the curb at Locust Street and Bank Avenue

Digging a hole on Front Street, between Locust and Walnut

Inserting a signpost into said hole

Meeting at the crossroads

Fright Night this Saturday

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Promoter sues Brucekies Pub for intercepting UFC telecast

EASTON, Penn. – A fight promoter sued Brucekies Pub in Columbia, Pennsylvania and its managing member for allegedly unlawfully intercepting its telecast of the Ultimate Fighting Championships.

Police chief wants replacement vehicles

Columbia Borough Police Chief Jack Brommer informed council Monday night that two of the department's police vehicles need to be replaced. Brommer said Unit 4 (a 2011 model) needs to be replaced due to ongoing maintenance and other issues. According to Brommer, the vehicle has $3,000 in body damage due to a minor accident and has incurred an additional $1,400 in repairs in the past year or so. Councillor Sherry Welsh questioned the need to replace the vehicle, since the mileage is only 53,000. Brommer said the vehicle appears older than it is and offered to show it to her. Acting Borough Manager/Public Works Director Ron Miller stated that the average life expectancy for police vehicles is five years. Unit 4 replacement is scheduled for next year's budget.

Brommer said another police vehicle is a total loss - a 2014 Ford Interceptor (Unit 6) recently involved in a head-on collision at North Fifth and Walnut. He added that he found a possible replacement vehicle on the lot at New Holland Ford for about $25,000. He said the lights, etc. can be transferred from the wrecked vehicle, since it appears they were not damaged. An outfitter will check all equipment to be transferred, and non-functioning items and installation of any replacement items will be paid for through insurance. Brommer wants Unit 6 replaced this year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New sign at Columbia Plaza

Workers installed a sign at Columbia Plaza today for the Medicine Shop, which will be moving in next to Dollar General. Among the other changes at the plaza is an auto parts store that will be moving into the space recently vacated by the Columbia Family Restaurant when renovations are completed at the north end of the mall.

River Park trees marked for cutting

Trees at Columbia River Park that are slated to be cut down have been marked with spray paint.

Are these code violations?

We know there's a stairway to heaven, but a doorway to nowhere?
How about several?
These were seen today:

 100 block of Avenue H
(Note the plastic step stool beneath the threshold.)

 100 block of Avenue H

 On Bank Street, near Locust
(There are at least two issues shown.)

Not a door, but a window.
Not just any window, but one with a dryer vent stuck through a piece of plywood.
(200 block of Locust - third floor)

About Town

Some shots around town today . . .

Columbia's a busy town, and today it was bustling:

 Pole work on Barber

 "Fixing a hole where the rain gets in" on Locust

 Installing sidewalks on Eighth

Trimming trees at Locust Street Park

Meanwhile . . .

 This truck appeared in the parking lot of a local business. Among other things, it contained portable electrical boxes attached to hand trucks.

 Time to break out the Geiger counter to count rems and rads?

Yes, probably. 
TMI: It's never good when those letters appear together, whether they stand for "Too Much Information" or . . . something else.

Route 441 bypass might take longer than expected

At Columbia Borough Council's October 26 Meeting of the Whole, Acting Borough Manager/Public Works Director Ron Miller announced that the Route 441 bypass project might not be finished by Monday, November 2, as previously planned, and could take an additional week for completion. A walk-through is still planned for Sunday, November 1, 1-3 p.m.

Here are some shots of the project from today:

Agenda - Meeting of the Whole October 26, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

About Town

Some scenes from around town today . . .

Checking a light at the plaza

Route 441 bypass work

The commemorative bench in front of Stover's is gone.  Sources tell the Spy it was taken away due to ongoing vandalism and loitering.

Work continues at 855 Chestnut.

Leaf pickup

Now, that's interesting.