Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Police chase ends with car crash at Route 441 bypass; possible shooting

PRELIMINARY: At about 6:15 p.m., medics and QRS units were dispatched to the Route 441 bypass near Bridge Street for a medical emergency.

Upon arrival, Columbia Spy observed police vehicles and officers from Hellam Township, Lower Windsor Township, West Hempfield Township, and Columbia Borough. One officer was carrying rifles.

A silver-colored car was off the road on a grassy area just below the Colonial Metals storage units.

A white male was placed on a stretcher and was bleeding profusely from the head. He was transported from the scene by ambulance.

Bystanders claim to have heard "officer involved shooting" on scanner, but this was not confirmed. Another bystander said the chase started in Hellam Township.

A witness said he saw the car go off the road on the Route 441 bypass, with police in pursuit. He said officers approached the car with guns drawn.

The scene was completely cleared by 8 p.m.

LNP reports the following:

"A police pursuit that started in York County culminated with a the driver shooting himself Wednesday evening in Columbia, an official said."

$25 fine for trash that's not in a container

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Columbia School Board to consider 2.9% tax hike

The draft agenda for this Thursday's Columbia Borough School Board Committee of the Whole meeting includes the following item for consideration:

"The final budget includes a proposed tax increase in the total amount of .8508 mills or 2.90%, which is within Columbia Borough School District's approved index of 3.7%, and use of $800,000 ($250,000 is in Budgetary Reserve) of Fund Balance. The real estate tax rate for 2017-18 will be 30.1908 mills."

With the increase, the annual tax liability for an assessment of $100,000 will be $3,019.08. (The increase of .8508 mills translates to $85.08 a year for a $100,000 assessment.) At the current 29.34 mills, Columbia already has the highest school tax of any district  in the county. The proposed increase will further cement that position.

With the increase, the TOTAL millage for Columbia Borough (county millage + municipal millage + school millage) will be 41.9258.  The total annual tax liability for an assessment of $100,000 will be $4,192.58.

Current millage rates for Lancaster County are shown below.

Paint removed from vandalized Buddhist statues

The recently vandalized statues at the Chua Phap Hoa Buddhist Temple at South Second and Cherry have been cleaned of the black spray paint. Unfortunately, faint residue remains in some areas.

Serving on a local school board is difficult and thankless, but still necessary

Monday, May 29, 2017

Where there's smoke, there's fire - Open burning incident

Columbia Spy noticed a large cloud of gray smoke billowing from the tree line near Laurel Hill Memorial Gardens at about 4 p.m. today. On closer investigation, it was noted that two piles of limbs and brush were burning on a property next to the cemetery. (See map below.) Although a person was present in the general vicinity of the fires, Columbia Borough has an ordinance against open burning. A member of the fire company tells the Spy that open burning is not permitted without special permission from the fire chief. For now, we'll assume permission was given in this case.

The blue rectangle shows the approximate location of the burning.

Columbia fisherman pulls 3-foot eel from the Susquehanna

River eel caught Saturday at Columbia River Park
(Submitted photo)

On Saturday, Angel Rodriguez of Columbia was fishing at River Park when he noticed several short jerks on his line. As he reeled it in, he saw something different at the end - not a carp or a catfish or a bass - but a river eel, also known as an American eel.

Rodriguez estimates the eel to be about three feet long. An avid fisherman, he said he has pulled eels from the river before, so this was not a complete surprise. According to Rodriguez, eels can be cooked in butter and eaten, but he plans to use this one as cut bait to catch other fish - and possibly another eel.

Angel Rodriguez of Columbia with the river eel he caught on Saturday.
(Submitted photo)

UPDATE: Buddhist Temple Desecration

On May 25, 2017, the Columbia Borough Police were notified of a criminal mischief at 202 Cherry Street. This location is the Buddhist Temple and someone had spray painted the two (2) statues that they have located along the 2nd Street side of their temple. The word "Idol" appeared to be spray painted on them. A neighbor believes that it occurred sometime overnight Wednesday into Thursday. If anyone has any information about this they are asked to contact the police department at 717-684-7735 or submit a tip below.

River Park Parking Reminder

Sunday, May 28, 2017

General Edward C. Shannon, Columbia's War Hero

Columbia History - Did you know?

Major General Edward C. Shannon in 1917

In September of last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs inducted General Edward C. Shannon into its Hall of Fame, recognizing his exceptional service to the department, the Pennsylvania National Guard, and Pennsylvania veterans.

At the ceremony, Mayor Leo Lutz said, "The Borough of Columbia has been the home to many brave men and women who have served their country, some who have paid the supreme sacrifice and some who have distinguished themselves in service to their country. The citizens of the Borough of Columbia are honored to have Major General Edward Caswell Shannon as one of its distinguished generals and greatly appreciate the honor you have bestowed on him today."

Edward Caswell Shannon was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania on June 24, 1870, and grew up in Columbia, Pennsylvania. He studied metallurgical chemistry at Lehigh University and Lafayette College. He later completed a course in metallurgical chemistry in the laboratory of the Phoenix Iron Company, and then worked as a chemist and blast furnace superintendent in the iron and steel industries. In 1899 he married Maud Radcliffe Lucas (1877-1943). Shannon later worked as Treasurer and General Manager of Lucas Manufacturing, a clothes-making business in Columbia owned by his wife's family. He was also a president of the Columbia Water Company and a director of the First Columbia National Bank.

His military career began in 1889, when he enlisted in Company C, 4th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard. He advanced through the noncommissioned officer ranks and obtained a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1893. He had attained the rank of Captain and command of a company by the time he volunteered to serve in the Spanish–American War.

Shannon remained in the National Guard, and by 1915 had become commander of the 4th Infantry with the rank of Colonel. He commanded his regiment on the Mexican border during the 1916 Pancho Villa Expedition. During World War I he continued in command of his regiment, which combined with other units and federalized as the 111th Infantry, 28th Infantry Division. During the war Shannon earned the nickname "Two Yard" because of the reputation he developed for leading his men from the front ("two yards" ahead) during their attacks on German positions.

Commemorative "Two Yard" stick - a tribute to Shannon from his men
(Courtesy of Columbia Historic Preservation Society)

Shannon was cited for distinguished and exceptional gallantry at Foret de Fere in 1918.  He was presented the Distinguished Service Medal by General Pershing at the end of the war. Pershing said of Shannon: "He proved himself a forceful and capable military leader." He was also awarded the Silver Star for "personally reconnoitering in front of his lines under heavy machine gun fire."

After World war I Shannon was promoted to Brigadier General as commander of Pennsylvania's 1st Infantry Brigade. He later commanded the 52nd Cavalry Brigade.

As Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor, 1934

In 1919 he was elected Prothonotary of Lancaster County. From 1930 to 1935 he served as Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. Shannon unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 1934.

Shannon watches two women tack up a campaign poster in Philadelphia on April 30, 1934 during his run for governor of PA.

From 1933 to 1939 Shannon served as Major General and commander of the 28th Infantry Division. He succeeded William G. Price Jr., and was succeeded by Edward Martin. During World War II he was chairman of his local draft board.

Former home of General Edward C. Shannon at 500 Chestnut Street

Shannon lived at 500 Chestnut Street for about 20 years and died at home on May 20, 1946. He is buried at Laurel Hill Memorial Gardens, Columbia.

Associated Press obituary of Shannon

Shannon's gravestone at Laurel Hill

Much of the information in this article was drawn from Shannon's Wikipedia entry.

Columbia Spy is planning to publish more articles on General Shannon.

Columbia trolley starts its rounds

Columbia's new trolley, the "Columbia Trolley Works," has been spotted around town. It started this year's run yesterday, Saturday, May 27.

The cost to ride the trolley is $3 for adults and $1 for children. Season passes are also available.

In December 2016, Columbia Borough Council voted to purchase the trolley, a 1993 model, from Elite Coach of Ephrata for $39,900.

The backstory of the trolley purchase can be found HERE and HERE.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

DESECRATION! Graffiti vandals strike again

Graffiti vandals have struck town once again, this time at the Buddhist temple on South Second Street. Two white marble statues at the front of the temple were spray-painted with black paint with what appears to be the word "IDOL" on each. The face of the Buddha was painted black. The Chua Phap Hoa Temple imported and installed the statues a few years ago.

In a possibly related incident, a train car on the tracks near the intersection of Florence, Barber, and Mill Streets was spray-painted with religious messages, black being the color of choice. The train car is shown in the last photo in this series.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Susquehanna Glass Co. opens new gift shop, The Mayfly, in Columbia

The Mayfly opened Saturday, May 20 at 8 S. Third St. It's not a factory store, although Susquehanna Glass runs the business.

Lot from burned-out Bigler building now for sale for $124,900

For a mere $124,900 this can be yours.

The lot from a recently "demo-ed" building owned by Samuel and Cynthia Bigler is now for sale for an asking price of $124,900, according to a listing on The structure, at 421/423 Avenue G (sometimes referred to as 421 Walnut Street), was formerly a 6-unit apartment building that was condemned in June 2015 and suffered a fire the following September. The building was considered historic, because it was originally a 19th-century livery stable. 

421/423 Avenue G as it appeared after the 2015 fire.

At an August 17, 2016 meeting of the Historic Architectural Review Board, Samuel Bigler laid out costs for a proposed restoration of the building totaling over $400,000. He said the numbers were based on an assessment by a restoration company and by three engineers, two of whom specialize in older buildings. The Biglers sought permission from HARB to instead demolish the building. 

Sam Bigler said he had received $308,000 from his insurance company, because the building was a "total loss," as determined by three engineers.

The Biglers sought permission from HARB to demolish 421/423 Avenue G at its August 17, 2016 meeting.

Bigler said, "We've known for sometime that the building is a total loss."

During the discussion, Cynthia Bigler said, "It sounds like you're saying we didn't really care about this building. This building is one of our larger investments. We've cared about this building for more than 20 years. Anytime we had any issues with anything they were addressed. We have this building, that now we don't have. We had $800 times five per month. That property was up kept."

Permission was granted, and the building was subsequently demolished a few months ago.

The current "for sale" listing is shown below: