Saturday, February 29, 2020

'Norfolk Southern doesn’t like trails': Railroad company concerns could halt trail extension

A $50,000 study continues to examine whether a five-mile trail can be built between Columbia and Washington Boro to connect two existing recreation paths in western Lancaster County.

But officials at railroad company Norfolk Southern said they already have the answer, and it's time to put on the brakes.

"Norfolk Southern has advised that this project is not feasible due to safety and liability reasons," railroad spokeswoman Rachel McDonnell Bradshaw said.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Columbia council makes interim borough manager changes official, hires new permanent manager amid more concerns

On Tuesday, the board ratified its decision to terminate former interim manager Candice L. Johnson's contract effective Feb. 19. It also voted to appoint borough police Chief Jack Brommer to replace Johnson.

The board also unanimously approved hiring Mark Stivers as borough manager at salary of $90,000. His tentative first day is March 30.

The personnel moves involving Johnson and Brommer were decided at an executive session held on Feb. 18. The meeting was attended by all seven council members and labor attorney Michael McAuliffe Miller.


Rachael Kedney resigns from Columbia Borough School Board

Rachael Smith Kedney, who has resigned, was sworn in as Columbia Borough School Board director by District Magistrate Miles Bixler at the April 6, 2017 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Rachael Smith Kedney resigned from the Columbia Borough School Board, effective February 21, 2020, it was announced at this evening's school board meeting. Kedney was not present at the meeting.

She was sworn in as school board director on April 6, 2017, when she filled the seat vacated by former director Iris Garrido, who resigned in March 2017. Interviews for a replacement will be held March 19, 2020. No other details are available at this time.

Linking trails makes dollars and sense for Lancaster County

The 14-mile Northwest Lancaster County River Trail (which includes Marietta and Columbia) and the 5-mile Enola Low Grade Rail Trail in lower Manor Township have drawn praise over the past half-decade

But they are isolated from each other, and linking the two river trails will not be easy.

Two options, each with pros and cons, are under consideration in Manor Township.

— A mostly level route from Columbia to Turkey Point would closely follow the Susquehanna River between Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and Route 441 for 5 miles. It would require permission from the railroad, the likely construction of a fence and the OK of private landowners along the route.

— The second route is 2 miles longer and “would mostly follow an existing PPL power line through Columbia and up-and-down hills through farmland,” Crable wrote. It would feature an elevation gain of 1,260 feet, perhaps limiting its appeal to casual walkers and bikers.


Theft at Burning Bridge Antiques - Can you identify the man in the photos?

Police are investigating a theft that occurred on 1/10/20 at approximately 2:40 pm at the Burning Bridge Antiques, 304 Walnut St., Columbia, PA. The pictured suspect stole an item from one of the stands. 

If you can identify the male please contact the Columbia Borough Police at (717)684-7735 or text LANCS to 847411.  
Date:  Friday, January 10, 2020 
Reference ID:  CB-20-00204 
Case Status: Current 
Case Type: Criminal 
Source:  Columbia Borough Police Department

Sourced via CRIMEWATCH®

Pa. lawmakers black out details of why they spent tax dollars, claiming ‘legislative privilege’

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania legislature is attempting to shield records showing why it spends some of the roughly $360 million in taxpayer money it receives each year, citing an obscure protection it claims gives lawmakers immunity from total transparency.

The House and Senate have turned over thousands of pages of financial records in response to recent public records requests from The Caucus and Spotlight PA. But many contained vague descriptions of expenses or had redactions that made it impossible to see their purpose.

The redactions primarily concealed who legislators were meeting with, and why.

In defending their decision to keep the information secret, legislative officials cited an obscure clause in the state Constitution that they claim protects lawmakers' ability to speak and debate without retribution — a right they call the "legislative privilege."

But good-government advocates countered that such an interpretation warped the intent of the speech and debate clause, which, they said, was meant to allow lawmakers to speak freely in official proceedings.


Students, grades 7 to 12 can win prizes just by showing up and engaging with potential employers at the Career Fair Thursday night (Feb. 27)

How do you win?

All you need to do is: 

1. Show Up (get a ticket) 

2. Bring adult friends (each friend is worth a ticket) 

3. Engage with employers (get a ticket)

That's pretty much it: show up, bring friends and be engaging! 

The winner of these awesome prizes shown will be drawn next day at school!

Full information and details about the prizes will be at the Career Fair. 

When is the career fair you ask?

When: Thursday, February 27, 2020

Where: Columbia High Cafeteria and Gymnasium

Time: Dinner from 5 to 6pm, Career Fair 6 to 8pm

Who: Students Grades 7 to 12 – Friends, Parents and Family

Dinner: Pork BBQ, Roasted Potatoes, Peach Cobbler & Assorted Cakes

No Need to Register, this event is FREE!

Meet employers that want to hire immediately! 

Columbia Unified bocce continues to roll, advances to state championships

"There's drama," said Columbia athletic director Rob Kedney, "every time somebody lets that ball go."
At the high point of the drama, Columbia's Unified team, consisting of a proportional number of athletes (teammates with intellectual disabilities) and partners (teammates without), scored final-frame points to defeat a pair of Dallastown teams, 8-4 in the semifinals and 3-2 in the championship game, to clinch the regional title. It advances the Crimson Tide, along with 14 other regional champions, to the Special Olympics Pennsylvania/PIAA State Championships scheduled for March 18-19 at Hershey's Giant Center.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A few quick highlights from Tuesday's borough council meeting

Councilwoman Pam Williams once again "attended" the meeting via phone, as she has done regularly since the January 14, 2020 meeting.

Early in the meeting, it became apparent that the livestream would be a problem. The picture was tilted about 90 degrees from horizontal, and the sound quality was poor, according to online comments. The borough manager typically operates the phone providing the livestream. However, Interim Borough Manager Candie Johnson's contract ended last week and she was therefore unavailable.

Council unanimously voted in Mark Stivers as Columbia's new borough manager, with a start date to be determined, but Council President Heather Zink said he could possibly start on March 30. Stivers will receive an annual salary of $90,000. (By comparison, former borough manager Rebecca Denlinger started at $95,000 when she took the reins on January 1, 2018.) In the meantime, Columbia Borough Police Chief Jack Brommer will serve as interim, overseeing office staff and day-to-day operations.

The controversy surrounding Johnson's abrupt exit evaporated quickly when Zink, solicitor Evan Gabel, and Mayor Lutz described council's decisions last week essentially as administrative actions. The issue remains confidential since it relates to personnel. Resident Frank Doutrich was adamant about learning the terms of the contract, however, and offered any member of council $100 if he or she would read the contract aloud at the meeting. None of the councillors took him up on the offer.

It was announced that the balance of the $250,000 from the borough's Revolving Loan Fund was paid off recently. The money has been returned to the general fund and will show up on the February financial statement, according to Zink. Councilman Eric Kauffman read a prepared statement about the benefits purportedly achieved through the loan. Kauffman suggested the loan spurred multi-million dollar investments in the borough but gave little or no substantive evidence for his claim.

And finally, we learned there's an old adage that says: "Columbians love their town but hate each other."

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

In light of recent tragedies, Fire Chiefs Assoc., other groups to meet on fire safety education

The video report is HERE.

Lancaster County police departments cite costs as hurdle to body cameras, but would like them

Jack Brommer, Columbia's chief, also said its cars have cameras and the topic of body cameras has been discussed.


Proposed trail extension draws crowd of supporters, naysayers in Manor Township

The cost to create the 5-mile trail has not yet been determined, but Strohecker guessed it could cost upward of $10 million, a cost township officials can't afford on their own. He said grant dollars to cover project costs will be aggressively pursued.

"We know this is going to be difficult," Strohecker said.

That's true, in part, because trail construction would require easements through privately owned properties, he said. Much of that property, he said, is owned by Norfolk Southern.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

About Town 2/23/20

This week's photos of Columbia

Leftward wind

 Served, serving

 100 block of Avenue H

 Spring is springing.

 Big four-footed ball at Mount Bethel

 They seem to be complaining about the guy in the middle.


 One (or two) stop shop: checkup, prescription, lottery tickets

Everyone wants to hit it.

 Hung up

Hung up


 The engraver chose an unusual font.

 And just in case you don't think the place is haunted...


 The old stovepipe behind Colonial Metals, now CMX

 FedEx: Not just for deliveries anymore

 Metal detecting in Locust Street park

 Big Brother is watching. (So is Little Brother.)

 Wooden woodpecker

 An alleged drunk driver smashed into several cars at AAG Auto Sales this week.

 This stone wall at Lincoln Highway & Locust Grove Road was reportedly damaged the same night.

 85 years ago

 New flashing

 Tis the season for flying horses.


But this bird is grounded.

 It works this way, too.

 Giant Jesus

 $2 million project progressing 

 As seen from the 3rd Street side

 How to mark your property line

 Riding the rails

 Stop, whispered softly

 Lookin' good!

What happened to the pop-up blocker? 

 Some call this breakfast.

 Abandoned cart

 Bag of Ephram Blank

 Set of vintage wheels

 Bobbleheads bobbling

 Cryptic numbers on the bridge

 Something new's been added.

 Nest-building time