Friday, July 31, 2020

Agenda - Columbia Borough Council Work Session - August 6, 2020

Download the 63-page council packet HERE.

Columbia Life Network is hosting School Supply Drive

Columbia Life Network is once again holding our annual School Supply Drive to support students of Columbia Borough School District and Our Lady of the Angels school.

Collection boxes are located at Columbia Life Network, 18 South 4th Street and the Columbia Borough School District Administrative Center, 200 North 5th Street. If any local businesses or organizations would like a collection box please email to coordinate.

Items needed are a bit different than usual so please see the list provided on the flyer below and financial donations are welcome either by mail or in person at Columbia Life Network.

Please share this post and thank you for supporting our students!

Coroner confirms identities of men killed, found in burned truck

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Activist demands $1.5 million in police funds be reallocated to affordable housing and public transportation

Carlos Jimenez, Jr.

Carlos Jimenez, Jr. wants money to be taken from the Columbia Borough Police Department budget and used for other purposes in town. Jimenez, a Columbia resident and vice president of Green Dreamz, a Lancaster County-based civil rights organization, made the statement at Tuesday night's Columbia Borough Council meeting, where other members of the organization were present. Jimenez said the reallocated funds need to be directed towards affordable housing and public transportation.

To justify his demands, Jimenez presented figures from two large nearby cities. According to Jimenez, Washington DC, with a population of 706,000, spends $145,709 per officer per year and experiences 37,720 crimes per year, 82% of which are non-violent. Philadelphia, with a population of over 5 million, spends $122,746 per officer per year, and has a crime rate of 63,597 per year, 77% of which are non-violent. Columbia Borough, however, with a population of only 10,500, spends $164,516 per officer per year, with 195 crimes per year, 90% of which are non-violent.

"How does it make sense that this small town in PA spends more money per officer than the capital of this country when the capital has 6,996 violent crimes a year and we only have 19?" Jimenez asked. He subsequently demanded that $1.5 million from the Columbia Borough Police budget for 2021 be reallocated to affordable housing and public transportation for the community. He called for a decision on the changes by August 28, 2020 and demanded that the borough's plan concerning these demands be released to the public at a council meeting within the next three months.

"We expect the city to take this more seriously then they did the use of force policy which was heavily redacted and is quite honestly a joke," he said. Jimenez, the organizer of several recent protests in town, also accused officers of using unnecessary force and engaging in unjust treatment of people of color. "Change needs to happen and we're planning to see it here."

How much does the police department cost?

According to the Columbia Borough June 2020 Finance Report, the costs are as follows:

At a recent Columbia Borough Council meeting, councilman Howard Stevens stated that the cost of the police department is 107% of the annual municipal property tax revenue.

Columbia Borough mayor defends against release of full police policy; citizens have mixed stances

Police budget demands: Jimenez, who said he was an organizer of the Lancaster protests following the killing of George Floyd, demanded that the borough reallocate $1.5 million away from the police department and into affordable housing and public transport in the 2021 budget. He requested that the borough make a decision on those funds by Aug. 28.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Green Dreamz marches in Columbia for social justice and racial equality

About 15 protesters (plus half a dozen legal observers watching from the sidewalks) marched through Columbia streets to borough hall on Tuesday afternoon in support of social justice and racial equality. With the help of a bullhorn, protesters chanted "question-and-answer" slogans to bring attention to those issues.

The group was part of Green Dreamz, a "BLM, Lancaster rooted organization. Founded off of love and fighting for injustice and Inequality for all POC," according to the group's Facebook page. Many from the group also attended Tuesday night's borough council meeting to voice concerns and make demands.

Earlier in the day, about 30 participants gathered at Makle Park to hear speakers and engage in activities. Several officers on bike patrol kept an eye on the group from behind the former Shawnee Fire Company on Union Street, while two ever-present drones hovered overhead. The drones were apparently directed from a command center at Holy Trinity Cemetery on South 9th Street, where 8 to 10 men in plain clothes scrutinized drone monitors. As the march proceeded, police officers followed the group to borough hall, while at least one officer filmed the participants.

 This man watched the group at Makle Park for most of the afternoon, occasionally engaging in dialogue with attendees. Note the firearm on his right hip. His shirt carries the name "Oath Keepers." According to Wikipedia, "Oath Keepers is an anti-government American far-right organization associated with the militia movement." According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "The Oath Keepers, which claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, is one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today. While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans."

 Shown above is one of two drones that continuously monitored the gathering at Makle Park.

The drones appeared to be controlled from this command center in Holy Trinity Cemetery on South 9th Street. About 8 to 10 men in plain clothes were stationed there.

The man in the dark shirt appears to be controlling a drone while watching a monitor.

A bike patrol from Columbia Borough and another department watched the group at Makle from behind the former Shawnee Fire Company. About half a dozen officers on bikes were present during the day.

 Protestors marched from Makle Park to borough hall at about 6:30 p.m.

 The group temporarily stationed themselves across from the police station on Locust Street before crossing.

The group protested in front of the police station (above) before lying on the sidewalk (shown below) for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in observance of the amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, causing his death.

 Many of the protesters attended the evening's borough council meeting to voice concerns and make demands and left shortly thereafter.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

About Town July 26, 2020

This week's photos of Columbia
(Tap or click on each photo to see a larger, sharper view.)

Flying high once again

Little lost animals at 4th & Locust

Sunflower in an unnamed public alley

Workers installed a window grate at Stover's to help prevent further break-ins at the store. 
The window shown above was broken out on June 21 during the second of two break-ins.

The window next to the entrance door (far right, under the awning) was broken out on June 5, and a grate has been added there, also.

Sign checker checking a sign

A peek inside the market

A stash of bricks further down the alley

Dumpsters in the back yard

Donation bin -
Currently, there are four in town.

Possible destinations

Edible garden, pollinator friendly

Corn in Avenue X

Coming down at . . .

9th & Manor

Fire truck ahead


Troweling at 403 Locust

They're back!

Cleaning 'em up


Closed until further notice

Farther over on 462, there's a plan in effect. 

Visitors at the cul-de-sac

Out-of-control weeds continue to plague the borough.


Hanging out at the Turkey Hill gas pumps
(Chestnut Street)

Sticker shock

Is that a thing?


The mayfly/lighting study continues. 
The bugs seem to prefer the white light, if the piles are any indication.

They don't seem to like the yellow lights as much.
(Let's go with the yellow!)

Checking the results

Up on the rooftop click click click

Dig it!

Beating the heat

Who says unicorns don't exist?

New sign for TES

Where are the awnings?

"Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come."