Saturday, February 27, 2010

Portion of train station platform opens

A newly installed portion of the platform at the Elizabethtown Train Station opened this month, serving Amtrak riders who are headed north to Harrisburg.

The platform is now raised off the ground, meaning that riders no longer will have to use a step stool to enter trains. And those using wheelchairs will be able to roll right onto the trains.

Borough Manager Roni Ryan reported that the contractor, Lobar Construction, expects to have a portion of the southbound platform open at the beginning of March.

Until the project is complete, riders access the platforms via temporary stairs that have been built on either side of the tracks. The old stairs in the tunnel are closed and will be renovated and reopened.

On both sides, the platforms will eventually be extended so that entire trains can stop and riders board at any door on the trains.

In the meantime, and especially during the winter, work  has continued on the train station building,  including safe removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials. At a recent Borough Council meeting, council members discussed what kind of use might occur in the station once the project is completed. Council and borough officials are open to creative ideas.

Elizabethtown received $9.3 million in federal stimulus money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the project. Borough officials had been working and planning for the project for more than 10 years.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Residents might be eligible for free weatherization services

Residents of Lancaster County -- for the record, this includes all the municipalities in the Elizabethtown Area School District -- might be eligible for free weather proofing of their homes or apartments.

The Housing Development Corp. in Lancaster (full disclosure: I am the marketing and public relations manager for HDC) has held the state contract to provide weatherization services in the county (as well as in Lebanon and Chester counties) since 1976. This year, HDC is the recipient of $8.75 million in federal stimulus money through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to help even more people.

The weatherization program is designed to make homes more energy efficient by adding insulation, sealing drafty windows and making other changes that keep people warmer while reducing their energy costs. The work could reduce energy bills by as much as 30 percent -- and that's significant now that electric rates have increased dramatically.

The weatherization assistance program is entirely free to people who qualify.

The program assists people whose household income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The chart below shows the various income eligibility levels depending on how many people are living in the household:

1 person: $21,660 5 persons: $51,580
2 persons: $29,140 6 persons: $59,060
3 persons: $36,620 7 persons: $66,540
4 persons: $44,100 8 persons: $74,020
(Each additional person: $7,480)

Call 800-732-3554 for a FREE consultation about weatherizing your home.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New weekly newspaper opens in E-town

A new weekly newspaper called The Elizabethtown Advocate has opened its doors and has begun covering local news and sports.

Dan Robrish, a veteran of The Associated Press in Philadelphia, left his job there and began publishing the independent weekly paper three weeks ago. In talking with him after tonight's Borough Council meeting, he said that he has always had a goal and a desire to own and operate his own newspaper, and after working the night shift for years in Philadelphia -- a shift that Dan said is frequently filled with depressing news -- he decided to forge ahead with his plan.

So far, the paper has been six pages of solid local news that one would expect in a weekly newspaper, including great photos of local sports, well written news coverage of this month's snow storms and a locally written editorial each week. I was pleased to see a letter to the editor in this week's edition, an indication that people are picking up copies, subscribing and reading.

I was pleased to see in last week's paper some photos from my former colleague Anne Deimler, whom I worked with at the Hershey Chronicle in the late '90s. Readers of the former Elizabethtown Chronicle (disclosure: I was the editor of the E-town Chronicle about 10 years ago) will recognize the byline of Chris McCarthy, the editor when the Chronicle was closed last year, who Dan said will be covering some high school sports.

All of us on Borough Council are thrilled to have a locally published newspaper once again. This development won't impact Chronicling Elizabethtown because I think this blog will continue to fulfill a need in the community to spread the word about borough news.

Especially during the recent snowstorms, I can use the blog to communicate important announcements quickly so please continue check here regularly.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Trash collection cancelled until next week

The Feb. 10 blizzard that walloped Central Pennsylvania has caused Elizabethtown's waste hauler to cancel pick up of trash, including those that were scheduled for today.

And officially, the borough lifted the snow emergency at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Penn Waste will collect double amounts of trash on the regular pick-up days during next week's collection, Feb. 17 to 19. The woody waste collection scheduled for today has been rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20. 

Please check the Penn Waste website for more information. 

As one borough councilman, let me express my thanks to residents for their cooperation and patience during this weather event.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Borough declares snow emergency

Elizabethtown Borough has declared a snow emergency thanks to the second major snowstorm to hit south central Pennsylvania in less than a week.

The snow emergency is in effect until further notice. The borough's ordinance outlines snow emergency routes as follows:

  • The entire lengths of East and West High Street
  • The entire lengths of South and North Market Street
  • College Avenue from Market Street to Spruce Street
  • Spruce Street from College Avenue to Willow Street
  • Willow Street from Spruce Street to Market Street

Parking is prohibited on the snow emergency route to assist with snow plowing and to keep the streets open for traffic. Also, vehicles driving on the route are required to be equipped with snow tires or chains.

All borough residents were scheduled to receive a recorded phone call this evening with a thorough explanation of the emergency and the parking restrictions. Borough staff also were calling those residents who live on the snow emergency route specifically to notify them separately.  

In addition, Wednesday trash collection has been rescheduled for Saturday. 

Beginning at noon today, the police department has begun contacting residents who have not moved their cars since the last storm, notifying them of the 72 hour on-street parking restrictions and requiring them to move their vehicles.

A snowstorm Friday into Saturday dumped nearly 20 inches of snow on Elizabethtown. The latest forecast from the National Weather Service show tonight's storm lasting until tomorrow evening, with predictions of 10 inches to 18 inches.