Monday, June 21, 2010

Police officers receive Distinguished Unit Citation

Seven Elizabethtown police officers received a Distinguished Unit Citation for their work during a standoff in May in which a man barricaded himself in his Park Street home for four hours. Matthew Shull faces numerous charges in connection with the alleged incident.

Those receiving the honor were Lt. Joseph Ditzler, Corporal Gordon Berlin, Detective Clair Martin, Officer Timothy Wheal, Officer Michael Lyons, Officer Matthew Shuey and Officer Luann Pearson.

In a brief presentation, Mayor Chuck Mummert called the units efforts "the epitome of teamwork." He said all of them worked together to secure the area in the 300 block of Park Street and evacuate nearby residents after Officer Lysons witnessed Shull allegedly fire a 9mm handgun inside the home.

Officers called for assistance from the Lancaster County Special Emergency Response Team. Police Chief Jack Mentzer said the chief of the SERT team was thoroughly impressed with the Elizabethtown officers' efforts to gather intelligence throughout the incident. The officers were able to position themselves in ideal locations to view the scene and provide the SERT team with details to make their job easier. Detective Martin, who is a certified hostage negotiator, tapped those skills during the event.

"The officers did an outstanding job," Mentzer said.

He also noted that incidents such as this fortunately don't occur often in Elizabethtown, and "we try our darndest to make sure they don't."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Braves win Elizabethtown Boys Club Minor League championship

The Braves won the Elizabethtown Boys Club Minor League championship 4-3 in a come-from-behind win tonight at Wenger Field. They were down 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning with two outs when several players came up with clutch hits to bring in three runs and pull ahead.

Full disclosure: My son played for the Braves. And admittedly, I probably wouldn't be writing about this if he would not have been in the championship because I wouldn't have a vested interest. That said, the title of my blog is Chronicling Elizabethtown, and that's what I'm doing.

The season was a great one for the Braves. They only lost one game and tied one. But beyond records, all of us parents in the stands saw marked improvement with every player. My son was missing balls on the tee at the beginning of the season and in the last games of the regular season was hitting off the pitcher -- and even hit a double and a single in one game with multiple RBI. Some of the players who came up with clutch hits tonight were younger players and not at the top of the batting order.

And that's what it's all about -- watching youngsters improve their skills and learn sportsmanship. I love to see each of them play so earnestly as they learn the fundamentals. And it's great to see pitchers walk to first base to shake the hand of a batter who was hit by a pitch.

Credit goes to a great coaching staff led by Tim Gartley, whose calm demeanor and patience with the kids paid off. All the coaches took time to work with the kids and spend time with them one on one to practice if necessary.

I do want to make one comment: During the ceremony where players were presented with their medals, parents of Braves players, coaches and the players themselves cheered for the losing team as the coach hung medals around each player's neck. As one of the Braves parents said, "We wooed for all of them." And they did.

Given this was the championship, and given that these are 7- to 9-year-old kids who need to learn sportsmanship, it meant as much to have my son learning from this example as it was to have a coach spend extra time with him to improve his fundamentals.

Most of all, I congratulate the players for their hard work and dedication to learning America's pastime and continuing it for another generation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Discussion starts about parking at the train station

A number of residents showed up at tonight's Borough Council meeting to discuss parking at the Elizabethtown Train Station, especially since the parking lot is torn apart at the moment so it can be paved as part of the $9 million in renovations.

Specifically, they wanted to address rumors that Borough Council was going to vote tonight to assess a fee for parking.

For the record, the topic was not on the agenda. We have not decided to to assess a fee or not, although we have had informal discussions and are investigating the pros and cons of parking fees or no parking fees.

Tonight, six or seven people -- all of whom ride the train from Elizabethtown and mostly work in Harrisburg, from what I gathered -- addressed Borough Council. Some were borough residents, and one each from Mount Joy Township and West Donegal Township.

The consensus from the comments was that "anything beyond a nominal charge would be too much," in the words of borough resident Ben Donahower.

To everyone's credit, though, they want to be a part of the conversation and come up with a solution. That is great because it is not often that Borough Council has residents request to be part of the solution from the start. So many times, residents come to complain -- and it's refreshing to know that there's a group that wants to participate.

With that in mind, let me lay out the thoughts that came up this evening and that Borough Council has discussed. Then, let's start the conversation here in the comments. Before I dive into this, let me remind everyone that I moderate the comments because I get pornographic spam. I have pledged to post comments that are critical of me, the borough and Borough Council.

That said, I know this can potentially be an emotional issue for some, so I ask that we all treat each other with respect. This is my blog, and I reserve the right to reject and/or edit any comments that are obscene, vulgar, offensive or personal attacks.

Here, then, are issues about parking fees at the Elizabethtown Train Station:
  • Tenants from the apartment building across the street use the train station parking lot -- despite having parking behind their building. Scott Little, a train rider from Mount Joy Township, referenced this in his comments, and it's something Borough Council has discussed. By requiring payment for parking, it would keep those residents from using the lot as their personal space.
  • Yes, taxpayers are footing the bill for the train station via the federal stimulus funding -- but that's only for the construction. What happens in five or 10 years when an elevator breaks down, the pavement cracks, landscaping needs to be replanted or replaced? Shouldn't the borough have a source of funding, via parking fees, to help alleviate the maintenance costs?
  • Donahower mentioned "anything beyond a nominal charge would be too much." What is a nominal charge? He said it costs $120 to ride the train to Harrisburg each month and $130 to park in downtown Harrisburg (wow! I was paying $110 10 years ago). So if we charged more than the $10 difference, economics might cause people to rethink the train ride. But what about the costs of gas and wear and tear on one's car? And of course there are things you can't tie to money: the stress of driving in Harrisburg rush-hour traffic, the ability to nap, read a book or the newspaper.
  • One resident from West Donegal Township said if the borough charges for parking, many riders might head to Middletown to catch the train. Parking is free there, and the train ticket to Harrisburg cheaper. Borough Council knows this. Let's talk about it.
  • How do we assess fees for daily commuters vs. people who might spend the weekend in Philadelphia or take the train on a week long vacation?
  • There are borough residents who never ride the train and never will. Is it fair for them to pay taxes for maintenance at the train station?
Borough Council is exploring all of these issues, and we want feedback from everyone. What haven't we thought about? What solution do you have?

Let's talk about it here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Borough has an online solution to reporting problems with street lights

If you live in Elizabethtown, you now now have an easy and convenient way to report problems with streetlights online.

By simply following the link, type in the grid number, which is the number on the two metal labels on every utility pole. If you don't know the number, simply click on the Unknown Grid Number button, which will take you to a screen where you can type in Elizabethtown's ZIP code (17022).

This brings you to a screen where you can type in your address. A Google map of the area appears with icons showing the locations of the streetlights in that area of town. You just click on the light that has an issue and follow the on-screen menus to report it.

I recently reported a problem with a light outside my house. I found the system to work very easily.  If you're at all familiar with using online tools, it will be a cinch for you.