Monday, December 20, 2010

PennDOT reviews bids for West College Avenue extension

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is reviewing bids for the construction of West College Avenue, and if PennDOT approves the low bid Elizabethtown Borough Council may vote and approve it as early as next month. If things go according to plan, the borough is anticipating that construction will start in March and will last for a year and a half.

While it has been an inconvenience for traffic, the delay in the project came after the borough had to do further environmental studies of underground storage tanks on the property at the old service station.

Many thanks go to Mars Inc. for its community support that has allowed traffic to skirt across its private property throughout the project.  Once completed, traffic will have a straight shot past the chocolate plant, across the creek to Market Street.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Council adopts 2011 budget with a tax increase

After holding the line for 2010, Elizabethtown Borough Council adopted the borough's 2011 budget Dec. 16 with a tax increase of eight-tenths of a mill, bringing the total rate to 5 mills.

That means the average property owner with an assessed value of $150,000 will see  $120 increase in taxes for 2011.

The vote was 6-0 in favor of spending plan, but Councilman Tom Shaud took a long pause before casting his roll call vote to say that the increase will have a significant impact on him as a blue-collar worker. But, he said, the work of the borough must continue. Councilman Neil Ketchum said at the end of the meeting that in his year on Borough Council the budget vote was his most difficult decision.

The tax increase was necessary as the borough faced a deficit of $340,000 thanks to revenue projections for the earned income tax that are lower than in years past. The current economy and high unemployment rate contribute to lower collections in the tax.

I personally did receive correspondence from some residents who said the borough needs to maintain its current level of service while also not increasing taxes. Only two people attended Thursday's council meeting, and just one spoke out against the tax increase.

It's worth noting again that the 2011 budget does not include nearly $15 million in projects  funded through a number of grants that Elizabethtown has been fortunate to receive. Throughout 2011, residents will see a number of these projects start or be completed, all with little or no impact on municipal budgets.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chronicling Elizabethtown unveils new design

It might have come as a shock when you logged on, but you can see that Chronicling Elizabethtown has a new design. Thanks to the templates from Blogger, I found something that I think cleans up the design, makes it more current. At its heart, though, it's still the same blog presenting the same information about Elizabethtown.

I have to credit the staff at Elizabethtown Borough's office for taking and background photo and providing it for me to use. The view is looking south on Market Street from the steeple of the Elizabethtown First Church of God. Frankly, it's one of the best views of town I've seen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Official domain name:

You can now reach Chronicling Elizabethtown directly with our own domain name: This means our technical difficulties are over.

Technical difficulties

Last night, you might have tried to read the post about the suspicious package and the link wasn't working. My apologies. I bought the domain name and was trying to get that set up and experienced technical difficulties. We're back for now, but not on the new domain name yet. I'll post here when that is live and ready to go.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Suspicious package destroyed at Elizabethtown Public Library

Emergency responders destroyed a suspicious package at the rear of the Elizabethtown Public Library late Saturday afternoon.

The Elizabethtown Police Department received a call about the package at about 4 p.m. I had taken my son to the library at about 4:15 to find a book and to pick up one reserved for my wife when we noticed a police car blocking access to the parking lot at the rear of the library. Yellow police tape blocked the back entrance to the building.

No one stopped us from getting in through the front door, and we headed to the second floor for my son to find a book. In less than 5 minutes, a librarian approached us and told us that we had to evacuate the building. On the sidewalk out front, the scuttlebutt was something about a suspicious package. By the time my son and I walked to the municipal parking lot in the back, the borough's fire siren was sounding to summon the Elizabethtown Fire Department, and its officer in charge was on the scene.

Police Chief Jack Mentzer later confirmed that police and library staff could not confirm that the package was not legitimate and evacuated the library and the buildings adjacent to that location. Officers then called in a bomb dog and the Pennsylvania State Police bomb squad. The dog did not detect traditional explosives from the package.

State police X-rayed the package and recommended that it be exploded in place by were found to included clothing and magazines.

I think we've all heard stories about suspicious packages that have met a similar fate, only to find the contents innocuous. But in the age when the Transportation Safety Administration will frisk your grandma when she flies to Omaha, it's clear that being cautious is a necessity.