Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Elizabethtown Events calendar

After talking to someone after my son's baseball game yesterday afternoon, I realized that some people are searching for Chronicling Elizabethtown in search of dates and times of events in the community. So I've created an Elizabethtown Events calendar and plugged in borough-related meetings. I've embedded it below.

Obviously, the townships and the Elizabethtown Area School District all have have standing public meetings that can be incorporated -- and I'll be happy to add them. I'd be happy to add any other events, from pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners to car washes and more formal events. I just need to know the details so I can post them here -- please just send them my way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Power to the people who vote

Imagine a community of roughly 11,000 that has a local government consisting of six elected officials who make all the decisions about taxes that pay for police, roads, parks and more. And then imagine that three of those officials all were up for reelection, without oppostition.

Now, take this leap with me: Imagine that all three of those incumbent members of Elizabethtown Borough Council were reelected in the primary election by a total of 359 votes.

Yes, out of 11,000 people in Elizabethtown, a sheer 359 voted for half of Borough Council in yesterday's primary election. According to unofficial results posted on the Lancaster County Board of Elections' website, I received 94 votes from approximately 1,500 eligible voters in Ward 2. Tom Shaud from Ward 1 received 91 votes, and Phil Clark in Ward 3 got 174.

Earlier this spring, the Elizabethtown Advocate did a story about unopposed candidates and later editorialized about the lack of opposition. The paper made excellent, salient points about the issue. If this year's primary is any indication, the lack of interest in local government now extends to those who vote.

And indeed, it is power to the people who vote.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's done! E-town's Amtrak station dedicated

 After at least 13 years of debate, discussion, design, redesign and more discussion and debate, the Elizabethtown Train Station was rededicated Wednesday, May 5.

The station received a $9.3 million facelift thanks to funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and planning from borough officials since the late 1990s.

Because the station had already been designed, it was considered "shovel ready" when President Barack Obama signed ARRA, commonly known as the federal stimulus.

Wednesday's ribbon cutting brought borough officials, including all members of Elizabethtown Borough Council, a deputy secretary from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, an executive from Amtrak and the regional director for the Federal Transit Administration, along with dozens of community members.

All gave high praise for the station, which now services 95,000 trips compared with 37,000 trips in the early 2000s.

The weather on Wednesday did not cooperate for an outdoor ceremony, but the driving rain did allow for an adequate demonstration of how the awnings over the platform do protect passengers waiting for trains to arrive.

Before the event started, a renovated historic Pullman train pulled into the station, allowing those gathered to peer into the windows.

After the train pulled out, everyone moved inside the old train station, where the waiting room has been renovated to a period look. In time, train riders will be able to purchase tickets from two ticket kiosks in the station. The station will also receive  an LED message board that will show how many minutes a train is from arriving, allowing riders to wait inside in cold or inclement weather until literally the last minute before a train arrives. Elizabethtown will be the first stop along the route from Philadelphia to Harrisburg that will have the message board. 

The station is truly a gem for  our community and will be a huge boost in the arm for economic development for Elizabethtown. Much credit goes to members of Borough Council from the last 15 years whose leadership helped make the station a reality. In addition, Borough Manager Roni Ryan oversaw the construction that started 1.5 years ago -- right after she was promoted to the job upon the retirement of long time Borough Manger Pete Whipple.

In many people's eyes, Whipple is the real leader of the project, who continued to make it a priority despite many challenges and setbacks. It was through his efforts working with PennDOT that the borough was able to secure the stimulus funding.

Continue to scroll down to see other photos from the ceremony.

Mayor Chuck Mummert checks out the Pullman train.

Borough Council President Phil Clark welcomes the crowd.

A poster showing the renovated station.

Clark with all who played a part in making the station a reality.

Toby Fauvre, PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Local and Area Transportation

Amtrak Vice President Drew Galloway

Letitia Thompson, regional administrator for the Federal Transit Administration