Monday, November 21, 2011

EASD dedicates new Bear Creek School

In my official capacity as the parent of a student at the new Bear Creek School, I attended the dedication ceremony for the $18 million building held yesterday. Originally scheduled for Oct. 30, it was delayed because of that day's freak snowstorm.

The dedication was a nice event, with all the typical dignitaries speaking and thanking the appropriate individuals.

Two details stood out to me during the ceremony:

  • In 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Education said the Bear Creek School construction project was the cheapest of all school construction in the Commonwealth, according to school Director Terry Seiders, who is chairman of the school board's Facilities Committee. He said the project cost $115 per square foot; in 2009, the average cost for school construction was $183 per square foot.
  • School Board President Jamie Rowley said Bear Creek is the first brand new school, on a new footprint, that the Elizabethtown Area School District has built in 50 years.
Those are notable details, to be sure. 

In the program handed out yesterday, the district noted some other details:

  • The district originally estimated construction at about $23 million, but a favorable construction climate saved nearly $5 million.
  • The project is funded through general obligation bonds. The debt, according to the program, has no impact on the district's tax rate because the district has paid off some debt, the difference between construction estimates and actual costs as noted above and favorable interest rates.
  • The 153,000-square-foot school has 48 classrooms housing fourth, fifth and sixth graders. It has five science labs, nine small group instruction spaces, two art rooms, a full-sized gym and an auxiliary gym, a food court and cafeteria and an outdoor play area.
  • The school has 940 students, 61 teachers, two administrators and 28 support staff.
Bear Creek School certainly is a state-of-the-art facility, with technology such as wireless internet throughout and smart boards in every classroom. I certainly am pleased that my 11-year-old is in a brand new school and can take advantage of new technologies that were only a dream when I was his age.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Borough police celebrate 100 years of service to community

On Nov. 17, 1911, Elizabethtown Borough Council authorized the first municipal police department for the community. Last week, the department celebrated by issuing a new patch to commemorate a century of service to the borough.

After Borough Council's meeting Thursday, Police Chief Jack Mentzer and invited guests, including former police chiefs and mayors, and other invited guests, gathered for a brief ceremony during which the chief unveiled the patch.

Mentzer said the idea for the patch originated with an officer in the department after he took over as police chief about five years ago. When it dawned on him that he might be in charge of the department during its centennial, he agreed to designing a new patch.

Mentzer worked with the local design firm Rice & Rice to develop and design the patch.

In remarks, Mentzer said, "In my 30 years with Elizabethtown Borough and the police department I have had the privilege of working with dozens of people. Many of them are in this room tonight. ... You have laid the foundation of excellence and service that continues within the department today.

Mentzer with Mayor Chuck Mummert
"But let us not forget, the 'thing' that is more important than any ne of us in this room tonight, this 'thing' was an idea that was forged 100 years ago by Borough Council. It promoted the ideals of service to our community and the noble concepts of 'service before self' and 'service with integrity.' This 'thing,' we call the Elizabethtown Police department' will continue to serve the community, long after we in the room are gone. May it always be the epitome of professionalism and an example to all through service and integrity."

Former Mayor Ken Reighard, circa 1970s
Mike Rice, left, of Rice & Rice designed the patch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crime Stoppers offers reward to help nab vandals

Lancaster County Crime Stoppers has offered a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone who is spraying graffiti in Elizabethtown. Borough Police Chief Jack Mentzer issued this flyer earlier today.

Elizabethtown Police are investigating incidents of graffiti at the Elizabethtown Borough Park in the area of the basketball court, the public restroom, the park wall and the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren sign. There have been several other incidents around the Elizabethtown area with the tag, "LOUD" used, and the name Seville spray painted.

If anyone has information regarding these incidents contact Detective John Emrick, Elizabethtown Police, at 717-367-6540, or Lancaster City/County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-322-1913. Callers may remain anonymous and do not have to give their names.

Monday, November 7, 2011

American Legion Donation helps police purchase equipment

For the second time in a little over a year, the American Legion Post No. 329 in Elizabethtown has made a significant contribution to the Elizabethtown Police Department.

Last month, the post donated $5,700 for the department to purchase a thermal imaging device from FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red). This hand-held device allows users to see heat or temperature signatures against a contrasting background. It is the same technology used in helicopters and aircrafts for spotting people and vehicles from the air during hours of darkness.

The police department's primary use of the device will be during hours of darkness and will be extremely helpful in searching for lost people such as children or Alzheimer patients who may wonder away from their care provider. It can also be used to assist in the search for discarded property from a crime scene, such as items from a robbery or burglary. The device does NOT have the capability of seeing heat signatures through walls or other solid objects. The video below is from FLIR's website.

In August 2010, the American Legion donated $5,000 for the police department to purchase a speed trailer. The Legion's latest donation came on the heels of the news that the Elizabethtown Rotary Club had donated funds to set up a program for Elizabethtown High Schools students to anonymously text tips to police.

It's fantastic to see community organizations stepping forward and making significant contributions that enhance public safety in Elizabethtown. These are items that are on the police department's wish list -- but are not priority items when it comes to budgeting. For the American Legion and the Rotary Club to raise the funds is a testament to their concern for the borough -- and I think I can say on behalf of Borough Council as a whole, "Thank you!"

Pictured above are: Front row, from left: Police Chief Jack Mentzer; Commander Jerry Freeman, Sons of the American Legion; Commander Earl Shearer, American Legion Post 329; President Tara Heisey, American Legion Ladies Auxiliary. Back row, from left: Mayor Chuck Mummert, Director Paul Rettew, American Legion Post No. 329); President Chad Enck, American Legion Home Association; Chaplain Jessica Klepping, Ladies Auxiliary; and Second Vice President Mark Klepping, Home Association.