Friday, December 20, 2013

Let E-town Ring expands to welcome 2014

The downtown organization Market Street Improving Business has taken over Let E-town Ring, the local New Year's Eve celebration. MSIB has expanded the event to ring in the New Year at midnight rather than link it to the time in Letterkenny, Ireland, which is E-town's sister city. Come out for what promises to be a great evening. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Meade Bierly ends 40-year stint as Elizabethtown Borough Councilman

Meade Bierly and his wife, Melissa, at a reception in November to recognize
Bierly's retirement from Elizabethtown Borough Council after 40 years.
Council President J. Neil Ketchum and other local officials and community
membes attended the event.
Tomorrow night, a page in Elizabethtown’s history will come to a close. Borough Councilman Meade Bierly will retire after 40 years.

That is, at a minimum, 960 regular Borough Council meetings over the years, a number that doesn’t take into account special meetings and other boards, authorities and organizations on which Meade has served in his capacity as an elected official.

Nor does it take into account the hours spent during and preparing for the meetings.

In today’s world, it is unheard of for people to stay in jobs for more than a few years, let alone deciding to hold elected office.

Bierly was appointed to Borough Council in January 1973 to fill an unexpired term and was elected to a full four-year term in 1974. In the program for a reception held his honor last month, it says that he credits his dad, Meade S. Bierly, and the late Vincent O'Connor, a former mayor and councilman, for instilling a philosophy of giving back to the community. At the reception, Bierly said public service is a way to give back "for the space you take up." 

During his four decades on council, the list of accomplishments is impressive:

  • Bierly has been part of the hiring process for every current borough employee.
  • In 1976, he was instrumental in the partnership with the Elizabethtown Area School District that led to the formation of Greater Elizabethtown Area Recreation & Community Services (GEARS) and the subsequent creation of the Poplar Street Park and the Fun Fort.
  • He has overseen major projects such as the construction of the borough offices and police department on Hanover Street in 1980 and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant in 1978 and 2002.
  • Most recently, his insight was helpful in the construction of Bainbridge Street at the Dove Chocolate plant and with the renovations of the Amtrak station.
As might be expected, Bierly didn't always agree with his fellow councilmen, sometimes vociferously disagreeing. But he never encountered anyone on council who wasn't doing what he or she thought was in the best interest of Elizabethtown.

Back in the late 1990s, I had the pleasure of covering Borough Council as the editor of the former Elizabethtown Chronicle. I could tell then that Meade was someone who cared deeply for the borough, and I am pleased that I have been able to work with him on the other side of the table. I wholeheartedly agree with him that public service is one of the best ways to give back to your community.

Speaking as a former newspaper editor and reporter, and now as a member of Borough Council, I have one question to ask of Meade: What are you going to do with your Thursday nights now? Enjoy your retirement!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Police arrest three E-town men for stealing more than $10K in valuables from vehicles

Elizabethtown police arrested three local residents on Dec. 2 after stopping a vehicle in the first block of West Bainbridge Street. The vehicle was stopped based on a description broadcast by Susquehanna Regional Police Department for a suspicious vehicle and its occupants who were trying to enter vehicles.

Police arrested Clifford Hostetter, 26; Jeremy Wise, 20; and Adam Zink, 19, all of Elizabethtown, after obtaining information during the traffic stop and a subsequent investigation that is ongoing. They were charged with multiple counts of burglary and theft that ocurred in Elizabethtown. They were arraigned in front of District Justice Jayne Duncan and in lieu of $25,000 cash bail each were committed to Lancaster County Prison.

Police said the investigation also revealed a widespread pattern of thefts from vehicles by Hostetter, Wise and Zink since sometime in August.This resulted in the recovery of over 300 hundred stolen items from the homes of the defendants, with an estimated value of over $10,000. Elizabethtown police have contacted police departments elsewhere in Lancaster County, as well as Dauphin and Lebanon counties, to determine additional victims and to attempt to return the property.

Additional charges are expected. The investigation is ongoing. Officer Greg Sheffer is the point of contact for inquiries regarding this investigation, he can be reached at 367-6540 Ext. 246.

Anyone who had items stolen from their vehicle in the Borough of Elizabethtown is asked to contact Officer Sheffer or email the Elizabethtown Police Department at elizabethtownadmin(at)police(dot)co(dot)lancaster(dot)pa(dot)us.

Victims who have had items stolen from vehicles who reside outside of Elizabethtown should contact their local police department to follow up on this investigation.

The investigation revealed that nearly all of the thefts from vehicles were done from unlocked vehicles. Borough Police Chief strongly advised people not to keep valuables in sight in their vehicles and to lock them.

Breaking into vehicles "is a crime of opportunity" and those committing the crime are "looking for the easiest target."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Getting ready for holiday festivities

Elizabethtown is getting ready for holiday festivities, including the holiday parade at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14.

This year's theme is "The Twelve Days of Christmas." And if you've been around E-town for the parade, you know it's one of the largest community events. Every year, thousands of people jam the downtown to see Santa Claus, floats, bands, fire trucks and an array of organizations.

Last year, the borough changed the parade to a Saturday evening instead of a Friday, and by all accounts (at least from what my colleagues on Borough Council and the staff at the borough have said), it was a great success.

This year, the downtown organization Market Street Improving Business is shadowing the borough staff since MSIB will take over organizing and running the parade in the future.

In fact, MSIB has taken over the upcoming New Year's Eve celebration "Let E-town Ring." According to discussions at Borough Council earlier this year, MSIB President Andrew Schoenberger said the event would be expanded to include the Dove Promise Drop at midnight EST rather than at 7 p.m. to match the time of Elizabethtown's sister city Letterkenny in Ireland (as has been the tradition for the event). This year will also include fireworks, which were featured for the first time at last year's event.

It is great that a community organization like MSIB is taking on these events. When the Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce decided to hand over the events to the borough to run last year, we were looking for community groups that would be interested in taking them over. I am pleased that MSIB has stepped up because it means they are taking ownership of them, which I hope will ensure they will be successful well into the future. The parade and "Let E-town Ring" are established events, and I think new people with new ideas can make them even better.

So if you're around for the holidays, I encourage you to support the community -- and downtown Elizabethtown -- and come out for these great events.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review Elizabethtown Community Park on mobile app

If you have a smart phone or a tablet, download the app ParksNReviews. It's a nifty little program that uses your device's GPS to help locate parks when you're out and about. You can also post reviews of the parks.

As an elected official for Elizabethtown and a community booster, I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to post a 5-star review for Elizabethtown Community Park. We are fortunate to have such a great resource in the borough, with the Fun Fort, picnic pavilions, basketball courts and a softball field.

If you have any doubt about how much people use the park, just head down to the softball field between, say, April and November. In fact, the field was the subject of a lengthy discussion at Borough Council's meeting in August because it needs serious maintenance.

And that's not to mention all of the use the basketball court gets or all of the kids who have grown up playing at the Fun Fort. I suppose you could say the second generation of kids is now playing at the Fun Fort.

So take a moment to download the app and review our great community resource!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ridership at Elizabethtown Train Station jumps nearly 10 percent

Thanks to a post on the Elizabethtown Advocate's Facebook page yesterday, I learned that ridership at the Elizabethtown Train Station has jumped nearly 10 percent for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2013.

Here's what Dan Robrish, the Advocate's editor and publisher, posted:

Holy Toledo! Amtrak released ridership figures today -- for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, there were 123,153 passengers boarding and leaving trains at Elizabethtown. That's a 9.8 percent increase over the previous year and puts Elizabethtown ahead of the busiest Amtrak stations in 25 states -- including Toledo, Ohio, which had 68,463.

By contrast, Pittsburgh has 135,137, Robrish reported. Paoli, which is a stop on the Keystone Line between here and Philadelphia, has 175,299.

The numbers jibe with the growth in ridership at the train station over the past 10 to 15 years. Even during construction of the new facility, we on Elizabethtown Borough Council received reports that ridership jumped considerably.

This news comes on the heels of the construction of overflow parking at the end of Wilson Avenue where the train station is located. That lot was finished during the summer, bringing the entire train station project to completion. The project was funded through a $9.3 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Scenes from the 40th annual Elizabethtown Fair

The 40th annual Elizabethtown Fair opened this evening with a gorgeous night. Temperatures were in the 70s, and what seemed like the threat of precipitation held off. Maybe that's why the crowds were a little thin when my sons and I arrived just before 7:00. By the time we left at about 8:20, I'd say the crowds were getting back to "normal" levels for such a great evening.

Youngsters were showing hogs this evening.

Mayor Chuck Mummert spends nearly the whole week at the fair.

Some things never change: The crowds were thin, but my sons and I still waited 20 
minutes for a milkshake from the Elizabethtown Grange. It was well worth the wait.

The food court was busy.

The moon, as if on cue, made its appearance over the Ferris wheel.

As we left after 8:00, the midway was getting busy.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why I think extending Carey Lane is a good idea

If you've driven to the south side of the Elizabethtown area -- Giant, Kmart, Weis -- you've probably seen the construction at the former Hiestand Flooring. This is at the corner of Carey Lane and South Market Street, across from McDonald's and Union Community Bank.

Members First Credit Union is building a new branch there, which will be a big improvement over how that corner has looked in recent years.

The development gives the borough an opportunity to create a new access point from South Mount Joy Street. Members First is giving the right of way to the borough to allow the street to continue toward South Mount Joy. A short section that the borough owns could then be connected, allowing traffic from South Mount Joy Street to come out at the light between Members First and Union National.
Four ways to reduce traffic on Market Street 
Borough Council has discussed opening this access point and whether it should be one way only for traffic coming toward Market Street or two way for motorists who want to return to South Mount Joy Street. The consensus on council seems to be the one-way option.

I think it's a good idea. For starters, the one-way-out option is a good compromise to opening it up to traffic in and out. Frankly, I never have trouble with traffic when I'm returning to town after shopping. The traffic never gets backed up -- so I don't see a need to make Carey Lane a two-way street all the way to Mount Joy Street. 

Carey Lane creates a safer alternative to drive to the commercial shopping areas, such as Giant and Kmart. I don't know about you, but it always feels like I'm taking my life in hands when I turn left onto Market Street. It seems to have gotten better since the borough and the area townships teamed up to synchronize the traffic lights in the area. But I'm still in awe at the dangerous manuevers I see when people turn left Spruce Street or Groff Avenue onto Market Street. If Carey Lane is opened up -- the one-way option -- it has the potential to greatly reduce these turns, if not eliminate them.

It could help alleviate congestion on Market Street, especially at the intersection with Maytown Road. Anyone who has tried to drive south through town during afternoon "rush hour" and on a Saturday morning knows how busy it gets. Sometimes, traffic is backed up to Arch Street. If some drivers find their way to Mount Joy Street and head to Carey Lane, that's fewer vehicles on Market Street. By most accounts from people I talk to, that's a good thing.

Finally, it makes a bridge on South Mount Joy Street a moot point. For years, I've heard from people about this bridge that would connect the street and provide access to the rear of Kmart. I think I'd support its construction, but the reality is that it's too expensive. And with Carey Lane, it provides a much cheaper relief valve, which the bridge would have been, for residents in the borough who want to get out to the commercial shopping area. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stop sign to be installed at College Avenue and Campus Road

View Campus Rd and College Ave in a larger map

Changes and improvements are coming to the intersection of College Avenue and Campus Road. Later this summer, or maybe in early fall, the borough will install a new stop sign at the intersection, along with crosswalks for pedestrians.

This came about after discussions that borough Police Chief Jack Mentzer had with Mount Joy Township officials and representatives from Elizabethtown College (full disclosure: My wife is an employee of Elizabethtown College). He said the intersection has become much busier, especially with the construction of Bear Creek School. I can speak from personal experience as I have been through that intersection dozens of times in the past two years taking my son to and from school and activities via Bear Creek Road.

When I'm returning home, I am looking to turn left onto College Avenue. It can be tricky to figure out if a vehicle is turning right to head out of town on Campus Road, or will continue straight into the residential neighborhood. Mentzer said this has lead to some near accidents.
Headed toward Campus Road. A stop sign will be installed
here with an exception for vehicles turning right from
College Avenue onto Campus Road.

To alleviate this, the borough will install a stop sign except for traffic turning right to head onto Campus Road. This will ensure that vehicles headed into the residential neighborhood will stop, making it safe for motorists to turn left onto College Avenue.

In addition, the project will include crosswalks for pedestrians, and Mentzer said that Elizabethtown College will install a path from its existing path to the intersection. My wife and I have some friends who live in the neighborhood and frequently walk to the college, so I know the addition of crosswalks and the path will be a big improvement. My son also regularly rides his bike there, and my mind will rest easier knowing the instersection is a little safer.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Do your civic duty and vote tomorrow

Sample ballot for Ward 2 in Elizabethtown
Tomorrow is Election Day for local and county offices and some judges. If history repeats itself, turnout for the election will be, in the words of pollster Dr. Terry Madonna, "anemic." It's troubling because these are the levels of government that have the most impact on people's daily lives.

But rather than get on a soap box, let's recap the election:

For better or worse, three people are running unopposed for Borough Council. They are incumbents J. Neil Ketchum and Dr. C. Dale Treese and newcomer Marc Hershey, treasurer of the Elizabethtown Fire Department. Hershey is running to fill the seat of Meade Bierly, who earlier this month was recognized by the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs for 40 years of service.

As a side note, I spent seven years as a newspaper reporter covering municipal meetings every Thursday night. When I left newspapers, I didn't know what to do on Thursday evenings. I wonder if Bierly will have similar thoughts.

In addition, Mayor Chuck Mummert is running unopposed for his second term.

The Lancaster County Board of Elections has a really cool sample ballot viewer on its website. If you're interested in seeing it before walking into the voting booth tomorrow, check it out. Simply click through to get to the right municipality and ward, if you live in the borough.

According to that ballot, just three people are running for four open seats on the Elizabethtown Area School Board. They are Jeffrey Phillips, Michelle J. Pelna and Robert S. Cronin Jr.

To reiterate: Don't forget to vote tomorrow. Voting is the cornerstone of our democratic republic.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Benefit planned for E-town mom with colon cancer

When I think about it, cancer has been around me almost all my life. But it wasn't until recent years that it really hit home: my father-in-law had lung cancer and a childhood friend had a malignant brain tumor removed (his blog Thinking Clearly is a must read). And then in the space of a week this winter, a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, a college roommate's dad died of pancreatic cancer and a local mom was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

The news about the last person, the mom -- her name is Jessica Range -- hit a little harder because our kids are the same ages and have been in day care, school and sports together. They have attended each others birthday parties over the years. 

Jessica has not been able to work since her diagnosis last fall. So this weekend, friends and family are gathering from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Elizabethtown VFW Post 5667 on Maytown Road for a benefit to help offset expenses of medical bills.

A Facebook group about the benefit has lots of photos of baskets that will be part of a silent auction. In addition, the benefit will feature raffles and a 50/50 drawing.

If you can't make it to the benefit and wish to make a monetary donation it can be made payable to:

Jessica Range Benefit Fund c/o Fulton Bank

1641 S. Market Street
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

For any additional information please contact Tanya Pickel at 717-689-0092 or by e-mail

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A look at rental properties in Elizabethtown

Whistlestop View Apartments on West High Street
When I worked for the former Elizabethtown Chronicle about 13 years ago, borough officials told me that Elizabethtown had the most rentals units in Lancaster County outside the City of Lancaster. I never delved into it, but in 2006 the borough enacted a rental property licensing and inspection program.

It's a great idea, and it's one that is working effectively, according to Denny Landvater, former borough police chief who now oversees the inspection program. He provided an overview to Borough Council. He said the borough started the inspection and licensing of rental units to improve the health of safety of people who live in the units -- and those who live around rental units.

The borough has 1,850 rental units, Landvater said. That represents 400 different owners, some of whom live right across the street from the borough office and some who live as far away as Japan. According to the U.S. Census, Elizabethtown has the highest number of units in the county outside of the city, which has 4,842 rental units. Lititz has 1,554, and Millersville has 1,041. To be fair, one probably ought to take into account the ZIP code, which gives Lititz the edge with 3,986 to E-town's 3,537.

Here in Elizabethtown, Landvater inspects each of the units, doing about 850 inspections a year. That means every apartment or house that is rented is inspected every 2 to 2.5 years. He goes into each inspection with a checklistof several dozen items that includes making sure all fixtures have hot and cold water, there's no mold in the bathroom and exterior doors have proper hardware and are lockable.

Units get a score of pass, pass with comments or fail. Depending on the severity of the issues, Landvater gives property owners 10, 30 or 90 days to fix and correct the problems. He said owners have been responsive when they have had comments or failed inspections.

Landvater emphasized that he can't say unequivocally that all rental units in the borough are fine because they're "constantly evolving."

Friday, April 19, 2013

10th annual Arts in the Park scheduled

Elizabethtown will host the 10th annual Arts in the Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in Community Park.

Admission is free and parking available, as well as juried arts, live music, kids’ art activities, face painting, free entertainment and delicious food.

Original art work from regional artists will be available for purchase. Artwork will include painting, pottery, jewelry, photography, stained glass, clothing, multimedia art, printmaking, homemade purses and much more.

Debbie Dupler, chairperson of the Arts in the Park Committee, said, “Arts in the Park will give the public a chance to enjoy superb craftwork from talented artists and experience stellar entertainment. A number of the vendors will provide demonstrations of their work to the public. Event goers will take pleasure in the various food options at this year’s event. We will small town hospitality with big city flair.”

For more information, please visit You can also contact the Borough Office at 717-367-1700 or

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Work to begin on train station overflow parking Friday

Construction on the train station overflow parking lot and other improvements at the Elizabethtown Amtrak train station site is expected to begin Friday with preliminary site preparation. 

The borough office issued a notice that parking will be prohibited in the stone lot at the end of Wilson Avenue during construction activities. In addition, parking restrictions may be necessary for sections of Wilson Avenue and in the existing train station parking lot at certain times during the project to provide access to install sidewalks, curbing, an ADA ramp, crosswalks, motorcycle parking pads and other improvements.

The construction project will be addressed in two phases. Phase one includes construction of the overflow parking lot, lighting, crosswalks and sidewalks on Wilson Avenue, a shelter for the existing bicycle rack, additional sidewalks in the existing parking lot, retaining walls along the banks of the platforms, security cameras, and the paving of Wilson Avenue. This work is expected to take approximately 4 to 5 months. 

Phase two of the project includes the construction of stormwater management facilities and a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, including a bridge over Conoy Creek, that connects the train station with downtown Elizabethtown. This work is expected to begin in mid-summer. 

The $2.5 million construction project is fully funded with federal and state funds. The contractor has committed to minimizing the impact of construction on passengers and their train travel experience as much as possible, and we greatly appreciate your patience during construction.  

Please contact the Borough Office at 367-1700 if you have any questions or concerns.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Police arrest man after standoff downtown

Police arrested an Elizabethtown man Sunday night after responding to a report of a gunshot in a second-floor apartment in the first block of South Market Street.

Kirk J. Goldinger, 53, was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats. He was arrested after a standoff in which borough police called for assistance from the Lancaster County Special Emergency Response Team.

Police were dispatched after a neighbor reported hearing the gun shot from inside an adjacent apartment, according to a borough police news release. Officers made telephone contact with the occupant of the apartment where the shot was heard. An officer had a brief conversation with Goldinger, who then disconnected. Police said they attempted numerous other times to contact Goldinger by telephone and text, but he refused to communicate.

After calling in the county SERT team, all neighbors were evacuated from the surrounding buildings. The SERT team moved in and took Goldinger into custody without incident at approximately 11:12 p.m. There were no injuries.

This report followed earlier reports of unusual behavior and verbal threats made by the suspect to other neighbors in the same apartment complex, according to police. Officers were investigating that incident, interviewing the neighbors and working with crisis intervention when the shot fired call was received.

Goldinger was turned over to borough police and transported to Lancaster General Hospital for a mental health evaluation, according to police. He was released from the hospital and transferred back into police custody, arraigned before District Judge Jayne Duncan and released on his own recognizance but will with a $25,000 bond if he doesn't appear in court. 

In the morning hours of Monday police said they executed a search warrant on Goldinger's residence and seized several firearms, along with ammunition.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Center Square Bakery offers Community Soup Night every Tuesday

I have one thing to say: Thank you to Natalie Dixon for doing what she is doing by giving back to the Elizabethtown community.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Whiten your smile and help a child

This spring, Elizabethtown Dental Associates is donating 100 percent of its proceeds to programs that help children -- and 50 percent of the money is going directly to programs for kids in Elizabethtown.

The dental practice has selected Elizabethtown Area Communities That Care (EACTC) as the recipient of half its annual Smiles for Life fundraiser. The other half will be donated to the Smiles For Life Foundation to be distributed to worthy and approved children’s charities across the U.S., Canada and worldwide. Participating children’s charities include Children’s Miracle Network, Children of Romania, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, CURE (in Cambodia), Smiles For Hope, and the Kids Cancer Care Foundation.

From March to June, anyone who has his or her teeth professionally whitened at Elizabethtown Dental will donate directly to this program.

EACTC is a community-based, private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and families in the Elizabethtown Pennsylvania area. Our research-based programs and services are designed to nurture the physical and emotional well-being of youth and families and promote the prevention of drug, alcohol and substance abuse, bullying, truancy, school drop-out, violence, teen pregnancy and other at-risk behaviors in a manner that is collaborative, evidence-based, ethical, innovative and tailored to meet the community's needs.

(Full disclosure: I am a patient at Elizabethtown Dental, and my wife is a board member of EACTC.)

According to the dental practice's website, here's how the fundraiser works:

Our practice is proud to be part of the Smiles For Life campaign which raises funds through teeth whitening for seriously ill, disabled, and underprivileged children—both locally and around the world. Here’s how it works:
  1. Our practice donates our time.
  2. Philips Oral Health Care donates the materials.
  3. Your smile gets professionally whitened.
  4. 100% of your contribution goes directly to kids in need.

Here's the price list:

  • Zoom Take Home -- $225 (normally $350) 
  • Zoom In Office -- $350 (normally $550)
  • Already have whitening trays? Buy the kit only (4 tubes, tray case and shade guide) for $40! (normally $60) 

Call Elizabethtown Dental Associates for more information and to schedule an appointment! 717-367-1336

Thursday, March 14, 2013

3 candidates file petitions for primary

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates in municipal elections to file petitions to appear on the May 21 primary ballot. Here in Elizabethtown, three people for three seats on Borough Council have filed and are running unopposed, according to Randall O. Wenger, chief registrar for Lancaster County Registration and Elections.

They are incumbents Dale Treese in Ward 3 and and J. Neil Ketchum, currently council president, in Ward 2.

The third is J. Marc Hershey,  treasurer of the Elizabethtown Fire Department, a newcomer to council who is running to replace longtime Councillor Meade Bierly. Bierly announced that, after 40 years serving on council, that he was not running for another term this year.

I have to say that it has been a pleasure serving on council with Meade Bierly. He brings a wealth of experience and insight to the table that has served me well in the past six years, not to mention the borough as a whole.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Airbags stolen from Chevy Cobalts

Elizabethtown police had two reports of the theft of driver side air bags from Chevrolet Cobalts this past week. 

The thefts occurred on March 5 and 8 during the overnight hours in the 600 block of North Lime Street and 300 block of North Cherry Alley. The air bag modules are valued at $750 each.

"The air bags are being cut out of the steering wheel of the vehicles. This is unusual for our community," said Elizabethtown Police Chief Jack Mentzer. "Air bag thefts are much more common in urban areas but unfortunately has come to our community." 

Mentzer reminded citizens to lock their car doors and to be alert to any suspicious activity and if they see or hear something suspicious, call the police immediately. 

It goes without saying that owners of Chevrolet Cobalts should be extra vigilant, though this type of crime is not limited to this particular make and model. It just depends on the demand in the illegal car parts market where these items are typically sold. 

Mentzer added if you are a victim of this type of crime it is important to report it to the
police. There is a serial number on the air bag module that can be traced back to your car if the stolen module is located.

Anyone having information on these crimes is asked to contact the Elizabethtown Police Department at 367-1835.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Four reasons why I support rezoning College Avenue

Last month, Elizabethtown Borough Council held a public hearing on a proposal to change the zoning on College Avenue between Market and Spruce Streets from residential to mixed use. The latter is a designation that allows for small businesses and professional offices, similar to what you might see downtown, to open in and among the existing residential buildings.

The idea to make the change percolated from a discussion that we had on Borough Council last year.

Here are four reasons why I, as one member of Borough Council, think it's a good idea:

  1. When the idea came up, I believe it was Councillor Tom Shaud who observed that a number of business already operate on that section of College Avenue. If you're keeping score, by my count, it's three: the Optibarn at 20 College Ave., Elizabethtown Sporting Goods at 59 College Ave. and Hollinger Services at 50 College Ave. Since the mixed use designation already exists on Market Street, I recall Tom saying, it would be a natural extension of that designation onto a street that already exemplifies it.
  2. About seven years ago, and before I was elected, Borough Council rezoned Market Street west to the train station as a mixed use area. Since then, borough staff said at the hearing last month, no one has reported any problems or complaints with the rezoning. Given that it has worked smoothly along West High Street, and that we have a top-notch staff that would address any issues before they become problems, I would expect College Avenue to go smoothly.
  3. One of the big selling points for my support is that businesses would not have carte blanche approval to open just because they're allowed in that area. Any new businesses that would want to open in one of the residential houses would need to meet design standards, such as installing buffers like shrubbery or a fence. It also would have to abide by parking requirements. And all other requirements, such as stormwater runoff remain in place. While some residents who live in the neighborhood now have legitimate concerns about the proposed change, I believe the design standards and other requirements mitigate the issues.
  4. As I mentioned at the beginning, College Avenue is home to existing businesses. Because the sporting goods store and Hollinger's are in the residential zoning, they are called "existing nonconforming uses." If they were to go under, and no new business would open in 12 months, the buildings would revert to the residential zoning. And that could effectively turn them into empty shells. As Councillor Meade Bierly said at the hearing, that increases the chances that they would sit empty and become eyesores -- and decrease neighboring property values. Rezoning the area to the mixed use designation gives property owners another option to market their properties. And it will keep a main artery for town, especially with visitors to Elizabethtown College, looking nice and inviting.
These are the reasons I think rezoning of the area will work. Tell me your thoughts. What do you think about the proposed rezoning and why?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Inaugural Beans and Brews event planned for Second Friday

I am thrilled that Market Street Improving Business is holding a first-ever Beans and Brews event that coincides with Second Friday next week. This is the kind of event that downtown Elizabethtown needs and that can generate tons of excitement and buzz for the community. 

Here are the details (full disclosure: I wrote the following news release on behalf of Market Street Improving Business and distributed it to local media):

ELIZABETHTOWN – Home brewers and cooks will put their beers and chili to the taste test in the inaugural Beans and Brews from 6 to 8 p.m. March 8 as part of Second Friday in downtown Elizabethtown.

To be held at the Elizabethtown Public Library, the brewing portion of the evening is a sanctioned event by the Beer Judging Certification Program. Sponsors for the event are Lucky Ducks Bar and Grille and Lancaster Homebrew.

“Beer and chili go great together, and I know we have some great cooks and home brewers in the area,” said Andrew Schoenberger, one of the founding members of Market Street Improving Business, a nonprofit organization that promotes downtown business in Elizabethtown. “This is a great opportunity for amateurs to test their best recipes against their peers. More important, Beans and Brews is an even better reason for people to come visit downtown Elizabethtown.”

Admission is $10 just for the chili contest and $15 for both the chili and homebrew contest. Admission allows for sampling the chili and beer. The pass also will get discounts at local shops for one week after the event and 5 automatic entries to win either a $50 gift card to Lucky Ducks Bar and Grille or a homebrew startup kit valued at $70.

The entry fee for the beer competition is $6 before March 4 ($10 after March 4), with a limit of two entries per person. Home brewers must have one bottle for judging at the library by 4 p.m. on March 8 for it to be judged. A panel of four judges – three from BJCP and one guest judge – will taste 4-ounce samples in a blind test. Beers will be judged on American Homebrewing Association/BJCP guidelines.

The entry fee for chili is $3 by March 4 ($6 after March 4) and will have three judges. Only one entry per individual or business is permitted. The chili will be judged on the following criteria: meat texture, temperature, consistency, spice and taste, and color and aroma.

Both brewers and cooks must provide three gallons of their beer or chili to serve to those who attend the event. They will be eligible for a Taster’s Choice award, presented to the ones that receive the most raffle tickets available for purchase by contest entrants and attendees. Proceeds from the event will benefit the marketing and revitalization of downtown Elizabethtown.

Award winners will be announced at 9 p.m. Friday at Lucky Duck Bar and Grille, 45 N. Market St., a short walk from the library.

For complete rules, visit

Market Street Improving Business is a nonprofit organization founded in 2011 to provide downtown Elizabethtown businesses with support, marketing strategies and plans, organizational structure and beautification funding. It supports and promotes community and economic education and sustainability.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

E-town's walking and bike pathway

Rose Alley at night.
Walkers, cyclists and runners soon will be able to traverse Elizabethtown, from the east side to the west, on a pathway that the borough is constructing.

A pedestrian and bike path that has been part of the borough's downtown master plan approved in 2005. The plan, a map of which you can see here, is to have a path that stretches from the train station all the way to the Elizabethtown Area School District property.

We have been working on the west section from Market Street to the Train Station for a couple of years. And then last year, the borough received a federal Smart Growth Transportation (SGT) grant of $329,743 through the Lancaster County Transportation Coordinating Committee to extend the pathway network east from Market Street downtown through Community Park to the Elizabethtown Area School District.

Matching funds for that grant came from a $630,872 state grant for the section from Conoy Creek at the Community Center to the train station. Total costs for both segments of the pathway network amount to $960,615. Construction on the eastern section is expected to begin this year.

Path as constructed looking west
 from the Community Center.
Why are we doing this project? Because it will have a long-term positive effect and impact on the borough, on the downtown, on the quality of life for residents -- the list goes on and on. Take a look at the 10 reasons why the National Trails Training Partnership says municipalities ought to consider walking and bike paths.

Have you spent any time on the Conewago Rail Trail, whose trailhead you can catch on Route 230 just outside Elizabethtown? I've ridden my bike as far as Mount Gretna, and even in the middle of the week I've encountered people walking, running, cycling and riding horses. On a sunny weekend, the parking lot on Route 230 is jammed, and vehicles line (unsafely, in my opinion) the area near where the path crosses Route 743.

Concept of the path at Cherry and Vine alleys.
Note: The path might not end up looking like this.
I remember one of our borough staff saying a couple of years ago that so many people use the rail trail, "and there's nothing out there." Think about it: For almost 10 miles, until you get to Mount Gretna, there's beautiful scenery, but you can't stop for lunch anywhere. Imagine with our own trail that will intersect in the downtown, where people can detour to Rita's or Lucky Ducks.

And what about the health benefits? We are creating opportunities for people to exercise on a nicely designed designated path. In this country, we are having a national conversation about obesity and what we can do about it. Here in Elizabethtown, we've decided to do what we can.

I, for one, know I'll be using the path. I am a runner, and I see a great route that will take me from Bear Creek School, through the Elizabethtown Fairgrounds to East High Elementary, behind the football stadium and catch the new path. That will take me all the way through town, to the train station. I could loop home from there, or I could run through the tunnel at the train station and get a couple of more miles on the paths and roads at Masonic Village.

Will you use the path, too? For walking, running, bicycling?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Borough issues free recycling stickers instead of bins

For the sake of convenience and cost savings for residents, Elizabethtown has started issuing 8-inch recycling stickers (similar to what is pictured to the left) to use for curbside recycling collection. 

Instead of purchasing a green recycle bin from the Borough, residents can now get free stickers from the borough office to affix to any container to be designated for recycling. In the past, the borough purchased green recycling containers from Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority through a group purchasing process. Although the price has risen over the years, residents were charged just $5 to cover the costs. In 2012, the actual cost of the bin was $10.40.

By using the stickers, the borough will save money while residents will have the flexibility to use any container for recycling that suits their needs.

Of course, if you still have the green recycling containers, use them. However, new ones will not be available when the time comes to replace them. Instead, the borough will distribute the stickers free of charge. If you want to continue using a similar recycling bin, they are available for purchase at local improvement stores. 

Using the stickers complies with county and state recycling requirements and is acceptable to the borough's current waste hauler.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Update on Elizabethtown Train Station project

In January, Elizabethtown Borough Council approved an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to construct an overflow parking lot at the Amtrak train station (which, by the way, recently was recognized by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission as being a formerly endangered historic property that was saved and has received awards).

You might recall that an old freight train station sitting in the middle of the proposed parking lot has been the subject of intense discussions among borough officials, the Elizabethtown Historical Society (EHS), and state and federal officials for about two years. The agreement allows for the borough to demolish the freight station as long as the borough mitigates that by recognizing that a historic structure once stood there.

After coverage from January's meeting in the Lancaster press, the borough has issued the following update about the issue and the process the borough went through to reach this point:

"Last month, Elizabethtown Borough Council took the next steps toward the construction of an overflow parking lot at the Amtrak train station by approving a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding the demolition and mitigation of adverse effects for the former freight station building currently located on the property where the parking facilities are planned.

"The MOA is the result of a thorough historical review process, called Section 106, that the federal government mandates should a project using federal funds impact a historic property. This process included several consulting parties, including the Borough of Elizabethtown and the Elizabethtown Historical Society as well as state and federal agencies.

"Recent press regarding the proposed project has over simplified and failed to include several points regarding this review process. Over the past two years, numerous proposals were considered for the preservation of the former freight station building as an alternative to demolition. The Borough of Elizabethtown presented two proposals, one to relocate the building to a Borough-owned lot on West High Street and another to relocate the building to the White Oak Mills property for restoration and active use. In the end, these proposals were not considered acceptable alternatives in part because the Elizabethtown Historical Society either rejected the proposals or introduced numerous stipulations for the relocation that the Borough could not responsibly meet.

"Proposals to maintain the former freight station building in its current location were not feasible for the Borough as it would have 1) had negative impact on the proposed overflow parking facility project by limiting its scope; 2) required the Borough to use its operating and capital funds for the restoration and long term maintenance of the building; and 3) introduced liability, insurance, and building code issues as a publicly-owned building. The Borough did not believe that the $10,000 offered by the Historical Society to maintain its current location would be sufficient for such a project.

"During the review process, the state and federal governments made clear that public funding would be available for the relocation and public use of the former freight station building with the condition that a definitive, feasible and funded alternative to the demolition of the building was provided. Following a meeting of the consulting parties on October 9, 2012, the Elizabethtown Historical Society was provided an opportunity and sixty days to work in consultation with the PA Historic and Museum Commission (PHMC) to provide such an alternative. By December 31, 2012, following the expiration of two time extensions, such a plan was not produced. That is when the MOA for demolition and mitigation was drafted and then circulated to the consulting parties on January 11, 2013. Borough Council approved the MOA at their regular public meeting on January 17, 2013.

"As this review process concludes, the Borough plans to move forward with the project which consists not only of the construction of an overflow parking lot facility for the Amtrak train station that is expected to achieve more than 80 parking spaces, but also additional improvements to the Amtrak station including additional security measures, a covered bicycle shelter, retaining walls to manage bank erosion, the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle pathway completing the connecting the train station to the downtown, and the construction of associated stormwater facilities. This construction project is 100% funded by state and federal funds.

"The rehabilitated Amtrak station and intermodal transportation center recently was recognized by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission as being a formerly endangered historic property that was saved and received awards.

"This project achieves objectives of the Master Plan for Downtown Elizabethtown and the Regional Strategic Plan adopted by Elizabethtown Borough and its neighboring municipalities in 2010."