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Linglestown Gazette: October 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Linglestown area dodges Sandy's wrath

Workers clean up a downed tree near Turkey Hill Minit Mart on N. Mountain Rd. in Linglestown.

The area didn't go unscathed as superstorm Sandy unleashed wind gusts that probably topped 50 mph Monday evening, but it could have been a whole lot worse – think New York City and the Jersey Shore.

I toured the Linglestown area Tuesday morning and mainly spotted downed trees, and members of my coffee and church groups reported spotty power outages.

The Linglestown Gazette newsroom got nicked – a handful of shingles were sent sailing and a piece of aluminum fascia bit the dust. My contractor, Jim of Senior Home Repairs, estimated it would take about $300 to get things back into tiptop shape. Also, a hat tip goes out to Andy Enders of Enders Insurance Associates for checking to see if my gang and house survived Frankenstorm.

CLICK HERE for photos of storm damage.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

CD to board asked to hire big-ticket staffer

CD School Board meeting canceled Monday, Oct. 29 has been rescheduled for Monday, Nov. 5 at 7 pm in the Lecture Hall of CD East High School.

Regular meeting of the Central Dauphin School Board
Central Dauphin East High School Lecture Hall
626 Rutherford Road
Harrisburg, PA 17109
7:00 pm

The top agenda items on Monday evening’s school board meeting are:
  • A briefing by Karen McConnell, the district’s business executive, on next school year’s budget that will be adopted early next summer.
  • A vote to hire Lynda Lapp as the district’s special education director at a salary of $100,000. CLICK HERE for commentary on this agenda item.

DIRECTIONS TO THE LECTURE HALL – Go to the rear of CD East High and park in the lot that is bordered by tennis courts and the gymnasium. Enter the building at the door located about 50 yards to the right of the gymnasium's main entrance. (You have to walk up a small flight of concrete steps to get to the door.) After entering the building, walk straight back the hallway to the Lecture Hall – the entrance is on the left side of the hallway.


B² commentary: Why CD officials get bad rap

Agenda item to hire special education director
at $100,000 per year comes out of the blue

I want to make few things crystal clear before getting into the meat of this column:
  • I’m a booster of Central Dauphin schools.
  • I’m not looking to take shots at members of the school board or administration.
  • I believe board president Ford Thompson and the rest of the board should be applauded for doing what they do on a volunteer basis.
  • And I understand school officials have a tough job and get a ton of grief for making tough decisions. It’s not my intention to add to the pile of crap thrown at school officials. In fact, I want to make doing their jobs easier.
With that said, I do have one piece of constructive criticism for CD officials based on Monday’s board meeting agenda:

The district informing the public about the planned hiring of a high-paid administrator three days prior to a board vote is the kind of practice that gets the district in deep doo doo with the public because it smacks of behind-closed-door dealings.

Sure, no one expects the board or a subcommittee of the board to conduct interviews for prospective employees in public.

But, information on the need to hire a special education director and how the hiring fits into the district’s financial plan could and should have been discussed in front of the public long before a vote to fill this position. I’ll bet dollars to donuts – and you buy the donuts – that “general information” about staffing needs is not listed under the state’s Sunshine Law as a topic permitted to be discussed in executive session, which is a behind-closed-doors meeting.

Sadly, many local governments, with the blessing of their lawyers, extend the “personnel matters” exception of the Sunshine Law way beyond the intent of the law, in my opinion.

Holding “public” workshop meetings to allow administrators to discuss upcoming agenda items with board members without the pressure to vote would go a long way toward CD improving its relations with parents and all taxpayers.

A little tweak in the district’s standard operating procedure – conducting monthly public workshop meetings – likely would help board members get less doo doo thrown their way.

Bill Bostic has published Linglestown Gazette on a volunteer basis since May 2006 and recently spearheaded the formation of Citizens for CD Schools, a taxpayer group that aims to improve local public education.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

HELP WANTED – Gazette founder Bostic looking to expand blog's mission

Bill Bostic
Since the first blog post was uploaded in May 2006, I've tried to live up to the motto "Building Community, Connecting People."

The bottom line is that I'm fiercely devoted to this community and want to see it grow and prosper despite the long list of challenges facing our families, neighborhoods and schools. There's no reason why we can't buck the trends of our time and be a shining light for others to learn from and follow.

In order for Linglestown Gazette to be a true change agent, the blog and its affiliated social media sites need to go beyond being a one-person operation. Plus, the blog's mission needs to be expanded to include offline endeavors.

Here's what I'd like to do ...

I hope to launch a nonprofit organization in the near future that would serve the community in the following ways:
  • Provide community news and event information for municipalities located within the Central Dauphin School District
  • Organize and promote community events
  • Increase local government awareness
  • Help transform the Linglestown area into a regional tourism destination

Without a doubt, to accomplish this hefty list of goals is going to require a major influx of manpower and money. To say what I've outlined above is a big job is a gross understatement! (Keep in mind that I have a full-time job and devote time to other activities beyond the blog, which I do on a volunteer basis.)

But, all great accomplishment start with tiny steps, and here's how you can help get the ball rolling:

I'm looking for one or two persons who I can partner with to do the front-end planning and outreach to form the nonprofit group described above.

The ideal candidate would have an entrepreneurial bent and be a skilled communicator, but anyone who is turned on by this community-changing vision is welcome to inquire – hey, there are plenty of things to do to go around.

The next step is yours ...

The reality is Linglestown Gazette will continue to be a cute endeavor that is updated on an irregular basis if no one steps forward to lend me a hand.

Please email linglestowngazette@gmail.com or call me at (717) 512-0722 if you want more information or know someone who might fit the bill.

Saturday's big events – Soup and Sales

Linglestown firefighters make darn good soup!

My favorite food event has rolled around again!

Linglestown Fire Company's famous kettle-cooked chicken corn soup sale will be held this Saturday, Oct. 27 from 11 am until the soup is sold out.

The soup, which is available for eat-in or take out, is prepared by the firefighters behind the firehouse over an open wood fire in large iron kettles. Hey, you got to try this stuff. It's unbelievable!

After chowing down on yummy soup, consider heading to a huge indoor yard sale at Central Dauphin High School that runs from 8 am to 2 pm in back of the school in the school cafeteria. All proceeds go to Hershey Medical Center's Four Diamonds Fund that helps families with children with cancer.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

LP to start planning for Linglestown-area parks

Main pavilion at Koons Park

By Watson Fisher of SWAN
for Linglestown Gazette

Gazette readers have an opportunity to weigh in on plans for local parks Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the year Lower Paxton Township accepted a state grant for the preparation of a master plan study for the future development of two parks – Wolfersberger Tract, which would become a new community park, and Koons Park, which would be upgraded. The 93-acre, unimproved Wolfersberger Tract is located on the east side of Wenrich Street east of Linglestown and the 33-acre Koons Park is in the village of Linglestown.

The township formed a committee to select a planning firm to create the master plan for future development of the two neighboring parks. The committee interviewed a number of firms and selected Norristown-based landscape architecture firm Simone Collins to develop the plan. This firm previously prepared the township’s Greenway Plan which serves as a guide for the development of walkways, bikeways and trails in the township.

Under the terms of the grant, planning must be completed by next summer and will include four public meetings.

The first meeting to gather input from citizens will be held Wednesday, Oct. 24., 7 pm at the township Municipal Center. (map)

Public notice

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Festival weekend in Linglestown

CLICK HERE to take a brief tour of Linglestown with four photos taken this past weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Linglestown Fall Festival this Saturday, Sunday

It looks like chamber-of-commerce weather is on the way for this weekend's Linglestown Fall Festival Celebration sponsored by the village merchants. CLICK HERE to view the festivals schedule of events which is jam packed with super cool things to do.

Last year's festival was well attended, especially the historical events, and this year's event should be a good time for one and all. Be sure to check it out by clicking HERE.

No excuses ... let's go! 

Linglestown-area postcard

A fall scene from Wildwood Park taken last Sunday by my daughter, Danielle. CLICK HERE to view samples of her work. (Click on the photo to view a larger version.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

CD again faces big budget challenges

The Central Dauphin School Board learned Monday evening what they already knew – putting together the 2013-2014 school budget is going to be a royal pain in the neck.

Fortunately, the district has plenty of money in the bank (over $59 million at the end of September), a great bond rating (AA) and a strong balance sheet (assets far exceed liabilities).

The challenge is to close $5.5 million projected revenue shortage in next school year's spending plan, said Karen McConnell, the district's longtime business manager.

Most of the $5.5 million needed to balance the budget comes from two areas – increased state-mandated pension contributions and labor contracts that call for pay hikes.

The pension increases are downright scary. McConnell said they would go from $8 million to $19 million over four years. She is working on a plan to spread out the financial pain over seven years.

The only sure bet is that the school property tax rate will go up at least 1.7 percent, the state maximum.

Odds are the board will opt to seek an exception from the state to increase the tax rate by more than 1.7 percent to address the huge jump in pension contributions. The deadline for this decision is early next year.

The board and school administrators will work on the budget over the next eight months. Watch the Gazette for updates.

Other stuff from last night's meeting:

* Peter Mireles, a teacher at Central Dauphin Middle School and a new co-president of the teacher union, introduced himself to the board and the public.

* Teacher union co-president Georgia Smee told that board that teachers are ready to work and give 100 percent despite stresses caused by increased state-testing targets and last year's teacher furloughs.

* Eric Epstein, business manager for the bus drivers' union, informed the board that overcrowding on some bus routes is continuing. He called for improved communications between the drivers, the district and Durham, the district's bus contractor. CLICK HERE to read his testimony and HERE for coverage on this issue by WHTM abc27.

* Superintendent Carol Johnson asked the board for more time to analyze the influx of about 200 students at the beginning of this school year before holding public meetings on possible closure of some school buildings.

* Several members of Boy Scout Troop 368 attended the meeting to work toward qualifying for merit badges.

* Also in attendance was the steering committee of the recently formed Citizens for CD Schools – Deb Steely, Lisa Kraus, Everette Hamilton, Dan Slatt and Bill Bostic.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

CD to unveil 2013-14 budget Monday evening

Regular Meeting of the Board of School Directors
Central Dauphin East High School Lecture Hall (see directions below)
626 Rutherford Road
Harrisburg, PA 17109
7:00 pm

The most notable item on the Central Dauphin School Board meeting agenda for Monday, Oct. 15 is a presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Administrative Operations Karen McConnell on next school year's budget.

She said a few weeks ago that the district roughly had to find $5.5 million to balance the budget that will be adopted next June. Also, she said that this situation is not unusual early in the budget-planning process.

The board's finance committee most likely will meet numerous times during the next six months or so to sort things out.

Rest assured that the folks affiliated with Citizens for CD Schools will endeavor to keep Linglestown Gazette readers informed about budget issues.

DIRECTIONS TO THE LECTURE HALL – Go to the rear of CD East High and park in the lot that is bordered by tennis courts and the gymnasium. Enter the building at the door located about 50 yards to the right of the gymnasium's main entrance. (You have to walk up a small flight of concrete steps to get to the door.) After entering the building, walk straight back the hallway to the Lecture Hall – the entrance is on the left side of the hallway.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

3 Things You Need To Know About CD Schools

#1 ... The next school board meeting will be held this Monday, Oct. 15 beginning at 7 pm in the Lecture Hall of CD East High. The agenda most likely will be posted HERE on Friday.

#2 ... The steering committee of Citizens for CD Schools met for the first time Thursday and decided to hold a big kickoff meeting for the general public in mid-January 2013. Also, a special section will be launched in the near future on Linglestown Gazette dedicated to the citizens' group.

#3 ... WHTM abc27 reported last month that some CD school buses are overcrowded, and it appears that the report is valid in at least one case. Some parents in the Blue Meadows Farm development in Linglestown are carpooling students to school because the bus is overcrowded and the ride to nearby schools takes about 40 minutes. Please submit a comment on this post if you are aware of similar situations.


5 Things You Need Know About The Linglestown Area

#1 ... The one and only Frank Cotolo – along with his son, Jack – will be providing one and all with a free musical extravaganza at St. Thomas Roasters coffee house Friday evening, Oct. 12 from 8 – 10 pm.

#2 ... CORRECTION — Soup anyone? Well, there's been a change to the sale originally scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13. You'll have to wait until Saturday, Nov. 3 to get some good stuff from the folks at St. Thomas United Church of Christ. Cost per quart will be $5 and please bring your own containers.

#3 ... Big happenings are coming to Linglestown next weekend with the annual Linglestown Fall Festival sponsored by the Linglestown Merchants' Association. CLICK HERE for a schedule of events.

#4 ... East Shore Area Library Book Collection will take place next Thursday – Saturday, Oct. 18 – 20. CLICK HERE for more info.

#5 ... Linglestown Gazette recently became a member of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. This affiliation gives the blog access to legal assistance in the event open-government issues arise in dealings with Central Dauphin School District, Lower Paxton Township or other government entities.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

B² update — new stuff brewin' with the Gazette

At long last, Linglestown Gazette is getting a makeover. And, no, I'm not referring to the makeover that I got a few years ago.

Thanks to Linglestown-area resident and St. Thomas Roasters patron Davis Shaver, the blog is in the process of getting a new look that will debut in the near future.

Beyond the new, classy look and feel, the blog's new format will be an improved resource for promoting local events and discussing community issues.

So, stay tuned for the big blog-makeover reveal.

The Beatles are coming to CD High ... well sort of

You have an entertainment treat coming your way next Wednesday, Oct. 10 courtesy of the fine folks with CD High School Band Boosters — Beatlemania Magic.

The national touring tribute band recreates the early Beatles concerts with identical costumes, equipment and spot on harmonies. Songs from I Want to Hold Your Hand to I'm Down are played using Vox amps, Gretsch, Hofner and Rickenbacker guitars made famous by the Beatles.

If you missed seeing the Beatles in the '60s, mark your calendar for October 10, 7 pm in the CD High auditorium. Tickets are $10 if purchased in advance online or $12 at the door the night of the

CLICK HERE for more info.