In preparation for what promises to be a busy school year, the Cumberland Valley School Board approved adjusted attendance boundaries for the 2018-19 school year on Wednesday night.
The change affects 115 district students living in the Walden development and several nearby homes in Silver Spring Township, although these families already were expecting attendance changes for next year, Superintendent Frederick Withum III said. Due to the impending opening of the new Winding Creek Elementary School, these students will be transferred from Silver Spring Elementary School to Winding Creek at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Until now, these 115 students expected to attend Green Ridge Elementary School next year. Withum said the students’ parents and guardians already have been notified about the change.
Winding Creek Elementary School is scheduled to open in August 2018, followed by the opening of Mountain View Middle School in March 2019. Construction of Winding Hill and Mountain View started this year at Bali Hai and Lambs Gap roads in Silver Spring and Hampden townships. The schools’ construction remains ahead of schedule, according to Michael Willis, the district’s director of business and support services.
As a result, the school board approved the district’s 2018-19 calendar on Wednesday night with a starting date of Aug. 27. Previously, district administrators wondered if they would have to select a later start date for 2018-19 if construction at the new elementary school would fall behind schedule.
“Mr. Willis has guaranteed that the (new) elementary school will be opening on time next year and that construction is ahead of schedule,” Withum said. “We will be opening school at our regular time next year.”
The board also approved the first reading of a revised district policy regarding career and technical education.
“This makes it the responsibility of the district to tell students the economic impact of these program,” Withum said. He added the district also must be notified by a vo-tech if an expected wage a student would earn after completing a program would be less than the income for a family of three that qualifies for reduced-priced school lunches.
Finally, district officials said goodbye to retiring board members Thomas Griffie and Barbara Gleim. Both are leaving the board after serving eight years of service.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve and an education on both the public and private sector,” said Griffie, who said he now plans to spend more time with family in Montana.
Kings Gap General Store in Dickinson Township is up for sale, and now many of its contents will be on the auction block.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, many of the antique and collectible items from inside the historic general store will go up for sale in a two-day auction.
“Even if you’re not interested in the sale, I would definitely encourage people to come out just to take in the history of the place,” said Chris Bream of Dan Hershey Auction Services, which is handling the sale.
Items up for sale range from antique tin signs to an oak ice box; from kerosene lamps to an antique doctor’s buggy.
“This is probably a once in a lifetime to come to a sale like this,” Bream said. “Anything you’ve seen walking through a country store from the ‘40s to the present is inside this country store.”
Debby Stone and her husband, Robert, purchased Kings Gap General Store in the 1100 block of Pine Road in Dickinson Township in the 1980s.
The store, however, has been in operation since 1894.
The three-bedroom, two-bath, 3,196 square-foot home and business on a little more than one acre of land was put up for sale in February.
“We’re both in our 60s, and I guess after 30 years we’re both ready to retire,” Debby Stone told The Sentinel in April.
She said the sale of the store is a bit bittersweet as the building has served as the couple’s home, livelihood and passion for roughly three decades.
“I don’t think I’ll miss the long hours, and I don’t think I’ll miss the seven days a week,” she said. “But I sure will miss the people.”
Despite the business being up for sale and the auctioning of some of the contents, Bream said the store will remain open for business.
Bream said bidders will need photo ID and payments can be made by cash or credit card. Bidding begins at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday. A listing and photos of the items up for sale is available at danhersheyauctioneeringservice.com.
Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
In October, a gunman opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd in Las Vegas. He killed more than 50 people, including a Midstate resident, and injured hundreds more. On Nov. 5, a gunman entered a church in a small town in Texas and killed nearly 30 people, including several children.
In both cases, the subsequent conversations about gun control in part revolved around access to firearms by people with mental health issues.
Current law bars anyone who has been adjudicated mentally ill from owning or possessing firearms.
However, according to state Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Philadelphia, this ban on firearm possession only applies to people who were deemed mentally ill by the court and committed to in-patient treatment.
O’Brien has introduced a bill that would expand the conditions in which a person would be barred from owning or possessing firearms.
“Under current law, individuals who have been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment are ineligible to possess a firearm,” O’Brien wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “However, if a person has been ordered to undergo mental health treatment on an outpatient basis, he or she is still eligible to possess a firearm.”
House Bill 22 would expand the list of people who are not allowed to own or possess firearms to include people who have been ordered to undergo involuntary mental health treatment on an outpatient basis.
“I believe that, regardless of whether mental health treatment is in-patient or out-patient, if an individual is committed for treatment or ordered to receive outpatient treatment, he or she should be prohibited from possessing a firearm until the court determines that the individual is no longer a danger to himself or other people,” O’Brien wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “The intent of my bill is to prevent or limit harm to family members, the general public, and law enforcement officers, as well as preventing mentally ill individuals from causing serious bodily harm to themselves.”
Under current Pennsylvania law, a person who has been deemed not to possess firearms may petition the court to restore their rights.
O’Brien’s bill was introduced in January, prior to the most recent mass shootings.
Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation — the county-owned long-term care facility — has obtained a five-out-of-five rating from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
The county commissioners gathered at Claremont on Wednesday morning to congratulate staff on the top rating, which comes at a particularly critical time as Pennsylvania transitions toward a managed care model for Medicare and Medicaid.
“We know, in this regulatory environment, that it’s not easy to achieve this rating,” Commissioner Vince DiFilippo said.
After CMS revised its rating methods for 2015, Claremont dropped to a two-star rating, putting the publicly run facility on rocky ground.
But Commissioner Jim Hertzler said the county was always confident that the drop was an “aberration,” and that Claremont’s staff would bring it back up in short order.
“It’s a testament to your hard work and dedication to service our seniors in their time of need,” Hertzler said. “Unlike some for-profit nursing homes, our only bottom line here is the quality of care.”
“We know it’s tough, but we only see it at the 30,000-foot level,” Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said. “Until we’ve walked in your shoes, we can’t say we fully understand it, but we appreciate it.”
Claremont, as well as every other long-term care facility in the state, is grappling with Pennsylvania’s move to an expanded managed care system, which will roll out in 2018 for Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and expand to the rest of the state in 2019.
The program will place seniors who are dual-eligible for Medicare and Medicaid into managed-care coverage provide by outside insurers, intended to incentivize better care and cost savings versus traditional fee-for-service coverage coming straight from the government.
“It’s unofficial, but most of the MCOs [managed-care organizations] want facilities to be at least three stars before they’ll work with them,” Claremont Administrator Bob Ritter said.
Ritter said the climb from two-star to five-star “means a lot” to the staff, as well as to Claremont’s future under the MCO program. Claremont is now one of two five-star-rated homes in Cumberland County.
It’s a positive step not just for seniors, but also for family members who trust Claremont with the care of their loved ones.
“Knowing the quality of care they’re getting here really helps for family ‘on the outside’ as well,” Ritter said.
Six months of sometimes heated discussion came to an end last December when the Carlisle Borough Council voted 5-2 to enact the Human Relations Ordinance.
The ordinance, which went into effect on March 1, made it unlawful for anyone to engage in discrimination related to employment, housing and commercial property or any public accommodation where it is not currently prohibited by other state or federal laws.
Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act, which the ordinance largely mirrors, provides these protections, including protection from discrimination at public accommodations, to all classes of people except sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Carlisle’s ordinance expands protection to those three groups.
Nancy Gregor, chair of the four-member Human Relations Commission created as required by the ordinance, declined to comment on whether any complaints have been filed under the ordinance.
Other commission members include McKenzie Clark, Safronia Perry and James Hamblin.
“We do not disclose the filing of any complaint,” Gregor said.
That the commission would not disclose potential filings leaves both sides of the debate waiting to see how the ordinance works in practice.
“We remain in a watch-and-wait mode,” said Laszlo Pasztor Jr., who had spoken out against the ordinance throughout the discussion process last year.
The existence of the ordinance and the support of the community already represented a change in the eyes of Christin Kapp, who supported the ordinance throughout last year’s debate.
“Carlisle’s LGBTQIA+ community can sleep each night knowing that our town has our collective backs, should the situation ever present itself. That’s the point of the ordinance, to be there should we need it,” she said.
There has been plenty of other activity, however, to keep the members of the commission busy. Commission members were appointed in February and held their first meeting that month.
Gregor said the commission has used the past eight months to organize, go through training, and begin efforts to reach out to the community.
They set their meetings for the fourth Thursdays of the month at 7:30 a.m. The commission also appointed its chair, vice-chair and intake commissioner, who will initially meet with a person making a complaint. Then, it was time to prepare the bylaws, which have been approved by the borough’s solicitor, and to create the form used to file a complaint.
Members of the commission were also required under the ordinance to attend training through the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
The commission has also started outlining a plan for outreach, which is not specifically addressed in the ordinance, though it does speak to both education and the use of volunteers. Commission members will do “as much outreach” as it can to offer not only information about the commission and its work, but also about civil rights in general.
“We’ve run with that. We’ve done a couple of outreach events. We had one at Hope Station, and a bystander training group at Dickinson College,” Gregor said.
Volunteers may also be called upon to talk to people who are considering whether to file a complaint. Their role would be to outline the process to help the person make an informed decision about filing the complaint. The idea to use volunteers in such a way came about as commission members heard about a few people who were not sure whether they should file.
“The reason that we really think we need that is really that we don’t have a jurisdiction until we have a complaint. So when a complaint is filed, then we do our thing,” Gregor said.
Gregor said the role of the volunteer would simply be to explain the complaint process, not to encourage people to make a complaint.
“Nobody’s going out looking for things. We’ve been very clear on that. We’re not drumming up anything,” she said.
Complaint forms and information on the process of filing a complaint are available on the borough’s website, as well as at the borough office. Once a complaint is received, the intake commissioner meets with the person making the complaint. Once the complaint is processed, the person making the complaint is notified and given the option of mediation.
The commission has 30 days from the time it receives a complaint to inform the person who is alleged to have committed a discriminatory act and to provide them with both a copy of the ordinance and the option for mediation. That person then has 30 days to provide a written response to the complaint.
The parties then may be referred to outside mediators, but the commissioners themselves may act as mediator. A minimum of two commissioners would be required to act as mediator.
“Hopefully, that will settle some problems. We’re looking forward to that,” Gregor said.
Should the parties be unable to resolve their differences, the person making the complaint would have the option to take the case to the Court of Common Pleas.
The goal of the commission, though, is to get the parties talking to each other to avoid a court case. Thinking about cases that have found a spotlight nationally, Gregor said it would bring together the flower shop owner who declines to provide flowers for a gay wedding due to their religious beliefs, and the gay couple who is left wondering what changed because they had bought flowers at the shop in the past.
“We’re not going to change your religion. You’re not going to change our being married. Can we come together with that?” Gregor said. “That would be a very interesting conversation. You just never know in mediation how that’s going to go.”