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Carlisle Youth Initiative tries to hash out its identity

The group calling itself the Carlisle Youth Initiative isn’t exactly sure what it is yet — but that’s part of the process.

The third in a series of meetings for the initiative was held Monday night at YWCA Carlisle, and was led by Carlisle Police Chief Taro Landis, who has taken a central role in organizing programs for at-risk youths since his arrival in the borough a year ago.

“We’re investing the time now so we don’t have to build jails later,” Landis said.

The initiative is not meant to be a new youth program in and of itself, but rather a way in which Carlisle’s various businesses, nonprofits and government agencies can coordinate their efforts to reach a wider range of youths and potentially get more funding.

“We’re not starting something new. What we’re doing here is bringing together what’s already out there,” Landis said. “There’s not a program out there that doesn’t need money.”

The YWCA’s GirlPower!, the Carlisle Victory Circle, as well as startups for youth exercise and martial arts were all cited as building blocks of a communitywide initiative, and Carlisle Fire Chief Jeffrey Snyder also discussed the department’s efforts to expand its junior firefighter program.

Focus on growth

But how to take such programs from having a handful of students to having dozens, or potentially hundreds, is another matter.

Programs that have a deep impact on youths, and contribute to their success later in life, require not just arms-length financing, but a massive amount of time.

“That’s what we need more of — that loyalty, consistency and trust,” said Carrie Breschi, a consultant who volunteers with the Carlisle Arts Learning Center. “They need deep, meaningful relationships ... not just the Band-Aid effect.”

“The most effective programs are things that get them out there and understanding that there are jobs in the community for them,” said Diane Chido, who relayed her son’s difficult high school transition that was helped by an internship with the Carlisle Police Department.

As he has in other meetings, Landis expressed his interest in a study often referenced by the Brookings Institution regarding impoverished youths. That study, initially done in 2009, showed three strong determining factors — whether the person graduated high school, worked full time, and married and/or had children after age 21.

Only 2 percent of households that followed all three norms were in poverty, whereas 76 percent of those who followed none of the three were in poverty.

The question with that study is one of causation — Brookings noted that, while there is an element of individual choice over those three norms, there are also environmental factors.

Poor students move to different school districts more often, and are less likely to receive sexual education or be able to afford birth control. The three factors cited are not necessarily causative, but are certainly symptomatic.

Those present Monday night agreed that at-risk students need more than just periodic reminders to study for school and practice safe sex.

“Those three things should never be something we have to say to a kid directly,” Landis said.

A commitment

Rather, it’s a matter of building relationships with youths in order to acclimate them to a risk-reward environment, and showing them that opportunities are available if they stay dedicated.

But more than funding or advertising, this takes commitment.

“I have kids on the waiting list because we don’t have enough adults,” said Barrie Ann George of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, which maintains a staff to help youths who may be struggling in school or facing sexual pressure.

“It is a professional endeavor to keep these kids on the straight and narrow. It’s not a few hours once a month,” George said.

Participants at Mondays’ meeting also discussed how to connect youths with available programs.

“If you tell the kids, ‘This is where you need to be,’ they’re going to be anywhere but,” said Carlisle Area School District Assistant Superintendent Colleen Friend, who suggested some type of softer interaction by community groups — possibly during school lunches — as a way to introduce students to new programs.

So what would the Carlisle Youth Initiative do to facilitate something like this? The answer was still murky. The group seemed to agree that it should not itself be a new legal entity.

“I don’t’ think we want to be a new 501©3 that competes with others,” Carlisle school board member Rick Coplen said.

“We should be helping to get additional funds for [community programs] once we figure out what they want to offer and what their shortfalls are,” said Joe Nunez, an activist with the Nottingham Valley Meadows Association.

The group plans to have additional meetings in the spring. Anyone interested in getting involved should contact YWCA Executive Director Robin Scaer at

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Cumberland Valley Schools
Residents protest Cumberland Valley school district's acquisition of protected land

The dozen or so residents who spoke at Monday night’s Cumberland Valley School Board meeting didn’t hold back thoughts about the district’s plans to acquire through eminent domain a land parcel zoned as agricultural preserve.

On Jan. 23, the school board approved a resolution authorizing the district to negotiate the purchase of a 116-acre lot at 31 Old Willow Mill Road bordering Carlisle Pike in Silver Spring Township around Hogestown. The property, known as the McCormick Farm, is for sale by a real estate firm with an asking price of $1.5 million.

“We’re against it. It’s incomprehensible that you’re breaking that (land) trust,” Scott Mehring, of the Hogestown Heritage Committee, told school board members on Monday.

“Several years ago, this township raised taxes to preserve our land. This (land acquisition) would be a slap in the face to all who voted for it,” Silver Spring Township resident JL Brunner said.

A district statement issued to the media on Monday read, “Cumberland Valley School District continues to experience unprecedented growth in enrollment. ... To that end, the district made the decision to obtain a sizable portion of the 116-acre tract of land located at 31 Old Willow Mill Road. The district will acquire approximately 100 acres of the land, which does not include the historic house that sits on the property.

“We understand that the decision to pursue this tract of land may be upsetting to some residents,” the statement continued. “It is not often that land suitable in both size and location presents itself for educational purposes.”


The site has been preserved since at least 1870 by the McCormick family, who organized with other Scots-Irish settlers the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church, the oldest church west of the Susquehanna River and north of York County.

James McCormick, who was born on the “home farm” in Silver Spring Township, was president of Dauphin Deposit Bank, the Harrisburg Bridge Co., and the Harrisburg Cemetery. He managed extensive real estate properties in the region despite losing his sight around 1960. A distant cousin, Cyrus McCormick, invented the reaper.

Vance McCormick served as mayor of Harrisburg and was instrumental in forming the City Beautiful Movement that expanded the city’s park system, paved roads and provided clean water. He also was president of the Patriot-News, and worked under several capacities for President Woodrow Wilson.

McCormick used the family’s “home farm” location to initiate the West Shore Stock Growers Association. He led this in collaboration with Penn State University to educate farmers on how to raise productive livestock and crops. He also started the Hogestown Stock Show, which later became the “Man Behind The Plow is the Man Behind the Gun” movement during World War I. This encouraged farmers to grow crops to feed the U.S. military stationed overseas.

In 1983, the McCormick heirs donated the farm property to the Natural Lands Trust in Media in Pennsylvania to keep the property under protection.

‘Unprecedented growth’

The district’s enrollment is approximately 9,142 students, an increase of more than 1,700 students since 2010. Much of that growth is attributed to Silver Spring Township, where district officials said they are anticipating more than 200 new residential homes will be available to families for at least the next three years and a strong market for existing homes.

“We are (at) 90 percent capacity already with two new schools. This is our bullseye area right here. They keep building houses here,” school board president Michael Gossert told the crowd.

The district has two schools under construction that are due to open in 2018-19 at Bali Hai and Lambs Gap roads in Hampden Township. Winding Creek Elementary School is scheduled to open in August 2018, followed by the opening of Mountain View Middle School in March 2019.

Portions of land for those schools also were obtained by the district through eminent domain after negotiating cash settlements with landowners. The district also will have to pay a negotiated price for obtaining the parcel on Old Willow Road through this process.

According to the district statement issued on Monday, “The (McCormick Farm) property has been encumbered by a Deed of Grant Conservation Easement, which has been reviewed by the district solicitor. It was written into the deed by its author, the Natural Lands Trust, that once the property, or portion thereof, is taken by condemnation, the conservation easement terminates automatically by operation of the law.”

Hogestown Heritage Committee member Brad Westover offered the school board a more succinct statement on Monday. “I think it’s just wrong,” he said.

Prescription opioids fail rigorous new test for chronic pain

A yearlong study offers rigorous new evidence against using prescription opioids for chronic pain.

In patients with stubborn back aches or hip or knee arthritis, opioids worked no better than over-the-counter drugs or other nonopioids at reducing problems with walking or sleeping. And they provided slightly less pain relief,

Opioids tested included generic Vicodin, oxycodone or fentanyl patches although few patients needed the most potent opioids. Nonopioids included generic Tylenol, ibuprofen and prescription pills for nerve or muscle pain. The study randomly assigned patients to take opioids or other painkillers. That’s the gold standard design for research.

If they don’t work better than less risky drugs, there’s no reason to use opioids given “their really nasty side effects — death and addiction,” said lead author Dr. Erin Krebs, a physician and researcher with the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

The results likely will surprise many people “because opioids have this reputation as being really powerful painkillers, and that is not what we found,” Krebs said.

The results echo less rigorous studies and bolster guidelines against routine use of opioids for chronic pain.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

About 42,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016 involved opioids, including prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. Many people get hooked while taking opioids prescribed for injuries or other short-term pain and move on to cheaper, more accessible illicit drugs like heroin.

Krebs said the strongest evidence from other studies shows that physical therapy, exercise or rehabilitation therapy works best for chronic pain. And she said there are a variety of nonopioid drugs to try if one type doesn’t work.

U.S. government guidelines in 2016 said opioids are not the preferred treatment for chronic pain, and they recommend nondrug treatment or nonopioid painkillers instead. Opioids should only be used if other methods don’t work for chronic pain, the guidelines recommend. Prescribing rates have declined slightly in recent years although they are still much higher than two decades ago.

The study involved 234 patients from Minneapolis-area VA clinics who were assigned to use generic versions of opioids or nonopioids for a year. Follow-up ended in 2016.

“This is a very important study,” said Dr. David Reuben, geriatrics chief at UCLA’s medical school. “It will likely change the approach to managing long-term back, hip and knee pain.”

He noted one limitation — most study participants were men, but Krebs said the results in women studied were similar.

The study’s opioid patients started on relatively low daily doses of morphine, oxycodone or generic Vicodin. They switched to higher doses if needed or to long-acting opioids or fentanyl patches. The nonopioid group started on acetaminophen, ibuprofen or similar anti-inflammatory drugs. They also could switch to higher doses or prescription nonopioid pain pills. Few in either group used the strongest medicines.

Patients reported changes in function or pain on questionnaires. Function scores improved in each group by about two points on an 11-point scale, where higher scores meant worse function. Both groups started out with average pain and function scores of about 5.5 points.

Pain intensity dropped about two points in the nonopioid group and slightly less in the opioid patients.

Other research has shown that over-the-counter medicines can also work as well as opioids at treating short-term pain, including from broken bones, kidney stones or dental work.

Michael Bupp, The Sentinel  


Cumberland County

Cumberland County residents will wake up to a mix of snow and rain this morning. How much of the white stuff will depend how far west this nor’easter travels into the county.

A strong coastal storm formed late Tuesday night into this morning, making for some light snow overnight and lows dropping to around freezing. The snow should intensify through the region after 7 a.m. then likely continue through the day.

The farther west you live in the county, the lower the snowfall totals from the storm will be. In the Carlisle area, the National Weather Service predicts a total of about 2 to 5 inches of snow through tonight.

However, getting closer to the West Shore and Harrisburg, the weather service predicts 3 to 6 inches.

ABC27 predicts 6 to 12 inches of snow are possible from the West Shore and areas farther east. Areas east of that, including Lancaster County, may see 6 inches to a foot of snow. Snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour are possible during the peak of the storm in eastern locations of the region.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties. This storm is expected to drop several inches of snow across parts of the state today, with up to a foot possible in some eastern areas.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s office Tuesday announced that PennDOT imposed bans on certain vehicles at midnight this morning due to the impending storm. Wolf said state agencies are preparing a plan to reduce disruptions but suggested drivers postpone any unnecessary travel Wednesday when the storm will hit hardest.

“This storm may not have the extremely high winds as the one last week, but it will dump significant amounts of snow across a wider area and that prospect is moving us to take additional aggressive steps to restrict heavier vehicles from the interstates,” Wolf said in a news release. “We must remember that weather is to a large extent unpredictable, but we are doing our utmost to station resources in as effective way as possible.”

PennDOT imposed a ban today on empty straight trucks, large combination vehicles (tandem trailers and double trailers), tractors hauling empty trailers, trailers pulled by passenger vehicles, motorcycles and RVs or recreational vehicles on Interstate 81 from Maryland to New York, Interstate 78 from I-81 in Lebanon to New Jersey, Interstate 80 from I-81 to New Jersey, Interstate 84 from I-81 to New York and Interstate 380 from I-80 to I-81.

All commercial vehicles will be banned on I-380 and I-84 at 8 a.m. today.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will also prohibit these vehicles from traveling in the northeastern extension between the Lehigh Tunnel and Clarks Summit, the news release said.

Wolf said the restrictions will remain in place “as long as warranted through the storm.” Speed restrictions and wider vehicle bans may also be made as conditions develop.

“I cannot stress enough the importance for everyone to heed weather forecasts, listen to directions from emergency officials, and plan accordingly,” Wolf said.

ABC27 is also tracking another storm that could deliver some additional rain or snow — or miss the area completely — that could be in the region by the end of the weekend. The timing looks to be Sunday evening into Monday morning if it takes shape.

Hundreds of crews continued to work Tuesday to clear trees and repair power lines damaged by a storm that swept in Friday. The governor’s office says about 587,000 customers were without power during the height of that storm, and some customers who lost service may not have it restored until at least Wednesday.

Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

PennDOT employee Alec Dove prepares a truck at the Cumberland County facility in Carlisle.