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FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2010, file photo, East Carolina's head coach Jeff Lebo, center, talks to players Robert Sampson (12) and Corvonn Gaines (11) during the first half of na NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State at the Carolina First Arena in Charleston, S.C. Lebo resigned as head coach Wednesday.

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Farmers market extends outdoor season in Carlisle

Farmers on the Square extended its outdoor hours this year, adding to the Christmas festivities in downtown Carlisle.

Julie Lesman, executive director of Farmers on the Square, said the market usually went inside at Project SHARE for the months of November and December, but that put some of the vendors at a disadvantage. Dickinson College Farm, for example, couldn’t bring its pizza oven inside the building at Project SHARE.

“We noticed our numbers were getting quite low when we go from outside to inside because really we lose all of the possible passersby or people in their cars who may pull over,” Lesman said.

The board of FOTS agreed to stay outside through the final market in December, which will be on Dec. 20, the Wednesday before Christmas. The hours have, however, been shortened to 3-6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

“We’re hoping it adds to the Carlisle community Christmas season by having us out there,” Lesman said.

Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm, a longtime market vendor, commended the board of FOTS for the decision to remain outside as the Square is a highly visible space that contributes to the social aspect of the market. It has become a space where neighbors come together to support local agriculture and to catch up with one another.

“I think it’s great to keep that community feel there at the Square for these extra weeks, especially as folks in the community make plans to cook meals for one another,” he said.

Tirzah Seaford with Roots Cut Flower Farm voted in favor of staying outside for the season when the question was put to a vote.

“Granted, when they gave us the vote it was probably 90-plus degrees and humid,” she said. “There’s something to be said about being at the Square in front of the church during the holidays. There’s still a magic about it.”

Lesman said they are working on adding light to the market as the days continue to get shorter. In addition to the work lights, many of the vendors are adding string lights to their booths to provide added light and a touch of a holiday look.

The market will offer gift items and food or drinks for holiday parties. Holiday music will also be playing at each of the markets.

“I’ve been trying to reach out to musicians we haven’t ever had before like the church choir or a capella groups just to change it up,” Lesman said.

The holiday market also gives Wenk the opportunity to showcase a relatively new product at the Square. Ploughman Cider is a new venture for Three Springs Fruit Farm, about 20 miles south of Carlisle. With its limited winery license through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Ploughman received a farmers market permit allowing it to sell its ciders at farmers markets in the state, as it did when the winter market was indoors last January.

Wenk said they had assumed First Presbyterian Church would not allow sales of alcoholic beverages on its grounds. The FOTS board spoke to the church, and Ploughman Cider will now be available through the entire outdoor season.

“As a compromise, we won’t be pouring samples at the outdoor market but we’re appreciative of the opportunity to sell our cider to the same folks who have enjoyed our apples and other fruits at the market for all of these years,” Wenk said.

The market will move back inside at Project SHARE from 3 to 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from Jan. 1 though the end of April.

Carlisle Borough Council recently approved a request that will allow the market to gain more visibility when it heads back outside for its 2018 season. The council granted the market a special events permit under the auspices of the Downtown Carlisle Association to bring it in compliance with the borough’s sidewalk ordinance. Lesman said the DCA is not a partner with the market, but a sponsor.

The move will benefit some vendors who are now located along the grass in the back corner of the churchyard.

“It would get those vendors off the grass and having them on High Street would make that piece of the market much more visible to passersby and cars going by,” Lesman said.

Ask/Answered: Flying the flag at half-staff

Ask/Answered is a weekly feature for reader-submitted questions. Follow the blog online at

When is the U.S. flag supposed to be flown at half-staff?

Flying the U.S. flag at half-staff is a sign of reverence.

The U.S. Code defines when the flag should be flown at half-staff, and in general, it is done so at the discretion of the president following the death of public officials or foreign dignitaries.

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. flags at half-staff six times since taking office in January, with the first being on April 6 for the burial of former NASA astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn.

The most recent presidential proclamation came on Nov. 6 when Trump ordered flags to half-staff following the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

State governors also have the authority to order the U.S. flag to half-staff following the death of an official of any “state, territory or possession of the United States” or the death of a member of the U.S. armed forces.

The U.S. Code also outlines two days in which the flag is supposed to be flown at half-staff.

Those are Memorial Day, when the flag is to be displayed at half-staff until noon and then raised to full staff, and Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day, according to the U.S. Code.

The flag is also to be flown at half-staff for 30 days in the event of the death of a current or former president and for 10 days in the event of the death of other figures like the sitting vice president, chief justice of U.S. Supreme Court and the speaker of the House.

For an associate justice of the Supreme Court, former vice president or a governor of a state, the flag is to be flown at half-staff from the day of death until internment and on the day of death for members of Congress, according to the U.S. Code.

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South Middleton Schools
South Middleton School District comes to terms with UPMC Pinnacle

UPMC Pinnacle has agreed to make voluntary contributions in lieu of property tax payments to the South Middleton School District at least through the year 2022-23.

The school board Nov. 20 approved a five-year education contribution agreement with the health care system regarding the tax-exempt status of its Pinnacle Health Carlisle Regional Medical Center property at 361 Alexander Spring Road, South Middleton Township.

Under the agreement, UPMC will pay the district $500,000 on or before July 1 for the 2018-19 year. The annual contribution will decrease to $400,000 on or before July 1, 2019, for 2019-20. Following that, the contribution will decrease to and stay at $225,000 for the years 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23.

The five-year term runs from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2023. From that point, the annual contribution will remain at $225,000 and the agreement will automatically renew for successive one-year terms unless the school district or UPMC Pinnacle provides a notice of their intention not to renew six months prior to the latest expiration date.

In recent years the district received about $700,000 in tax revenue from the hospital, which was the single largest taxpayer in South Middleton Township. The township and school district share a common geography.

The district was advised this year of the pending merger between Pinnacle Health and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In October, UPMC Pinnacle made its case before a tax appeals board for nonprofit status for the hospital, which would make it exempt from having to pay property taxes to Cumberland County and the district.

Rather than wait for this outcome, South Middleton school officials reached out to Pinnacle to negotiate a PILOT or payment in lieu of taxes agreement.

“We were the first school district of those affected to step up and proactively meet with Pinnacle,” said Michael Berk, South Middleton School Board president. “We wanted them to understand the concerns of the school district and what impact the loss of tax revenue was going to have on students and the educational program.”

It has been the consistent practice of the health care system to negotiate with school districts impacted by efforts to seek tax exempt status for its hospitals and other buildings, Berk said. “We knew they would be at least willing to sit and discuss terms with us.”

“We have a strong history of entering into community contribution agreements with local municipalities and school districts to support education, needed infrastructure and safety improvements in the community,” said Kelly McCall, public relations director for UPMC Pinnacle. “This agreement with South Middleton School District supports those important services and reflects our ongoing investment in building healthier communities through our support of community wellness and preventive programs, public health education, charitable care and other outreach programs.”

Talks began this summer between the senior vice president of administration for UPMC Pinnacle and the school district solicitor and top administrators. Negotiations ended in October and the school board approved the agreement on Nov. 20.

“None of us were happy by the loss of the revenue,” Berk said. “I think the agreement was probably the best we could have hoped for. Everybody was resigned to that fact.”

At the very least, the negotiations resulted in a gradual reduction in revenue from the Carlisle Regional Medical Center rather than a rapid reduction in just a year or two, he said.

“We were able to spread it out over a five-year period,” Berk said. “It’s going to have an impact on the district. That is something the board is really going to have to study and work with the administration to deal with the loss of revenue.”

The agreement calls for each voluntary contribution to be paid in one payment directly to the district business manager. The district has the right to accrue a late charge on any unpaid balance.

Under the terms, the district agrees the Carlisle Regional Medical Center should be exempt from the property tax. By signing it, school officials affirm the district will not contest the determination that the hospital is entitled to an exemption under the state constitution and the Pennsylvania Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 29, UPMC Pinnacle officials have approved the agreement, but have yet to sign the pact. “It should be in the coming weeks,” McCall said.

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Crews respond to house fire in Mechanicsburg Tuesday night

Multiple fire crews responded to a house fire in Mechanicsburg Tuesday night shortly after 10 p.m.

The first-alarm fire broke out around 10:11 p.m. in the 100 block of East Portland Street in the borough.

It took crews nearly three hours to clear the scene, according to Cumberland County Communications. A patient was transported from the scene. No further details were available.

Food, clothing and shelter were provided by the American Red Cross to three adults and one child who lived in the building.

According to a photographer at the scene, fire crews from Upper Allen, Citizens in Mechanicsburg, Washington, Hampden, Silver Spring, New Kingstown and the Navy Base were on the scene, primarily working on the second floor of the home.