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CEO says Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment 'very interested' in Carlisle area for casino

Officials from Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment said Wednesday that a casino located in Carlisle could bring $1 million each to the borough and to Cumberland County.

Greenwood Gaming’s CEO Anthony Ricci spoke to borough council about the potential to bring a Category 4 casino to an unspecified location in town. The company won the license for a specified area, in which it then must find a location in which to site the location.

“I can’t stand here before you this evening and give you specifics on location because the process doesn’t really play that way, but we would be very interested in the Carlisle area if the borough opted back in,” Ricci said.

He did, however, describe the type of location the company is seeking. The company is looking for a retail-oriented location with excellent access, egress and parking that would most likely be in a shopping mall.

Ricci said Greenwood Gaming would work with the community on the location.

The casino could be open 24 hours, but it isn’t likely at this location except possibly on weekends, he said.

The casino is expected to generate 250 jobs, of which two-thirds would be full time. All save servers who receive tips would be paid more than minimum wage. Ricci said the average employee earns $42,000 per year.

The casino would also generate $50 million in annual economic benefit to the community, he said. Construction of the casino would bring 350 jobs and $60 million in economic benefit during that phase.

Ricci said the casino is projected to bring in $50-$55 million, of which the county and the borough would each receive 2 percent.

County Commissioner Jim Hertzler said the money coming back to the county is not in cash, but in the form of grants for county projects.

Ricci told the council that everything it had done in other locations has uplifted the community, including positively affecting property values.

“There has been no adverse impact on traffic and crime. We have a very strong responsible gaming program that certainly limits compulsive gambling issues,” Ricci said.

All casino employees are trained to recognize problem gambling, and the casino is tight on credit so that customers cannot overextend, Ricci said. Printed brochures and signs also alert customers to problem gambling, and the casino works with an organization that assists people with problem gambling.

“What we’ve seen is that people gamble responsibly,” Ricci said.

Residents commenting on the presentation at the meeting seemed skeptical concerning that claim.

Having come from Mesa, Arizona, where casinos are prevalent, David Hodge said he saw plenty of casual gamblers who became broke. As a volunteer at Project SHARE in Carlisle, he has seen people who can least afford it lose money at Penn National’s Hollywood Casino.

“We are definitely going to have a lot of people who are going to lose everything they’ve got,” he said.

Ricci also said the casino is not likely to put a dent in Carlisle’s restaurant scene as it expects to have only a “sports bar” style restaurant onsite.

The potential for increased crime also concerned many of those who asked questions at the meeting. Ricci said keeping crime down is good business practice for the casino as people do not want to come to a crime-ridden, dirty facility.

At the properties it currently owns, the casino works with the local police department for routine patrols. Ricci said the one problem they have seen is people leaving their children in their cars, but the casino added roving patrols that reduced the number of occurrences.

Councilman Sean Shultz said the council is not likely to act on a resolution before its June meeting. If there is a sense that at least four members of the council are interested in the casino, they would then have to consider the zoning for it.

A casino could be built as a special exception under current zoning, which would require the approval of the zoning hearing board.

Should the council opt back in, Greenwood Gaming would have to finish its plans within six months of the date that it was awarded the license. The gaming control board would have to approve the plan. If that happens before the end of the year, a casino in a renovated retail space could open by the middle of 2019.

Building from a blank slate could take up to a year and a half, Ricci said.

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Cumberland County
Cumberland County Envirothon takes students outdoors to compete

Students from nine local high schools participated Tuesday in the 2018 Cumberland County Envirothon at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

Twenty-six teams of three to five students each rotated through five stations where they answered questions on aquatics, forestry, wildlife, soils and a current topic in conservation.

Team members had 30 minutes at each station to work together to provide answers on a written exam of 100 maximum points, said Lori Glace, a conservation analyst with the county Conservation District.

The top-scoring team — that was the Green Salamanders from Cumberland Valley High School Tuesday — not only earns bragging rights and a traveling trophy, but also a spot as the Cumberland County representative to the statewide Envirothon, Glace said. That competition is scheduled for May 22-23 at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove and the Mount Luther nature preserve outside Mifflinburg.

The top Pennsylvania team will advance to the national competition scheduled for July 22-28 at Idaho State University in Pocatella.

In Cumberland County, awards are given out for first, second and third place for each station and for first, second and third place overall. Each written exam featured a field component, along with questions on resource management that applied to that topic.

“We love getting students outdoors,” Glace said. “We love letting them have hands-on experience and to see professionals in the field.”

Hands-on experience

For example, for wildlife, students had to identify birds and mammals by their sounds, tracks, appearance or droppings. They also had to answer questions on Pennsylvania Game Commission regulations and the rules of hunting. For forestry, the students had to identify trees and to use an instrument to calculate the board-length of timber a tree could produce.

Jenny Pyres and Amber Sim are science teachers at Cumberland Valley High School and co-advisers of its Envirothon Club. This year the school fielded 14 students divided among three teams including one of all seniors.

“It’s invaluable,” Pyres said about the annual competition. “In a lot of ways, it’s hands-on education. They get to see, hear and touch things in the field they don’t get to do in a classroom.”

The county Envirothon is also an opportunity for high school students to learn more about careers in conservation and ecology by networking with professionals in the field.

The Cumberland Valley club meets once a week after school to prepare students for the test questions. “We take a different topic each week and we study that topic,” Sim said. “We study the information from the Environthon website.”

“I want the students to come away with an appreciation and a love of the outdoors and a love for conservation,” Pyres said.

At Boiling Springs High School, it is mission accomplished. “It’s important that we know about our environment and how to take care of it,” said Fiona Carmichael, a senior and member of a team that called itself Bees Knees. She said the annual envirothon not only highlights the need for conservation education, but encourages students to learn through competition. Other members of Bees Knees are seniors Lyndsey Turner and Lena Polliard and junior Jack Still.

Lessons learned

Trent Ushery is a junior at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School and a first-time participant in the county Envirothon. A hunter, he was recruited to learn more about wildlife by a school science teacher. Ushery said the competition was important because it taught students not to destroy things and instead make better decisions.

John Schwartzer is a forester for Cumberland and Franklin counties for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. While a student at Cedar Cliff High School, he was on teams that won the Cumberland County Envirothon in 2002 and 2003, qualifying for state competition.

“This is how I got my start,” said Schwartzer, who was giving the forestry test Tuesday. “I competed and loved it. It convinced me to pursue forestry as a career.”

Cindy Adams Dunn, current DCNR secretary, was invited to observe Tuesday’s Envirothon. “One of the most important things we do is to engage the next generation,” Dunn said. “They are the future leaders of the country and of the local area. We need them to be good stewards of the public lands and of the environment. We really support efforts like Envirothon.”

The nine participating high schools were Carlisle, Cumberland Valley, Big Spring, Boiling Springs, Mechanicsburg, East Pennsboro, Camp Hill, Cedar Cliff and Shippensburg.

Joshua Vaughn, The Sentinel 

Students from Cedar Cliff High School attempt to identify local wildlife, including several species of turtles, Tuesday during the Cumberland County Envirothon at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Cooke Township

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Ask/Answered: McDonald's temporarily closes in South Middleton Township

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

What is the story with the closing and remodel of McDonald’s on Walnut Bottom Road? How long until it reopens?

It will be a few more weeks before customers can enjoy a Big Mac from the McDonald’s on Walnut Bottom Road in South Middleton Township, according to South Middleton Township Supervisor Tom Faley.

The golden arches will remain closed for about three more weeks to allow for interior renovations, Faley said.

Building permits were approved by the township in March, according to Faley, and work began on April 28.

The renovations require the location be closed temporarily.

The McDonald’s restaurant is expected to reopen by the end of May, Faley said.

The renovations involve the interior only and will not affect the size of the 5,995-squre-foot building, Faley said.

In total, the project is estimated to cost $730,000, according to Faley. More than $14,000 of that money will be paid to the township for things like inspections, Faley sad.

“McDonald’s has been a good corporate entity to work with,” Faley said. “We wish them continued success.”

There are three other McDonald’s locations within the Carlisle area: one in the 600 block of East High Street, one at Carlisle Commons — both in Carlisle — and one in the 1100 block of Harrisburg Pike in Middlesex Township.

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With girls joining the ranks, Boy Scouts plan a name change

For 108 years, the Boy Scouts of America’s flagship program has been known simply as the Boy Scouts. With girls soon entering the ranks, the group says that iconic name will change.

The organization on Wednesday announced a new name for its Boy Scouts program: Scouts BSA. The change will take effect next February.

Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said many possibilities were considered during lengthy and “incredibly fun” deliberations before the new name was chosen.

“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” he said. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”

The parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts — its program for 7- to 10-year-olds — will keep its title, as well.

But the Boy Scouts — the program for 11- to 17-year-olds — will now be Scouts BSA.

The organization has already started admitting girls into the Cub Scouts, and Scouts BSA begins accepting girls next year.

Surbaugh predicted that both boys and girls in Scouts BSA would refer to themselves simply as scouts, rather than adding “boy” or “girl” as a modifier.

The program for the older boys and girls will largely be divided along gender-lines, with single-sex units pursuing the same types of activities, earning the same array of merit badges and potentially having the same pathway to the coveted Eagle Scout award.

Surbaugh said that having separate units for boys and girls should alleviate concerns that girls joining the BSA for the first time might be at a disadvantage in seeking leadership opportunities.

So far, more than 3,000 girls have joined roughly 170 Cub Scout packs participating in the first phase of the new policy, and the pace will intensify this summer under a nationwide multimedia recruitment campaign titled “Scout Me In.”

The name change comes amid strained relations between the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.

Girl Scout leaders said they were blindsided by the move, and they are gearing up an aggressive campaign to recruit and retain girls as members.

Among the initiatives is creation of numerous new badges that girls can earn, focusing on outdoor activities and on science, engineering, technology and math. The organization is expanding corporate partnerships in both those areas, and developing a Girl Scout Network Page on LinkedIn to support career advancement for former Girl Scouts.

“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” said Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts’ CEO. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills ... and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults.”

The Girl Scouts and the BSA are among several major youth organizations in the U.S. experiencing sharp drops in membership in recent years. Reasons include competition from sports leagues, a perception by some families that they are old-fashioned and busy family schedules.

The Boy Scouts say current youth participation is about 2.3 million, down from 2.6 million in 2013 and more than 4 million in peak years of the past.

The Girl Scouts say they have about 1.76 million girls and more than 780,000 adult members, down from just over 2 million youth members and about 800,000 adult members in 2014.

The overall impact of the BSA’s policy change on Girl Scouts membership won’t be known any time soon. But one regional leader, Fiona Cummings of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, believes the BSA’s decision to admit girls is among the factors that have shrunk her council’s youth membership by more than 500 girls so far this year.

She said relations with the Boy Scouts in her region used to be collaborative and now are “very chilly.”

“How do you manage these strategic tensions?” she asked. “We both need to increase our membership numbers.”

Surbaugh said BSA’s national leadership respected the Girl Scouts’ program and hoped both organizations could gain strength.

“If the best fit for your girl is the Girl Scouts, that’s fantastic,” he said. “If it’s not them, it might be us.”