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Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

Camp Hill's Diamond Bragg during More Than a Game Charity All-Star Game at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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Mayor: There will not be a casino in Carlisle

There will not be a casino in Carlisle.

Carlisle Mayor Tim Scott opened the borough council meeting Thursday night with a statement that the council was not in favor of moving forward with any casino.

“Borough council has reached no consensus on moving forward with approval, and there are no immediate plans to take up this issue at any future meetings,” he said.

Later in the meeting, in response to a question from a resident, Scott further clarified that “there is a majority of council that is actually opposed to such an action.”

The announcement echoed a statement posted earlier Thursday on the social media site Nextdoor in which Scott said the borough council had no immediate plans to reconsider its previous decision to opt out of allowing a casino in the borough.

Absent a vote to rescind the December 2017 resolution to prohibit a casino from locating in the borough, the casino proposed by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment would not be permitted.

Last week, Anthony Ricci, CEO of Greenwood Gaming, the parent company of Parx Casino, gave a presentation in which he said a Category 4 casino in Carlisle could bring in 250 full-time, permanent jobs that pay above minimum wage and would inject some $50 million into the community.

Ricci also said the casino would put $1 million each into the borough’s and county’s coffers.

The statement posted to Nextdoor said borough staff has heard from residents, business leaders and elected officials alike “regarding the merits of the gaming industry and the implications it could have for our community.”

Residents brought up some of those concerns at the meeting after Scott made his announcement.

Bob Cavenagh said he was specifically opposed to slot machines, which have been engineered with computer scientists and psychologists to “anesthesize players,” and would be too readily available to those who could least afford to play. He was also concerned about the potential for addiction.

“Slot machines have been described, not by me, as the crack cocaine of gambling,” he said.

Michael Smith, a junior at Carlisle High School, called on the council to consider marginalized members of the community in any casino discussions. Gambling is frequently seen as an escape from poverty, typically leading those who gamble to do so more frequently.

He also said Carlisle is a town filled with people prone to addiction, and to add another vice would be detrimental to the town.

The money the casino could bring to town could be used for a variety of projects, but Smith asked what the cost would be.

“Please do not even consider a vote on gambling. Please do not turn Carlisle into a town that uses the poor and the addicted to fund its own projects,” he said.

Bert Lennon urged the council to remain alert to what happens in neighboring townships. A “concrete curtain” of warehouses have been built around Carlisle as developers have built on land away from those townships’ population centers. The same could happen with a casino, if the townships opt in.

“We could still, even though we don’t opt in to it, suffer all the negative consequences and none of the positive consequences of a casino if one of the townships around us choose to opt in,” he said.

The townships immediately surrounding Carlisle have opted out of allowing a casino.

Scott also said in the Nextdoor statement that individual discussions with other council members have shown that “gaming and the gaming industry is complex and multilayered with good and bad examples of operators across the country.”

The statement also said there are numerous studies that show both positive and negative effects of gaming on communities.

The borough will continue to have open discussion on the topic, according to the statement, but the discussion is just that — a discussion.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the residents who participated in the process by sharing data, analysis and articles and also my colleagues on council for their thoughtful comments,” Scott wrote in a statement. “ I would also like to thank Greenwood Gaming for taking the time to make their presentation and for answering questions from the community.”

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Carlisle Schools
Carlisle High School's mock crash drives home the danger of drunk driving

Juniors and seniors at Carlisle High School watched a graphic reminder of what one decision can cost individuals, families and schools.

A mock crash was staged Thursday in advance of tonight’s prom.

In the scenario, students who held a pre-prom party were on their way back home to get ready for the big night. At the same time, a teacher was taking her children to a babysitter so that she could attend the prom to spend time with her students. The two collide, leaving one car overturned and debris strewn across the road.

From the moment one of the student-actors climbed out of an overturned car and called 911 to the moment the “deceased” are taken away from the scene by Hoffman Funeral Home, all of the action the students witnessed over the next hour or so offered a realistic, albeit slower, portrayal of what happens at a crash scene.

Justin Kretzing, the school’s health, safety and driver’s education teacher, warned the students that everything happening in front of them would happen at a real crash scene, but had been slowed to allow students to be able to see everything.

“Hundreds of people put in time to make this event happen,” Kretzing said.

For the student-actors, the work started with meetings during club periods in January and a few meetings before school.

Until Thursday, they had not done a run through or practiced the mock crash. They knew who would be injured and had an outline of the scene that would play out. That was part of the plan to make it as authentic as possible, said Rebecca Winton, who played the driver of the overturned car.

If any students thought Winton seemed an unlikely choice to be driving under the influence, that, too, was by design.

“Mr. Kretzing spends a lot of time finding students who would never be in these situations just to really show that no one is immune to it. And then we kind of decide the roles based on what we are all comfortable,” she said.

Junior Daija Berry played a passenger in the overturned car who had to wait in the car until the fire personnel cut her out. In preparation for the mock crash, she and the other actors got into the cars to see what it would be like as the scene played out.

Senior Nathan Smyers was nervous about playing dead under a sheet for the whole scenario, but it was worth it to be part of an important lesson.

“The mock crash sends a pretty powerful message. I’ve had some friends in the past who were part of it, and they said it was a great experience. It feels good to be part of something where you’re opening the eyes of your classmates,” he said.

Nicholas Kuhn, an eighth-grader, played one of the children of a teacher killed in the crash. He’s played the role in a mock crash before and didn’t hesitate to do it again because he said it demonstrates for even future generations how important it is to be aware of dangerous decisions.

“It just really relates to everyone, so I think that it’s important for everyone to find out and know the truth,” he said.

Paramedic Kitty Strait participated in a mock crash about six years ago. She knew that some of the students would laugh and giggle during the mock crash, but she also knew that others would be affected for some time.

Events like this make a huge initial impact that lasts 24 to 48 hours, she said. That made the timing of Thursday’s mock crash perfect for Carlisle’s prom.

“Some take it away and remember it. I think it has an impact. Does it impact everyone? Absolutely not, as with anything. But you are going to have those kids that it does impact,” she said.

“It’s very important because they see what happens at a scene. They see how people react, how things work with fire and EMS. It drives it home,” said Perry County Coroner Bob Ressler, who narrated the crash.

Prom and graduation season is a mixed bag with some schools doing more than others to help guide their students to making safer decisions, he said.

“We’d like to see more schools get involved in doing this,” he said.

The mock crash contained an epilogue of sorts that took place a year later when Winton was sentenced by Judge Al Masland to 11-22 years in state prison on charges of three counts of homicide by vehicle while under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence and driving under the influence.

The event ended with one final plea from the teacher who brought together the team that presented the mock crash.

“Every person in this high school, in some capacity, would be impacted if this happened to one of you,” Kretzing said.

He told the students to watch out for their friends at prom, graduation and for the rest of their lives.

“It’s your job to look out for those that you care about,” he said.

Carlisle Police Department, Union Fire Company, North Middleton Fire Company, Carlisle Fire and Rescue Services, Cumberland Goodwill EMS, Yellow Breeches EMS, Cumberland County judges, Hoffman Funeral Home and the Cumberland County Coroner’s office assisted with the program.

John’s Towing donated the cars and towed them to and from the school.

Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

Rebecca Winton reacts during the annual Carlisle High School mock crash.

Bill Tracker
Bill Tracker: Changing how EMS agencies get paid

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

An emergency happens, someone calls 911 and an ambulance gets dispatched.

From motor vehicle crashes to falls to medical emergencies, thousands of these calls come in to Cumberland County every year and each one takes a financial toll on the responding EMS agency.

However, paying that bill can be easier said than done depending on the patient’s insurance.

Under current Pennsylvania law, if an EMS provider is in the insurance company’s network, payment is remitted directly to EMS from the insurance company, according to Rep. Kurt Masser, R-Columbia County.

That’s not the case if the EMS agency is not part of the insurance network.

In those cases a check is sent directly to the patient, who is supposed to pay the EMS agency, according to Masser.

“This causes long delays for the provider in receiving payment, creating a cash flow problem,” Masser wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “More significantly, there are many times a patient fails to forward the reimbursement to the provider causing more financial strain.”

Masser has introduced a bill aimed at correcting this problem.

House Bill 1827 would require insurance companies to pay EMS agencies directly, regardless of whether the EMS agency is in network or out.

Masser’s bill excludes certain types of coverage including dental, vision, worker’s compensation, long-term care and automobile medical payment insurance.

Potent pollen season brings misery to Midstate

HARRISBURG — No, it’s not your imagination. This year’s pollen season is especially bad.

“The streets are paved with gold. It is all pollen,” allergist Dr. Donald Harper said.

There’s a reason for this year’s particular misery.

“Basically, we had a cold, cold, cold winter, and once we warmed up and the weather dried out, the trees exploded,” Harper said.

“We really didn’t see anything blooming during April, so it all waited until May. That’s when we hit 90 degrees, and we had some record heat to start May, so everything blossomed and bloomed all at one time,” ABC27 Meteorologist Eric Finkenbinder said.

Harper said the late start to spring will likely give central Pennsylvania a short, but powerful pollen season.

“Pollen counts are very consistently high in Pennsylvania during the springtime. This year, what we’re having is we’re probably gonna have a very condensed season, but a very intense season,” Harper said.

When trees dry out from heavy rains or morning dew, pollen packs a punch. Evenings are usually more bearable for allergy sufferers.

“Typically around lunchtime or afternoon, pollen release is going to have peaked, the trees that are going to release that day have already released, and you’re just sort of waiting for the stuff to settle out,” Harper said.

Complete relief is anticipated for the second week in June, when trees stop releasing so much pollen, but rain showers might clear the air in the mean time.

“Settle the dust, settle the pollen, and we do see more chances. We’re gonna keep the heat, we’re gonna keep the warm air moving into the middle of the month. We just need to see that rain, and it looks like it’s going to happen,” Finkenbinder said.

If mother nature doesn’t cooperate, Harper recommends keeping windows closed, wearing sunglasses and taking medication.

“A variety of good over-the-counter medications full of antihistamines, most of those available now are generally not going to put you to sleep, which is excellent. There are a variety of nose sprays over-the-counter, as well,” Harper said.

Once pollen passes, grass will take over as the major allergy irritant.