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Jason Malmont 

Camp Hills’ Passion Bragg, right, shoots around Steel-Highs’ Serenity Vidot during the second quarter of their District 3, AA, championship game at the Giant Center, Hershey.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press 

Students from Montgomery County, Md., in suburban Washington, rally in solidarity with those affected by the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, at the Capitol in Washington.

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Students plan walkouts at Carlisle, Boiling Springs high schools

Students in at least two Cumberland County high schools are planning a walkout on the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students at Carlisle High School and Boiling Springs High School have confirmed plans for a 10 a.m. walkout on March 14 to memorialize those killed in the attack and to bring attention to the issues of violence and gun control.

Aidan Checkett, one of five students leading the planning effort for the walkout, said the students at Carlisle were horrified when they heard about the shooting in Parkland, but were also inspired by the response of the students directly affected by the tragedy.

Seeing those students take the risk to speak out for their cause “snapped us out of this malaise that we were in” and made the Carlisle students passionate to speak out as well, Checkett said.

Everyone go ahead and follow our Instagram!!!

— CHS Walkout (@CHS_Walkout) February 27, 2018The other student-leaders of the event are Michael Smith, Collin Willard, Maddy Starling and Ava Wendelken.

“We really want to send a message to our local community and, as part of the broader movement, to Congress that this is something that really needs to be done after years of inaction,” Checkett said.

Students at Boiling Springs had a similar response to the shooting at Parkland, according to Asia Whittenberger, who spoke on behalf of the students organizing the schoolwide effort. They had heard about the student walkout that had been backed by the Womens March, and started asking around to see who would be willing to participate in a way that would “not be disrespectful just to get out of class.”

A statement posted to the CHS Walkout Twitter account, which was created last week, reads that the students are “sickened, furious and terrified at the murder of 17 fellow students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.”

The statement also says the tragedy is one out of scores of shootings that have occurred since Columbine, “marking a repeated trend of murder with continued inaction from lawmakers.”

“To this day, essentially nothing has been done to prevent the deaths of children, or all others brutally and unjustifably slaughtered throughout the years. Enough is enough,” the statement read.

The statement continues to say that the students “understand and respect” the significance of the right to bear arms, as expressed in the Second Amendment, to many Americans, but that something must change.

“We demand sensible gun control that protects our right to life free from fear, and that does not also infringe upon our second amendment rights,” the statement read.

At both schools, all the students who wish to participate will leave their classrooms at 10 a.m.

Carlisle students plan to hold a memorial for the victims at Parkland that will last about 10 minutes. The memorial will be followed by speakers on the topics of gun control, violence and the changes the students want to see in their schools.

Whittenberger said students plan to make the program at the Boiling Springs walkout last 17 minutes, one minute for each of those killed in Parkland.

The students have discussed their plans with the administration, which Whittenberger said has been cooperative while not taking a stance on the issues being raised by the students.

One key concern for the students is safety, since Whittenberger acknowledges there is vulnerability in having hundreds of students gather in an open space. To that end, leaders of the school clubs recently met with the administration to assure the walkout could be done in a safe manner.

“The whole point is to protest gun violence and, in any public place you go, there’s a chance of being shot,” she said.

Carlisle students are also working with the administration to ensure the safety of the students, and Checkett was adamant that the action the students are taking is not to protest the school itself.

“We are walking out of school to emphasize the loss of students at school,” he said.

While the administration at East Pennsboro is not aware of any student plans for a walk-out, Acting Superintendent Greg Milbrand is leading focus groups of teachers, parents, students and community members to discuss current safety and security protocol as well as to brainstorm additional student supports.

Shippensburg Area School District Superintendent Jerry Wilson said a few students at the high school are discussing an activity on March 14, and that the district will “work with the students to exercise student expression as outlined in our policies.”

Likewise, the administration at Big Spring High School is working with its student leadership on plans for that date.

“Our guiding focus will be the safety of our students and staff. We will have a firm plan prior to the date that has been collaboratively planned with student leaders, administrators and staff,” Superintendent Richard Fry said.

Camp Hill Superintendent Patricia Craig said students at the district’s high school “have not indicated they are planning to participate in a walkout.”

The Sentinel did not receive replies from other schools in the county as of press time.

GOP leaders move slowly on tighter gun law

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday showed little interest in stricter gun control proposals being floated in Congress, leaving the issue in the hands of wary Senate leaders and President Donald Trump, whose shifting views have left no clear strategy for legislative action.

As student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting lobbied lawmakers for tougher gun laws, Ryan acknowledged “system failures” in Florida that he said Congress should review.

But GOP leaders did not promise votes on the matter and stopped short of offering solutions, beyond a pending bill aimed at increasing participation in the existing federal background check system. The bill uses new incentives and penalties to encourage better compliance with current law, but does not expand the pool of gun buyers required to undergo background checks before buying a gun.

Even as he endorsed the measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell downplayed its significance, saying it would not be a “panacea” for the rash of gun violence.

But McConnell said he wanted to “at least show some progress toward dealing with one element of the problem.”

Republican leaders, who have majority control of the House and Senate, are reluctant to lead on legislation without knowing they have Trump’s full support and can rely on his popularity with a core flank of the GOP electorate to shield them from political blowback.

But Trump, who is inviting lawmakers to the White House on Wednesday, has proven an inconsistent partner in such policy debates, including the issue of gun violence that has taken on fresh urgency since the Valentine’s Day assault that left 17 dead.

One of Trump’s top gun safety proposals after the Florida shooting — raising the age to purchase some rifles from 18 to 21 — receded after Trump lunched with leaders of the National Rifle Association last weekend. The idea had been promoted by TV personality Geraldo Rivera, who recently had dinner with Trump in Florida. But it was met with stiff resistance from the NRA.

Although Trump has been quiet about the idea in recent days, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that the president continues to support raising the minimum age and expects that to be a topic of discussion when he meets with lawmakers.

But Rivera, a Trump ally, scolded the president on Twitter for appearing to back away from the proposal. “Incredibly we’re set to do nothing re gun control again,” Rivera tweeted. “The only person in the country strong enough to stand up to #NRA @realDonaldTrump is apparently taking a pass after dropping modest reform of banning sales of semi automatics to kids not old enough to buy cigarettes & beer.”

The Senate could vote this week on the legislation from Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, though votes were not yet scheduled amid resistance from within the GOP ranks and demands by Democrats to vote on other measures.

The “Fix NICS” bill, similar to one approved last year in the House, would reward federal agencies and states that utilize the background check system, and penalize those that don’t properly report required records used to determine whether someone can legally buy a gun. It was introduced last fall after the shooting of churchgoers in Texas. At the time, authorities acknowledged having failed to report the Texas gunman’s domestic violence conviction to the database.

“Let’s do what we can and build from there,” Cornyn said.

But broader proposals were circulating, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged the Senate to be more ambitious than the “tiny” bill.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., are reviving their background check bill, which would expand reviews to include purchases online and at gun shows. It had failed after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

And Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., pushed a renewed bipartisan effort to block terror suspects on the federal no-fly list from buying guns.

“Let’s not set our sights too narrow and squander this moment,” said Schumer, who also met with students Tuesday.

Cornyn said he was dismayed that senators wanted to debate other ideas before taking up the background checks bill, and warned that a prolonged debate could result in no legislation being passed.

But even the “Fix NICS” bill faced resistance from some in the GOP, including leaders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

The House approved the bill late last year as part of a broader package that also expanded gun rights by requiring states to recognize conceal-carry permits issued by other states. Some House Republicans are resistant to separating the two issues, as is likely in the Senate.

Ryan did not commit to passing the background check bill on its own and panned other bills, including stiffer background checks and an assault weapons ban.

“We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens,” Ryan told reporters. “We should be focusing on making sure that citizens who should not get guns in the first place don’t get those guns.”

One of Trump’s proposals, to prohibit sales of bump stocks, the devices that turn rifles into automatic-style weapons and were used in the Las Vegas mass shooting last fall, is being considered by the Justice Department.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said top officials believe the hardware can be banned through the regulatory process. The approach is preferred by the NRA and could relieve Congress of pressure for legislative action.

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Upper Allen Township
Microhospital land deal falls through in Upper Allen

A microhospital originally scheduled for construction this spring at South Market Street and Gettysburg Pike in Upper Allen Township isn’t happening as planned, the property’s owner and real estate broker confirmed this week.

In November, NXT Harrisburg was in the process of purchasing and consolidating two commercial zone properties into a 2.93-acre lot for a new 19,722 square-foot freestanding microhospital and a 3,983-square-foot building suitable for leased office space.

NXT Harrisburg LLC of Addison, Texas, a division of Nutex Health, planned to operate the facility at 147 and 151 Gettysburg Pike, the current site of Maggie’s Italian Ice and Custard and a private home. The land purchase was expected to become finalized after developers obtained necessary permits, project engineer John Murphy of Alpha Consulting Engineers said in November.

Property owner John Eberly verified Feb. 27, however, that a contract between him and Nutex for the pending land sale expired on Jan. 31. Realtor William Gladstone of NAI CIR also said that the contract between Nutex and Eberly “no longer exists.”

Eberly received notification about the expired contract in a letter from Nutex, but the document didn’t state a reason for the termination, he said. “Whatever the reasons, Nutex didn’t share them with me,” Eberly said.

Nutex refused comment when asked about the development plans on Feb.22. Murphy said on Feb. 21 that he wasn’t aware of the status of the land sale.

Upper Allen Township manager Lou Fazekas said last week that township officials also were unaware of any changes with the sale. “We have not heard. The facility requires special state permits that may just be taking longer than usual,” Fazekas said.

In August 2017, the Upper Allen Township commissioners conditionally approved a final subdivision/land development plan for the Mechanicsburg Mircohospital at South Market Street and Gettysburg Pike.

The Mechanicsburg Microhospital was expected to offer the full capacity of a standard emergency department and observation unit, including emergency procedures, CT scans, bedside emergency ultrasound, X-rays and a full clinical laboratory.

Nutex Health is a consortium of licensed 24/7 stand-alone emergency facilities and hospitals with care provided by board-certified physician teams. For now, all operational Nutex facilities are based in Texas, but a map on the company’s website indicates that sites are planned in 16 states besides Pennsylvania.

Nutex Health’s website solicits ER doctors to invest in new health care facilities, with Nutex providing support to physicians who are both operators and financiers of new microhospitals and freestanding ERs.

“Our philosophy is simple: by providing physician investors with the tools, resources, and management services needed to build their emergency facility, we allow for a higher and more proficient level of care,” Nutex says on its site. “We deliver a turn-key process which includes providing equipment, design, licensing, and accreditation.”

Eberly said his properties remain on the market for now. “I’ve been approached by other developers who said they’re interested,” he said.

Maggie’s move postponed

After “a busy fall and winter of ups and downs,” Maggie’s Italian Ice in Upper Allen Township isn’t moving after all, its owners announced this month.

The frozen treat venue will remain at its current rented location at 147 Gettysburg Pike for at least one more year, Maggie’s owner Chuck Sterling said this week. Maggie’s opens for the new season Thursday.

“We are definitely going back for a year. Everybody’s happy. There’s a lot of happy families that didn’t want to see us go. Thank goodness we didn’t already move anything,” Sterling said.

Last fall, Sterling and wife Debbie planned to move their business to a rented site at an existing strip mall in Silver Spring Township because of the pending land sale of the Gettysburg Pike site. Sterling said he doesn’t know why the land sale was canceled.

“It was quite a surprise to us, too,” he said.

Cumberland County

Local educators and business leaders gathered this month to discuss workforce development strategies, in anticipation of a school survey regarding skilled trade jobs.

That survey will seek to gather data on attitudes toward skilled trades and the perception of the county’s job market, with the goal of improving Cumberland County’s base of technically skilled workers amidst a changing economy.

The survey will be distributed to students, teachers and parents in the fifth-, seventh-, and 11th-grade levels at Cumberland Valley, West Shore and Carlisle Area school districts, as well as the Carlisle Center for Careers and Technology and the Cumberland-Perry Area Vocational-Technical School.

“The main idea is asking ‘what do [respondents] consider a good-paying job? What do they consider a good career,’” said Laura Potthoff, CAEDC business and workforce development manager.

The study hopes to identify if a stigma still exists toward high-performing students going into the trades, as opposed to a college education path, despite the declining wage advantage of a college education.

Results of the study will help local business and education leaders develop skilled trades curriculum, particularly focused on health care, advanced manufacturing and heavy equipment operation and maintenance — the three employment areas where Cumberland County has the biggest labor deficit, Potthoff said.

“We’re looking to build a technical curriculum that is equally as valuable if you’re going to work right out of high school as it is if you’re going on to college to be a civil engineer or architect,” said Fred Withum, superintendent of Cumberland Valley School District, during a roundtable session on the topic.

Skilled trades

Cumberland Valley School District is working in tandem with Cumberland-Perry Vo-Tech and Harrisburg Area Community College to create a pipeline for students interested in the skilled trades — a curriculum that will allow them to progress to anything from a four-year college degree to an apprenticeship with a local business.

Withum relayed a particular concern with CV students who see traditional four-year colleges as the only career path, only to decide it isn’t for them, and leave after a year or two.

A modernized curriculum will give students college prep opportunities as well as technical certifications, he said.

“If those students decide college isn’t for them, they will come back with marketable skills and not just college prep courses,” Withum said.

CV High School has begun offering a program that gives students entry-level qualifications for heavy equipment and manufacturing work, such as vehicle flagging, electrical code, and forklift certifications. The program uses summer courses to ensure that students also get a full schedule of English, social studies, and other college-prep materials as well, giving them several options on graduation.

What educators would like to see are greater apprenticeship opportunities for students with local industrial outfits.

“Gradually, we want to start handing these students off to real-world experience, and that’s where we need your assistance,” Justin Bruhn, administrative director for Cumberland-Perry Vo-Tech, told business representatives during this month’s meeting.

HACC, as well, is offering a 66-hour pre-apprenticeship course for community college students interested in heavy equipment operation and maintenance.

“We’d like to take this and offer it not just to high school students, but also to adults who are looking to enter your industries,” said Lauren Holubec, director of manufacturing and logistics at HACC.


The number of paid apprenticeships or internships available to students of the skilled trades is still not at the level that could be supported, if businesses were willing to take on the responsibility.

“Paid internships, while initially a little painful, are going to put you in contact with the people you need,” said Vic Rodgers, associate provost for workforce development at HACC. “We can’t stand back and say ‘someone else will do this,’ because they won’t.”

Cumberland County, perhaps even more than the rest of the country, has struggled with a lack of skilled labor as demand for workers has grown.

Like most of the nation, the county has seen steady growth in its total jobs since 2011, with 2016 private-sector employment averaging over 116,000, as opposed to just over 103,000 at the trough of the recession in 2010. Cumberland County’s unemployment rate has also dropped from 6.8 percent at the height of the recession to 4.1 percent in 2016.

But at the same time, businesses have complained about a chronic shortage of skilled labor, even as they have increased wages for such positions relative to other jobs.

A Brookings Institution study, looking at wage data from 2010-15, found that the Harrisburg-Carlisle metro census region had one of the most economically divergent outcomes during the recession and recovery. Average pay per worker increased 5.9 percent in the Harrisburg-Carlisle region from 2010 to 2015, Brookings found. But median wages dropped 1.6 percent, and the number of Midstate residents earning less than half that median grew 5.3. percent, indicating that new jobs or workers added during the five year span were disproportionately on the low end of the pay scale.

Census data also shows that high school grads in the Midstate saw median wages decline 3 percent since the recession, and college grads lost 2.5 percent. Those with associates or technical education, however, saw median wage gains of 2.2 percent.