Thousands braved the sidewalk slush and rain showers in downtown Carlisle this weekend for the second CenturyLink Ice Art Fest.
The festival, produced by the Downtown Carlisle Association, continued on Saturday with a full roster of events after opening to large crowds on Friday. Festival committee member Leesa Braun said at 2 p.m. Saturday that she expected a total of around 3,000 visitors before the festival wrapped up for the day at 9 p.m.
Friday night’s crowd totaled around 2,000 visitors just between 4 and 10 p.m.
“We’ve had an excellent turnout. People have been asking for the carriage rides, (PNC Bank) Chili Cookout, Snow Sisters and the Penquin Toss,” said Rotary Club of Carlisle volunteer Kevin Cogan, who manned the event’s ticket booth.
On South Pitt Street, Traci Morrison said she sold tickets at a steady pace on Saturday for Benchfield Farms’ horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides through downtown Carlisle.
“It’s been very busy,” noted Morrison, a friend of the business’ owners Meg & Scott Enslin. “We’ve been running two wagons and a carriage since 11 a.m. We haven’t had an empty wagon all day. Every seven or eight minutes, a wagon departs, and every 15 minutes, there’s a carriage.”
The Enslins added another wagon to this year’s lineup because rides were booked “four to five hours out” last year with just one wagon on duty, Morrison added.
A Benchfield Farms carriage transported the Singing Snow Sisters for a noontime performance at the Square. The costumed snow fairies not affiliated with Disney’s “Frozen” enterprise are actually part of the character lineup of My Fantasy Party, a Mount Holly Springs firm owned by Jordan Gattermann that specializes in birthday parties.
After the concert, the Snow Sisters returned to The Vault for more songs and a meet-and-greet with 250 young fans and parents.
“We had to use tickets this year,” Gattermann said. “Last year, we had a line that wrapped around the block, and not everybody was able to get in.”
Tickets also were required for the Penguin Toss game in the rear lot of the Create-A-Palooza, which moved to the downtown at 11 E. High St., in March 2017. At least 20 families were in line for the game around 1 p.m. Money raised from game tickets would be donated to Downtown Carlisle Association to help cover festival costs, said Create-A-Palooza co-owner Karen Griffith.
Create-A-Palooza co-owner Jim Griffith said the couple decided a year ago to participate in this year’s Ice Art Fest. “We saw a stream of people going by during last year’s festival when we were doing remodeling here before we opened,” he recalled.
Create-A-Palooza was one of 74 local businesses and organizations that sponsored ice sculptures crafted for the event by Ice Concepts of Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Centerpieces included the Ice Throne sponsored by CenturyLink at the Square and a working Ice Bar sponsored by Comfort Suites. The patio at The 1794 Whiskey Rebellion at Comfort Suites bustled with customers on Saturday afternoon, with many posing for photos at the Ice Bar.
Bartender Erika Novak was busy preparing coffee, hot chocolate, and mixed drinks for the crowd.
“I don’t know how many people have been through here,” she said with a smile. “It’s been consistent. The rain has held off for now, and the people have been troopers here.”
On West Pomfret Street, glass artist Michael Peluso offered glass blowing workshops and demonstrations sponsored by the Pomfret Group. Peluso, of Elizabethtown, has designed glass for 18 years and taught classes for 15 years, he said during a demonstration with molten glass that remained at 1,500 degrees even after a minute or two of cooling. After several more minutes of heating, blowing and shaping, Peluso transformed the molten blob into a colorful glass jar.
At only 16 years old, Krittika Negandhi has her whole career ahead of her. Yet, having been one of two girls in her computer class, the Cumberland Valley High School senior is already encouraging younger girls to pursue STEM careers.
“Seeing that and experiencing that, we all have a wish to help the girls that are younger and help them pursue STEM in the future. It’s really not fair for them to be afraid or wary of the field for no reason,” Negandhi said.
STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — has played a key role in Negandhi’s high school career. She’s been a member of the robotics team for five years, starting with the team in eighth grade when someone recommended it to her.
“I didn’t really know anything about robotics, but I just thought it would be fun to give it a try. I ended up really liking it and sticking with it through high school,” she said.
As a member of the team, Negandhi has participated in competitions across the state which allowed her to meet people with similar interests while applying the concepts she was learning in her math and science classes.
She explained, for example, that she learned about torque in physics.
“We can experiment with different gear ratios on our robots to increase the torque or increase the speed. We learn the theory in physics, but we can actually apply that and create a robot that has better torque or better speed,” she said.
One competition for the robotics team is the First Tech Challenge. This year’s challenge has the theme of “Relic Recovery,” tasking competitors with building, designing and programming an 18-inch by 18-inch robot that can pick up cubes, place them and score them as well as detect the color of a ball and knock the correct color off a table.
“We have to program all of these different challenges beforehand, and then at the competition we run our programs with three different robots on the field at the same time,” she said.
The daughter of Jignasha Manck and Hiten Negandhi, Negandhi even took her love of science and robotics along to India when she traveled there to visit family. During the trip, she had the opportunity to demonstrate a smaller Lego robot at a school for underprivileged children. The students were “excited and enthusiastic” about all they saw.
“They got to see a robot in action for the first time. We introduced them to the robotics program I do, and we gave them the resources to start a team,” she said.
Closer to home, Negandhi has been part of the planning for STEM camps specifically for girls. The team has also participated in the Harrisburg Girls World Expo in which they let girls drive the robot as a way of introducing them to STEM fields.
Science isn’t the only interest Negandhi wants to pass along to the students coming along behind her. She’s also been involved with Students Teaching International Languages to Elementary Students (STILES). The program involves 50-60 high school students giving Spanish, French, German and Chinese language and culture lessons to elementary students. This year, the program added English as a Second Language to their repertoire.
After graduation, Negandhi isn’t sure where she will attend college, but she is interested in majoring in a field related to environmental science or engineering.
Carlisle borough residents may be allowed to keep chickens in their backyards by spring.
The borough has advertised an ordinance that outlines the restrictions and permitting fees for keeping chickens. The borough council is expected to take up the measure in March.
Under the prooposal, residents in the R-1 (low density residential) district would be able to keep chickens, as would any resident whose lot area is 5,000 square feet or more. Property owners in the institutional zoning district could also keep chickens provided the lot is 5,000 square feet or more.
At a recent council workshop meeting, councilwoman Brenda Landis asked if there was any flexibility concerning the lot size requirement.
“I do feel like it is a little bit more restrictive than some other places have been. I’m just trying to make sure that it is accessible to people that would make use of it,” she said.
Michael Skelly, the borough’s planning/zoning/codes manager, said the borough staff researched requirements in other municipalities, and set a lot size requirement that seemed reasonable. Setting the lot size at 5,000 feet means about two-thirds of the properties would be eligible to keep chickens, while dropping the requirement to 4,000 square feet would make 80 to 85 percent of properties available.
Councilman Sean Shultz said the ordinance can be revisited in six months. If people are not applying to keep chickens, that would be a sign that the lot sizes may need to be adjusted.
“You’re going to expect right off the bat people who are interested are going to jump on the program,” he said.
The ordinance also requires that chickens be kept in a coop or shelter designed to adhere to state standards or regulations concerning animal protection or health standards. The shelter is required to be placed a minimum of 60 feet away from any residential structures. It is also to be fully screened and buffered by fencing and/or vegetation so that it can’t be seen by the public.
Residents will be permitted to have four chickens, none of which may be roosters.
Bedding in the shelter must be changed daily and disposed of weekly, and is not allowed to be stored openly. Chickens are also only permitted to be kept in the backyard of the lot.
Eggs or chickens may not be sold commercially or as a home occupation.
Any slaughtering of chickens is required to be done in the residence of the property or another principal structure on the lot.
Annual permits carrying a $50 fee will be required to keep chickens. The permits would be required to be renewed annually after an inspection.
Carlisle Area School Board members could vote Feb. 15 on a proposal to switch the kindergarten program at North Dickinson Elementary School from a half-day to a full-day.
District administrators are recommending the board authorize staff to submit paperwork to the state Department of Education to approve the change effective next school year.
The board in early November 2015 endorsed a plan to phase in over three years full-day kindergarten at Mooreland, Crestview and North Dickinson elementary schools. The phasing plan allowed the district to absorb the increased operational costs into its budget over time.
Board approval Feb. 15 would complete the process that started in August 2016 with the switch at Mooreland and continued last August with the switch at Crestview.
The Sentinel reported in 2015 that the program change would require the addition of 3.5 kindergarten teaching positions along with some remodeling at each building to accommodate additional furniture.
In each case, the district also had to purchase more instructional materials for full-day classrooms along with additional iPads and computer devices to place on carts. Scheduling adjustments also had to be made for classroom instructional aides along with art, music and physical education teachers.
The board Feb. 15 could vote on whether to approve a five-year capital reserve and capital projects budget that includes $35,000 set aside in 2018-19 to add restroom facilities at the North Dickinson building for the second kindergarten classroom. Currently, there is only one half-day morning session at that school.
Full-day kindergarten was first implemented in 2004-05 and was made possible by a state grant available through the Rendell administration, said Karen Quinn, director of curriculum and instruction.
There was not enough money to implement full-day kindergarten in all seven elementary schools. So the decision was made to put the program in place in Title I schools that had a large number of economically disadvantaged students — Bellaire, Hamilton, LeTort and Mount Holly Springs, Quinn said. The goal was to level the field so those students could compete with other students.
Even though Bellaire is no longer classified as a Title I school, the decision was made to keep full-day kindergarten in that building, Quinn said. A full-day program in all the elementary schools came to the forefront every time the district reviewed its strategy on where to invest its resources.