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Stephanie Kalina-Metzger, For The Sentinel 

The "seasoned wings" at the Roadhouse Steak & Seafood were tender without the mess.

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CV Schools
CV School District files briefs opposing Natural Lands action on McCormick Farm; public meeting scheduled for May 24

Cumberland Valley School District has filed legal briefs opposing Natural Lands’ action to halt the district’s acquisition of the McCormick Farm through eminent domain.

On Monday, district solicitor Michael Cassidy, of Johnson, Duffie, Stewart and Weidner, filed two legal briefs in the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of the Cumberland Valley School District, district officials told The Sentinel Monday night.

The school district wants to acquire through eminent domain 110 acres of a 116-acre parcel at 31 Old Willow Mill Road now zoned as agricultural preserve. The property, which borders Carlisle Pike in Silver Spring Township around Hogestown, is listed for sale by a real estate firm for $1.6 million.

District officials told The Sentinel after Monday night’s school board meeting that the district’s action was required under court rules as a response to preliminary objections filed by Natural Lands. Last month, Natural Lands filed a petition to halt the land transfer, to which the district was given 20 days to file a response.

Natural Lands is a nonprofit environmental group that holds a preservation easement over the historic farm in Silver Spring Township.

One of Monday’s briefs filed by the district is a preliminary objection to Natural Lands’ filing from last month. The other brief filed by the district on Monday challenges the legal standing of Natural Lands’ challenge against the district’s condemnation of the McCormick Farm.

The McCormick Farm is owned by the estate of Ui Ung Lee, an investor whose family has attempted to sell the farm at times over the past several years. The site is farmed by a tenant farmer.

Although the filings weren’t publicly announced during Monday’s school board meeting, Cumberland Valley officials did announce that the district is conducting a town meeting about the McCormick Farm property acquisition at 6 p.m. May 24 at Cumberland Valley High School’s performing arts center.

In January, the school board approved a resolution authorizing the district to negotiate the purchase of the farm land. Although the district obtained legal title of the land on March 5 when it issued a declaration of taking, no money has been exchanged for the deal.

Tour Through Time: The McCormick Farm in Silver Spring Township

This week’s Tour Through Time looks at the McCormick Farm on the north side of Route 11, behind the village of Hogestown. The farm was owned by the McCormick family beginning in 1745. The McCormick Farm is now owned by the estate of Ui Ung Lee, an investor whose family has attempted to sell the farm at times over the past several years.

Pursuant to the eminent domain code, notices of condemnation for the lot were issued on March 21 to the Lee family, which owns the land, and Natural Lands, which holds the property’s conservation easement deed. The district was then required to wait 30 days to see if either party would legally oppose the action.

Although the matter first will be in heard in Cumberland County’s court system, it could possibly advance to the Commonwealth Court or the state Supreme Court. An initial court date has not been scheduled.

School board vice president Heather Dunn said during Monday night’s school board meeting that the district has not exchanged purchase money for the McCormick property. Officials said the money not used in district’s PSERS stabilization fund could be transferred to a general fund for this purpose next year since the district has met obligations to the state’s Public School Employee Retirement System.

A money transfer of this sort could only happen through a school board vote, however, if and when the land transfer is finalized. So far, neither of these actions appear imminent.

Tough Row to Hoe: The fight for farmland in Cumberland County

Jason Malmont, The Sentinel  

McCormick Farm, Silver Spring Township.

Analysis: Trump pulled in 2 directions on Iran, North Korea

WASHINGTON — Just as Donald Trump reached one hand out to North Korea, he yanked the other back from Iran.

The president’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal was the most vivid illustration to date of how his impulses and capricious instincts tend to pull him in paradoxical directions. Presidents before have pursued conflicting approaches to tough issues, but rarely so overtly, and rarely in the course of a single speech.

He called Iran’s government a “regime of great terror” as he revealed that the U.S. would abandon the deal that it pushed for only three years ago. Then he announced that he’d sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang to lay the groundwork for Trump’s summit with the dictatorial Kim Jong Un, recently described by Trump as “very honorable.”

“Plans are being made, relationships are building, hopefully a deal will happen,” Trump said of his rapprochement with North Korea. Speaking in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, he waxed optimistic that the U.S. could team up with allies and world powers so that “a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.”

That was precisely the game plan when the United States in 2015 brokered the landmark accord with Tehran. With painstaking persistence, Trump’s predecessor brought U.S. partners Britain, Germany and France together with rivals Russia and China to strike a deal in which Iran agreed to inspections and nuclear limitations.

So what’s so different between the deal Trump walked away from Tuesday and the one he’s actively seeking with the North? The answer, by all appearances, can be summed up in two words: Barack Obama.

“Whatever Obama did, he wants to undo,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. He pointed out that Obama, in his final weeks, warned Trump that North Korea was America’s top national security threat. “He’s going to solve it, because Obama couldn’t. Obama is proud of the Iran deal, so now Trump’s going to derail it.”

It’s an instinct that has been on display throughout Trump’s presidency: where Obama zigged, Trump will zag.

On the world stage, Trump moved quickly as president to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement that Obama’s administration helped broker, abandoned Obama’s free-trade deal with Asia, and pulled back from the rapprochement with Cuba. His need to be seen as the anti-Obama has continued closer to home as Trump has rolled back scores of environmental and other Obama-era regulations and took aim, again and again, at Obama’s signature health care law.

Most of those decisions had the effect of pulling the U.S. back from overseas obligations and alliances — real-life examples of his “America First” doctrine. Yet reneging so frequently on commitments the U.S. made in the past also carries risk as Trump seeks to persuade North Korea that the U.S. lives up to its word.

So there was an element of irony as Trump cast his dual decisions — pulling out of the Iran deal and sending Pompeo to North Korea — as sending a single, unified message.

“The United States no longer makes empty threats,” Trump said, referring to Iran. With respect to the North, he added: “When I make promises, I keep them.”

He argued that the nuclear deal was wholly inadequate to keep the U.S. safe from Iran, but held out the possibility he could negotiate a tougher deal with Tehran in the future. Iran has already ruled that out.

For better or for worse, Trump now owns the future of Iran’s nuclear development, to the extent he’s unable to strike a better deal. Iran’s leaders may follow through on threats to immediately ramp up uranium enrichment far beyond the limits imposed by the deal, which even the U.S. says Iran was abiding. It will be difficult in the short term for Trump to argue that the United States is better off under that scenario than under the previous deal.

And in laying out his complaints about the Iran deal in such detail, Trump set an incredibly onerous litmus test that any forthcoming pact with North Korea must now ostensibly pass.

He faulted the Obama-era pact for allowing Iran to keep enriching uranium, rather than a full halt. He lamented that nuclear inspectors didn’t have the right to access Iran’s military facilities, and that the deal lacked punishments for Iran’s other troubling behavior “all around the world.”

By Trump’s own standard, then, his North Korea talks must yield a deal in which North Korea halts all enrichment and lets U.N. inspectors into its military bases. It must go beyond nuclear issues to address other North Korean transgressions alleged by the U.S., such as cyber attacks and the assassination of Kim’s half brother in a Malaysian airport.

North Korea, unlike Iran, already has a nuclear bomb — and enough fissile material for dozens of them, most estimates show. That would have to be removed from North Korea’s control to make the deal stronger than the one Obama reached with Tehran.

All that will be easier said than done. North Korea’s atomic program is decades old and is suspected to include secret sites, possibly buried underground. Nuclear inspections experts say it will be far harder to verifiably disarm North Korea than Iran ever was.

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South Middleton Schools
Residents concerned with proposed outsourcing in South Middleton School District

Jenny Louise Cairns-DeNoto was excited for her son Nicholas.

The 1992 graduate of Boiling Springs High School looked on as her oldest child boarded the school bus for his first day.

A special education teacher and expert on autism, she was lucky to be alive that late August day in 2015. Two months later, Cairns-DeNoto died of cancer at age 41.

“I don’t have a solution. … I have a story,” her mother Timi Cairns told the South Middleton School Board Monday. She was among the 27 residents who spoke out against proposals to outsource instructional aides and custodians as the board struggles to offset future budget deficits.

The administration is recommending the board outsource the low-paying jobs to a private contractor to generate savings in pension and insurance costs to the tune of almost $500,000 in 2018-19 alone. The board has to find a way to close a projected $1.4 million shortfall in next year’s fiscal plan by June 18.

The public is concerned outsourcing the jobs to a for-profit contractor could backfire on the district and result in a higher turnover, greater long-term costs and disruption in the education of special needs students. Cairns shared the story of her grandson Nicholas DeNoto.

After the funeral, when he returned to school, Nicholas had a very good experience with an aide named Amy Hartmann at W.G. Rice Elementary School.

“She took him under her wing and expressed to Nicholas how her boys had also lost a parent,” Cairns said. “They had a bond. Anytime Nicholas needed someone to talk to, Amy was there. She’s extremely important to Nicholas.”

Implying that the future is uncertain with the possibility of outsourcing staff, Cairns had one question for the school board Monday.

“Will there be an Amy Hartmann for Sophia?” she asked about her granddaughter. Board members made no attempt to answer the question.

Time and again, local residents and school staff aired concerns over the proposed outsourcing strategy and the way the news surfaced.

“After being told at an earlier meeting that us aides will be grandfathered and only new employees will be Mission One, we were blindsided on Wednesday,” school aide Anna Foster said.

An apparent shift in the district fiscal strategy now means that all aide positions could be terminated at the end of the current school year and that hundreds of hours of accumulated sick time would be lost, Foster said. She said the aides would be allowed to buy temporary health insurance at a cost of $1,600 per month or almost three times their monthly take-home pay.

While current aides would have first-right of refusal to apply for open Mission One jobs, there have been very few details released to school aides on the salary structure and the health insurance cost and coverage, Foster said. She said that while workers may have access to a 401-K retirement plan, they would be removed from the state pension rolls and health care plan of the school district.

“If we as employees have not received enough information to make an educated decision as to whether to choose Mission One, then how can you make that decision?” Foster asked the board.

Many local residents were skeptical the current employees would buy-in to a new arrangement under Mission One. They said the aides could just as easily seek employment with Cumberland Valley School District where there is no outsourcing and the pay is higher.

Barb Bear told the story of her husband, a custodian with 25 years of experience with South Middleton who once dug through garbage to find a child’s lost retainer. During the winter, her husband volunteered the use of his own snow blower to help the grounds crew clear school property faster.

Bear has 37 years of government experience including knowledge on what could go wrong with outsourcing staff. She said local control is often diminished by contractors more motivated by profit than a job well done.

Liz Knouse, a past school board president with 11 years of experience managing the district, called on current board members to seek a second opinion through the regional intermediate unit on what other options are available to balance the budget.

To Knouse, outsourcing the instructional aides is no different than the administration advocating the outsourcing of classroom teachers. “They [the aides] have every bit of an impact that the teacher has and in some cases more of an impact,” she said. “Your instructional support staff is your education process.”

A few residents suggested alternatives to outsourcing. Retired elementary school principal Denny Clepper urged the board to remove from the 2018-19 budget proposal the $200,000 set aside for the eventual replacement of the track surface and artificial turf at the high school.

“I’m not sure protecting the life of the football field at this point in time when we are talking about outsourcing our staff members is a good way to go,” Clepper said.

Nicole Gutacker, a teacher in the Northern York County School District who has two children in South Middleton schools, suggested the school board consider implementing a pay-to-play policy where families help to offset the costs of sports and extracurricular activities.

“Our business is to educate the students in our community,” Gutacker said. “It’s time to support those in the classroom who are working directly with our kids.”

Brian Rudge advocated a different approach. “If we are considering outsourcing aides and custodial staff, have you considered outsourcing any of the administrative positions?” he asked school board members. “The biggest fat that we can trim is at the top.”

Rudge specifically mentioned an agenda item Monday to hire Karl S. Heimbach as the full-time director of athletics and facilities usage with a starting salary of $72,000. Rudge said the same work could be done by offering a current staff member a $20,000 extra-duty stipend at no additional cost in health insurance and pension.

Instead of considering his and other requests, board members voted unanimously to hire Heimbach as the full-time director effective July 1. There was no discussion on the hire prior to the vote. By that time most of the audience of over 100 local residents had cleared out of the auditorium after a two-hour public comment period.

UGI begins work on pipeline project in Carlisle area

UGI Utilities Inc. Tuesday announced it has begun work on a pipeline construction project involving the installation of new 12-inch steel pipeline in the Carlisle area.

UGI plans to install four miles of the protected steel pipeline in the project zone that includes York Road, Forge Road, Westminster Drive and Petersburg Road.

The work is expected to be completed by fall.

UGI said the project will increase the supply of natural gas for customers in and around Carlisle Borough, and is designed to accommodate continued growth in the area.

The construction associated with this project will occur during various times of the day and night, depending on the phase of the work, UGI said. While construction is in progress, residents and motorists are asked to follow directions provided by posted signs or signaled by flaggers in the construction zone, according to UGI.

Following the conclusion of the project, UGI said it will restore pavement, sidewalks and affected grass areas as soon as weather and the construction schedule permit.

UGI asks those who have concerns about the final phase of the project to call after the restoration is completed.

“UGI recognizes Carlisle residents living in the project area will be inconvenienced during this project,” said Robert P. Krieger, vice president of operations. “We will work to complete construction in a timely manner. This project is part of UGI’s continuing commitment to provide safe and reliable natural gas service to our customers and our communities. We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding as we make this long-term system improvement. We also thank municipal officials for their cooperation and assistance in the planning and execution of this project.”