A sound system on the fritz couldn’t dampen the spirits of the children gathered around the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown Carlisle to sing along with the “snow sisters” and their signature song, “Let It Go,” during Saturday’s Ice Arts Fest event.
Marcela Barboza of Harrisburg brought her daughters, both under the age of 3.
They had never seen ice sculptures before. They like to touch them and, in the way only children would do, try to lick them, she said.
A former Carlisle resident, Barboza knew the ice princesses would be at the festival and also knew her girls would love the chance to meet them at meet-and-greet opportunities at the Carlisle Vault.
“They kept wanting hug after hug after hug,” she said.
“We did this last year, and we really enjoyed it. They loved seeing Anna and Elsa,” said Emily Hockman, who is from the Hanover area and brought the children she used to nanny to the event.
Noting that there were plenty of activities for children at the event, Hockman said the children had already enjoyed the penguin craft at the Carlisle Area Family Life Center and were anxiously awaiting a wagon ride from Benchfield Farms.
Mary Brunski, president of the Carlisle Rotary Club, was among the club members volunteering at the Alpine Haus to sell hot chocolate and bottled water to Ice Fest visitors. By just after noon, she had seen a steady stream of visitors passing through the downtown.
Across the Square and down the street, Karen Griffith had the same impression at Create-A-Palooza. People were walking the streets as early as 9 a.m. to take pictures of the sculptures.
Some of the visitors had come around last night to see the ice sculptures as they were lit up at night, and then returned during the day on Saturday to see how their appearance changed with the light and to see how the sculptures started fragmenting in the sun, she said.
“I think they really like seeing the light changes and all of that,” she said.
This year, there was a greater focus on interactive sculptures, such as a jail cell window at Abom & Kutulakis, a beard at HJ Barbershop and a photo frame at American Artisan Gallery.
“Every year has a little idiosyncrasy,” said Pam Fleck, owner of the gallery. “The weather, unfortunately, affects our downtown participation. Last year, we were really, really packed more on Friday night, but last night was cold.”
Though Saturday’s cold prompted her to move the glass blowing workshop the gallery was hosting inside. Ice Fest itself draws people out to brave the cold on what might be a normally quiet day in the winter, Fleck said.
On the Square, Barb Cross invited visitors to tour the church after many took pictures of the tall replica of the landmark structure. The church had asked for the “spire on the Square,” Cross said, but were surprised to see a sculpture of the full facade delivered. The artwork was placed for maximum impact.
“If you stand on the bricks over there and look into the church, you can actually see the large stained-glass window, which really makes a great photo op,” she said.
In the matter of a few minutes, visitors from Lancaster and Harrisburg toured the church. Cross recalled that last year’s event drew a number of people who were in town visiting relatives.
No matter who comes through the door, Cross said it’s important for the church to be part of these community events.
“St. John’s is an anchor in the community, and as often as we can open the church to everybody, we certainly do,” Cross said.
It’s quite possible that Carlisle High School senior Sydney Overmiller’s career path was set early on in life.
Overmiller is the daughter of Candy McClintock and Steve Overmiller, the fire chief in Lower Allen Township.
“I’ve been running calls with him ever since I can remember," she said. "It’s definitely been a passion of mine - helping others and giving back to my community."
To that end, Overmiller plans to attend Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport for a five-year program that will culminate in a master's degree, and a career as a pediatric physician assistant.
“Any normal path that I would take, it would be four years at one school to earn my bachelor’s degree in health sciences, and then transfer to a physician’s assistant school for two years,” Overmiller said.
Overmiller started training in emergency services as soon as she was old enough, and most people her age don’t have the extra work and training that she’s accomplished.
She’s trained in hazardous materials awareness, fire ground support, exterior firefighting, national incident management, basic vehicle rescue awareness, hazardous materials operations, vehicle rescue operations and certifications for CPR/AED and lifeguarding.
Overmiller said she put in a lot of time, work, study and training at both the fire house and at the public safety training center at HACC to earn those certifications, which she puts to use when she goes out on a call as a junior firefighter.
“As a junior firefighter, we are able to assist the interior crew so I can do things such as throwing up ladders, and I can set up the equipment that they need. I bring water. I can help advance hose lines. I can do anything ... outside of the building to help assist with the interior work,” Overmiller said.
She admits responding to emergency calls is an adrenaline rush, and that’s exactly why she loves it.
“Each call is a different story. It brings a new thing to the table,” Overmiller said.
Inspired by seeing her father take care of people at accidents and watching the work of the emergency medical technicians, Overmiller is currently taking classes to become an EMT herself.
“It’s helping me to see the pre-hospital side of things,” she said.
She’s also taken classes to become a certified nursing assistant, which she said serves as a helpful base for her EMT work. She took a job at a nursing home, and said it was a great experience to be with residents and learn their individual needs.
“It was definitely a challenge every night to go to work, but I loved it,” Overmiller said.
There are parallels between caring for the elderly and caring for children, which she hopes to do in the future. Babies start with nothing and build up to doing things by themselves, while older people can do things by themselves but lose that ability as age and health issues take over.
“It’s definitely sad, but it’s heartwarming to know that you’re making an impact in these people’s live and to hear the families come in and thank you for what you do,” Overmiller said.
Throughout high school, Overmiller kept busy not only with her work in the medical field but also held down four jobs, took honors classes and has taken college classwork at HACC.
It’s no surprise, then, that she plans to keep busy when she heads to Penn Tech. She’s already done her research and plans to run with South Williamsport fire company while possibly coaching softball.
“I can’t just sit around. I have to be kept busy,” Overmiller said.
Robert Anderson, 41, of Carlisle, faces the possibility of a death sentence after being accused of walking into the Haines Stackfield American Legion in June 2016 and shooting 30-year-old Daniel Harris multiple times.
However, in an interview with police a few months after the shooting, Anderson described himself as a peacekeeper not a murderer.
“I ain’t no gun-toter,” Anderson told police in 2016. “I don’t want to be no tough guy.”
The final two hours of a roughly three-hour interview he did with Carlisle Police was played in open court Saturday during the trial against Anderson.
He is charged with first- and second-degree murder, two counts of criminal homicide, felony possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and misdemeanor reckless endangerment, according to court records.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Anderson could face the death penalty.
“These guys know who shot who, but they ain’t going to step and say, ‘let’s stop this,’”Anderson told police. “... I hate the state of the black community.”
During the 2016 interview, Anderson told police he arrived home in Carlisle the night of June 10, 2016, went inside his home on Spruce Street and played video games. He told police he did not leave his home until after Harris was shot and killed around 12:45 a.m. June 11, 2016, inside the American Legion facility on West Penn Street.
Carlisle Police Detective Sgt. Daniel Freedman testified Saturday that police collected records from Sony showing someone logged onto Anderson’s gaming system at the home shortly before midnight on June 10.
Cell phone records introduced into evidence Friday showed Anderson’s phone was in the vicinity of the American Legion shortly before the shooting and moved between cell phone towers in Carlisle that night.
The 40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun used to kill Harris was found in Philadelphia in the possession of a man who traveled frequently to Carlisle to sell drugs. Freedman stated the gun was stolen in 2015 during a burglary committed by family members of Anderson.
Freedman also said the Philadelphia man, known as Little Bill, told police he received the gun after Harris’s death as payment for drugs.
To date, no physical evidence has been presented that directly ties Anderson to the shooting, and none of the eyewitnesses presented in court have identified Anderson as the shooter.
“Do you have any finger prints on the gun from my client Robert Anderson,” defense attorney Heidi Eakin asked Freedman Saturday.
“We do not,” he responded.
Anderson and Harris did, however, have a violent history.
Earlier in the week during opening statements, Senior Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Metzger described Anderson as a “duty bound protector of his family.”
In January 2016, someone shot Anderson multiple times.
Anderson told police in his 2016 interview that someone told him Harris was the one who shot him but he had forgiven Harris for it.
Harris was never charged in the shooting because of lack of cooperation, according to Freedman, but an investigating grand jury was formed to look into several shootings that occurred in the borough around that time.
Harris was called to testify during those proceedings and within a few months, someone shot and killed him.
The trial against Anderson resumes Monday morning and is expected to run through the week.
HARRISBURG — When Gov. Tom Wolf took office, he told lawmakers that he had a plan to fix Pennsylvania’s system of school funding.
Four years and a couple of budget fights later, public school advocates say huge gaps still persist between poorer and wealthier districts, while the subject didn’t rate a mention this past week in the Democrat’s first budget speech to the Legislature after his re-election.
That prompted grumbling among Democratic lawmakers, although some in the school-funding trenches say Wolf hasn’t necessarily given up.
Rather, his silence reflects the difficult politics in the Republican-controlled Legislature, they say.
“I think in this particular budget, coming off of a new election with a Legislature that has been at least semi-productive in the last year or two, that the governor said, ‘Look, I’m not going to stick a fork in anybody’s eye to get started with,’” said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.
For his part, Wolf’s office says he remains open to a discussion with the Legislature on making school funding fairer. However, someone else may have to carry the torch.
For years, Pennsylvania’s school-funding system has stuck out nationally, occasionally flagged as one of the least equitable.
Districts in the top half of average household income spent $673 more per student than districts in the bottom half, according to an Associated Press analysis of 2016-17 state data on school district spending, income and attendance, the latest available.
The gap is wider on the farther ends of the income spectrum: The wealthiest 10 districts spent an average of $4,300 more per student, or more than a quarter above what the poorest 10 districts spent, according to AP’s analysis.
In 2015, Wolf advanced a couple of strategies to tackle those inequities.
He proposed a big increase, $400 million, in state aid for general public school instruction and operations, but it came packaged with a tax increase that didn’t fly with Republicans.
He floated a $3.2 billion tax-shifting plan — cutting property taxes, primarily in poorer districts, and replacing the money with state tax increases — in a bid to boost Pennsylvania’s state share of school funding to 50 percent. It stalled amid a winners-versus-losers debate and calls to completely eliminate school property taxes.
In his new budget plan, Wolf proposed a $200 million increase — the upper limit of what lawmakers approved in Wolf’s first term — and no tax-shifting plan.
Then there are ideas to funnel more of the $6 billion-plus in general state aid through a four-year-old school funding formula. Only a fraction of that aid currently goes through the formula, designed to be fairer by reflecting changes in school district attendance and wealth that budget makers largely ignored for 25 years.
Now, 70 percent of the state’s 500 school districts receive a bigger share of state aid than they would under the updated formula.
But proposals to expand the formula’s use have fallen flat — and became a leading Republican line of attack against Wolf in last year’s campaign — because they create more losing districts than winning districts.
“Certainly you’re not going to solve that problem in a single stroke,” said Rep. James Roebuck, of Philadelphia, the House Education Committee’s ranking Democrat. “We have a budget that’s narrowly balanced between conflicting interests, and I don’t see any way to quickly resolve that issue.”
Inequalities in school funding could be partly due to a quarter-century of herky-jerky formulas.
Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania state government supplies less than 38 percent of total school revenue, according to federal data from 2016, making it 46 out of 50 states. States average 51 percent.
Pennsylvania’s relative imbalance leaves poorer school districts overly reliant on inadequate local tax bases and drives inequities between districts, the system’s critics say.
Dynamics like that are why the parents of six school children, six school districts, the NAACP and a rural schools group are suing the state.
The four-year-old lawsuit is scheduled for trial next year, and has sowed concern among Republican lawmakers that the state Supreme Court could order a massive new investment in public schools.
In the meantime, public school advocates are trying to build support for ideas to funnel a bigger share of money to districts that are suffering the most.
Sturla recalled speaking with Wolf days before his budget speech to see if the governor would propose anything like that.
The answer was “no.” But, Wolf told him: “Everything is negotiable.