State rep Mindy Fee updates Cocalico regional leaders

By on July 31, 2019

State representative Mindy Fee gave Cocalico regional leaders good news. The budget was passed on time and included $36 million to be put away for a rainy day.

“We all know those times will come, and this is the second consecutive year that money was put away for that rainy day. Last year $22 million was put away,” Fee said.

Fee reported education money increased. She praised the many higher education opportunities available in our region, and highlighted Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. The school trains students for high-skill, high paying jobs in 22 different areas.

Raising the minimum wage was addressed. Fee reported minimum wage jobs are a small percentage of the total workforce jobs. Many young people learn “soft skills” such as good attendance, reporting to work on time and working well on a team in entry level types of jobs. Fee also understands workers need wages to sustain a standard of living.

Highlights from each municipality were presented, with fireworks taking a chunk of time. West Cocalico supervisors are working with their solicitor to deal with fireworks being set off on a fairly consistent basis up to 11 p.m., when the noise ordinance kicks in.

Fee took notes as James Stoner, chairman of West Cocalico supervisors, described how agitated his horses can become when fireworks are set off. Stoner and others commented on the harmful effects to farm animals. Behaviors observed in pets who suffer when fireworks go off were also noted.
Other areas in the region have also dealt with fireworks set off not around any holiday.
“We’re aggressively looking at our options,” said Stoner.

Ephrata Police Lt. Thomas Shumaker, asked Fee where the subject of using radar stands. Fee said if radar use is adopted, currently Manheim Township is the only municipality which qualifies to use it due to regulations. A road study needs done on roads where radar would be used.

Shumaker reported that a grant from WellSpan Hospital added a third drone to the department.
“This drone has FAA approval to fly at night. We have three trained drone pilots. Recently we used a drone to help find a missing person,” said Shumaker.

How keenly and accurately can a drone see?

“A drone can hover above Ephrata Police station and read a vehicle’s registration numbers on cars at the corner,” said Shumaker.

Cocalico School District superintendent Dr. Ella Musser praised the work accomplished by the school resource officer (SRO), Eric Fisher, of the East Cocalico Police. The SRO program started in January, 2019. The focus of the program is proactive, the officer’s good rapport has motivated many students to use him for counsel on different issues and the school board is committed to the program.

East Cocalico Police Chief, Darrick Keppley, shared a situation this spring, following the bank robbery in West Earl Township. The suspect fled the scene and was heading east. SRO Fisher called to say he was doing a program in Adamstown Elementary and asked if his assistance was needed. Keppley said, “I told the SRO to stay at Adamstown and provide that extra layer of protection. We didn’t know which way the robber would go.”

Cocalico’s new fuel island will not be ready for the beginning of school. Musser thanked Dave Hollinger and Four Seasons Produce for allowing them to use their fuel island in the interim.

Musser explained that all workers on construction projects must have security clearances on file before being permitted to work on school property. The school has various student summer programs in operation and workers may use restrooms in the building or need to enter to see an administrator.
“We want to provide the safest environment possible at all times,” said Musser.

R.C. Carrasco, vice-president of East Cocalico supervisors, reported on over a dozen different items in East Cocalico. Highlights include 19 major projects in progress and four more in line.

“The LERTA — the local tax incentive plan approved for business/commercial zoned property — is working to spur development and also the economy,” said Carrasco.

East Cocalico’s new website is up and running, police vehicles have the tagline “Community First” and there’s a new, ten year maintenance plan for residential road paving, Carrasco said.

Denver reported they recently celebrated finishing the “Access for All” project at Denver Memorial Park. The public is invited to check out the paved paths, new seating at the bandshell, ramps to access the bandshell, and rain gardens. Fundraising is underway for a dog park, which is an Eagle Scout project within Denver Memorial Park. The skate park is undergoing improvements.

Denver Council president Blake Daub said Reamstown Ambulance invited Denver to talk about emergency ambulance services and current issues facing such services. Daub said in the future it may be beneficial for all municipalities in the Cocalico area to discuss this topic together.

There was no report from Adamstown because no one was present.

The next Cocalico Regional Leaders meeting is October 22 at 7 p.m. at the Denver Municipal Building, 501 Main Street, Denver.

Alice Hummer is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

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