On Feb. 2, Elizabethtown College briefed the Borough Council on its plans to build a wellness center on campus and to seek a $3.7 million grant from the state. The state ultimately declined the grant application, but plans for the new Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Well-Being remain in place; it is scheduled to open in 2019.
The annual A Taste of Western Lancaster County event drew a large crowd to the Elizabethtown Public Library on Feb. 3. The event, held annually on the first Friday of February, has people buy tickets for admission to get free samples of food and drink from various restaurants, caterers, breweries and wineries as well as to socialize. The event is to happen again on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018.
On Feb. 8, an Elizabethtown man was arrested on a warrant from Maryland in which he faced three counts of armed robbery, three counts of use of a handgun in a felony or violent crime, among other offenses. Police said Christopher Lionel Jones-Rivera, now 19, had committed robberies in Ocean City, Md., on Jan. 28. A newspaper serving the Ocean City area, The Dispatch, reported that Jones-Rivera pleaded guilty in September to two counts of armed robbery and was sentenced to nine years for each count with all but five years suspended. He also is to get supervised probation for three years upon his release, The Dispatch reported.
On Feb. 10, the family of a 13-year-old Elizabethtown Area Middle School student struck and killed by a vehicle while walking home from school sued the school district, arguing that school officials knew that David Weiser’s autism made him unable to walk home safely on his own and that he should have been driven home in a school bus. The school district said it believed it was improperly included as a defendant and that it was not responsible for the death of a child killed while crossing a street off school property.
Also on Feb. 10, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of Elizabethtown Magisterial District Judge Jayne F. Duncan in a dispute she had with Lancaster County District Attorney Craig W. Stedman. The district attorney was seeking a court order telling Duncan to change court records in a 2015 traffic case. The defendant did not show up for a hearing before a judge filling in for Duncan when she took a day off. Stedman said the judge filling in for Duncan found the defendant guilty; Duncan’s lawyer maintained that the judge made notes in the file but never entered a guilty verdict. Duncan later scheduled a new hearing and accepted a plea agreement; Stedman contended that she had no authority to do that and sought a court order telling her to reinstate the verdict of guilty on all charges. Ultimately, the Supreme Court refused to grant such an order, but did not explain its rationale in its one-sentence ruling. Stedman released a written statement in response saying “the law remains unchanged and we thus consider this ruling to be very favorable in the grand scheme of things.”
On Feb. 14, Elizabethtown Area School District Superintendent Michele Balliet warned the school board that painful budget decisions were coming because the state Legislature has neglected to address rising costs that are out of school districts’ control. Those costs including pension obligations, prevailing wage costs that critics say drive up the cost of public construction projects and the costs of special education, Balliet said. “We are truly a government-run entity without the government funding,” Balliet said.
On Feb. 21, the Elizabethtown Area School District’s board gave final approval to plans to renovate Bainbridge Elementary School. Work began in the summer of 2017 and is scheduled to be finished in time for the school to reopen for the 2018-19 school year.
On Feb. 23, The Elizabethtown Advocate announced to its readers that Editor and Publisher Dan Robrish had agreed to sell the publication to Lancaster County Weeklies Inc., a division of Steinman Communications, which also publishes the Lancaster daily newspaper LNP. Robrish had founded the newspaper in 2010 and was the sole owner for its first seven years of operation. Under the agreement, Robrish was to remain the editor, but would not be responsible for business operations of the newspaper such as advertising and circulation.
Unseasonably high temperatures caused flowers to bloom in late February, followed by a strong cold front moving across the state on Feb. 25, causing major storms in the area. Officials estimated $7 million in property damage in Lancaster County, with 22 structures severely damaged or destroyed. Most of the damage was along a 9-mile stretch in the northern part of the county.