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Elected Officials Get Briefed on Emergency Management, Other Topics

Elected officials from three municipalities and the board of the Elizabethtown Area School District got briefings on emergency management, regional planning, the recreation authority and on each other’s plans in a joint meeting held in the Elizabethtown Public Library.

Eight of the nine school board members and a majority of the supervisors of West Donegal Township and Mount Joy Township were present along with a majority of the Elizabethtown Borough Council members. Conoy Township supervisors were invited to the meeting but none attended. No votes were taken at the meeting held Thursday, May 31.

West Donegal Township Manager John O. Yoder III urged elected officials to give strong consideration to naming Gene Galeschewski as the new director of the Elizabethtown Regional Management Agency. The current director, Warren Mueller Jr., wants to retire from the volunteer position; Galeschewski has served as his volunteer deputy since 2012. Yoder said it makes sense to make Galeschewski the new director because he is already highly familiar with emergency management in the region.

Yoder said the basement of the West Donegal Township building, which formerly had the offices of the Elizabethtown Regional Sewer Authority, has vacant space that could be used as the headquarters of emergency management. He noted that the building has generators to keep electricity running in the event of a power failure and that unlike the current headquarters at the Elizabethtown Fire Department, it is not in an area where flooding is a concern.

“If that floods, we have bigger issues of a biblical nature,” Yoder said.

He said although the township is switching to an internet-based phone service for its main office use, traditional landlines will remain for alarms and emergency use.

Elizabethtown Borough Manager Roni Ryan gave an update on the Lancaster County Planning Commission’s future plan, known as “places2040,” and gave an update on the Elizabethtown Regional Comprehensive Plan. Ryan said the next regional plan was due in 2020 and she wanted to see how much of places2040 could be implemented in the regional plan. Among other things, planning calls for growing responsibly and preserving farmland, downtowns and natural areas.

Barry Acker, executive director of Greater Elizabethtown Area Recreation & Community Services, said GEARS is quite unusual in that it gets only 17 percent of its income from municipal governments; most of its money comes from participation fees and sponsorships. Acker said when he attended a gathering of recreation authority directors, his was the only agency that got less than 20 percent of its revenue from government.

Acker noted that his agency does not have multi-million-dollar facilities like some others.

“We found ways to get the job done in public recreation without that,” Acker said. Instead, GEARS uses existing buildings to provide recreation services.

Elizabethtown Area School District Superintendent Michele Balliet said work on Bainbridge Elementary School is wrapping up and the school district expects to take possession of the building back from the contractor in late June or early July, then get furniture into the building and make other preparations for it to open in time for the 2018-19 school year. She said new attendance areas are being worked out for the district’s four schools serving kindergarten through third grade to ensure that class sizes do not vary dramatically from one school to another.

School board members present at the meeting were Erin M. Grosh, Craig M. Hummer, M. Caroline Lalvani, Michael D. Martin, James L. Read, Menno E. Riggleman, Terry L. Seiders, Karen R. Sweigart; one member, Michelle J. Pelna, was absent.

Mount Joy Township Supervisors Gerald G. Cole, Debra E. Dupler, Lisa S. Heilner and David W. Sweigart attended the meeting; Gerald F. Becker was absent.

Elizabethtown Borough Council members Phillip P. Clark, J. Marc Hershey, J. Neil Ketchum and Thomas A. Shaud were present; Councilors Jeffrey K. McCloud and Bill Troutman were absent, as was Mayor Chuck Mummert.

West Donegal Township supervisors Roger Snyder, Eric W. Kreider and John E. Martin II attended; Douglas Hottenstein and Philip Dunn were absent.

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