On March 2, a landscape architect told the Elizabethtown Borough Council that renovations to the free parking lot at the corner of Mechanics Alley and Cherry Alley could add six parking spaces while reducing the paved area by about 20 percent. Chris Brown of the firm Derck & Edson said a lot of the paved area is not used for parking or driving and it is unclear why it was paved in the first place. Reducing the paved area improves drainage, which alleviates flooding problems, and also means less storm water will go into the Conoy Creek without being filtered through the ground first, improving the creek’s water quality.
The deadline for major-party candidates to file signatures to appear on the primary election ballot was March 7. As that date passed, there was a surprise: the area’s dominant Republican Party had nobody running for the First Ward seat on the Elizabethtown Borough Council. Also, Democrats were running for Elizabethtown Borough Council; it was the first time since 2007 that any Democrats had sought the office. Bill Troutman sought the First Ward seat being vacated by Clair Dale Treese, who was not seeking re-election; Mary Auker-Endres sought a Second Ward seat, challenging incumbent Republican J. Neil Ketchum Jr. Troutman predicted that Republicans would find somebody to seek the GOP nomination with write-in votes.
On March 9, Elizabethtown Public Library board member Mike Hench warned Conoy Township supervisors that the library’s finances were in dire condition. “Probably within five to seven years, if we keep going like this, the library’s not going to be there,” Hench said. The library is an independent nonprofit; municipal governments have no obligations to fund it. Library Director Deb Drury urged municipalities to appropriate $5 per resident for library services; she said if all the municipalities served by the library did that, it could afford to reopen on Monday mornings. “We have pretty much cut every expenditure we can possibly cut and our community is growing,” Drury said.
On March 13, West Donegal Township supervisors voted to approve plans for an Independence Day barn raising at Ironstone Ranch after getting assurances that a fire truck would be able to enter in the event of an emergency. The historic Star Barn was being dismantled from its original location near Middletown to be reassembled on the ranch.
After months of mostly mild weather, much of the Eastern Seaboard was pounded with a blizzard on March 14. The Elizabethtown Area School District closed schools that day and had a two-hour delayed opening the following day. Most businesses in Elizabethtown were closed on March 14 for what was by far the biggest storm in the region in what was otherwise a merciful winter. The storm unloaded 1 to 2 feet of snow in many areas.
On March 16, the Elizabethtown Borough Council approved the transfer of a liquor license from Mount Joy Township into the borough. Babbo’s Italian Grill had operated since 2012 in the former Clearview Diner building, but found the space to be too large and wanted to downsize into a smaller building at 655 N. Market St. in Elizabethtown Borough. Massimo Caretti testified at a hearing before the Borough Council that Babbo’s planned to serve beer but not hard liquor at the new, smaller location.
On March 17, police testified about the alleged motive for a man accused of killing his pregnant wife, a 2010 graduate of Elizabethtown Area High School, in their York County home on Jan. 27. Detective Mark Baker of Northern York County Regional Police testified that John D. Ziegler III, now 32, told investigators that he believed he was saving humanity from a global conspiracy involving what he called “hybrid humans.” Baker testified that Ziegler believed that Diana Meredith Zeigler, 25, was the “queen bee” of this hybrid race and “he needed to destroy her to save the world.” Baker and another detective testified that Ziegler expressed no anger toward his wife and repeatedly said she didn’t deserve it. Ziegler is awaiting a pretrial conference scheduled for Jan. 29, 2018, on charges of first- and third-degree murder and first- and third-degree murder of an unborn child, court records show. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The couple also had a 2-year-old son; police said he was in the Jackson Township home at the time of the killing.
On March 20, Mount Joy Township Manager Justin Evans said a mandate from the state to reduce erosion into creeks causes a big challenge because the township must get cooperation from private landowners to comply. Supervisors Vice Chairman David W. Sweigart III said it was “stupid” for the state to require the township to get cooperation from private parties who could easily refuse to cooperate.
A construction worker from Elizabethtown was killed in a March 27 accident in suburban Philadelphia. Jonathan Maust, 35, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident in a former Wells Fargo bank branch in the Cheltenham Mall in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County. Police said Maust and two co-workers were trying to move a safe deposit box unit when it fell onto Maust.
It became clear in late March that there would be competition in the First Ward race for Elizabethtown Borough Council. Timothy Runkle was collecting signatures to appear on the general election ballot as the nominee of the Green Party.
On March 30, the bodies of a man and wife were found in their Mount Joy Township home. Authorities said Glenn Morris, 78, shot and killed Janet Morris, 76, before killing himself. They had last been seen alive on March 28. A neighbor found the bodies in the home on Hershey Road near the Conewago Creek.
On March 31, a Rheems man pleaded guilty to a felony count of drug delivery resulting in death just over a year after the crime. Jarrid Daniel Baker, now 23, was 21 years old at the time he traded heroin and the prescription drug Xanax to Cody Yancey, 19, who died March 17, 2016, at his home on Covington Court in Mount Joy Township. Baker is to serve four to eight years in prison under the terms of the plea bargain. Baker is incarcerated at the state prison in Chester, Delaware County, which is near Philadelphia.
The month of March ended with the presentation of the Vincent W. O’Connor Public Service Award. For the first time in the 20-year history of the award issued by Elizabethtown Borough, three winners were selected. Doug Lamb, a construction contractor and pastor involved in many local charitable works; Delores Reidenbach, founder of Jewel David Ministries, and C. Dale Treese, a dentist and longtime borough councilor, were given the award the night of March 31 at the Elizabethtown Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Celebration, which was held at Harvest View Barn just outside Elizabethtown.