Living in Hanover

Living in Hanover

'Apparently a blog about living in Hanover'

Council Agenda for April

The council agenda and staff reports for April are now at the borough website. Remember, folks, this is the first meeting since the water fiasco that was announced conveniently after the last council meeting took place. If you are upset about that issue, show up and let them know.

Other items of note:

  • The amusement tax will be repealed, effective for this year. Finally! Add this to the children’s library and nature trail as incidents when borough leadership swore they were doing the right thing, but now they have to reverse course because they realize they were completely wrong.
  • Bonds will be reissued to save close to a million dollars. I bet that money is already spoken for via unbudgeted expenses like the Tanger building, which took up 12 days of borough employee labor this month. But it won’t cost us anything!
  • The borough manager’s “report” actually has a little bit of a report instead of just her re-stating agenda items. Maybe the heat is getting to her because I don’t remember seeing this kind of extensive report before.
  • The rec commission is getting a couple of new members (full disclosure – my wife is the school board rep to this group and helped recruit one of the two).

I’m planning on being there.

Council

Reports – April

Committee Meeting Agenda

Here is the agenda for Wednesday night’s committee meeting. Last time they had this meeting, the agenda miraculously grew from 11 items that were publicly shared to 21 items that were actually discussed, potentially to keep people from coming and sharing their two cents.

As you can see, the amusement tax is on there for discussion again since Barb Krebs can’t trust us to actually share any information before the meeting. The special events permits are also on there. Curious to see their plans with that. I might be at the meeting.

This is your first chance to come to a public meeting and let council know what you think of the the problems with the water system and the rate hike which they passed conveniently right before they announced their had been problems at the plant.

Finance Committee

One Letter Matters

When you’re putting out a paper seven days a week, corners sometimes get cut. That happened during one of my scariest moments – for me personally, not like a dangerous time – during my six years in the newsroom at 135 Baltimore Street.

I don’t remember all the details, but I know I was working a Sunday night layout shift in sports. This meant I worked (in theory) from about 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Because of the way things went down, I am pretty sure I didn’t work a full eight hour shift, which was not uncommon for that Sunday shift. You always worked more than 40 hours anyway so if you could get done in five or six or something like that on one day, it didn’t really matter.

I loved this shift. Nothing local was happening so you really just had to figure out what national sports news would play best, take care of all the little details and lay out the pages. It was as stress-free as doing pages got.

I know I didn’t stay until 6 a.m. because I left before the morning news shift arrived. The first person usually came in somewhere between 4 and 5, if I recall correctly. Since I worked alone most of the night, that person was supposed to do a quick check of my pages to make sure nothing was wrong with them. The folks preparing the pages for the printing press were supposed to do the same.

None of that explanation is absolving me from any blame. As you will see, I messed up. It theoretically could have been caught though. Either those folks didn’t do those things or they missed it. I don’t think I ever asked.

One of the things that always went into the Monday sports section was a roundup of the professional golf results from the weekend. People love golf in the area. Not as much as racing, which usually got top billing, but we knew we had to get golf in. Some golfer – I want to say Greg Norman, but I could be wrong – won a tournament that weekend so I made that my golf headline. I also included the margin of victory. You know, how many shots he won by?

Except I didn’t type shots. I thought I did, but the ‘o’ and ‘i’ are next to each other on the keyboard. See where I’m going?

I came in the next day in the early afternoon because I had to work a normal shift that night. Stan Hough, my editor, called me into his office. He did not look happy. I scanned my brain for what I may have done wrong. Nothing popped in my head. He told me to sit down and then dropped a copy of the paper, folded open to the golf story, onto his desk.

There is was: Norman wins by three shits (or something like that, but the word shit was in the headline)

I was mortified. I just assumed I was fired. I didn’t know how it happened. I was furious no one looked at my pages. Or missed that. Or that I missed it. I wasn’t rushed. I wasn’t up against deadline. I just had an easy night and wanted to leave. That’s when Stan said the three most beautiful words I have ever heard.

“You owe me.”

Stan liked to grab papers as they came off the press to take a look at how things turned out. That morning, my headline happened to catch his eye and he got to have a real “Stop the presses!” moment. He called up to the newsroom, someone fixed my page, and new versions of the paper without any obscenities in the headline hit the street.

And I got to keep my job.

My Evening Sun Memories

The Evening Sun is embarking on a project to commemorate the newspaper’s 100th anniversary. I don’t know what all is planned, but I am looking forward to it.

Let me just get it out there – while I can easily admit the newspaper’s faults, I will also defend it most of the time. Working at a small-town newspaper is an animal most people cannot comprehend. The decisions will never be perfect, but they are never made out of malice. That is something I will never believe because I have made those decisions and know the people who do make those decisions, and they are good people working at a thankless job. The paper isn’t perfect, but people have no idea what kind of talent has come through this town and continues to work to cover the news. Just so we’re clear.

That is the place I started my career. It’s the place I met my wife and some of my closest friends. It’s where I grew up in so many ways. So as they mark 100 years of covering Hanover’s news with a look back at significant moments and important people, I’ll share some of my stories from time to time. Names may occasionally be left out to protect the guilty because it’s more about the spirit of the craziness or the job than the details of who did what. But I will name names.

Like the time my good friend Mike Hoover called into the newsroom when I was working in sports. I honestly can’t remember if I answered the phone or someone else did, but I clearly remember what was going on.

He saw lights from his front porch. Lights at the old Antonio’s. Lights at the place that we had heard was being turned into some kind of cool bar. Since he lives just a few blocks away, he was going to see what was happening.

That’s how we found KClinger’s on one of its first nights open. He called back with giddy stories of bottles of beer upon bottles of beer. We had to come over. The owners were really cool. I am pretty sure I did that first night and for a bunch of other nights after that.

KClinger’s certainly had more loyal and passionate fans, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t really love the place. Within a few years of their opening, I had a kid and started to work down in Baltimore, making my time available to go out drinking much more limited. I remember getting samples of  pumpkin beer long before it became a fad. I remember the wall-to-wall people for the Tyson-Holyfield fight. I remember John Clinger adding a sandwich to the menu after I told him about a great meal I had on vacation.

And all that happened because a friend and co-worker used his reporting instincts to check what those lights meant.

 

The Incredible Growing Agenda

In recent weeks, the national news spotlight has turned to Hanover because of the eagles out by Codorus State Park. I think we have something else that could make headlines – municipal agendas that seem to grow on their own.

Last week, a committee agenda was posted on the borough website with 11 items. The agenda available at the meeting has 20 items. Last night’s borough council agenda had seven items added since it was posted online Monday.

Now I know some of these things are inevitable – three of the items added to the council agenda were event requests that came in after the original agenda was printed. Those are examples of good stewardship. But what changed between Monday and Wednesday to add an agreement about potentially vacating the alley between the borough office and 34 Frederick Street and an agreement about LED traffic lights and about getting a recycling grant and, most importantly, about amending the sales agreement for the property next to the Tanger Building?

Yep, that situation once again comes up last minute – the original Tanger purchase was approved as a late-minute agenda item because “someone forgot” to add it to the agenda. And when these last-minute items come up, there is no explanation as to why they are late or what the items mean. Remember, once the public comment portion of the meeting ends at the beginning, the veil of secrecy is dropped and sharing information with the public doesn’t matter anymore.

Which reminds me, water rates are going up both in and out of the borough. How much? No one knows. Well, I guess Barb Krebs knows, but the agenda item is the standard Hanover Borough legalese with no mention of what the rate will actually be. God forbid you tell the people how much they will be spending. I guess the outside the borough rate is the one they asked the Public Utility Commission for, but that agenda item was so vague, it prompted one council member to ask, “what is this?” And if the borough manager isn’t being clear with the people voting on items, how can we expect her to actually share information with us lowly citizens.

Sure, I could have asked, but I didn’t feel like getting treated like a leper. Or getting kicked out for actually requesting information in the middle of a meeting.

I don’t expect nothing to change once the agenda is printed, but these shenanigans have to stop. If people had known that the future of the amusement tax was going to be discussed in committee last week, they may have come or shared their thoughts with members of council. Instead, the public agenda shows very tame items to discourage people from coming so that more meaty topics can be added at the last minute. I’ve seen this movie in Hanover before. It’s getting old.

The borough website should be a living, breathing entity. It is possible to change a PDF once you post it. It is possible to list agenda items as they are added and put some sort of notification that allows people to see the new information. It is OK to have an ongoing dialogue with residents.

Because if you don’t keep people updated regularly, it certainly looks like you’re trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Especially when you do it again and again and again and again and again.

Brian March 26, 2015 2 Comments Permalink

Money Well Spent?

This Saturday, Hanover Fellowship Church will have a 5K to raise money for New Hope Ministries. They applied for permits from Hanover Borough last year and were given permission in December to hold the race, providing they pay the $500 “special events” fee for borough services.

The race course takes place about 90 percent in Conewago Township and only requires the closing of two blocks in the borough. They also appear to be using facilities at Myers Playground, but is it $500 worth?

Potter’s House is on tonight’s agenda to use the facilities at Moul Avenue for services during the summer. They are getting a pair of two-hour blocks each day they requested for $50.00.

So a church tonight is getting four hours for $50, but Hanover Fellowship is getting three hours and two blocks of a street closed for $500?

Next Stop: Borough Council

I am happy to announce that I am running for a seat on Hanover Borough Council in the First Ward in the May 19 Republican primary. I am excited to partner with several other like-minded individuals in this election effort.

I strongly believe that the success of Hanover depends on much more than the 10 people sitting behind the council table. My primary goal in running for this seat is to bring transparency, positivity and diversity of opinion to the way the Hanover Borough operates.

Encouraging developments in recent months have proven that Hanover residents and business owners share a common vision of a vibrant downtown that will fuel a dynamic community beyond Center Square and even the borough limits. I hope you will support my First Ward election effort so I can help the borough government play a proactive and constructive role in this exciting time.

Also, I encourage those in other areas of the borough to support Dan Noble (Second Ward), Henry McLin (Third Ward), Scott Angel (Fourth Ward) and James Baumgardner (Fifth Ward) as we work together to benefit the Hanover Borough.

Brian March 11, 2015 8 Comments Permalink

Parking’s Not That Complicated

A bunch of residents near Hanover Hospital came to borough council Wednesday to try and address the problems of parking in the facility’s neighborhoods. I have heard of this before – street parking taken up all day by employees, leaving residents searching for a place to park.

Normally, I am in the “it’s public parking – anyone can use it” side of the equation. I would feel bad for residents, but stick to that line of thinking. Then Barb Krebs had to open her big mouth.

“It’s a complex issue and it’s not an easy fix,” said Barbara Krebs, Hanover Borough manager. “The hospital has their policies and we can’t ticket people for public parking.”

That’s what she said at the meeting (or told the paper after the meeting – I was officiating last night and, quite frankly, probably would not have gone even if I was available because I am kind of sick of this group of yahoos). Once again, it’s time to call BS on the manager’s, well, BS. Council can easily create parking restrictions on certain streets that benefit the residents. Just Google “Pennsylvania borough residential parking” and look at all the boroughs around the state who have all kinds of programs.

Sure, it may involve a fee. Sure, it may require some work. Sure, the hospital might not immediately jump on board. But that’s why we pay you the big bucks, Barb (and you make sure your friends make big bucks too because what’s being in charge without stacking the deck in favor of people who kiss your behind).

It would only be complex if you decided to make it complex. And you will because you don’t want to talk to people or help residents or do anything that someone in your position should do.

Because if you did, the downtown parking plan that was given to you more than a year ago may have done more than serve as a coaster in your office. I bet if these folks wanted to rezone their properties to cram a bunch of efficiency apartments (and threatened to sue you if you didn’t do exactly what they wanted), you’d bend over backwards to help them.

 

Brian January 29, 2015 1 Comment Permalink

Surviving Hanover

Something amazing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Something that some people thought could never happen. I enjoyed closing 2014 with a bang.

I walked through the streets of Hanover alone in the evening and no one hurt me.

Now before I go on having fun, let me be clear – I am not making fun of anyone who has actually been victimized by a crime locally or anywhere else. I feel terrible for folks who have to go through things like that.

I am, however, making fun of people who take small pieces of information and conflate them into a larger narrative that just is not true.

This happens all too often with the state of Hanover. Sometimes it’s in reaction to something horrible, like the assault and robbery of an older couple on Moul Avenue last week. An event like that certainly should remind us that bad things can and do happen sometimes, even in our backyard.

But that does not mean that everyone’s personal safety is constantly at risk, like you see some people intimate if you get involved in discussions on local issues on social media.

The recent talk of revitalization efforts on Hanover spurred some of these false fears. Some people reacted to the stories in the paper about what was, what is and what will be happening downtown with comments about how they felt unsafe downtown.

I just laughed. Just look at the news, especially the police log which is printed on a regular basis. People aren’t getting jumped at random intervals in alleys, much less on main roads like Routes 94, 194 and 116. The notion that people enjoying downtown businesses put themselves at risk is just silly.

That’s why I tested the theory one night between Christmas and New Year’s. I wanted to put myself in harm’s way just to show people that it’s possible to survive. I also may have been better off not driving and was just a mile or so from my house. But we’ll go with courageous crusader instead of “guy who knows when he isn’t OK to drive.”

I ventured out on Carlisle Street and then headed to (street redacted so as not to compromise future walks in public at night) and crossed to (I will not give away my location to the hoodlums who may be lurking) before heading straight for my house.

I arrived safe and sound. I also got a nice little workout, which is an added bonus of this mode of transportation. Far from dodging gangs of opportunistic bandits, I think I saw three people. On a Saturday night around 11 p.m.

Hopefully I see more bodies on the street in 2015 when I put my life in my hands again. The opening of two craft breweries will hopefully give others the courage to head into downtown after the sun has gone down.

Those people can rest assured that I stand before them as a survivor. I managed to take a leisurely walk through town without any major incidents. Stranger things have happened.

Brian January 13, 2015 2 Comments Permalink