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From the Desk of County Commissioner
 Randy Phiel

(6/2013) If you live in Adams County or northern Maryland, and unless you have been in hibernation, you have been reading and hearing about the 150TH Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Commemoration for the past year. This is called by many an "Olympic Moment" for Gettysburg and Adams County. There is great anticipation, excitement and logistical concerns regarding the commemoration that spans the next six months.

Visitors, reenactors and media are coming from all over the world. There will be many different types of events both large and small. Just from June 27 thru July 14 there are over one hundred events on the 150th calendar. To name just a few - they range from two reenactments on June 27-30 and July 4, 5, 6, & 7, a Prelude event with skirmishes and living history at the Seminary on June 29 & 30, the opening of renovated Schmucker Hall as The Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum on July 1, a menu of National Park Service activities on the actual anniversary July 1, 2 & 3, a 150th community parade on July 3, Bike Week from July 10-13 and the 150th Gettysburg Country Music Tribute – Thunder In The Sky on July 12 & 13. The country music tribute concludes each night with a patriotic fireworks display by Zambelli Fireworks and a patriotic laser show.

There will be a virtual smorgasbord of things for our residents and visitors to do and experience. The week of September 16 – 21, our community has the honor of hosting the National Medal Of Honor Convention and living Medal of Honor recipients. The Medal Of Honor Week will conclude with a program and concert at the Pennsylvania Memorial; as well as a stunning patriotic fireworks display never before experienced in this area. The program and concert will be a ticketed event, but the fireworks may be viewed from many areas surrounding Gettysburg.

This November, Dedication Day & Remembrance Day will be especially significant events. One hundred fifty years ago, on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered those few appropriate remarks dedicating the Gettysburg National Cemetery. These remarks are now recognized as one of the most renowned and important dedication speeches in the history of the world. Even children in Asia recite the Gettysburg Address. In the trivia department, I had the personal privilege of transporting an original copy of the Gettysburg Address six times back and forth between the Library of Congress and GNMP as a U.S. Law Enforcement Ranger for the National Park Service. It is an experience, honor and privilege I will never forget. The President has been invited and it is anticipated, barring any unforeseen crisis, he will attend and deliver the Gettysburg Address. The following weekend on November 23rd is Remembrance Day. Although Remembrance Day normally is held the prior weekend, it was shifted forward one weekend due to the 150 year significance of the Gettysburg Address this year. The large and popular Remembrance Day Saturday afternoon parade promises to be even larger this year. To see the entire menu of 150th Anniversary events go to

Besides providing a wonderful and unique opportunity for Adams County residents to experience a multitude of interesting, entertaining and educational events, the 150th Anniversary Commemoration provides Adams County and the Commonwealth, with a one time opportunity for economic stimulus that may not occur again anytime soon. The residual economic impact will extend beyond Gettysburg to bed & breakfasts, restaurants, lodging and other retail outlets in municipalities like Fairfield, New Oxford, East Berlin, McSherrystown, Littlestown and Upper Adams. The increase to agri-tourism will provide a boost for our orchards, fruit stands and winery’s. Increasing the lodging tax from 3 to 5% last year, combined with the anticipated increased visitation, should ease the tax burden on Adams County residents, funded mainly by out of county residents, by providing enhanced revenues for our municipalities, police departments, the County of Adams, and The Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau in their on-going efforts and charge to promote Adams County. The sales tax generated for the State will also be significant.

One group in particular has been working diligently for the past two years to plan and coordinate efforts between area organizations and entities. The 150th Steering Committee is represented by organizations such as Main Street Gettysburg, National Park Service, Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, Gettysburg College, The Lutheran Seminary, Chamber Of Commerce, Cumberland Township, Gettysburg Borough, Straban Township, Pennsylvania State Police, Rabbit Transit and the County of Adams Planning & Emergency Services as well as several others. Planning and coordination of a commemoration of this scope and duration has not been an easy task and funding has been a major issue. Just the act of getting all the entities to sit at the table in pursuit of a common goal of effective management is quite a feat and deserves special recognition. In mid-May the Board of Commissioners dedicated one of our Adams County Commissioners Community Forums to the 150th Anniversary Commemoration. It was attended by over 100 residents. We will obviously get to evaluate the results of these efforts later, but the collaboration, cooperation and interaction by this group has already proven successful and beneficial to our community for this and future endeavors.

Unfortunately, I hear many Adams County residents proclaim they are getting out of town or not coming close to Gettysburg during the commemoration. To the contrary, I would urge all Adams County residents to take advantage of these many unique opportunities and events. Thursday evening at the Majestic Theater, I had the pleasure to give Adams County Commissioners Proclamations, to over 260 Gettysburg Middle School 7th Graders, who were involved in a nine month project, creating six Gettysburg Civil War related videos, sponsored by The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Education Partnership. It was hands on for them from immersion into The Battle of Gettysburg, creation of the video subject theme, filming at the various sites, final editing and insertion of credits. The result was extraordinary, relevant and educational. It made those dusty old history books come alive for the students, as well as the large audience, and gave us all a greater sense of the historic community we are blessed to live in.

I also had the honor and privilege of attending two Adams County Memorial Day programs last weekend. It was my distinct pleasure on Saturday to attend the Wenksville United Methodist Church Memorial Day Program. It is an Upper Adams community tradition that deserves that distinction. What a wonderful and scenic community program surrounded by blossoming orchards and Bear Mountain in the distance. Adams County resident and loc al veterans advocate Marine Stan Clark delivered outstanding program remarks. From my perspective the Wenksville Memorial Day program is our community, our county and our nation at its best. On Monday, I attended the 146TH Gettysburg Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony in the National Cemetery. It is one of the oldest Memorial Day events in the country. Governor Tom Corbett was the Grand Marshall and speaker. I have been attending this event since I was a child, strewing flowers on the gravesites as part of the ceremony, as a Boy Scout committee member placing flags on each grave, and for 30 years working for the National Park Service. It is a slice of Americana, patriotism and recognition that never grows old.

As we prepare to engage in the blizzard of 150th events, along with the benefits of national and world-wide attention, there is no doubt there will also be some inconveniences like traffic and parking. Plan accordingly, utilize routes that you know and visitors do not, and please be patient and courteous. Please be ambassadors for Adams County and your community. When we travel it is so nice to get a smile, handshake, pleasant directions and a thank you. Tourism and agriculture are the mainstays of our Adams County economic engine. We now have the opportunity to support these industries and promote our community, while leaving a positive first impression so that our visitors will return and also tell all their family and friends that they need to visit and experience all the wonderful historical, natural, recreational and cultural opportunities that beautiful Adams County has to offer. I wish you a wonderful and safe summer!

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