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From the Desk of County Commissioner
 Randy Phiel

(9/2013) If you are a resident of Adams County you should be aware that we now have a lasting tribute to those emergency responders who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our community. On Saturday morning August 17th, all three commissioners attended the dedication of the Adams County Line Of Duty Death Memorial Wall at the Adams County Emergency Services facility, along with several representatives of the Courts and other agencies. I was especially honored when I was requested to deliver remarks representing Adams County's staff and residents. Here is an encapsulation of a few sentences of those remarks that I believe capture the essence of my thoughts that day:

On behalf of the Adams County Board of Commissioners, the staff and the residents of Adams County, it is an honor and privilege for me to be standing here this morning at the dedication of the Line Of Duty Death Memorial Wall. It is especially poignant and a privilege for me having served this community for thirty years during a professional career in the field of emergency services - to not only have the opportunity to recognize, honor and commemorate the names on the wall before you; but to also recognize all of our Adams County emergency responder, both past and present, as well as the many folks who had the passion and vision to make this memorial possible. Too often after we lose one of our own emergency responders in the line of duty, there is an initial outpouring of grief, attention and remembrance; and with the passing of time, we as a community tend to move on to the tasks and responsibilities that confront us every day and that consume our lives. This memorial will ensure that ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and their children - will pause as they walk in this building, and remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to our community in perpetuity.

There are eleven individuals on the wall beginning in 1924 with PSP Trooper Francis Haley who was killed at Caledonia by a bank robbery suspect. Unfortunately, in the past two years WCO David Grove and New Oxford Firefighter Brandon Little were added. I would like to give a huge shout out to Adams County Emergency Services staff members Donna Powers and Kim Frank for having the vision and commitment to make this memorial become reality. The funding was entirely supported by donations. Thank you to those many individuals and organizations for their support. At your first opportunity, I urge every Adams County resident to stop by and view this tribute. It will make you pause and reflect!

Uncanny, eerie, predictable, unpredictable, relevant, timely, intuitive, insightful, extremely valuable? After our first Adams County Courthouse Active Shooter Training Exercise - which was held on the 1st and 2nd floor in the courthouse on August 2nd - these are all adjectives that immediately came to my mind when I heard about the tragic shooting that occurred in Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania on Monday August 5th. The shooter in Ross Township was upset that his junk strewn property with sewage issues had been condemned, when he entered the township building and opened fire during a township meeting. Three persons were killed and several wounded. How ironic our training exercise that Friday in the Adams County was a disgruntled resident who had lost his property due to non-payment of taxes - and was coming for the chair commissioner (yours truly) - shooting his way to the second floor.

As you can imagine on Tuesday morning August 6th, the news of the Ross Township incident spread rapidly at the Pennsylvania County Commissioners Conference in Erie which I was attending. During the ensuing conversations, I was so proud to tell other commissioners from around the state what we had just cooperatively and proactively done the active shooter training exercise the previous Friday in Adams County - and that we intend to do these exercises consistently in the future. The training is not only valuable for our security staff and deputies, but is so valuable for our entire courthouse staff to experience the dynamics of such an event. It forces us all on planning and thinking of what we would do in this situation.

A huge shout out to all the agencies that helped make this important exercise happen safely and effectively - both inside and outside the building, whether it be standby EMS, law enforcement securing the outside of the building or supplying outside expertise and incident oversight. The Board would like to give special recognition to the Adams County Sheriff's Department & Courthouse Security for recognizing the critical nature of this exercise and their cooperative efforts in creating institutional procedures and planning this exercise. Thank you to Sheriff Jim Mueller for supporting this important effort and especially Chief Deputy Len Supenski and Security Director Mike Baltzley for their long hours of planning - and the successful result.

This was a very big and important step to ensure the safety of our officers, staff and residents....... and we have taken it. The challenge is now to continue to use this exercise as a springboard to similar periodic training that is of the utmost importance to our Adams County deputies, security officers, our staff and our residents!

Our next Adams County Commissioners Community Forum will be in October at York Springs new municipal building. The primary topic will be Broadband in Adams County. Broadband is a critical issue in relation to economic development, business growth, education and quality of life in Adams County. Adams County Commissioners Forums are held from 6:30-8:00PM and the exact date will be announced in the next several weeks. York Springs will be our eighth Adams County Commissioners Community Forum since taking office. So far we have been to East Berlin, Littlestown, Buchanan Valley, Arendtsville, Fairfield/Carroll Valley, Gettysburg and Conewago township.

On Thursday, August 8th, all three commissioners attended a reception for Governor Corbett at the Gettysburg Hotel hosted by the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau. We got a chance to personally speak to the Governor and thanked him for his role in appropriating funds to help defray some of the cost of 150TH activities. The Governor recognizes while his operating and budget philosophy is not spending more then you bring in, he is quite aware of the economic impact, state recognition and return on investment that Gettysburg and Adams County provide. Yes – we agree supporting Adams County is a great return on investment!

On Friday evening, August 9th, all three commissioners attended the 250TH Anniversary Celebration of McSherrystown at SAVES that evening. There was a dinner, display of McSherrystown memorabilia and special program. Former Adams County Commissioner Tom Weaver was the featured speaker. Congratulations McSherrystown and keep up the great community spirit!!

Where did the summer go? It was way too short for me! Part of the answer was there was so much going on this summer it seemed to pass with the speed of light. Don’t forget there are still more events to come. To name a few we have The National Medal of Honor Convention September 16 -21 with a large public program at the PA Monument that Friday evening, Apple Harvest Weekends, Dedication Day November 19 with a potential presidential visit and Remembrance Day Weekend the following weekend with a reported 15,000-20,000 re-enactor parade. So get out there and enjoy all the historical, natural, cultural and educational activities that beautiful Adams County has to offer…..there are certainly lots of opportunities that I mentioned and many others!

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