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From the Desk of County Commissioner
 Randy Phiel

(11/2013) Isn’t fall is such a beautiful time of year in Adams County with warm days, cool crisp evenings, low humidity and lots of color? The 150TH Anniversary summer activities are now in our rear view mirror, our strong community spirit is reinforced by another community driven Apple Harvest Festival, we were honored to host the National Medal of Honor Convention and we still have a highly anticipated 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address event on November 19th and Remembrance Day activities the following weekend.

Moving to current affairs, the PA Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee on Friday held a senate hearing in Adams County, regarding emergency services and the challenges of volunteer firefighting, at the Adams County Emergency Management Building. The hearing Chaired by Senator Lisa Baker was hosted by Senator Richard Alloway who had asked myself and Adams county Emergency Services Director John Eline to assist with site organization and hearing testimony. What better time and place to have this hearing with everything that is going on in with emergency services in Adams County? We have so many important emergency service issues facing Adams County that include sustaining volunteer emergency services, the recent Council of Government Fire Study, municipal fire tax considerations and concerns regarding the future of Advanced Life Support Service in Adams County - with WellSpans announcement of discontinuing ALS service in the next 12-18 months. The hearing was valuable, appreciated, very timely and Adams County was an appropriate venue. The event was timely and well attended. Thank you to Senator Alloway for bringing this event to Adams County.

On Saturday, October 19 in front of the Adams County Courthouse we dedicated a new Blue Star Memorial Marker honoring our nation’s veterans. If you have not seen the memorial marker take a moment to pause and read it. It looks great in front of the courthouse and is a very appropriate tribute. Thank you to our local Gettysburg Garden Club and their Blue Star Committee for facilitating this tribute. The Blue Star Markers have been a project to honor veterans by the National Garden Clubs since 1949.

The federal government shutdown certainly got all of our attention for three weeks. While delivering remarks as an invited guest at the Arendtsville Lions Club several weeks ago during the shutdown, I proposed this question: "Does anyone believe that their county government…. is more effective and efficient than our federal government." With a few smiles about 30 hands immediately shot into the air. How frustrating, damaging and embarrassing to us as a nation has this government shutdown been? As a retired 30-year federal law enforcement ranger for the National Park Service, I was quoted in both local papers expressing my frustration, concern, embarrassment and consternation over the National Park Service consistently being used as a high profile political pawn during these shutdowns to initiate as much residual political impact as possible - at the expense of dedicated Park Service staff, visitors and communities. I can assure you it was not an enjoyable task for the law enforcement rangers left at the Park for those three weeks. I had been through at least three closures in my career; but never before at Gettysburg NMP had visitors been barred from getting out of their cars and walking on park roads when essential personnel such as law enforcement and limited maintenance were still on duty. It is obvious that the directive to ban foot traffic and getting out of your vehicle came from upstairs - and not at the local level. The shutdown and closing the Park entirely was damaging to our community and nation in numerous ways. I have hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim three times in the past six years. Each rim to rim trip takes about one year of advance planning, reservations and permits. These are life-time experiences for many folks whether it be visiting the Statue of Liberty, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time or visiting the site of the 20TH Maine Charge or the site of The Gettysburg Address. I cannot imagine having those kind of plans torpedoed because of bureaucratic ineptness and divisiveness. They say you should learn from history so that it does not repeat itself….we can only hope?

The rumor is strong that there could be an historic Presidential visit for Dedication Day on November 19th. Preparations need to be made and are being made for that possibility – whether the President appears or not. The next weekend 10,000 - 12,000 re-enactors are anticipated for the Remembrance Day Parade.

These are great opportunities to experience some very unique events in your community. Winter is on the way folks. Get out there and enjoy all the historical, educational, cultural and natural opportunities that beautiful Adams County has to offer.

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