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From the Desk of County Commissioner
 Randy Phiel

(11/2014) National Apple Harvest 50TH Anniversary

I walked out of the house at 6:15am on a recent Sunday morning on my way to volunteer at the National Apple Harvest Festival. My wife’s black car was white with frost. The Sunday before I went to Raystown Lake and the upper mountains were showing lots of color. Fall has arrived folks… the leaves are departing and I am eyeing my wood stove with some trepidation.

On Saturday, October 4th all three commissioners were invited to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the 50TH Anniversary of The National Apple Harvest Festival. On a personal note, about 40 years ago when the event was much smaller, I was the inventor of Apple Ice Cream for the Gettysburg Jaycees. Back in the mid 70’s when Mason Dixon Dairy had a retail dairy store; we mixed the right amount of apple cinnamon pie filling with vanilla ice cream as we attempted to get the proportions correct. Finally after numerous attempts and tastings – Apple Ice Cream was invented. It was good stuff! It sold successfully at the festival for about 30 years. Over the years The National Apple Harvest Festival is a proud Adams County tradition that has grown significantly in regional and nation prominence. The festival attracts up to 100,000 visitors in two weekends. The National Apple Harvest Festival and the Gettysburg Battle Anniversary events have been named two of the top 100 events by the American Tour Bus Association for 2014.

When you combine these events with fruit stands, wineries, corn mazes and other opportunities for Adams County visitors it spells A..G..R..I….T..O..U..R..I..S..M – which is very important to the economic well being of Adams County. When I got to the festival at 6:45AM both Saturday & Sunday, preparations for the day by numerous volunteers were already well underway. A huge shout out to the hundreds of Adams County volunteers who make this event such a success year after year.

13TH Adams County Commissioners Community Forum

On Monday, September 26, the Board held their 13TH Adams County Commissioners Community Forum at HACC’s Gettysburg campus. Since taking office, the Board has held these forums in all corners of Adams County covering a broad array of subjects that are important to Adams County.

The Serious Impact of Prescription Drugs in Our Community was the topic for the forum. Adams County Coroner Pat Felix spoke to the increasing problem of prescription drugs and the increase in prescription drug overdoses. Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner related the increase in property crimes and driving under the influence due to prescription drug abuse. Shawn also emphasized the need for better prescription drug monitoring in the state and provided information on the Adams County District Attorney’s installed medicine drop boxes at the Cumberland Township & Conewago Police Departments. WellSpan Medical Director Robert Fawcett said our community has a huge problem with prescription drugs. He said the entry drug used to be marijuana - but now it is prescription drugs. He is concerned that doctors very readily prescribe opioid drugs for pain. He also pushed for a state-wide prescription drug monitoring. Sharron Michels from the Center for Youth & Community Development presented how prescription drugs can and are affecting the youth of Adams County.

To view the entire forum go to I want to thank HACC Gettysburg Campus for allowing us to use their excellent facility and Community Media for taping the forum for re-broadcast. In the next two months we will be headed to another corner of Adams County. We will start the New Year with our annual State of the County Forum where we review the previous year - and relate our vision for the upcoming year.

Adams County Human Services Building Update

The courts and the county have engaged in an initiative to determine whether it is feasible to build a new Human Services Building at the county site on Major Bell Lane, near the prison and 911 center, in Straban Township. The location was recommended by a citizen advisory group last March - independent of six other options they were presented by the county for consideration.

When examining and comparing county rentals and leases to a new consolidated county-owned building, we are looking for favorable fiscal results, increased operational efficiencies and enhanced service to our residents. Although we are very confident the later two will be achieved, the upcoming bid process will dictate the fiscal result. The architectural phase preceding the bid phase has now been completed and bids are scheduled be received and opened by March.

Planning and coordination with Children & Youth Services, Probation Services, Domestic Relations & Operational Services has been underway for several months. A highlight of Judge Michael George’s update and presentation to the Board at a recent commissioner’s workshop was that we have recently engaged in a dialogue with York/Adams Mental Health for them to rent and locate personnel at the proposed new facility. That option seems to be a very good possibility. Having mandated mental health services located in Adams County is highly anticipated since it has both positive resident service and fiscal applications.

At the work shop, I again acknowledged and extended the Board’s sincere appreciation to the Community Advisory group, the Human Services Building Team and the aforementioned Departments for their cooperation, collaboration and vision moving this project forward to this point.

New Adams County Planning Director

Planning and vision is important to the future of Adams County. The Board is very pleased to welcome Sherri Clayton on board as the new Director of Planning for Adams County. Sherri was selected from a pool of strong candidates. She will assume the position on November 17. Sherri has been employed by Franklin County Planning for the past twenty-one years and currently holds the position of Senior Planner. Sherri is a certified AICP Planner and has been involved in many areas of planning and public relations. Sherri told us: From personal knowledge I hold the Adams County Planning Department in high regard and am anxious to become a part of this professional team. In August, Adams County Planning Director Nick Colonna accepted another position in Georgia.

In another action, with upcoming positive action by the Salary Board, Adams County Comprehensive Planning Manager Andrew Merkel will be named Adams County Planning Assistant Director. It is the opinion of the Board that these two individuals will appreciably compliment the critical mission of the Planning Department for the future of Adams County.

Courthouse Trees

You may have noticed that the six silver maples in front of the courthouse were recently removed. Several of the trees were diseased and rotted. The silver maples were replaced with four Yellow Wood trees. Two of the maple locations in front of the historic courthouse were not replaced to enhance the view of this historic and iconic structure.

The Yellow Wood trees grow 30-40’ tall at maturity, and blossom fragrant flowers in the spring. The trees are known to have a good tolerance to urban conditions as they are located in a sidewalk along a busy street. Thank you to our Maintenance Department for their efforts in making this courthouse landscaping transition.

2015 County Budget

The Board of Commissioners understands how critical the county budget and mileage assessment is to every resident. The Commissioners recently met with the County Manager and Finance to review the county base budget. It should surprise no one that revenue projections are fairly flat and new construction is very slow. Tax appeals are slowing dramatically; but continue to chip away at our tax base. With all that said, given various variables and through the efforts of county staff and administration, we hope to have a balanced budget with No Tax Increase completed in November.

The Finance Department has done an excellent job of building and drafting the 2015 budget. Departments are quite aware of the need for fiscal conservatism with effective operations. There are a million details that need to be taken into consideration compiling a budget and this year the process has gone very smoothly. Thank you to Adams County Finance, Administration and Department Directors for a constructive budget experience.

The End

The sky is getting darker and the leaves are plummeting off the trees. My yellow black eyed Susan’s are now totally black, my white hydrangeas are brown and my red roses are wilting. I guess it is time to think about taking the porch furniture off the porch and stacking some firewood on it - before it has to be done in colder temperatures. Recently I mowed my heavy fall grass and wondered how many more mowings were left? I personally prefer the easier and less effective method of mowing leaves - as opposed to raking them.

Last week at the same time I was making a presentation to a Japanese Delegation at the Gettysburg Borough Hall, Commissioners Martin & Qually joined numerous organizations and local farms in dedicating the 10 new Adams County Fruit Belt Signs identifying and branding the Historic Adams County Fruit Belt. More than 20,000 acres of orchards and vineyards make up the fruit belt and are part of the fabric of Adams County. Thank you to Bicky Redman and the Planning Department for their contribution to making this project happen.

Consider taking a drive through the Adams County Fruit Belt to observe the colors of fall - and trees that still have apples hanging. What a beautiful landscape! Also, don’t forget that Tuesday, November 4 is Election Day and we need to do better than the dismal 15-25% turnout that normally occurs for a non-presidential election. Embrace this fundamental right that we are afforded. No matter what you do - get out there and enjoy all the historical, recreational, agricultural, natural and cultural activities that beautiful Adams County has to offer!

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