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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Randy Phiel

(10/2016) At every level of government fiscal responsibility, fiscal health and bond rating are very important. The Board has some good news regarding Adams County government’s fiscal health. On August 25, Moody’s Rating Service added "Positive Outlook" to our already good AA3 rating. This is hopefully a prelude to an AA2 rating at some point. This increase did not happen by itself. In the past several weeks there were several conference calls between the rating agency and the county manager. The purpose of the calls was to determine the viability of county finances, the local economy and the perspective of the future for the County of Adams. Some of the overall bond rating factors we can control and some we cannot. Thanks goes out to all our staff whose combined effort to responsibly manage our fiscal affairs on a daily basis - which is one factor we can control. Each rating point provides a savings of at least 15 base points when borrowing.

Most of us north of the Mason Dixon are well aware of the very sad situation at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Cumberland Township. In this sea of sadness, there is some good news to report. The staff at Adams County Victim/Witness have been working diligently to serve the 819 victims above and beyond their normal workload. They have been working with the Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Fund thru PPCD to facilitate some compensation for the victims. At this time, 245 claims have been approved for a total of $493,955 paid. The process is still on-going as more victims apply for compensation. I would also like to recognize the Cumberland Township Police Department for their efforts on this case, on behalf of the community. The amount of victims has created a volume of work that is staggering. I would like to especially recognize Lt. Tim Guise and Detective Steve Higgs for their unwavering dedication to this case. Also, a shout out to District Attorney Brian Sinnet and our Adams County District Attorney’s Office and Adams County Veterans Affairs Director Stan Clark. This case has had an impact on every individual or office it has touched, not only with an increased workload - but with typical human emotions for the plight of the victims.

In Adams County Farmland Preservation news Adams County Rural Resources Manager Ellen Dayhoff informs us that based on the Cigarette Tax increase in this year’s budget, the Farm Land Preservation program here in Adams County will get an additional $110,000 to spend over the next two years. At the recent State Board Meeting, which celebrated 5,000 farms preserved, it was commented on by the staff that the additional $5M will become permanent - increasing revenue from $31M to $36M statewide.

The inside of the new Adams County Human Services Building is beginning to look pleasingly empty. There is a beehive of construction activity. New metal stud walls and drywall are beginning to go up. The work of the Probation and Court Operations continues to go on in the building while construction proceeds. The construction time line in Phase I is Children & Youth Services, IT Services, and Probation, expected to be complete by December 31. Phase II is MDJ Offices, Domestic Relations, Dining, Court Operations, and Mental Health by April 30, 2017. Phase III is Courtroom, Program Storage and Receiving by August 31.

It is hard to believe that yesterday was our third Adams County Voter Hall of Fame event. Every two years our Elections Office organizes a recognition event for residents that have voted in 50 or more consecutive November elections. What an accomplishment! As Commissioners, the Adams County Voter Hall of Fame event is certainly is one of our favorite events. The program had been held previously but had gone into a bit of a hiatus until it was revived in 2012 at the beginning of our first term. Every time we have held the event, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State has been part of the ceremony handing each recipient their citation and shaking their hand. This year was no exception, with Secretary Pedro Cortes and Assistant Secretary Marion Schneider both at the Adams County Emergency Services Center to honor these voters. The first Voter Hall of Fame in 2012 honored over 100 residents as we had some catching up to do, and last week's event honored approximately 40 very appreciative residents.

I have here a few of the remarks I made to the Voter Hall of Fame recipients that reflects the Boards sincere appreciation of these residents. "Ladies and gentleman you are truly an inspiration to our Community, our County, our State and our Nation, and we are honored to be here today to recognize you! You folks sitting before me here today, are the fabric and foundation of our community. You have set a standard and raised the bar to a level that others can both admire and strive to emulate! Unlike too many others, you did not just stand back and complain, you consistently and routinely engaged in the democratic process - that is denied to and envied by so many other citizens around the world!" Events like this do not just happen. I would like to give a big shout out to our Elections Office Team of Monica Dutko and Angie Crouse.

Every other Friday. I put out a newsletter to all county staff and numerous members of the community called TGIF. Several days after the basic version of the newsletter goes out, the Adams County IT Department works their magic and adds color and visuals before putting it on the commissioner’s home page. Our IT staff does excellent work making the basic TGIF come to life. Take the time to go to the Adams County Homepage and click on TGIF to see the results of previous TGIF's and keep abreast of county news. This is only one of the reasons our Adams County IT Department has won website awards the past three years at County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania Annual Summer Conference.

With the Presidential Election just around the corner here is a timely voting update for residents in Carroll Valley and Cumberland Twp. Due to the construction of a new skating rink at Ski Liberty, voters in Carroll Valley 2 will move from the ski instruction building to the bottom of the hill at the old ACNB bank building. Also some residents that vote at the Cumberland Township Municipal Building will go to other side of the room as our Elections Office has re-balanced the Cumberland Twp. precincts. The elections office will have a poll informational person out front at the Cumberland Township Building to assist voters. Last year there was a need to re-balance precincts in Conewago Twp., where residents vote at SAVES. The re-balancing at Conewago was beneficial and enacted with minimal confusion partly by providing informational assistance at the polls. We hope the same positive dynamic occurs at Carroll Valley and Cumberland Twp.

There are so many great Fall activities in Adams County. The Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville kicks off October 1. No matter what you do get out there and experience all the historical, recreational, agricultural, natural and cultural opportunities that beautiful Adams County has to offer. 

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