Manheim-area leaders discuss projects at Chamber event

By on January 23, 2019

Manheim’s economic stability is due, in large part, to Manheim Auto Auction. According to Penn Townshp Manager Mark Heister, “Of the almost $7 billion of trade in our township a year, almost $6 billion is through the Manheim Auto Auction and related businesses.” (Submitted photo)

Updates on municipal and school projects, as well as the latest information from emergency services providers, were all part of the information shared by local officials during the Manheim Chamber’s January JumpStart breakfast program on Jan. 16. The event was held at the Manheim Historical Society’s restored railroad station.

“There are a lot of great things happening in our community,” said chamber vice president Jim Kreider.

Schools

Manheim Central superintendent Peter Aiken provided an update of current and proposed projects. He said construction of Baron Elementary, 123 E. Gramby St., is on schedule. The 86,000-square-foot two-story elementary school is expected to be completed in late March or early April. It will open to students in the fall, and the district anticipates hosting a community open house sometime over the summer.

He said plans for renovations to the high school are underway. The project, which has a price tag of up to $40 million, is currently in the design stage. Another project on the district’s radar is an expanded area for parking for Doe Run Elementary.

“There are about 10 events each year where parking at the school is maxed out, and guests have to park offsite. We’d like to resolve that issue,” Aiken said, “We had been looking at improvements to athletic fields, but that’s on hold until we have a plan for extra parking.”

Baron Elementary also was part of Manheim Borough Police Chief Joe Stauffer’s discussion. When the school opens, it will replace H.C. Burgard as the elementary school in the borough. Stauffer said the department is working with the school district to determine walking routes for school children and intersections along those routes where crossing guards will be placed.

“School safety is very important to us,” Stauffer said. “We want to get our kids to school safely, but that’s only one aspect of school safety; we also have a SRO (School Resource Officer) at the high school.”

Businesses

Manheim Borough manager Jim Fisher said in addition to the Baron Elementary School construction project, there are also several business projects planned or underway in the borough.

Among them is the proposed conversion of the former Stiegel Elementary School to a 36-unit apartment facility and the expansion of Carel USA’s manufacturing facility, 385 S. Oak St. Carel’s expansion will more than double the size of the facility; it will go from 35,000-square feet to 75,000-square feet.

The conversion of the former Bickel’s Snack Foods facility, 51 N. Main St., to a mixed use retail facility, the REO Manheim Marketplace is also underway.

“There’s a wide variety of uses-residential, industrial and retail/dining. These are real positives for the community,” Fisher said,”We’re hoping it spurs further development.”

Municipal

He said the borough is also working on infrastructure improvements. PennDOT milled and paved portions of Main Street this year. The borough is also installing battery back-ups to the traffic signals along Main St. so that signals continue to operate in the event of a power outage.

The borough is also in the planning stage of a project to restore 3,040 linear feet of the Chiques Creek streambank in Veterans Memorial Park and add walking trails to the east side of the creek. It would extend from High Street to the borough line. In addition to meeting state pollutant reduction requirements the project would help alleviate flooding, since the natural floodplain of the creek would be restored. Fisher said the project would be completed in two phases with the area between High Street and Shearer’s Covered Bridge as the first phase.

Mark Heister, Penn Township manager, provided an update on the status of the traffic signal at the Fruitville Pike-Temperance Hill Road intersection. It is part of the improvements associated with the development of Holly Tree Apartments. Since Fruitville Pike is a state road, the traffic signal is in the process of receiving approval from PennDOT. The township anticipates construction to begin later this year. He said Landmark Homes, the developer of Holly Tree Apartments, will pay up to $630,000 for the traffic signal and related roadwork, while the township will pay for some improvements on the abutting private properties. Additionally the Northwestern Lancaster County Authority will pay about $350,000 to install capped sewer facilities there.

Economic

With regard to economic development, Heister said according to a report he receives, “of the almost $7 billion of trade in our township a year, almost $6 billion is through the Manheim Auto Auction and related businesses.” He said new businesses are continuing to open in Penn Towne Center, a shopping plaza along Route 72 near the auto auction.

Rapho Twp.

Sara Gibson, Rapho Township manager, said the township’s commercial and industrial growth is centered around Strickler and Esbenshade roads. A Taco Bell and retail area was recently approved for a tract of land at the intersection of Strickler and Esbenshade roads and a Holiday Inn Express is proposed for the intersection of Esbenshade Road and Route 230. She said the township completed improvements to its municipal complex at 971 N. Colebrook Road this summer. The township office was revamped with renovations to the existing facility and the addition of a new meeting room. A wash bay was added to the public works building. The entrance to the complex and parking for the municipal office were also revamped.

Northwest EMS

Lori Shenk, Northwest EMS community outreach coordinator, said the emergency services provider serves 65,000 households in its coverage area, which also includes 30 miles of the Turnpike. She also said this year is the final year for the five-year pledges from the Campaign to Save Lives that helped fund the construction of Northwest EMS’ facility at 60 W. Colebrook St., Manheim.

She addressed the national EMS crisis.

“The crisis is here and it’s very real. The EMS industry as a whole is struggling with obtaining and retaining employees and with financial impacts (of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and an increasing number of patients not turning over insurance reimbursements to EMS providers),” she said, “Our EMS units have evolved from being just transports to an emergency room to essentially being a mobile emergency room. We have the capabilities to do most things an emergency room does except X-rays and blood work.”

Shenk said 2018 is the first year in Northwest EMS’ ended the year with a deficit. However, she stressed that “We are committed to our communities and plan and intend to be sustainable.”

She explained that Northwest EMS’ primary objectives are 9-1-1 response service and community outreach and prevention education. The education component includes hands-only CPR and “Stop the Bleed” training. One of the organization’s community outreach efforts, its February food drive will kick off Feb. 1. It benefits food banks in its local service area including the Manheim Central Food Pantry. She said donations of non-perishable food items may be dropped off at Northwest EMS’s stations in Manheim, Elizabethtown and Maytown.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent who covers the Manheim Borough and Rapho Township municipal beats for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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