Some things will never be the same

By on January 7, 2015

A look back at 2014

Mike Brubaker at the Rock Lititz opening in September was chairman of the Senate finance committee. Brubaker last month was hired as CEO with the new firm Blackford Ventures LLC.

Mike Brubaker, at the Rock Lititz opening in September, was chairman of the Senate finance committee. Brubaker last month was hired as CEO with the new firm Blackford Ventures LLC.

The year 2014 is in the books and is never coming back.

Similar to that end, Lititz area residents will notice a few other constants lost going into the new year: Mike Brubaker, a fixture in the state Senate for eight years; the 90 days Lititz Springs Post 1463 Veterans of Foreign Wars relinquished when shut down by the state VFW headquarters; and the exit of Mike Williams from the sidelines at Manheim Central High School.

Mike Brubaker Leaves Office. Brubaker, who was a regular contributor to The Lititz Record Express’ opinion page, officially left office when Sen. Ryan Aument was sworn in this week.

Brubaker, the former chairman of the Senate finance committee, last month announced his new CEO position with the new firm Blackford Ventures LLC.

The company is part of Richard Welkowitz’s Blackford Development Empire which provides real estate development services and invests in shopping centers and office buildings in south-central Pennsylvania and many other financial ventures.

Regionally situated near the Rock & Roll epicenter at Rock Lititz, Blackford Ventures is partnered with Live Nation, which promotes over 22,000 events each year.

Live Nation events include concerts, stage performances, and other events annually attended by more than 50 million people, according to the LinkedIn page of Dragan Dodik, Blackford Ventures president.

The company’s synergy with Rock Lititz is obvious. For instance, Rock Lititz partner Clair Global designed U2’s 360-Degree Tour &tstr;described in 2011 as “the most ambitious and expensive concert tour and stage design in the history of the live music business” &tstr; was produced and marketed by Live Nation Entertainment.

Like Rock Lititz, Live Nation is contracted with a myriad of artists. In fact, Dodik notes that “Live Nation is the largest conglomeration of performing talent in the world.”

According to a statement released by Brubaker: “The Blackford Ventures team specializes in innovative technologies, U.S. energy, existing and start-up businesses, commercial and industrial real estate (site locations, acquisitions and build to lease), construction and site development evaluation and monetizing public assets. Along with quick access to substantial capital, Blackford Ventures’ experienced professionals bring the capabilities, personal networks, and confidence to act quickly on high quality, innovative opportunities in multiple business sectors.”

VFW’s 90-day closure remains a mystery. VFW Lititz Springs Post 1463, which had just voted to replace its outgoing quartermaster, had all of its officers removed when the state headquarters took control of the club and changed the club’s door locks on Dec. 11.

The current controversy followed a tiff among members and officers who held differing views on smoking. The club’s anti-smoking faction successfully lobbied to remove smoking inside the post Oct. 1.

But another vote in November, which immediately lifted the smoking ban, angered some members such as Bill Thomas, VFW 1463 Post Quartermaster, who stepped down from his post.

Just days after a board meeting in which the post elected a new quartermaster, the state VFW headquarters officially closed the club at 14 N. Spruce St.

The post was notified Dec. 11 that it would be closed 90 days for unspecified reasons &tstr; essentially halting the group’s main fundraising source: Thursday-night bingo and pull-off gambling tickets sold in the bar.

Officers and members of VFW 1463 referred questions to Pennsylvania VFW headquarters in Harrisburg, which have refused to comment on why the post has been disciplined.

John Getz, Pennsylvania VFW Quartermaster, confirmed that club members met Dec. 29, but offered no details on what was discussed.

Coach Mike Williams leaves the gridiron.

Williams announced over the summer that his 34th season as the Manheim Central head coach would be his last.

The Barons boss in 2014 ended with a 7-3 regular-season record, a District Three playoff win in Garden Spot and a loss to Bishop McDevitt in the district quarterfinals. Once again he led a talented team that included Chad Zunich, who was named to the Class AAA All-State team.

Williams, who retires with a career record of 348-75-3, won 20 Lancaster-Lebanon League Section titles, an unprecedented 16 District Three Class AAA titles and the 2003 AAA state championship.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4455

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