Newsworthy Events in the Capital Region - September, 14 2000
111 Children’s Books Stolen from York Library:
What would motivate someone to steal children’s books? Well, it seems that, while there is no answer to this question, that’s exactly what someone did. During the first week of August an unknown person robbed York County’s Martin Memorial Library. Their booty was a collection of 111 Big Books — very large children’s books that are generally used for story-telling in a group setting. These poster sized books are valued at about $20 apiece, making the estimated loss of the library at about $2,200.
Paula Gilbert, spokesperson for Martin Memorial Library, is baffled. Questions like "Why?" and "To what end?" still tax her. Though the value of the books is relatively substantial, the market for stolen children’s books can’t be that great — leaving more questions than answers. "The only thing that was accomplished by this was crippling our Story Time," commented Gilbert.
Thankfully, the local and corporate community has come to the aid of the Library. Individual donations have also been pouring in. Companies such as P.H. Gladfelter have also leant their support, offering contributions and matching donations to allow the Fall’s Schedule of children’s story telling to remain unaffected.
Perhaps the nicest gesture was made by York’s Borders Books and Music. The national book seller has issued a challenge. Members of the local community may purchase replacement volumes at a reduced price. Borders is giving all contributors a 20% savings on the purchase price of the Big Books, plus an additional 20% on any other books purchased that day. The names of all contributors will appear on a bookplate inside the book’s front cover. This challenge runs through September 17. For further information, call Borders at 755-0800.
KKK To Rally In Carlisle:
Upset over what they perceive as lax police enforcement efforts to clean up a local drug problem, members of a Virginia-based KKK group and Klan members from Venango County will demonstrate on the steps of the Carlisle Court house on September 23. Why Klan members from locations outside of Carlisle are concerned about police efforts to deal with a local drug problem isn’t immediately clear. Only 20 to 30 protesters are expected to show up.
Carlisle Mayor Kirk Wilson has wisely asked for a second event that same day. He hopes that community residents will engage themselves that day in something constructive rather than protest the KKK event. There is a strong feeling among Klan opponents that they prey on the outrage of citizens who are offended by the Klan’s frequently used tactic of busing in protesters. What a funny move for a group that historically opposed the busing of minority students in order to achieve racial balance in predominantly white school districts. Apparently, what is good for the goose isn’t as good for the gander — or something like that.
Harrisburg’s NAACP has also issued a statement of dismay on the event.
Give Me Libertarian, Or Give … Who?
How many presidential candidates can you name? Do you even know how many nominees there are? Many will guess three. A few will say four and not be able to back that up with names of the actual runners. Bush, Gore, umm … Oh yeah, Nader! For the record, there are five. Well, six, if you count Orrin Hatch, but when it comes to Hatch, and this is most likely the entire country speaking, who cares? Hatch is kind of funny, but he has no chance and isn’t seriously campaigning. He’s just a senior senator who wants to play at being a big cheese and add another credit to his obituary. Anyway, in the bonafide chase, it’s Baby Bush, Al Gore, Pat Buchanan (the quadrennial punching bag), Ralph Nader of the Green Party, and the Libertarian vote, Harry Browne.
Who in heck-fire is Harry Browne? And what’s he doin’ on the ballot?
These are his blah-blah stats. Harry Browne is an investment adviser and author from Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to writing 11 riveting books on the economy and predictions on its future, he also published an equally exciting financial newsletter for many years. Browne, who wasn’t even an elected official in his own high school’s student council, won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination at their national convention this July 3rd. This is the second time he’s run for President on the Libertarian ticket. He finished fifth out of five in 1996 with not even half a million votes, a number that is, coincidentally, roughly the population of Nashville.
Why would someone with no experience in public office want to hold the world’s most powerful position? Well, it’s no surprise that the decision was carefully strategized and fiscally balanced. "It was my wife’s idea," said Browne.
Although Browne has had no familiarity in public service and makes major decisions with the same level of conference that one would use to choose a dinnertime restaurant, he has always been dedicated to the process by which our great land is governed. In his 1973 book,How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World,he wrote, "I have no temptation to vote, to campaign, to try and stop a candidate who promises new follies."
With Liberty and Justice for all.
The USDA is Way Into Swiss Cheese:
In the tradition of efficient government spending, the Department of Agriculture bureaucrats are trying to decide how big the holes in Swiss cheese should be (no, that’s not a joke) — proving, indeed, that the Washington, DC, bureaucracy is an out-of-control muenster.
Late this past July, the USDA proposed a new, 15-page regulation that would require the holes in Swiss cheese to be reduced from an average of eleven-sixteenths to three-eighths of an inch in diameter in order to qualify for a federal Grade A rating.
The new guidelines, which will replace federal Swiss cheese standards established in 1987, were revealed by the Washington Post this month, and have already been criticized by Citizens Against Government Waste and Gourmet magazine.
The USDA claims it is considering the change because of lobbying from the cheese industry, which wants the more popular smaller-hole cheese to qualify for the government’s Grade A rating. Currently, the smaller-hole cheese gets a Grade B rating, which reduces the price that cheese makers can charge for it.
"There is no reason why a cheese industry board, funded by manufacturers, can’t set quality standards for cheese," said Libertarian Press Secretary, George Getz. "And there’s no reason why cheese makers can’t offer Swiss cheese with differently sized holes to consumers, and let them buy whatever kind they like best. The federal government doesn’t need to be involved in such decisions."
"The standards have changed," says Jim Dell, Chief of the Division of Milk Sanitation for the USDA. "Instead of needing to put two slices [of Swiss cheese] on the sandwich, trying to line up the big holes with cheese, the consumer can just put on one."
There you have it: the government’s finger is directly on the pulse of public concern.
Girls Incorporated Pulls the Plug
Girls Incorporated of Greater Harrisburg ceased operation on August 25. Girls Inc. is a national youth organization dedicated to "inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold." For over 50 years, Girls Incorporated has provided vital educational programs to millions of American girls. Today, innovative programs help girls confront subtle societal messages about their value and potential, and aim to prepare them to lead successful, independent and complete lives.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of enrollment, staff turnover, and on-going major renovations, the program in Harrisburg did not survive the Board of Trustees’ vote. Funded primarily by United Way of the Capital Region, the Board had to turn away the $131,400 allocation that was approved for the 2000 – 2001 after-school program. Board President, Georgeann Zogas, said that because of the lack of enrollment and since renovations "would not be completed in time for the start of the after-school program, the Board the tough, but proper, decision to cease operation. Our main goal now is to help those parents who would have enrolled their daughters in our program by providing referrals to other area after-school programs."
The CAT is Out of the Bag
Capital Area Transit (CAT) hosted a block party in downtown Harrisburg on September 11 to usher in the bus line’s new makeover and kick off Try Transit Week.
The CAT buses’ new color scheme, bright blue with the new red and gray CAT logo, was revealed at the Market Square party. In following CAT’s new theme line of "The Smart Choice," CAT offered free bus service to all on Tuesday, September 12, and Wednesday, September 13. The goal is to show more people that the bus is a smart alternative to the time and cost associated with driving a car to work.
Food, music, and even setting a world record for how many people fit into a bus, which CAT is currently trying to validate with Guinness World Records, were part of the afternoon festivities at the Harrisburg Transfer Center.
CAT is also taking the lead, along with the Modern Transit Partnership, in developing regional rail transportation options for CORRIDORone, a 54-mile corridor extending from Carlisle to Lancaster by way of Harrisburg. CAT’s Board of Directors recently recommended the first two elements of CORRIDORone, extensive rail service between Lancaster and Harrisburg and west to Mechanicsburg.
New Midtown Cinema will Replace Plasma Center
Demolition crews for Mass Construction Company have been gutting the innards of the old Plasma Center on Reilly Street for a few weeks. A new, three-screen, 260-seat cinema is to rise in its ashes, adding to the aesthetic and artistic landscape in an area working on the betterment of the surrounding community. "Our goal is to revitalize the entire Third Street area," says Chuck Schultz, Executive Director of the Midtown Market District, Inc. "We want to spark more community-oriented businesses to set up in the area. We’re very excited about the cinema."
The cinema, which is slated for ribbon-cutting on Thanksgiving weekend, is owned under a three-year lease by Allen Brown, who also runs the popular Palmyra Cinema Center. The Palmyra Cinema runs independent, first-run movies and the same wares will grace the marquee in Midtown.
The Cinema will mesh well with Third Street’s inspired, little arty shops like The Bee Tree, Creative Expressions, and Olivia’s. It will function well as a community gathering spot as do the Broad Street Market and the Historic Harrisburg Association.
Cinema sponsor and member of the Community Initiated Development (CID) Committee, Mike Grabauskas, feels that this new business will be "Something to invigorate the area. It [the cinema] is offering something that people normally don’t have direct access to." The 4000 sq feet that have been eternally vacant behind the plasma center are hoped to soon be prime locale for other respectable, neighborhood businesses.Next week, one of the bids to construct the cinema will be chosen; the ground will be broken the next day.