The York City School Board won't start deliberating on the 2013-14 budget until January, a month or two later than usual because, as the board president put it, York City isn't in the same dire situation it faced in recent years.
Board president Margie Orr was referring to the district's ongoing financial woes, which now have the district under state supervision.
York City had a $19 million deficit early in its 2012-13 school year budget deliberations. The district had proposed cutting kindergarten, most of its sports and 90 teachers, and eliminating the arts, gym, choir and band programs. The latter proposal prompted a peaceful protest by instrument-carrying alumni and students.
But two infusions of cash -- first, $5 million in additional state funding; later, $5 million in grants -- helped preserve kindergarten, the music, gym and arts program, and several dozen teacher jobs.
It also helped avoid a 17 percent property tax hike, as the board cut it in half to 8.5 percent this year. And Orr said the district should be in better shape going into next year, although its surplus has been wiped out.
It wasn't enough to avoid being designated by the state as a district in "moderate financial recovery"; York City received the designation in part because the district borrowed state funding at one point to make ends meet.
In December, city schools met with their state-appointed chief recovery officer, David Meckley, a Spring Garden Township businessman, to start the process of coming up with a plan to get them back on track.
"We can all second guess, should there be financial recovery, should this be happening. But it's here. It's happening," Meckley said at a recent school board meeting. "I want to work with all of you to make this happen."
Stetler sentenced to jail
Once a leader in Pennsylvania's Democratic party, former state Rep. Steve Stetler was brought down as part of the state's Bonusgate prosecutions.
A Dauphin County jury in June convicted him of conflict of interest, criminal conspiracy and four separate counts of theft, although he maintains his innocence.
Stetler, 63, remains in York County Prison, serving his sentence of 11/2 years to five years minus a day. He must also pay $466,621 in restitution and $35,000 in fines.
He was convicted of misusing public funds and state employees for legislative campaigns while chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee from 2002 to 2006. At the same time, Stetler also was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus' policy committee.
He became head the state Department of Revenue in November 2008, but resigned from that post in December 2009, just hours before criminal charges against him were announced.
Stetler represented York City and its surrounding area from 1991 to 2006 before stepping down to head the Pennsylvania Economy League. He served at the league until being chosen by Gov. Ed Rendell to run the state Revenue Department.
About three dozen political, business and community leaders testified as character witnesses for Stetler during his trial, including former Gov. Ed Rendell and York City Mayor Kim Bracey.
A battle over maps
From legislative redistricting to voter identification, election rules made big headlines in 2012 as legislators fought over boundaries and photo ID.
It was a litigious election year, with the chaos starting when Pennsylvania's Republican-drawn redistricting maps were overturned in state court.
The redistricting process started in 2011. As originally drawn by Republicans, the new boundaries for state legislative districts would have given York County a new state House seat in the Hanover area and a larger share of the 15th District state Senate seat, from which longtime lawmaker Jeffrey Piccola was retiring.
Local candidates surfaced and announced an intention to run in both of those areas. Among them was York County Clerk of Courts Don O'Shell, who planned to seek the state Senate seat. Three Republicans and two Democrats had planned to run for the new House seat.
Then came a state Supreme Court ruling in February, tossing out the state maps and ordering them redrawn by the Republican party. That meant using the old maps and boundaries for the 2012 state House and Senate elections. And that ended the campaigns of most of those who had announced plans to run in those elections.
While politicos were contending with map changes, officials were working to implement a new law requiring voters to show photo identification.
Democrats fought the law, under which general-election voters were to have shown a form of photo identification or cast a provisional ballot. But about a month before the November election, a Commonwealth Court judge decided to postpone the implementation of the new voter ID law until the May 2013 primary.
Judge: Helfrich can serve
Michael Helfrich's journey to public office was, by any measure, more difficult than most.
His bid for a seat on the York City Council began with a defeat at the primary level, continued with a narrow write-in win last year and nearly ended when the mayor personally filed a petition in York County court contending that Helfrich was constitutionally ineligible for public office because of two 20-year-old felonies.
Helfrich was 20 years old when he pleaded guilty in 1991 to two state felony charges of possession of and conspiracy to deliver drugs. According to a court transcript, Helfrich offered a ride to the airport to a man whom he knew to be in possession of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms.
Following a hearing that aired everything from Helfrich's community service to his recreational drug use, York County Common Pleas President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh departed from decades of case law to rule Aug. 1 that Helfrich is eligible for public office despite his criminal history.
Linebaugh rejected the idea Helfrich had been convicted of "infamous crimes" simply because they were felonies.
The saga ended a few weeks later with Mayor Kim Bracey's announcement that she would not appeal the judge's ruling.
Helfrich, 42, has been an active and outspoken member of the council ever since.
A state title for West York
On a mid-June evening at Penn State, the West York baseball team turned a lofty goal into an unforgettable reality.
The Bulldogs, who began the season determined to win a state championship, accomplished their mission with a 9-6 victory over Lampeter-Strasburg at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in the PIAA Class AAA final.
West York bashed 11 hits to support the pitching of star Kaden Hepler to close with a sparkling 24-4 record.
"The bats came through," said West York senior Brock Gladfelter, who contributed a double and a single to the cause. "We had faith in everything we set out to do. We won our division, won the league title, came up short in districts, but then we said our next goal is to win the state title."
Hepler allowed just four hits. The senior right-hander struck out eight, walked seven and threw 149 pitches. Hepler, who pitched in all four state playoff games, gave up only two runs in the first three games to put the Bulldogs in position to win their first-ever state baseball title.
"Kaden was the right man for the job," West York head coach Roger Czerwinski said. "He has the ability to shut down the best of the best."