Yorkers discuss city issues at community forum

Christopher Dornblaser

About 100 concerned Yorkers, including many city and county officials, filled Shiloh Baptist Church in York City Thursday night to discuss improving the community and to talk about the city in light of recent national events.

Members of the community take part in a panel discussion Thursday at Shiloh Baptist Church to improve York City.

Titled "York City United: We All Matter," the event had a panel of nine people, ranging from community leaders to church leaders, met to discuss issues in the city and how they might be handled.

Local residents take part in a panel discussion on Thursday night at Shiloh Baptist Church on how to improve York City.

Youth and education: One issue spoken at length among the panel and attendees was crime among the youth in the city.

When posed the question of how to fight it, community organizer and juvenile probation worker, community organizer Gary Markle, suggested that teaching character was what was needed.

"I think character traits, strong character traits, gets rid of a lot of problems," he said, adding that they should be taught things such as trustworthiness and integrity.

Gary Markle answers a question during a panel discussion on city issues, Thursday night at the Shiloh Baptist Church.

Jeff Reynolds Jr., panelist and youth representative for Shiloh Baptist Church, said the problems with the crime among youth is poverty and crime, which he said can be alleviated with education.

"Education is what can get you out of poverty, and keep you out of crime," he said.

Mark Rhodes, panelist board member for YWCA, said one way to help keep kids away from crime would be activities, which he said in the city are lacking. He said the activities being offered could be too expensive, adding that it's almost as if they are being kicked to the streets to pursue crime.

Following the panel discussion, Warren Bulette, of York City, proposed the best way to teach the youth characteristics is to provide a class at William Penn High School, teaching students those character traits.

Another citizen, John Jamison, addressed the panel after the discussion, saying they should be trying to reach the youth directly.

"We must get out there and bring the youth in," he said.

Churches: Different representatives from churches throughout the city were part of the panel. When asked what churches could do to help the community, Bishop Carl Scott, of Bible Tabernacle Christian Center, said it is on the parents to bring their children to the church services or to their youth activities.

"In order to get the youth involved, we must get the parents involved," he said.

Scott later added that he would like to emphasize the importance of fatherhood in the church.

Rev. Larry Walthour II, host of the event, said he would like to get a network of churches together to build a stronger community, saying that the social problems should be taken on spiritually.

After the discussion, York City councilman Michael Helfrich recommended that each church in the city become a center for youth, saying it would only take a few volunteers.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.