York County's top stories of 2018

Staff report

Take a look back at the top York County news of 2018:

Firefighters killed: Thousands of people from all over York County and beyond filled the York Expo Center's Memorial Hall on March 28 to honor two York City firefighters who died in the line of duty a week earlier.

Ivan Flanscha, 50, and Zachary Anthony, 29, were killed when a wall collapsed while they were at the former Weaver Piano & Organ Co. building at 127 N. Broad St. on March 22. 

They were the 12th and 13th members of York City Fire Department to fall in the line of duty, and the first since 1971.

More:Two York City firefighters killed in collapse at Weaver Piano Co. fire

York City Firefighter Ivan Flanscha

"Zach and Ivan are truly heroes," Gov. Tom Wolf told a crowd of more than 4,000 people Wednesday, March 28. He said there was no other way to describe them.

Deadly year for York City first responders: The firefighter deaths contributed to a tragic year for York County’s emergency responder community.

In January, deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher Hill, a 45-year-old York County resident, was killed while serving a warrant in Harrisburg. Also injured in the Jan. 18 shooting was U.S. Marshals Task Force member and York City Police Officer Kyle Pitts, who was shot in the right elbow.

York City Firefighter Zachary Anthony, 29, was killed in the line of duty when a wall collapsed on him March 22, 2018.

On May 10, York City Police Officer Alex Sable, 37, died when he suffered cardiac arrest while participating in a SWAT tactical training exercise May 6 in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Dover Township fire police officer Grant Froman, 55, suffered a fatal heart attack June 6 while working on the fire department's traffic-control unit in his driveway.

And on Christmas Day, Robert Kohler Sr., 58, of East Manchester Township, died after suffering a heart-related event on the job at the Northeastern Area EMS building.

Yorkers battle for governor: May’s primary election set up a Yorker-versus-Yorker battle for Pennsylvania’s highest elected office.

More:Battle of the businessmen: Wagner and Wolf highlight 2018 race

It ended last month with Democrat Wolf beating brash Republican challenger — and fellow York countian — Scott Wagner, securing another four years in power, albeit with a GOP-controlled Legislature.

The incumbent ran what analysts called a conservative campaign designed to limit mistakes and take advantage of Wagner's liabilities. Wolf refused to hold more than one debate, and his campaign worked to capitalize on Wagner's penchant for eyebrow-raising off-the-cuff comments.

Gov. Tom Wolf takes the stage to give a victory speech during the campaign's Election Night Party at the Bond in York City Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Wolf defeated challenger Scott Wagner to win a second term. Bill Kalina photo

That included Wagner’s Facebook Live post late in the campaign advising Wolf to put on a catcher's mask because "I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes."

Epic flooding: A sudden, punishing Aug. 31 storm took York County off guard, destroying at least 22 roads and damaging at least another 22, according to county officials.

At least a dozen structures were damaged, and some were completely destroyed, in the storm that dropped 5 to 10 inches of rain on parts of Lancaster, York and Lebanon counties late that afternoon.

More:PennDOT: Some York County roads will be closed for weeks

The hardest-hit areas in York County were Hellam, Chanceford, Lower Chanceford, Hopewell, East Hopewell and Fawn townships, according to county spokesman Mark Walters.

In October, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved a disaster declaration for York and Lancaster counties, making homeowners eligible for $240,000 in loans to repair or replace real estate and personal property damaged in the storm.

Businesses and nonprofits could borrow up to $2 million to restore damaged or destroyed buildings, inventory, equipment and assets. 

Priest abuse report: A Pennsylvania grand jury report released Aug. 14 revealed stunning details of sex abuse allegations against about 300 priests throughout six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, with some of the cases going back to the 1940s.

Nineteen of the men named were assigned to churches in York County at some point during their careers. One of them was the Rev. Herbert Shank, who was assigned to St. Rose of Lima in York City from May 1984 until November 1994. 

More:York DA asking for information about possible priest abuse

More:Grand jury report details abuse allegations against 19 York County priests

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday set up an email where people can submit tips, complaints and concerns about possible abuse, including past abuse, at the hands of clergy.

"We're looking into this aggressively," he said.

Mount Rose/I-83 nightmare: York County residents, businesses and lawmakers lost patience with the yearslong Mount Rose Avenue/Interstate 83 interchange project in 2018.

Frustration boiled over in August when the Maryland contractor began redoing already completed work on the overdue and overbudget project because it wasn’t up to specifications.

More:'I'm livid': Lawmakers seek public meeting on overdue, over-budget Mt. Rose/I-83 project

"I'm livid," said state Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township.

State Rep. Stan Saylor said he planned to introduce legislation to change the way Pennsylvania awards large construction contracts in light of the Mount Rose Avenue project, which he said was "endangering people every day."

The work was supposed to be done in June, but a state Department of Transportation spokesman said it's now expected to wrap up in late 2019 or 2020.

Bon-Ton closes: One of York County's oldest and best-known businesses closed for good when a group of liquidators submitted the winning bid in April during The Bon-Ton Stores' bankruptcy auction.

The first store now operated by Bon-Ton opened in 1854, according to the company website. The Grumbacher family founded what became The Bon-Ton in York County in 1898, and its store at West Market and Beaver streets was a fixture in downtown York City for decades.

More:Bon-Ton will close after liquidators win bankruptcy auction

At the time of its closing, the chain had local stores at the York Galleria in Springettsbury Township, Queensgate Shopping Center in York Township and on Eisenhower Road in Hanover.

Casino coming to York Galleria: Penn National announced in September it plans to place its first "mini-casino" in the former Sears store (which also closed in 2018) at Springettsbury Township's York Galleria mall.

The Wyomissing-based company submitted the winning bid in January for the first of 10 “mini-casino” licenses. It paid $52.6 million, including license fee, for the opportunity to operate 750 slot machines and said it planned to pay another $2.5 million to operate 40 table games.

More:How would 'Hollywood Casino York' affect Springettsbury Township?

Penn National says the development of Hollywood Casino York is an overall investment of nearly $120 million, which includes the cost of the license. It will generate approximately 200 new permanent local jobs and more than 75 construction jobs, Penn National stated.  

End of an era: The York City community lost several longtime leaders with the 2018 deaths of Voni Grimes, Ray Crenshaw and Clair Sexton.

Grimes died Jan. 25 at age 95. He was the longtime director of business services at Penn State York, a founding member of several county organizations, including York County Parks and Recreation and Access-York, and became “one of York’s most influential leaders,” according to state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans.

More:Farewell to York's 'Uncle Bus,' advocate and educator Voni Grimes

More:'God was his author': Community bids farewell to Ray Crenshaw

More:Community and youth advocate Clair Sexton, aka Ahmad Seifullah, dies at 79

Crenshaw, who died Dec. 9 at 86, was a longtime York City councilman remembered as a quiet, persistent pioneer who helped break down racial barriers in the community and fought for equality and justice.

Sexton, who died Dec. 3 at age 79, turned his life around after a stint in prison and became president of the York NAACP, worked as a volunteer at Crispus Attucks Community Center and was a substance abuse and AIDS outreach counselor for York City's Community Progress Council.

First state title: The West York community feted the high school girls’ volleyball team with a parade last month after the Bulldogs clinched their first state title Nov. 17 in Mechanicsburg.

West York swept Warren High School in the championship game, capping a 28-1 season.

“This is a truly talented group,” head coach Joe Ramp said of his team, which saw three players named to the 3-A all-state team: 5-foot, 7-inch junior middle hitter Tesia Thomas; Julia Rill, a 5-foot-8 senior outside hitter; and Gianna Krinock, a 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter.

Rill was earlier named the 2018 Y-A Division II Player of the Year.