York County's top stories of 2022

Staff report

A divisive year in politics saw a York County congressman become a central figure in the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Local officials sought options as a county landfill nears capacity. And an area school board targeted transgender students with an emergency directive. Those were some of The York Dispatch’s top 10 stories of 2022.

Here’s the full list, in no particular order.

  • There was no escaping politics in 2022 as President Joe Biden faced his first voter referendum, a York County native took on a celebrity doctor in the fight for a Senate seat, and a state senator who represented a portion of the county ran a far, far right campaign for governor.

As it turned out, it seemed voters were more turned off by election deniers and unqualified Donald Trump-backed candidates than they were by Biden’s first two years in office, sending Democrat John Fetterman to the Senate and sending Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano packing.

More:Oz concedes to Fetterman in Pennsylvania Senate race

More:How the GOP's hope for a red wave in Pennsylvania crumbled

More:Democrat Josh Shapiro wins governor's race, defeating Doug Mastriano

John Fetterman and guests rallying in York on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

Then there was Republican Congressman Scott Perry, who survived a Democratic challenge despite his role in former President Trump’s effort to overturn his election loss, his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the bipartisan House committee investigating the insurrection, and ... his cellphone, which was seized under search warrant by the FBI. The York Dispatch and other local news organizations continue to fight in court to unseal the search warrant.

More:DOJ seeks Scott Perry's text messages as legal battle over records continues

  • Lower Windsor Township officials rejected a proposal to extend the life of Modern Landfill, which is expected to reach capacity in 2025, prompting the York County Solid Waste Authority to explore two options for its noncombustible waste and incinerator ash in 2022: try to restart efforts with township officials to expand Modern Landfill or look elsewhere, possibly to a landfill across the state line in Maryland.

More:From trash to ash: Where your waste goes each week

More:Nonprofit eyes lawsuit to force cleanup at Modern Landfill

The Modern Landfill site near the Kreutz Creek in Hallam on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

Meanwhile, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper organization announced plans to pursue litigation against Republic Services, the operator of Modern Landfill, after finding elevated levels of contaminants in Kreutz Creek.

  • A Maryland man claimed some force compelled him to allegedly pick up a knife while making dinner at a Hopewell Township home in August and stab his girlfriend as well as her young daughter, mother and brother. Christine Fousek, 34, and her 5-year-old daughter, Rylee Reynolds, were killed. Jacqueline Fousek, 63, and Joseph Fousek, 28, were injured before police said Joseph Fousek wrestled the knife out of Keith Kretzer’s hand. Kretzer is charged with two counts of criminal homicide and two counts of attempted homicide.

More:Mass stabbing victim still at hospital as Kretzer case moves forward: police

More:Arraignment delayed for man charged in mass stabbings

Keith Kretzer
  • “You’re an a--.” Now there’s something you don’t hear every day from a judge on the bench. But York County Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness apparently thought it was an apt description for Keith Ramsay, North York's former tax collector.

Ramsay was accused of firing a gun during a dispute and sexting a local council member. He pleaded guilty in November to three misdemeanors — simple assault and tampering with evidence in one case, and harassment in the other. Ramsay avoided prison time as part of the plea agreement but was ordered to serve three years on probation — an outcome few people were enthused about.

Keith Ramsay

More:Elected official's plea deal left a bad taste for many in the case

More:'You're an a--,' judge tells former elected official in assault, sexting cases

“You’re an a--,” Ness told Ramsay during a court hearing. “I’m not crazy about this deal either.”

  • Sarah Mullinix leased a billboard in April to publicly call out York County Children, Youth and Families, which she claims failed to respond to reports and complaints about abuse and health issues involving her nephew, Dante Mullinix, in the weeks before the 2-year-old died at a hospital in mid-September 2018.

More:Jury readies for final steps in the trial of Tyree Bowie

More:Billboard the latest step in one aunt's quest for justice in child's death

A billboard, leased by Sarah Mullinix of Adams County, refers to the death of her 2-year-old nephew, Dante Mullinix, in September 2018.

Tyree Bowie, a 43-year-old York City man who was a friend of the boy’s mother, is accused of killing Dante while babysitting him. Closing arguments in his four-week trial began Thursday.

  • Red Lion Area School Board refused for more than a month to discuss the early retirement of former Superintendent Scott Deisley. The board finally acknowledged in November that his departure came after an investigation of allegations of misconduct, school officials confirmed Thursday.

Yet which bathroom the district’s few transgender students use during school was apparently such a pressing issue that the board issued an emergency directive in December ordering students to use the facilities that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.

More:Red Lion trans students told to use bathrooms of sex assigned at birth or gender neutral

More:'The problem is with them, not you,' says mother of Red Lion trans student

More:ACLU warns Red Lion school officials about 'risk of liability' in transgender policy

More:Former Red Lion superintendent had shown 'unacceptable and hurtful behavior,' district officials say

The move was criticized by some students, parents, LGBTQ advocates, the Education Law Center and the ACLU, which warned the board in a letter that its action is unconstitutional and opens the district to a “serious risk of liability."

A public forum the board had scheduled on the issue was later canceled because of “growing security concerns."

  • Legal battles between the Think Loud business partners-turned-adversaries intensified in 2022 with allegations of lies and deceit in a project that was supposed to revitalize York City.

In all, various members of the York-bred rock band Live (not including lead singer Ed Kowalczyk) and their former partner Bill Hynes are involved in at least four pending lawsuits with a flurry of new filings this month.

More:More allegations fly as Live band members deal with fallout from ThinkLoud

More:Bill Hynes and Live band member exchange new allegations of fraud, theft

More:ThinkLoud legal battles intensify as new allegations fly involving Live, Bill Hynes

Two other suits filed in November by business partners Hynes and Chad Gracey, a Live co-founder, accused former bandmate Chad Taylor of fraud and financial mismanagement.

United Fiber and Data CEO Bill Hynes (second from left) poses with Live band members (from left) Chad Taylor, Chad Gracey and Patrick Dahlheimer, who are founders of the company.

Taylor, the former Live guitarist, made counterclaims in two of the three civil lawsuits filed against him in York County. He claimed Hynes is part of a conspiracy to steal Think Loud’s property and to financially ruin him and Patrick Dahlheimer, another Live founder and business partner.

  • As two York City brothers pleaded guilty to their roles in the shooting death of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit during a robbery gone wrong last year, York Dispatch court reporter Aimee Ambrose spoke to friends and family members of the victim. The result was a portrait of a free spirit described as artistic and musical, eccentric yet practical, kind and generous. 

More:Whispering Wind Bear Spirit: Two journeys cut short on one night in York City

A photo of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit as they ride in a car.
  • The York County Board of Commissioners signed a two-year, $252,770 contract with a controversial prison contractor in 2021 despite red flags and protests from community members.

By December, county officials appeared to be wrapping up business with Corrections Special Applications Unit, or C-SAU, after the company’s owner failed to respond to a lawsuit filed on behalf of York County Prison inmates.

More:York County to consider renewing CSAU prison contract despite allegations

More:Investigator calls York's prison trainer 'the Bernie Madoff of correctional consultants'

More:Court issues default judgment against York County Prison contractor

More:Is York County cutting ties with C-SAU, its controversial prison contractor?

Joseph Garcia, who leads CSAU, in a promotional video he recorded last year for Tactical Life magazine in which he describes the group's tactics.

A U.S. district court in November issued a default judgment against Joseph Garcia and his company for failing to appear in the lawsuit. (Garcia claimed he'd never been properly served with legal documents.) The lawsuit is still pending because the county also is a named defendant.

The county prison board voted to “resolve" outstanding contractual obligations with C-SAU, though county officials refused to answer questions, such as whether that means the county is severing ties with C-SAU or if the county would have to pay out the rest of the contract.

  • Starting in March, Dispatch reporter Tina Locurto highlighted one York County entrepreneur each month. These dedicated small business owners — including tattoo artists, fashion designers and chefs — are the future of the county's economy, leading through innovation and filling unique roles in our community.

More:York Against The Grain: Kenyan-born fashion designer finds inspiration at home

More:York Against the Grain: York City woman found balance in nature and art

More:'It's been an adventure': Timeline Arcade opens window to retro gaming past