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Oped: Community shares common bond
A community can be defined as a group of people living in proximity with a feeling of fellowship, common interests and goals.
Over the past six months, our community has been challenged with tragic losses, difficult discussions and contentious decisions. We have also celebrated amazing successes.
This correspondence is my eighth Connecting a Caring York County Community message as York County’s president commissioner.
The year 2018 will be etched in the hearts of York Countians as we mourned the deaths of four first responders: Deputy US Marshal Christopher Hill; York City firefighters Zachary Anthony and Ivan Flanscha; and York City police officer Alex Sable. With each of these sorrowful losses, we witnessed an outpouring of love and support from our citizens for our heroes, their families and their grieving colleagues. We will forever honor their service, sacrifices and bravery.
This year also brought an opportunity for our citizens to publicly discuss and confront racism on a local level. A forum was held and attended by many concerned individuals and difficult conversations were conducted with civility and respect for all voices. The ideas shared in the Confront Racism forum are not solutions but are important to attaining inclusivity and mutual respect around the community for all York Countians. Special thanks to Jane Conover, York County Community Foundation, and Kevin Schreiber, York County Economic Alliance, for their leadership. A second forum is to be scheduled for July.
Dwight Eisenhower said, “A bold heart is half the battle.” We must be bold in our belief that we can create a community which moves ideas into actions.
After four months of comprehensive due diligence, the commissioners voted to transfer ownership of Pleasant Acres Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center and the Annex to Premier Health Care Management. The price was $30.8 million. Premier was selected as the top organization by a committee of community representatives and nursing home leaders who conducted site visits and reviewed documents as part of the process. Included in the terms are the following:
- Premier will offer employment opportunities to current Pleasant Acres employees
- Premier will maintain a minimum of 80 percent Medicaid patients in concert with the current nursing home population
- Premier will match York County’s contribution of $500,000 to create a Resident Endowment Fund managed by the Pleasant Acres Auxiliary and local community members
- Premier will commit $4.2 million in capital improvements to the facility beyond the purchase price
The Pleasant Acres leadership team is working with Premier to provide continued high-quality care for our residents. Premier is committed to being an engaged and positive local contributor.
The commissioners also addressed two significant items with the York County Library System’s allocation from the general budget and the leadership and staffing of the county’s 911 center.
In the past two years, as part of our effort to reduce and reallocate expenditures, 19 nonprofit partners of York County government, including the York County Cultural Alliance, the Byrnes Health Education Center, Downtown Inc and 16 others had their county allocations reduced or eliminated. In 2018, a decision was made to reduce the county library allocation from $2.7 million per year to $2.4 million per year. This helped find the needed funds for an escalating opioid epidemic. Nobody wants to be told that their funds will be reduced. We recognize that our nonprofit partners provide valuable services to our citizens. We expect the leadership of those organizations to appreciate that they are part of a larger system of services. Our decisions regarding annual budget allocations are a reflection of the changing issues and priorities facing our citizens.
Jacqui Brininger, director of the county’s 911 Center, received the following communication from Chad Livelsberger, chief at Wrightsville Fire Department, after a local emergency: “Your team of dispatchers played a vital role in keeping many lives safe including many firemen.” Thank you to the dedicated men and women who staff the 911 center and your important work in the safety of all our citizens.
Lastly, celebrations of service:
- York County Parks, led by Tammy Klunk, celebrates 50 years.
- York County Conservation District, led my Mark Kimmel, celebrates 70 years.
- Felicia Dell, director of the York County Planning Commission, won two awards:
- Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence
- The Karl Mason Award from the Pennsylvania Environmental Professionals
I want to express my gratitude to the York Countians who work so diligently for our community. A community is not something you are a part of but rather something that is a part of you. We are fortunate to have so many people who manifest this every day.
— Susan P. Byrnes is president of the York County Board of Commissioners.