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Intuitive Herbalist Alison Hunley, of A. E. Hunley Apothecarie & Herbs, guides a Make and Take Yule Logs event at Firefly Hollow Holistic Wellness Center in York Township, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. York Dispatch

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Thumbs up: Congratulations to York City School District’s “Shining Star Teachers.”

The district recently honored 35 educators whose students exceeded the state's growth expectation in the 2017-18 Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment results.

That expectation is to grow one grade level in a year, according to district spokeswoman Erin James, but some students surpassed that standard — and their teachers were feted at a celebratory luncheon Dec. 6.

"We're so grateful for what these teachers are doing for their students," said Lise Levin, vice president of community investment at the York County Community Foundation.

She announced at the luncheon that that every teacher whose students exceeded the growth expectation would be eligible for a grant of up to $500 to use in their classroom this year.

And Levin said the foundation plans to continue the grant opportunity for years to come.

Thank you to the teachers for going above and beyond — and to the York County Community Foundation for recognizing their hard work.

Thumbs up: After 34 years of Christmas Magic, the York County Parks Department had developed an enviable problem: The attraction had grown so popular it was causing traffic jams and long wait times.

Kudos to parks workers for recognizing the issue and crafting a solution that seems to be working like a charm for the display’s 35th year.

More: York City School District honors 35 teachers for student growth

More: With new ticket system, Christmas Magic wait now only 10 minutes, director says

More: York Twp. couple donates K-9 ballistic vest to sheriff's Capt. Dargo

Rachel Albright, program coordinator for the department, said a new online ticket system has cast just the right spell over Christmas Magic.

"A bunch of people have stopped park rangers saying they appreciate the new system because they don’t have to wait in traffic, (and) they don’t have to wait in lines," she said.

In years past, Albright said visitors would wait about an hour in their cars just to get to the park and then up to another hour standing in line before they were able to walk the trail.

She said this year, no one has had to stand in line for more than about 10 minutes, and the parking lot is more navigable as visitors are coming and going.

All tickets for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now have to be bought ahead of time, either online, over the phone or in person at John C. Rudy County Park, and every ticket corresponds to a specific 30-minute time slot.

Weekend tickets are not available at the door, but visitors who arrive on a weekend without a reservation can still go online with their smartphone and reserve a ticket, as long as there are still tickets available.

No more than 350 tickets are sold for each 30-minute increment of the evening, Albright said. So far, none of the available time slots have sold out, and the timed reservations have reduced traffic and wait times.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit yorkcountypa.gov/parks-recreation, click on the "events" tab and navigate to Christmas Magic.

Thumbs up: Capt. Dargo, a York County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer, will be better protected as he works to keep the community safe — thanks to the generosity of a retired York Township couple.

George and Barbara Leibert donated a bullet- and stab-resistant vest to replace the one currently worn by Dargo, who just turned 7 years old and has been working for the sheriff's office for 5½ years.

The Leiberts support a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization called Vested Interest in K9s and last year bought a vest, which ended up going to a Massachusetts K-9 police dog, George Leibert said.

He said he thought that this year, he'd like to help a local K-9.

"So this time, I contacted the sheriff's office" and told them he'd like to buy a ballistic vest for one of their K-9s, assuming one of the dogs needed one, George Leibert said.

"(Lt. Godfrey) emailed me back in about 15 minutes," he said. "If this is one of the few small things I can do to help, that's wonderful."

George Leibert said he plans to donate vests to police dogs for the rest of his life — locally, if possible, but anywhere is fine.

"It'll help, no matter where it goes," he said.

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