EDITORIAL: Thumbs up and down

Dispatch Editorial Board

Thumbs up: To firefighters throughout York County.

You know how hot it's been over the past couple of weeks, right? Putting off cutting the grass hot. Working up a sweat walking to and from the car hot. Baking biscuits on the dashboard of a car hot — a National Weather Service team in Nebraska did this.

Now imagine this heat, combined with a fire, while you're wearing at least 45 pounds of gear.

That's what many firefighters in York County, both paid and volunteer, have had to deal with when they're called out to blazes at all times of day and night.

Fires don't stop in the summer, and so these dedicated first-responders have braved the heat to protect the rest of us. 

More:Two displaced in Shrewsbury Twp. house fire

More:10 displaced in York City row home fire

And they've paid the toll. During a fire Tuesday afternoon, July 30, in Shrewsbury Township, two firefighters were sent to York Hospital with heat exhaustion, and several others were treated at the scene. In York City on Monday, one firefighter was sent to the hospital with heat exhaustion. 

More personnel are called to each fire scene when it's hot so that firefighters can cycle out. When there's a working fire, there are constant calls on the scanner for those at the scene to report to a certain area to cool off and rehydrate. 

So here's a big thank you to the men and women who heed the calls, put on the equipment and help keep our communities safe, no matter how hot it gets.

More than 200 motorcyclists take part in the 16th Annual Bike Run to Benefit Homes for Our Troops from Texas Roadhouse in York to Battlefield Harley Davidson in Gettysburg, Sunday, July 28, 2019. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Thumbs up: To the riders in the 16th annual Bike Run to Benefit Homes for Our Troops.

The ride on Sunday, July 28, drew more than 300 people to help the nonprofit, which builds specially adapted homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans.

"I cried about a million times," said event organizer Katherine Flinchbaugh. "I'm just so grateful that so many people are willing to come out and support the cause."

The motorcyclists rode about 30 miles from ride sponsor Texas Roadhouse in Springettsbury Township to Battlefield Harley-Davidson in Gettysburg. 

More:Motorcycle ride raises funds for disabled veterans' homes

"I feel that a lot of times our government neglects our vets," said rider Daniel Varner, of Montgomery, Lycoming County. "Young boys sign up, give their all for this country, and we turn around and we take away their health benefits."

The group raised more than $10,000 for Homes for Our Troops, which has built more than 280 homes for veterans around the country, organizers said.

Thumbs down: To the Trump administration for once again picking exactly the wrong man for the job.

On Monday, William Perry Pendley was made the acting head of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior that is tasked with overseeing the use of federally owned lands, which account for about 1 in 10 acres in the country.

The problem in, Pendley doesn't think the federal government should own any land, according to The Associated Press. For decades, he has championed ranchers and others in standoffs with the federal government over grazing and other uses of public lands. He has written books accusing federal authorities and environmental advocates of "tyranny" and "waging war on the West." He argued in a 2016 National Review article that the "Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold," according to the AP.

His appointment has environmental and conservation groups wondering about White House plans for the lands, especially vast ranges in the West that are coveted by ranchers and miners and areas that are critical for endangered species. 

Unfortunately, Pendley's appointment is just the latest in a long and ever growing string of horrifying decisions by this administration, which seems determined to erode every environmental protection possible and do permanent damage to lands that rightfully belong to all Americans and should be preserved, not destroyed for the profits of a few.