EDITORIAL: Planning now for a stronger York County

York Dispatch editorial board

Thumbs up to York County leaders’ decision to institute the county’s first-ever strategic plan — a tool to help officials identify and address key issues affecting local residents.

A collaboration between the York County Board of Commissioners and the county’s Planning Commission, the venture will help inform lawmakers as they weigh priorities and practices moving forward.

More:York County set to prepare strategic plan

Unlike a comprehensive plan, which covers areas like zoning and infrastructure — and which the county already has in place — a strategic plan focuses on how the county should tackle specific challenges.

Exactly what those challenges are is part of the process and — thumbs up again! — county residents are a big part of that process. After completing internal preparations, officials will solicit public input with an eye toward having the plan finalized by Thanksgiving.

“We want to hear from the community,” declared President Commissioner Julie Wheeler.

With the welcome mat out, county residents must make the most of this opportunity to determine the direction of their community.

Thumbs down to lawmakers who, not content with refusing to help their constituents, actively work to prevent them from accessing help elsewhere.

Examples abound: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott prevents schools and local governments from instituting COVID-fighting mask mandates. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moves to fine private social media companies that permanently ban political candidates (an unseemly and, likely, unconstitutional wet kiss to his political BFF, former President Donald Trump).

Fellow Republicans in Pennsylvania are now looking to get in on the unsavory, unhelpful practice.

A little background: Thanks to COVID-related challenges including a huge influx of mail-in ballot requests, elections-related costs understandably skyrocketed throughout Pennsylvania’s 67 counties last year. But when elections officials applied for state assistance, the Republican-led General Assembly told them to pound sand. Instead, those county officials applied for private grants, which, along with federal aid, helped them hold elections that were fair, fraud-free and, most importantly, safe.

Fast forward to this week and Republican state lawmakers are moving to ban county leaders from applying directly for private contributions.

The excuse they give is that the funds weren’t distributed fairly among the counites. Of course, had they not ceded their responsibility, they could have directed the funding themselves.

More:Mark Zuckerberg helped some Pa. counties survive the 2020 election. Right-wing lawmakers say that was unfair

And Rep. Eric Nelson’s carping about “private grant distribution” would carry a little more weight if the Westmoreland Republican’s colleagues weren’t continuing to actively invite private companies to conduct phony “audits” of the state’s 2020 election results.

Pennsylvania’s GOP lawmakers really ought to sit this one out. It’s bad enough they refuse to help their own constituents; the least they could do is get the hell out of the way of those who do.

Thumbs up to the Red Lions Area School District for its forward-looking efforts to ensure every student has every opportunity to learn.

The problem is familiar in rural areas of Pennsylvania: Insufficient internet access. At a time when instructors have been forced to pivot to online instruction, reliable online access has never been more important.

More:Red Lion Area School District installs equipment to grant internet access to students

Still, Red Lions’ Supervisor of Instructional Practice and Technology Integration Tim Smith estimates at least 10 percent of the district’s approximately 5,000 students either don’t have internet access or struggle to stay online.

So, the district has taken matters into its own hands, installing connection-boosting equipment atop radio towers at key locations in the north and south ends of the district.

Teachers wouldn’t expect students to perform classwork without textbooks. In today’s online world, insufficient Wi-Fi access is pretty much the same thing. Kudos to the district for its hands-on efforts to lower this hurdle to academic achievement.