County proclaims kindness week; seeks new space for veterans memorial

Two stories of lost wallets returned, 50 years apart, bracketed the proclamation of Nov. 11 to 18 as Kindness Week in Adams County at Wednesday’s Commissioners’ meeting.

The first story involved a lost wallet in York, PA, on Apr. 10, 2023. Kevin Smith, Executive Vice President of Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC, arrived home from a shopping trip to find he had lost his wallet. Panicked, he was just about to return to the parking lot where he had lost it when he answered a knock at his door. A woman stood holding his wallet, which she had found and decided to return personally. All items were intact. That story caught the local and national press.

“No act of kindness is too small to make a difference, and anyone can make a lasting impact,” wrote Smith, who apologized for not being able to appear at the commissioners’ meeting. “I hope my story might inspire you to be more cognizant of the importance of kind gestures and making kindness intentional in your daily lives and routines,” he added.

A graduate of Gettysburg College, Smith wrote that he considers Adams County his second home, and he believes in the character of this community. The act of kindness that occurred for him has changed his life and directed him to create a nonprofit organization called kindnessworldwide.org. He urges everyone to embrace the spirit of kindness week through volunteerism, donating blood, or giving a generous donation at the county’s Giving Spree on Nov. 9.

The county commissioners proclaimed Kindness Week in Adams County in conjunction with World Kindness Day on Nov. 13 and encouraged residents to “See the good. Be the Good. Go the extra mile for kindness.”

And that’s when the second story emerged. It was about a lost wallet in Ocean City by a young police officer in 1973, who had laid it on the roof of his car and then drove off without retrieving it. Several days later, his parents in Adams County said a package had arrived for him, and it was his wallet, all contents intact. He was very thankful to have it returned, said Commissioner Randy Phiel, because then, serving as a young officer, he didn’t have a lot of discretionary funds.

Hidden Treasure

Former Adams County Representative Kenneth Cole addressed the commissioners during public comment to ask them to help relocate a large memorial commemorating Adams County soldiers from WWI to the Gulf War. Currently inaccessible, the Roll of Honor has been updated during each conflict to pay tribute to those who served their country.

Calling it the “hidden treasure” because of its current location in the courthouse, he asked the commissioners to think about another area where it would be more accessible to the public. The wooden plaques will need 120 feet of space to be displayed. Cole challenged the county to try and make it happen by Memorial Day of 2024.

“We are open to any ideas to make this happen. I think with this initiative, we are all on board with, and we can make it happen,” Phiel said. He thanked the 87-year-old former politician for his 16 years of service as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 91st District.

Commissioner Marty Qually thanked Cole for speaking with them. He took the opportunity to remind residents that every vote counts as he gave a nod to the local elections that will take place Nov. 7. Qually was referring to the 1978 election when Cole ran against Donald Moul. Qually said that at that time Cole won the election by just one vote, and that one vote also determined the state house majority.

Other Business

In other business, the board approved a fully redundant 911 call handling system to serve Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, and Franklin Counties that form the SouthCentral Inter-County Phone Network (SCIPNet). The five-year contract will cost the counties $3,575,759, of which $2,672,633 will be provided by state interoperability grant funds. The total cost to Adams County is $225,781, due in years four and five of the contract.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant program will award $1,207,202 to the South Central Counter Terrorism Task Force, including Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill, and York counties. It will be used for personnel, equipment, planning, and training costs to support eligible emergency preparedness projects related to terrorism and other catastrophic events. The grant became effective Sept. 1, 2023, and will expire Dec. 29, 2026.

The county approved a contract with a new company to operate commissary services at the Adult Correctional Complex until Mar. 1, 2029, replacing the current provider, when the contract expires. Oasis Management Systems, Inc. is expected to provide better service, menu options, lower fees/prices for inmates and families, and a higher commission rate for the county.

A $250,000 grant has been awarded to the Buchanan Valley Fire Department to renovate and upgrade their fire station, originally built in 1985. It serves about 45,000 county residents. The remainder of the renovation project will be paid for through fundraising efforts. The Adams Response and Recovery Fund (ARRF) authorized the grant.

Commissioner Phiel said such grant funds help protect county residents’ safety and could not serve a better purpose.

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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