Cumberland reorganizes; investigates racist graffiti

At their January Board of Supervisors meeting, the Cumberland Township Board of Supervisors welcomed newly elected Township Manager, David Blocher and appointed the following members to boards and commissions:

Planning Commission: Stephen Tallman – Re-appointed

Robert J Bunce – New Planning Commission Alternate

Kathleen Heidecker – New Planning Commission Alternate 

HARB (Historical Architectural Review Board): Marty Miller – Re-appointed 

Lynne Wells Graziano – New HARB member 

Zoning Hearing Board: Tom Marlowe – New ZHB member

CTA (Cumberland Township Authority): Steve Toddes – Re-appointed   

With respect to the Oak Lawn Cemetery project, Adams County Commissioner Chairman Randy Phiel, who attended the meeting, thanked the Township for their ongoing support in rehabilitating the neglected campus and for helping “close the final chapter of this tragedy”.

Police Report: 

Chief Matthew Trostel gave a detailed report on operational matters; ongoing training of various officers; numbers of traffic stops, crime responses, and service calls answered during the preceding reporting period.  He introduced the department’s new cadet hire, Dakota Myers, who comes from Maryland.

Trostel also mentioned various communications received from Township residents, including a letter of praise for Officer Josh Goodling regarding his response to an incident involving a hearing-impaired person, as well as an anonymous donation of $2,000 to the department from another Township resident. 

John Eisenhower Bridge Graffiti:  Chief Trostel updated the Board on the racist graffiti painted on historic John Eisenhower bridge, which has been classified as a hate crime, carrying with it enhanced penalties for perpetrators.

At this point, police have not been able to determine whether the perpetrators are local community members or from out of town. Chief Trostel requested assistance, asking for the public’s help in reporting any information by calling the police dispatch at 717-334-8101. Adams County Crime Stoppers will accept tips anonymously and is offering a cash reward for information leading to the successful conclusion of the case. 

The County is currently evaluating funding options to improve security in the surrounding areas, including the installation of lights and safety cameras to monitor activities. County Commissioner Randy Phiel reported that an anonymous donor had offered $5,000 to the county which could be used toward remediating graffiti from all bridges, including the Sachs Covered Bridge.  Trostel emphasized the need to monitor these areas and to raise increased community awareness.

Police/Mental Health Co-Responder Program:  Chief Trostel reported on the current status of getting a co-responder program in place with York/Adams Mental Health Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (MH-IDD) (see also York/Adams MH-IDD Program), funded by a grant from WellSpan Health.

Trostel reported that “mental health calls to the Township police department have increased substantially and the numbers seem to keep going up”. The program is designed to have a mental health co-responder assist police officers in de-escalating critical calls, including substance abuse, mental health, and medical crisis calls. The ultimate goal is to connect citizens with the right mental health resources, averting the often unnecessary need to arrest a person during a police response.

To date, Officer Dan Barbagello has been the main police responder focused on mental health calls. Chief Trostel praised Officer Barbagello for an excellent job and mentioned that the callers in the community (currently 40-60 calls per month) are very comfortable with him as responder.  “Adding a dedicated mental health responder will free Officer Dan up for other police tasks”, said Trostel. The department is currently training three additional officers for the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) dedicated to this program.

Once the contract with MH-IDD is put into place, Chief Trostel will introduce local MH-IDD responder McKenzie Johnson to the Township and provide a detailed overview of the program. The program will be shared with other police departments in the county and potentially include collaboration with the Pennsylvania State Police and Gettysburg Borough Police. The Board unanimously voted to finalize and sign the contract with MH-IDD.

Vice Chair Steve Toddes thanked the Police Department for outstanding service to the community and a well-trained, compliant cadre of officers.

Other Business:

Other agenda items discussed by the Board included approval of bills; reports by the Maintenance Department; announcement of the Supervisor’s participation in the Cumberland Township health care plan; allocation of ARPA funds; and passing various resolutions regarding financial authorizations presented by the Finance Committee.  More details on the individual business items on the agenda can be found at:  Cumberland Township Agenda January 24, 2023.

Engineering Projects

Township Engineer, Timothy Knoebel of KPI Technology, discussed and requested approval for various ongoing projects, as outlined below.  The Board approved all requests for motions submitted.

  • Bruce VanDyke – Final Minor Subdivision Plan
    • Cambridge Crossing Phases 2 & 3 – Final Subdivision and Land Development Plan
    • Interchange Storage – Final Land Development Plan
    • Benuel & Martha King – Final Land Development Plan
    • Oak Lawn Cemetery – Final Subdivision Plan
    • Adams County Historical Society – Request for Release of Financial Security
    • SARA South Apron Phase IV (Phase 1 Construction) – Request for Release of Financial Security
    • The Crossings – Preliminary Subdivision Plan – Extension request until April 26, 2023
    • Adams Electric, Lot 3 – Final Subdivision Plan – Extension request until April 30, 2023
    • CRE Biglerville Associates – Final Subdivision Plan – Extension request until May 9, 2023
    • Boritt Sewage Planning Module; Component One, 500 Plank Road
    • MS4 – Update & Contractors Request for Payment on Basin Retrofit project

Further details on each of the Engineering Projects and Budget approvals will be available on the Cumberland Township website, once the minutes of this meeting have been posted:  Cumberland Township BOS Meetings 2023.

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Donate Gardner, freelance reporter, came to Gettysburg in 2021 from Montgomery County, Maryland. A former linguist-turned-legal professional, Donate recently retired from the corporate world and is eager to support her new community in a variety of ways. As an immigrant born, raised, and educated in Germany, Donate still maintains a strong connection to the German language as a freelance writer and translator. Donate is an active musician and has made her new home in Gettysburg available to host house concerts for traveling musicians and local artists in need of support. Donate and her husband have two daughters and three grandchildren.

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