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WellSpan Properties to acquire Oak Lawn Gardens land parcel; County honors correction professionals

Adams County Commissioners approved an agreement to sell an unused portion of Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens to WellSpan Properties, Inc. at Wednesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Randy Phiel said he was happy to see the end to “the tragedy and angst this issue has caused our community for the past ten years. The County will use the profit from the sale to form a board of trustees to oversee the continued care and maintenance of the cemetery. Trustee members include Ron Hankey, John Phillips, Crissy Redding, Harry Hartman, and Cindy Shultz, with Phiel as a non-voting member.

Adams County acquired the Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens property in December of 2021, with the ultimate goal of transferring the cemetery portion to a non-profit organization for the care and maintenance of the cemetery. Since the County acquired the property, the unused portion was subdivided from the cemetery. In February of this year, the lot was rezoned from institutional to mixed-use.

In 2021 Cumberland Township purchased the property for $1 through eminent domain and sold it to the County for the same price. Since then, many community volunteers have cared for the property.

“Through the cooperative efforts of the County, Cumberland Township, and many dedicated volunteers and community members, Oak Lawn has been able to turn a new page. The sale of the unused portion of the property will go a long way towards funding the long-term care and maintenance of the cemetery,” said Phiel.

WellSpan Properties can purchase five acres for $350,000 or all of Lot 2, about 9.8 acres, for $500,000. The company has up to nine months to decide whether to move forward with the purchase. “While no final determination has been made at this time related to this property, WellSpan Health continually evaluates opportunities now and for the future in Adams County,” a spokesman said.

In other board business, July 16 to 22 has been proclaimed Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week in Adams County, with the theme “Stronger Together.” Gale Kendall, Chief probation officer, said, “I am honored to speak on behalf of the Adams County Department of Probation Services to shine a light on the important work we do for the community in celebration of Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Week. I am blessed to be working with such committed, compassionate, driven team members.”

The corrections professionals honored work with adults and youth who have been convicted of a crime. Home contacts, drug testing, assuring counseling sessions are kept, and helping them with housing and employment are some ways they assist them.

Kendall called it “demanding but essential work to help change the trajectory of the lives of these individuals.” However, she cautioned that the justice system could not do it alone and asked community members to help by supporting people in the justice system, addressing the stigma, and supporting agencies that work with justice-involved people.

“This is one of the most unrecognized but most valuable services in the county,” Commissioner Phiel said, “and at the end of the day, I hope you realize the extremely important contributions you make to your community.”

Commissioner Martin thanked them for “helping the community flourish, one individual at a time, by helping that person make better decisions. It’s something that’s greatly appreciated.”

Commissioner Qually acknowledged the challenges they faced in a job where they are not always aware of their successes. “You help lay the groundwork to help people get better.”

The board approved the following recommendations:

  • A Radiation Emergency Response Fund grant award (with no county match) of nearly $17,000 to the Adams County Department of Emergency Services to improve response capabilities to PA nuclear power plant accidents or incidents.
  • IT department licenses for remote review and management of technology issues on County and court devices ($6,355) and an annual maintenance agreement of a document management system ($13,360).
  • Purchase of the conservation easement for the Apple Valley/Donaldson Farm in Fairfield for 99.7 acres at $1,827 per acre for Ag Land Preservation.
  • Remodel of the treasurer’s office for about $33,640.
  • A copier for the new Voter Registration office at the Department of Emergency Services ($8,260).
  • Approve the rejoinder of Franklin Country as a voting member into the Susquehanna Regional Transportation Authority, of which Adams County is a member.
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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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