People Above Politics

Litz brings Local Government, Small Business, and Conservation Experience to the Table.

   Jo Ellen is a 5-term Lebanon County Commissioner who is the Boots on the Ground for local government implementing programs to Protect Children, Serve Families, Secure Justice, Manage Emergencies, and Safeguard Elections.  In short, Commissioner Litz Safeguards the Public Trust.

Whether it was the 2004 Campbelltown Tornado, Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, or the 30" 2016 Snowstorm Jonas, I've been here for you.

Litz was elected by her peers from across the state of Pennsylvania to serve as the 2012 president and 2013 chairman of the Board for the statewide commissioner's association. 

Litz is about starting a conversation from public structures like roads and bridges, water and sewer, schools, and energy.  A sound infrastructure is the basis of a sound economy.  Litz believes we need these Economy Boosting Jobs to put money into the pockets of people so that they can buy homes, cars, and goods.  Litz supports a transportation plan to make our roads and bridges safe.  In this way, we will create good paying jobs, get people to these jobs, our goods to market, and children to schools. 

Jo Ellen served as the chair of the MPO (2012-15)--Metropolitan Planning Organization for Lebanon County--where she helps to prioritize local road and bridge projects with PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. 

Keep Litz doing the People's Business.

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As We Ignite our Generation 2015 - Duration- 3 minutes, 59 seconds

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County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz speaks to voters- Duration- 78 seconds

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Litz Co Commercial Rentals, 1.386 acre Property Available with established Rt 422 access & curb cuts.  Out of flood plain.

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Taking Action, Getting Results.

Lebanon PA  17046

644-4698

NEED HELP?  Try one of these resources:

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Human Services 2015 Directory

bullet "No Wrong Door"-2016 Lebanon County Resource Guide
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Community Resource Manual  http://joellenlitz.com/EMA/CommResourceGuide11,28MB.pdf

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Public Officials Directory prepared by LC Planning Department 

http://lebcounty.org/Planning/Documents/2017%20Public%20Officials%20Directory.pdf

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Invest in my campaign for commissioner.  As a TEAM, we can overcome Big Money, and make this a People's Campaign.  Are you with me?

Each of us is at a different place in our life.  Some people can volunteer time.  Other people can provide financial support--$5, $50, or $500 a month.  Whatever your situation, your contribution of time and or money is gratefully appreciated.   

Your early and monthly donation will help Jo Ellen to get elected by printing literature, reserving media buys, ordering signs….  

Thank you for your help and support during this campaign.  Your unwavering commitment is the wind beneath my wings.

On election day, every vote matters.  You matter!  And I can't win this race without you.
 
Volunteer  today  Jo Ellen Litz
 
Thank you for your support and for all that you do.

Sincerely, Jo Ellen

People Above Politics

Team Litz:  Treasurer, Cathy Garrison

Honorary Chair:     Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll --a woman who broke the glass ceiling and contributed greatly to PA politics; born in 1930, died November 12, 2008.

Jo Ellen Litz Campaign Video
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[TRANSLATED] Jo Ellen Litz Campaign Video

 http://lebcounty.org/Pages/default.aspx

Swatara Watershed Association

 

 

www.nlrotary.com 

 

ABWA Homepage link

American Business Women's Association

Lebanon County Commission for Women

https://www.facebook.com/LCC4W

 

Women's Democratic Club of Lebanon Valley

https://www.facebook.com/WomensDemocraticClubOfLebanonValley

Woman's Club of Lebanon

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Womans-Club-of-Lebanon/290765664321590

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Web site paid for by Jo Ellen Litz. 

PRESS ROOM

Lebanon Daily News

bullet48th Senate Seat
bulletAbandoned Quarries
bulletBid to Add Planners
bulletBoscov's Loan
bulletCanoe trip puts Swattie in spotlight
bulletCommissioners ask for tax-law change
bulletDeal near to save cabin
bullet Does wealth assure victory on election day-
bullet Historic Bordner Cabin Spared
bulletKudos for Litz
bulletLetter to the Editor
bulletLitz Earns State Title
bulletMethadone Clinic
bulletNight Meetings
bulletPay Raise
bulletPrayer
bulletRexmont Dams
bulletSeminar seeks to strengthen marital ties
bulletSenate Announcement
bulletState official praises local water conservation efforts
bulletSwattie makes strides toward better health
bulletSwattie dam gets mixed reviews
bulletUnion Township voters put cork in bottle club

WHTM ABC Channel 27
bulletOJT for Employers & Employees

Using PayPal. Please consider a monthly donation of $20.10 in 2010.  :)

Patriot News

bulletBoscov's
bulletCabin Will Remain in Swatara State Park
bulletLebanon County, city tally fun sites
bulletLebanon political log stars women
bulletOld State Road
bulletRedevelopment plan dealt death blow
bulletYou Tube of Commissioner Meetings

Lancaster Intelligencer

Reading Eagle

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Berk's County

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LOWV Senate Debate

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Phoebe Berks

Other

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Abandoned Quarries a Public Safety Issue

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Lebanon Club Offers Relief

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Watershed Protection Award

Local Media

Litz earns state title

The three-term commissioner will be president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania - assuming she is re-elected
By JOHN LATIMER, Staff Writer

 

Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz has been elected president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania for 2012.

Litz, who had been first vice president of CCAP, was elected to the top position last week at the organization's 125th annual conference, held in Somerset County.

While serving on Lebanon County's board for the past eight years, Litz has been heavily involved in CCAP, which advocates for policies that support the state's 67 county boards of commissioners.

Litz's roles include being CCAP's representative on the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Board. She also serves on the organization's Energy, Environment and Land Use Committee, and she is chairwoman of the Personnel Committee in charge of reviewing the performance of CCAP's executive director, Doug Hill.

All of the state's county boards of commissioners are up for election this year, so Litz's appointment, like others on the organization's executive board are dependent on their re-elections.

Litz, who lives in West Lebanon Township, is running for a fourth term in a four-way race in which the top three vote-getters will sit on the board. The other candidates are fellow Democrat Kathy Pflueger and Republicans Bill Ames and Bob Phillips.

Litz said she is excited about the opportunity to lead CCAP. She said its demands will not interfere with her county responsibilities.

"There is no finer organization anywhere," she said. "It is a nonpartisan organization, and when we elect our officers one year we have a Republican and the next year we have a Democrat - so we rotate our presidency."

That unwritten policy was put to the test this year when Litz was challenged by Republican Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste. Litz said the final vote tally was not announced, but she was told it was close.

Being president of CCAP in 2012 will have its benefits, Litz noted. In addition to the importance of its being a presidential year, CCAP will also be host to the National Association of Counties when it holds a conference in Pittsburgh in July.

Litz's duties will include leading CCAP's three annual meetings, including June's meeting, which will be held in Lebanon County by virtue of her holding the presidency.

"We will be able to showcase Lebanon County, and I think that will elevate the status of Lebanon County throughout the state," she said.

Litz's responsibilities will also include leading CCAP's delegation when it lobbies in Harrisburg. She said her role as first vice president has prepared her for that duty, and she is ready for the challenge of leading CCAP during a period of government austerity and cutbacks.

"I think that because I do have 12 years of service under my belt I've probably seen most everything," she said. "As cuts come down and government becomes more efficient, we also have to make sure our legislators are aware of the undue financial burdens that are placed on county if resources do not follow state mandates."

Litz said she is also looking forward to working with Hill in forwarding CCAP's agenda, which includes expanding counties' taxation options to include 1 percent levies on sales tax and personal income tax as an alternative to real estate taxes.

The organization is also focusing on the state and federal government's declining support for human services, which counties are mandated to provide.

Hill said Litz has been a strong supporter of CCAP and predicted she will do a good job as its president.

"I'm very much pleased to have her coming up as president of the association," he said. "County commissioners must understand that the issues affecting their constituents are also being decided outside the county boundary line. You must have a state and federal perspective, it is not enough to be active in the courthouse. You need to be active in Harrisburg and Washington, and Jo Ellen understands that."

Hill noted that the position is an influential one.

"Our president is the voice of the association and represents us when we are in front of the general assembly, meeting with the governor, cabinet members or our congressional delegation and state's senators.

Litz will serve a one-year term. She will replace current president Tioga County Commissioner Mark Hamilton.

Others elected for 2012 include Christian Leinbach, Berks County, first vice president; Pam Snyder, Greene County, second vice president; and Joseph Kantz, Snyder County, treasurer. Their one-year terms will begin in January.

johnlatimer@ldnews.com; 272-5611, ext. 149

Lebanon employers can get cash for hiring and training workers

Posted: Jun 27, 2011 7:32 PM EDT Updated: Jun 27, 2011 7:32 PM EDT

Finding a job can be tough for anybody, including the 6 percent unemployed in Lebanon County.

"It's hard...there are no jobs available. I've been filling out applications," said job seeker Monica Vasquez. 

But  now there's hope - the "On-the-Job" training program (OJT) is back. Pennsylvania Career Link in Lebanon County will match qualified candidates with eligible employers.

The program offers employers up to $5,500 to train workers whether they're current employees or new ones.

"Lebanon County needs good paying jobs," said County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz. "Here's an opportunity to expand the work force or train those who you have who you want to do higher skilled work."

 Litz says she's thrilled the program is back. Several years ago she says funds dried up during the recession. Now, she believes OJT  will jumpstart the job market and boost morale for people struggling to find work.

"I'm happy! Because, I need a job," Vasquez said.

Employers can be public or private sector and are reimbursed up to 50-percent for wages or training expenses. Depending on the job, the employee's training period is 3 to 6 months.

Some may not know about the OJT program just yet, but Litz hopes both employers and job seekers will take full advantage while it's around.

"I think it's exciting and it's available and it's affordable," Litz said. "It makes everything work both for the employer and the employees."

CareerLink officials say the OJT program has no time limit. That means it'll continue as long as there is funding.

 

Seven Republicans and three Democrats vie for commissioner nod, including incumbents Stohler and Litz

By JOHN LATIMER
Staff Writer

This year's race for Lebanon County commissioner is a notable one for the mere fact that, for the first time in 40 years, Bill Carpenter's name will not appear on a Republican ballot.

Carpenter, 65, served as a Cornwall councilman for 16 years before being elected county commissioner in 1987. His decision not to run for a seventh term has created the first vacancy on the board since 2003, when Republican Rosemarie Swanger and Democrat Ed Arnold stepped down.

As in that election, the open seat has attracted a large field of candidates.

Seven Republicans, including incumbent Larry Stohler, are running in the May 17 primary. On the Democratic side, two candidates will join incumbent Jo Ellen Litz on the ballot.

The top two vote-getters in each party will move forward to November's general election, when three commissioners will be elected. They will serve four-year terms that next year will pay $59,696.

Many challenges await the winners, including the task of finishing the countywide reassessment. But the primary responsibility, as it has been for many years, will be balancing the county's budget to provide essential services in the face of dwindling state and federal support.

Beginning today, with incumbents Stohler and Litz, and continuing through the week, pairs of candidates will be profiled using responses each gave to a Lebanon Daily News questionnaire.

In addition to biographical information, the questionnaire asked candidates to explain why

they are running and why each is a better choice than the opponents. They were also asked how they would specifically address the county's fiscal challenges.

Incumbents were asked which of their accomplishments made them most proud. Their challengers were given an opportunity to comment on the current board's actions.

While there is no clear, hot-button issue attracting voters' attention this election, farmland preservation and funding the Lebanon County Conservation District has been an issue dividing the current board, so candidates were asked whether they support the programs.

And, because of the strong emotions the tea party movement evokes in many of its supporters and detractors, each candidate was asked if he or she identifies with the movement.

A grass-roots initiative that began in 2009 without a central leadership but has become increasingly identified with the Republican Party, the tea party movement's supporters generally adhere to a conservative-libertarian philosophy that includes limited government, strict controls on spending and taxation, and an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution favoring states' rights over federal power.

Jo Ellen Litz

  • A commercial real-estate business owner and president of the Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Litz has been an active participant in Lebanon County politics for more than a decade.

    Staying in a position where she can help others is why Litz is running for a fourth term as county commissioner.

    "Helping people satisfies me," she said. "That's why I'm a commissioner. I can use my business experience to make good decisions.

    "Thomas Jefferson once said, 'Do what is right as long as you can; delegate as much as you can; and be as wise as you know how.' By putting 'People Above Politics,' researching and voting on facts, I give my all to the people of Lebanon County. I can only pray that this effort is appreciated as a gift."

     

  • Litz said she has proven experience navigating the county budget through financial high seas, including in 2009, when the county was forced to spend more than $2 million to continue financing state-funded programs during the state budget impasse.

    "The state and federal governments mandate services that commissioners must provide," she said. "William Penn charged counties with taking care of the indigent. In return partial funding (for programs) is provided through (government) grants.

    "During the (2009) state budget impasse, commissioners did the right thing and took care of our parents and grandparents at Cedar Haven, funded foster care, etc. We did our duty, and the needs of our most vulnerable citizens were met. Eventually, we were reimbursed for services."

     

  • Helping to create and retain jobs in the county - especially ones related to agriculture - is an accomplishment Litz mentioned with pride.

    "Creating and retaining jobs - 147 jobs saved at Boscov's; 3,000 jobs at business parks; and through farm preservation, we saved 136 farms and farmers on 16,148 acres of farmland so that food is grown here in Lebanon County" she said. "Farming is an economic engine in our community. Lebanon County has $69,326,500 in land assessed as agricultural. Annually, this land brings the county $1,386,530 in real estate taxes.

    "Annually, cropland contributes over $220 million to the local economy," she added. "Ag production of livestock and poultry adds $24.5 million annually to our economy."

     

  • A representative of the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Board from 2008-10, Litz was the only commissioner to support funding the Lebanon County Conservation District in 2011 beyond the $81,000 the agency was given to continue administering the farmland-preservation program. She supports continued farmland preservation but noted the county is just one contributor to the program.

    "Farmland preservation is funded through numerous programs: donations where the land is used as a tax write-off, the (county) general fund, bond issues, state cigarette tax, landfill closure fees, federal farm and ranchland protection fees, Growing Greener, Real Estate Transfer Tax, Transfer of Development Rights, donations by municipalities, a fee for each acre taken out of farmland development Green roll back/taxes/penalties," she said.

     

  • Litz doesn't identify herself as a tea party supporter but agrees with its tenets of fiscal responsibility and government transparency.

    "I'm a Democrat my entire life, I am fiscally conservative, and put 'People Above Politics,'" she said. "Some conservative fiscal actions included voting against my raise this year and returning raises the previous two years. I do not have a county car, or cell phone, and pay my way to community events. I am blessed not to need medical insurance. I got the first Honeywell (energy) audit on track, and the county earned over $100,000 on improvements.

    "I made county government transparent with the first Web site to provide meeting highlights 24/7 and added YouTube videos for people to hear and see commissioners in action," she added.

  • 48TH SENATE SEAT: Litz: Look past the party label

    County seats draw a crowded field

    By JOHN LATIMER
    Staff Writer

    Jo Ellen Litz

    Jo Ellen Litz points to the 2009 state budget crisis as a major motivating factor for her decision to challenge Republican incumbent Mike Folmer for the 48th Senate District seat.

    As a Democratic Lebanon County commissioner, Litz saw firsthand the impact on local government caused by the state's inability to pass a budget by its constitutional deadline of June 30. Many county agencies rely heavily on state funding to operate, she explained, and without a budget they were not receiving money, putting the county in the position of financing them or stopping services.

    "The county was going through a lot of trouble," Litz recalled. "We had to make some very tough decisions. Do we stop and not provide the mandated services that William Penn said we must provide? Or do we take out a $2 million loan and continue operating? So we floated the state a loan and had to pay interest on that money. And that was not a part of our budget. ... All the counties across the state were getting the short end of the stick. It just didn't seem right."

    A three-term county commissioner, Litz said she feels that Folmer has become part of a do-nothing Legislature, failing to deliver on the reforms he promised. She tells voters they can count on her to serve them and make the changes they want in the 48th District, which represents all of Lebanon County, portions of Berks, Dauphin and Lancaster counties, and the borough of Elverson in Chester County. The seat has a four-year term and pays $78,315.

    Litz said she specifically found fault with Folmer's continuing to take his salary during the budget impasse. In her view, it was unconstitutional and hypocritical of the man who often refers to the state Constitution and carries a pocket version wherever he goes.

    "Mike's personal decision was to take his salary," she said. "He refers to the Constitution like he's an author, or an authority on it at least. So that part of it, I thought, yes, I disagree with Mike Folmer."

    This is not the only point on which the candidates disagree. Even when they support the same reforms, like 12-year term limits or abolishing property taxes, they have different approaches.

    Litz is not in favor of a citizens' constitutional convention that Folmer is advocating. While changes need to be made, she said, convening a convention is too expensive.

    "It would be very hard for me to do a constitutional convention," she said. "If it was on a very limited scale, perhaps. But the big question is, how are we going to pay for it?"

    Litz envisions the Legislature coming together to create a list of constitutional amendments, but she realizes it will take tremendous political will to accomplish it.

    "We have top ten lists on David Letterman," she said. "We could do a top ten list for the Constitution with everyone getting in and agreeing on that and pushing it through as amendments. I think we can probably accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the cost. But we all have to have the right mindset to do that."

    One of the amendments Litz supports would be to create a graduated income tax to replace property tax as a mechanism for funding education. She would, however, consider alternatives including the flat tax or expanded sales tax, favored by Folmer.

    "I don't think anything is cut and dried," she said. "There is wiggle room, as long as they accomplish repealing the school property tax."

    Because of the reliance on property taxes to fund it, Litz said, she is reluctant to increase education spending.

    "We are at the saturation point with school taxes," she said. "People can't afford more. ... We have to balance the budget one way or another."

    Litz supports putting more money into libraries, which are part of the Department of Education and have had their budgets cut drastically in the past couple of years.

    "A lot of people who are unemployed can't afford the Internet," she said. "How are they going to find a job? Probably on the Internet. They are going to use CareerLink and those kinds of things. The library provides that as a free service. ... I really feel libraries should not have been cut."

    Litz is also critical of the Legislature's failure to confront the pension crisis. The House recently passed a bill, but it does not appear the Senate will act before the legislative session ends Wednesday.

    Its handling has been purely political, she said.

    "They have had all the time in the world to take care of this," she said. "They chose to wait this long to address it. And shame on them. They don't want to pass it now because they will have to go face the wrath of the voters. They would rather wait until they come back to the session in January or whatever, so the voters have four years to forget it."

    Environmental issues are often on the front burner for Litz, president of the Swatara Watershed Association. She is a strong advocate of farmland preservation and supports the promotion of alternative sources of energy. She has put her money where her mouth is by investing in solar panels at her home in West Lebanon Township, she said.

    The environment is also a key concern when it comes to Marcellus Shale drilling, Litz said. She favors taxing the value of the gas extracted by drillers at a rate between 3 and 5 percent and using some of the money to watch the industry.

    "At this point I don't think it can be stopped. And I think we have to do the best we can to protect the water supply on the front end rather than dealing with it on the back end," she said. "That's why I think DEP (the state Department of Environmental Protection) has to be refunded and the Conservation District, they are the local feet on the ground. They have them out in the field inspecting and making sure it is done right."

    Litz also favors using Marcellus Shale tax profits to help make repairs to the state's transportation infrastructure.

    "It's a very legitimate use of that money to repair the infrastructure," she said. "It is not the only thing, but it is a good start."

    In a large district that leans Republican and in which Folmer has had four years to become known, Litz understands she has an uphill battle getting elected. She has been working hard campaigning, including going door-to-door along the Route 422 corridor from Palmyra to Wyomissing. When people cast their votes, she hopes they will remember her promise of "putting people before politics."

    "The biggest thing always comes down to, I am a Democrat," she said. "The one thing I always tell people is that every day my phone rings, and people ask me for help. ... I have never once asked what party are you when my phone rings. I always say, 'How can I help you?' If they are calling me because they feel I am accessible and approachable, that is the same thing that is going to happen when I'm your senator. I think they should look at me as a person and the service I have provided to this community and not look at me with a label of one party or another."

    Occupation: Lebanon County commissioner

    Age: 59

    Home: West Lebanon

    Family: Married, two children

    Education: BA in leadership/management, Kennedy Western Reserve, 2002; AA at Lebanon Valley college, 1988

    Website: joellenlitz.com

    johnlatimer@ldnews.com; 272-5611, ext. 149

     

    Lancaster Intelligencer, By TOM KNAPP, Staff Writer 10.27.2010

    Mike Folmer wants to hang onto the 48th state Senate district for another term.

    Jo Ellen Litz wants to take it from him.

    Folmer, the Republican incumbent, touts his record in Harrisburg over the past four years. Litz, the Democratic challenger, counters with 11 years as a Lebanon County commissioner.

    The candidates, both of Lebanon, ran unopposed in their party primaries.

    The 48th District covers Elizabethtown, Marietta and Mount Joy boroughs and Conoy, East Donegal, Mount Joy and West Donegal townships.

    The biggest challenge facing state lawmakers, Folmer said, is an estimated $5 billion deficit coming in the new term.

    "We're going to have to make some hard decisions," he said.

    "It's been a cry of mine since I've been elected. We've got to get spending under control — but not raise taxes, so Pennsylvania remains a business-friendly state."

    Harrisburg also must deal with a recent audit indicating "$1 billion in waste and fraud in the Department of Public Welfare," Folmer said.

    "Every majority chair of a committee must hold in-depth hearings on every program under their watch," he said. "We need to look inwardly first before we look for new revenue sources."

    Litz, on the other hand, says there are immediate issues that need addressing — such as pension reform and redistricting — but she's more worried about making sure past mistakes aren't repeated.

    "Last year, there was a 101-day budget impasse," she said. "The county passed its budget by Dec. 31, as mandated by law. The Constitution mandates the state pass its budget by June 30, but that didn't happen."

    The long delay in Harrisburg blocked vital funds, Litz said, forcing local and county governments to borrow funds just to cover expenses.

    "The interest we paid on that loan was not part of our budget," she said. "And we should have been drawing interest on those state funds, so it was a double whammy."

    Litz said she was angry to learn Folmer and other lawmakers were still drawing salaries while counties and municipalities were forced into debt.

    That 101-day delay "violated the Constitution," Litz said. "My opponent pulls a copy of the Constitution out of his pocket and waves it in everybody's face like he's the author. But he doesn't follow it to the nth degree.

    "Someone had to challenge him. This just wasn't right. So I stepped up to the plate," she said. "My father always said, 'Don't criticize unless you're willing to do something about it.' So I am."

    Folmer dismisses the notion that a county budget, which requires agreement by one other person, is similar to a state budget, which needs consent from 26 senators, 102 house members and the governor to pass.

    "I have nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "My goal has been to try and reinstill the trust in people, to have faith again in their elected officials.

    "I have worked across the aisle, I have tried to bend where I've needed to bend without compromising my principles," he added. "Have I achieved everything I wanted to do? Of course not. But I've attempted to move the ball forward."

    Folmer said he has helped change Harrisburg with a fiscally conservative approach and a firm adherence to constitutional law.

    "The Constitution is very important to me. I carry it with me everywhere I go," he said. "It is our rule of law. We need to be following it."

    Folmer has ushered four bills into law, strengthening child custody rights for military personnel deployed overseas, establishing rights for foster children and foster parents and revising the state's open records law.

    "We need a true, open, accountable and transparent government, which I think the taxpayers deserve," he said.

    Litz, Folmer said, "has criticized me through this whole campaign, but she's offered no answers as to what she would have done differently. She's offered no real solutions."

    Litz disagrees.

    "I know the areas that need improved," she said. "I balanced a budget every year (I was in office) on time, every time."

    Litz, who used to operate an auto body shop and continues to rent out commercial properties, said she reached across party lines to make those budgets happen.

    "I didn't like everything in them, but it's about compromise," she said.

    "I'm not extreme on one side or the other, but I have a well-balanced approach," Litz said. "I try to find common ground, and to move ahead on that common ground.

    "That's lacking in the Senate. It's polarized."

    tknapp@lnpnews.com



    Read more: http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/305650#ixzz13gS5wGlH

    Berks County Patriots hold candidates night

    Retiring state Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer asks about immigration, taxes, spending
    |More
     

    Candidates for federal and state offices in the Nov. 2 election answered questions Thursday on topics ranging from the economy to government waste before more than 550 people at a Berks County Patriots candidate night at the Leesport Farmers Market.

    State Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer, a Robeson Township Republican who lost the gubernatorial nomination to state Attorney General Tom Corbett, drafted and asked the questions.

    Three congressional candidates agreed that the federal government must secure the nation's borders.

    U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, a Chester County Republican who has represented the 16th Congressional District since 1997, said there should be no amnesty for people in the country illegally.

    He said he co-sponsored legislation that would stop automatic citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants.

    "Anybody who's here illegally should not have a path to citizenship," he said.

    State Sen. David G. Argall, a Schuylkill County Republican running in the 17th Congressional District, said he agrees with Pitts, but would add that English should be made the nation's primary language.

    "I hope we can include that segment to make sure we don't make the same mistake other countries have made, and try to be multilingual all the time," he said. "That just doesn't work."

    Jake Towne, a Northampton County chemical engineer with no party affiliation running in the 15th Congressional District, said he agrees with Pitts and Argall, and would remove all subsidies given to illegal immigrants.

    "The country shouldn't be paying any welfare benefits to people here illegally," he said.

    All three said they oppose bailouts for businesses and states.

    State Sen. Mike Folmer, a Lebanon Republican seeking a second term, and his Democratic opponent, Jo Ellen Litz, a Lebanon County commissioner, agreed that the state needs to proceed cautiously with the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation because of the potential environmental impact.

    Litz said the state should enact a 5 percent tax to offset the costs, which would be in the middle range of taxes imposed by other states.

    Folmer again said caution is needed because those states don't have the other high corporate taxes that Pennsylvania has.

    Litz said she would use some of the gas tax and cut legislative spending by 10 percent to help fill the state's $5 billion deficit.

    Allowing school choice might fill in the gap alone, but expenses also must be cut, Folmer said.

    Republican candidates for the state House participating were state Rep. Jerry P. Knowles of Schuylkill County, 124th District; Mike Tobash of Pottsville, 125th District; Roger Voit of Muhlenberg Township, 126th District; and Mark M. Gillen of Mohnton, 128th District.

    Also participating was Schuylkill County Democrat Jeff Faust, who is opposing Knowles.

    All agreed school property taxes should be eliminated.

    Knowles, Tobash and Gillen pledged not to approve any new taxes. Voit and Faust said the only new tax they would support would be on gas extraction.

    Candidates of all parties for state and federal offices were invited to attend.

    Some had conflicts, and others chose not to attend because their stances are not aligned with the Tea Party and Patriot movement, officials said.

    Contact Mary Young: 610-478-6292 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              610-478-6292      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or myoung@readingeagle.com.

     

     

    Candidates for national, state offices tout plans

    , 10.15.2010 by Mary Young

    The Democratic candidate hoping to unseat a longtime congressman laid out her plans for restoring the country's economy for about 75 people attending a candidates night at Phoebe Berks near Wernersville.

    Lois Herr, 68, of Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, said she would encourage more students to complete college, encourage development of alternative energy to create jobs and improve passenger rail service.

    Herr is challenging U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, 70, of East Marlborough Township, Chester County, for a two-year term in the 16th Congressional District representing parts of Berks and Chester counties and all of Lancaster County. Pitts was invited, but did not attend.

    "I'm not running because I need a job," she said. "I've had several different careers already. I'm running so I can provide jobs and security for other people.

    "I come from the outside with experience solving real-life problems."

    Also attending were the candidates in the 48th Senatorial District: State Sen. Mike Folmer, 54, a Lebanon Republican seeking a second four-year term; and Jo Ellen Litz, 58, a Democratic Lebanon County commissioner from West Lebanon Township.

    The district is made up of parts of Berks, Chester, Dauphin and Lancaster counties and all of Lebanon County.

    Folmer said he wants to continue with his plan for reforming state government.

    That includes changing the way government spends tax money and putting a ceiling on how fast government spending can grow, he said.

    "We have to be totally responsible on how we spend your money," Folmer said. "You can't cut taxes until you get spending under control. Every aspect of state government has to be looked at to squeeze every penny out of every tax dollar."

    Litz said she decided to run after the 101-day budget impasse in 2009 forced Lebanon County to borrow money to keep programs going for foster children, senior citizens and people with mental retardation.

    When she attended a town hall during the impasse, she asked Folmer if he was collecting his salary. He responded that he didn't until everyone else was paid.

    "The counties did not get paid, so not everybody was paid," Litz said. "I left there with lots of questions."

    When asked their opinions on reducing the size of the state Legislature, Litz said she would prefer a 10 percent across-the-board cut in costs for the Legislature.

    Folmer said his preference would be a part-time legislature, but he would have a constitutional convention and allow the people to decide.

    Pam Gockley, president of the League of Women Voters, moderated.

    Congress members are paid $174,000 annually.

    State senators are paid $78,315 annually.

    Contact Mary Young: 610-478-6292 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              610-478-6292      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or myoung@readingeagle.co m.
     
    48th Senatorial District hopefuls propose different solutions
     
    By Mary E. Young

    Reading Eagle

    Originally Published: 10/2/2010 

    Getting Pennsylvania's financial house in order should be the priority, candidates competing for a four-year seat in the state 48th Senatorial District said.

    State Sen. Mike Folmer, 54, a Lebanon Republican seeking a second term, said spending must be brought under control before discussions begin on tax reform or making the business environment more friendly.

    Jo Ellen Litz, 58, a Democrat from West Lebanon Township who is a Lebanon County commissioner and rents out commercial property, said the crisis in the state employee and teacher pension funds must be resolved first. Then the budget should be balanced on time, every time.

    Folmer and Litz went head to head Thursday in a League of Women Voters candidate forum moderated by Pam Gockley on Berks Community Television.

    Litz said she would replace the property tax with a graduated income tax. Folmer said he would prefer a flat tax, such as a sales tax.

    "I see people losing their homes," Litz said. "It's not fair, and there are young people who are not able to come into homeownership because they can't afford both the mortgage and the taxes."

    "Before we eliminate property taxes, we need to get the spending under control," Folmer countered. "I believe what we should be doing is looking at a flat tax or some type of user tax. Everybody would be contributing to that tax."

    Folmer said the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation should be taxed, but the rate recently passed by the state House is too high. The money should first go to the affected municipalities, he said.

    Litz said the state is being laughed at for not taxing the natural gas. The tax should be 5 percent, which would still be less than the 8 percent other states are charging, she said. She agreed the money should go to the affected municipalities first.

    On education, Folmer said he supports school choice and vouchers because that system would create competition and improve education.

    Litz said school choice already exists because parents can send their children to public vocational schools.

    The 48th District is made up of parts of Berks, Chester, Dauphin and Lancaster counties and all of Lebanon County.
     

    Litz launches bid for Pa. Senate seat

    By JOHN LATIMER, Staff Writer, Lebanon Daily News
     
    Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz announces she is running for the state s 48th District Senate seat in the lobby of the Lebanon Municipal Building on Monday. Behind her is her mother-in-law, Ruth Litz, and her daughter, Laurie Andrews    , who is partially obscured. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL )

    Tax reform, not government reform, will be one of the foundations of Jo Ellen Litz's platform as she campaigns for a state Senate seat.

    The three-term Lebanon County commissioner officially announced Monday that she is seeking the Democratic nomination to the 48th District Senate seat held by Republican Mike Folmer.

    Speaking before a group of about 20 supporters in the lobby of the Lebanon Municipal Building, the 58-year-old Litz said she supports abolishing the school property-tax system and replacing it with a "limited graduated state income tax based on people's ability to pay." The current system is unfair, she said.

    "Our archaic local property-tax system doesn't account for reduced or frozen wages or job layoffs, which make it worse for middle-class families and our seniors," she said.

    A liaison to the state Land Preservation Board and president of the Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Litz also pledged to work hard to preserve farmland, develop renewable sources of energy and bring new jobs to the district, which covers all of Lebanon and parts of Dauphin, Lancaster, Berks and Chester counties. All of these initiatives are intertwined, she said.

    "An investment in green industry would certainly benefit farmers, our local economy and the environment," she said.

    Flanked by her campaign manager, Lebanon County Farm Bureau director Jeff Werner, Litz extolled the importance of agriculture to the 48th District's economy. She then invited those in

    attendance to join her in a toast to farmers with small glasses of milk and chocolate milk that she provided.

    Folmer, who was elected four years ago on a campaign to bring political and fiscal reform to state government, is currently backing a bill that would create a constitutional convention. Although the bill under consideration calls for a large role for citizen delegates, Litz said, she is not in favor of placing the reins for constitutional change in the hands of the current Legislature, which ignored the state Constitution last year when it did not pass a budget by the June 30 deadline.

    "How can we trust elected officials to hold a constitutional convention if they aren't following the Constitution we currently have in place?" she said.

    Litz also said she does not support cutting the number of state legislators or creating a part-time Legislature, as some political reformers favor. She does, however, advocate reducing the size of legislative staffs by one employee per legislator to save money.

    Litz acknowledged that campaigning in the large district would require a lot of her time but said it would not affect her role as a commissioner or interfere with her attendance at the board's weekly meetings.

    Litz and her husband, Jon, a teacher at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center, live in West Lebanon Township.

    johnlatimer@ldnews.com; 272-5611, ext. 149
     

     

    YouTube brings Lebanon commission meetings to a computer near you

    by MONICA VON DOBENECK, Of The Patriot-News

    Friday March 13, 2009, 10:44 PM

     

    Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz tapes L. Philip Hall, a Penn State Extension Educator as he talks about mosquitoes control during a County Commissioners meeting. Litz started using her video camera to record meetings and post them to YouTube about a month ago.

    Phil Hall, West Nile Virus program coordinator for Lebanon County, used a mosquito puppet at Thursday's county commissioners meeting to illustrate ways to fight the disease-carrying insects by collecting and recycling old tires.

    Few people attended the morning meeting, but anyone wanting to see the puppet -- or anything else that was discussed -- can check it out on YouTube, thanks to Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

    A few weeks ago, Litz started bringing her camcorder to the meetings and posting the footage on YouTube, the Web site that lets anyone broadcast just about anything.

    "I'm not an expert editor, there's a little blue space here and there," she said, adding that posting the footage is easy and free. "People want to know what their government is doing."

    Some counties and larger municipalities broadcast meetings on cable television's public access channel, but using YouTube, where anyone can watch anytime, seems rare. A search on YouTube showed only Lebanon County and the Northampton Township supervisors in Pennsylvania doing it on a regular basis.

    The Lebanon County segments on YouTube are short and arranged by topic. A discussion about opening meetings with a prayer has received the most hits so far, with more than 400.

    Carpenter, Stohler again ignore call to prayer

    By JOHN LATIMER
    Lebanon Daily News
    02/06/2009

    Member Jo Ellen Litz videorecords Thursday s meeting of the Board of Lebanon County Commissioners. (John Latimer / Lebanon Daily News)

    Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz’s call for prayer is like a voice crying out in the wilderness.

    For the second time in three weeks Thursday, her proposal to begin Board of Commissioners meetings with a prayer or moment of silence failed to elicit an “Amen!” from either of the other two commissioners, Larry Stohler and Bill Carpenter.

    After her proposal died for lack of a second in January, Litz promised to bring the subject up again. This time, she was prepared with additional arguments to support the proposal and refute previous criticism from Stohler that an opening prayer could raise First Amendment issues about separation of church and state.

    Litz noted that the U.S. Congress has opened sessions with prayer since its earliest days, as do the state General Assembly, Lebanon City Council and a half-dozen boards of county commissioners around the state. As long as the prayer does not espouse one religion it is permissible, she said.

    “I think it was 1983 that the Supreme Court made a ruling that they would not interfere with opening with prayer because it is a tradition that has been with us all of these years,” said Litz. “By inviting pastors, rabbis — you can invite the Pope if you want — but people of different faiths to come in and offer prayer we would not be breaking the Constitution or First Amendment.”

    Litz’s plea was supported by the Rev. Tim Anderman, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Lickdale. Litz attends the church but said she did not know Anderman planned to attend the meeting.

    Anderman encouraged the commissioners to adopt a prayer before each meeting.

    “I think that would be a very advisable thing for anyone who is a servant, or for all of us as human beings,” he said. “At times we can get wrapped up in our own agendas. We try to push past other people — not notice things that are right in front of our face. Reclaiming what is sacred and holy is vital if we are going to be effective.”

    Martin Barondick of Ebenezer disagreed. He told the commissioners he is an atheist and does not want to be subjected to others’ religious beliefs at a public meeting. He added that having representatives of different religions say the prayer would “open a can of worms.”

    “One week we could have a rabbi here from Jews,” said Barondick. “We could have a Muslim; we could have a Hindu; we could have a Buddhist. And of course, as Richard Dawkins, the leading atheist on the planet says, we could have a representative or a disciple of the great juju who lives at the bottom of the sea, or representing the flying spaghetti monster and on and on and on.”

    Stohler and Carpenter again let Litz’s motion die without a second and without comment.

    After the meeting, Stohler reiterated his belief that a prayer before a public meeting could violate the First Amendment and sends the wrong message.

    “As a commissioner, we have a responsibility to do our best to represent all the citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs; regardless of their circumstances in life,” Stohler said. “And the only way to do that is not to be in a position where you could be accused, or the belief could be that you are supporting one religious belief at the expense of another.”

    Carpenter said the county has more pressing issues to deal with than Litz’s recent proposals, which have included holding night meetings and broadcasting meetings on the Internet.

    “I’d like to get down to the basics with county government,” he said. “Things were running very smoothly until the last three months or so, when it seems like these nitpicky things started coming up. I’m always on the wrong side of these issues, I know. But should it be an issue, is the other question. There are money problems here. I’m spending my time looking at the money problems.”

    Commissioners back Boscov’s loan

    By JOHN LATIMER
    Lebanon Daily News 1/9/09

    The Lebanon County commissioners shrugged off passionate pleas from two residents and signed off on a $35 million state-backed federal loan yesterday to help the struggling Boscov’s department-store chain.

    The deal is necessary to save thousands of jobs statewide and hundreds locally at Boscov’s, which owns and anchors the Lebanon Valley Mall, said the commissioners.

    By allowing the Boy Scouts and other groups to use the mall, the company has been a community partner since opening here in 1972, and the community does not want it to close, said Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

    “When I look at the Lebanon Valley Mall, I look at the fabric of our community. They are a de facto town hall,” she said. “How many other businesses give back to our community to the degree that Boscov’s has done?”

    Lebanon joins five other counties that have authorized loan guarantees of $5.8 million in future community-development funds as collateral for Boscov’s 20-year loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will help it recover from its recent bankruptcy. The arrangement did not require any cash outlay by the counties.

    The money will be added to $11 million in HUD funding from a handful of other Pennsylvania municipalities, nearly $60 million put up by the Boscov family and a small group of partners, and an operating line of credit of $205 million.

    All of the financing was needed to return ownership of the stores to Albert Boscov and his brother-in-law Edwin Lakin after its previous owners, headed by Lakin’s son, Kenneth, drove it into bankruptcy last summer.

    In return for the HUD money, Boscov’s has promised to create and/or retain 1,029 jobs, including at least 147 in Lebanon County. The company owns 39 stores and employs more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 in Pennsylvania, according to information Boscov’s supplied to the state. Nearly 200 people work for Boscov’s at the Lebanon Valley Mall, said mall manager Ken Phelps.

    The deal was structured by the state Department of Community and Economic Development at the urging of Gov. Ed Rendell.  

    A seventh county, Snyder, had been asked to give its support and pledge $5 million. Its commissioners voted not to do so for fear that they would be left with the debt should the new Boscov’s fall into bankruptcy again.

    That is the same fear expressed by county residents Carl Jarboe of Lebanon and Martin Barondick of North Lebanon Township, who urged the commissioners not to guarantee the loan.

    Barondick called the arrangement a “bailout” and compared it to the hundreds of billions of dollars Congress has appropriated for the financial and car industries.

    “Right now, you can’t jump into something. You’ve really got to step back and look at it (and ask), ‘What could be my liabilities here?’” he said. “This here — you say, ‘Well, this is just a local bailout for Boscov’s.’ No! No! No! This is a microcosm of the whole country today. Believe me, it is. And it’s going down the tubes.”

    Ray Bender, director of the Lebanon County Redevelopment Authority, who handled the loan-guarantee application, told the commissioners there is only a remote possibility that Lebanon or any of the other participating counties would be held responsible for the loan, should Boscov’s default. Protecting them are liens against the value of Boscov’s real-estate equity, which is estimated at $106 million, and merchandise inventory, with an estimated value of $83 million, that would go toward paying the DCED loan, he explained.

    If that would not cover it, DCED’s Acting-Secretary John P. Blake has pledged in writing that the state will cover the debt, said Bender.

    “If all that fails, including the commonwealth not following through on a guarantee, ultimately the community development money is the bottom line,” Bender said. Would that happen? ... I don’t see how it could. The state has guaranteed to six of its counties in writing, it is guaranteeing these loans. It would have to be the mother of all lawsuits if it happened.”

    JohnLatimer@ldnews.com

    Commissioners nix evening meetings

    By JOHN LATIMER
    Lebanon Daily News 1/6/09

    The Lebanon County commissioners will continue to be morning persons, holding their weekly meetings at 9:30 a.m. on Thursdays.

    During yesterday’s reorganization meeting, Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz suggested the board conduct one evening meeting each month.

    “There are people who do work days that would like to come to a meeting,” she said. “Maybe we should try having one once in a while in the evening that they can attend.”

    The idea was met unenthusiastically by commissioners Larry Stohler and Bill Carpenter, who voted it down. Both noted that the public can arrange private meetings to discuss problems with individual commissioners.

    “I think we should just keep it the way it is,” Stohler said. “My experience is, anyone having a reason to come finds a way to come.”

    Litz said that a few constituents have asked her to hold evening meetings.

    Carpenter and Stohler said no one has recently approached them with the idea. The only one who is discussing it is, they said, is WLBR radio talk-show host Laura LeBeau.

    “I’m not going to do it just because Laura LeBeau thinks we should,” Carpenter said. “If there would be an outcry, we would certainly consider it. I wouldn’t mind holding a night meeting.”

    Night meetings were once a regular practice of the board, Carpenter said. Thirteen night meetings were held from 1988 to 1996, he said. Each was held in a different municipality and department heads were expected to attend.

    The public’s response was lackluster, Carpenter recalled.

    “We did it on the road in the early ’90s and late ’80s,” he said. “We’d do it once a quarter, and we didn’t get much of a response at all.”

    In recent years, the only exception to the board’s meeting schedule has been moving a meeting from the municipal building to the Lebanon Valley Expo Center during the week of the Lebanon Area Fair in the summer. In 2004, a meeting was held at the environmental center at Clarence Schock Memorial Park at Governor Dick when it opened.

    The reorganization of the board went as expected yesterday.

    Republicans Stohler and Carpenter have been alternating the chairmanship for the past six years. This year, it is Stohler’s turn to be chairman, and Carpenter took the seat of vice-chair.

    Litz, the only Democrat on the board, remains as secretary.

    JohnLatimer@LDNews.com

    Commissioners back Boscov’s loan

    By JOHN LATIMER
    Lebanon Daily News 1/9/09

    The Lebanon County commissioners shrugged off passionate pleas from two residents and signed off on a $35 million state-backed federal loan yesterday to help the struggling Boscov’s department-store chain.

    The deal is necessary to save thousands of jobs statewide and hundreds locally at Boscov’s, which owns and anchors the Lebanon Valley Mall, said the commissioners.

    By allowing the Boy Scouts and other groups to use the mall, the company has been a community partner since opening here in 1972, and the community does not want it to close, said Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

    “When I look at the Lebanon Valley Mall, I look at the fabric of our community. They are a de facto town hall,” she said. “How many other businesses give back to our community to the degree that Boscov’s has done?”

    Lebanon joins five other counties that have authorized loan guarantees of $5.8 million in future community-development funds as collateral for Boscov’s 20-year loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will help it recover from its recent bankruptcy. The arrangement did not require any cash outlay by the counties.

    The money will be added to $11 million in HUD funding from a handful of other Pennsylvania municipalities, nearly $60 million put up by the Boscov family and a small group of partners, and an operating line of credit of $205 million.

    All of the financing was needed to return ownership of the stores to Albert Boscov and his brother-in-law Edwin Lakin after its previous owners, headed by Lakin’s son, Kenneth, drove it into bankruptcy last summer.

    In return for the HUD money, Boscov’s has promised to create and/or retain 1,029 jobs, including at least 147 in Lebanon County. The company owns 39 stores and employs more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 in Pennsylvania, according to information Boscov’s supplied to the state. Nearly 200 people work for Boscov’s at the Lebanon Valley Mall, said mall manager Ken Phelps.

    The deal was structured by the state Department of Community and Economic Development at the urging of Gov. Ed Rendell.  

    A seventh county, Snyder, had been asked to give its support and pledge $5 million. Its commissioners voted not to do so for fear that they would be left with the debt should the new Boscov’s fall into bankruptcy again.

    That is the same fear expressed by county residents Carl Jarboe of Lebanon and Martin Barondick of North Lebanon Township, who urged the commissioners not to guarantee the loan.

    Barondick called the arrangement a “bailout” and compared it to the hundreds of billions of dollars Congress has appropriated for the financial and car industries.

    “Right now, you can’t jump into something. You’ve really got to step back and look at it (and ask), ‘What could be my liabilities here?’” he said. “This here — you say, ‘Well, this is just a local bailout for Boscov’s.’ No! No! No! This is a microcosm of the whole country today. Believe me, it is. And it’s going down the tubes.”

    Ray Bender, director of the Lebanon County Redevelopment Authority, who handled the loan-guarantee application, told the commissioners there is only a remote possibility that Lebanon or any of the other participating counties would be held responsible for the loan, should Boscov’s default. Protecting them are liens against the value of Boscov’s real-estate equity, which is estimated at $106 million, and merchandise inventory, with an estimated value of $83 million, that would go toward paying the DCED loan, he explained.

    If that would not cover it, DCED’s Acting-Secretary John P. Blake has pledged in writing that the state will cover the debt, said Bender.

    “If all that fails, including the commonwealth not following through on a guarantee, ultimately the community development money is the bottom line,” Bender said. Would that happen? ... I don’t see how it could. The state has guaranteed to six of its counties in writing, it is guaranteeing these loans. It would have to be the mother of all lawsuits if it happened.”

    JohnLatimer@ldnews.com

    Commissioners nix evening meetings

    By JOHN LATIMER
    Lebanon Daily News 1/6/09

    The Lebanon County commissioners will continue to be morning persons, holding their weekly meetings at 9:30 a.m. on Thursdays.

    During yesterday’s reorganization meeting, Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz suggested the board conduct one evening meeting each month.

    “There are people who do work days that would like to come to a meeting,” she said. “Maybe we should try having one once in a while in the evening that they can attend.”

    The idea was met unenthusiastically by commissioners Larry Stohler and Bill Carpenter, who voted it down. Both noted that the public can arrange private meetings to discuss problems with individual commissioners.

    “I think we should just keep it the way it is,” Stohler said. “My experience is, anyone having a reason to come finds a way to come.”

    Litz said that a few constituents have asked her to hold evening meetings.

    Carpenter and Stohler said no one has recently approached them with the idea. The only one who is discussing it is, they said, is WLBR radio talk-show host Laura LeBeau.

    “I’m not going to do it just because Laura LeBeau thinks we should,” Carpenter said. “If there would be an outcry, we would certainly consider it. I wouldn’t mind holding a night meeting.”

    Night meetings were once a regular practice of the board, Carpenter said. Thirteen night meetings were held from 1988 to 1996, he said. Each was held in a different municipality and department heads were expected to attend.

    The public’s response was lackluster, Carpenter recalled.

    “We did it on the road in the early ’90s and late ’80s,” he said. “We’d do it once a quarter, and we didn’t get much of a response at all.”

    In recent years, the only exception to the board’s meeting schedule has been moving a meeting from the municipal building to the Lebanon Valley Expo Center during the week of the Lebanon Area Fair in the summer. In 2004, a meeting was held at the environmental center at Clarence Schock Memorial Park at Governor Dick when it opened.

    The reorganization of the board went as expected yesterday.

    Republicans Stohler and Carpenter have been alternating the chairmanship for the past six years. This year, it is Stohler’s turn to be chairman, and Carpenter took the seat of vice-chair.

    Litz, the only Democrat on the board, remains as secretary.

    JohnLatimer@LDNews.com

    Litz the one who deserves credit

    Editor: 
    Lebanon Daily News 12/29/08

    I never thought I’d be admiring anything done by Jo Ellen Litz, but I guess the times, “They are a changin’.”

    Is there anyone who really believes that Bill Carpenter would have given up his entire commissioner’s salary if Litz had done the same? It’s a shame she couldn’t call his bluff!

    As for Larry Stohler, he finds the raise reasonable during an emerging economic uncertainty of epic proportions.

    How dare she make Carpenter and Stohler look so bad?

    After all, we pay these double-dippers big money to raise our taxes instead of being creative, visionary leaders. If more of our elected officials showed the courage of Litz, instead of the spineless greed of Carpenter and Stohler, the economic debacle would soon be in our wake.

    Edward J. Morgan, Lebanon

    Lebanon County OKs loan guarantee

    Action adds $800,000 to Boscov's financing
    Friday, January 09, 2009
    BY BARBARA MILLER
    Of Our Lebanon County Bureau

    Lebanon County commissioners Thursday unanimously agreed to help back part of a $35 million loan for the Boscov's department store chain.

    The county is one of seven with Boscov stores within their borders that were asked by the state to guarantee loans from their federal Community Development Block Grant allocations.

    Originally the counties were asked to guarantee $5 million, but after Snyder County's commissioners turned down the request, the state asked the remaining six counties to guarantee an additional $800,000.

    The risk to Lebanon County is "very remote," because the loan is guaranteed first by Boscov's real estate and inventory worth more than $188 million, and then by the state, said Raymond Bender, executive director of Lebanon County Redevelopment Authority, which administers the block grant program in the county.

    If Boscov's would close in Lebanon, the Lebanon Valley Mall would not survive, which would affect hundreds of other jobs, said Ken Phelps, mall manager.

    The Lebanon Valley Mall and Boscov's are part of the "fabric of our community," Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said.

    "They are a de facto town hall," she said of the mall, which hosts fundraising events for nonprofit organizations. "How many other businesses have given back to our community to the degree Boscov's has done?"

    Two residents voiced opposition to the loan.

    "They should not use tax dollars to bail out these private businesses. I don't want to see my tax dollars doing that," said Carl Jarboe of Lebanon. "Let them sink."

    In addition to the $35 million guarantees from Cambria, Blair, Butler, Lackawanna, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton are providing $3 million each; Vineland, N.J., $2.7 million, and Atlantic County, N.J., $3 million.

    As part of the agreement, Boscov's is to create 1,029 jobs and its 39 stores will remain open. The company has about 5,000 employees in Pennsylvania.

    BARBARA MILLER: 832-2090 or barbmiller@patriot-news.com

    OTHER COUNTIES

  • Schuylkill County commissioners are scheduled to vote today on the loan guarantee.
  • Blair County commissioners are to vote Tuesday.
  • Lackawanna County commissioners are to vote Wednesday.
  • Butler County commissioners are to vote Jan. 21.
  • Cambria County commissioners approved it Jan. 2.
  • Redevelopment plan dealt death blow BY AL WINN / Of Our Lebanon County Bureau, 11/15/07

    LEBANON l A plan to build 20 townhouses on a former industrial site is dead, according to the head of the Lebanon Housing Authority.

    The Lebanon County Commissioners said Thursday that they would not lend the housing authority $500,000 for the project at Seventh and Mifflin streets.

    Bryan Hoffman, the housing authority’s executive director, said his agency had found $3 million in other financing for the site, but needed the loan from the county to build the homes.

    The commissioners voted 2-1 against providing the loan Thursday.

    “Basically it’s dead,” Hoffman said of the project.

    Hoffman asked commissioners to lend the $500,000 at 2 percent interest for 15 years.

    “That just seems like an inordinate amount of money,” county Commissioner Larry Stohler said.

    “We could put this money to better use,” Commissioner Bill Carpenter said.

    Hoffman said he knew the project was expensive. The lot has some environmental problems that need to be cleaned up.

    Lebanon Mayor Bob Anspach, who arranged purchase of the lot in 2004, said he was disappointed by the vote.

    “This was a project that would have had a significant effect on the whole neighborhood,” he said.

    “If the project falls apart, county commissioners would need to accept responsibility,” he said.

    Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, who supported the loan, called it “a missed opportunity.”

    She said the county can save farmland by taking advantage of chances to build in the city.

    The project was to be built at the former site of Textile Printing, which closed in 1972.

    For the next three decades, the building slowly crumbled into piles of rubble and broken walls.

    In 2004 the city bought the land for $60,000 and spent $168,000 more, most of it federal money, to clear the site.

    AL WINN: 832-2090

    or awinn@patriot-news.com

    Hearing planned on Old State Road options

    Tuesday, February 27, 2007,
    BY AL WINN,

    Of Our Lebanon County Bureau

    JONESTOWN - It's not quite an ultimatum, but state officials are pushing hard to persuade the Swatara Twp. supervisors to surrender control of 21/2 miles of Old State Road in Swatara State Park.

    The state wants to close the road to vehicle traffic and convert it to a trail for hikers and cyclists. It is seen as a key to implementing a 4-year-old master plan for the park, said Chris Novak, spokeswoman for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

    The supervisors have opposed giving up the road, saying residents have told them they would like it to remain open.

    The state is using both the carrot and the stick when it comes to persuading the supervisors to part with the road.

    As a compromise, the state has offered to open the road to vehicular traffic a few days a month.

    If the township doesn't accept the compromise, the road might be taken through condemnation proceedings. Or state officials might walk away from their development plans and "leave the park the way it is," Novak said.

    The supervisors said they will hold a hearing on a request to give up the road March 8. Supervisor Reginald Daubert said he didn't know if the supervisors would vote on the request at that meeting.

    It will be at least the fifth meeting the township has held since December 2005 on the state's request.

    The state completed its master plan for the park in 2003 and has about $4 million to begin work on a first phase, Novak said.

    Phase 1 includes trails, including the multi-use trail, rest rooms and water at trail heads, and two foot bridges across Swatara Creek to connect what is now Old State Road to an existing rail trail on the other side of the stream. The plan also calls for picnic areas and a maintenance building.

    Resident Karen Light lives on Old State Road near the portion of the road the state would close. She and other area residents have been arguing since December 2005 that closing the road to vehicles in order to make way for bicycles, in-line skaters, and hikers would make it off-limits to older and disabled residents.

    The state would open the road to vehicle traffic the second Friday and Saturday each month and the fourth Friday and Saturday in March and October. The road could also be opened to vehicles during special occasions, according to an e-mail message from Bureau of State Parks Director John Norbeck to Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz in December.

    The offer still stands, with one caveat: The state would not plow the road in the winter, Novak said. The state is willing to put the compromise in writing if township supervisors agree to turn over the road, she said.

    Light said she wasn't satisfied with the offer.

    "Bottom line, we want the road to stay open," she said.

    Litz would like to see the township accept the compromise. The development of the park is at stake, she said.

    "We have waited too long and invested too much time and effort to let this slip through our fingers. I have worked for decades to see this park become a reality," she wrote Friday in an e-mail message.

    The state has owned the 3,500-acre state park since 1969. The park is undeveloped except for a rail trail that runs the length of the park across the creek from Old State Road.

    AL WINN: 832-2090 or awinn@patriot-news.com

    IF YOU GO

    WHAT: Swatara Twp. supervisors are holding a hearing on a state request to turn over 21/2 miles of Old State Road in Swatara State Park. WHEN: 6:30 p.m., March 8. WHERE: Swatara Twp. building, Old Route 22 and Supervisors Drive.

    Historic Bordner Cabin Spared

    Author:    DAVID MEKEEL Staff Writer Lebanon Daily News
    Date: August 4, 2006
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)

    It's official: A historic, hand-built cabin in Swatara State Park has been saved.

     

    The Swatara Creek Watershed Association received a signed lease last week for the Armar Bordner Cabin, a nearly 70-year-old log-and-stone structure built by a former teacher, from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees the Bureau of State Parks. The agreement gives control of the cabin to the watershed association for 10 years at a cost of $1 per year.

     

    The cabin is located off Old State Road about 3 miles northeast of the Inwood Bridge.

     

    “We have the final lease in our hands,” said Jo Ellen Litz, a county commissioner who is also president of the watershed association.  “We’re extremely excited to get this project started.”

     

    The project that Litz referred to is turning the dilapidated cabin into a structure stable enough to be opened to the public.  The cabin had been used by the Boy Scouts, who took over after Bordner vacated it in the 1970s (the last holdout when the state took the surrounding land to create the part), but has sat empty for several years.  Vandals and Mother Nature have not been kind to the building, leaving it with smashed windows and doors—which have since been removed, a hole in the roof and graffiti spray-painted on many of its interior and exterior walls.

     

    Because of its poor condition, DCNR had planned to raze the cabin. But an upswell of interest from local residents and groups interested in preserving it forced a change of plans.

     

    Litz said that the most urgent concern is the roof, which needs to be repaired right away.  Plans are already under way for the project, Litz said, but the watershed association is in need of financial help to finish the job.  Although the Elk Corporation in Jackson Township has donated shingles, and the Lowe’s in Lebanon has promised $100 worth of supplies, she said, another $5,000 is still needed.

     

    We hope that people will be able to dig deep and give us a few dollars,” Litz pleaded.

     

    Several wood posts on the cabin’s porch also need to be replaced immediately, Litz said, and signs need to be put in the area.  Securing insurance for the property is also a priority, she added.

     

    Along with financial help, the watershed association is also looking for anyone who would like to donate their time volunteering for various projects at the site.

     

    “Beyond repairing the roof, I see projects that would make a great Eagle Scout project or (high school) senior project,” Litz said. 

     

    The Bordner cabin will also be part of an adoption program, where local groups can sign up to care for the property for a month at a time.  Litz said the watershed association is working to create a 5-year adoption schedule.

     

    “It’s community ownership,” she said.

     

    Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the project can contact the Swatara Creek Watershed Association at 2501 Cumberland St., Lebanon PA., 17042 or by email at:  swatara@mbcomp.com .

     

    Deal near to save cabin
    By DAVID MEKEEL
    Staff Writer
    Lebanon Daily News

     

    The Swatara Creek Watershed Association is moving closer to saving a dilapidated, historic log cabin in Swatara State Park.

    Jo Ellen Litz, a Lebanon County commissioner who is president of the watershed association, said the environmental group has looked over a preliminary lease agreement for the Armar Bordner cabin provided by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which currently owns the structure, and feels that a deal can be struck.

    Bordner built the cabin in 1939, hewing the massive logs by hand, and lived there until the 1970s. He was the last holdout when the state took the surrounding land by eminent domain to create the state park. The cabin was most recently used by Boy Scout troops but has fallen into disrepair since the Scouts’ lease ran out several years ago. The building needs, among other things, a new roof and new doors and windows. It has also been damaged by vandals, who painted graffiti on its log walls.

    As part of the master plan to develop the park, the DCNR planned to tear down the cabin. But, the watershed association has fought to preserve it, saying that it’s a hand-built treasure that warrants saving.

    At a meeting yesterday morning, Litz said, the association decided to move forward with the lease agreement — which would give the cabin to the watershed association for 10 years at no cost — by contacting DCNR and requesting that a formal document be drawn.

    “We’ve discussed it and see no reason why we shouldn’t ask DCNR to move ahead,” Litz explained.

    Litz credited the DCNR with listening to other opinions before sealing the fate of the cabin.

    “I commend DCNR. They have just been terrific,” she said. “They listened impartially and open-mindedly. We are grateful for the opportunity to save the cabin.”

    Although the cabin may have received a reprieve from bulldozing, plans for a major restoration effort are not likely in the near future, Litz said.

    Some concerns must be addressed immediately to ensure the building is safe, including putting new support beams under the porch, but other repairs will likely wait, Litz explained. The building has no windows or doors, and the watershed association will not replace them, opting instead to use the structure as an open-air facility.

    “It will essentially be a pavilion or pagoda or gazebo,” she said. “Right now, the use will just be a destination on the (park’s) heritage trail.”

    Litz said the cabin would be open from dawn to dusk, just like the park.

    But, she cautioned, more work needs to be done before anything happens with the cabin. First, because the lease would not go into effect until Jan. 1, the watershed association plans to ask the DCNR for permission to start working on the building in advance. The group must also start raising funds to pay for repairs, upkeep and liability insurance.

    Litz said the watershed association would like to do more with the cabin, perhaps turning it into an environmental center, but that would probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and be years away from happening.

    DaveMekeel@LDNews.com

     LEBANON

    Cabin will remain in Swatara park

    Watershed group to lease log structure from state

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    BY BARBARA MILLER

    Of Our Palmyra Bureau

    The compromise has been struck to preserve the Armar Bordner cabin in Swatara State Park, as the Swatara Creek Watershed Association voted Wednesday to lease the 67-year-old log structure from the state.

    The association plans to sign a 10-year lease with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

    No rent would be charged, but the watershed association will need to increase its liability insurance and raise money for repairs, she said.

    "It has been such a long trip. It is very rewarding to see them come around the way they have," Litz said of the state agency.

    The state had been planning to disassemble the cabin and recycle the logs in a Schuylkill County park when Litz and others asked for it to remain.

    Volunteers and organizations will be sought to "adopt" the cabin for a month out of the year to help prevent vandalism and pick up litter. The cabin would be open from dawn to dusk, just as the park is, Litz said.

    The association would also like the cabin listed on the Heritage Trail in the park to let visitors know its significance.

    Since the cabin, without windows, falls under the category of an open-air pavilion, it does not have to be made handicapped-accessible, Litz said. This could change as more work is done on the cabin if money become available.

    The cabin is along Old State Road, which also became involved in controversy as the state proposed to close a four-mile stretch to traffic in Swatara and Bethel townships and turn it into a trail for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.

    The state is working on a compromise to open the road a few times a year, in response to urging by neighbors who said it should stay open so elderly and people with handicaps can get into the center of the park.

    Litz previously said the cabin's possible uses include being a shelter for through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, a chapel, educational center or simply a rest spot to gaze upon the creek's waterfalls.

    BARBARA MILLER: 832-2090 or barbmiller@patriot-news.com

    Kudos for Litz... (Daily News Editorial)

    It must have been hard for Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz to stifle the "I- told-you-so."

    It was over Litz's objections that her fellow-commissioners...last month voted to order touch-screen voting machines from a company called AccuPoll.  Whether acting more on intuition or insight--all she said was that she had concerns about the company's financial status--Litz supplied the dissenting vote in a mid-December split decision in favor of AccuPoll

    It turned out to be a bad decision.  This week, the commissioners learned that AccuPoll had decided to back out of the deal.

    AccuPoll was a little wafty about the whole affair, and Lord knows when the commissioners would have found out about the problem but for Litz, who heard somewhere about a county in Texas that had been left hanging by AccuPoll.  That was earlier this month, and it prompted county officials to begin asking questions.  The answers were not good.

    On Thursday, the commissioners voted to give the contract to a different vendor, Nebraska-based Electronic Systems & Software.  The vote was unanimous....

    Kudos to Litz, gracious in victory.

     
    September 13, 2005
    By RICHARD FELLINGER, Staff Writer, Lebanon Daily News
     
    HARRISBURG —...Litz testified before the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee on a bill from Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin....

    Lebanon County and East Hanover Township could get slots proceeds under the 2004 law — a combined total of several hundred thousand dollars a year — but it’s not certain because the law is vague.

    About 22.5 acres of the land owned by Penn National Gaming Inc. is in East Hanover Township, Lebanon County, but the racetrack and another 600 acres belonging to Penn National are in Dauphin County’s neighboring East Hanover Township.

    The law gives money to counties and municipalities with part of “the licensed facility,” but the definition of what constitutes the licensed facility has yet to be settled.

    Litz testified with Doug Hill of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, who said he has not heard an official explanation of how the law treats counties such as Lebanon.

    “That was overlooked when the bill was put together,” said committee Chairman Robert Godshall, R-Montgomery.

    Litz said Lebanon County will be affected by slots because of sewer runoff from Penn National into the Swatara watershed and increased traffic on roads such as I-81. The added traffic will mean more accidents and 911 calls, she said.

    Lebanon County will also face added costs for its court system, drug and alcohol treatment and other human services, she said.

    “So you can see how this really builds,” Litz said.

    Marsico said Lebanon County deserves a small share of slots proceeds, but he said the real issue is ensuring that townships get their fair share when hosting a slots parlor.

    Current law caps the amount a township gets at half of its annual budget, and his bill would remove the cap.

    Marsico’s bill is not expected to move as a stand-alone bill, but he hopes to include his plan in an omnibus slots bill if legislative leaders assemble one. The omnibus bill would address several slots issues and reduce the chances that anti-slots lawmakers can repeal or weaken the slots law.

    Lebanon County Rep. Pete Zug said he’ll push for language in the omnibus bill to ensure Lebanon County gets its share of slots proceeds. He believes the definition of “licensed facility” should include all contiguous land owned by the gaming company.

    Society welcomes Commissioner Litz

    Date: August 15, 2005
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    By KAREN SHUEY Staff Writer

    BUNKER HILL With their distinctive red hats and bright purple outfits, members of the Strawberry Red Hatters gathered yesterday to initiate County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz as an honorary member.

    "I wanted to make Jo Ellen an honorary member because she has always been a good and trustworthy friend to me," said Bunny Yinger, founder, or "Queen Mother," of the local chapter of the national Red Hat Society.

    Water trail grows with the flow

    Date: June 20, 2005
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    Staff Writer INWOOD -- Up the creek has a whole new meaning for paddling enthusiasts in the Lebanon Valley.

    Eighteen miles have been added to the upstream end of the Swatara Creek Water Trail, and, with the cooperation of several organizations, a project has been completed to make the waterway more user-friendly.

    New public-access points were created at seven locations along the creek and marked with signs. The signs feature map boxes for visitors and those planning to use the waterway

    'Our Town': It's 35 visions but a single focus

    Date: April 24, 2005
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    Eighteen teams, with a total of 35 videographers, worked separately to produce "Our Town: Annville," which will air on WITF on Monday, June 6. Here is a complete list of the participants and their subjects. Shawn Burke, Gail Karabatsos and Mike Yanchuk Harrisburg Annville Running Dementia, the town's pre-dawn marathon runners.

    Donna Custer and Liz Lingle Annville's retirement homes.

    Doris Flory and Mark Seeger the town's fire

    Business effort made all winners

    Date: March 25, 2005
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    Editor: The Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Lebanon Valley Mall and sponsors of the recent "Apprentice Challenge" are to be commended for creating a fun, exciting and practical learning experience that showcases our best and brightest students in Lebanon County.

    Unlike the television series, all of the participants were winners, and each student received recognition for a job well done. Thank you for touching so many young lives in such a positive way.

    May 20, 2005 Commissioner spurned in bid to add planners

    By JOHN LATIMER, Staff Writer

    An effort by Lebanon County Commissioner Bill Carpenter to add three men to the county's Comprehensive Plan Task Force was struck down yesterday.

    Carpenter nominated Lebanon Valley Farmers Bank President Andy Marhevsky, public accountant Tom Siegel and attorney George Christianson to join the 15-member panel. Siegel and Christianson both own a significant amount of land in the county.

    While Commissioners Larry Stohler and Jo Ellen Litz acknowledged that the men are qualified, they voted against their appointment -- but for different reasons.

    The search to fill the task force began in October when Lebanon County Planning Department Director Earl Meyer put a call out for volunteers willing to be involved in the creation of the plan for the next two years. About 25 people applied, and 15 members were appointed in December. Many of those not selected were put on a replacement list.

    At the time of their appointment, Meyer said, the group represented a cross-section of public officials and community leaders with expertise in a variety of areas that will be addressed in the plan. Since being assembled, the task force has met three times at open public meetings.

    Litz yesterday said it would be unfair to those who had not been selected in December to appoint new members now. She pointed out that several of those people who had not been selected have been regularly attending the task-force meetings. She suggested increasing the size of the task force and opening those slots to all who are interested. That motion was also defeated.

    "I think we need to have everybody's confidence in this process," she said. "First, we need to expand the size of the committee. We had established the size of the committee on Oct. 7, 2004. Then we should open up the process and establish a new deadline to accept and consider additional appointments for nomination from a pool of interested people."

    Carpenter disputed the need for having a formal motion to expand the task force. He said he would consider adding more members to the task force if they expressed interest to the board of commissioners subsequent to the appointments of Marhevsky, Siegel and Christianson.

    Stohler agreed with Carpenter that the size of the task force could be adjusted at any time but, he said, the current makeup of the task force is working well, and there is no need to add new members.

    "These people all have the opportunity to go to the meetings when the committee meets," he said. "They are given an opportunity to speak and voice their opinion. I suggest we just hold off and keep these names, as well as other names of some of the people that had applied originally that weren't selected, for when they have a vacancy. ... From what I can tell, the committee is functioning well and is doing its job."

    The task force's next meeting is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. June 21 in Room 3 of the Lebanon Valley Agricultural Center, 2120 Cornwall Road, North Cornwall Township.

    DEP warns of dangers at abandoned quarries

    By DAVID MEKEEL, Staff Writer

    ...Because of large number of unregulated mines -- many located on private property and not properly identified -- the state has had a history of tragedy. According to statistics compiled by the DEP and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, there have been 38 fatalities at mines and quarries in Pennsylvania since 1989.

    County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, who volunteers with her husband as a rescue diver and who has helped on numerous searches in water-filled quarries, said she knew of at least three people who had died in the quarry near the mall since 1978.

    Litz told the crowd about how difficult search-and-rescue operations are in quarries, explaining that drowning victims can usually only be saved within the first hour after being submerged. She stressed the importance of marking places where people can enter these dangerous sites. The closer a rescuer can enter to where a victim did, she said, the better the chance they have for a recovery.

    "If you see someone go in, please mark that entrance," she said....

    May 6, 2005
    Complicated land deal could hold water for Rexmont Dams

    By JOHN LATIMER, Staff Writer

    If there were still dams in Rexmont, a lot of water would have passed over them since a movement to rebuild them hit a logjam about a year ago.

    However, an answer may finally be in sight for resolving the sticking point in the project finding land that the county can trade with the state Game Commission in exchange for the dams' site. Ironically, two of the three county commissioners just last month saw little value in the land they now have their eyes on a parcel near Mt. Gretna that is also coveted by the Lebanon County Conservancy because of endangered plant species growing on it.

    It has been so long since the dams, located off Rexmont Road in South Lebanon Township, have been in the news that many may have forgotten what the fuss is all about.

    The story began in 2000, when the state Game Commission condemned the upper and lower dams, which were built in the late 1800s as reservoirs for the city of Lebanon. The lower dam was breached in 2001, and the upper dam was drained a year later, much to the chagrin of outdoors types who enjoyed the lakes.

    A group calling itself the Friends of the Rexmont Dam quickly mounted an effort to preserve the dams as water-recreation areas. They were supported by local government officials, including state Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill, who lobbied for state funding.

    In 2003, the county received $400,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and $500,000 from the Department of Community Development to rehabilitate the dams. The friends group pledged to raise as much as $75,000, and South Lebanon Township and Cornwall Borough also promised money for the project.

    Separate plans for reconstructing both dams that included building park facilities were drawn up by engineer Jeff Steckbeck. The estimate for repairing the lower dam and adding a park was about $1 million. The work on the upper dam would cost about $500,000. The county approached them as separate projects and prioritized work on the lower dam.

    The final hurdle to beginning the work was finding property adjacent to state game lands that could be used for a land swap. A total of 50 acres is needed, according to Commissioner Bill Carpenter: 30 for the lower dam and 20 for the upper.

    Some of the money from the state can be used for the purchase, but, Carpenter said, negotiations with several residents who have property adjacent to state game lands have been unsuccessful.

    Now, the commissioners have hit on the idea of purchasing a wooded, 100-acre tract in Cornwall between YMCA Camp Shand and state game lands. They learned last month that the land, which belongs to Dennis Klinger, was for sale when Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz requested that the board sign a letter of support for the Lebanon Valley Conservancy, which was attempting to secure an $87,000 DCNR grant to purchase it. The asking price for the tract is $135,000.

    Initially, Carpenter and Stohler balked at writing such a letter because about a third of the acreage has been clear-cut for power lines. They thought the conservancy should set its sights on better land more threatened by development.

    The conservancy, with the help of Chuck Wertz, who is a member of its board and is also the manager of the Lebanon County Conservation District, convinced the reluctant commissioners that the land was worth preserving because several endangered plant species can be found on it.

    At yesterday's county commissioners' meeting, Carpenter said county administrator Jamie Wolgemuth is working with Wertz to enlist the conservancy's support for the idea of the county obtaining all or part of Klinger's land.

    Because it is in such a preliminary stage, Wolgemuth said, exactly how it all would work is unclear. The county could purchase the Klinger land outright, or the conservancy, if it gets a grant, could purchase it and swap the land on behalf of the county.

    Wertz said he took the basic idea back to the conservancy's land and resources committee when it met on Tuesday. No official action was taken, but the committee felt the idea has merit, he said.

    Neither the game commission nor DCNR has been approached about the idea, said Wolgemuth, but he is hopeful they would support the county using the Klinger land for a swap.

    "I don't want to get too far ahead here, but DCNR supported the Rexmont Dam project," he said.

     

    Lebanon political log stars women

    District justice won by 7 votes

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    BY TOM BOWMAN, Of Our Lebanon County Bureau

    LEBANON - Seven is Catherine Coyle's lucky number.

    In 1969, Coyle became the first woman elected district justice in the county, winning victory by just sevenvotes.

    "She framed a big No. 7 and had it hanging in her office the entire time she was in office," Jo Ellen Litz said in a 14-page history of women elected to county offices.

    Litz, a two-term county commissioner and member of the Lebanon County Women's Commission, wrote the history as part of Women's History Month, which is March.

    "We wanted to know more about the women in the history of Lebanon County," Litz said.

    "A natural to me would be women who served in public office in the county. I started just writing down what I knew. Then I went to my League of Women Voters guide. I have a pretty complete set back to 1983. I got a lot of information from there, little biographies and names."

    Litz's list of women elected to office continued growing. She talked to people who knew women who had died, then searched through the Pennsylvania Manuals in the law library and county salary board minutes dating to the beginning of the county.

    "One thing led to another, and I was digging a little deeper," Litz said. "Then I decided, 'OK, oh gosh, I don't want to hurt someone's feelings and miss someone.' So I developed a spreadsheet and started putting in terms of office, and then I e-mailed it to all the school boards and the townships and boroughs and said, 'Did I miss anyone? Can you give me any more details?' It just kept going like that."

    Months later, Litz saved her research and made several copies on CDs. In the end, she had detailed the lives of about 100 women.

    "It just seems like a service that was worth doing," Litz said. "I don't want this to sound wrong, but it seems like mostly men write history books. So they write more about men. So if history books are going to be written about women, then women are going to have to do the research."

    From her research, Litz learned that, in 1936, Sally McKinney Hartman became the first woman elected to a county office. Hartman served as recorder of deeds, retiring in 1967.

    Litz said what's interesting about Hartman is that she won the office just 16 years after women gained the right to vote.

    "She was phenomenal," Litz said. "I wish I would have known her. Just hearing everyone talk about her, what a grand lady she was and how she truly cared about people. She would ask about your family or your job -- whatever. It wasn't just politics with her. She was a real people person. It was neat."

    What about Coyle and lucky No. 7?

    In 1969, in heavily Republican Lebanon County, a committeeperson asked Democrat Coyle to run for city district justice. After collecting the needed signatures, she talked with Democratic Party Chairman John Anspach.

    "Lady, you might as well go home. You'll never get elected; you're just a housewife," she said Anspach told her.

    "I said to him, 'Well I'm going to prove to you I'm going to be elected.' It made me angry," Coyle said. "I went to the next few meetings, and he wasn't cordial at all. Then he realized that he was going to have to put up with me. We more or less got along after that."

    Election night after the polls closed, Coyle's children gathered results posted at the polls and found Coyle had won by seven votes.

    The next day, the Lebanon Daily News reported that Coyle had lost to her male Republican opponent by five votes.

    Because Anspach refused to call for a recount, Coyle's husband, John, now deceased, asked the county commissioners to hold a recount. They agreed, and Coyle won.

    The GOP, not ready to give in, asked for another recount. Again, Coyle won by seven votes.

    She served until 1990.

    "I do want you to know that after that, I got along with John Anspach," Coyle said.

    TOM BOWMAN: 272-3759 or tbowman@patriot-news.com

     
     

     

    Lebanon County taxpayers should be encouraged by the proposal outlined in your February 15 article, Commissioners ask for tax-law change.  Counties are mandated to provide a rapidly increasing list of important services without guarantee that state and federal dollars will cover the costs.  The only revenue source to which counties can turn is the property owner.  Relying on the antiquated property tax system is unfair to seniors on fixed incomes and young families struggling to make ends meet.

     

    Across Pennsylvania, commissioners support a tax fairness proposal that provides a menu of tax options for counties, which will allow citizens to choose what works best for their specific local economic and demographic conditions.  For the first time ever, counties would have alternatives to the property tax to raise revenue.

     

    Reducing the county property tax and replacing it with a sales or personal income tax creates a system based more on a taxpayer’s ability to pay. 

     

    The current system is unfair, but our county leaders can’t change it.  Only the state can.  For Lebanon County taxpayers, this common sense proposal can finally make tax fairness a reality.

    County methadone clinic OK'd

    By JOHN LATIMER

    Staff Writer

    Local addicts of heroin and other opiates will soon be able to receive methadone treatment in Lebanon County rather than travel an hour or more each way for their daily dose.

    Despite strong opposition and charges of unethical behavior from Commissioner Bill Carpenter, commissioners Larry Stohler and Jo Ellen Litz voted yesterday to approve a deal with CRC Health Group to build a methadone clinic on county-owned land in North Cornwall Township, near the City of Lebanon Authority water treatment facility. The next-nearest clinics are in Harrisburg and Coatesville.

    Based in California, CRC is one of the largest treatment companies in the country. It already operates New Perspectives-White Deer Run, a drug- and alcohol-abuse counseling center next-door to which the methadone clinic will be built.

    The plan calls for CRC to build and pay for a 4,350-square-foot treatment center, about one-third of which will be used for outpatient substance-abuse counseling. Company officials estimated it will cost $522,000. After it is paid off in about eight years, the county will own the building and CRC will begin paying nearly $5,500 a month to rent it.

    No money for the project will come from the county's general fund, but a grant of $96,000 from the Capital Area Behavioral Health Collaborative, of which Lebanon County is a member, will be used to help pay for the project.

    Debby Schmidt, the company's vice president of business development, described the arrangement with the county as "unique."

    After a land-development plan is approved by North Cornwall Township this spring, the company will solicit bids for construction and related work. The clinic should be operating in about a year, Schmidt said. Eventually it will provide care for 300 opiate users at a cost of $70 per week.

    Company officials first pitched the concept of a methadone clinic to the commissioners in September. At that time, they were given permission to develop a formal proposal by the same 2-1 vote as yesterday, with Carpenter opposing.

    The original plan was for a 3,000-square-foot facility. It did not have room for outpatient counseling that could also be used for abusers of other substances. CRC officials said they decided to add more outpatient counseling area because there is a waiting list at New Perspectives, which only has room for 50 outpatients.

    Carpenter accused Stohler and Litz of conducting secret meetings with CRC officials that resulted in a deal whereby CRC will begin paying rent on the facility earlier which would earn the county $150,000 in exchange for permission to add the extra outpatient-treatment area. Those discussions should have taken place before the full board, Carpenter said.

    Since the commission has only three members, it is a violation of the state's Sunshine Law for two of them to discuss county business outside a public meeting.

    "The fact that the clinic grew from 3,000 square feet to 4,300 square feet without any formal action of this board is a great concern of mine," he said. "As you heard, CRC is now willing to give Lebanon County $150,000 as a result of their meeting with Commissioner Litz. Maybe if she had held out a little longer, she could have gotten $250,000 or $350,000. Who knows? All I can say is, Commissioner Litz, please don't sell your vote. In my opinion, the tactics being used by CRC to get this contract approved are at best shady and at worse borderline criminal."

    Litz and Stohler denied Carpenter's accusation, saying they had met individually with CRC officials to have questions about the project clarified. Each argued that the county is in desperate need of a methadone clinic.

    "We need a methadone clinic in Lebanon County, because we have a heroin problem in Lebanon County," Litz said. "The heroin problem is much larger than most of the general public perceive. And it is viewed as epidemic in some drug law-enforcement circles. With regard to crime, Lebanon County's heroin problem has a ripple effect."

    Sue Klarsch, director of the Lebanon County Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, has estimated that there are 865 heroin addicts in the county. Of those, about 170 are receiving some form of treatment, but only 41 are receiving methadone therapy which involves daily dosage administration and counseling.

    But Carpenter disputed the need for a methadone clinic, citing data from New Perspectives showing that in the past couple of years, most of its inpatients are from outside the county. He predicted that the methadone clinic would be used largely by patients from Lancaster County, and said he does not want to see Lebanon County become a "methadone mecca."

    "When you look at all the facts, this is a sugar daddy of a deal for CRC," Carpenter said. "CRC will make millions of dollars on this project with little or no risk. If ever an issue should be voted down, this is the issue."

    Carpenter said his opposition to a methadone clinic has nothing to do with his full-time position as a vice president of Good Samaritan Hospital. He said the hospital is not considering opening its own methadone clinic. That assertion was supported by Bob Phillips, chairman of the hospital's board of trustees, who also attended the meeting.

    About two dozen people showed up for yesterday's meeting. A few voiced concerns about the methadone clinic and the possibility it might draw a criminal element to the county.

    Citing experience with other clinics, CRC representatives discounted those concerns.

    Several people spoke in favor of the clinic, including former county Commissioner Ed Arnold. Of those supporting it, many spoke in personal terms about the tribulations of having a loved one addicted to heroin. Among them was former Elco School District Superintendent Frank Bergman of Myerstown.

    "I would rather see Lebanon County become a methadone mecca than a heroin mecca," he said. "We already have heroin in Lebanon County. ... Methadone isn't the kind of drug crooks go after. It is the kind of drug that people go to to get off of opiates."

    Commissioners ask for tax-law change

    By RICHARD FELLINGER, Staff Writer Lebanon Daily News

    HARRISBURG -- Dozens of county commissioners from across the state rallied in the Capitol yesterday for a plan that would give them more options to raise money -- a plan they say would provide relief for rising property taxes.

    State Rep. Carole Rubley, a Republican from Chester County, drafted the plan that would allow county commissioners to ask voters for permission to levy sales or income taxes in exchange for cuts in property taxes.

    The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania is pushing the plan, saying current law ties commissioners' hands by allowing them to levy only property taxes or small "nuisance" taxes. CCAP dubs the bill "tax fairness" legislation.

    Lebanon County's Jo Ellen Litz was one of about 40 commissioners who appeared with Rubley when she unveiled her plan at a Capitol news conference.

    "We have people coming to county commissioner meetings begging us to do something on tax reform," Litz said, adding that the commissioners are powerless to change the system without state legislation.

    Lebanon County's property taxes will increase this year by 24 percent, or 3 mills.

    Backers of Rubley's plan hope to convince lawmakers that it's time to enact tax-law changes for counties as new changes for municipalities go into effect. Last year, the Legislature gave municipalities the power to levy a per-capita job tax called the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax up to $52 per year on each person who works in the municipality.

    Backers of the tax shift for counties have their work cut out for them, because similar plans have died in past sessions.

    Rubley's plan would allows county boards of commissioners to seek voter approval for a sales tax of up to 1 percent or an income tax of up to 0.5 percent.

    If voters were to approve one of the alternative taxes, the commissioners would be obligated to offset it dollar-for-dollar by a reduction in the real-estate tax.

    "So voters are very much involved in this process," Rubley said.

    Rubley said counties should be able to choose from a menu of taxes, because "in Pennsylvania, one size does not fit all."

    Rubley said her bill urges the commissioners to form a task force to study the county's tax needs before a referendum is held, but it does not require the formation of a task force.

    Rubley said she is seeking co-sponsors for her bill and plans to formally introduce it soon.

     
    Swattie makes strides toward better health
    Author:    DAVID G. PIDGEON Staff Writer
    Date: May 4, 2002
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    Its proponents say the Swatara Creek was a sick body of water 14 years ago, rife with pollution and devoid of fish.

    Now, thanks to the Swatara Creek Watershed Association, the creek that has been lovingly dubbed the Swattie is relatively wholesome, said the organization's president, Jo Ellen Litz.

    When Litz first started working with the association 14 years ago, she said there were no fish in the northern regions of the Swattie.

    "We've made measurable strides,"

    Canoe trip puts Swattie in spotlight
    Author:    ERIC LADLEY Staff Writer
    Date: April 29, 2002
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    Jo Ellen Litz hopes participants in this weekend's canoe trip down the Swatara Creek have fun but also develop a sense of ownership in the local waterway.

    This year's "Canoe the Swattie Sojourn," which begins Saturday morning at Union Canal Canoe Rentals in East Hanover Township and ends Sunday in Middletown, combines recreation and work. In its 14-year history, Litz said, the trip has been successful in both its aims.

    "I guess what I want people to take away from

    Swattie dam gets mixed reviews
    Author:    DAVE PIDGEON
    Date: June 9, 2003
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    Staff Writer

    A recommendation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a dam in Swatara State Park to provide drinking water for some Lebanon County residents has received mixed reviews.

    While it suits Jo Ellen Litz, president of the Swatara Creek Watershed Association, it doesn't sit well with Paul Zeth of the Audubon Society's state office.

    The dam would create a reservoir in the 3,315-acre park, and in times of serious drought, provide water for customers of the

     
    Union Township voters put cork in bottle club
    Author:    ERIC LADLEY Staff Writer
    Date: May 22, 2002
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    An adult-entertainment club that opened last fall just outside Lickdale suffered another setback at the hands of local residents last night after Union Township voted overwhelmingly to prohibit it from allowing alcohol on its premises.

    Patrons of the Gold Rush Cabaret on Route 72 will no longer be able to bring liquor when the law takes effect in 30 days. The Gold Rush, which has no liquor license but allows its patrons to bring their own beverages, is the only business in the township that

     
    State official praises local water conservation efforts
    Author:    JOHN LATIMER Staff Writer
    Date: December 3, 2001
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    Lebanon and surrounding counties may be in a drought watch, but the Swatara Creek Watershed Association always has its eye on water conservation.

    Using funds from the state's Growing Greener Grant program, the SCWA is hoping to raise community awareness about water conservation through a contest in which winners will receive a water conservation kit.

    It doesn't take a mathematician to understand how precious a resource water is, but to obtain one of the kits some math skills are

     
    Seminar seeks to strengthen marital ties
    Author:    DARYL DRIVER Staff Writer
    Date: October 11, 2001
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)
     
    The sessions are relatively brief, but the results could last a lifetime. That's the belief of Jo Ellen Litz, director of the FamilyLife Marriage Seminar which will take place tomorrow and Saturday at the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church.

    "Strengthening marriages is really, certainly wonderful," Litz says. "If a husband better understands his wife, or a wife better understands her husband, I think that's a great goal."

    The seminar, which runs tomorrow

    Sunday, August 31, 2003 by Al Winn, the Patriot News

    » Lebanon County, city tally fun sites
    LEBANON - For Jo Ellen Litz, fun is scuba diving in the Willow Springs quarry near Richland.

    Lebanon Club Offers Relief

    Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., the Quota club of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., moved quickly to fund relief efforts at the toppled World Trade Center.

    During the September meeting, the club donated U.S.$500 to the Salvation Army to use at Ground Zero. The commanding officer of the Lebanon S.A. unit, Captain Chris Smith, volunteered on site, serving food and drink to rescue workers and providing grief counseling to anyone in need.


    Jo Ellen Litz, 2001-2002 President of the Lebanon Quota club, along with club members Dorothy Ditzler (left) and Daisy Groy, presented a check for U.S.$500 to Salvation Army Captain Cynthia Smith during the September club meeting. Captain Smith's husband, Chris Smith, served at Ground Zero while she kept programs in Lebanon running.
    Photo by Lebanon Quota club member Carol Ruffner.


    The Swatara Creek Wateshed Association received the 2001 Watershed Protection Award. Jo Ellen Litz, second from the right, accepted the award on behalf of the Association. Karl Brown of the SCC, right, presented the award.

     Abandoned Quarries:  A Public Safety Issue

    Commissioner: Voting Machine Company Can't Deliver

    POSTED: 11:47 am EST March 24, 2006

    UPDATED: 4:49 pm EST March 24, 2006

    LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. -- A Lebanon County commissioner said a manufacturer of electronic voting machines is backing down on its deal with Lebanon County.

    Commissioner Jo-Ellen Litz said the county signed a more than $800,000 deal earlier this month with Election Systems and Software to supply 267 voting machines. Litz said the company now said it can only supply half the machines by the May primary.

    The county has until Monday to decide what to do.

    Previous Stories:

    bullet February 28, 2006: 8 On Your Side: Voting Machine Investigation Part 2
    bullet February 22, 2006: 8 On Your Side: Voting Machine Decisions Worry Some

    Copyright 2006 by WGAL.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

     

    Vendor reneges on promise to fill voting-machine order

    By JOHN LATIMER
    Staff Writer
    Lebanon Daily News

    A company hired to supply 267 electronic voting machines to the county by May’s primary election now says it will deliver less than half that amount.

    This is the second time in two months a voting-machine company has not been able to deliver what the Lebanon County commissioners thought it had promised.

    In January, the commissioners approved the purchase of 267 iVotronic touch-screen voting machines at a cost of $2,700 each from Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software.

    The county was among the first in Pennsylvania to place an order with ES&S and were told the machines would be delivered on a first-come, first-served basis.

    That promise was crucial to the commissioners’ decision to go with ES&S, Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said yesterday, because the electronic machines must be in place by the primary to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002. The act, passed in the wake of Florida’s hanging-chad debacle of 2000, mandates that all punch-card and lever-voting machines — like those the county has used for the past 50 years — be replaced with electronic machines.

    The commissioners were anxious to strike a deal with ES&S because they had already been burned by AccuPoll, the company they had contracted with in December that unexpectedly backed out of the deal.

    The county and ES&S reached an agreement Jan. 26, and a dozen iVotronic machines were scheduled to arrive at the end of March so poll workers could begin training on them. The rest were to be delivered in April, according to county officials.

    But that all changed this week, Litz said, when the county received a letter from ES&S explaining it wanted to cut the number of machines in order to supply machines to its other Pennsylvania customers, making them HAVA compliant.

    Litz said the letter gave the county an ultimatum: “Either accept 50 percent of your order by 5 p.m. (Wednesday) or get nothing.”

    Actually, the company plans to send less than 50 percent of the original order, said Elaine Ludwig, the county’s chief of elections. It offered to provide two machines to each of the county’s 56 precincts — a total of 112 machines, or 42 percent of the original order. The rest would presumably come in time for November’s election.

    “At our bigger precincts, that’s just not going to be enough,” Ludwig said. “At Cornwall Borough and Jackson West, that will never work. There’ll be lines and such carrying on. It will be a mess.”

    Litz said she believed the county had a written contract with ES&S. But a company spokesman disagreed.

    “It is my understanding that we don’t have a signed agreement with the county to purchase the machines,” Ken Fields said.

    Those counties that do have a contract are getting their full shipment, he said, and ES&S is trying to give the others enough to make them HAVA compliant. Meeting the demand has been tough, but he said he hopes to work out a compromise with Lebanon and other counties that have opted for the iVotronic system.

    “We understand the difficult situation the counties are in as well,” he said. “We are recommending a solution to help all the voters across the state and in each of the counties that want to purchase from us.”

    Because both commissioners’ Chairman Bill Carpenter and solicitor Adrienne Snelling were out of town this week, Litz said. She and county administrator Jamie Wolgemuth were able to get ES&S to extend its deadline on the deal to Monday.

    One possibility, for the primary only, is to supplement the touch-screen machines with optical scanners that would tabulate votes recorded by hand, Ludwig said. The optical scanners are HAVA compliant, she said, and there is no law prohibiting the use of two types of voting machines.

    Litz said she believes the county has a signed contract and holds out hope the company will “do the right thing” and supply the county with all of the machines it ordered. Lebanon County was about the fifth contract the company signed in Pennsylvania, she said, and now it has signed up 35 counties. The company also has sold machines in other states.

    “The bottom line is, knowing their inventory, rather than saying ‘No’ to new counties when they had no machines, they oversold the machines. That is unethical. Shame on them,” she said. “Now they are trying to make us feel guilty and asking us to be good neighbors by accepting only half of the machines. ... They should do the right thing, and those who they sold to first should be delivered to first. And those at the end of the line will just have to go elsewhere for their machines.”

     

    Workers Map Quarries To Prepare For Emergencies

    POSTED: 5:59 pm EDT May 19, 2005

    UPDATED: 6:03 pm EDT May 19, 2005

    WEST LEBANON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Three people have died in Pennsylvania quarries this year.

    That is already ahead of last year's total of two deaths.

    Officials in Lebanon County are hoping to increase their chances of saving lives when it comes to quarry rescues.

     

    Two years ago, a 13-year-old died in waters the men revisited Thursday. This time, they came to be proactive.

    "Our biggest problem would be getting a boat down, or a raft," said Chief Matt Clements, of the Lebanon County hazmat team.

    The hazmat team is starting what could be a long process of mapping every Lebanon County quarry.

    "Three o'clock in the morning, as we always say," Clements said. "That's not the time to figure out how to get into these places."

    So now they're scouting access points ahead of time. The information they gather will be logged and entered into computer mapping software. It will save time, and could help turn more recoveries into rescues.

    But rescuers still say there's still no excuse to go swimming in a quarry.

    There are all sorts of hidden dangers in quarries. The biggest of which might be the water temperature. It may seem fine on the surface, but just 4 or 5 feet down, the temperature may drop 15 or 20 degrees.

    "Cold and cramps that you get in your legs can literally drown you," Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said.

    Litz, an avid diver, is helping the quarry-mapping effort.

    Officials are finding quarries they didn't even know existed.

    "We found 16 already. I'm waiting for people to tell me, 'Hey, there's one in my back yard,'" Litz said.

    You can e-mail quarry location in Lebanon County to litz@mbcomp.com.

    Click here for more information from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

    Copyright 2005 by TheWGALChannel.com. All rights reserved.Jackson supervisors briefed on tourism

     


    Date: June 6, 2004
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)

    By JOHN LATIMER

    Staff Writer

    At the end of their meeting Thursday, county Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz caught flak from board Chairman Bill Carpenter for proposing to hire another computer technician.

    Litz, who has made a practice of dropping a bombshell proposal at the end of meetings lately, said she had discussed hiring a technician to monitor the county Emergency Management Agency's new communications system and JNET, a computer network that links the district attorney's

     

    Annual sojourn cleans creek


    Date: May 2, 2004
    Publication: Daily News, The (Lebanon, PA)

    Gathering trash as they paddled, 66 people floated 14 miles yesterday in the first of a two-day cleanup of the Swatara Creek, sponsored by the Swatara Creek Watershed Association.

    "You would not believe the junk," said Jo Ellen Litz, association president and a county commissioner. "With the water so high, I did not expect to get so much."

    Known as the annual Swattie Sojourn, participants gathered into their canoes and kayaks any litter they found during their trip