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From the Desk of County Commissioner
 Jim Martin

(5/2013) As County Commissioners, my colleagues and I often have to assess a variety of issues. Many of the issues are related to improving or maintaining the quality of life in our county. Often the issues relate to services and financial matters that impact county residents. One of the priority issues is the sustainability of our volunteer fire departments which continue to provide outstanding service to the county. If volunteer service isnít sustainable, converting to paid career fire departments would come at an extremely high cost to county residents. The loss of volunteer services would, in itself, be extremely problematic. The concern for this ominous situation was overwhelmingly shared by the Adams County Council of Governments (ACCOG).

In response to this concern, the county and certain municipalities, along with Adams County Volunteer Emergency Services Association (ACVESA) provided funding via the ACCOG to conduct a study. Also the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) provided the remainder of funding to initiate the study. The study has been completed and its purpose is to help formulate solutions to conditions as they exist today. Giving details of the study would be redundant knowing that media coverage of this study will likely be very adequate. The main point being, that an issue is seriously being addressed and forward actions will follow to better define what can be done for the sustainability of our volunteer fire department. We definitely need them and they need our support.

Another item, of which the commissioners are cognizant, is the need to have an improved county economic and business environment, especially in a struggling economy. An improved economy and an improved business climate have a variety of positive impacts: tax relief, more jobs, stimulates future investments, and improves infrastructure and the property conditions that follow. In todayís economic environment, stimulating economic growth takes time and more time. I will have to admit that learning the reality of the pace of economic growth dampens expectations; however we must remain steadfast in our quest for opportunities.

It would be very satisfying to have the infusion of a new industry such as the Marcellus Shale Gas industry. That is definitely a gold mine moment for western PA. In Adams County we are just trying to find some gold nuggets in an environment that historically has not been highly attractive to new business and industry. To that end the Commissioners have decided to facilitate economic development using cash reserves for short term loans. These loans will be used by the Adams County Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA) to enhance the usefulness and salability of their industrial lots, and to purchase and prepare the Gettysburg Station site for future development. The county will be repaid from Redevelopment Assistance grants that the ACIDA will receive from the state upon completion of the projects. These are just the beginning of efforts that have been put in place to create opportunities for economic development.

Another effort to initiate economic development occurred at a round table less than two weeks ago. The Commissioners met with a number of key stakeholders in New Oxford to review a master plan for the revitalization of the New Oxford Square. The goal is to improve a variety of conditions that will enhance the historical character, curb appeal, pedestrian safety, parking, storm water control, and traffic flow. This will strengthen the business district by providing an attractive town square for relaxation and events, convenient shops and restaurants, and a pedestrian-friendly setting. Also our walking tour of the square validated the need for this project and the future economic benefit to the community. We definitely look forward to various partners joining to fund the project. Because of the importance of this project the county planning department is available for planning support. We, the commissioners, also had the opportunity to showcase the project to a representative of Governor Corbettís office to convey the importance of the project and the funding need.

Focusing on a larger gold nugget, which has both national and international interest, is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The potential benefit to our county from this celebration and related events is huge and it will obviously have an impact on our community. Hundreds of hours of discussion on many levels in preparation for the 150th and the many events to follow (150th recognition of Lincolnís Gettysburg Address just to name one) have taken place and will continue as appropriate. A comprehensive overview of events will be presented and the effect on our community will be discussed at the next Commissionersí Forum. The agenda includes presentations from key organizations related to their role and involvement in making this "Olympic Moment" a success. Join us for this special forum on May 7, 2013, at 6:30pm at the Gettysburg Middle School.

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