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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Randy Phiel

(1/2016) This is a season of some transition in Adams County government. On December 31 we rang in the New Year in the Historic Courtroom by holding the swearing in ceremonies of Adams County municipal, county and judicial officials. Municipal officials were sworn in at 10 AM and county/judicial officials were sworn in at 1 PM. Due to space restraints the Court scheduled two ceremonies in order to more comfortably accommodate officials, staff, family and friends. The public is always welcome to attend these special ceremonies or the commissioner’s weekly meetings in the historic courtroom. The ceremonies also provided another opportunity to enjoy this beautiful, historic venue.

On behalf of the Adams County Board of Commissioners and staff of Adams County, I would like to welcome Judge Shawn Wagner, Judge Christina Simpson, District Attorney Brain Sinnett and Register/Recorder Karen Heflin to their new positions in the County of Adams. Along with the incumbent Board of Commissioners, they were sworn in by the current Court. The Board of Commissioners is certainly looking forward to working with these individuals. We know from personal and professional interactions that each brings a wealth of professionalism, a commitment to public service, and a great deal of knowledge that will benefit our Adams County Team. Welcome!

They say the worst thing about change is change itself……but there is no doubt it is going to seem a bit odd not seeing Judge Bigham heading with a distinct, quick stride and purpose going somewhere through the second floor hallways; or Judge Kuhn delivering poignant remarks in what I call his down-to-earth Cashtown prose. These two gentlemen are distinct personalities with at least one distinctive commonality; a tremendous passion and track record for service to the residents of Adams County. I have the greatest respect for both Judge Kuhn and Judge Bigham, which is shared by many county colleagues and Adams County residents. During their tenure the Courts have shown compassion, humanity, professionalism, judicial prudence and vision. On behalf of the Adams County Board of Commissioners, staff and residents, we wish both Judge Kuhn and Judge Bigham the best. We know that their public service will not end with the conclusion of their terms, and we look forward with anticipation to their new path of service and personal pursuits.

Does 45 years sound like a long-time to work in one career in the same building? Adams County Register & Recorder Linda Myers will finish her long-time tenure with the County of Adams on December 31. Linda has served approximately 45 years working for the county as Register & Recorder, Chief Deputy and Deputy in the RR Office. Linda decided at the conclusion of this term it was time to enjoy retirement and did not seek elected office again. Linda has always been a professional, loyal and steady member of the county team who could be counted on to politely and efficiently get the job done. Over the years it is almost impossible to calculate the service she has provided to Adams County residents. On behalf of all the Adams County staff and residents, we wish Linda and Fred health, happiness and best wishes in retirement!

Moving on to operational updates, beginning January 2nd the Adams County Planning Department will have a new home in the lower level of the Adams County Ag Center and Adams County Probation will move to the new Adams County Human Services Building at the former Herff-Jones complex. As part of the Planning re-location, The Land Conservancy of Adams County has moved upstairs from the lower level with Penn State Extension. A shout out to Penn State for their cooperation and input helping to facilitate this very positive transition. Adding Planning as a whole is a great compliment to the Ag Center and all the other organizations that are already there including Penn State Extension, Conservation District, Land Conservancy of Adams County, Environmental Services and USDA. It is also be very convenient to the public with easy access and free parking. Besides Probation, the new Human Services complex will eventually house Court Operations, Domestic Relations & Mental Health Services. Other possible options for the future include but are not limited to archival facilities, a judicial office and maintenance.

This is budget time of year, and I am gratified to give you a positive report. The Board approved the adoption of a tentative balanced budget with no tax increase. Part of good fiscal management is carefully managing our health care for cost and benefits. We are very proud to report that due to excellent administrative management, and staff participation in programs, there is a pool surplus from 2015. As a result of that surplus there will be a reduction in employee health contributions for 2016. This is generally unheard of in today’s health care market. There will also be an overall budget surplus in 2015 county spending that has created funds available for 2016. The public had twenty days to examine the budget and make comments. The county budget can be viewed on the county web site or at the counter in the commissioner’s office. Final adoption was scheduled for December 23.

Two weeks ago, I enjoyed hosting the 3rd grade from Vida Charter School in the historic courtroom. I have done this for several years with 5th grade classes from Lincoln Elementary. We talk about the history of the courtroom, what a commissioner does and what their county government does. Yesterday, as a new wrinkle, after our session in the historic courtroom, I took the students to Judge George’s courtroom where he graciously spoke to the students, answered a multitude of questions, gave them a tour of the courtroom, put a robe on one of the students and explained the role of the stenographer. The students got their wish to see a "real judge." For the students to have this experience, especially comparing the historic courtroom to a contemporary courtroom, is one they will long remember. It also produced quite a few smiles from the adults present. When I was in Gettysburg Middle School7th grade civics class a long, long time ago, I came to the Adams County Courtroom, when it was Adams County's only working courtroom and was in session. Even though that was about 50 years ago, I have never forgotten it and hope the same is true for these young students.

On behalf of the Adams County Board of Commissioners, we wish you and your family a successful, healthy and happy 2016. No matter what you do, get out there and experience all the historical, cultural, agricultural, natural and cultural opportunities that beautiful Adams County has to offer!

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