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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Jim Martin

(3/2017) Generally when I visit Washington, D.C. it has an awesome effect upon me, especially knowing the history behind monuments and governmental buildings. The Washington Monument is one such structure. It truly has the marks of history. Construction began pre-civil war using one shade of granite. Construction was interrupted by the Civil War and resumed following the Civil War using a different shade of granite. The contrast between the two colors is unspoken evidence of the divide that existed in our nation.

On January 20, 2017 I had the opportunity to return to Washington, D.C. for another awesome experience. This was the first Presidential Inauguration that I ever attended. Being in the foreground of the Capitol Building stage for the ceremony gave my wife and me a rich memory that connected us with a moment in American history. We enjoyed the comradery of individuals from across America seeking to experience the festivities of inauguration. However, there were others who were not there for the purpose of enjoying the ceremony and festivities. They had other intentions which were to dramatically disrupt ceremonies and impede spectators from walking and entering security check points.

Security like I have never seen before was in place to deal with those with less than favorable intentions. It was comforting to know there were perimeter barriers to protect the activities of the inauguration and parade. Unfortunately the ominous security barricades 12 feet high were a cold reminder that we can no longer enjoy life as we once did. There is obviously a divide that has grown stronger rather than weaker and one that we wish did not exist. We obviously prepare for the worst and pray for a better day.

Martin Luther King prayed for a better day and put feet to those prayers. The result was pulling down the barriers of discrimination. However, when barriers are removed through legislation, there is no guarantee that the barriers of a hard heart will be removed. I hope you will regularly join in prayer that our county does not become a cold monument of barriers. Good needs to prevail, but it must begin somewhere. That somewhere begins when the heart of a nation seeks to follow a moral compass; may we see that in this generation.

Another better day would be the day that our county is free from drug abuse and addiction. Last year Adams County recorded the highest level of drug overdose deaths. Many in our community who have said this must stop, have joined together to form the Adams County Heroin Awareness Task Force. The Task Force is forming various action committees to deliver an awareness program to the community. A goal of the task force is to be a strong and sustainable community network that can be a resource in the battle against substance abuse.

The Task Force is using the assistance of the Penn State Extension Service and the University of Pittsburgh to help develop an effective organization. The formation of the Task Force was an initiative of the Adams County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB). The CJAB will be placing the leadership of the task force in the hands of community leaders with various backgrounds having a nexus to drug abuse. We ask that you please support this effort to turn the tide against the growing number of over- dose deaths.

Is there a better day ahead for the county’s economy and employment picture? The answer is likely somewhere between hopefully and maybe. From 2015 to the end of 2016 the county had .4% drop in unemployment; a modest improvement. In 2016 Adams County’s economic output (GDP) increased 2.5% over 2015; that is considered by economists to be just above anemic. This could be an encouraging sign since 66% of counties across America experienced slower growth in 2016 than 2015. The dilemma for Adams County is how can we grow further without commercial and industrial growth? We cannot, sad to say.

Thus, without commercial and industrial development our tax base growth hardly rises above stagnate. Residential growth does help the tax base, but it cannot carry the day. As we look through the months ahead for 2017 we will again hope that the county’s efforts to birth economic development will pay dividends and attract investors willing to navigate the obstacle course of various municipal approvals. That being said, I would like to commend our area businesses that are capturing opportunities to expand their businesses.

There is one definite economic development to report that can lead to a better day. Several years ago the Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) was awarded a RCAP grant through the efforts of Senator Alloway and Governor Corbett’s office. This type of grant cannot be in the form of a direct payment; it must be for reimbursement for payment of eligible expenses. That requirement presented a problem. ACEDC did not have the funds they needed to pay for their project, the Commerce Park lots improvements. Without the improvements the lots would not be attractive to buyers.

The county made the project possible by loaning the ACEDC $500,000, an amount equal to the grant. All expenses for improvement of the lots have been paid. The lots were definitely transformed into a sellable commodity. In the very near future the ACEDC will use their grant reimbursement to repay the Adams County loan in full! That will become a welcomed financial reserve to strengthen the county’s fiscal position.

Let’s end on a good note with chords of better days ahead.

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