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Food Bank Expands Hours March 25, 2019

As of April 1, the York County Food Bank has expanded hours in order to better serve the community. Hours have been added to serve individuals during the evenings and on Saturdays. Other food bank hours have not changed. The food bank is closed daily from noon to 1 p.m.

Anyone in need of nutritional assistance is invited to come to the food bank on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for the evening Food for Families program. Anyone who is hungry qualifies and can benefit from this free program.

Expanded hours include office and warehouse hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and the shopping area from 1 to 7 p.m., as well as Food for Families from 5:30 to 7 p.m. On the third Saturday of the month, the food bank will be open from 8 a.m. to noon for vouchers only.

For more information or to learn how to help, readers may contact Debbie Krout at 717-846-6435 or


SSA Issues Scam Warning March 25, 2019

The Social Security Administration (SSA) and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) launched a joint public service nnouncement (PSA) campaign addressing a nationwide telephone impersonation scheme. SSA and the OIG continue to receive reports from across the country about fraudulent phone calls from people falsely claiming to be Social Security employees. Calls can even "spoof" Social Security's national customer service number as the incoming number on the caller ID. The new PSAs will air on TV and radio stations across the country to alert the public to remain vigilant against potential fraud.

The public is urged to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as their Social Security number or bank account information to unknown people over the phone or internet. Readers should be extra careful about unexpected phone calls. If a call is received, individuals can take the caller's information, hang up, and contact the official phone number of the business agency the caller claims to represent. People should never reveal personal data to any stranger that calls them.

Social Security employees do occasionally contact people - generally those who have ongoing business with the agency - by telephone for business purposes. However, Social Security employees will never threaten a person or promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and people should not engage with the caller. If a person receives these calls, he or she should report the information to the OIG Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271 or at

The SSA's message to the public is that anyone who receives a questionable call claiming to be from SSA or the OIG should just hang up. The new PSA addressing the telephone impersonation scheme is available at


PennDOT Posts REAL ID News March 25, 2019

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is reminding customers that they can join more than 140,000 Pennsylvanians who have pre-verified for REAL ID online and at driver's license centers statewide. Customers who bring in the required REAL ID documentation to any PennDOT Driver License Center may apply for REAL ID online once REAL IDs are available in March and receive their REAL ID driver's license or photo ID card in the mail.

Because PennDOT may already have electronic documents on file for approximately 35 percent of its total customers - individuals who received their first Pennsylvania driver's license or ID card after September 2003 - these customers have had the option to apply for REAL ID pre-verification online since March of 2018.

Most of PennDOT's customers, however, received their initial product before September 2003, so PennDOT does not have their required REAL ID documents on file. Customers in this group who want a REAL ID will need to bring the required documents to a driver's license center so they can be verified in person.

These customers may bring the required documents to any PennDOT driver's license center. Federal regulations require that for an individual to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify original versions or certified copies of certain documents, including proof of identity such as an original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal or valid U.S. Passport; proof of Social Security number (Social Security card); two proofs of a current, physical Pennsylvania address, such as a current, unexpired PA license or ID, current vehicle registration, auto insurance card, or utility bill; and proof of all legal name changes, if one's current full legal name is different than what is reflected on the proof of identity document, such as a certified marriage certificate or court order issued by the county's family court.

PennDOT staff will image the documents to the customer's record, and with REAL IDs available as of March 2019, the customer can opt into the REAL ID program online and their REAL ID product will be sent through the mail, eliminating any need for this customer to visit a driver's license center.

To obtain a REAL ID, customers will pay a one-time fee, plus a renewal fee.

The expiration date of the initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over age 65 and has a two-year license. This expiration date structure means that the customers will not lose time that they have already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.

When REAL IDs are available, customers will have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product: Customers may order their REAL ID online (pre-verified customers only); they can visit a PennDOT driver's license center, have their documents verified and imaged, pay the one-time fee, and have their REAL ID product mailed to them within 15 business days; or they can visit one of up to 13 REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service.

REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. A federally accepted form of identification (whether it is the forthcoming Pennsylvania REAL ID driver's license or ID card, a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, or a military ID) must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building on and after Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID, and PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver's licenses and photo IDs.

REAL ID-compliant products are marked with a gold star in the upper right corner; standard-issue (noncompliant) products include the phrase "Not for REAL ID Purposes," per federal regulations. Sample images can be viewed at

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at


Local Residents Take Trapping Trip March 22, 2019


Author Visits Middle School March 22, 2019

Landisville Middle School welcomed visiting writer Sharon G. Flake on March 12. Flake is the author of "The Skin I'm In," "Money Hungry," "Begging for Change," "Bang," "Pinned," "You Don't Even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys," the short story collection "Who Am I Without Him?" and other works.

At Landisville Middle School, Flake led two small writing workshops and spoke at an all-school assembly. Flake led workshop participants through a creative writing exercise and gave feedback to the students. During the assembly, she shared her experiences as a professional writer and addressed issues of bullying that are woven through her debut nobel, "The Skin I'm In."

The book received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent and the YWCA Racial Justice Award and was named a New York Public Library Top Ten Book for the Teen Age and one of the Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year. Flake's second novel, "Money Hungry," received the Coretta Scott King Award, was named a Carolyn Field Honor Book, and received other accolades. Flake was born in Philadelphia and lives in Pittsburgh.

Flake's visit to Landisville Middle School was funded by a grant from the Hempfield Education Foundation.


Prescribed Burn Season Begins March 22, 2019

Fort Indiantown Gap has begun its spring prescribed burn season to reduce the risk of wildfires. The burns will be conducted on approximately 4,500 acres, as conditions permit, through Friday, May 3, between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Local residents may notice smoke originating from or in the vicinity of the installation while burns are being conducted.

A prescribed burn is a commonly used forestry management technique that reduces the amount of combustible material naturally existing in the wilderness. It is performed only when conditions such as humidity, wind, and temperature are ideal for managing fires. Prescribed burns are not conducted unless all required conditions are met.

For more information, readers may visit or follow Fort Indiantown Gap on Facebook. Individuals may also call the installation's community information line at 717-861-2007 to hear a recorded message with dates and times of community activities and training events.

Fort Indiantown Gap is now enrolled in AlertPA, a mass notification service by CodeRED. Readers may subscribe to get alerts delivered straight to their phone and/or email whenever the installation is conducting prescribed burns or training that may result in increased noise levels. To sign up for AlertPA, readers may visit and then subscribe to Fort Indiantown Gap community notifications under Additional Notifications. Notification settings may be adjusted as needed at any time.


County Receives Farm Preservation Funding March 19, 2019

At its recent meeting, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board awarded Chester County the highest level of funding, $3.74 million, to preserve farmland on two Chester County farms. The state board announced an overall spending threshold of $38 million for the purchase of development rights from 38 farm owners state-wide - the highest spending total in more than a decade.

Chester County's award of state funds, added to certified county funds of $5 million for farmland preservation in 2019, positions Chester County as a state leader in funding for agricultural land preservation.

Since the start of Chester County's agricultural land preservation program 30 years ago, more than 40,100 acres of farmland have been preserved. Factoring in current agreements of sale, the number exceeds 41,200 acres. Last December, Chester County preserved its 500th farm.

According to Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Chester County's agriculture industry generates more than $600 million in revenue each year. Commissioner Terence Farrell noted that the county has invested $106 million in farmland preservation over the course of 30 years.

The nine-member Chester County Agriculture Land Preservation Board (ALPB) guides the county on farmland preservation and reviews applications from farm owners.

The ALPB is now accepting applications for farmland preservation. Farms of 10 acres or more are eligible if they are adjacent to permanently preserved land. Farms not adjacent to permanently preserved land need to be a minimum of 50 acres in size for the commonwealth program and 25 acres in size for the Challenge Grant Program. The deadline for Chester County's Farmland Preservation application is Thursday, Aug. 1.

For more information, readers may visit or contact Geoff Shellington at or 610-344-6504.


Veteran Resource Program Posted March 19, 2019

The Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars invites veterans of all ages and from all service eras to utilize its Service Officer Network to receive free information and assistance for government benefits, including VA health care, compensation, pension, education, and dependent benefits. Surviving spouses can also use these service officers to learn about their eligibility for VA benefits.

VFW service officer John Chiodi is now available for scheduled appointments at the new VA Clinic, 5070 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Chiodi will also schedule appointments at the Camp Hill office of state Sen. Mike Regan, located at 2151 Market St., Camp Hill. He is available at Regan's office on the third Thursday of each month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To schedule appointments at either location, readers may call VFW State Headquarters in Harrisburg at 717-234-7927 and ask to speak with the service office secretary. Veterans can also see VFW service officers at the organization's State Headquarters, 4002 Fenton Ave., Harrisburg.

Veterans do not have to be a VFW member to receive benefit filing assistance, but they must provide a DD-214 discharge form and possibly other information about their military service in order to enter a VA claim. Veterans can find general information about the VFW's Service Officer Network by visiting and entering the VA Claims Help or State Service Officers sections. Website pages for Veterans Links and Veterans Resources also provide veterans with helpful information.


Parade Winners Chosen March 19, 2019

More than 10,000 people attended the 36th annual York St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 16. Nearly 90 entries took part in this annual celebration of Celtic heritage, including bands, Irish dance groups, floats, antique and decorated vehicles, clowns, individuals and family groups, organizations, and media entries. Parade winners are as follows:

Decorated Vehicle - Commercial: Shiloh Paving and Excavating, first place; The Curious Little Playhouse, honorable mention. Decorated Vehicle - Non Commercial: York City Derby Dames, first place; York County Corvette Club, honorable mention. Antique Vehicle: Murren Firefighter Memorial Foundation, first place; Perry County Old Iron Collectors, honorable mention. Individual/Family Group: Joel Toluba, first place; The Enchanted Teapot, honorable mention. Float: Clan Walsh, first place; St. Patrick School, York County Federation of Democratic Women and Friends, honorable mention. Nonprofit Organization: Bumps and Berms BMX, first place; York College Best Buddies, Loving Eyes 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Club, York Fresh Food Farms, Southern PA Incident Network (SPIN), honorable mention. Honor Guard: Sea Scouts Ship 25, first place; Cedar Cliff High School JROTC, honorable mention. Media: CBS 21, first place; WMPT Fox 43, honorable mention. Irish Dance Group: Ni Riain School of Irish Dance, first place; McGinley School of Irish of Dance, honorable mention. Best of Parade: Youth Development Center.

The parade committee is still seeking additional sponsors to help fund this year's parade. Those interested should email the parade committee at For more information, readers may visit, follow the parade on Twitter using the handle @YorkStPatParade, or like the Facebook page at


Reading Challenge Program Launched March 19, 2019

As part of its focus on literacy, United Way of York County launched a new program in February called the Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge, a pre-literacy program designed to encourage York County families to read to their 1- and 2-year-old children. This project was funded by a grant from the Women's Giving Circle of York County Community Foundation.

United Way delivered its first crates of age-appropriate books to participating early learning center classrooms at Crispus Attucks, YMCA Hanover, YWCA Hanover, and YWCA York. Children will take home a new book each night, and parents will track the number of books read, with the goal of reading 100 books during the school year. The piloted group at these four early learning centers is expected to serve 100 children across 12 classrooms.

By focusing specifically on 1- and 2-year-old children, the Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge will complement the Early Literacy 100 Book Challenge, which serves children ages 3 to 5 in participating classrooms. The program also joins United Way's other current #yorkreads initiatives, including Reach Out and Read, targeted to children ages 6 months to 5 years at pediatrician appointments, and public-facing Reading Ready Corners and Little Free Libraries.

Families in participating classrooms will also receive information about York County Libraries' new initiative, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, which offers library cards and provides community members information on their closest library and incentives for reaching goals along the way. Families will also receive information on the libraries' Summer Reading Program, which operates during the timeframe that the Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge is not active.

Individuals interested in supporting the #yorkreads programs through book donations can drop off new or used children's books at the United Way of York County, 800 E. King St., York, on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Readers may also browse the United Way wish list on Amazon at, where books can be purchased and sent directly to the United Way.


Library Celebrates Ag Day March 18, 2019

The Chester County Ag Council celebrated National Ag Day with a special farm-friendly story time at the Chester County Library on March 13. National Ag Day was March 14.

Chester County Little Miss Agriculture USA Queen Ellie Harrop and her mother, Melissa Harrop of Meadow Creek Livestock in Chester Springs, read "Right This Very Minute," a farm-to-table book chosen by the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation to help children appreciate where their favorite foods come from. The pair also talked about living on a farm and the role that farmers play in the food system.

National Ag Day recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by American agriculture. Every spring, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and others across the country join together in recognition and appreciation of agriculture.


Nominations Sought For Conservation Award March 18, 2019

The 2019 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award seeks nominations of farmers or foresters who go above and beyond in the care and management of natural resources. Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 13 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In Pennsylvania, the $10,000 award is presented with Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and Heinz Endowments.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water, and wildlife habitat management on private, working land. In his 1949 book, "A Sand County Almanac," Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. The application can be found at Nominations must be postmarked by Thursday, Aug. 1. The Leopold Conservation will be presented at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January 2020.


CSA Sponsorship Program Posted March 15, 2019

The Spoutwood Farm Center CSA program, now in its 25th year, is seeking sponsors to cover the costs of a medium or large traditional CSA share of fresh produce for families in need. The Spoutwood Farm CSA program allows members the chance to purchase freshly harvested, locally grown vegetables directly from its PA Certified Naturally Grown Farm. This not only provides families with the benefits of eating seasonal produce free from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it also offers them the opportunity to learn how their food is grown and to get to know the people who grow it.

Each season Spoutwood Farm supplies approximately 100 families with local, naturally grown produce though its CSA program for 24 weeks between May and November.

A large membership feeds three to four people, and a medium membership feeds one or two people. Interested organizations have the option of choosing a family to sponsor through their own networks or they can opt to allow Spoutwood to choose one from its list.

Recently, The Markets at Shrewsbury agreed to be the first business to sponsor the 2019 Farm-Fresh Produce for Food-Insecure Families initiative.

Spoutwood's farmers choose the contents of the traditional weekly medium or large share based on what is freshly harvested. Members may also choose weekly, biweekly, or monthly add-on items to accompany their share. A detailed list of the items included in the weekly CSA share along with relevant recipes and cooking suggestions will be emailed to each member as well.

Registrations for all CSA memberships are now open, including this year's brand-new Free Choice Share program. Readers may visit to register. For more information, readers may contact Gina Porter at 443-794-4371 or


Publication Features Pujol's Efforts March 14, 2019

Esther Pujol, the teacher and owner of the Paloma School of Irish Dance in Lancaster, has focused on bringing Irish dance classes and competitions for adults to the forefront of the Irish dance world. Her work has been featured in the March/April 2019 edition of Irish Dancing Magazine, where a group of adults is featured.

Pujol notes that an increasing number of Irish dance schools and competitions across the country are offering classes and competitive stages to adults. At Pujol's school, adult students attend solo and team competitions, perform in shows, and more.

Irish Dancing Magazine is an international publication that highlights results, news, and photos from the Irish dance world.


Chamber Forms New Council March 13, 2019

The Downingtown-Thorndale Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced the formation of a new Business and Education Council.

Made up of Chamber business leaders and educators from the Downingtown and Coatesville school districts and the Chester County Intermediate Unit's Technical College High School, the Business and Education Council recently held its first meeting to address its program of work.

A preliminary outline of the council's work includes the following: connect students with employment, internship, job shadow, and other work-to-learn opportunities in the region; create at least one annual event incorporating the above, open to all students in the region; educate employers about the benefits and state requirements for these opportunities; and gain input from the business community regarding needed workforce development efforts in schools.

The Chamber will introduce the new council to the business community at its networking luncheon on Tuesday, May 21, at the Technical College High School, Brandywine Campus, located in Downingtown.

To learn more about the Chamber, readers may contact executive director Steven Plaugher at 610-269-1523 or or visit


REBOOT Combat Recovery March 13, 2019

The James A. Danner VFW Post 537, 1095 Pines Road, Etters, will offer REBOOT Combat Recovery, a free 12-week trauma recovery course, which will start on Thursday, March 21. REBOOT focuses on healing the spiritual and moral injuries of war by addressing the mind, body, and soul. The local REBOOT training will be led by a team of combat veterans.

The fresh approach offers a unique blend of clinical insight and faith-based support in the form of weekly classes that include topic-based instruction, class discussions, homework, group exercises, and a family-style meal. In contrast to traditional mental health treatment options, REBOOT is led by volunteers and provides practical solutions for healing moral injuries, which has led to reduced suicide deaths, increased veteran employment, decreased divorce rates, and restored communities.

To register or for more information on this local REBOOT course, readers may contact Charlie Yost at or 724-630-4956. The training is open to any combat veteran and his or her spouse/partner. Child care and dinner are included. To learn more, readers may visit


Spring Chores Help Available March 13, 2019

York County seniors interested in help with spring cleanup, mowing, yard work, electronic devices, or with other household chores are encouraged to arrange for a Rent-A-Kid. The Rent-A-Kid program, sponsored by the York County Area Agency on Aging, is an intergenerational program that connects York County older adults and teenagers.

For more than 30 years, teenagers have been helping and learning from older adults through the Rent-A-Kid program. It gives individual teenagers the chance to help York County seniors age 60 or older with indoor and outdoor household chores. The senior needs to be agreeable to a reimbursement of a minimum fee per hour or a negotiated rate based on the job.

Interested York County seniors can request assistance by calling Hope Eberly at 717-771-9103 or 800-632-9073. Information is also available at


AHLI Seeks Host Families March 13, 2019

American Home Life International (AHLI) is seeking Christian families willing to host students from China or Spain in July. Chinese youths are ages 11 to 13 and will visit the local area for four to five days. Spanish students are ages 13 to 16 and will visit for one month.

Host families will have opportunities to develop cross-cultural friendships, share the love of Jesus, and learn a little Mandarin or Spanish. They will receive a daily stipend for expenses, so there is no need to raise support. Families also do not need to prepare foods outside their usual diets.

Families are responsible for providing a safe and secure Christian environment, three meals per day, and transportation to local facilities as needed. They must fill out an AHLI application, which includes a background check and a child safety video.

To sign up as hosts by Monday, April 15, families may contact Linda Fisher, short-term director for AHLI, at


Embracing A New Reality March 8, 2019

Church Moves To Its First Permanent Location

The leaders of Reality Church had been looking for a permanent facility for the congregation for three years when they learned about the vacant building that had previously held a franchise of a workout company. With a bit of creative thinking, the leaders knew that the 20,000-square-foot space at 2301 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster, in Golden Meadows Park, would work well for the church. Negotiations began in the summer of 2018, and worship services began taking place regularly in the new building during the first week of December.

"We redid about every surface inside. It was a completely awesome team effort," raved lead pastor Joe Castronova. "Church members helped with the woodworking, decorating, painting, and more. The work's not quite done, but we're ready to open to the community."

To celebrate the new facility and the ministry opportunities that have opened up as a result, Reality Church began a grand opening series on March 3. It will continue through Sunday, March 31. Each week has had a different theme relating to the overall theme of "It's Not That."

"People think certain things about Jesus that aren't true," Castronova explained. "Jesus gets a bad reputation."

On Sunday, March 17, "Stamp of Approval" will address the idea that to come to church, folks need to look, act, or think a certain way. "No matter what we do, (Jesus) still loves us and accepts us," said Joette Peters, director of ministry.

"Jesus is comfortable with me following Him even if I don't believe everything about Him yet," Castronova said. "Reality Church is quite comfortable with people having different backgrounds and perspectives."

A chicken barbecue meal will be held after the 9 and 11 a.m. services on March 17.

Sunday, March 24, is part of the opening weekend of Major League baseball, so the theme at Reality Church will be "Three Strikes and You're Out." Assistant pastor Josh Simmons will deliver the message. Ballpark-style snacks will be served during the services, and a hot dog buffet will be offered after each service.

"We focus so much on the rules, but the focus (should be) on our relationship with God. We can never strike out with God," Castronova said. "On Sundays, we want people to encounter God in a personal way. It's not just information."

"Have A Ball" will conclude the grand opening series on March 31. The meal offered after the services will feature ham balls, meatballs, cheese balls, and other spherical foods. An emphasis will be placed on developing community and building relationships.

"We're a hugely relational church," Simmons remarked. Reflecting on the school building where Reality Church had been meeting, he added, "We're very appreciative of the school, but there was no lobby to meet in."

The new facility has a spacious lobby with several seating areas, a coffee bar, and plenty of room for folks to gather to chat. Youth and worship pastor Calvin Hoffman shared his appreciation for the opportunities to host fellowship meals and for people to connect. "(Now, our meeting space) is not an immediate construction zone following services (with volunteers packing up equipment to vacate the school)," he added.

The gathering space will be used for a fundraiser on Sunday, April 14. A Ghanaian-themed meal will be served after each service, with proceeds supporting a family that will be traveling to Ghana for a mobile medical mission.

After Easter, Reality Church will be examining ways to be more compassionate in the community and will be partnering with HOPE International. Small groups are forming and will study the quality of mercy.

On Sunday mornings, the children's ministry offers programming for youngsters age 6 weeks to fourth grade during both services. Fifth- and sixth-graders meet during the second service. Students in seventh through 12th grades meet at the church from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday.

For more information about Reality Church, readers may call or text 717-286-3287, visit, or email


Demolitions Training Posted March 7, 2019

Fort Indiantown Gap is scheduled to host demolitions training between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Thursday to Sunday, March 14 to 17, and on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26 and 27. The training is expected to result in increased noise levels for nearby residents. The schedule is subject to change based on the military training mission.

To learn more, readers may visit or follow Fort Indiantown Gap on Facebook. Individuals may also call the installation's community information line at 717-861-2007 to hear a recorded message with dates and times of community activities and training events.

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