Tuesday, March 25, 2008

County Expected to Approve Polling Place Changes, Give Update on 150 N. Queen St.

Three local schools have apparently decided that they no longer wish to be used as polling places.

Citing safety concerns, the governing bodies of Taylor Elementary School of Columbia, Lancaster Christian School, and St. Anthony's Catholic School of Lancaster have opted not to permit their usage as polling places starting with the state's Primary Election on April 22, Chief Elections Clerk Mary Stehman said this morning.

Those previously voting at Taylor Elementary School - Columbia's Sixth Ward - will now vote at the Columbia School District Administrative Center at 220 North Fifth Street.

Those previously voting at Lancaster Christian School in West Lampeter's "Windy Hill District" will now vote at the Mill Creek Bible Church at 270 Strasburg Pike.

And those previously voting in the school cafeteria of St. Anthony's Catholic School will not vote in the lower level meeting room of St. Anthony's Catholic Church, which is located at 503 East Orange Street.

In West Donegal Township's Second District, the polling place is being moved from the old school building at 1 Municipal Drive in Elizabethtown to the township municipal building in the same complex. This change, Stehman explained, is being made because the school building is very primitive and lacks heat.

Finally, voters in Akron Borough's West District, who previously voted at the Akron Borough Muncipal Office, will now vote at the Akron Church of the Brethren at 613 Main Street. This change is being made because the local Judge of Elections determined that the original building was too small given the expected turnout, Stehman explained.

Commissioner Craig Lehman said he understands the safety concerns schools have but called it "a sad commentary" that they hesitate to host the cornerstone activity of democratic government.

"I think schools are the perfect place to have a living classroom about our country," he continued.

"But I support them. I have an eight-year-old in third grade and I would rather have them err on the side of caution than not."

He and Commissioner Scott Martin also suggested that they would support a national voting holiday.

At their weekly meeting tomorrow, the Commissioners are expected to entertain a presentation on the status of the project at 150 North Queen Street.

They are also expected to act to acquire by eminent domain 0.11 acres of land immediately adjacent the Auction Road Bridge in Penn and Rapho Townships. The bridge is being widened and the land, Acting County Engineer Keith Harner explained, is in the floodplain of the stream. The County will offer one land-owner $3600 and another $5,000 in compensation for the acquired land.