The Van Wyck News

Volume 3 Number 6 The Web – Based Newspaper of the Van Wyck Community             15 May 2011
    The Lancaster County Action Council, Inc. has used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a number of documents relating to the abortive attempt by County Council to implement a municipal solid waste landfill over the last year. A timeline has been constructed, which is available here. This timeline is supported by copies of documents and emails received from the County via the FOIA; these documents and emails are available here. The timeline is also supported by audio recordings of Planning Commission and County Council meetings received from the County via the FOIA. These recordings are available here with a word of caution in the form of a README file. Thanks are due to Michael Greene for making sense of the morass received from the County in response to the FOIA request.
    Members of County Council are taking the position that they were misled by the landfill operation and that they have restored the original situation, so everything should be OK. LCAC is providing this FOIA information to the public so that people can make up their own minds concerning the matter. LCAC intends to host a discussion of the matter in the near term with the objective of developing recommendations for action.
    Individuals should use the resources provided by LCAC to satisfy themselves, but it seems clear that County staff knew of the nature of the landfill project very early in the program. Despite protestations to the contrary, it seems clear that County Council members knew or should have known what was going on as well. No one seems to have undertaken the obligation to be sure that the citizenry, especially those immediately impacted by the project, was aware of what was going on. This failure to bring the citizenry on board is a clear failing of County Council; it is County Council that is responsible to the citizens (voters). Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the situation is the refusal of County Council to look past the correction of the immediate situation regarding the landfill to the underlying problems with the way county government functions.
    County Council is well on the way to repealing the change in the set-back requirement that made the landfill project possible, thus restoring the status quo to where it was a year ago. County Council has not, however, addressed the ethical problems associated with accepting a dinner as a group, itself a violation of the Sunshine Law, from an organization with business interests coming before County Council, with accepting a trip in a company airplane from the same organization, and with accepting representation from a law firm with lawyers registered as lobbyists on behalf of the same commercial organization with business before County Council. For the trip on the company airplane the County Council group was divided into two groups specifically to avoid Sunshine Law violations.
    Two other recent behaviors by County Council may serve to illustrate the difficulty. The first of these is the adoption of the County Strategic Plan, which was developed essentially without input from the public, sprung on the public by surprise in February and adopted without discussion. This document, which is supposed to guide all decisions by County Government, deserves to be investigated by every citizen.
    The second is the complete revision of the County zoning law (the "UDO") which is proceeding apace in the offices of the Planning Department well outside the public view. Public input is sought at "Open House" functions in the County Office Building on 21 May 9AM - 5 PM and 26 May 5 - 9 PM.  Public hearings are planned, but only after the new law has been completely developed and any changes will be minor. This new law will affect every square inch of property in the unincorporated area of Lancaster County and thus every present and future taxpayer; it would seem that involvement by the public at every step along the way is both desirable and necessary.
    The ability to do something about these situations depends entirely on the willingness of the public to get involved on a continuing basis. When an individual or organization seeks some change from County government, there are four groups with separate interests, the individual or organization seeking the change, the county administration, County Council and the public. These groups have disparate interests, and the public, which has the most to lose, is usually left out because it is unwilling to get involved and stay involved in sufficient numbers to influence County Council, which has the authority to get things done.

Ollie Bass, Quamaine Hayden, Joshua Bishop,
Rev. Jimmy Fox
CDC Meeting 3 May 2011
    The Van Wyck Community Development Club presented its Outstanding Young Citizens Awards for 2011 to Quamaine Marquis Hayden and Joshua David Bishop. Both young men are seniors at Indian Land High School.
    Quamaine is a member of the Beta Club, Treasurer of the Junior Civitans, and was on the football and track and field teams. He is an active member of White Oak A. M. E. Zion Church, serving as Vice President of the Lancaster District Youth in the Pee Dee Conference. Quamaine serves on the Indian Land High School Improvement Council, sings in the choir and is employed at TacoBell/Long John Silvers. He is an Eagle Scout and plans to attend Virginia State University to major in business and political science.
    Joshua holds World Certification as a first degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do and is a 2nd Lieuenant in JROTC, where he received the H.L. Hunley Award for showing honor, courage and commitment. He is a volunteer at Andrew Jackson State Park , the Van Wyck Community Center and Celebrate Van Wyck and at Panther Stadium, where he has been top seller seven times. Joshua is active in youth activities at the Church of Christ on Gold Hill road in Fort Mill. He plans to attend Freed Hardeman University and major in Biology.
    These young men join a long list of outstanding young citizens honored by the Community Development Club. Each received a certificate, a $250 scholarship and our best wishes for continued success. Our thanks to Rev. Jimmy Fox for his work in chairing the committee that handles these awards.
    In other matters. the schedule of events is as follows:
Brooklyn Springs School Outing - 20 May
Spring Fling/Yard sale - 28 May (Poster)
Fireworks - 4 July 6:00 PM - Dark
Fall Festival/Car Show - 10 September.

County Council Budget Meetings
    County Council has scheduled Budget Planning Meetings for 16, 19 and 24 May. Each meeting will begin at 6:30 PM in the County Council chamber in the County Office Building. These meetings are open to the public and public comment on the budget is expected. County Council is planning to raise taxes again and provide salary increases to County employees.
    The rationale for the salary increases is the "Archer Study", a salary comparison study commissioned by County Council a couple of years ago. The study purports to show that salaries paid by other nearby governments are more than those paid by Lancaster County for comparable work. County managers assert that "morale is very low" and "We are training people for jobs in other govenments because as soon as we get them trained they leave for higher paying jobs."
    Implementation of the Archer Study is one of the objectives in the County Strategic Plan. Inquiries as to the cost of implementing the Archer study have met with no response from County officials.

 Feeding the Hungry
Donations to Lancaster County food programs have fallen off recently. The recession increases the number of people facing hunger and the need for food.  The Van Wyck Press is happy to transport food to the agencies serving the needy in Lancaster.  If you have food that you would like to donate and would like us to transport it for you, let me know.

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