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Shippensburg’s mayor reports on borough’s strengths, weaknesses, plans

16 January 2013 No Comment

By AMBER SOUTH

@ShipNewsGirl

SHIPPENSBURG — In the annual report he released Tuesday, Mayor Bruce Hockersmith said the state of the borough is “excellent,” in comparison to many others in the state.

He cited the borough’s location along Interstate 81 and the major manufacturers that do business in the borough.

In the report, Hockersmith said even in the strained financial climate, the borough met financial obligations for 2012 without dipping into its fund balance. The borough adopted a balanced budget for 2013.

In regard to emergency management, Hockersmith pointed to several successes and several areas that need work.

The Emergency Operations Center, which runs out of a conference room at the Shippensburg Area Emergency Services Building in times of need, was manned for two days in October during Hurricane Sandy, Hockersmith said.

Shippensburg Fire Department is continuing to adopt sections of a master fire plan, which so far has shown good cooperation between the borough and surrounding municipalities.

Attention is required to several parts of the emergency preparedness plan, Hockersmith said. There is currently no evacuation plan, and Hockersmith said officials should meet to discuss it. He added that special attention should be paid in relation to railroad derailments, as heavier traffic is expected because of the Norfolk Southern intermodal facility in Antrim Township.

Emergency radio communications between Franklin and Cumberland counties should be addressed and resolved this year, he said.

Hockersmith addressed a number of infrastructure improvements to benefit traffic flow. Of those, he requested a southern bypass from Fayette Street to Queen Street to aid in traffic movement between Interstate 81 exits 24 and 29 and decrease traffic through the center of town.

An increase in manpower is needed in Shippensburg Police Department, Hockersmith said, in part to assist with the additional work that has arisen due to drug-related activity.

Police Chief Fred Scott requested that council consider a full-time detective position.

Hockersmith said in the report that the drug activity has led to an increased number of weapons, burglaries and thefts. Because a number of these crimes are committed by non-residents, borough police have to work with other departments. Filling a detective position would allow borough police to respond in a responsible and timely manner, Hockersmith said.

A number of other points were made in the report, including Memorial Park and other facets of parks and recreation, the strategic plan to improve downtown, a need for a senior and youth activities center, and Hockersmith’s general observations.

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Amber South can be reached at asouth@publicopinionnews.com and 262-4771.

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