T.W. Burger

I like to cheer for the underdog. It’s probably why I favor the Democratic Party; in these parts, we’re practically an endangered species.

One of my favorite underdogs is a sapling.

It was planted right at the point of the little peninsula of grass and concrete curbing on the right as vehicles pull into the parking lot of the Gettysburg Post Office.

I don’t know what kind of tree it’s trying to be, if it ever gets to be a grown tree.

It’s hard to tell how tall it is because it spends most of its time lying on its side.

It’s lying on its side because a relatively high percentage of the drivers of the vehicles that come into the parking lot should probably not be allowed to drive anything larger than a go-kart.

Look at the ground at the tip of the peninsula; it’s heavily grooved from the drivers of big, lummoxy cars and trucks cutting the corner too sharply and smashing the little tree and the stakes intended to hold it upright.

It can be argued that the peninsula makes for a sharp turn, especially when the post office is busy. Boo hoo. Learn to drive.

I was tempted to go drive some rebar stakes into the ground around the tree to shred the tires of people who couldn’t manage to make the turn without climbing up the formidable concrete curb but thought better of it.

Too mean-spirited.

For the record, I’d be in favor of putting a sturdier barrier around the sapling to give it a chance to grow.

I’m rooting for the tree.

Michael Cooper-White

I’ll be spending a good part of this weekend at our Lutheran synod meeting at Messiah College. Though I’m among the “retired” I still get to vote as our synod affords the privilege to all clergy who have served.

There’s more than usual interest in this year’s assembly as we’re electing a bishop and other officers.

We Lutherans have an unusual way of choosing the ones who serve as bishops. The process begins with an “ecclesiastical ballot” on which voters may write the name of any one of our 17,000 active and retired clergy.

That process almost guarantees the initial field will be even larger than we’re seeing on the national scene among Democrats. After the first ballot, anyone named has only a short time in which to withdraw or let the process move forward; and there’s no withdrawing after that point.

As the process continues, the number of candidates reduces at each ballot until one finally receives a majority and is elected. After the field narrows to seven, the candidates are allowed a five-minute speech in which they set forth their understanding of the office and how they are qualified.

Unlike bishops in some other denominations, who once elected are in “for life” until they retire or resign, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) bishops serve for a term of six years.

As is the case in our Lower Susquehanna Synod (LSS), even when there’s an incumbent willing to continue serving, the process is the same. Incumbents typically are reelected, but a few years ago the synod turned to a “new face” instead of reelecting the veteran.

In elections around the country so far this spring, the majority of new ELCA bishops are women, and at least one-third of all 66 in the Conference of Bishops will be female clergy. For me, that’s a breath of fresh air since the days I served as that body’s chief staff person and initially there was only one woman.

By Saturday evening we’ll know the outcome, which I’ll include in an article on the assembly. If the editors decide to publish it, you’ll know too in the next few days.

Hannah Pollock

It seems like every week we are hearing about a shark attack, from the beaches of Hawaii to most recently North Carolina, where a 17-year-old girl was attacked, causing her to lose her leg and damage to her hands. Despite being attacked, the girl from North Carolina said, “sharks are still good people.”

While this attack along with other recent attacks may be disconcerting for frequent beachgoers, the likelihood of dying in a shark attack is slim- 1 in 3,748,067 to be exact.

If you are paranoid about swimming in the ocean during your next beach vacation, remember how many people swim in the ocean every day and how many shark attacks you hear about every day. Think about the difference between the number of people surrounding you in the water (Have you seen how packed Rehoboth Beach is in mid-July?) versus how many sharks frequent the shallow waters where people swim.

Most shark attacks are due to mistaken identity. The shark thinks that the human is prey, takes a bite, realizes the human isn’t a fish and leaves.

Whether you’re at the Jersey Shore, Rehoboth Beach or wherever your favorite beach is, for doing what it naturally does. remember that you are in the shark’s habitat. You have entered its environment and it shouldn’t be blamed for doing what it naturally should do.

Madison Hirneisen

This summer, I’ve discovered that I really like plants—succulents, to be exact.

I traveled down to Florida with a few friends for spring break in March. Among all of the exciting things we did during our week in sunny Winter Garden, Florida, I think one of my favorite parts of the trip was the day we spent at Florida Cactus.

Florida Cactus is a succulent sanctuary nestled in the back roads of Apopka, Florida. The establishment has a dozen greenhouses teeming with succulents of all shapes, sizes and species. I seriously felt like I was in heaven, and I ended up leaving as the proud owner of seven succulents of varying kinds.

I’d always heard people say that succulents are the “easiest” plants to care for, essentially “kill proof.” Let me be the first to say, those people are wrong. Somehow, not too long after my roommate and I placed our new plants on the windowsill in our dorm room, the majority of our plants began to shrivel.

We were absolutely shocked. How could we have damaged the “kill proof” plants?

This predicament led me to assign myself a mission this summer: save the succulents. I read and researched information about succulent care and even invested in a book about care for specific species. I was determined to revive my succulents.

So far, a month into this mission, my succulents are thriving. Maybe these plants are not “kill proof,” but they sure are resilient. Who knew consistent watering and indirect sunlight could work wonders for my plants that I thought were doomed?

Prior to my personal ownership of succulents, I did not really understand people’s love of plants. But now, as I have been able to watch my succulents grow and thrive, I totally get it.

Now, when anyone comes to my home, I proudly show them my succulents, bathing in the sunlight in our family dining room.

Jim Hale

I had the chance to speak with two World War II veterans Thursday after an event marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Gettysburg.

I met Ken Oakes, who served in the U.S. Navy, and George Fisanich, who served in the U.S. Army.

Neither was involved in D-Day, but both were part of the Allies’ titanic triumph over tyranny.

I was grateful for the opportunity thank them and tell them, face-to-face, “You guys saved the world, and we appreciate it.”

Charles Stangor

Gettysburg Rising, a local organization encouraging civic engagement, recently sent a petition signed by over 600 local residents to the Gettysburg Borough Council.

The petition asked the council to create an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags at all local businesses and to collect a tax on every disposable bag issued by business.

At the council’s workshop meeting on May 28, several residents presented their support for the idea.

Gettysburg Resident Matt Moon cited the need for the ban on the basis of a recent United Nations report on the negative effects of single-use plastics on the environment.

After discussion, the council concluded a ban was not practical and businesses should instead be encouraged to stop using plastic bags.

One thing I’ve learned in the 67 years I’ve lived is that “encouragement” rarely works. If you want to stop the use of plastic bags you have to make them difficult or costly to use.

Among the arguments the council listed against the petition were that plastic bags are so common it’s not possible to regulate them all, that businesses might be hurt, that legislation would be difficult, that businesses outside the borough would not be affected, and that it would create a “backlash.”

As the council well knows, there are many reasons to avoid the issue but there is only one reason to do it: Plastics harm the environment and the people of Gettysburg Borough care about the environment.

Things that matter are difficult. But being difficult is not a reason to give up on them.

View the presentations from community members in favor of the petition here: http://bit.ly/gbg_vid1

View the council discussion here: http://bit.ly/gbg_vid4

Read the UN report here: http://bit.ly/gbg_UN1

Vanessa Pellechio

I met with Melissa Bishop’s loved ones the week of her passing to put together the story in today’s edition. Melissa has touched so many people’s lives. We could dedicate an entire edition and still need more room because of the amount of work she has done.

It was a huge honor to have known her and be able share her story before she passed. She opened my eyes to the misconceptions about lung cancer that I, too, believed.

Her family opened their hearts to continue her mission of educating others about lung cancer. I am grateful for the chance to share her story a second time. I do wish it was under different circumstances.

As reporters, you get connected to the people you cover, and Melissa was no exception. She was only a phone call away, and I’m going to miss that.

Holly Fletcher

We’re headed to the beach for some ocean therapy and I hope the weather cooperates.

We seem to have fewer people tagging along the last few years because those adult responsibilities (jobs) of theirs don’t always jive with our schedules.

We aren’t lugging half the house down the road anymore, either. Seems that as the kids got bigger, their entertainment devices got smaller. Plus, boys seem to think one pair of pants can last a week. (Trust me, though, teen girls make up for that ... big time!)

But for those who do accompany us, be forewarned that I will still chase you down and (liberally) apply sunblock to your pale, pasty, freckled Pennsylvania self.

You’re welcome.

D.K. Thomas

I love books.

There are some 600 books on the shelves in my home office, a small number compared to the shelves sagging under the weight of the many books in our old homeschool room.

In the dining room there’s also a huge book-filled bookcase, which in a former life housed groceries in an old country store, not the one we live in but another in a neighboring town.

Amazon’s list indicates I also have 366 e-books in my collection.

Admittedly, I haven’t yet read all of the books I own; I’d estimate about 10 percent are still on the waiting-to-be-read list. Some I’ve read multiple times. I usually read two, three, four, sometimes more, at a time. I keep one in the car, one at work, one on the schoolroom table, usually one in the living room, sometimes even one in my bed.

I like to read, a lot.

I think my obsession with books stems from love of language combined with the lack of reading material when I was a child. As a preschooler, I had one book, something about Timmy and Lassie and blueberries. My parents weren’t big on books, sadly. I learned to read when I was 3, thanks to my grandmother. By the time I hit school age, that Lassie book was a ragged mess. For my seventh birthday, my grandmother gave me a copy of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” unabridged, and a classmate, Sammy Orner, gave me a copy of “Heidi,” which I still have and it too is well worn.

Thus, despite the number of books I own, I can’t pass up a book sale. This week I stopped by one in East Berlin at the community center. They had an amazing number of books, especially considering they host a sale three times a year with different books each time. It’s going on until 1 p.m. today, just in case you read this before then and want to run down to pick up a bag, or more, of books. Saturday’s price is $3 a bag, and they supply the bags.

I also signed up for the Adams County Library System’s (ACLS) adult summer reading program, A Universe of Stories, this week. If you read five books you are entered in a drawing to win a prize. If you read something like 20 books you get another drawing entry. Along the way you earn virtual badges. (I also love badges. I earned every Junior and Cadette Girl Scout badge offered way back in the day.)

The library offers a children’s summer reading program as well. I don’t know the specifics of the summer reading program for youngsters, but I’m sure it’s amazing; it always was when my children were still young enough to participate. Both are easy to sign up for, just visit ACLS’s website and follow the links.

ACLS has a yearly book sale, too. This year it’s slated for the end of July/beginning of August. I can hardly wait.

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