Thank goodness the primary election is over.
Elections are killer events for newspaper people. It’s all hands on deck.
There’s a lot of sitting and waiting for results, checking websites and Associated Press online. All the while, there is also generally a lot of pizza eating — thanks, Harry.
Then, when the numbers are in, it’s crunch time. Reporters are on the phones making multiple calls. Calls to the winners are easy; calls to the losers are much more difficult. This year we had a couple nice interns to help type in the numbers, taking off some of the pressure, helping get the newspaper out as quickly as possible.
Eventually, all the stories were written, turned over for editing, and being fitted onto the pages like so many jigsaw puzzle pieces.
In the meantime, pressmen, mailroom folks and drivers were waiting, hopefully patiently, for the pages to go to press.
Tuesday was killer. The last page didn’t go to the Shark (what I call the processor) until very late, hours after the time I usually send my last page on a normal night.
But, election nights are anything but normal. All of the reporters were exhausted after the late night, as was Alex, the managing editor who worked all day, then half the night alongside the interns gathering results. Finally, they all went home, leaving me alone in the quiet newsroom to put the final stories on the pages.
Halleluiah for coffee.
Hours later, some sleep, more coffee, and I’m refreshed from the grueling night, writing this notebook entry for Saturday before the last minute, unusual for me; and, already dread of the fall general election is edging its way into the periphery of my mind.
Mary Grace Keller
Nature is trying to kill me.
I’ve been battling allergies all week and it’s left me feeling miserable. My mother has always had a pollen allergy but I didn’t develop mine until my late teens. It’s a shame because I do love the outdoors.
My head feels like it’s in a fog. My eyelids are swollen and my ears seem to be picking up sounds through a wall of cotton balls.
I got a wave of adrenaline on Election Day, thank God. Pizza is always a great pick-me-up.
I was disappointed to see that only 16.53 percent of registered Adams County voters turned out for the election. Have we forgotten that certain people couldn’t vote in this country not too long ago? Have we forgotten the people who fought and bled for the right to vote?
My mother, who’s been an elections clerk for years, has this to say about people who don’t vote:
If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about the government!
Working at a local paper has shown me how important it is to vote in local elections. Reporters get to know the candidates pretty well, who, when elected, become our sources. I attend about eight municipal and school board meetings every month and I can tell you that the people in charge have a lot of power. They set taxes, decide which roads get repairs, hire snow plow drivers, create zoning regulations, decide what curriculum students will learn, what sports get funded, hire teachers, and more.
Your vote determines which candidate will make the decisions that impact you, your family, and the community. Don’t you want a say in that?
Madison G. Hirneisen
With high school graduations right around the corner, I’ve felt feelings of nostalgia rise.
It is crazy to think that I am already 2 years removed from graduating from Gettysburg Area High School. I can still remember exactly how I felt the last month of my senior year. I was excited for what was to come.
When I graduated, I remember being anxious to tackle the future in a full embrace. I felt that my life was just starting, and I dreamed about the opportunities I would have and the people I would meet in college. The excitement gave me butterflies.
To be completely honest, the first semester of my college career was one of the hardest seasons of my life for more reasons than one. I feel like this is how a lot of college freshman feel, but it’s never really addressed. Everyone always says that “college is the best years of your life,” but my first semester, I did not feel that way at all.
When my first Christmas break came, it was desperately needed. I needed time to recuperate after finals at home and get my head back on straight. I prayed that my second semester would be better.
Now, looking back, I am grateful for the challenges I faced my first semester. Without them, I do not think I would be the person I am today.
The past two years of college have challenged me and grown me in ways I never expected. I’ve met some of my best friends, faced some of my hardest struggles and grown in my faith immensely.
Sometimes I wish I could go back to the bright-eyed high school graduate I used to be and give her a glimpse of the future. I would tell her that the hard things would make the beautiful things objects of gratefulness and joy. I would tell her that hope would find her even when things felt hopeless.
Even though my freshman year was hard, I can honestly say that college has been the very best season of my life so far.
I want to wish all high school students graduating this season good luck with your future endeavors!
This past week, I aided in the Times’ coverage of the Primary Election.
As the ballot boxes and poll workers rolled in, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities between the poll workers. Firstly, they were exceptionally cheery for people who had sat in a township building all day waiting for Pennsylvanians to come vote. (Only 16.53 percent of registered Adams County voters turned out for the election, so I’d imagine they were a little bored at times.)
But most of them were older citizens. I didn’t see anyone near my age walk through those doors.
According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, poll workers in Pennsylvania must be 18 years old, a qualified, registered elector and live in the election district.
So, we’re old enough to participate, but where are we for local elections?
Today as a society we are constantly bombarded by politics everywhere we go. Social media is a major source of political information for my generation. Celebrities voice their political opinions (whether they are solicited or not), and prior to the 2018 Midterms many social media companies partnered with TurboVote.org to register young voters.
According to the New York Times, Snapchat helped to register more than 400,000 of its users last year.
It’s awesome that younger voters are so interested in being involved in our democracy.
But I wish my generation would get as involved locally as they are nationally. It’s great if you feel passionately about the politics in Washington, as it does affect you. However, you should also pay attention to your local politics where you can see an impact in your daily life.
Your vote matters in local elections!
The same song by two different bands was on neighboring stations on my car radio. (No, I don’t have satellite radio and I don’t Bluetooth my phone into the car stereo. That’s how we dinosaurs roll.)
Playing simultaneously one button apart were two versions of “Come Together,” the psychedelic original by the Beatles and the remake by Aerosmith.
The latter is a sincere homage, but falls short. Early hard-rock Aerosmith was great — “Dream On,” etc. — but they devolved into a pop band that produced unlistenable garbage like “Love in an Elevator.” And don’t get me started on their remake of “Walk This Way” with Run-DMC, because then I’ll start spluttering about how rap is the worst abomination since disco, and I’ll end up yelling at you kids to get off my lawn.
I’m not a huge Beatles guy, but like all Boomers I know their stuff well. I remember my mom freaking out (though that phrase didn’t exist yet) about the Beatles when they debuted on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. I was only 4, so my mom being shocked was shocking to me. It wasn’t about the music, though. She couldn’t believe how long their hair was. It actually touched their ears and shirt collars! Horrors!
Beatlemania was underway. The Fab Four dominated the culture to an extent that today’s younger people cannot imagine. The media sphere was tiny. Most radio stations played the same Top 40 songs relentlessly, and it seemed like nearly all of them were by the Beatles. There were just three TV networks (not counting PBS, which back in pre-Big Bird days showed a lot of teachers in front of chalkboards explaining algebra or the Renaissance), and few independent stations. People were lucky if they could get more than three or four channels, all of which served up a steady diet of black-and-white footage of teenage girls screaming at Beatles concerts. The first live broadcast ever bounced around the world by satellites, in 1967, was the Beatles playing “All You Need is Love.”
You couldn’t escape. There were no streaming services, YouTube, or social media because there was no Internet, because there were no computers (unless you were NASA or somebody and could spare a whole room for a clanking behemoth less powerful than an old iPhone).
Actually, you could escape. There were (and are!) always books. That’s where I lived mostly, devouring science fiction and fantasy. And there were Cubs games, which you could see every day on TV in Chicagoland. For free.
And later, in the 1970s, when albums took over from 45s, I escaped into hard rock. That’s one of the things that mark me as a late Boomer: give me Led Zeppelin over the Beatles anytime.
In May 2013, just days before America honored its war dead on Memorial Day, high school students in York Springs got a chance to hear first-hand accounts from some of the men who served during World War II and lived to tell about it.
I was in attendance that day and wrote an article for this newspaper when Everett Weiser, Walter Greer, Knud Hermansen, and David Lehigh – all in their late 80s – gave the students a personal view of the war.
Weiser served with the 553rd Military Police and Escort Company, which fought with the First Army on the Western Front. Greer served with the 11th Airborne division and parachuted 23 times in training and combat. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Hermansen served in Europe with the 8th Army Division, as one of the replacement troops. He also served two years in the National Guard during the Korean War. Lehigh served with the Fifth Air Force in the 380th Bomb Group, flying B-24s on 38 combat missions in the South Pacific.
In my article, I mentioned how the rapidly declining number of WWII veterans made it even more important for us to hear their stories.
And now, six years later, all four of these local veterans are gone.
Veterans Day celebrates the living who served our country, while Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring every man and woman who died for our freedoms.
Whether they died in combat or outside of it, we should remember our deceased veterans and continue to share their stories.
Any newspaper, including a local one like the Gettysburg Times, publishes many different types of articles.
These articles are primarily news stories about local events including emergencies, court cases, political activities, and sporting events. They also include feature stories about people and organizations in the area.
These everyday-life stories take a substantial amount of time and effort and the news reporters are under constant pressure to meet deadlines and get them to the public.
Given the need to keep people informed about the events happening around them, it may be difficult to find time to write stories that go beyond the surface and that ask questions that are not obviously necessary to be asked.
But it is investigative journalism that turns a newspaper from a reporter of news to a creator of news. And we had an outstanding example of it in Wednesday’s paper.
In her story on recidivism in the Adams County Prison system, staff writer Vanessa Pellechio reported the Adams County Prison does not currently track the rate at which people return to prison.
Pellechio reported that prison officials admitted they had no “agreed upon definition of recidivism” and relied on “anecdotal approaches.”
Adams County Commissioner and prison board chair Jim Martin said he did not know why the county had stopped counting recidivism.
The issue is a complicated one and prison officials gave many examples of the difficulty of understanding recidivism, not least of which is the difficult role that opioid addiction plays in the lives of those released.
Learning this information and interpreting it involved time-consuming work, including a request for information through Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know law. Pellechio interviewed many people and wrote a complex piece to explain the situation.
Thoughtful newspaper pieces require hard work and ability on the part of reporters like Pellechio, but they are worth the effort.
The article informed the public about an important situation at a costly and essential public institution. And it implicitly asked them to think about the situation and to draw their opinions about it.
It also painted a picture of the lives of the people involved, on both sides of the prison system. And it may well lead to reevaluation of the current situation at the prison.
I thank Pellechio and the staff of the newspaper for publishing this important piece. I think it’s the type of article that readers really appreciate and that takes the paper to another level.
Alex J. Hayes
Tuesday night, I watched every Adams County poll worker walk through the doors of the Adams County Courthouse. These men and women had been at their stations since the polls opened at 7 a.m.
As they walked in with the results, all were in a great mood. A few laughed when their fake knees set off the metal detector. For having just spent 13 hours working an extremely slow election day, their positivity was impressive. Also, not one of them complained about having to traverse Baltimore Street, which was under construction.