24 August 2009

Lancaster fights to save its young people

If you haven't read this story from the Lancaster Sunday News, yet, read it. The city of Lancaster unveiled a new program, one modeled on a similar program in High Point, N.C., that takes a new and some might say risky approach to combating drugs, gangs and violence. On Sunday, leaders from law enforcement, the courts and the community confronted four people who thought they were headed for prison. Four convicted felons, caught selling drugs to police, were given a choice - go to prison for a two-year minimum, or sign up.

Sunday News Reporter Chip Smedley described the program this way:
"'The Fortunate Four' are the first given the opportunity to take part in a new city program that lets selected small-time dealers (with minimal prior records) caught in direct sales to undercover police avoid jail if they agree to abide by a long list of strict guidelines. The program, they were reminded often, is not a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card. One misstep and they're done."

The four heard real-life stories - from a U.S. attorney; from the Lancaster County DA; and from a mother's whose daughter was shot and killed while dealing.

"My daughter is dead, five bullets in her back" Diane Johnson said. "She thought she was smooth; she thought she knew the streets."

York's Gang Prevention Initiative will be watching. In the meantime, good luck to Lancaster.

And read the story.

- Dan Fink

18 August 2009

Creating a 21st-century workforce

Here's something to think about. Louis Soares, the director of the Economic Mobility program at the Center for American Progress, made this point about a new approach to training workers in a 21st century economy. He spoke recently at a workforce event in Washington, D.C.:
"(Soares) argued that in today’s dynamic labor market workforce policy should focus not only on emergency unemployment counseling but also on making career coaching and skills training available to all workers. This requires reforming and integrating the education and workforce development systems by retooling the employment service as a 'one-stop' career center, making financial aid available for working learners, and investing in and improving community colleges."

YorkCounts has tried to encourage more connections among local workforce development stakeholders. What should York County be doing with its investments in worker training that will help Pennsylvania and the United States produce the best-trained workforce in the world?

- Dan Fink

17 August 2009

Hear about smart growth

The York/Adams Regional Smart Growth Coalition still has space available for the Aug. 20 smart growth panel discussion in York. Learn more about what smart growth is and why it's important for York and Adams counties. Panelists include Judy Schwenk of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania; Felicia Dell, director of the York County Planning Commission; and Dick Schmoyer, director of the Adams County Planning Commission. The event will be at the offices of the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties, 901 Smile Way, York. RSVP to Shanna Wiest, shanna@rayac.com or 717-880-1230.

- Dan Fink

13 August 2009

June-July YorkCounts e-Newsletter

The latest YorkCounts e-Newsletter is out. We used to post the e-newsletters here on the Count Me In blog. Now, you can find them on our Web site. This month, read about the work that's starting on a community effort to reduce obesity in York County; plans for a series of YorkCounts town halls; recent projects from Better York, one of our funding partners; and changes in a couple of key YorkCounts Indicators.

- Dan Fink