Category Archives: Clips

CLIPS: Droves of reporters put Amish in spotlight they usually shun (10/03/06)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

NICKEL MINES — John Fisher, who the hundreds of journalists here knew was Amish because he was wearing a straw hat, was fielding questions from the
Baltimore Sun and New York Daily News when his cell phone appeared to ring.

He excused himself and left the reporters searching for more straw hats and bonnets to interview. Later, he told The Patriot-News he would sometimes pretend to get a call to get away from the bothersome questions of reporters.

“There’s about 250 too many,” he said when asked what he thought about the national media attention in the small town.

“I know it’s news,” said Sam Fisher, who manages Nickel Mines Auction House, where police and the media set up a home base, “but it’s something like overkill. It’s frustrating, let’s just put it that way.”

Those who dared to walk by the throngs of journalists wearing anything but professional garb were quickly snapped up for interviews, sometimes with dozens of news organizations at once. An Amish woman named Irene, who did not give reporters her last name, had six microphones in front of her as she explained her religious beliefs.

Several photographers snapped photos when a horse-drawn buggy drove by.

The Lancaster and Harrisburg media were on scene, but so were reporters from Montreal, the United Kingdom, Russia and Japan. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News followed the story all day. ABC recorded a “Good Morning America” segment.

More than 50 trucks with satellites atop their roofs filled the roadsides and nearby parking lots. Television reporters spoke in front of a long line of cameras, with a country hillside or the distant schoolhouse as backgrounds.

Sam Fisher said the reporters usually were polite. He minded only when they stuck cameras in his face, he said.

Jacob King, who is Amish, wore a stoic face as he took questions from several reporters.

“Does it make you more distrustful of outsiders?”

“Do you think there should be more security in the school?”

“Would you have ever expected something like this to happen?”

“Does it make you angry?”

He offered short responses to each question. For the final question, a reporter asked: “To people who are completely unfamiliar with your lifestyle, what do you want them to know about your community?”

King replied: “That we’re like everyone else.”

CLIPS: Local students shaken but fine (04/17/07)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

Their phones, when they worked, wouldn’t stop ringing. Their computers were flooded with e-mails and instant messages.

Nine Virginia Tech students from the midstate who were contacted by The Patriot-News said they were shaken, but OK. They spent yesterday watching the news, checking their e-mail and telling their friends and loved ones that they were safe.

They’re glad to tell you the same.

ASHLEY ROE, Carlisle High School Class of 2005

Early yesterday morning, Roe updated hundreds of her friends with a message to Facebook, a social networking site:

“Ashley is ok, even though there is another gunman on campus. You may not be able to call her.”

An hour later, she wrote:

“Ashley is hoping everyone is staying safe. I’m ok, you might not be able to reach me, but I’m ok.”

Roe, 20, lives in a dormitory connected by a hallway to the West Ambler Johnston dormitory, where the first shooting occurred. With the phones down, she used her computer and went through the hallways to find friends.

When her phone finally started working by midafternoon, a call was interrupted twice — once by her mother, once by a friend. A friend she hadn’t spoken to since the fifth grade messaged her through Facebook.

Roe knew of an acquaintance in the hospital, but she was able to track down most of her close friends. There was one she hadn’t heard from yesterday afternoon, but she was optimistic her friend hadn’t checked her e-mail yet.

Her friends from northern Virginia were talking about leaving campus for the night.

“I’d kind of like to not be in the dorms,” she said. “Not because I’m scared or anything; I kind of want to have some sort of family support right now.”

MIKE FITZGERALD, Trinity High School Class of 2004

At 8 a.m., Fitzgerald, 21, went to the gym, across the street from the site of the first shooting. He was unaware of the shooting until he was driving home, when police cars zoomed past in the opposite direction.

A fraternity brother was in the building of the second shooting. “His classroom got shot up, but he was in the bathroom at the time,” he said.

He called his friends who lived in the dormitory of the first shooting. “It was the floor below me, so we’re all right,” a friend told him.

An engineering major, Fitzgerald has five lab sessions this semester in the building of the second shooting. He had several classes there in his freshman and sophomore years.

When the names and faces of the victims come out, he might recognize some from his engineering classes, he said. But the friends he tried to contact were all fine. Yesterday, he left the following away message on his AOL Instant Messenger account:

“I’m alright along with my friends. Thanks for the concern.”

MATT STAHR, Lower Dauphin High School Class of 2003

Stahr slept in.

He didn’t have class until 12:20 p.m. Roommates woke him, calling to tell him the campus was closed and a shooter was on the loose.

His phone service was spotty, but the aerospace engineering major’s family knew he was OK.

His mother was shaken up when she found out the second shooting was in an engineering building, where he usually has classes, but didn’t this semester.

“However, two weeks ago on Monday, I was doing work on the first floor of Norris at 9 a.m. for a lab on Tuesday,” he said. “It’s just very weird to think about.”

EVAN HORETSKY, Hershey High School Class of 2006

Horetsky was walking to class, soon to pass the site of the second shooting, when he heard gunshots. Police pulled him and about 500 other students into the nearby architecture building and locked the doors, he said.

The lights were off, but they were allowed to use their phones if they worked. He called his parents as he walked in to make sure he talked to them. He was carrying his laptop, so he got online wirelessly and communicated with his friends. He confirmed the safety of his girlfriend, who lives in a dorm adjacent to the first shooting.

“We got caught up with our close friends, and, luckily, they survived, but who knows the people we’ve had class with or the people we talk with,” he said. “Who knows if they’re all right?”

When they were let out of the basement, he saw hundreds of officers, machine guns and shotguns. He got countless calls from home, including one from his high school football coach.

“It was really nice to know a lot of people cared,” he said.

DAVID GOLDBERG, Susquehanna Twp. High School Class of 2003

Goldberg, who lives a mile from campus, was on his way to school when a friend called and told him to turn around.

He went to a friend’s house, where they watched the news together. It was odd seeing on national television the buildings he walks past every day, he said.

He didn’t think he knew any of the victims, but he heard about friends of friends who were shot at.

“Originally, it was craziness, people freaking out,” he said. “Nobody knew what was going on, and everybody was just concerned for everyone else. Now my phone’s ringing off the hook with people calling to say, ‘Are you all right?'”

Within two minutes of hearing about the shootings, he called his mother. While on the phone with her, his father called.

“Just how serious it is hasn’t sunk into anyone yet,” he said. “I think once we start getting the names of the people that were involved, it’s going to get a lot more serious.

“With the massive numbers, I can’t imagine there’s anybody on campus that doesn’t know somebody that knows somebody else.”

MATT KEPHART, Camp Hill High School Class of 2006

At 10 a.m., Kephart was walking to class at the opposite side of the drill field from the first shooting.

“I saw the cop cars and SWAT team, then a whole mass of students came running across the drill field and to ward me,” he said. “I turned around and went back, and before that point I really had no idea.”

His phone didn’t work for most of the day, but he was able to reach everyone he needed to through e-mail. His mother was worried, but “that’s her job,” he said.

“You’re just kind of stunned,” he said. “I don’t know anyone involved, I don’t believe, but it’s just hard to believe it could happen in Blacksburg. You don’t think of this town being that way.”

It’s been a strange freshman year. Classes were interrupted on the fall semester’s first day when an escaped prisoner was accused of killing a security guard at a Blacksburg hospital and a sheriff’s deputy.

But Kephart said he’s not fazed. He loves the school and the area.

JOE LONG, Hershey High School Class of 2003

Long, who lives a mile from campus, planned to go to the campus gym at 9:15 a.m., but backed out when he heard about the first shooting. He called a friend in the dorm of that shooting, and she described hearing gunshots and girls screaming.

He spent the day trying to figure out if he knew anyone injured or killed, and fielding dozens of calls and messages from friends and family. He told his sister through AOL Instant Messenger that he was OK. He had trouble using his phone, but got through to his parents.

“They called crying, basically telling me they love me,” he said. “I can’t even imagine the parents of the victims, what they’re going through.”

KELLY SCHLICKER, Cumberland Valley Class of 2006

Schlicker, 18, watched the aftermath of the second shooting from her dormitory window.

She watched buses come in and block the roads out of campus. She realized it was worse than the initial reports of eight or nine dead when she saw the fleet of ambulances and police cars arrive.

She called her mom before the phones stopped working, but was getting notices of missed calls from friends and family.

Her brother at Cumberland Valley was allowed to call her in the middle of his class and was able to reach her.

She stayed with her friends, watched the news and kept checking her e-mail. After the second shooting, she and her friends were more shocked than scared, she said.

“Everyone’s kind of sticking together,” she said. “Nobody knows how to feel. It’s unbelievable.”

CLIPS: Why so few minority teachers in the midstate? (02/05/08)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

It seemed no one was able to reach the child.

He didn’t talk much, or do much work in school. He was poor, black, and no teacher in the Steelton-Highspire School District had ever connected with him.

Then came his fourth-grade teacher, Kelly Mosby-Fowlkes. She, too, was black. She, too, grew up in Steelton. She, too, came from humble beginnings.

He started to trust her, and he worked for her.

One year later, he went to another school, and Mosby-Fowlkes got a call from his new teacher. The boy talked about Mosby-Fowlkes all the time, she said. The new teacher wanted to know: How did Mosby-Fowlkes get through to the child?

“It’s all about that relationship,” said Mosby-Fowlkes, now an assistant principal at Steelton-Highspire Elementary School. “And it’s something, when you share the same ethnic background, it’s just something special there. It just raises that level of comfort, of ease, of understanding.”

Most educators agree on the value of minority teachers, both for their ability to provide role models to the rising number of minority students and to battle stereotypes in the minds of white students. Some school districts said they recruit minority teachers.

So why are there so few of them?

The difficulty

Every school faces different challenges in attracting minority teachers, but they share one big problem: There aren’t enough candidates out there.

In the 2006-07 school year, only four midstate school districts had more than six minority teachers: Carlisle, Central Dauphin, Harrisburg and Susquehanna Twp., according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Most districts had fewer than three. Seven districts had none.

In all of the schools, the percentage of minority teachers lagged far behind the percentage of minority students.

The subject has been a passion of Mark Holman, director of human resources for the Harrisburg School District. The district has one of the state’s highest rates of minority teachers, 23 percent, a rate that is still far behind the district’s minority student population of nearly 95 percent.

He cites several reasons for the shortage. The federal No Child Left Behind law has made it more difficult for mid-career transfers into education, which is where districts often find minority candidates.

Minority students statistically score lower on entrance exams, and a higher GPA requirement thins the field further, he said.

Many minority parents are encouraging their children to go into more profitable careers, he said.

“If you want to have more African-American teachers, you have to get more African-American parents to send their sons and daughters to school to become teachers,” Holman said.

And though administrators from several districts said they recruit at historically black colleges, such as Cheyney University and Lincoln University in eastern Pennsylvania, those colleges produce few teachers, and it can be difficult to lure them away from bigger cities.

“I love central Pennsylvania,” said David Volkman, superintendent of Susquehanna Twp. School District. “But when we recruit at historically black colleges, sometimes it’s difficult to get folks to commit to us, because of where we are.”

Several districts say they focus on keeping in touch with alumni who are going to college to study education, hoping they’ll want to return.

For a district such as Steelton-Highspire, which has low teacher wages for the area, home ties often aren’t enough.

“We’ve had a number of cases where we actually recruited folks and had them move into the area,” Superintendent Norma Mateer said. “But after two or three years, they realized they could get much more money in a suburban district near us.”

The role model

James Sledge, an English teacher at Susquehanna Twp. High School, tells some of his students that he loves them as they leave class. About half of the students in his class are nonwhite.

A black man from Birmingham, Ala., Sledge was led to education by his family. Altruistic reasons and support from the district kept him in the job, he said.

“It allows students to see there are different types of people of color,” he said.

Tamira Howard, who is black, is hard on some of the black males in her class.

Howard knows that, before they come to her American Government or AP European History classes at Central Dauphin East High School, they’ve been labeled as trouble-makers.

But the Susquehanna Twp. High School alumna demands their respect and suspects they do respect her more than some of their other teachers. They’re not used to having black teachers.

“They need to see people like them that can do great things,” Howard said.

There’s a benefit to the white students, too, said Mary Kay Durham, superintendent of Carlisle Area School District.

“It helps all students realize we’re just a microcosm of the rest of the world, and it helps them learn about others and appreciate everyone,” she said.

Looking ahead, there are reasons for both hope and worry, Holman said.

Hope comes in the form of more competitive teacher salaries and the job stability of teaching when other industries are downsizing or restructuring. Teachers can be fairly confident that they’ll have jobs until they’re ready to retire, he said.

But the rising teacher standards, and the ability to make more money elsewhere, will continue to work against schools, he said.

“Every child should have the opportunity to see someone that looks like them as a role model,” Holman said. “By kids seeing people in these roles, they someday can see themselves in that role.”

CLIPS: School policies on sexual minorities vary (02/12/07)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

Far in the background of Red Land Senior High School senior David Moyer’s desire to take a male date to the homecoming dance without being harassed are two words in a policy book that have divided area school districts.

In the policies that aim to shield students from harassment, 15 area districts include language to protect “sexual orientation” along with other classifications. Nine districts omit the words or don’t have policies.

A policy “sends the message that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are a protected class in the same way any other minorities are,” said Michelle Simmons, director of the Common Roads support group for such teens. “Having a policy in place creates a culture of tolerance and acceptance.”

The West Shore School District does not include sexual orientation in its harassment policy, but that didn’t stop Moyer from twice taking male dates to homecoming.

“And no one said anything,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, sexual minorities are not legally protected by the Human Relations Commission, but Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania School Code was amended in 1999 to protect sexual minorities from discrimination.

That was an impetus for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to add sexual orientation to its unlawful harassment policy in 2000, according to Director of Policy Services Sharon Fissel. PSBA policies are distributed to member schools as nonbinding recommendations.

Several of the schools that omit the words have a catch-all such as “includes but is not limited to” preceding the list of classifications, but Fissel said it’s important to be inclusive.

“We recommend that the districts do have it spelled out specifically so that when they go to the policy to implement it and enforce it, they know what it covers,” she said.

The policies tend to inflame conservatives, said Warren Throckmoyer, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, whose research has focused on sexual orientation.

He said he is not aware of research on the effectiveness of anti-harassment policies, and he promotes anti-bullying curricula as an alternative.

“A lot of times, conservatives worry that the problems with bullying is just a way for schools to include indoctrination about sexual orientation,” he said.

Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, said her concern is with the normalization of homosexuality.

Students “shouldn’t be harassed because of their lifestyle, but the school should not be promoting their lifestyle,” she said. “By adding sexual orientation or gender identity, that’s what they’re doing.”

Several school superintendents said their policies were updated to include sexual orientation after PSBA sent out its recommendation, with varying amounts of resistance from the public.

“That was quite a debate,” Susquehanna Twp. Superintendent David Volkman said. “In the end, the board decided they thought it was best to include it with all the others.”

The schools that don’t have the words vary in how harassment is covered. Cumberland Valley, Greenwood, Northern York, South Middleton, Upper Dauphin and West Shore have long lists of classifications without sexual orientation, though South Middleton has proposed a revised policy that would add the words.

Susquenita, West Perry and Central Dauphin do not include sexual orientation in their policies.

Greenwood Superintendent Ed Burns, whose school policy was revised in 1998, said harassment of homosexual students is prohibited.

“I think it’s clearly covered, let’s put it that way,” he said.

Having words in a policy doesn’t make harassment go away, Simmons said. She considers teaching and relationship building as better tactics.

But “it has to start with the administration,” Simmons said. “If they send the message that that kind of language is not acceptable, maybe it filters to the faculty, it filters to other staff. Then eventually the students get to understand that and hear it.”

Moyer, who works as an intern at Common Roads, said he’s had a few uncomfortable moments in school, but he’s never felt in danger. A bleacher full of students yelled “faggot!” at him as he walked to gym class once, but he ignored them and kept walking, he said.

“It’s not the most comfortable thing, but it happens,” he said. “That’s just common vernacular when it comes to high school kids.”

DANIEL VICTOR : 255-8144 or dvictor@patriot-news.com


INFOBOX:

– A SAMPLE POLICY FROM MIDDLETOWN For purposes of this policy, harassment shall consist of verbal, written, graphic or physical conduct relating to an individual’s race, color, national origin/ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion when such conduct: 1. Is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it affects an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment. 2. Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance. 3. Otherwise adversely affects an individual’s learning opportunities.

Middletown Area School District, 2002

HOW DISTRICTS WORD THEIR POLICIES

Schools that include “sexual orientation” in harassment policies:

* Big Spring, Camp Hill, Carlisle, Derry Twp., East Pennsboro, Halifax, Harrisburg, Lower Dauphin, Newport, Mechanicsburg, Middletown, Millersburg, Shippensburg, Susquehanna Twp., Steelton-Highspire.

Schools that don’t include “sexual orientation” in harassment policies:

* Central Dauphin, Cumberland Valley, Greenwood, Northern York, South Middleton, Susquenita, Upper Dauphin, West Perry, West Shore.

CLIPS: Derry elementaries get 2-grade system (09/23/06)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

In Derry Twp. elementary classrooms, the A, B, C and D grade markings you know from your childhood have been expelled.

Now K-5 students strive for a P, which stands for proficient. If a student gets a W, or working toward proficient, that’s OK, too. That just means the student has more work to do. There are no other grades.

The new standards-based report card, modeled after about 30 other Pennsylvania school districts that have undergone similar changes, stops ranking students and focuses on progress toward specific benchmarks, said Cindy Goldsworthy, the director of curriculum and instruction in the Derry school district.

It gives parents feedback in more specific areas and separates factors such as work ethic and behavior from academic concepts and skills.

“This is to get kids, especially when they’re young, focused on what they’re learning much more so than the grades they’re earning,” she said.

Instead of getting a B with an 85 percent in math class, a fourth-grade student might have a P for “Rounds numbers,” but a W for “Renames fractions as decimals.” A boisterous student might get a W in “Demonstrates self control.”

There are 73 grading areas on the fourth-grade report card. On the previous report card, there were 10. The goal is to have a card full of P’s by the end of the year.

Other area districts have changed the way they grade in elementary schools. In 2004, the Northern Lebanon School District began using checks, pluses and minuses instead of traditional letter grades. The Eastern Lebanon County School District uses an “E” for exceeding expectations, an “M” for meeting them, and an “N” for “needing support.”

Reg Weaver, president of the National Educators Association, said there’s been a nationwide movement toward replacing traditional grading systems, but no consensus. Plenty of districts are experimenting, and it’s best for local districts to decide what works, he said.

Any way to give parents more feedback will be beneficial, he said.

“Once the kid knows the home and school is communicating and working together, in most cases you’ll see a difference in behavior, and you’ll see a difference in achievement,” Weaver said.

The impact is reaching into classroom lessons.

Fourth-grade teacher Brian Blase documents more data than he ever has before, but he won’t write scores or percentages on papers, he said. That data helps him direct his teaching at individual needs, he said.

During a geometry unit, one group of students was taken aside for a lesson on line segments. A few others got help on identifying right angles.

Students at elementary age are less motivated by grades than their older peers, and the new system helps him identify problem areas, Blase said.

“Even a student who got an A on the quiz, maybe they still don’t know how to draw a line segment,” he said.

The district is using just two letters to avoid the feeling of rankings, said Joe McFarland, principal of Hershey Primary Elementary School.

Some of the standards, designated by gray boxes on the report card, come from the state. Others are the district’s own.

Lori Dixon, principal of Hershey Intermediate Elementary School, said nonacademic factors are still important, though separate from academic achievement. They’ll be evaluated in a separate section, and misbehavior will be sternly talked about, she said.

But “it really should not muddy the issue of what this child knew and could demonstrate to me,” she said.

Parents and students will receive the first report card at the end of October, but the school is preparing parents for the switch. At a meeting with parents last week, the reaction was mostly positive.

Deborah Smith, who moved to Hershey from Binghamton, N.Y., said the former school district of her fifth-grade daughter used a similar system.

“This way you look at it, and you know the specific area you have to work on,” she said.

But Dana Bergey, the father of a fifth-grader, was skeptical.

“P is going to be ‘good enough,'” he said from the audience. “I don’t want my daughter to be good enough. I want her to be the best she can be.”

After the meeting, Bergey said he had feared the system catered to the lowest common denominator. But after a talk with McFarland, Bergey felt more optimistic, he said.

PTO President Ann Marie Schupper said she has already seen results.

Her fourth-grade daughter used to compare her grades to her seventh-grade brother’s, she said. This year, when her daughter brought home a spelling test with three questions wrong, she had a different response, Schupper said.

“She said, ‘I only have to learn these three,’ as opposed to ‘Oh, I have three wrong,'” Schupper said. “That’s really a great mind set.”

CLIPS: Some workers see buyouts as good news (04/04/07)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

News of job cuts at the West Hershey and 19 E. Chocolate Ave. plants in Derry Twp. were greeted with tears and anger. But at the Reese’s plant yesterday, some workers said their slice of The Hershey Co. reorganization tasted much better.

“It’s almost Hersheypark happy in there,” said Mike Henry, 54, a laborer with 34 years at the plant.

Reese’s workers were told yesterday that 200 to 250 jobs will be cut from the 900-worker plant. Workers said they expect details to be similar to the plans offered at the two unionized plants in Derry Twp.

How’s that good news?

Dozens of workers waved away interview requests, but almost all of the half-dozen or so who chose to speak were optimistic the cuts will be achieved voluntarily.

“Of course we don’t like to see the plant size reduced,” said Joe Peters, a 36-year veteran of the plant. “But if you’re close to retirement, this is definitely a better package than nothing.”

Peters, 57, said he can’t be sure until he sees the details of the offer, but he thought workers over 55 likely would take the deal.

Bill Brown, 55, wasn’t thinking about retirement. But he said he’d take a deal like the one offered to Hershey’s unionized workers last week. The union members approved that buyout plan overwhelmingly.

The plan for the Reese’s plant will not require a vote by workers because they are not unionized.

Lou Henry, 53, has worked at the Reese’s plant for 20 years and said she’ll wait to see the numbers before deciding whether to retire. She agreed that the mood yesterday was positive.

“For the most part, I think the people are very happy with what they’re getting,” she said.

Richard Stichler, 52, said the deal is good enough for him. He has 35 years at the plant, having started at 17. Single, with a daughter who graduated from college, he can work until the end of 2009 and collect the extra four years he believes the company is offering.

“I think I should be pretty well set,” he said.

The mood inside the plant yesterday was “pretty subdued,” Stichler said. He said a lot of people believed the youngest workers will be safe from layoffs.

“It’s just going to make it nicer and better for the younger people,” he said. “They have more of a sense of security.”

Brian Deimler, 22, didn’t know what to think as he was about to start his day. He’s been at the plant for a year and has hopes to stay longer, he said. It might be tough for a 52-year-old to leave, he said, and he wasn’t able to gauge his likelihood of staying.

“Can’t really do anything about it,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Steve Neider, who has worked in maintenance for less than a year, said he wasn’t too worried. Even if his job is cut, he said, “there are other jobs out there.”

Derry Twp. Supervisor Mike Pries said in an e-mail statement that “elected officials and work force agencies will assist the displaced employees who will be affected if not enough early retirements are taken.”

“The end result of the restructuring is that once these jobs are gone, they are gone forever,” he wrote.

LeRoy Zimmerman, chairman of The Hershey Trust, said the trust hopes all workers will be included in early retirement plans.

“I anticipated that they would hopefully be happy, because an early retirement package being offered to hourly employees is somewhat out of the ordinary,” he said.

“And I would hope they recognize that, notwithstanding the hardship that these things cause to families.”

The job cuts are part of a massive company restructuring that will result in about 3,000 job losses, although about 1,500 jobs eventually will be added at various plants, including a new one being built by Hershey in Mexico.

CLIPS: What would Milton do? (03/16/07)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

Even 62 years after his death, Milton Snavely Hershey has an opinion on everything.

The name and vision of The Hershey Co.’s founder is invoked in arguments over the future of the company, zoning changes and Internet message board etiquette. To get to the crux of the issues, residents often ask: What would Milton do?

“Milton still really matters a lot,” said Michael D’Antonio, author of “Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire and Utopian Dreams.”

“I don’t know if there are many places in America that you can find a founder so many years after his death that would be so alive in people’s minds and hearts.”

His name has been especially tied to The Hershey Co.’s plans to lay off as many as 3,000 workers while building a plant in Mexico. Locals fear the possibility of the plant at 19 E. Chocolate Ave., the one that emits a chocolate aroma through Hershey, shutting down or losing jobs.

Among the questions asked at a public rally last month: Where is the loyalty to Milton Hershey’s legacy? Will the dream of Milton Hershey die at the hands of Hershey Co. CEO Richard Lenny?

“I met Mr. Hershey, and Lenny could never stand on the same podium as that man,” Ralph Hetrick said at the rally.

So, if he were alive today, what would Milton Hershey say?

“I’m not sure we can say we know what Milton Hershey would do today,” said Tom Winpenny, a history professor at Elizabethtown College who has written papers and articles on the candymaker.

“It’s hard to compare 1905 with 2007. Anybody would make some adjustments to globalization, and I’m sure he would have made some.”

“I think if he had lived through the evolution of American business, he would understand the company’s approach and probably see it as inevitable,” D’Antonio said.

Milton Hershey’s rock star status lingers in his namesake village partly because his influence didn’t stop when he died in 1945.

The trust he left to educate underprivileged children has ballooned to several billion dollars, and the Milton Hershey School in Derry Twp. is increasing to a record-high enrollment of 1,700.

The trust gave $50 million to build the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, which employs thousands of people. Large swaths of land controlled by the trust have resisted the development of strip malls and hotels.

Hershey created jobs outside the United States. He poured money into sugar operations in Cuba, hoping to create a similar town there.

It was an era of civic concern when Milton Hershey ran the company, D’Antonio said, and “thinking people tended to dwell on the meaning of community.”

It was almost automatic for him to devote himself to others, he said.

The first chocolate plant in Hershey opened in 1905, soon to be followed by a post office, general store, barbershop, theater and boarding house for employees, according to the Derry Twp. Historical Society.

A park, which would later become Hersheypark, was created in 1907 as a place for employees to relax; the park and the iconic Hershey Kiss are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.

Milton Hershey signed a Deed of Trust in 1909 to create a home for orphaned boys, which later became the Milton Hershey School. The development of the town continued through the Great Depression and after Milton Hershey died in 1945.

“Although townspeople felt a deep sense of loss, many knew that they had been well provided for, and life would always be good in Hershey,” wrote Millie Landis Coyle on the Derry Twp. Historical Society Web site.

The town existed mostly to serve the needs of the company employees until the 1960s, said Pam Whitenack, director of the Hershey Community Archives.

Around that time, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center opened and tourism took off. A junior college that provided free education to Derry Twp. residents from 1938 to 1965 was a factor in the town’s growth, Whitenack said.

“In one perspective, Milton Hershey was about change,” she said. “He also really valued his employees and recognized their importance, and really felt that there was a very strong social contract between the company and the employee.”

Kathleen Lewis, vice president of the Derry Twp. Historical Society, said the company is no longer as paternalistic as it once was, but the area’s identity is still based on it.

“Since the very beginning, the town and the company were very close, and in fact everything that went on here was very intertwined,” she said. “That has changed somewhat, but I think people try to hold on to that feeling because they feel Mr. Hershey did a wonderful thing here.”

Staff writer Monica Von Dobeneck contributed to this report.

CLIPS: Amid anger and tears, difficult choices near (03/27/07)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

Michael Morgan said The Hershey Co.’s retirement package isn’t good enough.

Theresa Whitaker said she doesn’t see any choice but to take it.

Doug Geyer would be thrilled if he were eligible.

And Scott Ail is convinced he’s out of a job.

Workers, residents and politicians have pressed The Hershey Co. for the number of local job cuts since realignment plans were announced in February. Now that they know that 600 to 650 positions will be cut, the difficult decisions begin for the candymaking workers.

Whitaker, 52, plans to unenthusiastically take the deal for early retirement. It hurts to leave, she said, but she has to look out for her children.

“We don’t want to, but we don’t really have a choice,” said Whitaker, who works in molding. “If we don’t take it and it comes up again, it’s going to be worse.”

Her friend, Alice Jones-Pressley, said she’d love to be eligible for the deal.

The Harrisburg resident has worked in the plant since she was 18. She is now 46. So even though she was hired in the same year as Whitaker, she’s left out of the offer for early retirement.

She believes the company isn’t done downsizing. “The plant is a dinosaur,” she said, suggesting further cuts are likely in the 102-year-old main plant.

“There’s a lot of upset people right now,” she said. “A lot of anger, a lot of tears.”

At 47, Geyer, of Hummelstown, is missing the cut for a retirement package. He has worked in shipping for 29 years, but he wonders whether the plant will be shut in the coming years. “It’s just not cost-efficient,” he said.

Though much of his family, including his father, has worked at the plant, he’s looking for other jobs, unsure whether he’ll be able to retire with the company or what he might lose next. He said he would have taken a buyout if he had the opportunity.

“I always wanted to be younger,” he said. “For the first time, I’m too young.”

Morgan, 50, said he plans to reject the company’s offer and stay for 10 years. A truck driver for 29 years, he said an additional four years offered by the company aren’t enough.

“That’s just not going to cut it,” he said.

Ail, 42, has 13 years at the company, so “I’m toast,” he said. If he can, he’ll take voluntary severance, which would give him two weeks of pay for each of his 13 years. Voluntary severance will be offered only if enough workers eligible for the early retirement plan don’t take it.

If he were involuntarily let go — which he believes could happen — he’d get one week of pay for each year.

“It’s clear. Either way I’m out the door,” he said.

Ail, who makes syrup, went to a union meeting yesterday that explained his options, and he said he believes the union will approve the contract when it votes Thursday or Friday.

“I’ll just get a commercial driver’s license and drive somewhere,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of options around here.”

Derry Twp. Supervisor August “Skip” Memmi said elected officials can craft plans to help workers find jobs now that the officials know how many will be cut. Several local officials had been pressing the company for a number.

“I believe that the community as a whole has always been questioning what the impact was going to be,” Memmi said. “This number allows them to understand that impact a little better and should allow them to understand that there will be chocolate-making in Derry Twp. for the foreseeable future.”

Some workers are being proactive about their future.

Lebanon County Commissioner Bill Carpenter said he got a phone call from a Hershey employee who already is looking for a job. The employee, in his 50s, has about 25 years with the company and thinks he probably will be eligible for some type of retirement incentive, Carpenter said.

“He said he won’t be able to live on that and might need another job — maybe not as good — but something to supplement,” he said.

Carpenter said a sufficient number of “supplemental” jobs are available in the area.

“It’s the jobs like at Hershey that aren’t around. That’s a career job,” Carpenter said. “Hopefully, they will give a good enough buyout that they can live with that and do some sort of supplemental job and between the two be able to get by.”

Carpenter called the announcement “better news.”

“I wouldn’t say good news, but it’s better than we originally thought, that they might close a plant,” he said. “That would have been devastating.”

Staff writer Barbara Miller contributed to this report.

CLIPS: Residents and workers filled with uncertainty (03/26/07)

BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News

Even the good news surrounding The Hershey Co.’s future in Derry Twp. carries an aroma of uncertainty.

If a tentative agreement with the Chocolate Workers union is approved, the plants on East Chocolate Avenue and at Hershey West will keep running, ending a nagging fear that Chocolatetown, U.S.A., could lose its symbolic heart to cost-cutting measures.

But still up in the air is the number of local jobs to be lost under the company’s realignment.

A company spokesman said last night that Hershey would achieve “the majority” of expected job cuts through a “very attractive early retirement and voluntary severance plan.” How many jobs would be lost beyond that “majority” was not specified.

Yesterday’s news, like much of the communications from the company since it announced plans to lay off as many as 3,000 workers while building a plant in Mexico, was short on specifics.

“I guess we have to wait and see exactly what this is going to mean,” said Derry Twp. resident Rosemarie Rippon-Prete, who had organized a rally to save Hershey jobs. “This is a tease. It’s not the full truth yet.”

The union will present details of the tentative agreement to members at meetings this week. If approved, the agreement “fulfills our commitment to maintaining a strong presence within Derry Twp.,” the company said.

Some residents have feared the company might close its old plants. Many consider local job losses an assault on Milton S. Hershey’s vision for the company town.

“I have a feeling this is a beginning to an end of an era, and Mr. Hershey’s dream is soon to be destroyed,” Rippon-Prete said last night.

Others see job cuts as inevitable due to the changing business world and the company’s obligations to its stockholders.

The town, which features Hershey Kiss-shaped streetlights and a strong scent of chocolate, was built around the needs of the factory workers. Milton S. Hershey opened his first plant in 1905.

Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick III attended a rally this month along with several hundred local residents and Hershey workers. Last night, Hartwick said he was still waiting for a reply to an e-mail he wrote to Richard H. Lenny, asking the Hershey CEO to respond to questions about the local impact of the realignment.

He was e-mailed information on the union agreement from the company’s government relations director a few minutes before a call from The Patriot-News. The information also lacked an exact number on job losses, he said.

The company “holding their cards so close to their vest keeps me really confused and concerned about what the impact is going to be,” Hartwick said.

“In all of these agreements, the real impact is with the details,” he said. “And at first blush you think, obviously, The Hershey Co. must have had an idea how many jobs they wanted to reduce. If they didn’t have that number in mind, they couldn’t come to that agreement. It’d be nice to know what that total number will be.”

Without those numbers, he said, local government is having a hard time preparing for the impact.

“As an elected official, it is my responsibility to keep pressing them for more details,” Derry Twp. Supervisor Mike Pries said last night after hearing of the tentative agreement. “It is what they are not saying that has me worried.”

CLIPS: Fear of layoffs weighs upon Hershey workers, community (02/23/07)

BY DANIEL VICTOR AND BARBARA MILLER
Of The Patriot-News

If you’re looking for detailed answers on The Hershey Co.’s planned layoffs — and who isn’t? — rumors and barstool chatter will have to suffice for now.

There’s plenty to go around.

The Hershey Co. announced plans last week to trim 1,500 positions from its work force in the next three years while opening a factory in Mexico. Few details beyond that have been provided to company workers or the news media.

Workers said they were told at a meeting last week that the company might cut as many as 3,000 jobs and add 1,500 positions elsewhere.

With that many jobs on the line, and a trickle-down effect that could scar the area’s economy and image, patience is thin among those anxious to hear how many of those jobs will be cut from three Derry Twp. plants.

“Companies do not make a major announcement, which details the reduction of 1,500 jobs and the construction of a plant in Mexico, and not know exactly what the plans are,” Derry Twp. Supervisor Mike Pries wrote in an e-mail. “Hershey needs to be up front with their hard-working employees and the community at large.”

It is a difficult wait.

Chuck Bricker likes to tell people that if you cut him, he’ll bleed chocolate. He’s earned that after 43 years in town, going to school here, working at the Milton Hershey School and opening Bricker’s Pizza and Restaurant on Chocolate Avenue.

So he isn’t concerned just about the lunchtime crowds he’ll lose if the 19 E. Chocolate Ave. plant shuts down, he said. He spoke softly while discussing the layoffs, often shaking his head.

The people in power aren’t from Hershey and just don’t get the town, he said.

If the chocolate factories leave town, “we won’t talk about what we are or what we have,” Bricker said. “We’ll talk about what we used to be.”

Having an afternoon brew at the Parkside Bar and Grille Wednesday, Michael Morgan said he has driven Hershey trucks for 28 years. He’s concerned for his co-workers, and they haven’t gotten straight answers, he said.

“We know what’s happening,” he said. “If you have less than 10 years in there, you’re pretty much a sitting duck.”

The layoffs are the talk of everyone who sits in the chairs at Johnny’s Down Under Barber Shop on Chocolate Avenue, owner John Christopher said. He has his share of factory-worker customers — he worked at the plant for 24 years — and he said morale is down, management included.

“A lot of people really don’t know what to think because there are so many unanswered questions,” he said.

Any layoffs at local plants would also hurt Lebanon County because The Hershey Co. employs many county residents.

In 2002, when The Hershey Co. was up for sale, the company said more employees lived in Lebanon County than Dauphin County — 3,050 to 2,200 — because housing costs and taxes are lower in Lebanon County.

The largest employer within Lebanon County is the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, with 1,500 workers, according to the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp.

About 6,000 people in the Palmyra area work for the Hershey entities, which include The Hershey Co., Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co., The Milton Hershey School and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said Ron Fouche, chairman of the North Londonderry Twp. supervisors.

About 20,000 people live in Palmyra and its surrounding townships.

So far, local officials are cautiously optimistic that the biggest loss of jobs won’t be at the Hershey plants here.

Fouche described himself as “an eternal optimist.” But for the local workers, he termed the announcement of planned job cuts “a bummer.”

“You get concerned about them,” he said.

Retired workers also are dismayed about the news.

“I’m glad I’m out,” Arlie Heisey of Palmyra said while having breakfast with his wife, Beverly, at the Filling Station in Palmyra.

Heisey, who retired in 2002 after 46 years working for Hershey, said any job cuts would have a big impact on Palmyra.

“Everyone around here works for Hershey,” he said.

Heisey, like many, was a second-generation Hershey worker. His father worked there.

“It’s a family thing around here,” Beverly Heisey said.

Arlie Heisey said people in Lancaster County — and as far away as Perry and Schuylkill counties — work at Hershey.

“It used to be when you got your foot in the door at Hershey, you were set for life,” said Barb Blough of Hummelstown. She works in the west Hershey plant, and her dad retired after 42 years with the company.

“It’s scary. I’ve been there 16 years, and I don’t know if I’m going to have a job. Really, none of us do,” Blough said.

Virgil Huffman and Marlin Buck, both Palmyra residents and former employees, disagreed over the prospect of the company closing one of its plants in Derry Twp.

“I don’t think too much will happen in the next 10 to 15 years,” Buck said. “I think they’ll do their best to keep it going.”

“I think they want to phase all the old factories out. … I give them five years,” Huffman said.

“Where are workers going to get a job paying like that, plus the benefits? Sure, they can get a job — flipping hamburgers,” Huffman said.

Joanie Smith of North Londonderry Twp. said the announcement of job cuts “really kind of shocked me.”

“A lot of my neighbors work at Hershey,” she said.

“I would like to see the main plant kept open because it really is the town,” Smith, a former Hersheypark employee, said of the plant at 19 E. Chocolate Ave. “It is the essence of the whole town of Hershey.”

“The park and the factory and Chocolate World — it’s all part of the Hershey magic,” Smith said.