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In honor of local attorney Tim Sheffey’s work with Lebanon County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board, September 5 was proclaimed “Tim Sheffey Day” through a formal resolution from the county commissioners on Thursday.
Sheffey has been a member of the land preservation board since its inception in 1991, said Angie Foltz, ag preservation program specialist.
“He’s been a board member, and the chairman, and he’s been instrumental in keeping the board going and giving direction to the program,” Foltz said.
Under Sheffey’s watch, more than 19,000 acres of prime farmland have been preserved, Foltz said, making Lebanon County’s program the eighth leading preservation program in the state.
The farmland that has been saved from development will make a lasting impression on the future, Foltz said, impacting the economy, the landscape, and the quality of life for everyone.
“I am thrilled that you’re getting this award,” Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz told Sheffey. “We appreciate so much the job that you’ve done.”
Karl Kerchner, assistant manager for the Conservation District, gave Sheffey a gift bag full of Pennsylvania products.
“This is to thank him for the contributions he has made and in recognition of his service to land preservation,” Kerchner said. “This is really on behalf of a grateful Lebanon County.”
Sheffey is retiring from his position on the board.
“I’ve been doing this for 28 years,” Sheffey said. “It’s a good program; we’ve had challenges and we’ve had successes, and the program is in good hands now.
“Lebanon County has some of the best farmland in the state and I’m happy there are still farm folk who want to preserve their land,” Sheffey said.
Fellow Reilly Wolfson attorney Paul Bametzreider was also on hand to congratulate Sheffey for his land preservation work.
“This is a happy occurrence,” said Commissioner Bob Phillips. “We’re grateful for everything you’ve done for the county.”
The preservation board is currently working with three county farms, totaling about 350 acres to be preserved, Foltz said.
Foltz is also handing her duties to Craig Zemitis, who will be the new agriculture preservation specialist.
In another matter, County Administrator Jamie Wolgemuth said he had little information to add to what he called a “cyber incident” that affected computers in the courthouse last week.
On August 29, Wolgemuth issued a statement explaining that Lebanon County’s PC network had been affected by a computer virus, and to be cautious, the county had disconnected its network from the internet.
Thursday, Wolgemuth said officials are still not sure what happened and called the event a “cyber incident,” noting it may not have been a computer virus.
But then again, it may have been. Little information is being released at this time.
On Thursday afternoon following the County Commissioners meeting, the County announced that the cybersecurity incident has been resolved. This article was written before that news was released.
Read more: Investigation concludes county computers weren’t actually compromised
“We’ve been dealing with this for a week and we’re still investigating,” Wolgemuth said. “We need to get to the bottom of what we’ve been dealing with.
“We didn’t reach a point where we had to completely disconnect, so some online services may be available,” Wolgemuth said.
The county does have cyber liability coverage, enabling county officials to work on the problem with outside vendors, he said.
“In the next couple of days, we may have more to share,” Wolgemuth said.
“There’s no evidence of a breach in data. I’m still characterizing this as a cyber incident; it could be internal, local, or from anywhere in the world.”
Wolgemuth asked that anyone doing online business with the county be patient.
Emergency ‘911’ services are not affected, he said.
In other business, Robert Dowd, Lebanon County Department of Emergency Serives, and Gary Verna, the county’s Haz-Mat chief, told the commissioners of two grants the emergency services department will be receiving.
A state Homeland Security annual grant for $15,000 will be used to support the department’s capabilities to respond to incidents involving radiation.
A $16,500 Hazardous Materials grant will be used, in part, to purchase equipment to respond to propane incidents.
Verna said two facilities in the county have large quantities of propane, and more households and farms are using propane for economic reasons.
“County fire departments have skills, but need to be better prepared,” Verna said, adding that teams need to learn how to manage both vapor and liquid propane.
Propane incidents can be difficult to manage since no tools that could create a spark can be used, Verna said. Propane also has a lower explosive threshold and has oxygen-depleting qualities.