The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:

Q: When it comes to the York city auditorium, how much is it being used? I’m really interested in seeing us keep the building and I would love to help find money to save it. I think if people knew just how much it is actually used, the perception of its value might be better.

A: Cheree Folts, director of parks and recreation in York, provided numbers of categorized events that took place at the city auditorium between 2011 and 2018. During that timeframe, at the auditorium, there were 80 auctions, 37 showers, 25 banquets, 114 parties, 72 bloodmobiles, 188 expos/festivals/shows, 15 elections, 37 fundraisers, 16 funerals, 33 graduations, 47 meetings, 125 weddings and numerous sporting events including 154 CRC events. All totaled, there were 2,112 events held in the city auditorium between those years.

Q: Years ago, probably 20 or so, a great deal of work was done to preserve the Fillmore County Courthouse. I remembered it as I’ve been hearing about the issues of saving the city auditorium here in York and I was just hoping you could go back and look at how much it cost to do that work at the courthouse in Geneva and if you could find information about how they paid for it, what was done, etc.

A: We looked through the News-Times archives and found the project (from conception to completion) took about five years. The cost of the work, when it was all said and done, was about $2.6 million.

Private citizens, who called themselves the “Friends of the Courthouse,” promoted the original bond that was issued and they gathered donations from county residents and alumni.

In 1996, the Fillmore County Board of Supervisors began to consider a bond issue to work on the structure.

The first Friends of the Courthouse Committee organized on April 9, 1997, and the $1.25 million bond issue passed that day with an additional $500,000 allocated from the Fillmore County Inheritance Tax Fund.

Work began in the basement, the sheriff’s office was moved and the jail cells were vacant for a while. The state/county welfare and county veterans’ service offices were moved out of the courthouse during construction. The county courtroom was rearranged, new transom windows were placed on the first floor.

The entryways were done, the floors were restored and the clock tower was completely restored. Many areas of the building, including all the walls and stairways, were either returned to their original wood or made new by a fresh coat of paint.

The Friends of the Courthouse raised money to cover the costs not covered by the bond issue or the ½-million dollars from the inheritance fund. There was a very long list of donors and plaques with their names were hung for viewing inside the courthouse.

The courthouse was rededicated on Sept. 29, 2001.

Q: What can be done about blighted, run-down properties in York? There is a house next door to my mother’s that has been vacant for several years. No utilities are connected, windows are broken and you can observe animals going in and out of the holes in the foundation. The lean-to on the garage is close to falling down and is a safety hazard. The yard is mowed periodically but there is no snow removal.

A: In the past, when there were dilapidated houses in the city, the owners of the properties were contacted by officials and asked to remedy the problem. When nothing happened in a reasonable amount of time, code violations were issued and the property owners were given a timeframe in which they had to comply. When they still didn’t comply, the council authorized the filing of lawsuits in District Court, asking that the property owners be required to do the repairs or the city should be given the ability to destroy the buildings and place a lien on the properties.

In those past situations, the city did have the option to just do the repair and levy a lien against the property, but the cost was so great and the properties were in such bad condition, it was determined that the best option was to tear them down. The court decision was the same and the city was given the ability to tear the houses down.

The process is time consuming. The last time around, the city dealt with the properties for more than two years before demo day arrived.

It is likely that city officials are already working on this particular situation, as it sounds pretty serious. The reader should probably contact city officials, about this situation . . . they will be able to provide the reader with the status of the effort.

Q: Has there been a resolution in the case involving the county’s former public defender, the criminal case in Fillmore County? I haven’t seen anything written about it in a long time.

A: The criminal theft case filed against Nancy Waldron, former public defender in York County, remains ongoing in Fillmore County. She has already pleaded not guilty and a number of motions have been filed, but there has not yet been a trial or change of plea or dismissal or conviction. It remains an active case.

Q: Most people write in to the Wonderline about train whistles or city government. I’m writing about something important – the comics. What happened to “Alley Oop?” The art is bad and the story is really bad.

A: The comic strip, “Alley Oop,” is not produced in-house, it is a syndicated product that is purchased by publication companies. So as far as if something changed with its production, we don’t know have that information.

Q: Why doesn’t the brick match, between the courthouse and the new courthouse addition?

A: The commissioners said the exact same brick, from the exact same company, was used for the addition as what was used on the courthouse when it was built. They said the addition’s brick is darker because the courthouse brick has faded – they added that the brick for the new addition will also fade as well.

Q: Why do some people love cilantro and others hate it? I have it coming up naturally in my garden again this year and I love it . . . but other members of my family hate it and say that to them, it tastes like soap but I don’t taste that at all when I eat it.

A: It’s funny because someone else asked a similar such question last spring.

According to experts with the website “The Spruce Eats,” most people “who dislike cilantro describe its flavor as being similar to soap or metal. Some reactions to cilantro are so strong that event just the scent can make a stomach turn.

“Cilantro contains a natural chemical compound called aldehyde that can taste unpleasant to some people. Aldehydes are compounds that are also produced in the soap making process and by some insects. For this reason, some people describe the flavor of cilantro as soap-like. Not all people interpret the flavor of these aldehydes in this way.”

Q: How and when did Memorial Day start?

A: Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring persons who have died while serving in the armed forces. It is observed every year on the last Monday in May.

The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War.

Annual decoration days have long been a tradition in many states, involving the decoration of graves for loved ones as well.

On June 3, 1861, Warrenton, Va., was the location of the first Civil War soldier’s grave to be decorated, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper article in 1906. In 1862, women in Savannah, Ga., decorated Confederate soldiers’ graves according to the Savannah Republican. The 1963 cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Penn., was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Some have therefore claimed that President Abraham Lincoln was the founder of Memorial Day.

In April, 1865, following President Lincoln’s assassination, commemorations were widespread. There was an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves and in 1865, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead.

In 1868, General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Ill., established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, various Union memorial traditions, celebrated on different days, merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the U.S. military service.

The name of Decoration Day (first used in 1882) was later changed to Memorial Day after World War II.

On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The last took effect at the federal level in 1971. All 50 states adopted the change of date within a few years.


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