This week’s good stuff: Inspirational photographer, 50 years in the LL League, basket fundraisers and more [editorial] | we saw

The issue: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County and the surrounding area. Some of these elements are welcome developments on the economic front or for neighborhoods in the area. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, empathy and creativity that are welcome points of light during the third spring of the COVID-19 pandemic and with other grim news enveloping our world. All this boosting news deserves to be highlighted in a brighter light.

First, we have the inspiring story of Morgan Smoker, a 22-year-old photographer, dog lover, and Philadelphia Eagles fan from Gordonville.

LNP | Mike Andreichek of Lancaster Online recently profiled the Pequea Valley High School graduate, who snapped her professional photo “from her electric wheelchair and with the aid of the Accent 1400 communicator — a machine that helps her craft messages and load pre-programmed responses.”

The smoker was born with a genetic condition that prevents her body from processing certain proteins; She was unable to walk, speak, or control her hands.

But there is a lot more she can do, including operating her electric wheelchair and her Canon camera via a sensor on her forehead. She works for Get the Picture, and is a saleswoman in Dutch Wonderland.

“When I started, I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I’d love to do it,” Smoker wrote in an email. “I followed photography with full force by going around my development and started taking pictures of everything. Like trees, flowers, sunsets. I started asking my friends and family if I could take pictures of them, and I kept getting better on my own.”

The chimney constantly smokes around it.

“It’s been amazing from day one,” Tara Olson, who works at Get the Picture, told Andrelczyk. “She was our best photographer. She has made more sales than any of our photographers in the last two years. She always wants to work as many hours as she can.”

“She’s very determined,” added Lanita Smoker, Morgan’s mother.

“Nothing can stop me,” Morgan summed up in an email.

We believe it.

On other good things:

– The Lancaster Lebanon League was founded in 1972 and LNP | LancasterOnline celebrates 50 years of the High School Athletic League by taking a look at the notable events of the past five decades.

One of the stories we particularly enjoyed was reporter Steve Navaroli’s profile on Terry Engelman, who is among the few individuals to have worked in the league in some form for the last 50 years.

“For starters, the 81-year-old Engelman, of Efrat, started the track program at Efrat High School in 1962 — 10 years before the LL (league) existed. Little did he know he would still be active in the sport (in 2022),” he wrote. Navaroli.

Engelman has been a coach, administrator, and scheduler over the years, doing the kinds of unknowns that have given generations of student-athletes a chance to compete.

“I just enjoy this sport,” Engelmann told Navarroli. “I will see athletes from other schools as administrators and may now be coaches, and they will remember me. I did not do this for any glory. It makes me feel young and connected to the sport.”

One official dubbed Engleman the “Energizer Bunny” because of the enthusiasm he still brings to track and field after all these years.

Engelman plans to be in track and field in the area for as long as he can. If you see him, be sure to give him a round of applause.

Lancaster’s economic work on downtown success adds some springtime excitement to the streets of Lancaster.

“LEADS, the all-volunteer organization responsible for beautifying downtown Lancaster… will soon hang nearly 300 baskets of flowers from lampposts as part of the annual ‘Build a Basket’ fundraising drive | LNP | Jenelle Jansey of LancasterOnline reported last week.

For $90, individuals can sponsor a basket in honor of someone or a memory. A painting will be hung from each approved basket, and an image can be added to the board for another $10.

To adopt a basket, go online at lancasterleads.org/adopt-a-basket. The deadline is May 10.

Finally, there is good news regarding funding for the construction, or reconstruction, of some facilities and projects around Lancaster County.

Rock Lititz will build a $10 million education center that will create about 50 jobs as it aims to address a staff shortage in the live events industry, LNP | Lisa Shedd reported from LancasterOnline last week.

Half of the project’s funding — $5 million — will come through a grant from the Pennsylvania Capital Redevelopment Assistance Program. This is the largest of four such grants for Lancaster County projects; Others go to the Lancaster City Visitor Center, a life sciences incubator project in the town of West Hempfield and renovations at YWCA Lancaster.

The company said the Rock Lititz project will be a roughly 30,000-square-foot facility called the Pod 1A Education Center, which will be built adjacent to my rehearsal studio in Warwick.

The site will have three tenants: Backstage Academy (university), Blackbird Academy (technical school), and Clair Global (training centre).

Rock Lititz states in its application that once the education center is built, it plans to work alongside “the public school system, vocational schools, technology and the higher education system to meet these unmet needs” of workers,” Shedd said.

We are also excited about the planned $2 million reconstruction of the Lancaster City Visitor Center at 38 Penn Square. Approximately $1 million from this project will be funded by the Pennsylvania Capital Redevelopment Assistance Program.

“The grant will also help develop technology and a digital mapping system to improve service for domestic and international tourism,” Shedd said.

It will also enable the center to add four employees to the eight already working there.

The visitor center is located within a building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and dates back to 1795. The project will include repairs and restoration of the building’s old windows and original stone walls.

We are pleased to see this needed work now planned for this historic structure, and hopefully it will provide an opportunity in the tourism arm here as well.

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