Amazon introduces new delivery station in Rapho Township

Amazon recently opened a 414,000-square-foot delivery station in Rapho Township, Lancaster County- its first in North America this year.

The capacious building at 1156 Four Star Road had been unoccupied for years and required millions of dollars in renovations.

Last week, Amazon invited state and local officials to celebrate the opening and watch the facility in action.

Amazon employs about 100 people at the facility. Company spokesman Sam Fisher said 50 more are with Amazon’s delivery service partners, operating delivery vans.

The warehouse, which became operational in February, is known in Amazon-speak as DPL7, a “last mile” facility.

Tractor-trailer loads of merchandise that had been boxed or placed in shipping envelopes at Amazon fulfillment centers in York County, Baltimore and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport arrive at the delivery station. Amazon workers then sort and pack the merchandise for van drivers employed by third-party companies, who take the packages the “last mile” to customers up to an hour from Mount Joy.

Fisher confirmed that pay starts at $17.50 an hour.

Amazon is leasing the Rapho Township facility from Robert Redcay, a local developer and investor.

Fisher said the Four Star Road delivery station is among 18 operated by Amazon in the state. A second one in central Pennsylvania is at 10 Industrial Road in West Donegal Township’s Conewago Industrial Park.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lancaster’s Rapho Township experiences a growth spurt

The population in Rapho Township increased by nearly 18 percent, making it Lancaster County’s fastest-growing municipality, according to updated population data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Located in the county’s northwest sector, Rapho is along the busy Route 283-Route 230 corridor, an area that the Lancaster County Planning Commission and Economic Development Company of Lancaster have targeted as prime for future growth.

In the nine-plus years from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2019, the township added an estimated 1,865 people, climbing from 10,439 to 12,304. Rapho’s nearly 18% growth rate ranked seventh in the state among municipalities with at least 10,000 residents, and 276th nationally.

Suzanne Reiley, president of the board of the Manheim Area Chamber of Commerce, and her husband, Barney, live in Rapho Township. They are redeveloping an old factory site, the former Bickel’s Snack Foods plant, in Manheim Borough.

Strickler Road, which runs between Route 772 and Route 230, is the catalyst for much of what’s happening in Rapho, Barney Reiley said.

There’s a Holiday Inn & Suites under construction about 2 miles from Spooky Nook Sports, a re-built Sheetz and a relatively new Tractor Supply, he said, naming just a few of the businesses in the area. Good Country Fruit’s distribution center is also on Strickler Road.

He cited three reasons for Rapho’s population boom: the strong economy (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic); its lower tax rates; and its size.

At more than 47 square miles, Rapho Township is among the largest municipalities in the county. “We have the space to do it here,” while still preserving the agricultural parts of the township, Barney Reiley said. He also noted that Rapho features one of the two Pennsylvania Turnpike entrances in Lancaster County, a selling point to commuters

And he characterized the township’s leadership as business friendly.

Census data shows Lancaster County gained 26,281 residents in the decade, up 5.1% from 519,443 to 545,724. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s population barely budged in that span, ticking up less than a percent to 12,801,989.

There are 17 municipalities in Lancaster County with at least 10,000 people.

The most populous are  Lancaster city, 59,265; Manheim Township, 40,548; East Hempfield Township, 24,701;  Manor Township, 21,021; and Warwick Township, 19,536.

The least populous are Christiana Borough, 1,171; Terre Hill Borough, 1,435; Adamstown Borough, 1,858; Eden Township, 2,233; and Marietta Borough, 2,604.

New initiative looking to get younger set interested in construction trade

ABC Keystone has teamed up with the Hands-On House to present a new exhibit based around construction careers. Kicking off the concept were, from left: Jim Bland, executive director of the Hands-On House (HOH); Justin Manning, HOH chair; Douglas M. Dvorchak, ABC Keystone chair; and G. David Sload, president and CEO of ABC Keystone. (Photo: Submitted)

With an anticipated shortfall of workers filling needed construction trade positions in the upcoming decades, industry leaders are beginning to look at creative ways to find the future electricians, plumbers and architects.

The Keystone Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors is teaming up with the Hands-on House Children’s Museum of Lancaster to create a new construction-themed exhibit at the nonprofit education center based in Manheim Township.

Dubbed “HOH Construction Co.,” the planned exhibit slated to open in early 2020 is designed to allow children and their families to enter a simulated job site, interacting with different elements to learn about career options in the construction industry and educational and training opportunities like apprenticeships. Geared towards elementary-school age children, the exhibit will also teach about different occupations that support the construction industry workforce development.

G. David Sload, president and CEO of ABC Keystone, said current projections show that more than 900,000 positions will need to be filled over the next decade because of retirements and current job openings in construction. He said steps need to be taken now to ensure the construction industry doesn’t face a crisis for manpower.

“This exhibit is vital to introducing today’s youth to the many career opportunities available in the industry,” said Sload.

Planning for the exhibit began as early as May 2018 when officials at the museum were looking for a new educational concept.

The centerpiece of the exhibit consists of a “build house” in different stages of completion, officials said. Several different areas in the building will highlight trades, including pulling wire as an electrician, installing PVC pipe as a plumber, finishing trim as a carpenter and building a brick wall as a mason.

Apprentices working with ABC Keystone are taking part in constructing much of the structure, officials said, which is proposed as a multi-floor clubhouse to be built at a height and dimensions allowing parents to interact and with their children inside the house.

An artist rendition of the “HOH Construction Co.” exhibit set to be built by ABC Keystone volunteers at the Hands-On House in Manheim Township. (Photo: Submitted) –

To simulate entering a job site, children will don hard hats, gloves and vests before choosing from a set of tools related to their chosen construction trade.

Several other proposed exhibit elements include: a foreman’s station where blueprints can be reviewed; an excavating zone consisting of contained foam dirt and rubber boulders; a concrete mixer with a hand-turned mixer and wheelbarrows; and trade stations explaining more about each trade and how they work together to finish a project.

Hands-on House has been educating children ages 2–10 years old since it opened its doors on the grounds of the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum in 1987. The non-profit organization dedicated to creating learning experiences through play was created through a task force started by the Junior Leage of Lancaster.

“We are delighted that our partnership with ABC Keystone will provide new opportunities to educate future generations,” said Jim Bland, Hands-on House executive director. “We look forward to working closely with ABC Keystone to generate and sustain interest in the construction industry and the trades, by giving children and families a hands-on, developmentally appropriate introduction to the jobs that build our community.”

ABC Keystone is a construction trade association based in Rapho Township representing nearly 600 construction-related firms. Besides ABC Keystone, the Building Industry Association of Lancaster County and Clark Associates Charitable Foundation have committed funding to the Hands-On House construction exhibit as sponsors.