The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 10, 2013

Butler County hires armed guards for schools


In came a girl, 10, carrying her backpack though the metal detector, which set off the alarm. “I’m sorry,” she said. She handed Cichra her pink binder and her lunch bag. He opened it and sifted through the contents inside. String cheese. Goldfish. Chocolate milk. “Looks good,” he said, handing the bag back to the girl. “Looks tasty.”

He had decided the best way to carry a gun in an elementary school was to act nothing at all like a person carrying a gun. A few of the other school guards in Butler wore old police vests and displayed guns on their hips, but Cichra dressed in reading glasses, khaki pants, a collared shirt and a sweater that covered up his Beretta. He sat by the entrance, reading a newspaper and studying attendance lists so he could memorize students’ names. Whenever one walked by, Cichra stretched out his right hand to give a high-five. “Hit me,” he said, until his palm turned red and a teacher stopped by to offer hand sanitizer.

“We usually think of germs as our number one threat,” the teacher said.

Every few hours, Cichra made coffee in the faculty lounge and then patrolled the school’s two long hallways, stopping along the way to admire the first-graders’ cardboard gingerbread men that decorated the walls. Summit Elementary had been built when administrators feared a fire more than anything else, and it had five sets of doors to allow for easy exit. Now those doors were possible entrances for an attack, and Cichra double-checked the locks and shook the handles.

Every once in awhile, a student approached him to ask a question. Did he carry a gun? Did he have any secret weapons like Batman? Did he have an extra badge to give away?

Text Only
  • With 1 week to go, Sanford subject of attacks

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford can’t seem to escape attacks on the extramarital affair that derailed his political career, which he hopes to revive in a special congressional election that is now a week away.

    May 1, 2013

  • Bombing shifts Mass. Senate race before primaries

    BOSTON — Even before the explosions, polling suggested that Massachusetts voters weren’t excited about the looming special election to replace former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

    April 28, 2013

  • In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites

    WASHINGTON — America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

    April 28, 2013

  • Senate Democrats put off vote on Labor nominee

    WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats have delayed a confirmation vote on Labor Secretary-nominee Thomas Perez after Republicans threatened to use a separate hearing to criticize his handling of a whistleblower case.

    April 24, 2013

  • Sen. Baucus' decision to retire sets stage for majorlegislative changes

     Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., one of the most influential congressional figures of his era, announced his intention Tuesday to retire, a move that could produce sweeping changes in the political and legislative landscape over the next two years.

    April 24, 2013

  • Senate friendship born of tragedy beat partisanship

    These days, most dispatches from Washington focus on petty partisanship, posturing, impasses and a political culture that rewards confrontation.

    April 22, 2013

  • Rubio rising

    If Marco Rubio helps pass comprehensive immigration reform, he will have accomplished more as a senator than Barack Obama did.

    April 22, 2013

  • Gun Bill's Failure May Help Immigration Legislation

    WASHINGTON — Here's an odd political reality: The collapse of the gun bill in the Senate last week may well make the passage of immigration reform legislation slightly easier.

    April 21, 2013

  • Senate Planning Vote on Internet Sales Tax

    WASHINGTON — The days of tax-free online shopping could finally be numbered.

    April 21, 2013

  • Advocates of Immigration Reform Fight Back Against Push for Delay

    WASHINGTON — The Senate's leading supporters of overhauling the nation's immigration system sought Sunday to blunt a conservative effort to slow the pace of debate over their bill, saying the Boston Marathon bombings are a reason to move quickly to make changes.

    April 21, 2013

Featured Ads
Politics Video