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Manholes, traffic lights and phrases questions are answered in this week's 'We the People'

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PennDOT wrapping up project on Lititz Pike south of Oregion Road

A manhole cover protrudes above the road surface in the nortbound lane of Route 501 at Buch Avenue in Manheim Township October 8, 2015.

LancasterOnline is answering your questions through We the People, a public-powered journalism project. You ask, you vote and our reporters find the answers.

Here are a few answers to questions that had not yet made it to the voting round.

If you have a Lancaster County-centric question, submit it below and your question may be featured in a future article.

Why do people say "awhile" at the end of their sentences?

When someone says "awhile," usually it means "in the meantime." For example, "I'll grab your water for you awhile."

Almost every area of the United States has its own dialect that the people native to that area follow.

"Awhile" is just one of those types of oddities in Lancaster County/Pennsylvania Dutch vernacular. It's a relatively common thing to tack on at the end of sentences for people who live in Lancaster, Harrisburg, Gettysburg and York, according to this forum post that quips about the proper meaning of "a while/awhile."

Question submitted by Brooke S.

Have a question? Submit it to our

We The People series:

Why do people from Lancaster County say "needs washed," "needs cleaned," etc.?

This is another one of those dialectical differences. Pennsylvania is not the only state with residents that say this.

According to Yale's Grammatical Diversity Project, some residents in states like Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana, among others, omit the "to be" in sentences like "This dress needs to be washed."

When the Scottish and Irish came to Pennsylvania in the 1600s and 1700s, they brought this speaking pattern with them, according to Quick and Dirty Tips, a website for general tips and tricks. There is no telling for why the speaking pattern came to be.

Question submitted by Rebecca M.

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Please explain why everything is named "Red Rose." What is the history or reason? 


The red rose for Lancaster's New Year's Eve celebration was delivered to Lancaster Square by Shumaker PDT Monday, Dec 31, 2018. The rose, drops from a tower that is above North Queen Street at midnight.

The Pennsylvania-based cities, York and Lancaster were named after the towns of the same name in England.

In the 1400s, two royal houses in England (York and Lancaster) fought a civil war to determine who would take over the throne. Lancaster was associated with a red rose, and York was associated with a white one. 

When English settlers came over and named the land, the reputation behind the names stuck, according to the book "A Short History of the Wars of the Roses" by David Grummitt.

Question submitted by Jane L.

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Manhole covers on roads... Why are they not in a specific location? Like on the side or in the middle of a road?

Manholes are ideally supposed to be in the middle of the road, as the least amount of drivers would have to encounter them.

Roads undergo construction and expansion, typically making the lanes wider. When that happens, it would be too costly to move the sewer system along with it so typically the manhole cover stays in the same spot (which will vary by road).

Sources: QuoraReddit

Question submitted by Cathy B.

Who is responsible for maintaining timing of traffic lights on Prince, Duke streets, etc. They appear to be off recently and traffic suffers.

Reporter Chad Umble explained this in a previous Watchdog article that you can find here.

Question submitted by James M.

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