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A holiday where we can be luminously human

We can’t tell you how to celebrate your Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a personal thing, whether it’s with a turkey dinner or a vegan feast, a family get-together or a football binge in front of the TV.

For some, it’s a symbol of the oppression of a native people. How you see it is how you see it.

But whether you use Thanksgiving as a history lesson, a chance to reunite with relatives or a mission to grab discounted merchandise during Black Friday sales at local stores, we suggest you take the time to truly be thankful for the good things in life.

Even in a world filled with too much ugliness, there is beauty and hope. Even in a world filled with too much animus, too much stress, too little time to enjoy its splendor.

In these times, where more is better, where there’s no time to stop and simply count our blessings for what we got, we need to pause and consider the gifts of life – family, friends, nature, special moments, happy memories, all things that have made our existence luminously human.

We compromise nothing by stopping on Thanksgiving and considering the good things.

It was Abraham Lincoln who signed a presidential proclamation in 1863 that chose a uniform date for Thanksgiving in all of the states. In 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress that made the fourth Thursday of November the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s interesting that Roosevelt had tried to make that day the official holiday on his own two years earlier, hoping that celebrating Thanksgiving on that Thursday would give the country an economic boost.
Now retail stores are fighting to lure us into their aisles and checkout lines on Thanksgiving Day itself.

There’s been a backlash against those retailers who would force their employees to work on Thanksgiving instead of celebrating it at home with family and friends. Whatever your stand, no matter where you are on Thanksgiving, we hope you take a moment to consider all of the beautiful things in our world, and in your life. Shopping sprees and the presidential pardoning of turkeys aside: It’s that personal act that makes Thanksgiving profoundly meaningful.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 15:48

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A thumbs-up for rec effort


We’ve never heard anyone complain that children have too much to do to keep them out of trouble, to introduce them to new and worthy pursuits, to teach them valuable life lessons, to make them better people physically or mentally. Just the opposite: The standard complaint heard just about everywhere, not just the Middletown area, is that there aren’t enough things for kids to do.

There are several examples of how Middletown is striving to be the exception: Schools, Scout troops, cheerleading squads, even the nonprofit group Youth 10X’s Better, which has offered everything from photography classes to reading programs to kids for free at Wesley United Methodist Church on Ann Street.

It’s encouraging to learn about a recent deal that appears to have been struck by Middletown Borough, Lower Swatara Twp., Royalton Borough and the Middletown Area School District to resume funding for the Olmsted Area Recreation Board, a coalition of local officials that provides sports programs and recreation – from youth basketball leagues to management of Middletown’s community pool.

The deal, confirmed by Sue Layton, the rec board’s executive director, and Tom Mehaffie, president of the Lower Swatara Twp. commissioners, is for Middletown, Lower Swatara and the school district to contribute $10,000 each for 2016. Royalton would contribute $9,000.

The future of the Olmsted rec board has at times over the last five years been up in the air, as more frugal members of Middletown Borough Council have questioned the cost to the borough. At the time, the borough was responsible for maintenance and chemicals at the pool, repaired years ago at a substantial cost.

In fact, some of Olmsted’s members did not contribute to the rec board for at least a year, as members worked out funding disagreements and disputes over expenses.

Recently, Lower Swatara has proven to be a mover and advocate behind the idea of regional recreation programs, and recreation in general. The township owns a fine array of parks and athletic fields, and seems to seriously consider recreation to be a crucial quality of life issue.

Last summer, attendance at the Middletown pool increased, board officials said, giving hope that the facility can generate more income to offset its expenses.

The new accord struck between local governments and the school board indicate that everyone sees the value in teaming up to offer recreation programs. Joining together and combining our resources seems like the wisest way to offer recreation at the cheapest price possible. We applaud the effort.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 November 2015 13:52

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Now that the election's over, let's move forward


Elections are exciting times, indeed. Cyclical, you could argue, as it seems that voters change their mind about the direction in which they want their town, their township, their county, their state, their federal government to go every four years or so.

In Middletown, a grassroots move to change the way the borough spends money and raises revenue brought a new majority to Borough Council. Six years later, a grassroots move – via Facebook and other social media – has brought yet another change, another new majority.

In November’s general election, some of the people who won council seats are familiar faces, just as it was in 2009. Most are new.

Former long-time mayor Robert Reid appears to have won a seat on council via a write-in campaign, based on unofficial returns reported by Dauphin County. Former council president Diana McGlone also won, clinching a seat on council in May’s primary election. Three other apparent winners – Dawn Bixler Knull, Damon Suglia and Greg Wilsbach, the borough’s former electric department supervisor – are new to elected office.

First certification of the write-in results will be presented to the Dauphin County Board of Elections on Thursday, Nov. 12, according to Gerald Feaser, director of the county’s bureau of Voter Registration and Elections. This starts the clock on a week-long period for anyone to challenge the write-in results. The results become official with final certification on Thursday, Nov. 19. At that point, the county sends letters out to all the write-in winners.

The winners must also file any required legal paperwork, such as a campaign expense form, to assume their respective offices in 2016, Feaser added. Assuming the unofficial results stand, the new majority that will take control on council has a long to-do list of projects and initiatives started by the current council.

We hope, as we do after every election, that a new majority will lawfully and transparently perform the public’s business. In the past, we’ve insisted that council’s working committees advertise meeting dates and let the public know when they will meet, a practice we will count on to continue. It is crucial that council not only vote on the public’s business in public, but deliberate it in public as well.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next four years. Congratulations to all the election winners. Each election rekindles excitement, hope and an admiration for our democratic process. Let’s move forward.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 November 2015 16:19

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The McNair House: Save it, don't demolish it


The McNair House is a mystery. The stately house that sits at the intersection of Emaus and Union streets – at the entrance to Middletown’s downtown business district – dates back to at least 1894, but its architectural style suggests it is older than that.

It was the home of Harold V. McNair, a long-time burgess of Middletown, back when burgesses, not mayors, represented boroughs. Recently, it was purchased by the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority, which had planned to build a rather elaborate pavilion on property in front of the three-story house, part of the authority’s goal to transform the intersection into a new town square.

Plans seem to have changed, however. The pavilion has grown smaller, and now the McNair House could have a starring role in the authority’s downtown revitalization. Authority Chairman Matt Tunnell said the downtown improvements should focus on how to “visually ensure’’ that the McNair House has a presence in the renovated business district, and suggested the first floor could host a commercial or retail tenant.

It’s future is up for debate among borough officials. Councilor Scott Sites has suggested it be demolished to make way for parking, which could be at a premium once revitalization of the business district is completed. True, the borough may have the future good fortune of having to worry how so many visitors to Middletown will find a place to park their cars, but we believe that problem can be solved without tearing down such an old, quaint building. We’d like to see the McNair House saved and used as a commercial property.

With restoration of the Elks Building across the street, to be used as a brew pub and distillery, and the preservation of mansions and old commercial buildings on the rest of Union Street, it makes sense to save the McNair House and use it, not replace it with asphalt.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 November 2015 15:37

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