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Take advantage of fall before cold weather sets in

The calendar keeps flipping by as we head toward October. Already. It’s hard to believe.

 It wasn’t along ago that we were lamenting the ultra-hot days of summer (although it’s still pretty warm out these days). The kids were enjoying being out of school. We were taking our family vacations.

 We especially enjoyed the return of Labor Day weekend fireworks after a three-year absence. What a display it was! The location along the boat launch at Union and Susquehanna streets made the display look especially glorious. It was a great idea to make the day’s events more complete, too, with flag football, corn hole, zumba, baseball events and food. The entire $18,000 cost was covered by almost $20,000 raised by the Mayoral Madness charity basketball games in 2015 and 2016. Thanks to all involved for making this happen.

 But even that now seems like a distant memory. The kids are back in school, some at the new Middletown complex. Halloween is just around the corner. In fact, we have details about the upcoming parade on our front page today. That will be followed closely by Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. Blink your eyes and they run together, especially with stores continually putting out items earlier and earlier for the next holiday.

 But don’t let the fall slide by. The leaves are starting to turn. It makes for a beautiful time here in Pennsylvania. We are lucky to be in such a spot where fall is an event we can enjoy. There are plenty of fall festivals. If you didn’t make it to the Middletown Home on Sunday, you missed one of the big ones, the Pumpkin Fest. There are plenty of pictures on Page C1.

 Enjoy our high school sports season, too. Even if you don’t have relatives playing on the teams, get out and support your school, or your adopted school. They can always use a few more cheers.

 If you aren’t a fan of cold and snow, cherish these weeks as autumnal colors take over the landscape. Check out the pages of the Press And Journal for things to do. Central Pennsylvania has much to offer. Take advantage of it.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 16:04

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Improving the black eye that is the presidential race

We are less than eight weeks from the presidential election, and it’s already been one unlike we’ve ever seen before.

Like most of you, we are looking forward to it being over. But for those of you who think the election will heal the black eye on our democracy, think again.

This is only the beginning of four years of discord, no matter who wins.

The level of anger, of venom, it’s going to continue. Maybe not at the level we see now during a heated campaign, but it will go on.

How can a victorious Hillary Clinton or a victorious Donald Trump govern? We don’t see how either party will allow the other to have success. We already see that now, as President Barack Obama is vilified by the opposition not just for his political stances but for seemingly everything he does.

Politics long ago superseded governing. It’s now about winning the next election and shaming the other side, not about leading. We — Americans — get caught in the middle.

Can you imagine a President Clinton or a President Trump trying to push an agenda through Congress? Clinton likely would be dealing with a Republican majority there, and Trump doesn’t have the support of key leaders in his own party.

James Freeman Clarke, an American theologian and author, is credited with saying: “The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.”

Where are the people thinking about the next generation?

Who is to blame for how we got here is a worthy discussion. The overwhelming role that money plays in elections is a key factor. Social media is a common scapegoat (and often rightfully so), as people feel emboldened to state their mind seemingly without repercussion.

We no longer agree to disagree. We no longer compromise. We have to win. We have to win arguments with our friends on Facebook instead of just being civil and stating our points as eloquently as possible.

All of this won’t change what we are facing in less than eight weeks — or for the next four years.

We wish we had easy answers to the problems. There aren’t any. To be honest, we worry about how effective any president is going to be as the history of this country continues to evolve.

We have two flawed candidates. But it’s about more than that. It’s about how we support them. It’s about how the campaigns are being run.

If you are a huge Clinton supporter or a huge Trump supporter, then be active in supporting your candidates. But we urge you to be civil. Try to support your candidate without eviscerating the other, even though the temptation is strong.

A crisis such as this can cause us to face problems head on and solve them.

We can do better. We must do better. Let’s demand it of our candidates and our politicians.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 16:16

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Amtrak work looks good, but we still have years to wait

It’s tantalizing to look at the work being done along West Main Street at East Ann Street and think, wow, this new Amtrak station is finally going to happen.

The good news is — yes, it is. The bad news? It’s still going to be awhile.

As we recently reported, PennDOT hopes to start work on the train station platform and on the station itself in the third quarter of 2018.

That’s two years from now. And that’s only after Amtrak workers do their track relocation work sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016 (which is just a projected timeline). Then Norfolk Southern is scheduled to do its track relocation work in the third quarter of 2017. Again, that’s a projection. There is no guarantee these time frames will hold.

You can see the problem: These are three big-time entities trying to coordinate work on a project that, to be honest, likely isn’t a priority for any of them in the grand scheme of their massive scope of tasks.

We realize these projects take time and money. It likely will be more than a decade once the new Amtrak station is complete. It was way back in June 2009 that a preliminary relocation study identified four locations for further evaluation, including the one that was picked.

But we are getting closer, even if it’s slow going.

The area looks more and more polished every day as land at the point of West Main and Ann streets along the railroad tracks is leveled and the Emaus Street extension takes shape. PennDOT in early summer awarded a $2.6 million contract to Horst Excavating to prepare for construction of the train station site just west of Westporte Centre shopping center.

You can see where Emaus will go, although it won’t open until all the Amtrak station work is done. It will be another main route to downtown, for local residents, visitors and Penn State Harrisburg students. Its importance is something we have editorialized on before in great detail.

It’s amazing the transformation that small stretch of road roughly bordered by Harrisburg International Airport and Penn State Harrisburg and Nissley Street has seen in recent years. New student housing stands tall above the road. New commercial efforts continue at Westporte.

And we can’t wait until two other components of the train station project — a pedestrian bridge over West Main Street to Penn State Harrisburg, and a possible parking garage — are completed. Wow, that will change the look and feel of that area for the better, and further connect the all-important campus to downtown Middletown.

But wait we must. However, it sure is fun to watch all that dirt being moved around in the meantime.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 16:13

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Active shooter training is aimed at a safer community

Active shooter training.

If that combination of words makes you uneasy, maybe it shouldn’t.

Lower Swatara Police Department Sgt. Scott Young has completed free training at more than a dozen area businesses so that employees know what to do if an active shooter shows up.

“I hope we never have to respond to an active shooter incident,” he told us. “But it never hurts to be prepared.”

We don’t want to consider the bad things that can happen to us in our daily lives, those things that come out of the blue and shatter our sense of security. So training for such a situation that has the potential to be horrifying might give you pause.

But if there are simple steps we can take to protective ourselves and others, then we are all for it. 

We applaud Young’s efforts to help out the community.

When we string together the cities of Orlando, Newtown, San Bernadino, Aurora, Colorado … we know what happened there. Mass shootings. 

The shootings in these cities happened for different reasons. But there was a common denominator of hate.

This is not an argument about more needing to be done in the fight against terror at home, or about how we need more restrictive gun control measures. This is simply about protecting ourselves.

We like how TE Connectivity approached the training. The company looks at is as part of its voluntary safety training, along with CPR certification and automated external defibrillators. It also has mandatory programs such as fire evacuation drills. In other words, active shooter training is just part of an array of training available to its employees.

If you want to see what it’s all about, there are multiple public sessions coming up. They are listed on today’s front page. Check them out. You might learn something.

Let’s hope you never have to use it.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 15:39

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Business group is a must for borough to move ahead

It is imperative that Middletown have a downtown business association, one that is separate from the borough but collaborates with it, to achieve goals that will benefit us all. 

There are myriad issues that must be addressed for the borough to thrive business-wise that are not being addressed. A group focused solely on doing so will help. 

We need a plan to draw businesses to the downtown and to all of Middletown, and that has to include maximizing the locations where they can move if they are indeed interested. There is a lack of physical places to which they can locate. What are the options? 

We must have a group of business people speaking with one voice about the parking issues facing the borough and how to solve them. 

Business owners must work together to draw Penn State Harrisburg students to Middletown and have them spend their dollars here. 

A business organization could work toward strengthening the work force available in the borough. 

The group also, and maybe most importantly, could coherently market the attractions that the borough has going for it in a way that business couldn’t do alone. 

The momentum for such a group still exists despite a messy situation in late 2014 when the legs were cut out from underneath it at the last minute before it was to be fully formed. 

A $20,000 investment grant appears to remain intact from previous efforts to get the group started. 

Such a group has the support of many businesses, including the Press And Journal, Kuppy’s Diner, Alfred’s Victorian, Tattered Flag, Giant, Harrisburg International Airport, Penn State Harrisburg, Members 1st Federal Credit Union, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp. In fact, the Harrisburg Chamber would offer “in-kind” services to help launch the Middletown business association, and share its “library of best practices.” 

This organization is way overdue. It’s a must. A rising tide lifts all boats. Take advantage of what local business leaders want and get this done, and soon.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 16:16

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