Written by Dan Miller
Several businesses have lent their support to make the square at Union and Main streets look better.
Four businesses have sponsored landscaping improvements in one of each of the four pods that are on the four corners of the square.
The businesses were identified by Middletown Councilor Anne Einhorn as the Press And Journal, McNees Wallace & Nurick, Pennsylvania Properties, and IEC, an electrical contracting company in Middletown owned by Ian Reddinger, a borough councilor.
The business sponsors enabled the borough to buy mulch, plants and other materials instead of having to use tax dollars, said Einhorn, who said she had approached each of the businesses.
The labor involved in the improvements was donated by Thompson’s Lawn Care, a landscaping business in Londonderry Township, Einhorn said.
In return, signs will be put up at the square acknowledging the role of the businesses in making the improvements happen, Einhorn said.
“It looks good when people drive through, and that’s a start,” Einhorn told the Press And Journal on Oct. 21.
In hopes of attracting more sponsorship activities like these — from businesses as well as individuals — borough council at Einhorn’s urging on Oct. 18 created a new “square landscaping fund.”
Borough resident Robert Hauser suggested the fund be not just for the square, but expanded to attract sponsors to help spruce up and decorate other public areas of the town.
Einhorn said she is open to that idea.
Down the road, she’d like to see community gardens and landscaping in some areas of Middletown that aren’t as visible as the square, but where the improvements “would make a difference to the people that live there.” This could be part of the borough’s overall anti-blight effort, she said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 16:32
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Borough Council approved a new five-year contract that is “favorable” to residents for the wholesale purchase of electricity Oct. 18.
The new contract going into effect Jan. 1 with PSEG — Public Service Enterprise Group — a diversified energy company based in Newark, New Jersey, locks in what the borough will be paying over the next five years for electricity generation, said Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter.
The rate is $35.65 per megawatt hour from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2022. According to energyshare.com, a typical family home uses 3 to 4 MWh of electricity a year.
At 75 percent, generation is the biggest chunk of what the borough has to pay for electricity. Middletown is one of 35 boroughs in Pennsylvania that are in the public power business. The boroughs buy electricity from wholesalers and control the sale of electricity to businesses and residents.
The remaining 25 percent of the cost is for capacity and transmission, the prices for which are “fluid and variable” because these components are to be purchased by the borough on the open market, Klinepeter said.
In March 2015 council approved a one-year extension of an existing contract with Exelon to purchase electricity at a discounted rate. That extension remains in effect until Jan. 1 when the new deal with PSEG kicks in.
The PSEG contract is “favorable” in terms of what residents and businesses will have to pay the borough for electricity over the next five years, Klinepeter said.
“There’s a good chance we can hold the line” on electric rates although it is too soon to know for certain, he said.
The electric rate in the borough last went up in early 2016, when council approved a 1-cent across the board increase to help balance the budget.
PSEG was one of six electric wholesalers that submitted a bid proposal to the borough for a new contract, Klinepeter said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 16:14
Written by Dan Miller
If you live in Middletown and you like your trash collection service, don’t worry about it changing.
Borough council during its Oct. 18 meeting approved a new three-year contract with the town’s existing hauler, Penn Waste.
Penn Waste is increasing the price it charges to the borough by about $5,000 a year. However, that doesn’t mean the price that residents pay will have to go up, said Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter.
The borough may be able to absorb the increase without passing it on to residents, although that won’t be known for certain until all the numbers are crunched for the 2017 budget.
If the rate does have to go up, Klinepeter said the worst-case scenario would be a monthly increase of from $1.70 to $2.
If there is an increase, chances are the price won’t go up again throughout the three-year deal with Penn Waste. The company will be charging the borough $693,180 a year for trash collection starting Jan. 1, but that annual rate remains constant throughout 2018 and 2019, Klinepeter said.
Residents pay $25.65 for trash collection, a rate that hasn’t changed since 2011. There is also no change in the trash collection service that residents receive from Penn Waste.
Residents can continue to put out up to four bags of trash each week, plus one bulk item. In addition, residents can put out more than four bags a week by purchasing tags from the borough for $4 per additional bag.
Penn Waste has been the borough’s trash hauler since 2008. This year, council decided to put the trash contract out for bid. Three other companies bid for the borough’s trash collection contract — Waste Management, Republic Services, and Lebanon Farms — but all came in higher than the bid that was received from Penn Waste, Klinepeter said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 16:11
Written by Eric Wise
Lori Suski will lead Middletown Area School District for another five years, as the school board voted Monday, Oct. 24, to extend her contract through June 2022.
Suski, who was appointed assistant superintendent in 2007, has served as superintendent since July 2012, when she replaced Richard Weinstein upon his retirement. She was the principal at Kunkel Elementary School for seven years.
Suski’s new contract allows for salary increases of 1.5 to 3.5 percent annually, in addition to a bonus at the discretion of the board, 20 vacation days, 12 sick days and three personal days a year.
Suski is paid a salary of $144,831, and the board approved a $3,000 bonus for her in November 2015.
Newton Davis, president of the school board, congratulated Suski for the extension, and the board gave her a round of applause and had Suski shake their hands, an honor often reserved for students of the month or otherwise being honored by the board.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 15:54
Written by Eric Wise
Workers under contract to the borough of Middletown are installing pavers wall to wall at the site of the former Klahr Building in the first block of South Union Street as part of the downtown streetscape project.
At present, the streetscape only calls for installing pavers 60 feet back from the sidewalk west toward the borough parking lot behind the Municipal Building, Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach told the Press And Journal.
Wilsbach said there are plans to extend the pavers as a walkway the entire way to the borough parking, but this will require additional funding that would have to be authorized in the 2017 budget.
The borough is also looking to eventually restrict vehicular traffic on the alley between the Municipal Building and the Elks Building to all but traffic essential to support nearby businesses along South Union Street.
The goal is to make the alley primarily a pedestrian access to the borough parking behind the Municipal Building as part of the broader plan of extending West Emaus Street to Main Street that is tied into the new train station project, Wilsbach said.
Traffic on the alley is also a safety concern that Wilsbach said will only increase with more walkers, bicyclists, and pedestrians coming downtown using the extended Emaus Street — which is the borough’s hope.
“I’ve seen too many close calls” from motorists using the alley as a shortcut to get to Emaus Street, Wilsbach said.
The eventual goal is for both the alley and the former Klahr Building site to serve as pedestrian accesses to the borough parking lot, Wilsbach said. However, again, this is subject to borough council approval and the availability of more funding beyond that already included in the streetscape.
The borough owns the former Klahr Building property. Easements were obtained to extend the pavers to the buildings that border the property to the north and south, said Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter.
There have been discussions in recent months that the borough will sell the Klahr site with the proceeds going to a fund to refurbish the Elks Theatre. However, because the paver work was part of the streetscape project approved long before those discussions, the work will continue.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 15:50