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Candidate for police chief withdraws; Mayor slams selection process





 Cpl. Travis Thickstun has withdrawn as a candidate to be Middletown's next chief of police – most likely clearing the way for Middletown Borough Council to hire Pennsylvania State Police Capt. John Bey for the job when council meets on Monday, Aug. 18.

In a letter e-mailed to council's public safety committee Wednesday evening, Aug. 6 – with copies sent to Mayor James H. Curry III and the Press And Journal – Thickstun, a veteran of the Indiana State Excise Police Force, did not directly refer to the controversy that has erupted following the committee's 2-0 recommendation of Bey, a 25-year veteran of the state police, to be the next chief Wednesday afternoon.

Public Safety Committee chairman and Councilor Scott Sites and Curry said they both supported Thickstun for the position. However, neither Sites nor the mayor were able to attend Wednesday's meeting. Instead, the committee's two other members  – Council Vice President Robert Louer and Councilor John Brubaker – proceeded with the meeting, and voted 2-0 for Bey as the favored candidate among three finalists.

The committee meeting had been reportedly legally advertised in advance. The committee action was also a legal vote, in that two of three members were present and made up a quorum.

Besides Bey and Thickstun, the third of the three finalists was Stephen Mazzeo, a former police chief of Sunbury. 

Curry was quoted in this morning as saying the committee's action in going ahead with voting on Bey in Sites and Curry's absence was "corrupt." Curry said the committee has known for weeks that he would be unable to attend the meeting because he is on vacation.

When Sites sent Louer a text message Tuesday saying he would not be able to attend, Curry said the committee should either have canceled Wednesday's meeting or taken up other business unrelated to the police chief position. The mayor said the committee could have advertised a special meeting before the Aug. 18 council meeting to vote on the nomination for the new chief with Sites and the mayor present.

Curry is not a voting member of the committee, but the committee had allowed Curry to participate in the process of interviewing the candidates for chief, including the mayor in closed-door interviews that were held with the three finalists. As mayor, Curry oversees the police department. Moreover, if council were to deadlock Monday on choosing a new chief, it could be up to the mayor to break the tie.

Thickstun confirmed on Thursday, Aug. 7 in an e-mail to the Press And Journal that he has withdrawn as a candidate.

"The Borough of Middletown must move forward. Captain Bey must have the community's steadfast support if he is to be effective as Middletown's new Chief of Police. I wish him the very best as he steps into his new role in the near future," Thickstun said. He said he could not be reached by phone, but said he had nothing further to add beyond his statement e-mailed to the committee.

 Sites said he is disappointed by Thickstun's decision, but that he will now give his support to Bey.

"I believe he (Thickstun) was the best candidate for the position, but I believe I would give my support to Bey as they are 1A and 1B," Sites said.

Sites has not been as openly critical as Curry regarding the committee's decision to proceed with making a recommendation on the new chief while neither Sites nor Curry were present.

"That is how he operates," Sites said of Louer. "I expected it. That's how he does business."

Neither Louer nor Curry could immediately be reached for comment.


Here is the full text of Thickstun's statement to the committee:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Borough of Middletown
Borough Council Public Safety Committee
60 West Emaus Street
Middletown, Pennsylvania 17057
Dear Public Safety Committee Members:
Thank you for considering my application for Chief of Police for the Borough of Middletown. It was a pleasure to meet all of you, Mayor Curry, and a number of Middletown residents during the interview process last month.
Please convey my congratulations to Pennsylvania State Police Captain John Bey, who I have no doubt will be an excellent Chief of Police for the Borough of Middletown.
It is my hope that the community and the officers of the Middletown Borough Police Department will support Chief Bey wholeheartedly in his new role as Chief of Police. Middletown’s residents, business owners, and Borough leaders – along with the students, faculty, and staff of Penn State Harrisburg – must work collaboratively with Chief Bey in order for the police department to serve the community in the most effective and efficient ways possible. With your support, it is my hope that Chief Bey will lead the police department to become one of the very best in promoting public safety in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Thank you again for considering my application.  
Travis Thickstun
CC: Mayor James H. Curry III


Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 17:01

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Steelton could hire chief on Aug. 18


A new police chief in Steelton is expected to take over by the end of the month.


All interviews have been completed, and Steelton Borough Council is expected to hire a new chief at its Aug. 18 meeting, according to Borough Manager Sara Gellatly.


Two finalists from five or six applicants were interviewed on Wednesday, July 30. Those finalists were the only two who met the borough’s requirements, according to Mayor Tom Acri.


The search began after former chief Scott Spangler retired after serving more than 30 years with the borough. Sgt. John King has served as acting chief.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 19:52

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We felt no earth move under our feet

We thought the earth would shake in downtown Middletown.


But we didn’t feel a thing. boringphoto8 6 14Press and Journal Photo by Dan Miller: This auger boring machine, worth about $200,000, was the star of the show.


Just another day at the office for L&N Zimmerman, a boring – no pun intended –company from Newmanstown, Lebanon County.


In less than 10 hours on Thursday, July 31 and Friday, Aug. 1, the company bore a large round hole under the railroad tracks at Brown and Union streets in Middletown’s business district.


For the full story, CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Press And Journal.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 19:48

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Line replacement moves up a block


streetphoto8 6 14Press and Journal Photo by Dan Miller: South Union Street between Emaus and Brown streets will be closed until about Sept. 1 as crews replace sewer and water lines.


The Big Dig in downtown Middletown keeps chugging along.


As of Monday, Aug. 4, the work of replacing old sewer and water lines on South Union Street has advanced into the block between Brown and Emaus streets.


The block will remain closed for about four weeks, until around Monday, Sept. 1, said Middletown spokesman Chris Courogen.


For the full story, CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Press And Journal.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 19:40

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INSERT PARK HERE? Airport, borough discuss the future of razed Middletown neighborhood

emptylotphoto8 6 14Press and Journal Photo by Dan Miller: This vacant 10-acre stretch of land in Middletown held 25 houses that were purchased and razed by the authority that operates Harrisburg International Airport


What was once a small neighborhood of 25 houses in Middletown could become an area for public recreation.


Over the past few years, the homes have all been sold to and razed by the authority that runs Harrisburg International Airport under a program where airports buy up nearby properties that are most impacted by noise from airplanes flying overhead. Participation in the program is voluntary.


Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority owns the properties but has no use for them. The authority of late has renewed talks with Middletown Borough officials aimed at selling the properties back to the town.


“We are looking to cooperate with [the borough] so that we can put this property to its best use, one that is of benefit to the borough,” said Tim Edwards, executive director of the airport authority.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 19:31

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