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New contracts for trash collection and purchase of electricity OK'd by Middletown council could be good news for residents

If you live in Middletown Borough 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 automatically 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.

 Borough residents now 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 now 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 a fifth bag per week by purchasing a $4 tag from the borough.

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.

Five-year deal for purchase of electricity looks "favorable" for residents

Council during the Oct. 18 meeting also approved a five-year contract for the wholesale purchase of electricity from PSEG - Public Service Enterprise Group - a diversified energy company based in Newark, N.J.

The 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.

 For one thing, the PSEG deal only covers the cost of electricity generation - although that is 75 percent of what the borough pays for electricity. The remaining 25 percent is for capacity and transmission, which will remain “fluid and variable with the market. The only thing we have locked in is the generation,” Klinepeter said.

Town square's landscaping, surveillance cameras and borough's new web site 

In other actions, council approved creating a fund to receive donations from sponsors toward landscaping of the square at Main and Union streets.

Council should widen the fund to include donations toward the landscaping of other public areas in the borough in addition to the square, said resident Robert Hauser.

Council also heard presentations on reactivating a system of surveillance cameras throughout the borough, and on the status of the borough’s new web site that is being developed by Strawberry Box Media.

The new Internet site is ready to go as soon as the borough can provide more content, officials with Strawberry Box Media said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 06:34

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Lower Swatara’s interim manager is a consultant the township just recently hired

Terry Kauffman, a consultant hired by Lower Swatara Township, is the interim township manager, he told the Press And Journal last week.KauffmanTerry SLIDE

The township commissioners approved a contract with Kauffman and his company, Lancaster County-based ARRO Consulting, on Oct. 5 when President Tom Mehaffie brought up several items not on the agenda just before the meeting ended. Mehaffie said the contract was for “management consulting” without indicating the cost of the contract, its length or Kauffman’s role as interim manager.

Kauffman is ARRO’s vice president of business development, according to the company’s website. He said he will be paid $100 hourly for 20 to 25 hours a week under the six-month contract, which could be ended by commissioners as they choose. 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:32

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Charges filed in standoff

The Middletown man who kept police at bay in an armed standoff for several hours Oct. 1 tried multiple times to shoot himself during the incident but his .357 Magnum failed to go off, according to newly released court documents.AnthonyDiFrancescoII WEB

Anthony R. DiFrancesco II, 38, of the 100 block of East High Street, has been charged with criminal attempt-aggravated assault and multiple other offenses. He was arraigned on Oct. 12 before Night Court District Judge Raymond F. Shugars and placed in Dauphin County Prison on $250,000 bail.

DiFrancesco is also charged with terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, possession of a weapon, discharging a firearm within the borough, and disorderly conduct. He is scheduled for an Oct. 31 preliminary hearing before District Judge David Judy.

Middletown Police Sgt. Richard Hiester, the lead investigating officer in the case, also revealed to the Press And Journal that DiFrancesco had brought about a similar armed standoff with borough police in 2009 in the Village of Pineford. The two-hour standoff ended peacefully and DiFrancesco was not charged.

The circumstances in the Oct. 1 incident are very similar — DiFrancesco, armed with a handgun, was threatening to kill himself. 

The delay between Oct. 1 when DiFrancesco was taken into custody and when he was charged is because DiFrancesco underwent a psychiatric evaluation at Harrisburg Hospital.

Based in part upon results of that evaluation, Middletown police then consulted with the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office in deciding whether to charge DiFrancesco, and what charges he would face. 

Details from Oct. 1 incident

Police were called to the mobile home where DiFrancesco lived when emergency medical personnel could not get DiFrancesco’s father, who had symptoms of a heart attack, out of the residence to a waiting ambulance to be taken to the hospital.

In addition, a woman who made the 911 call and her sister-in-law had been kicked out of the residence by DiFrancesco, according to the affidavit of probable cause Middletown police have filed with Judy’s office. 

Police arrived at the scene at about 8:15 p.m. to find DiFrancesco holding a .357 Magnum revolver to his head and threatening to kill himself, according to the criminal complaint. 

At one point DiFrancesco retreated into a bedroom and closed the door, allowing officers to rush into the residence and get the father out. The father was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and released, Hiester said. 

Middletown police, joined by officers from other departments who had arrived as backup, then took up positions in a perimeter around the residence. 

Initial efforts to talk to DiFrancesco and convince him to come out got nowhere, Hiester said, adding that he made contact with DiFrancesco on a cellphone but that the suspect hung up on him before Hiester could even finish identifying himself. 

However, an officer from Steelton police was able to “develop a rapport” with DiFrancesco and when the Dauphin County Crisis Response Team arrived, the team kept the Steelton officer on the line to keep DiFrancesco talking.

All the while, DiFrancesco continued warning police that he would kill them if they tried to come in after him. DiFrancesco also at times stepped out onto his porch, where he was seen pointing out the locations of where various officers were in the perimeter.

Shots fired

The tensest moment of the standoff came about 20 minutes after police arrived, when an officer accidentally fired his gun. The discharge was not aimed at DiFrancesco, but DiFrancesco fired one shot from his .357 Magnum in response.

The round went through the living room window and then went slightly downward and landed in the dirt about 6 feet in front of where a Middletown police officer was standing, according to the criminal complaint.

The officer reported being “sprayed by something” but was not injured.

By about 11:30, after close to three hours of negotiations, it became apparent that DiFrancesco was intent upon coming out and killing himself. DiFrancesco tried multiple times, but the revolver failed to go off, police said.

Officers with the Crisis Response Team then fired a non-lethal 40 mm rubber bullet which struck DiFrancesco, and he was taken into custody.

The end result could have been much worse, Hiester said. DiFrancesco could have succeeded in killing himself. Moreover, police arguably had grounds for using deadly force during the several occasions when DiFrancesco came out and was waving his gun around, Hiester said. They chose not to.

As with the incident at Pineford seven years ago, DiFrancesco this time also had several rifles at his disposal that he could have chosen to use, in addition to the revolver. 

‘Phenomenal job’

Hiester praised the efforts of the negotiators with the county CRT, whom he said did “a phenomenal job.”

“There was truly a regard to get him out of that house safely without anybody getting hurt. They went to extreme measures” to include putting themselves at risk, Hiester said. “Everything was done with his (DiFrancesco’s) safety in mind.”

Police believe that the incident stemmed from an argument DiFrancesco was having with his wife, but Hiester was not able to provide further details.

In addition, it is also believed that DiFrancesco had been drinking earlier, but police chose not to have blood drawn that could have confirmed that he was under the influence.

Details behind the charges

The criminal complaint notes that upon the advice of the DA’s office DiFrancesco was not charged with criminal attempt homicide. It is not clear that DiFrancesco had the intent of killing the officer when DiFrancesco fired.

That DiFrancesco fired in response to the accidental discharge from police was also a factor in him not being charged with the more serious homicide attempt charge, Hiester said.

This is the second time within a few weeks that police have been able to resolve peacefully an armed standoff within the borough.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, police took into custody an elderly man who had fired shots and held police at bay at an apartment in Pineford. The man was taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation. 

It was determined that the man had dementia, and police in consultation with the DA’s office chose not to file charges. 

However, the man has been removed from Pineford and now resides in a nursing home, Hiester said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:15

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Part of South Union Street in Middletown to be closed all next week (Oct. 17-21)

unionstreetPress And Journal photo by Dan Miller -- This part of South Union Street from Brown to Ann streets in Middletown will be closed from Monday afternoon Oct. 17 to Friday Oct. 21 for milling and repaving.

South Union Street from Brown to Ann streets in Middletown will be closed to all vehicular traffic all next week - Oct. 17 - 21 - so that the street can be re-paved as part of the downtown streetscape project, borough officials say.

The closure will go into effect sometime Monday afternoon and remain in effect until sometime Friday, said Middletown Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach. The borough will be using Nixle alerts to put out information updates on the closure, Wilsbach said.

Parking will not be allowed on this stretch of South Union during the closure, however people can park for free in the lot behind the Municipal Building on West Emaus Street.

Otherwise, Wilsbach said that Tuesday Oct. 25 is the target date for reopening the intersection of South Union Street and Ann Street - Route 441.

The intersection has been closed since October 3 for workers to wrap up the last phase of the streetscape project, which includes aesthetic improvements in the downtown from Spring and North Union south to Union and Ann.

On Oct. 25 inspectors from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are to do a walk- through inspection of the Union and Ann street intersection, including of the new traffic light being installed, Wilsbach said.

The traffic light at Union and Ann will be on flash starting Oct. 25 until Friday, Oct. 28, when the signal is to be fully operational, Wilsbach said.

In the meantime, motorists using the detour now in place for Ann and Union are reminded to stop at all stop signs, and be aware of several school bus stops that are along the posted detour route.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 October 2016 12:01

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