Written by David Barr
Dr. Bruce Humphrey spoke of radical inclusiveness and accepting others when their beliefs differ from one’s own Monday morning at Penn State Harrisburg.
The message echoed that of the man those in attendance were honoring, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. More than 40 people took part at the Morrison Gallery inside the campus library Monday morning as Humphrey of Presbyterian Congregation of Middletown, and paid honor and respect to the memory and legacy of King.
Humphrey was the keynote speaker at a celebratory brunch, one of several events held in King’s honor by the university. Other celebratory events in honor of King at Penn State Harrisburg included two presentations of a play called “Riveted” and a live reading of student-penned materials Tuesday evening.
“It seems to me, students and faculty, friends and members of the congregation, family members, that in 2017, as we celebrate this Martin Luther King Day, it is probably more relevant than maybe some of the other Martin Luther King Days of the past just having gone through such a difficult and polarizing election in 2016, that if there was ever a time to pause and reflect on what Dr. King had to say to our nation, this is certainly a time for us,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey had been invited to speak last fall at Penn State Harrisburg, but Marcellus Taylor, assistant director of student life, believed the topic of Humphrey’s speech would be better-suited for Martin Luther King Day.
“I love Martin Luther King, so it worked out well,” Humphrey said. “I love that he stayed faithful in his beliefs.”
Prior to Humphrey’s speech, visitors were treated to brunch and a YouTube clip of King’s final speech titled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” Music was also provided courtesy of the Sounds of Praise Gospel Choir at Penn State Harrisburg, as they sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “Amazing Grace.”
As a man of the church, Humphrey’s speech revolved around King’s own work and how King centered his civil rights work around his faith. Humphrey described how in the 1950s, there were two ideas towards the idea of racism; one was to simply wait and continue to educate future generations and eventually it would die out. The second was to fight fire with fire and strike back. In the middle was King, peacefully protesting injustice.
Humphrey told of King’s response to a letter written to him by several white pastors and other church leaders questioning King as to why he was unwilling to wait for racism to die out while King was in a Birmingham, Alabama jail. King’s response was simply he was tired of waiting since “this ‘wait’ has almost always meant ‘never.’ Justice too long delayed is justice never. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one, affects all,” King said.
Humphrey concluded his speech with several examples of stories demonstrating how people were able to overcome prejudiced and preconceived expectations and beliefs of others and accept others different from themselves.
“He (King) is the voice that keeps reminding us, ‘all Americans,’” Humphrey said. “His voice seems more relevant than ever.”
Taylor has been in charge of this event since 2014 and he knew he wanted music and a keynote speaker for this year and he chose to add a brunch to the event for the first time. As Taylor described Monday, it isn’t just a day of reflection but service as well.
“Today pushes us closer to victory,” Taylor said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 13:45
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown is the oldest town in Dauphin County. Within the town are five buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Yet many people walk by historic places in Middletown each day without knowing it.
The borough’s Historical Restoration Commission is looking to change that.
The commission is getting $11,200 from the borough in 2017 to purchase signs and markers that can be used to tell the story of historically significant properties in the town.
The commission hopes to install markers at at least five such locations and properties this year, said commission Chairwoman Jenny Miller.
The markers could form the start of what could become a self-guided walking tour of historical sites in Middletown — not only for residents, but as a way to attract tourists to the town, such as people who are already in the area to visit places like Hershey and Gettysburg.
For that to work, the first five or so markers would need to be placed at locations within an area that is easy for people to get to who are walking from the downtown, or from another starting point such as the Middletown Area Historical Society museum just off the square on West Main Street.
“We don’t want to put one way out there and another way over there,” Miller said. The commission hopes to establish “a comfortable walking area, and as we add (more markers) it would just enlarge that comfort zone.”
The commission is looking to place markers at properties that have already received some kind of official recognition of their historical significance, such as a plaque from the state or federal government.
Besides promoting the recognition that the property has already attained, the marker would have enough room to tell an interesting story regarding what makes each property historic, Miller said.
A lot of this information the commission and/or the historical society already has. In other cases, more research would have to be done.
The commission would need permission from the property owner to place a marker at or near each property, Miller said. Exactly where and how each marker is placed would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
For example, in some cases it may not be possible to place a marker in the public right of way if there is not enough room on the sidewalk for people to get around.
In that case, a marker may be placed on private property, provided it can be seen from the sidewalk or street.
The commission is also looking to place markers at locations that are considered historically significant, but which to date have received no official recognition.
One likely candidate is a small cemetery at North Pine and High streets that was dedicated in 1760 and contains several graves going back to the Revolutionary War.
In 2016, the commission spent $1,200 in borough funds to repair a fence around the cemetery that had fallen into disrepair.
With Black Horse Grille opening down the street, more people are walking past the cemetery, but there is no marker of any kind to tell people the story of the graveyard, Miller said.
The commission is also interested in placing a marker to tell the story of the historic town clock in front of the also historic Brownstone Cafe at Emaus and Union streets.
The marker is one of several that could be placed within this area of the borough’s downtown, Miller said.
The commission would like to provide some public recognition of the historical significance of the Elks Building, and the McNair Building across the street from the clock, Miller said.
Another nearby candidate is the Alfred’s Victorian Restaurant up the block on North Union Street. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This year is just the start. It will likely take the commission several more years to place signs and markers at the many deserving properties of historical significance throughout the borough.
“If we do a good job and it seems like it is catching on, then I believe that the (borough) council would in the future look to that as a good solid project, and give us a budget again to be able to continue with getting more (markers) out,” Miller said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 09:51
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Borough Council has set the makeup of the borough zoning hearing board through 2017.
Council on Jan. 3 re-appointed Jack Still as board chairman and re-appointed Donald Graham to another term as one of the three members of the board.
Still’s term is to expire on Dec. 31, 2017, and Graham’s on Dec. 31, 2018.
Zoning hearing board terms are to run three years. Both Still’s and Graham’s terms had expired but they were continuing to serve on the board at the pleasure of council, Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter had said. Now, the terms are being staggered to avoid having to appoint all three members at once.
Council also appointed Rodney Horton to fill the third slot on the board. Horton replaces Tom Germak, who told the board he was not interested in being reappointed to the board.
Germak abstained from the biggest vote the board took on in 2016, over a proposal for a crematory on Fager-Finkenbinder Funeral Home land on North Union Street.
The appeal the board heard claimed that the permit granted to the funeral home by former borough zoning officer Jeff Miller was improper.
Germak recused himself after witnesses called by lawyers for the funeral home testified that Germak had made comments suggesting he was biased against the crematory.
On July 26, Graham voted to deny the appeal, but Still voted against Graham’s motion, resulting in a 1-1 tie.
A split vote meant that the appeal was rejected and the permit stood as issued. The case is now in Dauphin County Court.
Horton’s term runs through Dec. 31, 2019. A former council president, Horton was appointed to the planning commission in 2016. Council earlier during the Jan. 3 meeting accepted Horton’s resignation from the planning commission, so he can serve on the zoning hearing board.
If someone serves on the zoning hearing board, they are not supposed to be able to hold any other elected or appointed position in borough government, Solicitor Adam Santucci told council.
Council tabled action on appointing an alternate to the zoning hearing board. Rachelle Reid, a former councilor, had expressed interest in serving on the board.
Council instead chose Horton, leaving Reid as the lead candidate for the alternate position. Councilor Robert Reid abstained from the vote on Horton, as he is related to Rachelle Reid.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 16:02
Written by Dan Miller
If you don’t have enough money to pay your electric bill, you probably don’t have the $60 that the borough of Middletown charges to restore your service.
In light of that, Councilor Dawn Knull has urged the borough to consider waiving or reducing the $60 reconnection fee over the winter.
She made the suggestion during council’s Dec. 20 meeting, during a broader discussion regarding how the borough handles delinquent electric accounts.
Finance Director Bruce Hamer brought up the accounts issue, saying there is need for a “definitive policy” to guide staff in this area.
Current and past practice has been inconsistent and appears to vary according to who is in charge, Hamer said.
In some cases borough staff work out informal payment arrangements that give a customer in arrears a certain amount of time to bring his or her account up to date.
Staff may also enter into a contract with a delinquent customer to reach the same goal. But with no policy, there is no standard for how much money a person can be in arrears before they are eligible for such a contract, Hamer said.
A written policy approved by council would give borough staff something to “hang their hat on as far as working with customers who have difficulty dealing with paying their bills,” he added.
The issue of how to handle delinquent electric accounts, and the broader issue of whether the borough should do electrical shut-offs over the winter, and under what circumstances, is something that council and the borough has grappled with over the past several years.
Most towns don’t have to worry about it, because electricity is provided to their residents and businesses by private companies like Met-Ed or PPL.
But Middletown is one of 35 boroughs in Pennsylvania that retain control over the providing of electricity within their borders.
Middletown suspended all electrical shut-offs for about a year until June 2014, when council voted to restore shut-offs after overdue bills had climbed to $340,000.
Companies such as Met-Ed and PPL are bound by Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission regulations regarding winter shut-offs, but the PUC rules don’t apply to boroughs such as Middletown that provide power on their own, said Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach.
Council in 2015 talked about coming up with a policy regarding shut-offs, but no action was taken and the leadership changed after the 2015 elections. Now, the current council is taking another crack at it.
Hamer in an email to the Press And Journal said that without doing research he could not estimate the number of customers whose electricity has been shut off over the winter, or the total amount of money that the borough is currently owed on delinquent electric accounts.
Knull said she would not do away with shut-offs entirely over the winter, as some customers would “take advantage” of the situation and lead to bills “that are outlandish.”
But she worries that the reconnection fee makes it harder for customers who are shut off over the winter to get their heat restored. That can lead to more accidental fires from people resorting to kerosene heaters and other alternative sources.
“We do have residents right now that have been shut off, so we have residents right now that have no heat,” Knull said during the Dec. 20 meeting. “In the summer I am OK with the reconnect fee, but in the winter if they have the money to pay their bill you are taking that $60 and putting it into the reconnect fee, so if they owe $200 they have to pay $260. If they didn’t have $200 to begin with, now they really don’t have it.”
Knull asked if there is a way that the borough could waive the reconnect fee from October to April or May.
The reconnect fee is a “deterrent” to someone not paying their bill, but “we don’t want to deter somebody from turning their heat back on in mid-December,” said Borough Solicitor Adam Santucci. “If we can allow them to catch up over a five-month period, then why don’t we do that?”
Wilsbach said he would research the PUC regulations and ordinances in place in other boroughs that provide power, to give council an idea of what the “common practice” is regarding winter shut-offs.
A policy regarding the delinquent accounts themselves is related, but really a separate issue from the shut-offs themselves, noted Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter.
Council agreed to allow Hamer and borough staff to draw up a policy regarding the handling of accounts for council to consider in the future.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 16:53
Written by Dan Miller
The mouth-watering smell of smoked meats such as baby back ribs and brisket grabs your attention when you walk into the One Love Cafe.
This new takeout-only restaurant, located in the Village of Pineford in Middletown, also offers build-your-own salads and sandwiches, and fresh coffee from Little Amps roasters in Harrisburg.
But there’s no question that the smoked meats are One Love’s bread and butter, says Wes Brydon, who recently opened the cafe with his partner, Quentin Jones.
“From the meats, the sides, everything kind of revolves around what comes out of that smoker,” Brydon said. “We only use local hardwoods, oak and cherry only. I try and keep it nostalgic — wood that you would be burning in your backyard roasting marshmallows. We don’t use hickory or mesquite or anything that is overpowering to the meat.”
One Love Cafe likes to keep things simple, he said. All the sauces and everything else is home-cooked and made from scratch.
“We don’t get carried away with spices or trying to make things fancy. We focus on simplicity and quality,” Brydon said.
If One Love sounds familiar, it’s also the name of the food truck that Brydon and Jones have been running for almost three years now.
When this property opened up for lease in the middle of Pineford, the original plan was for the building to serve as the place to do prep work to keep the food truck rolling, and to make its operation more efficient.
But there are also advantages to being surrounded by 800 apartment units, a lot of them occupied by busy young families and college students who seldom have time for cooking.
“Most of our customers are buying their food to go right to their house and eat. They are literally two seconds from their house and that’s a plus for us,” Brydon said. “We are trying to take advantage of our walk-ins and actually make this business even a little more reliable than the truck.”
One Love Cafe is also looking to build its catering and special-events business — from groups as small as 10 people to up to 200.
Brydon and Jones grew up in Highspire, a few blocks from each other.
Brydon got an associates degree in culinary arts. But with kids and bills to pay he needed a steady income so he ended up in construction.
Jones had gotten the truck as “kind of a family project,” Brydon said. “He has a lot of women in his family who like to cook and they always talked about someday having a business, but reality kind of set in. Everybody had jobs and lives and children. It just wasn’t really feasible.”
Jones approached him about going in on the food truck. The two partners put their money together, but needing a place to do prep work became evident because “it’s next to impossible to cook everything on that truck.”
Today Jones lives in Harrisburg, and Brydon in Elizabethtown.
One Love Cafe
• 3 Pineford Drive, Middletown
• To learn more and for hours of operation, go to One Love Cafe’s Facebook page
They hope to eventually make the cafe a full-service sit-down restaurant, but for now it is takeout only.
Besides that pleasing aroma of smoked meats, the other thing you notice when you walk into One Love Cafe is a color scheme and atmosphere that reminds you of the Caribbean.
One of the women in Jones’ family owns property on the island of St. Thomas. She came up with the One Love Cafe name, and the island-like branding. “One Love” is also a famous Bob Marley song.
“That’s why everything is bright green,” Brydon says. “That’s kind of one of our goals with this business — to one day be in the islands.”
That would be in addition to the place in Middletown. Brydon and Jones like being in the borough, and are excited to be a part of what is going on.
“I think over the last couple years there have been quite a few new businesses popping up,” Brydon said. “We have the Amtrak station coming in, and Penn State is getting bigger every year it seems.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 17:17