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Concrete buffalo damaged in theft attempt on Fulling Mill Road

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Lower Swatara Township Police are looking for a man who tried to steal a large concrete buffalo from a business in the 1900 block of Fulling Mill Road on Saturday, Jan. 14.

The buffalo was damaged during the unsuccessful attempt at Coin Wrap, 1981 Fulling Mill Road, at the HarrisPort Business Center. It is about 3 feet high and sits on a sidewalk to deter foot traffic.

The suspect attempted to drag it or lift it, and it tipped over, breaking a horn off the buffalo's head, according to Frank E. Williamson Jr., township director of public safety/assistant township manager.

broken2The broken concrete buffalo is seen outside Coin Wrap on Wednesday afternoon. Press And Journal photo by David Barr


Surveillance photos show a white male driving a Honda Civic attempting to steal the statue. He appeared to have a bandanna over his face.

Coin Wrap, according to its website, is a "nationwide company servicing the coin handling industry." It handles, processes and stores coins and tokens, domestic and foreign.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Lower Swatara Township Police via Dauphin County Control at 717-558-6900. Tips may be submitted to Dauphin County Crime Stoppers at 800-262-3080 or at Click on the “submit a tip” link.

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broken earWhat appears to be part of the broken horn lays on the ground Wednesday.

footageThere is no clear surveillance footage of the buffalo being dragged, but the suspect can be seen here on the left in front of his car attempting to move it.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 15:11

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New proposal to reopen Elks Theatre as a performing arts center unveiled by new committee formed under Middletown Area Historical Society -- and the group wants to own the theater

A new effort is underway in Middletown to renovate and reopen the historic Elks Theatre, which has been closed since April 2015.


A new committee - the Performing Arts Center Committee - formed under the auspices of the Middletown Area Historical Society aims to restore and reopen the theater as a performing arts center within two to three years, according to a proposal that the committee presented to the borough’s Industrial and Commercial Development Authority during the authority’s Jan. 17 meeting.


The committee intends to acquire the theater from its current owner, the authority, committee representative Janet Vastine Kirchner told the authority. 


In response, authority Chairman Ian Reddinger offered to sell the theater to the society for $1 - the same offer that Reddinger had made to the Friends of the Elks group in 2016. The Friends group said no, saying that it wants to lease the theater and operate it, but that the theater should remain borough-owned.


Reddinger and Mayor James H. Curry III, also an authority member, both urged the committee move up its timetable for acquiring the theater. The committee proposal indicates that the committee would not be ready to acquire the theater until close to the end of the three-year period.


But that largely depends on how successful the group is in raising funds toward restoring, renovating, and reopening the theater.


“We have not yet determined when we can take possession,” Kirchner said, adding “We would hope as soon as possible.”


“We would much prefer to move faster than the estimated time line,” said Jenny Miller, a committee member and also a historical society trustee.


Curry is concerned over the borough having to continue to incur maintenance and other costs related to owning the theater. Moreover, the theater has now sat vacant for almost two years and “the longer it sits vacant the worse it is,” Curry added.


“If they take the building for $1 that gives them all the time in the world to do what they want,” Curry said. “I would be in favor of selling it to you for $1.”


Kirchner asked the authority provide numbers regarding the borough’s current costs related to maintenance and ownership of the theater, which dates to 1911.


If the new committee is ready, the authority could sell the theater to the society committee at the authority’s next meeting on Feb. 21, Reddinger said.


“The borough doesn’t want to own the building,” Curry said. “It’s time to move on. You apparently have the heart to do it. I applaud you for it. I say let’s move forward.”


No one at the meeting spoke on behalf of Friends of the Elks, a successor to a non-profit group that previously owned the Elks Building, and continued running the theater while leasing it from the authority after the authority acquired the building in 2014.


Since August 2015 the Friends group has had a proposal before the authority to operate the theater and lease it from the authority. The authority has taken no action on the proposal.


Estimates for what it will cost to restore and reopen the theater run from about $500,000 - dismissed by some observers as unrealistically low - to $1.4 million. 


In November 2016 the borough was awarded a $500,000 state grant toward reopening the theater through funds that were set aside by Gov. Tom Wolf.


However, borough council twice voted to reject accepting the grant, over opposition to using borough tax dollars to cover the part of the Elks Theatre project not covered by the grant.


The proposal from the society’s Performing Arts Center Committee outlines a three-phased approach to completing the Elks Theatre project.


Phase one calls for establishing a bank account through the society that would be specifically dedicated to the Elks Theatre project. Contributions to the account would be tax-deductible, since the society is a non-profit organization, Miller said.


The first phase also includes launching fundraising efforts to include a capital campaign, local fundraisers, and grants. The committee would work to access local, state, and federal government sources. The society would also determine potential users of the theater, such as theater groups, dance companies, schools, businesses, and others.


In phase two, the committee would draw up specific numbers for architectural design, construction and contracting costs, and costs related to legal and marketing purposes.


Phase three calls for the committee to acquire the theater, and to simultaneously begin the process of restoring and renovating the historic structure.


The committee said it is already working with a number of consulting organizations regarding the restoring of old theaters; including the League of Historic American Theaters, the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Theatre Historical Society.

A restaurant with beer sales at Giant?

In other matters, borough council during its meeting immediately following the authority meeting said a public hearing will be set regarding a request from the Giant Food store in Midtown Plaza to obtain a liquor license. 


Giant in a Jan. 12 letter to the borough said that it wants to open a restaurant at the store that would include the sale of beer, Finance Director Bruce Hamer told council. Giant seeks approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to transfer an existing license in from a municipality outside of Middletown, Hamer said. A date for the public hearing has not yet been set.


Council also:

-- Tabled final approval of a proposed ordinance that would determine where a medical marijuana dispensary can be located in the borough. Council approved the ordinance for advertisement on Jan. 3, but a public hearing must be held before final approval, since the ordinance constitutes a change to borough zoning, said Solicitor Adam Santucci. A public hearing on the medical marijuana ordinance has been set for Feb. 7 in council chambers.


-- Gave final approval to an ordinance setting new rules and limits regarding parking in downtown Middletown. Council had approved the ordinance for advertisement on Jan. 3.


-- Heard a presentation from Councilor Diana McGlone regarding a new program that would provide low-interest loans to help property owners in the borough fix and bring up to code homes and residential rental units. Grants from $2,000 to $10,000 would be available, depending upon one’s credit score. The loan program would be a revolving fund, in that money for loans that are paid back would go into providing new loans. The program would be administered by a committee made up of councilors and members of the public, McGlone said.


-- Following a closed-door executive session approved promoting Middletown Police Officer Gary Rux to detective.  Rux had been promoted within the police department to detective in late 2016, however the action was rescinded when it was pointed out that the promotion required council approval.


-- Approved advertising for a borough resident to fill the vacancy on the planning commission created by the resignation of Rodney Horton, whom council appointed to the zoning hearing board on Jan. 3.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 23:19

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Agenda posted for Jan. 17 meeting of Middletown Borough Council

Note: The Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority will meet at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, with the borough council meeting to follow at 7 p.m.




Call to Order - 7 PM

Pledge of Allegiance

Roll Call

Public Comment on Agenda Items

1. Approve Meeting Minutes - January 3, 2017

2. Approval of Bills

3. Presentation - Middletown Improvement and Reinvestment Loan Program

4. Reports

a. Manager Report

b. Finance Report

c. Public Works Report

d. Police Report

e. MDT Report

5. Approval to Purchase 2018 International Dump Truck

6. Approval to Purchase 2017 Bobcat UTV

7. Approval to Purchase 2017 Bobcat 24-inch Hi-Flow Planer

8. Approval to Redirect $9,000 from the Capital Budget for HVAC Unit Replacement to Purchase of a Large Document Scanner

9. Approve Resolution No. 2017-1 - Overhead Banners

10. Planning Commission - Approve Advertisement for Vacancy

11. Adopt Ordinance 1335 - Parking Amendment

12. Pending Ordinance 1336 Adoption - Medical Marijuana

13. Approve Custodian Services for Pension and OPEB Funds

14. Approve Resolution No. 2017-2 - Revision to Non-Union Employee Benefits Policy

15. Discussion - Giant Foods Request for Resolution and Public Hearing for Transfer of Liquor License

Public Comment
Note - General public comment will be limited to 4 minutes per speaker

Last Updated on Monday, 16 January 2017 16:24

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Police looking for man who exposed himself at Sharp Shopper

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Lower Swatara Township police are looking for a man who exposed himself to an employee at Sharp Shopper Grocery Outlet on West Harrisburg Pike on Jan. 9.

At about 10:52 a.m., a white man, 50 to 60 years old, possibly around 6 feet tall, balding with dark to dirty blonde hair around the sides of his head, with a “dingy” appearance, was assisting a female employee at the Sharp Shopper stack cereal boxes.

He began to walk away, but then he stopped and pulled down his pants, exposing his genitals to the female employee, according to police.

The suspect might have entered the store with a female, but was not with her at the time he exposed himself.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Lower Swatara Township Police via Dauphin County Control at 717-558-6900. Or you may contact Dauphin County Crime Stoppers at 800-262-3080 or visit their website at and click on the “submit a tip” link.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 15 January 2017 12:02

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Lower Swatara police: Explosive device suspect unhappy with propane company

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The Lower Swatara Police Twp. Department has issued an arrest warrant for Arthur W. Clark, 69, in regards to the investigation that occurred Jan. 11.

According to Lower Swatara police, Clark left a residence in the 100 block of McKinney Lane with an explosive device concocted out of pill bottles containing black powder. The bottles had a wick or fuse sticking out of them and several were found on Clark when police found him on the afternoon of Jan. 11, police reported.

Police investigating the complaint at a residence Clark shared with other family members, reportedly found evidence indicating that the potential for having made explosive device(s) was credible. Police Chief Frank Williamson noted police located empty cans of black powder in the residence. A large number of pills were found in the sink at the residence, corroborating that Clark may have used the pill bottles as the container for the black powder, Williamson noted.

According to police, Clark was displeased that a propane company would not refill the residence’s tanks. The company in question and others in the area were notified of the potential threat, Williamson added.

Reportedly Pennsylvania State Police rendered the devices safe. Lower Swatara police are awaiting a report from them on the exact make up and workings of the devices found in Clark’s possession

Williamson noted that as of Thus., Jan. 12 Clark remains in Harrisburg Hospital for an evaluation. Reportedly he will be charged with threat to use a weapon of mass destruction, causing or risking a catastrophe and terroristic threats, upon release.

Williamson added that anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Lower Swatara Township Police via Dauphin County Control at 717-558-6900 or contact Dauphin County Crime Stoppers at 800-262-3080 or and click on the “submit a tip” link.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 January 2017 07:03

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