Written by Dan Miller
The downtown Middletown streetscape took a big step forward with the re-opening of the intersection at South Union and Emaus streets on Friday, July 1.
Newly installed traffic signals at the four-way intersection were to be in service by sometime Wednesday, July 6, borough Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach told the Press And Journal.
Work has moved south to Brown and Emaus streets. The intersection was closed as of Tuesday, July 5, so work can proceed on sidewalk and storm sewer improvements. The streetscape includes improvements such as new sidewalk and curbing, trees, and street lights from Spring and Union streets south to Union and Ann streets. A $2.8 million construction contract for the streetscape was awarded in September 2015 to Flyway Excavating of Lititz, but the project tops $3 million when engineering costs and change orders are factored in.
Funding for the streetscape comes from a $1.5 million loan from Dauphin County, a $250,000 county gaming grant, and about $745,000 in accumulated liquid fuels dollars.Remaining funds are coming from the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority, which awarded the streetscape contract and oversees the project.
The project should be done in the fall.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2016 16:01
Written by Dan Miller
Greg Wilsbach, who for years ran Middletown’s electric department, started June 28 as the borough’s new public works director.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic. It’s really great to be back,” Wilsbach told the Press And Journal. “I’ve gotten a lot of welcomes with open arms.”
Wilsbach served on borough council for three months in 2016 and before that had been a Middletown public works employee for 26 years, rising to assistant public works director — a position in which he oversaw the electric department.
“There were some good candidates but truthfully none of them matched up to Greg,” said Council President Ben Kapenstein.
The annual salary for the public works director is $70,000.
Three council members voted against the hire, which was announced following a closed-door executive session during the June 21 meeting.
The six who voted in favor were Kapenstein, Vice President Damon Suglia, and councilors Anne Einhorn, Robert Reid, Ian Reddinger and Ed Shull. Voting no were councilors Dawn Knull, Robert Louer, and Diana McGlone.
McGlone said she objected not to Wilsbach but to the process council dictated in filling the position.
“We now have (Ken) Klinepeter as the borough manager, and I feel it should be his job and responsibility alone to select, vet and interview candidates that he will ultimately be working with on a daily basis, not council’s,” McGlone said.
Louer said he felt that another finalist for the job from New York state would have been a better fit.
Knull declined comment.
In July 2014, Wilsbach resigned his electrical system job in protest over what he described as an oppressive work environment under then-borough council President Chris McNamara.
In 2015, Wilsbach ran against and soundly defeated McNamara in McNamara’s bid for re-election to council. However, Wilsbach in March 2016 gave up his seat in order to apply for the public works position that had been vacated when Lester Lanman resigned in late December 2015.
Wilsbach pointed to a number of projects on his plate starting out, among them the downtown streetscape, preliminary work underway to convert borough streetlights to more energy efficient LED bulbs, and preparing a five-year plan to prioritize capital improvements to roads, equipment, and public buildings.
He also wants to focus on some things that “haven’t had attention for awhile,” starting with getting rid of the weeds on borough property.
“We have to lead by example” before the borough can expect residents to do more to control weeds on their own properties, Wilsbach said.
It’s too early to say if Wilsbach will ask for more positions. Wilsbach is analyzing how much work can be contracted out in order to free up the department’s own manpower.
Right now the department’s only vacant position is the new first class electric lineman that council approved as part of the 2016 budget.
“We hope to fill that in the near future,” Wilsbach said. “We’ve got a bunch of (electric) line work that we are still calling contractors in for because we don’t have a first class lineman.” Wilsbach and all other new borough management hires will not be part of a traditional retirement pension system, following changes that council has put in place since January. Instead, Wilsbach will be able to participate in a 401(k)-style plan. Except for police, all new management and union employees with the borough from now on will be participating in a 401(k)-style plan instead of a traditional retirement plan.
One of 20 candidates
Wilsbach was one of about 20 applicants for the public works post, Kapenstein said. Council brought in eight candidates for interviews, and three of those were brought in for second interviews. One of the three finalists dropped out, Kapenstein said.
Besides having a lot of experience with the borough, Wilsbach has a background in both public works and in running a municipal electrical system, Kapenstein said.
“It’s very hard to find someone who has electrical experience and in public works,” Kapenstein said. “There are only 35 municipally owned electrical systems (in Pennsylvania) and most of them have their own separate electric supervisor. In Middletown, there is one supervisor for everything, so you have to find someone who knows electric and public works. It’s not easy to find, and Greg has that.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2016 15:30
Written by Dan Miller
BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING – July 5, 2016
Call to Order – 7 PM
Pledge of Allegiance
Public Comment on Agenda Items
Firefighters Responding to a Call
Defined Contribution Pension Plan
9. Resolution Authorizing the Borough Manager to Apply for a
10. Award Contract – Human Resources to Complete Phase 3
of the EIP
11. Green Light Go Grant Agreement
12. Planning Commission Stipends
13. Conditional Offer of Employment for Full Time Police
14. Approve Capital Purchase For Harborton Place Service
15. Proposals for September 3, 2016 Fireworks Display
Note – General public comment will be limited to 4 minutes per speaker
Last Updated on Monday, 04 July 2016 19:41
Written by Dan Miller
The intersection of Union and Emaus streets in downtown Middletown was officially reopened to traffic at about 1 p.m. on Friday, July 1.
Workers with Flyway, the contractor doing the downtown streetscape project, and with consulting engineers HRG dragged away the hated road-closed signs that have blocked - or at least tried to block - cars and trucks for months.
Union and Emaus is a four-way intersection. Temporary stop signs have been put up, until the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation gives the green light to the new traffic signals.
Emaus Street is open at the intersection in both east and west directions. But if you are heading south on Union you can only go as far as Roberto's Pizza, just past the intersection with Emaus, because streetscape work is still underway.
Work is to soon shift south to Brown and Union streets. The intersection will close at some point, although trains will still be able to use the railroad tracks, officials have said.
The streetscape includes improvements from Spring and Union streets south to Ann Street. The improvements include stormwater system upgrades, new sidewalks and curbing, new lighting and traffic signal poles, and new trees.
The streetscape is to be finished by sometime in the fall, borough officials have said.
Last Updated on Friday, 01 July 2016 14:59
Technicians were simply performing maintenance on Wells Fargo's alarm system at about 2 p.m., Wednesday, June 29, when police received an alarm, police said.
Middletown Police responded to bank branch because they had not been notified in advance, reported Patrolman Juan Castro.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 June 2016 15:28