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Gov. Wolf oks $500,000 state grant for Elks Building - but borough has a few hoops to go through to get the money

A $500,000 state grant to renovate the Elks Building has been authorized by Gov. Tom Wolf, but there are still some hoops to go through before the borough of Middletown can get the money.

The borough on Monday, Oct. 31, received a letter dated Oct. 28 from the governor’s office saying that Wolf has “authorized the release of $500,000 in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding for the Elks Building Renovation project.”

Borough council was to discuss the $500,000 grant during its Nov. 1 meeting, according to Council President Ben Kapenstein.

The letter is addressed to Chris McNamara as borough council president, as the funds were applied for while McNamara was in office by the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority. McNamara lost in his bid for re-election in 2015.

Matt Tunnell, who chaired the authority under McNamara, said the authority applied for the RACP grant in 2014 or 2015. Tunnell resigned from the authority earlier this year after new leadership took over council and the authority following the 2015 elections.

If the borough can get the grant it could be a tremendous boost to efforts to renovate and reopen the Elks Theatre, which has been closed since April 2015.

It it not clear from the information provided thus far from the state whether all the money would go to the Elks Theatre, or if some would also be used in the ongoing transformation of the rest of the Elks Building into the Tattered Flag Still Works combined craft brewery and distillery.

Since the authority applied for the grant, ownership of most of the Elks Building has been turned over to the Tattered Flag partnership — meaning the only part of the Elks Building still owned by the authority is the Elks Theatre. Ownership of the theater is being turned over to the borough, as council earlier this year decided to dissolve the authority.

Moreover, Tattered Flag has already received a $1.5 million loan toward its part of the Elks Building — including $1.1 million for renovations and $400,000 toward a mortgage on the property.

The wording of a line item from the RACP budget indicates that all of the $500,000 would go toward the Elks Theatre.

According to the letter from the governor’s office, the borough to get the $500,000 must submit an application documenting the “estimated economic impact and the potential for job creation” of the Elks Building project.

The borough must also document that “at least 50 percent of the required non-state funds necessary to complete the project are secured at the time of the application.”

The borough to date has provided no firm estimate for what it will cost to reopen the theater — either as a stand-alone theater or as part of a performing arts center.

Estimates of $370,000 to $1.3 million surfaced during a public meeting that council held in July.

At that time, there were indications that the company hired by Tattered Flag to renovate its portion of the Elks Building would be coming up with an estimate for what it would cost to do the theater project. However, to date, no such report has been made public.

It is unclear from the letter the timeline for the borough applying for the $500,000.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 November 2016 12:16

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Knull: ‘I can’t send my kid out the door and know he will be safe’

Dawn Knull grew up in Middletown. She remembers a time when you knew everybody that you saw on the street.

“Our parents could send us out the door and know we would be safe. I can’t send my kid out the door and know he will be safe,” said Knull, who today is a borough councilor from the First Ward.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 15:23

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Mtown Boro Cops Looking For Burglary Suspect

White male, 40's, wearing jeans and black shirt



7 30 16 SuspectSought

Middletown Police are actively searching for a burglary suspect they say is loose in the area of Ann and Wilson streets, specifically between Wood and S. Catherine streets.

In a Nixle alert released by the local department at 12:35 a.m. Sat., July 30 police noted the suspect is believed to be a white male, in his 40's, wearing blue jeans and a black muscle type t-shirt. The suspect possibly has a mustache, the announcement also noted.

Police said the suspect entered a garage and stole tools. The extent of loss was not noted nor was it noted if the garage had been locked.

Police are urging residents to take precaution and to secure their homes' doors and windows and to lock out buildings on  properties, as well as vehicles. 

Police are asking residents to report all suspicious activity in or around their homes to them by calling 911. The department's non emergency number is (717) 902-0706.


Last Updated on Saturday, 30 July 2016 08:31

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Baltimore man nabbed in burglary in Middletown Borough

Middletown Police arrested and charged a Baltimore man in connection with a burglary and attempted burglary of two homes on the north side of Middletown.

Diehl Michael 6 23 16Michael C. Diehl, 22, has been charged with burglary for his role in the break-in Fri., June 17 of a home in the 1000 block of Plane St. An HP laptop computer and an iPad with an estimated valued of more than $1,000 were reported stolen from the residence.

Police also charged Diehl with criminal attempt burglary for an attempted burglary of another home located in the 1000 block of Cypress Street.

 Diehl has also been charged with two unrelated drug offenses, intentional possession of a controlled substance by person not registered, use/possession of drug paraphernalia and false identification to law enforcement officer, police said.

 “An alert citizen provided real-time information to the 911 center of the location of the suspect and another male that led to their detention and investigation early Wednesday morning (June 22),” said Middletown Police Chief John Bey. “She recognized the one male from an alert provided during a neighborhood canvas by patrol officers, and called immediately. Information developed by interviewing these suspects led police to a residence in the 1100 Block of Cypress Street, where a search warrant was served on the residence and police recovered numerous items of stolen property.”

Bey said police were further assisted in their investigation after viewing a video provided by a neighbor. Bey said the home surveillance tape showed Diehl attempting to break into the Cypress St. home on June 17.

6 17 16 BurgrlaryMtownDiehl was arraigned June 22 before District Judge Raymond Shugars and held at Dauphin County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday, July 1, at 9 a.m. before District Judge David Judy in Royalton.

Bey said the accused had been staying at a residence in the 1100 block of Cypress St.

This is a fine example of the ability of alert citizens helping police to bring a successful conclusion to a crime spree in their neighborhood,” Bey said. “The Middletown Police Department thanks all those who helped with this case and provided tips that we diligently followed up on.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 June 2016 13:43

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Cupcakes and clocks?

Almost 100 years ago, the Mothers Congress Circle, a charitable organization, sold cupcakes to help raise money to buy the clock. The town clock, located at the corner of N. Union & Emaus streets in Middletown, PA, returned on June 15, 2016 after an extensive restoration.


Last Updated on Thursday, 23 June 2016 10:59

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