Press and Journal

Switch to desktop Register Login

Middletown Snow Emergency

Word is expected soon on the status of a snow emergency in Middletown that was declared by Mayor James Curry at 11 p.m. yesterday.

“By issuing the emergency, we can ensure the roads are clear for Borough and PennDOT crews, ” said Curry, in declaring the emergency.

Curry said parking restrictions will be strictly enforced and tickets will issued for any and all vehicles in violation of those restrictions.

During a declared snow emergency, parking restrictions go into effect to facilitate the removal of snow from Borough streets. During such an emergency, it is unlawful to park on the north side of designated east-west streets or on the east side of designated north-south streets, unless otherwise indicated.

Once the snow stops and it has been removed from those parking areas, parking there becomes permissible as long there is no interference with the Borough snow removal crews and no interference with traffic during the remainder of the emergency.

Residents needing an off street place to park can use the lot behind Borough Hall.

Following is a complete list of designated snow emergency route streets and parking restrictions in Middletown.

Name of Street

Side

Location

Adelia Street 

East 

From Emaus Street to East Main Street 

Ann Street 

North 

From Swatara Creek west to Grant Street 

Catherine Street 

East 

From Emaus Street north to Main Street 

Emaus Street 

North 

From Adelia Street west to Wood Street 

Grant Street 

East 

From Ann Street to Wilson Street 

Main Street 

Both 

From Swatara Creek to Apple Avenue 

Roosevelt Street 

North 

From Vine Street west to Union Street 

Union Street 

Both 

From Ann Street to Park Circle Road 

Union Street 

East 

From Ann Street to its southern limits 

Vine Street 

East 

From Water Street to Aspen Street 

Water Street 

North 

From Vine Street to Catherine Street 

Wilson Street 

North 

From Grant Street to and over the overhead bridge to Main Street 

Wood Street 

East 

From Susquehanna Street north to Emaus Street

 

Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 15:37

Hits: 629

Masked man robs Hummelstown bank

A man wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and a black mask over his face robbed the Fulton Bank on West Main Street in Hummelstown around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 23, Hummelstown police said.

The unidentified man, who wore white or light-colored gloves, approached a teller and demanded cash, police said. No weapon was displayed.

The suspect fled on foot with an unspecified amount of money, police said.

He is described as a black male, about 5-foot-8, with a medium to slim build, police said. He also was wearing jeans and sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hummelstown police at 717-566-2555.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 13:14

Hits: 345

Police warn of possible burglars posing as utility employees

Residents should be aware that a possible burglar or scam artist has tried to enter a home in Middletown under the guise of being a "water department" employee, Middletown Police said.

The borough noted in a press released it does not have a "water department" or any such employee, and police believe the man had suspicious motives for entering the home. The borough's water and sewer system is managed under a lease with United Water, whose employees carry identification badges with the company logo. Residents are advised to call United Water at 888-844-0352 to confirm that United has sent an employee to their homes before allowing anyone inside.  

Police said a man in uniform approached an elderly woman in the first block of Beechwood Drive around 3 p.m. Tuesday, saying he was an employee of the “water department.” The man, described only as “Hispanic,” reportedly told the woman a water pipe was broken in the area and that her water may be "poisoned." 

After the woman allowed him to come in her home to check her water, the man requested she stay with him while he went to the kitchen and bathroom turning on all the faucets “check the water.” The man tried to keep the resident with him as he spoke to someone on a two-way radio, which police suspect was used to signal someone else to enter the home.

Police believe the man turned on water to cover the sound of other people entering the home. After about 10 minutes, the man turned off the faucets and left without explanation. Police are still trying to determine if anything was taken.

Anyone with information regarding this incident, or who sees or experiences suspicious activity like this, is asked to call the Police Department at 717-558-6900.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 14:04

Hits: 462

RESIDENTS STAGE RALLY AT MIDDLETOWN BOROUGH HALL

websigns1 28 15

Kim Haney stood in a crowd of Middletown residents who had gathered outside the borough hall on Tuesday, Jan. 20 in a protest against borough government that was organized on Facebook, clutching a sign condemning partisan politics made by her 15-year-old daughter.

"Put Middletown 1st,'' the sign demanded – and Haney hoped that members of Middletown Borough Council, who were scheduled to meet in about 45 minutes, would see it.

She was disturbed by recent events in the borough that she sees as nothing more than political gamesmanship by those who run borough hall – a majority of council and some borough administrators. When Mayor James H. Curry III took to a video he posted on the Facebook page of Middletown Residents United, urging citizens to speak their mind on important issues at council meetings, she and a number of others heeded the call, showing up at the door of borough hall about 45 minutes before council was to meet.

She is not political – she planned to follow the crowd into council's chambers and attend her first council meeting that night – yet she was compelled to join when she decided politics was trumping public service.

She disliked the tenor of a recent borough newsletter about council projects, judging it to be needlessly partisan, and was disturbed by a failed attempt by Curry to post a notice on the borough Web site about local warming stations for residents who may have lost heat during a recent cold snap. And like others in the crowd, she questioned why Borough Manager Tim Konek had not yet signed a contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to plow state-owned streets in the borough after council approved the pact by a 5-2 vote last month – a pact opposed by council's president and vice president.

So she joined the rally, then headed to council chambers, along with a crowd large enough to fill the seats in the meeting room and spill down the hallways beyond the chambers' door.

"I'm a teacher – when you're a teacher, you sit back, you have so much work to do,'' she explained, vowing that from now on she would be "getting more involved.''

You can view our video of the rally here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVh8MiAxmgI&feature=em-upload_owner#

What followed was a struggle – to have demands heard, to keep order – that dipped and swayed in surprising directions during council's meeting, including a failed call to replace the council president to a vote by a majority of council members to draft a "code of conduct'' for future public meetings.

For Cortney Hartnett, a resident who joined in the rally, the evening left her "disgusted.''

"There's obviously a good-old-boys club going on here,'' Hartnett said. "We're trying to speak up and have our voice heard.''

Curry took to Facebook to urge residents who disagreed with recent borough actions to fill the council chambers for Tuesday night's meeting, narrating a short video he posted online.

The turnout at the meeting was "excellent,'' Curry said during a council recess. "Warms my heart,'' he said before council reconvened.

Protestors listed their concerns as they stood outside borough hall, ranging from cuts in borough funding of the Middletown Public Library to reductions in the borough's workforce to a downtown improvement project that has succeeded in replacing old water and sewer lines but has yet to move forward with a streetscape facelift promised by council.

"This has to be one of the worst administrations that I know of,'' said Kate Wealand, a longtime resident who joined in the rally.

Some called for the resignation of Konek and Chris Courogen, the borough's director of communications and editor of the borough newsletter.

Some in the crowd said they were eager to show their support for Curry, whose video summons resonated with them, but skeptical that the rally would bring change.

A similarly-sized crowd came to a council meeting years ago demanding to know why council was cutting funding to the library, said resident Cathy Winter. "They did exactly what they wanted to do,'' she said.

Councilor Suzanne Sullivan countered that protestors haven't explained what the ruling majority on council has done wrong. "You keep saying we are destroying the town – give me an example,'' she told the crowd during the meeting.

"We all need to get along if we want this town to go forward,'' she said.

Councilor Scott Sites made a motion calling for council President Christopher McNamara to resign his presidency, which failed by a 5-3 vote.

Sullivan followed with a motion to have the borough solicitor draft a "code of conduct'' for all public meetings, which was approved by the same 5-3 vote.

Curry said the move "seems like an attempt to slip an iron plate over the mouths of the people.'' Sullivan noted that, before she was elected to council, she would come to council meetings and speak her mind, "but I did it in a respectful manner – and the council there gave us a lot more grief than the council here.''

Some in the crowd insisted that the turnout was a sign of things to come – a growing tide of dissatisfaction that would continue through this year's local elections.

"If you don't listen, I think what you're seeing tonight is the proverbial [expletive] hitting the fan,'' Winter told council.

Resident Vera Williams agreed. "You do what you have to do,'' she told council, "and we'll do what we have to do.''

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 16:26

Hits: 597

Bowman, Strohm recommended for council seat

 

A Middletown Borough Council committee has recommended that Mike Bowman and Tom Strohm be considered to fill the First Ward vacancy on council created by the resignation of Tom Handley last month.

 

Following interviews that were held in public on Monday, Jan. 12, the three-member administration and personnel committee voted 2-1 to send the names of both Bowman and Strohm to the full council for its consideration on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

 

The committee voted 2-1 against a third applicant, Dawn Knull. However, the committee’s action is only a recommendation, and Knull’s name can be brought up for a vote on Jan. 20 as well, said Councilor Anne Einhorn, a committee member who supported Knull.

 

Councilors Sue Sullivan and Vicki Malone supported recommending Bowman, while Einhorn objected. Einhorn and Sullivan supported recommending Strohm, while Malone objected.

 

The borough received an application from a fourth resident who was disqualified because they did not submit a resume, a requirement under a borough ordinance.

The person’s identity was not released.

 

Whomever the full council chooses to appoint will serve for at least all of 2015. Voters will decide in municipal elections this year who will hold the seat for the duration of Handley’s four-year term, which runs through 2017.

 

During public comment before the committee’s votes, former Middletown electric department supervisor Greg Wilsbach asked that the committee not consider any applicants who had run for council in an election before and lost. That would have eliminated Bowman and Strohm, who have both run unsuccessfully for council. Knull has never run for council.

 

Wilsbach, a resident of the Second Ward, is considering running for council this year, setting up a possible confrontation between Wilsbach and Council President Chris McNamara, who also lives in the Second Ward and is up for re-election in 2015. In all, five council seats – two in the First Ward, one in the Second Ward and two in the Third Ward – are up for grabs.

 

The committee brought up each applicant separately to answer a list of six questions. The other two applicants were removed from the room while the other applicants answered the questions.

 

The questions:

• Why are you running for council?

• Do you know what the Early Intervention Plan is and why Middletown is in it?

• Do you know about council’s decision to lease the water and sewer systems to United Water and why that was done?

• Where do you stand on the borough’s structural deficit?

• What is your main goal and vision for Middletown?

• Would you be willing to raise taxes if you have to?

 

Bowman, the first to be interviewed based on a random drawing of names conducted earlier by borough staff, said the current council deserves praise for undertaking projects leading to the improvement of the downtown.

 

He said that the borough had to go into the EIP program due to the action of past councils that “did not understand what a structural deficit is or how to spend money.”

 

Bowman said that the need to lease the water and sewer systems was a necessary consequence of past councils being “overly generous” to retirees. 

 

Regarding the structural deficit, Bowman again blamed the action of past councils, saying that the present council – “the one that started about four years ago” – is the only one to have seriously dealt with the issue.

 

He said his main goal is to finish the downtown, and that future increases in the tax and electric rates are “inevitable,” although large one-time increases – such as this year’s hefty hike in sewer and water rates – should be avoided.

 

Strohm said he wants to be on council because he grew up in Middletown and wants to “be active in the town.”

 

He said that the EIP is a result of the borough’s financial difficulties. Of the water and sewer lease, Strohm believes it was “a good thing” because it will help the town financially, but added that the 50-year time period for the lease was too long.

 

Regarding the structural deficit, Strohm said he will seek to make “wise decisions” based upon input from residents. The borough’s mishandling of the snow-plowing agreement with PennDOT is an example of borough leaders not fully considering the views of residents, he said.

 

Strohm said he would be willing to raise taxes if necessary, “but you better let the citizens of Middletown know why.”

 

Knull, like Bowman a familiar face at council meetings, said she was running “to try and bring the community and council back together.” She said that the EIP is necessary for the borough to get out of its financial hole.

 

Knull was the only one of the three to say that she had opposed the water and sewer lease. Scoffing at the borough’s public statements that the town is now “debt free” thanks to the lease, Knull countered, “You are never going to be debt free” as long as the borough has employees and bills to pay.

 

Knull said that had she as a councilor been presented with the choice of leasing borough assets or raising taxes, she would have made the case for raising taxes.

 

“I would hold a meeting and tell them this is what we need to do, and I would go with what they say because I am here for them,’’ she said. “I am not here for a personal issue. I have personal issues at my house, and this is not my house.”

 

All three applicants were in agreement that the council needs to do more – much more – to forge a closer relationship with the growing Penn State Harrisburg campus.

 

Bowman said council must finish the downtown improvement project to make Middletown more attractive to students, and housing in the town must be made safer for students.

 

Strohm, who is employed by Penn State Harrisburg, said the lack of interaction between the town and the campus is “a lost opportunity.” The expensive cars that many students are seen driving around campus is evidence that the students have money to spend, but they don’t spend it in Middletown because “there is nothing to spend their money on” here, he said.

 

Knull offered similar comments, but said the borough also needs to get its own house in order to build “a stronger relationship” with the campus.

 

 “You need to have a community, and right now we don’t have that,” Knull said.

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 15:24

Hits: 678