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Get free tax preparation at Middletown library

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Free tax preparation for low- to moderate-income people and families will be offered at Middletown Public Library every Monday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. starting Jan. 30. 

The service will continue to be offered on Monday nights at the library until April 17. People will be assisted first-come first-served by volunteers certified by the Internal Revenue Service.

Free tax preparation is available to those with an annual yearly income of $54,000 or less. 

To have your taxes prepared at the library, you need to bring the following:

• Valid photo identification (driver’s license, military ID, etc.) for taxpayer and spouse.

• Original Social Security card or individual Taxpayer Identification Number for you, your spouse, your children, and other dependents included in your tax return.

• Your current IP PIN number issued by the IRS (if you have one).

• Copies of all year-end tax forms you have received in the mail.

• If you received health care from the marketplace, bring your 1095-A.

You should also bring the following if it is available:

• Previous year’s federal and state tax returns.

• If you want to have your refund deposited directly into your checking or savings account, bring a blank check or other documentation from your bank/credit union showing your account number and the routing transit number.

• If you expect to claim a credit for child or dependent care, bring the child care provider's address and Employer Identification Number or their Social Security number. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 16:23

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Martin Luther King Jr. drama at Penn State Harrisburg

Cassandra Porter   RivetedCassandra Porter heads the cast of “Riveted,” to be performed at Penn State Harrisburg.

For 19 years, Penn State Harrisburg and PenOwl Productions Theatre Company have collaborated to produce a dramatic presentation to commemorate the campus-wide celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King national holiday. 

Here is a synopsis of this year’s production, “Riveted”: Four African-American women work for the defense industries in World War II while working on their lives. Husbands must be cared for, children tended to, housework done, and the world protected. That doesn’t leave much time for personal reflection. Yet these women do, what women have always done, find a natural balance and form a bond of sisterhood. 

The play was written by Dr. Dorothy E. King, Penn State Harrisburg assistant professor of sociology. Cassandra Porter heads the cast.

“Riveted” will be performed at noon Monday, Jan. 16 and 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17 in the Capital Union Building of Penn State Harrisburg. It is free and open to the public.

For more information and to make a reservation, call 717-948-6300.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 January 2017 15:50

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23 Years Ago: Jan. 11, 2017

final 23 years ago 1 11Raising Kane – It was time to raise a little “Kane” last week as schools were closed and the snowfall made a winter wonderland for hundreds of local kids. Andrea Kane is pictured having more fun than she probably would have had on a school day. A student at Demey Elementary School, Andrea is the daughter of Jeff Kane and Sandy McCann of Middletown. 

From The Wednesday, Jan. 12, 1994 edition of the Press And Journal


Series Of Suspicious Fires Sparks Alarm, Anger

 Twelve suspicious fires? All in Middletown’s First Ward? All since early October? It was not a subject on the night’s agenda. Rather it was expected to be a night of mostly ceremonious matters, going through, with pomp and proper protocol, the procedures required by state law on the first Monday of even-numbered years.

 But shortly after Middletown Council re-organized, electing again as its president and vice president, Barbara Layne and Terry Seiders, five First Ward residents brought the curtain crashing down.

 “We’re here to talk about the fires being set around our area,” said one resident who, along with several neighbors, attended Council’s January 3 re-organization meeting.

 With Council sitting in seemingly stunned silence, the resident politely continued, “We’re living in fear,” she said. “We all feel like sitting ducks wondering whose house will be next. Let’s not keep this hush-hush. Let’s make people aware there’s an arsonist out there.”

 According to the resident, at the scene of a fire a few blocks from her house on Jan.2 – a day when a total of four fire calls were received by Middletown’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – a firefighter told her that he suspected it was an arson and that it was not the only one.

 Eyes darting from the audience to fellow Council members, Layne exclaimed, “I want you and everyone else in this room to know that this is the first time I’ve heard this.”

 In what appeared to be a search for someone to shed light on the issue, Layne looked at Mayor Robert Reid and then at Councilman George Elberti III, who is also an assistant fire marshal for the Borough.

 Elberti, in an attempt to downplay the situation, simply said, yes a number of fires were under investigation by the State Police, and that no further details could be disclosed. 

 Layne said, “We’ll take every measure we can, through the press, to make people aware.”


Layne, Seiders Reappointed President, Vice-president of Middletown Council

 On the first Monday of even-numbered years, state law requires local governing bodies to re-organize, to elect new officers to lead the body. On January 3, Middletown Council did just that, unanimously re-electing as its leaders, President Barbara Layne and Vice President Terry Seiders.

 Both thanked fellow members for their support, but Layne went a step further, sharing with Council and those in the audience an acceptance speech she had prepared.

 “When I became president in 1988, I stressed that this Council would go down in the annals of Middletown as one genuinely interested in what is best for the residents of this Borough. I strongly believe that we have been successful in accomplishing that – despite what some may say.”

 With conviction in her voice, Layne read on, “I further made a plea for us to continue to improve the quality of life for our residents.”

 As evidence of Council’s efforts toward that end and its ability to operate as a team, Layne read off the following accomplishments: the Woodlayne project; the Wilson St. Bridge project, where ground was broken in May, Layne noted; the new Giant going up at Mid-Town Plaza; and the placement of the town square project on PennDOT’s priority list.

 “We have faced some very difficult issues over the past two years and will face more in the next two years.” Layne said in bringing her speech to an end, “May God grant us the strength and courage we need to move forward in these very difficult times.”


Familiar Faces Reappointed In Conoy Twp.

 The Conoy Township Board of Supervisors met for its annual re-organizational meeting on Mon., Jan. 3, reappointing many longtime officials.

 Once again, Stephen Mohr will serve as Board chairman and Earl Fuhrman as vice chairman. Board member Robert Strickland returns as secretary/treasurer, a post he has held for more than 30 years.

 The Supervisors’ various responsibilities remain as follows: Mohr – recreation and buildings; Fuhrman – sewer, water, fire and roads; and Strickland – planning, zoning, emergency management and roads.

 Also, Mohr was reappointed as dog officer and Fuhrman returns as Township road master.

 Richard Boas was reappointed as Chief of Police. The Board announced that the police force remains under a three-year contract that was signed in 1993. Under the contract, Boas reportedly earns $30,500 annually and Officer Joe Good earns $26,500. The department’s two part-time officers earn a wage of $8.75 per hour.

 The Board also voted to keep Marvin Stoner as sewer enforcement officer, Robert Brandt as zoning officer and Glenn Hipple as Vacancy Board chairman.

 The Board gave its authorization for the Bainbridge Fire Department to carry out fundraising activities during the New Year. Officials also announced that the Township’s 1994 budget was passed at a Dec. 28 meeting. Revenues are expected to total $714,956 and expenditures are expected to be $641,605 leaving a surplus of more than $100,000.

Prices From 23 Years Ago

Wilson Lite Roast Beef, $3.99/lb.

Dannon Light Yogurt 8 oz., 59¢

Wheat Kaiser Rolls 6 ct., $1.29

Icy Point Pink Salmon 14.75 oz., 2/$3

Hills Bros. Coffee 12 oz. can, 99¢

Blueberry Pie 24 oz., $2.99

Page Paper Towels, 3 Rolls/$1

Wildberry Crème Cake, $2.58/each

Kraft Parmesan Cheese 8 oz., $3.20

Wesson Oil 48 oz. btl., $1.99

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 January 2017 15:27

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23 Years Ago: 1/4/2017

23 years 010423 YEARS AGO - MAHS Thespians Stage Comedy – The Middletown Area High School performing arts department presents the comedy, “But Why Bump Off Barnaby” in the high school auditorium. Pictured in a recent rehearsal for this hilarious farce are: student director Lori Pressley (seated in foreground) and actors (left to right) Josh Koch, Lisa Kalbaugh, Tracy Erb, Margaret Laszczak, Ty Walker, Robert Smith, Kevin Arnold, Maggie Hess, April Hoover and Val Messick.


From The Wednesday,  Jan. 5, 1994 Edition Of The Press And Journal


Next Phase: Decommissioning In 2014 TMI’s Unit 2 Reactor  Placed In Monitored Storage

 It’s taken over 14 years of history-making cleanup, analysis and negotiations, but the damaged Unit 2 reactor at Three Mile Island has finally entered a stage of industrial limbo known in the nuclear power industry as “monitored storage.”

 The owner of the Londonderry Township facility, GPU Nuclear Corporation, first proposed the storage option to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in August 1988 as an interim stage between the end of defueling and decommissioning at the plant.

 Unit 2’s ongoing status has garnered industry-wide attention, primarily because it was the site of the country’s worst commercial nuclear power accident in March 1979, but also because it is the first nuclear plant to be “mothballed” in this manner.

 The NRC announced an amendment to GPU’s license in mid-September that permitted the utility to possess Unit 2 but not operate it. That hurdle cleared the way for GPU to place the damaged reactor into “post-defueling monitored storage” until its planned decommissioning along with the healthy Unit 1 reactor in April 2014.

 According to GPU officials, some radioactive material remains at Unit 2 but is expected to decay significantly before the plants decommissioning 20 years from now. As a result, the NRC has issued detailed technical specifications that must be met during storage, including the frequency of inspections and the equipment that must be maintained.

 Prior to issuing the possession-only license, the NRC staff reportedly conducted safety and technical evaluations, which determined long-term storage to be an acceptable option for the plant.


Prices From 23 Years Ago

Stouffers Lasagna 

  40 oz. pkg.$4.79

Fresh Artichokes68¢/each

Roma Tomatoes79¢/lb.

Mozzarella Balls 16 oz. pkg.$2.34

Snowflake Rolls$1.29/8 roll pkg.

Bertolli Olive Oil 17 oz.$2.89

Farley’s Fruit Snacks 

  10 oz. pkg.$1.55

Green Zuchini Squash58¢/lb.

Fresh Endive39¢/lb.

Cavatelli Pasta Salad$1.88/lb.

Minute Maid 64 oz.$1.79

Smithfield Bacon$1.38/lb.

Pepperidge Farms 

Croutons 5.5 oz$1.09


Look Back At The News Stories That Highlighted Our Year: 1993

 Since it’s traditional at the start of a new year to look back on all the events that shaped and molded our world during the previous 12 months, we thought it would be interesting to review some of the news stories that made their mark in the Press And Journal in 1993.

 JANUARY 1993: Union Hopes To Salvage Sale; With a skeleton crew of fewer than 30 workers now filling the remaining manufacturing orders at Bethlehem Steel’s trackwork facility in Steelton, local union officials are still holding our hope that the corporation will find a buyer for the plant before it shuts down permanently.

 FEBRUARY 1993: Met-Ed Tries Again To Break Electric Pact; Metropolitan Edison Company has advised Middletown officials that it is seeking, again, to terminate the 1906 contract under which it supplies electricity to the Borough at the favorable rate of 1 cent per kilowatt hour (Kwh). 

 MARCH 1993: 20-plus Inches of Snow Finds Locals Still Digging Our From The “Great Blizzard of ’93; It may have not been the area’s worst snow storm of the century, but for most local residents it ranked as one of the worst in memory. Although our area was covered by an average of 20 to 23 inches of snow Saturday night, it wasn’t enough to top the record snowfall of 25.2 inches that was dumped on this area during the storm that hit here on Feb. 11, 1983.

 APRIL 1993: Flood Was Little More Than Messy Nuisance; For some of the residents in Royalton Borough, the flood of 1993 was a minor inconvenience compared to the hoards of sightseers who overflowed the small town’s streets and created a general nuisance of themselves.

 SEPTEMBER 1993: AMP to Expand Plant In Lower Swatara Twp.; Officials with AMP Incorporated announced early last week that the giant electronics firm will construct a large new building at its Fulling Mill Road location in Lower Swatara township that could provide at least 130 new jobs for area residents.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 January 2017 13:26

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The Ruth murders, 35 years later: Middletown case was the most memorable of Brandt’s police career

Middletown Acting Police Chief Don Foreman and Detective Richard Brandt were nearing the end of their work week Friday, June 11, 1982, when a postal carrier walked into the police department.

“I think I just found a dead person,” the carrier said, remembers Richard Brandt, recently retired after 28 years with Lower Swatara Township Police Department, where he landed after two stints in Middletown. 

It was the most memorable case of Brandt’s career. Because Brandt was a Middletown native, he knew the location, the stone house beside Alfred’s Victorian restaurant, where Brandt had visited his family doctor on the first floor for the first decades of his life. 

Brandt said he found a body on the bed in a second-floor apartment of the stone building at 28 N. Union St. and began his investigation. The person was clearly dead. Brandt said that he realized the body must have been there for some time because decomposition made it difficult to tell if it was a male or female at first. The insects and maggots on the corpse were so active that it made it appear the body was moving.

Brandt Ruth MurderDick Brandt, in sport coat, was a Middletown detective in 1982 when Robert Ruth, far left, was charged with murder.

Despite the odor in the apartments, employees of the businesses on the first floor had not noticed anything, according to a Press And Journal report days after the discovery.

Brandt dealt with the odor and began investigating, concentrating on the body. 

“I was in there for 15 minutes, walking around and making notes, when I realized there was a second body on the floor.”

“It took us several days to identify them,” Brandt said, recalling that a tattoo helped identify one victim. They had discovered the bodies of Crystal Henderson Ruth and Randy Sinisi, both 24. Despite his earlier thoughts about leaving the office in midafternoon and beginning his weekend, Brandt ended up working until 11 p.m. 

“When I got home, my wife asked me to strip down outside because of the odor,” he said. “I immediately got out of that clothing and got a shower.”

“I was still a young detective,” Brandt said of his investigation. “I learned a lot from that case.”


CLICK FOR MORE: Lower Swatara’s ex-Chief Brandt reflects on long career as a police officer


Brandt took a lead role in the investigation with help from Foreman, state troopers and the State Police crime lab. On July 28, Middletown police had arrested Robert Ruth on first-degree murder charges. 

“He looked like somebody’s grandpa,” Brandt said. “He didn’t look like a killer.” 

“We found out the girl was married to a man in his 60s. She had married a guy she met in a massage parlor,” Brandt said. It appears Crystal Ruth had thought Robert Ruth to be a wealthy man, and she counted on him to support her drug habits. 

Initially, Sinisi had been introduced as a gay man, not her boyfriend, Brandt said. During the trial, Robert Ruth admitted taking the pair to buy drugs and waiting in the car, according to the Press And Journal archives. 

Ultimately, it appears Robert Ruth had learned of the true nature of this relationship, and found out about this apartment they used on North Union Street. 

Ruth Headline1


“One of my witnesses was the guy who made a key at Reider’s Hardware to the apartment for Mr. Ruth,” Brandt said. 

Ruth then provided money for the couple to score the drugs they craved, and entered the apartment hours later and killed them with a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, probably when they were passed out or sleeping, Brandt said. 

“Ruth placed the gun against Crystal’s forehead and fired, killing her instantly,” Brandt said. “We assume the shot startled Randy awake and he instinctively started moving away from the gunfire. Ruth only had to move the gun a few inches and fired again, hitting Randy in the side of the head and killing him instantly also.” 

Ruth withdrew $10,000 in cash on June 8, 1982, and left on a cross-country trek that took him to Florida, California and Davenport, Iowa, where he was apprehended in possession of Crystal’s purse and Sinisi’s pager, according to Press And Journal coverage of the time.

Ruth was convicted Dec. 9, 1982, of voluntary manslaughter in the killings with a sentence of 10 to 20 years. “For a man his age, that seemed like a life sentence,” Brandt said. 

Online records of graves show a man named Robert J. Ruth, 1915-1999, is buried in Camp Hill. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 January 2017 13:09

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