Written by Dan Miller
The Harrisburg-based law firm of McNees Wallace & Nurick will no longer serve as solicitor to Middletown Borough’s water and sewer authority after the authority terminated its agreement with the firm on Monday, Nov. 30.
The action was at the urging of authority Chairman John Patton, who referred to an e-mail that Patton said he had received from the authority’s solicitor, who works for the firm.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 December 2015 15:38
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown and Lower Swatara Twp. are said to be holding talks toward contracting with Swatara Twp. for police services.
But other area municipalities appear to be taking more of a wait-and-see approach regarding recommendations on regional policing that were presented in October by consultants working for the Dauphin County commissioners.
Middletown Borough Council voted 5-2 on Monday, Nov. 9 to authorize Council President Chris McNamara and the borough solicitor to enter into discussions toward a possible regional policing arrangement with their peers in Lower Swatara and Swatara townships.
McNamara is to report back on the results of those discussions to council during its meeting on Monday, Dec. 7.
Council’s action focuses on one option in a report that was done for the county by consultants with Police Executive Research Forum.
Known as the Southwest Dauphin Merger, or Option 3, the option envisions Middletown, Lower Swatara and five other municipalities – Highspire, Hummelstown, Paxtang, Royalton and Steelton – joining together for the contracting of regional police services with Swatara Twp.
Paxtang already buys police services from Swatara Twp. under an arrangement in which the borough dissolved its own police department.
Option 3 proposes an eventual combined annual cost savings of $4 million. Middletown alone would save about $700,000 a year, while Lower Swatara would save more than $200,000 annually, according to the report.
However, the savings figures assume the participation of all seven municipalities merging police services with Swatara Twp.
Not counting Paxtang and Swatara, Middletown appears to be the only municipality that has taken a definitive step toward Option 3, or any of the other options for regional policing that are laid out in the county report.
Lower Swatara has taken “no formal action” regarding any of the options in the county study, said Tom Mehaffie, president of the township board of commissioners.
McNamara “has reached out to us to talk” since the borough council’s Nov. 9 vote, Mehaffie said, but to his knowledge no meetings have taken place because McNamara has been ill.
“We are waiting for Chris to contact us” to follow up, Mehaffie said.
Hummelstown has taken no action in response to the report, said Borough Manager Michael O’Keefe.
Members of Royalton Borough Council have seen the report, however no discussions on regional policing have taken place. For now, the borough is pre-occupied with next year’s budget and figuring out how to pay for road repairs in 2016, said Mayor Judy Oxenford.
Royalton stands to pay more – not less – for police services under any of the regional scenarios presented in the county report, as all the options envision the borough going from part-time to full-time police protection.
Steelton also has not yet taken any concrete steps regarding any of the options outlined in the county study. However, Mayor Tom Acri suggested that the borough may be more interested in another option in the report – Option 4, known as the Southern Dauphin Regional Police Department, which would result from merging the police departments of Steelton, Highspire, Lower Swatara, Middletown and Royalton.
The combined eventual cost savings from Option 4 would be $675,457, according to the report, again based on all five municipalities participating.
Any regional policing arrangement poses significant challenges, Acri said, including the up-front costs to make it happen.
“It’s nuts the money they are talking about” spending before the eventual savings can be realized several years down the road, Acri said.
He offers a scenario short of creating a full-blown new regional police force from scratch, one that Acri suggests could achieve significant savings at a far lower up front cost.
For example, each municipality could retain its own identity regarding police protection but do all purchasing jointly. The municipalities could even choose to have just one police chief. The county report does not contemplate such a possibility, Acri said.
No matter the outcome of this process, it is doubtful that Steelton can continue down the road it is on for long, Acri said. The cash-strapped borough is spending $2.1 million a year on a police force of 12 full-time and two part-time officers to protect about 5,800 residents, the mayor said.
Highspire also has taken no action regarding the county study, said borough manager John McHale. However, he said the borough is looking to be part of a meeting on regional policing that is to be held in Middletown sometime in December. The meeting wasn’t set up by the county, but is to involve police chiefs and elected officials from throughout the greater Middletown area, McHale said.
“Highspire is willing to sit down and talk to anybody," McHale said. “The consideration of what we do will unfold in time."
As for Middletown, McNamara has already said he favors the borough contracting with Swatara Twp. under Option 3, but whether he can get his wish is far from certain. McNamara was not re-elected this year, and his time as president runs out on Dec. 31. A new council majority takes over in January.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 December 2015 15:16
Written by Jim Lewis
Two Middletown residents were killed when their car was struck by a tractor-trailer rig on Interstate 78 in Union Twp., Lebanon County, around 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20, according to state police.
Ralph V. Chevalier, 50, and Dawn M. Bortner, 45, were killed when their 2015 Toyota Camry was struck from behind by a 2007 Freightliner driven by Andre D. Kennedy, 40, of High Point, N.C., state police said.
Chevalier was the driver of the car and Bortner was a passenger, when the vehicle was struck in the westbound lane of I-78, state police said. Kennedy was injured, but state police did not provide more information on his injuries.
After striking the car, Kennedy's rig struck another tractor-trailer rig, pushing it into a third rig, state police said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2015 15:24
The Lower Swatara Twp. commissioners appointed William Leonard, a former township commissioner, to the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Leonard will fill the unexpired term of former authority chairman Fred Sembach, who resigned effective Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Leonard will serve until Jan. 5, 2020, representing the township on the authority, which oversees Harrisburg International Airport.
Commissioner Dominic DiFrancesco, who represents Dauphin County on the authority, praised Sembach for his years of service.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 15:11
Written by Dan Miller
Ryan Burkett started smoking cigarettes when he was 16.
He tried all kinds of ways to quit. Nothing worked, until Burkett started using electronic cigarettes – known as “e-cigs.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 15:06