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Police candidate total for Middletown force: 1

TylerZehring SLIDEPress and Journal Photo by Dan Miller -- Middletown Police Chief John Bey (right) pins the badge on new part-time patrol officer Tyler Zehring (left) when Zehring was hired in July 2015.

 

As Middletown debates adding more police, the real problem might not be the number of positions but whether the borough can attract the officers it needs to fill them.

Just one qualified person applied for the new full-time position on the force that borough council approved for 2016.

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2016 15:42

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Full agenda awaits reactivated Middletown Planning Board

Members of Middletown’s resurrected planning commission will find a full plate of work before their first meeting is even scheduled.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2016 16:24

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Two Bridges on PA 283 to close; repairs due to truck crash damage

Area motorists in the Middletown area may find travel a bit more time consuming this fall. PennDOT announced two local bridges will be closed and traffic patterns changed so that repairs can be made from when the spans were damaged on May 2.


A truck hauling an excavator traveling east on State Route 283 hit both the North Union Street and Newberry Road overpasses. A boom on the excavator, not the truck, struck the bridges, according to Greg Penny, a PennDOT.


“Traffic has been shifted away from the damaged beams,” he said.


 Penny said both bridges will be closed Sept. 1 to Nov. 22 for the replacement of the beams. “Traffic restrictions on Route 283 should be minimal – such as intermittent closures (usually up to 15 minutes) for the removal of each beam and setting each of the new beams,” Penny said.


 “Eastbound Route 283 in the vicinity of Newberry Road may be restricted to a single lane for about nine days because of the limited room to place a crane to assist with the beam work.”


 Traffic will be detoured around the North Union Street overpass in Lower Swatara Twp. from Sept. 1 to Nov. 22 for these repairs, said Anne Shambaugh, Lower Swatara’s township manager.


The project is estimated to cost about $500,000, Penny said. PA State Police stopped the truck after the second bridge was struck, he said. “We are pursuing damaged beam removal and replacement costs from the hauler’s insurance company to reimburse the cost of repairs.”

Eric Wise: 717-944-4628, or
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2016 16:19

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Paving starts on streetscape project

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Crews this week are working to pave sections of South Union Street between Emaus and Brown Street as part of the downtown Middletown streetscape project.Paving3


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 intersection of Emaus and Union streets is to reopen by the end of June, according to an estimate that has been provided by HRG, the borough's consulting engineers on the project.


Work is to then shift south to the intersection of Brown and Union streets. Brown Street is to close by the end of June or early July, although trains will still have access to the tracks on Brown Street, officials have said.


The entire downtown streetscape project is to be finished by sometime in September, borough officials have said.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2016 16:36

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Where there's Wings, there's a way

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Anne Couldridge dreams of flying to Ireland with her husband Mark and their 16-year-old son Connor. But the family has never ventured on a flight with Connor, because Connor has autism.

“We travel but we leave him behind,” she said. “It’s not like a full family vacation. It would be nice to bring him.”

The family can’t afford to spend the money on a plane ticket only to find Connor can’t handle the stress of waiting in line, taking off his shoes to get through security, sitting in a crowded plane, and everything else associated with commercial air travel.

Airlines on occasion will refund a ticket to a family with special needs, if something happens where the family cannot go through with the flight for one reason or another, said Maureen Cronin, executive director of the Arc of Pennsylvania. The Arc is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and a range of diagnoses across the spectrum of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For the most part, refunding airline tickets boils down to a case by case basis. Some friends of Cronin’s were asked to get off the plane and were not reimbursed, she said. She knows of other cases where a family was reimbursed for the cost of a ticket, or given tickets to fly another time.

For the Couldridges, it’s possible Connor could handle air travel. If only there was a way for the them to find out without bearing the expense of a ticket.

There is a way. On Saturday, an event called “Wings for All” was held for the first time at Harrisburg International Airport.

Airport dress rehearsal
Wings for All is billed as a “full airport dress rehearsal” for families who have a loved one with autism or another type of intellectual/developmental disability.

The event allows these families to come to an airport and experience the entire process involved with flying, including waiting in line to check your baggage, going through the Transportation Security Administration security, and actually boarding a real plane and taxing around the ramp area.

In fact, the Delta aircraft at HIA did everything but take off.

Perhaps best of all, families were able to do all this without buying a ticket. Media attention of high profile cases involving families with special needs have made the airlines more sensitive to the issue in general, and more apt these days to accommodate the needs of these families. Cronin said.

“There is a whole group of people that want to fly, and (the airlines) want to figure out a way to be there for them,” Cronin said.

A national effort
Wings for All is held at airports all over the United States, but this was the first time it had been done at HIA, said HIA spokeswoman Jaime Rowe. Delta Airlines and TSA partnered with HIA to hold the event. The event was also put together with the help of The Arc of Cumberland and Perry Counties, and The Arc of Pennsylvania.

Initially Delta planned to provide a large aircraft that would seat up to 150 passengers for the event, but the response to the event exceeded expectations. About 300 people signed up, so Delta agreed to provide a second plane just for the event, Rowe said.

Families came from all over south central Pennsylvania to participate. Some came from much farther - including one family from Indiana and another from Quebec, Canada. The number of families signing up shows there is a great need for an event like this, Cronin said. She hopes this will be the first of many Wings for All events at HIA.

The airport operated as it does on a typical Saturday afternoon, with flights in and out as normal. The idea is to make the event as realistic as possible, so it wouldn’t make sense to interfere with what usually goes on at the airport, Rowe added.

Volunteers help
Wings for All is as much a learning experience for the airlines and the airport as it is for the families. The number of volunteers participating in the event from Delta and the airport is a sign that the broader community has become “more sensitive” to the needs of people like Connor and others with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

For example, Connor is non-verbal so if TSA asked him any questions about what is in his carry-on, Connor would not be able to respond in the way that TSA is accustomed to. It is recommended families with special needs contact the airport ahead of time, so that arrangements for accommodations can be made before the flight.

Flight attendants who volunteered for Saturday’s event encourage families with special needs to do early boarding according to Cronin. This gives an individual or family time to adapt to being in the plane before the crowd arrives. The family can also have a conversation with the flight crew about their specific needs and situation, she added.

TSA also offers a program called TSA Cares to accommodate special needs families at HIA, said Couldridge. To learn more about TSA Cares, call 1-855-787-2227 or go to www.tsa.gov.

Couldridge said their experience from Wings For All gave them enough confidence to try a short flight with Connor, perhaps from HIA to Philadelphia. If that works, maybe the family can finally realize that dream vacation to Ireland. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 14:40

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