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ALL IN: Three Dauphin County commissioners to seek re-election in 2015

hastepriesphoto1 14 15Submitted photo -- Dauphin County Commissioners Mike Pries, left, and Jeff Haste, second from left, announce on Thursday, Jan. 8 that they will seek re-election at a rally in Hershey.


All three Dauphin County commissioners announced they would seek re-election this year, offering a 10-year stretch without a county property tax increase as evidence that they should return to office.


Up next, said one incumbent: The possibility of merging some or all of the municipal police departments in the county, a move that could “make our neighborhoods safer – and save taxpayer dollars,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries.


Pries and fellow Republican Jeff Haste announced on Thursday, Jan. 8 that they would run together, staging appearances in Hershey, Harrisburg and Millersburg to launch their campaign.


hartwickpic1 14 15Submiited photo -- Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick III, left, announced on Tuesday, Jan. 13 that he will seek re-election.


Democrat George Hartwick III, the minority commissioner, announced on Tuesday, Jan. 13 that he would also seek re-election, staging appearances throughout the day at 

the Warwick Hotel in Hummelstown, the county Admistration Building in Harrisburg and the county’s Northern Dauphin Human Services Center in Elizabethville to launch his campaign. No other Democrat has announced their candidacy yet.


The county awarded Middletown a $250,000 gaming grant – money from players at Hollywood Casino at Penn National – for upcoming improvements to the downtown business district, proof of the Republicans’ leadership and teamwork, said Haste, who has served as a commissioner since 2002.


The borough also received a $1.5 million low-interest loan from the Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank, a new endeavor that helps fund transportation projects and other development.


“Middletown is facing economic difficulties and without the grant, the borough may not have been able to afford the improvements, which promise to attract businesses and grow the borough’s tax base,’’ he said. “When gambling came to Pennsylvania, we worked with state lawmakers to make sure all our residents would benefit.’’


Pries, who has served since 2010, said he and Haste were seeking re-election “because there is still a lot left to accomplish,’’ including work to lower flood insurance rates for county residents.


Hartwick, the former mayor of Steelton, has served as a commissioner since 2004.


The trio are the first to announce their election campaigns for the May 19 primary. Candidates cannot circulate petitions to get their name on the ballot until Feb. 17, and must turn in their petitions by March 10.


A number of municipal and school board positions will be decided in 2015. Among the races:


• four seats on Middletown Borough Council, including two in the First Ward, two in the Third Ward and one in the Second Ward.


• five seats on Royalton Borough Council


• three seats on the Lower Swatara Twp. Board of Commissioners


• five seats on the Middletown Area School Board


• two seats on the Londonderry Twp. Board of Supervisors


• four seats on Highspire Borough Council


• five seats on the Lower Dauphin School Board, including two seats representing Londonderry Twp. and Conewago Twp.


• five seats on the Steelton-Highspire School Board


• four seats on Steelton Borough Council


• Dauphin County courthouse row offices, including district attorney and sheriff.

Jim Lewis: 717-944-4628, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 21:34

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Payne appointed to first committee chairmanship


State Rep. John Payne was appointed as the majority chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee – his first committee chairmanship in his six terms in office – on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at the Capitol.


Speaker Mike Turzai made the appointment as the House reconvened for its 2015-16 session.


The committee oversees slot machine gaming, bingo, small games of chance, amusement laws and table games in the state.


 Payne represents the 106th District, which includes Middletown, Royalton, Lower Swatara Twp., Hummelstown, Derry Twp., Conewago Twp. and part of Swatara Twp.


Turzai also appointed Rep. Dave Hickernell as the majority chairman of the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee. Hickernell’s 98th District includes Londonderry Twp.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 21:16

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Film to reveal human sex trafficking problem


It sounds like something that happens in other countries: Human trafficking. Sex slavery? Not in the U.S., where freedom rings.

But it does exist in the U.S., insists Stephanie Strauss, a local woman who raises funds at an annual coffeehouse at a Highspire church to battle human trafficking. “It’s not surprising it’s happening – but you don’t want to think it’s happening in America,’’ she said.

Her PUREhope Coffeehouse – the sale of coffee, tea and baked goods to raise money – began as a National Honor Society project in 2009. Now Strauss, a 2010 graduate of Middletown Area High School, has taken another step to increase awareness about the problem of human trafficking.

She’s co-sponsoring the viewing of a film on the issue, “In Plain Sight: Stories of Hope and Freedom,’’ and a discussion on the problem from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 18 at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 290 N. Union St., Middletown.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 23:43

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Iconic Lower Swatara barn may move to West Donegal Twp.

barnphoto1 14 15Press and Journal Photo by Eric Wise -- The iconic Star Barn, which stands along Route 283 in Lower Swatara Twp., was built in 1872.


The Star Barn in Lower Swatara Twp. has a new owner.


With Big Plans. 


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 21:06

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Let it SNOW? Ready for winter? Keep that shovel handy – local boroughs have laws for shoveling snow from sidewalks, and some aggressively enforce them.

mainstreetscape1 7 15Press and Journal Photo by Deb Schell -- A path is carved out of the glistening snow along Main Street in Middletown after a 2010 storm.



When a storm drops a few inches or more of snow on the ground, snow plows get rolling to clear the streets, and people venture outside to dig out cars, driveways, porches and sidewalks. 


Keeping the sidewalks clear is a matter of following the law – at least in most of the boroughs in the area, including Middletown. 


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 20:07

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