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Work remains to fix Pa. liquor system

Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf took steps this year to modernize the commonwealth’s liquor system, but work remains. 

State Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland, recently introduced legislation, House Bill 2357, which will help expand consumer access and protect jobs.

Reese would create a “spirit expanded permit,” which would allow restaurants, taverns, grocery stores and hotels to sell up to 3 liters of spirits for carryout. This is important because consumers want to make one stop when shopping for beer, wine and spirits. Right now, many have to go to three different locations to purchase what they need.

Not only will Reese’s legislation provide the convenience consumers demand, but it also will protect countless jobs created by Pennsylvania distilleries. The commonwealth’s distilling industry is undergoing tremendous growth, but the current system puts it at a major disadvantage because sales are limited to state stores.

It’s time to support these Pennsylvania businesses and their employees. We look forward to working with Reese, the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Wolf administration to pass this important legislation that will give the PLCB the tools it needs to serve the consumer by expanding outlets without additional costs.

David Wojnar

vice president

Distilled Spirits Council

Washington, D.C.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:15

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Trump’s lack of knowledge troubling

I have just finished reading Diana McGlone’s column in the Sept. 21 edition of the Press And Journal. 

Her words show me that she has little in depth knowledge about Donald Trump’s actual business practices.

That she is willing to trust someone with the presidency who has so little experience and knowledge about domestic and international problems and workings is very troubling to me. 

As if that is not reason enough to give one pause, his hubris and use of divisive and offensive language towards individuals and whole groups of people speak volumes about his temperament and integrity. 

Erika Lauffer

Londonderry Township

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:13

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Here are the many reasons I’m supporting Hillary Clinton this fall

Here are the reasons why I am choosing Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in the 2016 presidential election.

There are already many firsts for Hillary Clinton. She was the first lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001 and prior to that she was the first lady of Arkansas, during which time she was also the first female partner in her law firm. In 2001, Mrs. Clinton was elected the first female senator from New York, the only first lady ever to run for elective office. She was re-elected in 2006. 

After Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, he appointed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, where she served with an approval rating of over 60 percent until 2013. 

I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is well qualified to be the president of the United States. I am proud to vote for the first female candidate for the highest office in our land.  

I admire Hillary Clinton. She was not born to privilege. She was raised in a conservative home, attended the Methodist Church and was educated at Wellesley and Yale, based on her hard work and intelligence, not on her family’s money or position. Over the course of her adult life, Hillary has shown patience and determination, fighting for the rights of others, especially children. She knows that children need to be lifted out of poverty and into the middle class. It was her vision to extend health care to all Americans and, despite setbacks, she has suggested improvements to the Affordable Health Care Act. Just last week, Hillary met with those advocating for the disabled. 

She has proposed tuition free college education, which will benefit hard working families. Hillary has long fought for civil rights. 

Her steady hand and wise words are what we need in these turbulent times. 

In choosing Tim Kaine as her running mate, Hillary has shown where her values lie. Currently, he is the junior senator for the state of Virginia. From 2006 to 2010, he served as governor of Virginia. A lawyer, father of three, including a son serving in the military, and a devout Catholic, Tim Kaine spent a year as a missionary in Honduras. By training, experience and temperament, the 58-year-old Tim Kaine is supremely well qualified to be vice president. 

The partnership of Clinton and Kaine is powered by genuine friendship, collaboration and focus on improving the lives of all Americans. Most importantly, both Clinton and Kaine can comport themselves on the international stage, meeting and negotiating with foreign leaders, understanding world affairs and having sound judgment.  

My support for Clinton and Kaine is nothing less than enthusiastic. It is a winning combination.


Hermine Clouser


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:12

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All common sense went out the window with crematory zoning ruling

Solomon has left the building! In a triumph of marketing over common sense, clear rules, and sworn testimony, the residents of Spring, Union, Pine, Spruce and Emaus streets do not get the protection they deserve and have a right to expect.

I do sympathize with the Fager-Finkenbinder Group and their possible silent investors, but think they made a faulty business decision based on wishful thinking and unsound advice relating to the Middletown zoning ordinance. In sworn testimony, they made clear their utter disregard for that ordinance. I only wish the zoning hearing board would see fit to enforce it.

On May 26, Travis Finkenbinder appeared to testify that he does not know what specifically will be in the emissions of the planned crematory, but believes they will not harm the neighbors.

 The application to install a crematory, which Fager-Finkenbinder Funeral Home submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in October 2015, indicated that tons of dangerous fine particulates  would be discharged into the air each year. 

The proposed crematory is unconscionably close to neighboring residences, with multiple close neighbors in multistory houses containing infants and young children, and we are not to worry? This is a triumph of marketing over facts. Travis Finkenbinder and his Middletown partner Mel Fager doubtless take great pride in their no-holds-barred entrepreneurial initiatives.

In my view, this “in your door and window” proposal violates the Middletown zoning ordinance prohibition on incinerators and does not even meet Pennsylvania setback requirements for outdoor furnaces and similar uses. 

While it is true that the emissions from the crematory will be similar to gas furnaces in some respects, with added dioxins and mercury, the volume will be equivalent to a couple hundred gas furnaces operating in a single location.

We believe the proposed crematory egregiously violates the Middletown zoning ordinance in regard to the types, scope and scale of accessory uses, as well as the legal and administrative processes required for changing non-conforming accessory uses. On July 26, zoning hearing board member Donald Graham asserted that the appeals of the appellants had been “untimely,” but did not bother to explain why he rejected their sworn testimony that they were unaware of the proposed crematory prior to mid-January 2016.

Borough Council members Dawn Knull and Diana McGlone at the April 27 zoning hearing board session both stated under oath that they did not become aware of the proposed Fager-Finkenbinder crematory until the second half of January 2016 — the same time period in which the appellants claimed to have learned about the planned crematory.

During the three zoning hearing board sessions on April 27, May 10 and May 26, Travis Finkenbinder, his attorneys and a salesperson from Pittsburgh crematory manufacturer Matthews Inc. said very, very little about the Middletown zoning ordinance, but instead regaled ZHB members and attendees with Fager-Finkenbinder marketing spiels about what great folks they are.

Mr. Finkenbinder and his legal team had a compelling motive to avoid detailed discussion of the zoning ordinance — it contains multiple clear, logical, and cogent reasons why a crematory in the garage behind the Fager-Finkenbinder Funeral Home at 208 N. Union St. is not permissible.

My late father, James Henry Booser, was a founding partner of the law firm of McNees Wallace Nurick, and after retiring he served Middletown as the unpaid borough solicitor for more than a decade. He and my mom Edith Booser cared deeply about Middletown and faithfully served their community in a variety of ways.

They were thoughtful and considerate neighbors, and made generous concessions to Coble Funeral Home for a non-conforming garage, which Travis Finkenbinder and his attorneys abruptly and without explanation rebaptized as “the smaller funeral home” during the third of three ZHB sessions on May 26.

During the past several years, the uses of this garage (or if you prefer — “smaller funeral home”) have not conformed to the Middletown zoning ordinance, and have disregarded restrictions on accessory buildings in terms of both size and uses, but enforcement has never occurred.

Fager-Finkenbinder’s squalid and poorly conceived crematory project should not be allowed to proceed, and the neighbors must be protected. The contributions my parents, Edith and James Booser (and my grandparents), have made to the welfare and orderly governance of Middletown over many decades should not be defiled by the ambitions of Travis Finkenbinder and Mel Fager.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am the executor for my parents’ estate. Mom died in mid-August 2015, and Fager-Finkenbinder Funeral Home provided prepaid services to get Mom to the Hershey Medical School for body donation.

Even though almost two months had elapsed since Travis Finkenbinder obtained the crematory zoning permit from Jeffrey Miller on June 24, 2015, no Fager-Finkenbinder employee said a word to me or any member of my family about the proposed crematory, which I first learned about from a newspaper article in October.

During November and December 2015, I sent several emails to Fager-Finkenbinder personnel (including electronic copies to Travis Finkenbinder himself) and senior officials of the Middletown borough, none of whom provided helpful responses to any of my specific questions.

Bad call, Don. Now how about enforcing the existing ordinance? I am pleased that the appellants have challenged the July 26 zoning hearing board decision, and am confident that justice will eventually prevail, no matter how long it may take.

John Booser


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 16:18

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