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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, April 4, 2012 edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 4/4/18

History gingerly retrieved in Steelton; Time capsule discovered in 100-year-old cornerstone of former Steel-High school

Quandel Construction workers pulled the lead box from the Felton Lofts …

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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, April 4, 2012 edition of the Press & Journal


History gingerly retrieved in Steelton; Time capsule discovered in 100-year-old cornerstone of former Steel-High school

Quandel Construction workers pulled the lead box from the Felton Lofts apartment building on Tuesday, March 20, and handed it to Joe Zimmerman, Steelton-Highspire School District’s building and grounds director.

What’s inside the time capsule, sealed into what was then the Steelton-Highspire Elementary School 113 years ago? Don’t know yet.

“We will be talking to the Highspire Historical Society and hopefully a professor from Penn State Harrisburg, so they can advise the district of how to open it,” Zimmerman said. “Who knows what could be inside here besides paper, but anything solid in there, you never know, maybe coins, maybe steel.” The district plans to put the box on display once it is opened.

School Board Member Barry Baumgardner has been wanting the cornerstone to be opened for some time.

“Barry was very adamant about checking to see if there was something in there, we wanted to try to preserve it,” Zimmerman said.

During a walk-through of the building in 2010, Zimmerman and other school district officials started questioning if there was anything in the cornerstones of the historic building.

Gary Snyder, Quandel Construction project superintendent, suggested that the box be carefully transported.

“The key would be not to shake it, or hold it sideways, or upside-down,” he said.

If it is opened carefully, the district may be able to salvage whatever is inside, Snyder said.

Superintendent Audrey Utley thanked Baumgardner for pushing for a search for the box.

“Thanks to Mr. Baumgardner, for really being the driving force behind making sure the contractors at the old elementary school continued to search for a time capsule until it was uncovered,” she said.

The district is consulting with historians to determine proper procedures for opening the box, Utley said.

The board and administration plan to set a date next month for the opening of the box.

County funding for library unlikely

Middletown cannot take a slice of Dauphin County’s library tax proceeds for the borough-owned library until the county imposes the tax on borough property owners – and that can’t happen unless you, the voters, approve it on a ballot referendum.

What are the chances that Middletown voters would approve the 0.35-mill tax in these tough economic times?

“Not very likely,’’ predicted Rich Bowra, director of the Dauphin County Library System, which receives tax proceeds to operate libraries in the county.

Middletown officials recently contacted Bowra about the possibility of the Library System taking over the borough library. Borough Council is investigating alternative ways to fund the library, which costs the borough about $240,000 a year.

But Middletown’s library cannot benefit from the library tax unless borough voters agree to pay the tax, said Bowra.

Middletown could ask county officials for money from another source, said Bowra. County Commissioner Mike Pries, the county’s liaison to the Library System, also was contacted by Middletown officials, but “with the library tax not being levied in Middletown, I don’t know where the commissioners will stand” on providing funds, said Bowra.

Council appointed three of its members as a committee to investigate alternative ways to fund the library, a borough fixture since 1926. The committee also will “streamline” conflicting borough ordinances that give either council or the library’s seven-member board of directors the power to operate the facility, said council President Christopher McNamara.

Other possible sources include $375,000 in endowments held by the library. The library uses interest from the endowments — money from the sale of used books and the wills of patrons – to buy new books and computers, among other things.

Who knows what the committee may recommend, said Chris Courogen, borough secretary and director of communications.

“Everything is on the table,’’ he said.

“It’s really starting with a blank slate.’’

The Library System, a nonprofit that is independent of the county, could not afford Middletown’s library even if the county levies the library tax on Middletown landowners, said Bowra.

The tax on Middletown’s 2,994 parcels would bring in only about $100,000, less than half of what the borough currently spends on it, said Bowra.

“We would not be in the position to absorb another facility” without additional money from the county, he said.

The county commissioners have not discussed the issue, waiting to hear something definitive from Middletown, said Commissioner Mike Pries.

“This topic is at the most preliminary stage,’’ said Pries.

It is unlikely Middletown would receive casino gaming money, traditionally given by the county for public safety improvements such as new fire engines. “I don’t know that a library falls into that category,’’ said Pries.

Council denied rumors it will close the library, housed in a 100-year-old former fire hall. Rumors of a closure swirled in town after council tabled a motion by Councilor Scott Sites to appoint citizens to four of six empty seats on the library’s board in early March.

Middletown faces recovery expenses after flooding in September from Tropical Storm Lee, and wants to “make the library sustainable into the future,” said Courogen.

The Library System had “serious discussions” with Middletown officials about absorbing the Middletown library in 2005, but the issue died amid fears that its new owners would move the library to Highspire or Steelton.

Those fears are real, said Bowra.

“We might consider. . . that if our operation moved to Highspire, would that be better geographically suited as a whole?” he said.

Bowra said he’s provided Middletown officials with documents from the 2005 discussions, and explained the options to them. The Library System and the county now will wait “until we see if a letter comes and what it’s asking for,” he said.

Baseball: Mistakes costly for Blue Raiders in 2 losses

“The way I see it, my main concern is errors,” Middletown baseball Coach Mike Carnes lamented last week.

He was citing the mistakes his team’s defense has made in its winless start to the 2012 varsity season. Those fielding errors led to a pair of losses to Bishop McDevitt and Hershey in the first two games.

Although the squad showed much improvement on Friday, a loss to Susquehanna Township closed out the first week of the schedule. Hershey topped the Blue Raiders 12-2 Wednesday and Susquehanna came out on top of a 6-2 decision at the end of the week. Both were home games.

Some of the mistakes can be attributed to the youth and inexperience of the underclassmen on the squad, but not all.

“Some of our veterans are making errors, too,” Carnes noted.

The Raiders have struggled on offense as well and have scored just 7 runs in their first three games of the season. While the hitters are making contact at the plate and putting the ball in play, very few hits have gotten past the opposing teams’ defenses.

Senior lefthander Derek Wagner got off to a great start against Hershey on Wednesday. He retired the Trojans in order in the first inning on a groundout and two fly balls, and nearly got some run support in the home half of the frame. But, after a single by Dylan Grim, a Hershey error and a walk to Louis Hile loaded the bases with one out, Hershey starter Chris Stauch induced a fly ball and a popup to escape the jam.

Headlines from the edition

• Grove steps down as borough finance director

• Herneisey selected for state chorus

• Off and running: Raider softball wins opening game for second year in a row

Hot buys

• Easter basket with fresh spring flowers, $22.50 and up. Tulips, hyacinths or daffodils, starting at $3.50. Michele Hughes Lutz, 131 Dock St., Royalton.

• Chicken BBQ, Saturday, April 7. Benefits the LD Care Club, Class of 2012. Half-chicken, potato, applesauce and roll, $8. Hummelstown Fire Hall.