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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Sept. 4, 1996 edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 9/6/17

Lower Swatara police officers opposed to consolidation

Little was actually accomplished, but the first meeting of the interim commission of a proposed consolidated police force comprised of five …

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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Sept. 4, 1996 edition of the Press & Journal


Lower Swatara police officers opposed to consolidation

Little was actually accomplished, but the first meeting of the interim commission of a proposed consolidated police force comprised of five municipalities was held Tuesday, Aug. 27 in Middletown.

The commission is charged with the responsibility of designing a workable plan for the eventual consolidation of the five municipal police departments into one unified police force.

At least one representative from each of the five municipalities involved — Steelton, Highspire, Middletown, Swatara and Lower Swatara — was in attendance at the organizational meeting.

Dolores Kelly, Lower Swatara Township commissioner, read a letter from the township police department, stating the officers' opposition to consolidation.

Kelly said the letter, dated Aug. 10, was signed by every officer on the force. The letter did lead the commission to a discussion on ways to accommodate demands of individual police departments into a consolidation arrangement — but it did not mean the end of Lower Swatara’s involvement in the talks.

“I wouldn't consider it [the letter] a rejection," said Lower Swatara Police Chief Richard Malwitz. “Don't let it stop you in your tracks. This process is bigger than one man or one department.”

Although not at the meeting, Frank Linn, president of the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners, called the department's letter “premature.”

“I'm not convinced on the consolidation, but as a commissioner, it's my duty to look at all angles, to decide if this is the best for the township, for the residents of the township,” Linn said last week.

Linn said he thought Kelly and Ron McAlpine, the other Lower Swatara designee to the commission, would sit down with the police department to discuss concerns and exchange ideas.

“I welcome their [the police officers’] opinion, pros and cons,” Linn added. “But I don't think at this time we should make the decision.

“I think the letter is premature. I haven’t polled my board whether they're for the merger or not. I think the board has the final decision.”

To give all the delegates an idea of what a final decision would mean, the commission got an overview of how such a consolidated police force got off the ground locally.

The West Shore Regional Police Department is in its second year of providing police coverage to two communities across the Susquehanna River. Howard Dougherty, chief of the West Shore Regional Police Department, presented his views and opinions on how to successfully steer the consolidation plan through the rough political and administrative waters it will most likely encounter in its course from the planning stage to its final implementation.

Dougherty's police department is the result of a consolidation between the Wormleysburg and Lemoyne police departments, which hit the streets Jan. 1, 1995. Dougherty told of how he had to scramble to have office space and a phone system up and ready to take phone calls by the deadline.

Dougherty asserted that the single most important thing to do is to set a funding formula. His police department is funded according to the population of its two boroughs with a formula that is set by the U.S. Census taken every 10 years.

“It took away that squabbling that can happen every year [if the formula would be changed annually],” he explained.

According to Dougherty, Lemoyne saved $60,000 the first year of operation of the consolidated police force. In addition, the new police department has an office larger than the combined offices of the former Lemoyne and Wormleysburg police departments.

“We now have 6,000 square feet [of office space]. It's like waking up in heaven,” said Dougherty.

PUC: Remove bridge in 2 years

The Whitehouse Lane bridge to Harrisburg International Airport now has a life span of two years, according to a recent decision by the state Public Utility Commission.

The bridge, located in Lower Swatara Township off of Route 230 near Highspire, crosses above Conrail tracks. It has been closed since 1984, but various parties — including Conrail, Lower Swatara Township, businessman Stanford Cramer and the state Department of Transportation — have spent the past 10 years arguing over its final fate.

But that fate has finally been determined. According to the 21-page PUC decision, issued Aug. 26 by Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Christianson, the bridge should be abolished after a two-year period.

“I am reluctant to require immediate removal of the highway bridge at this Conrail crossing because this bridge might still have some use,” Christianson wrote.

He added that a two-year delay also allows time to arrange funds for its removal.

In the meantime, Conrail is to maintain the 18-foot-wide bridge, while Lower Swatara Township maintains Whitehouse Lane itself.

The township is also required to erect and maintain permanent barricades on both sides of the crossing as well as put up “Road Closed” or similar signs at the intersection of Whitehouse Lane and Route 230.

When the two years are up, Christianson said, Conrail has three months to remove the bridge at its initial expense. with cost allocations to be determined afterward. Cost guidelines in the decision list a removal price of about $550,000

“I’m happy that finally the PUC, after years of costing local government money with solicitors and opinions and writing briefs has finally made a partial decision,” Frank Linn, president of the Lower Swatara Township Board of Commissioners, said in response to the decision. “I’m happy with what they said, if they stay with the statement.”

Of course, the decision is not set in stone. Those involved have 20 days to file appeals.

New era in M-town football; players welcome coach with win

The Blue Raiders presented new coach Mike Donghia with the game ball to commemorate his first win at Middletown, an impressive 32-7 victory over visiting Hanover on Friday night, Aug. 30.

And, although Donghia was thrilled with both the win and the ball, he did not hesitate in passing off the honors to his team.

“The kids did a super job tonight,” he said. “Congratulate these young people. They put it out on the field.”

He credited the hard work of his players and coaches at the practices leading up to the season opener.

“We had a great week of practice. I could feel that it was going to explode on the field tonight,” he said.

And explode it did. At times, especially in the game’s first half, the Raiders looked totally unstoppable.

With a smallish, but quick, offensive line in front of him, senior halfback Mike Tretter put on an outstanding performance by romping for 137 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries in the first half alone.

Headlines from the edition

• Thefts from 4 vehicles on Mountainview Road

• PSU professor appointed to education post

• Raider softballers win 1, tie another

• Man shoots self inside new home

• Burying negativity; students start school year with mock funeral

Hot buys

• Low-impact, high-intensity aerobics, Monday and Wednesday nights, Demey Elementary School. Eight-week program, $25. Olmsted Recreation Board.

• For the entire family, 25 percent off all canvas shoes. Middletown Shoe Store, 10 S. Union St.

• The Press And Journal Extra Internet access. $18.95 per month-unlimited access. Netscape 2.02 included.

• “The Rock,” starring Sean Connery. Adults $3, children $2. Elks Theatre, Emaus and Union streets, Middletown.

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