Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Borough Council during its Dec. 6 meeting voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Police Chief John Bey, who in an email sent to council earlier the same day announced he is resigning effective Dec. 30.
Bey, who has been chief since October 2014, has accepted a full-time position as financial management superintendent with the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, located at Harrisburg International Airport.
Bey already serves the unit on a part-time basis as a chief master sergeant in the Air Guard. He will start the full-time job on Jan. 9.
Mayor James H. Curry III, who as mayor oversees the police department, after the meeting said he hopes to have a recommendation ready for council’s next meeting on Dec. 20 as to who should lead the department as interim chief after Bey departs.
That person can be someone already in the Middletown Police Department, or it can be someone brought in from outside, Curry told the Press And Journal after the meeting.
Reacting to the chief’s resignation, Curry said “Obviously I’m disappointed. Over two years I’ve grown very close to Chief Bey. I think he’s an amazing worker. He brought professionalism to the department, he has great experience military-wise and through the state police. I think he’s exactly what the police department needed.”
Neither Curry nor Council President Ben Kapenstein had any details to provide regarding what council will do next, beyond picking an interim chief on Dec. 20.
“We are going to be very hard-stretched to find somebody with the same experience and professionalism that Chief Bey displayed during his time here,” Curry said. “He earned the trust of the community in a very short time. I would say within six months everybody knew him by name. He was the type of guy who stopped in at the diner, stopped in at the Brownstone, walked the streets and would say hello to people. That is the kind of person I like in charge of the police department.”
Final approval given to 2017 budget
In other news, council gave final approval to the 2017 budget by 5-1 vote. Councilor Robert Reid voted no, over council deciding to add $20,000 to the budget for unspecified improvements to council chambers.
The balanced budget adds two full-time employees - one in public works and the other a new police officer - without raising taxes or drawing down any money from the electric trust, Kapenstein pointed out. The budget also does not call for any increase in the electric rate. The budget includes 3 percent raises for non-union management employees.
Council approves borrowing $387K
Council also approved borrowing $387,000 through a general obligation note to fund converting all the borough’s street lights to more energy-efficient LED lighting in 2017. The project should be completed well before a Nov. 1 deadline that has been set, said Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter.
The money also covers the cost of the borough installing historic streetlights and fixing sidewalks along Emaus Street up to the new train station property.
The borrowing is through a note being sold to First Columbia Bank and Trust Co. that will be repaid over 13 years at 2.84 percent interest, although the borough can choose to pre-pay the note off without penalty, Kapenstein noted.
The $387,000 is a savings from the $490,000 bank loan that council had earlier planned to take out in order for a private company to do the LED project. The savings results from the borough doing the LED project in-house with its own public works employees, although it will take longer to complete the conversion by doing it this way.
No change in council public meeting schedule for 2017
In another matter, council plans in 2017 to stick to its current schedule of holding public meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, with some exceptions for when the date conflicts with a major holiday or an election.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 23:50
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Police Chief John Bey resigned Tuesday, Dec. 6, after having led the force since October 2014.
Bey told the Press And Journal he is resigning effective Dec. 30 to accept a position as the full-time financial management superintendent for the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, located at Harrisburg International Airport.
Bey starts his new job with the 193rd on Monday, Jan. 9.
Councilor Diane McGlone called Bey’s resignation “unfortunate. He will be a tremendous loss to the police force and to our town.”
Bey “brought pride back to the police force and he also set the standards for the professionalism of local law enforcement” in the borough, McGlone said.
Mayor James H. Curry III was not available for comment. Council President Ben Kapenstein and Vice President Damon Suglia did not respond to requests for comment.
In his resignation letter, Bey said in part: “It is with a heavy heart that I am leaving this position as I’ve grown as a professional and as a person during my tenure.”
He also said in the letter: “It was a great privilege for me to work here for the past two years and I have learned a lot from my experience here. I would like to thank you all for working with me as a team.”
Bey came to the borough after retiring from 25 years of service as a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.
He has also been in the military since 1986 with the Air National Guard. Going from a traditional part-time National Guard airman to having a full-time position with the 193rd means that Bey will be able to increase his military retirement pay “exponentially” when he hangs up his uniform in about five or six years. Bey holds the military rank of chief master sergeant.
Bey also made it clear in an interview with the Press And Journal that he has always functioned better in a military-oriented environment, being that of the National Guard or in the State Police.
Becoming a police chief in a small town such as Middletown, where the chain of command leads through an elected civilian borough council as well as an elected mayor, has been a challenging transition where the chief no doubt at times has felt like a fish out of water.
Nor did it help that Bey came to a department crying out for some semblance of stability; the borough having gone through three previous police chiefs over the three years leading up to when the council hired Bey in August 2014.
The environment at the police department upon his arrival was “tumultuous” and “toxic” and the force was “on the verge of disbandment,” Bey said.
“I was able to come in and kind of calm things down, provide some direction, establish some policies, increase morale, instill some training and kind of settle the waters,” Bey said. “I think they are on good solid ground. Hopefully the next chief can take the stick and run with that and move forward.”
Bey said he does not know what kind of transition the borough will put in place after he leaves on Dec. 30.
“I’m very open to sitting down with them and helping them with any transition moving forward. Even if they want to bring me back and be part of the interview process I would gladly do that,” Bey said.
However, the force faces a significant challenge regarding a lack of supervision — which could make any upcoming transition period more problematic.
That is something Bey sought to correct and, while not wishing to “cast any aspersions” on borough government and council, he acknowledged it is one example of frustration over not being able to accomplish all that he wanted to.
“I tried to get sergeants promoted because you need that supervision. It’s not there. For whatever reason the council did not move forward” with promoting sergeants, Bey said. “I don’t know what the borough’s plan will be going forward.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 15:56
BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING – December 6, 2016
Call to Order – 7 PM
Pledge of Allegiance
Report on Executive Session – November 15, 2016
Public Comment on Agenda Items
9. Adoption of Ordinance 1334 for the borrowing of $387,000
for LED Street Lighting Upgrade Project
10. Approval - Engineering Services for MS4 Permit Renewal
11. Approve 12-hour Police Shift Memo of Understanding
12. Approve Ordinance 1335 Parking Amendments for Advertising
Civil Service Commission (6 year term)
Amy Schreffler (Term 1/1/17 to expire 12/31/23)
Todd Webb – Alternate (Term 1/1/17 to expire 12/31/23)
Planning Commission (4-yr term)
Steve Cassidy (Term 1/1/17 to expire 12/31/21)
Vacancy Board (1 year term)
Zoning Hearing Board (3 year term)
John (Jack) Still (Term 1/1/17 to expire 12/31/20)
Rodney Horton requested a position when available
14. Approve 2017 Insurance Policies
15. Discussion – Parking Study North Wood Street
16. Discussion on Public Works Fire Truck for Special Events
Note – General public comment will be limited to 4 minutes per speaker
Last Updated on Monday, 05 December 2016 20:12
Written by Jason Maddux
The bridge that carries Newberry Road over Route 283 in Londonderry Township reopened to traffic Friday morning.
The bridge had been closed since Oct. 24 for a construction project to repair damage to the bridge. The bridge carries about 700 vehicles on a daily basis.
This was the second of two similarly damaged bridges to be repaired. The first started was the Union Street bridge over Route 283 in Lower Swatara Township.
Both bridges were damaged on May 1 last spring when the boom of an excavator carried on a trailer hauled by a truck on eastbound Route 283 struck them. The under-clearance for the Union Street bridge is 14 feet 10 inches; for the Newberry Road bridge, the under-clearance is 14 feet 5 inches.
Any load higher than 13 feet 6 inches requires a hauling permit from PennDOT.
Both Union Street and Newberry Road are local township roads, but the bridges over Route 283 are owned and maintained by PennDOT.
PennDOT contracted with Clearwater Construction Inc. of Mercer to replace the fascia beams of both bridges and conduct deck and parapet repairs at a cost of $407,050.
Last Updated on Friday, 02 December 2016 11:39