Written by Eric Wise
A Whitehall man has launched a write-in campaign for a congressional seat representing Middletown, Royalton, Londoneerry Twp. and Hummelstown with the hopes of relieving what he calls an unfair tax burden on Americans in funding all levels of the judicial branch of government.
Dennis Atiyeh has spent the last month campaigning to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Lehigh County, including the placement of campaign ads in the Press And Journal and Hummelstown Sun.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 20:44
Written by Dan Miller
Apparently, four Middletown Borough Council members and Mayor James H. Curry III aren’t the only ones upset over the October issue of the Middletown Matters newsletter, known as “The Truth Issue.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 20:26
No one was injured when a school bus and an SUV collided at at West Main and Wood streets at 4:17 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, Middletown police said.
The bus was not carrying students at the time of the crash, police said.
The SUV, driven by Jialin Yin, 19, of the 100 block of Wilson St., pulled onto West Main Street and struck the side of the bus, which was traveling east on West Main, police said.
Yin’s SUV was towed from the scene, while the bus, which sustained only a flat rear tire, was driven away, police said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 20:49
Written by Eric Wise
Classic films have not drawn large enough crowds to the Elks Theatre to allow it to stay open, so the 103-year-old movie house was closed this weekend by the group that leases and operates it.
In a statement posted on its Facebook site, Save The Elks, the Greater Middletown Economic Development Corp. announced the closing on Thursday, Oct. 23, saying the theater couldn't cover operating costs without a digital projection system that would allow it to show new movies.
"After a couple of bad weeks in a row, we decided it was not sustainable," said Gordon Einhorn, chairman of the GMEDC's Elks Theatre Committee. Only about 25 people attended one recent showing of a movie, which was the only one of the week.
To show current films, the theater needs a $50,000 digital conversion that will replace the 35-mm film-based technology no longer used by movie distributors. For about 10 weeks, the theater has shown no new movies. At first, films from earlier in the year still available with the old technology headlined the marquee; the theater then adopted a strategy of showing classic films with limited showtimes.
Classic films "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz" slated for showings through December have been canceled because this stopgap strategy failed to generate enough money to continue.
GMEDC bought the Elks Building, which includes the Elks Theater, in 2005 with the intention to continue showing movies at the theater, a role it played for the community since 1911.
The corporation sold the Elks Building and theater to the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority on Sept. 18 with "the understanding that the MICDA would proceed with the purchase of a digital projection system for the theater, so that we could continue to show new films,'' according to the statement on the Facebook page.
Without the digital system, "we are unable to cover the costs of theater operations,'' the statement says, and the GMEDC "reluctantly determined that we have no choice but to suspend theater operations'' as of this weekend.
The GMEDC hopes a digital system will be in place in the near future, perhaps by the end of the year. The authority "has previously stated that they intend to proceed with the digital conversion before the end of the year,'' the statement says. "If that occurs, we hope to be able to resume theater operations at that time.''
The authority has authorized a $145,000 project to repair and update the building's roof. Work on the roof continued as the theater went dark and the marquee was stripped.
Einhorn said members of the authority discussed other immediate needs for the theater during the yearlong negotiations that led to the building's transfer from GMEDC, including the digital conversion and addressing damage to the theater's ceiling that caused chunks of plaster to fall.
Matt Tunnell, chairman of the authority, and Chris Courogen, Middletown Borough's director of communications, did not respond to calls regarding the Elks on Friday, Oct. 24.
The GMEDC is committed to operate the theater after a digital conversion is completed, Einhorn said. "We wanted to kick off a fundraising campaign for a new marquee," he said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 13:36
Written by Dan Miller
The former treasurer of the Middletown Youth Club was charged on Thursday, Oct. 23 with stealing more than $10,400 from the club, according to authorities.
Elizabeth Hicks, 31, took the money from the club to conceal funds she was allegedly embezzling from her job as a manager of a convenience store in Highspire, Middletown police said in a criminal complaint filed with District Judge David Judy’s office.
Following an investigation that has been going on since early August, Middletown police charged Hicks, of Aspen Street in Middletown, with theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and unauthorized use of an access device.
The club’s board said in a statement sent by e-mail to the Press And Journal that “we are saddened and disappointed by the actions and choices of Ms. Hicks. Once we discovered several discrepancies in the financial reporting we immediately contacted the Middletown Police Department and requested their assistance. They in turn conducted an investigation and were able to obtain evidence that confirmed our suspicions.”
Club President Christopher Hughes said the club has put in place of number of changes to better protect club funds. For example, two signatures will now be required on all checks going out on the club checking account, instead of just one, he said.
Hicks was released on her own recognizance after she was arraigned Thursday before District Judge Kenneth Lenker of Steelton. A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday, Nov. 5 before Judy.
The investigation into Hicks was launched after police were contacted in August by Hughes, who had become president of the Middletown Youth Club in May, according to the criminal complaint.
Hughes told police that Hicks had been writing checks from the club account to her place of employment, the Smith’s Gas Mart convenience store in Highspire, according to the criminal complaint.
Police said that Hughes was alerted to the situation by Sumil Dixit, owner of the Gas Mart, who wanted to know why “so much money” from checks drawn on the Youth Club account was going to his business.
Hughes and Dixit then put together that Hicks was both treasurer of the Youth Club, and manager of the gas station, police said.
Middletown police said Dixit told them that he believed that Hicks was stealing from his business, according to the criminal complaint. Dixit told police he was experiencing “a large deficit in his profits” from the gas station, so much that Dixit told police he was having to put “large sums of funds” into his business to keep it afloat.
Police said Dixit believed that Hicks was using money from the club to cover the deficit at the station.
The criminal complaint alleges that $12,000 was taken from the Youth Club, but lists seven different transactions – “not an all inclusive list,’’ the complaint says – documenting alleged theft totaling a combined $10,428.08. The transactions include four ATM withdrawals from Members 1st Federal Credit Union in July, and three checks written to the gas station in Highspire – two in July, and the most recent from Aug. 10.
Hicks had served as treasurer of the Middletown Youth Club since 2013, according to the criminal complaint.
Police said Hicks turned over to them three boxes of items, a computer, numerous bank cards and several deposit books.
Middletown Police Sgt. Richard Hiester told the Press And Journal that police are continuing to investigate bank statements regarding Hicks that go back to April. Hiester has been working on the case on his own for months.
“It got to the point where I nailed down a number of things that I knew were theft-related” in order to be able to bring the charges against Hicks, Hiester said.
Hiester said he expects the investigation into Hicks to continue for several more months. Hiester added that Middletown police plan to enlist the assistance of outside agencies, such as the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office and the state Attorney General, to assist in continuing the investigation.
Hicks did not return a phone call seeking comment. A lawyer listed in court documents as Hicks’ defense attorney did not return a phone call from The Press And Journal requesting comment on Hicks’ behalf.
Hughes, reached Thursday after Hicks was charged, said that Hicks was removed by the club as treasurer in September. The job of club treasurer is currently held on an acting basis by Jess Welsh, according to the Middletown Youth Club website.
Besides requiring two signatures on all checks, Hughes in a statement to The Press And Journal detailed several other steps the club has taken to prevent a repeat of the misappropriation of club funds. For example, the club will no longer have an ATM debit card.
Any money that is raised by the club will be counted by two board members, both of whom will have to sign off on the amount. The club will “strictly enforce” rules regarding required documentation of all funds that are raised from fund-raising events, including money from concession sales at games. The club will require more detailed accounting to be submitted by the treasurer. The club’s audit committee will submit a quarterly audit that will be turned over to the club’s accounting service.
The club plans to have the treasurer bonded from now on, and is “looking into” having all board members bonded as well, Hughes said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 20:02