Written by Dan Miller
Last week it was a bird, this week it may have been a squirrel.
In any event, Middletown residents early this morning experienced the second power outage within nine days.
Borough Communications Director Chris Courogen said the outage occurred at about 6:40 a.m. today.
He did not immediately provide details concerning where the power loss occurred. However, a person in the borough office earlier today said the outage appeared to be concentrated in the areas of East Emaus, Race and Rupp streets.
Judging by posts to the Press and Journal Facebook page, the outage also impacted portions of East Main and Adelia streets, a portion of the 600 block of Vine Street; and parts of East Water, Spruce, and Maple streets.
The outage lasted close to an hour and a half, as power was restored by 8 a.m., according to the Facebook posts.
Courogen said he couldn't say for certain, but suspected that a wayward squirrel may have been the culprit. Public Works Director Ken Klinepeter could not be reached.
On Tuesday July 15 borough residents and businesses lost electricity for about 90 minutes. That outage was blamed on a bird that got into the electrical equipment and led to a number of fuses being tripped.
While Middletown isn't the only place where the electricity goes out on occasion, Courogen said it does seem to be happening with more regularity of late - and that critters like birds and squirrels are a major reason why.
"I suspect that the (Middletown Borough Council) Public Works Committee will start looking" at what can be done to solve the problem, Courogen said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 17:08
Written by Dan Miller
A Lower Swatara Twp, man was arrested and charged Wednesday for his alleged involvement in an incident police are calling “horrific” - allegedly throwing a six-month old baby into a playpen, causing serious injuries to the boy including a fractured skull, according to court documents filed by township police.
Stephen M. Lehman Jr., 26, of the 100 block of Lake Drive, has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. Lehman is in Dauphin County Prison on $50,000 bail.
The baby also suffered a cut on his face which had to be closed by stitches, and bruising was seen on the back of the baby's neck, according to court documents.
Lower Swatara Police Detective Robert H. Appleby said that the baby is "doing well" and should soon be released from the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Medical personnel with the center alerted police to the baby's injuries after the infant was brought in for treatment early Sunday morning, July 20.
Police said Lehman was on probation for DUI at the time of the alleged offense, meaning that even if Lehman makes bail he will not be released from jail due to violating conditions of his probation. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. August 1 before District Magisterial Judge Michael Smith.
Lower Swatara police said that the baby was being cared for by Lehman and the baby's older sister, Samantha Price, who is Lehman's girlfriend, when the alleged offense occurred at about 1 a.m. Sunday, July 20.
The baby's mother, identified by police as Leann Searer, was working at the time of the alleged offense and had left the baby in the care of Lehman and Price. Lehman was living with Price at the baby's residence in Nelson Manor Trailer Park. Neither Price nor the baby's mother have been charged.
Police said that Lehman in the first few hours of being questioned initially gave detectives several different versions for what happened.
At first, Lehman told police that he did not know how the baby had gotten hurt, and that he had found the baby crying and covered in blood.
After police confronted Lehman with the seriousness of the baby's injuries, police said Lehman told them he was holding the baby and trying to comfort him, when Lehman tripped and the baby fell onto a mattress and then bounced onto the carpeted floor.
However, Appleby and fellow Lower Swatara Detective Ryan Gartland noted the presence of a large amount of dried blood in the middle of the mattress in the baby's play pen. In addition, Lehman also had a large blood stain on his t-shirt, police said. Police also noted blood stains on the comforter of a bed within three feet of the playpen, and blood on the carpet.
Upon further questioning Lehman acknowledged to police that he had made up the story about tripping and dropping the baby. He told police he could not remember what happened, because he had blacked out from being drunk.
Ultimately, Lehman told police that he had not blacked out, but at some point in the night had been awoken by the baby crying. Lehman told police he was still drunk, became angry that he could not get the baby to stop crying, and threw the baby into the playpen. Police believe the baby's injuries were caused by the baby hitting part of a metal weight bench that was protruding into the playpen.
Lehman said he awoke Price after seeing that the baby was crying much harder and was covered in blood. Appleby said Lehman and Price did not call 911, but drove the baby to the hospital.
Appleby said that the blood evidence in the residence was key to getting Lehman to confess. Appleby said that he and Gartland both have experience in forensics as a result of working with the Dauphin County forensics unit.
Appleby said that Dauphin County Children and Youth are involved in the case. He could not say if the baby will be returned to his mother, but that officials "will not let that person (Lehman) anywhere near the baby."
"He is not getting out of jail, and even if he does, he will not be allowed near that baby or that home. There is no indication or report that the daughter or mother had anything to do with his injuries," Appleby said.
Appleby said a case like this involving serious injuries to a baby is "extremely rare" in Lower Swatara Township.
"It's something that is very hard to get your head around. It's horrific. It's very hard to deal with, regardless of your experience level. It's something you never get used to," Appleby said.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 19:33
Written by Noelle Barrett
The air was musty. The roof leaked. Dust and dirt layered the floors and an assortment of paint colors layered the walls – those walls that were not stripped down to the brick.
The former liquor store at the corner of Pine and North Front streets in Steelton has seen better days. Now it may see many more with a new owner.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 19:59
Written by Dan Miller
The three finalists for the job of Middletown’s police chief arrived at borough hall last week for interviews by Middletown Borough Council’s public safety committee – and two of them met afterward with residents and the press.
John Bey, of Susquehanna Twp., a 25-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police, and Travis Thickstun, of Bloomington, Ind., a 12-year veteran of the Indiana State Excise Police Force, talked to the public and answered questions from the media after their interviews.
The third, Stephen Mazzeo, former Sunbury police chief and a 37-year veteran of law enforcement, declined to talk to residents at the committee’s public meeting, and refused to answer questions from a Press And Journal reporter afterward.
Commitee chairman Scott Sites said that Monday, Aug. 4 is the target date for choosing a new chief.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 20:12
Written by Dan Miller
A former Middletown Borough Council member on Monday, July 21 called on council members to replace Chris McNamara as president.
Diana McGlone, who blogs about Middletown government and politics, called for a change, citing an investigation by Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico over the alleged use of borough funds to trim trees at the home of one of McNamara’s neighbors.
In light of the investigation, “I behoove council to re-organize and remove [McNamara] as president,” McGlone said during the public comment period of council’s meeting Monday.
Council took no action regarding McGlone’s request. McNamara did not offer any comment in response.
The District Attorney’s investigation stems from allegations raised during council’s July 7 meeting by former borough electric department supervisor Greg Wilsbach.
Wilsbach, who resigned from employment with the borough effective July 10, publicly alleged that McNamara had authorized the expense of $850 in borough funds to pay for the trimming of trees in a neighbor’s yard.
While making his comments, Wilsbach handed Mayor James H. Curry III an envelope – the contents were never revealed – and asked the mayor to investigate. Curry turned the envelope over to Marsico.
Marsico has confirmed that his office is investigating the material that Wilsbach provided to Curry.
“With these current allegations surrounding the council president, our community has been greatly affected and the borough once again has a negative black cloud hanging over us,” McGlone added. “I no longer have any faith in our elected officials, as individuals of this body of council continue to act in an unscrupulous manner, while jeopardizing taxpayer finances with their reckless actions.”
Council also heard two residents call for the termination of Chris Courogen, the borough’s director of communications. Wilsbach and another former councilor, Rachelle Reid, called for the resignation, both referring to an argument between Courogen and Curry that occurred following adjournment of the July 7 council meeting.
Council took no action.
During the argument, borough police were called at Curry’s request. The matter was referred to Marsico’s office to avoid a conflict of interest, and Marsico announced he would not file any charges in the argument.
Still, Reid asked council to terminate Courogen. “If you don’t do it now, you never will,” said Reid, who was interviewed by Marsico’s office as one of two witnesses to the altercation between the mayor and Courogen. “Is there a reason why you are afraid to terminate this man?”
Courogen has said he is pursuing an administrative harassment claim against Curry, under provisions of a borough policy regarding harassment of employees.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:06