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Council nixes veto, raises rates for water and sewer

Water and sewer rates with be going up for Middletown residents and businesses now that Middletown Borough Council has overridden Mayor James H. Curry III’s earlier veto of a rate increase . . .

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 19:39

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NEW TOP COP: In Steelton, an officer's dream becomes reality

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John King began his career in law enforcement 24 years ago as a patrolman in Steelton. Since then, he has worked his way up the ranks, from patrolman to sergeant and detective.

On Monday, Aug. 18, King’s dream was realized: Steelton Borough Council hired King as the borough’s new police chief by a 4-0 vote after an executive session to discuss personnel...

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 19:37

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TOP COP: Middletown hires Bey unanimously

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Middletown Borough Council voted 9-0 tonight to hire John Bey of Susquehanna Township to be the town's new police chief.

 

Bey will be paid a salary not to exceed $72,500. He will also receive no benefits. Council President Chris McNamara said that Bey had asked not to be paid benefits.

 

It will likely be several weeks to a month before Bey is available. He needs to retire from the Pennsylvania State Police, where he has been for 25 years. Bey holds the rank of captain, and is now director of training for the state police Bureau of Training and Education. Bey is also a senior master sergeant and a 28-year-veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

 

Bey, who was at tonight's meeting and was present for the vote, received a hearty standing ovation from council after the decision was made.

 

Bey stood up from his seat in the front row of the audience, shook hands with the council members who came over to congratulate him, and told the crowd he was pleasantly surprised to have received the ovation.

 

Hiring Bey was among several items involving personnel and potential litigation that council discussed during a closed-door executive session held during Monday night's meeting.

 

However, when it came to any public discussion or disagreement on council regarding choosing Bey, there was none.

 

Bey was one of three finalists who had emerged from a total of about 25 applicants for the chief's position.

 

One of the other finalists, Corporal Travis Thickstun of the Indiana Excise Police Force, withdrew his candidacy after council's public safety committee voted 2-0 to back Bey.

 

Committee Chairman Scott Sites, who was not present when the committee voted to recommend Bey, had favored Thickstun. However, Sites made no comment Monday night other than to nominate Bey as the new chief. 

 

No mention was made of the third finalist, Stephen Mazzeo, the former Sunbury police chief.

 

Bey said he hopes to start as Middletown's new chief within a month. He took a required psychological exam earlier Monday, and needs to be certified by the state as a municipal police officer. He also needs to receive his honorable discharge from the state police.

 

On the borough's side, Councilor Ben Kapenstein said that the borough will conduct a background check into Bey. He must pass a non-competitive examination through the borough civil service commission, and Bey must also undergo a polygraph test to be administered on the borough's behalf.

 

Kapenstein said he believes all this could be achieved within a few weeks to a month, but he could not say for certain.

 

Kapenstein also said that during this interim period council plans to possibly reconsider  the current ordinance requirement that the police chief become a Middletown resident within 15 months of being hired.

 

The requirement had emerged as a potential stumbling block toward hring Bey, in that Bey said he had just recently completed building a new home for his family in Susquehanna Township.

 

Bey told The Press and Journal during a break in Monday's meeting that he hoped the council would be willing to waive the requirement, at least for a period.

 

The ordinance does allow for a waiver, however it is not clear if the requirement can be waived indefinitely under the current ordinance.

 

Kapenstein said he expects the council while waiting for Bey to come on board will review the ordinance to see if the residency requirement for the police chief should remain in place as it currently exists, or if the requirement should be changed in some way or eliminated all together.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 20:35

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Lamp Post Inn to sell furniture, lamps at auction

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A public auction will be held this Saturday starting at 10 a.m. of collectibles and memorabilia from the historic Lamp Post Inn restaurant on East Main Street in Middletown.

The restaurant has been closed since April 19, according to owner Elizabeth “Betty” Heddy.

None of the restaurant equipment is being auctioned. Heddy said she hopes to sell the property to another party who can eventually reopen a restaurant in the building. The upstairs is used for apartments.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 21:38

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Downtown evacuated for gas leak


A gas leak was discovered near the intersection of South Union and Brown streets, resulting in the evacuation of nearby buildings in Middletown’s downtown business district for about 90 minutes on Tuesday, Aug. 12. gasleak8 13 14

Workers from UGI Utilities arrived on scene around 12:20 p.m. and discovered a general corrosion leak on a steel pipeline, according to Steve Cook, business development director for the utility.

The leak was first noticed when a passerby smelled an odor of gas in the block. The Middletown Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched around 11:56 a.m., according to Middletown Fire Chief Ken Whitebread.

Crews on the scene reported a “general pitting with a pinhole leak,’’ in the pipeline, Cook said. “It doesn’t take much natural gas to really stink up an area,’’ he said.

 

At no point did natural gas from the leak reach any buildings, Cook said.

 

Firefighters assessed the area and began evacuating occupants in buildings on South Union Street between Emaus and Brown streets, as well as Citizens Bank and Karns Quality Foods.

By 1:20 p.m., people were permitted to re-enter the evacuated buildings.

Cook said UGI is not certain what caused the pinhole leak.

“General work and vibrations can initiate a leak, but we’re not sure what created it,” Cook said. The borough is replacing aging sewer and water lines on South Union Street.

 

As of 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, workers were preparing to put a mechanical leak stop fitting on the gas main, which is a permanent repair, Cook said.

 

“Once they have a leak clamp on, they’ll put the final back fill in,” Cook said. “Crews didn’t report any physical damage to the pipe.”

 

The evacuation of the block appeared to be orderly. There were “quite a few’’ shoppers in Karns Quality Foods when firefighters came in and told manager Greg Martin to evacuate the grocery store.

 

“They said, ‘Clear the building,’ ‘’ Martin said. A warning to evacuate was broadcast over the store’s loudspeakers, and shoppers left in orderly fashion, he said.

For Alan Heilig, a store employee, the leak happened just as his shift was about to end. He left for home, around the corner on Ann Street, to make sure his children were OK. They accompanied him as he sought someone to give him more information on what was happening.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,’’ Heilig said.

UGI Utilities arrived shortly after the fire department evacuated the buildings.

 

“They came in a fleet. I’ve never seen that in the 41 years I’m working,” Whitebread said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 21:35

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