Written by Dan Miller
A 16-year-old Middletown boy was arrested by Lower Swatara Twp. police on Thursday, Nov. 6 and charged with sending an e-mail threatening to detonate a bomb at Middletown Area High School.
The juvenile, a student at the school, allegedly sent the e-mail to a high school administrator shortly before the dismissal of classes on Wednesday, Nov. 5, police said. The e-mail warned of a bomb threat that was to have occurred at the high school during the week of Nov. 10-14.
The e-mail was sent on a school computer using an account that had just been created, according to Lower Swatara police.
The boy, who was not named because he is a juvenile, faces four felony charges, said Lower Swatara Twp. Detective Robert Appleby.
The charges are: threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction, terroristic threats, risking catastrophe and criminal use of a communication facility. The last charge refers to the use of any type of electronic device such as a computer or a cell phone in the process of committing a crime, Appleby said.
The youth was taken to a juvenile detention center and will face the charges in Dauphin County Juvenile Court, Appleby said.
The boy confessed to sending the e-mail, police said.
“It was a prank. His goal was to get out of some school,” Appleby said.
The Middletown Area School District on Wednesday sent an e-mail that was to have gone to parents of children who attend each of the district’s five schools, not just the high school, about the threat, said district spokeswoman Jody Zorbaugh.
That police were able to identify and charge the boy within 24 hours of him allegedly sending the e-mail is in large part credit to the good working relationship that Lower Swatara police have with high school and district administrators, Appleby said. That relationship includes a township police officer who is assigned fulltime to Middletown as the district’s student resource officer.
While police now know that the e-mail was a hoax, they could not take that chance while they were investigating, Appleby said.
“When we get a threat like that, there is never a time when you can say it’s just another hoax. You always take it as a real threat,’’ he said. “You just never know.’’
“It took priority” over everything else, Appleby said. “We worked on it steadily from the time we got it.”
Part of the investigation involved getting information from companies that provide Internet services. When a threat is imminent – and this qualified, Appleby said – the process gets put on a much faster track.
“I can’t wait two weeks for information to come back and a bomb does something and people die,” Appleby said.
The charges against the youth are serious, although Appleby would not speculate on what type of punishment the boy could receive.
“Doing something like that goes above and beyond [a prank]. It’s a serious threat to people’s lives and it takes police away” from pursuing anything else, he said. “When you do something like a bomb threat, you cause panic, you cause fear, you cause terror.’’
Fortunately, these kinds of bomb threats involving schools have been rare, at least during Appleby’s tenure. He said this is only about the third such threat he has investigated in his nearly 10 years as a detective.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 November 2014 21:39
Written by Dan Miller
The Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority voted unanimously on Wednesday, Nov. 5 to acquire the Emaus Street house and property owned by Middletown Borough Councilor Tom Handley.
(Correction--The article in The Press and Journal print newspaper and in our e-version is incorrect regarding the ward that Handley now lives in and represents in Middletown. Handley currently lives in and represents the First Ward)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 19:48
Written by Dan Miller
It would be hard to come up with a more fitting tribute than that paid to area veterans by students and staff of the Middletown Area Middle School on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Local veterans were met in the school parking lot by a student who escorted them into the cafeteria for a continental breakfast served by students in the National Junior Honor Society.
Many of the students had been working since 4 a.m. to get ready for the event, said Ken Britcher Jr., a Grade 8 history teacher who, along with middle school history teacher Kevin Little, plays a lead role in helping the kids put on the Veterans Day ceremony. Britcher is a veteran – of the Navy. So is Little - Marine Corps. So are many of the other teachers who are involved in the event.
After the breakfast, the veterans were escorted into the auditorium for a stirring ceremony that featured patriotic musical performances by the school band, the reading of award-winning Veterans Day essays written by students, and several professionally-done video presentations.
One of the videos, which was done by Little, showed the faces, one by one, of every veteran from Middletown who has been killed in action in the conflicts from World War I on.
The guest speaker, 1991 Middletown Area High School graduate Eric Fegley, spoke to the students of his years in the Army serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Afghanistan.
Fegley was part of the Army’s first Brigade Combat Team that entered Afghanistan just three months after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. His son, today a student at the middle school, was born on the 4th of July while Delker was in Afghanistan.
Fegley told the students that the best way they can honor today’s veterans is to do three things: “Work hard and do something meaningful in your life,” “be a positive influence for change in your community” and “find a way to serve your neighbors, your community and your country.”
“I hear people saying all the time, ‘What’s wrong with kids today?’ ‘’ Fegley said. “There is nothing wrong with our kids today. We ask more of our kids today than we ever did when I was a kid. The young men and women I see in this auditorium are among the most brightest and most patriotic that I have ever encountered.”
Sixth-grader Quinn Dworchak was one of three students who each received $50 for their prize-winning essay. Dworchak quoted a definition of veterans as “someone who at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount of someone’s life.”
She wrote of her great-uncle Paul, who served in the Army in Germany; her grandfather George, who was in the Air Force for nine years, and her second cousin Jimmy who was in the Air Force.
Seventh-grade essay winner Angelina Torres asked her fellow students to imagine what it is like to be a veteran.
“Imagine yourself put into dangerous situations regularly. Imagine leaving your loved ones and home for many days, weeks, even months at a time. Imagine doing all of this for the good of your country. Imagine yourself as a U.S. military veteran,” Torres wrote.
Eighth grade essayist Brian Carrera wrote of his grandfather, who enlisted during Vietnam and served four years. He was an Air Force mechanic who worked on B-12s.
“Some people may ask why should they show appreciation to our veterans. You should show appreciation because they put their lives on the line to fight for our country. They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to not only protect this country, but to protect us!” Carrera wrote. “To ignore that, to not acknowledge that and show appreciation for their bravery and their service, to me feels like an injustice.”
“For those people who still don’t care, you have to remember that ‘Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf’ - George Orwell.”
The students and teachers are carrying on a tradition that has now been around for 20 years. Retired Middletown Area Middle School teacher Paul Pollock got the ball rolling in 1994.
“I sort of put it put it together every year for the first 10 years,” Pollock said. In the beginning the ceremony was held on the football field.
“Weather was always an issue in November, so we moved it inside,’’ Pollock said. “That was better suited for the veterans, especially the older ones.”
The event keeps growing. Last year, 98 veterans attended the continental breakfast and program; on this Veterans Day it was 138.
The veterans are invited by students who are their family members or friends.
“She’s proud of me,” Air Force veteran the Rev. Dr. Otis Martin said of his granddaughter, Dalajsha Shickley, a seventh-grader. Martin worked in electronics in the service and afterward went to the Anderson Theological Seminary in Georgia. He now lives in Harrisburg.
“I love it,” Martin said of the middle school event. “I think it’s nice to have something for people that gave so much. It’s encouraging and makes you feel like you are important. Everybody needs that.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 00:04
Written by Jim Lewis
State Rep. David Hickernell, who represents Londonderry Twp. in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, appears to have beaten two challengers to win re-election.
With 28 of 29 precincts in the 98th District counted, Hickernell, the Republican incumbent, received 11,567 votes to 4,477 for Democratic challenger Tony Crocamo. Green Party candidate Ryan Hazel received 643 votes, according to unofficial returns.
The 98th District includes Londonderry and several municipalities in Lancaster County.
Londonderry chose Hickernell, 1,193 to 322 for Crocamo. Hazel received 76 votes in the township.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 05:09
Written by Jim Lewis
Middletown was almost evenly split when it came time to choose a governor in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Middletown voters chose Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by only an 18-vote margin in his successful bid to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett, according to unofficial returns.
Wolf, the 65-year-old Democrat from York County, received 996 votes to 978 votes for Corbett, the Republican incumbent, in the borough.
Corbett captured the Third Ward, 353 to 304, but Wolf won the First Ward, 275 to 245, and the Second Ward, 417 to 380, according to unofficial returns.
Most of southeastern Dauphin County was Corbett country.
Corbett captured Lower Swatara Twp., 1,600 to 1,135, and Londonderry Twp. 1,078 to 520, according to unofficial returns.
Royalton also went to Corbett, 172 to 128, as did Hummelstown, 747 to 623.
Wolf won narrowly in Highspire and by a landslide in Steelton. Highspire chose Wolf, 287 to 245. In Steelton, Wolf won easily, 856 to 377.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 04:57