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Out & About: Moon Festival at Penn State Harrisburg

Each autumn, the moon is celebrated with its own festival in parts of Asia – China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore – for it is believed that the orb is tied to the abundance of water and the fertility of soil.

Students, faculty and friends at Penn State Harrisburg held their own Moon Festival at the Capital Union Building on campus on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Guests enjoyed food, music and dance from China, Korea and other Asian nations. The celebration ended with a moon cake, an individual cake popular in China that’s made with green tea, vegetables, lotus paste and other ingredients.

The Moon Festival in modern times has transformed into a holiday with family and food, “like Thanksgiving,’’ said Chloe, a student from Korea and one of the organizers of the university celebration.

The university’s International Student Support Services office and the Chinese Students Association presented the event.

Press And Journal Photos by Jim Lewis

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 15:08

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Out & About: Fall Festival at The Middletown Home


Residents, family, staff and neighbors of The Middletown Home celebrated the pending arrival of autumn with the retirement home's annual Fall Festival on Sunday, Sept. 20.


Jewelers, wood-workers and other crafts people sold their goods, while staff handed out ice cream and cotton candy and The Vineyard at Hershey offered tastes of their wines.


Kids took a hay ride on a tractor and painted pumpkins. The day ended with a concert by The Fabulous Greaseband and their rock 'n roll covers from the 1950s through the 1990s.




Press And Journal Photos by Jim Lewis







Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 15:39

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Halloween parade, Trick or Treat set

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Middletown’s annual Kiwanis Halloween Parade is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19.

The Kiwanis Club of Middletown will allow people to register for this year’s program online, although some bugs are still being worked out, said club spokeswoman Melody Wilson.

The club will pick one “exclusive vendor” to sell novelties during this year’s parade, Wilson said.

Middletown Borough Council approved a resolution supporting the parade on Monday, Sept. 21 and set Trick or Treat night for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 15:28

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Convenience store proposed for Wilson Street property


storepic9-23 15WEBPress And Journal Photo by Dan Miller -- This building at Wilson and Wood streets would become a convenience store under a proposal by its owner.

Adib Alabsi thinks his building on the corner of Wilson and Wood streets would be a good place for a convenience store.

“There are a lot of people walking around here all the time,” Alabsi told members of Middletown Borough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

The planning committee agrees.

“This will be an improvement for the neighborhood,” said Councilor Mike Bowman, a committee member.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 15:21

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WATCHFUL EYES? Penn State Harrisburg named safest college campus – and its police force and security e-mails may be why

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Penn State Harrisburg is either doing something right, or the campus is really, really lucky.

The university was crowned the safest college campus in the U.S. by, a Web site that provides online insurance quotes.

The site based the ranking on Penn State Harrisburg having "zero instances of violent crimes and few instances of property crimes in 2013," according to crime statistics that colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to report under the Clery Act.

It's not the first time that Penn State Harrisburg has been recognized as being a safe place for students: In 2009, the campus was named the safest college campus in Pennsylvania by

Senior Tiayonna Pelzer said she was not surprised when she learned that Penn State Harrisburg was ranked safest in the nation. Things are different at the Middletown campus than another campus where Pelzer attended college.

"Where I used to go, it was just like a different environment. I never got text messages saying somebody was robbed and to make sure you are OK," Pelzer said. At Penn State Harrisburg "we get texts and e-mails" if something happens, she said.

"They are really strong on it,'' Pelzer said. "If you don't hear about it, they e-mail us or they send somebody to make sure we are OK and that we know what is going on. To be so far from home and still get that comfortable feeling, like you are home and protected, is really good."

Penn State Harrisburg is not promoting the ranking on its Web site or otherwise seizing upon the ranking as a marketing opportunity. The campus was not aware of the study, and didn't know of the ranking, until university officials saw it reported in the media, said Yvonne Harhigh, the college's spokeswoman.

Kevin Stoehr has served as police chief at Penn State Harrisburg for 18 years. Before that, he was a municipal police officer at a department outside Pittsburgh for 20 years.

The chief's own longevity is typical. Officers normally stay at Penn State Harrisburg for 10 to 15 years – a credit to the support the department receives from the administration, Stoehr said.

"If you have a revolving door day-to-day, you are just trying to keep your head above water," he said. "You can't really plan, you can't envision where you want to go."

No one factor accounts for the safety record at Penn State Harrisburg. It's a joint effort of police working with the campus community, with support from college administration, Stoehr said.

Since arriving in MIddletown, Stoehr has made police visibility a priority – in his words, "to be an active participant in what is going on here. Not simply to sit and, frankly, wait for the next call."

He believes that visibility deters crime and instills confidence that leads to students and staff being more apt to come to police when something is wrong, or to report an incident.

"You never really know how many crimes you stop," Stoehr said. "We don't know what crime we might have prevented because someone maybe was thinking about a crime and saw a police car driving by.

"I've asked people that we have come in contact with, 'Why did you commit the crime over here and not on campus?' '' Stoehr said. "They say, 'I saw a police car, I saw somebody out there. I thought it looked better over there because I didn't see police.' "

Samuel Kabangai, another Penn State Harrisburg student, attested to the level of police presence on campus.

"It feels like a safe place," Kabangai said. "The cops are always moving around, so if anything does happen they will be here in time. (The campus is) small enough that if something does happen then the cops will be there in a timely fashion."

The campus police force puts a premium on education and training. Most of Stoehr's officers have master's degrees. One is a member of the Dauphin County Forensics Team. The department also has its own bomb technician.

The ranking is based on reporting of the most serious types of crimes, as required under the Clery Act.
Signed into law in 1990, the act is named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her campus residence in 1986.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to report crimes such as murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, motor vehicle theft and sex offenses, a category that was broadened in 2014 to include incidents of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

The act also requires institutions to report on hate crimes and persons referred to campus disciplinary action for liquor law violations, drug-related violations and weapons possession.

That Penn State Harrisburg reported no instances of violent crime and few instances of property crime in 2013 doesn't mean that no crime occurred on the campus then or in the years since.

"We still have thefts,'' Stoehr said. "We try to use it as a learning experience. We've had someone leave a laptop in the library, they leave for two hours, they come back and it's gone. We're a safe place, but things can happen."

He also knows that just because nothing is reported does not mean that nothing is happening.

"I'm not naive to think that we don't have crimes occurring here that don't get reported, just like anywhere in society. That's going to happen for a multitude of reasons," Stoehr said. "People are embarrassed, they don't want their parents to find out and be mad at them."

However, he believes Penn State Harrisburg is a place where students and staff feel comfortable reporting incidents to police.

"If the police have an attitude of 'we don't really care,' then it sort of turns people off and they are not going to get involved," Stoehr said. "But overall I think people are comfortable reporting crimes or contacting police because of our track record over the years. You want to ensure that they feel comfortable that they are respected. Sometimes people say. 'We don't want to waste your time.' Well, that's what we are here for."

The No. 1 ranking is "a great thing" for Penn State Harrisburg and provides "some validity" that the pro-active approach to preventing on campus is working, Stoehr said.

The only concern Stoehr has is that the ranking may give people a false sense of security.

"We are a safe place but we are not Utopia. Bad things can happen anymore and I think people realize that,'' he said.
"Sometimes you get into a routine where nothing bad has ever happened and we let our guard down,'' Stoehr said."We still have to be vigilant. We don't want that one time, because it is one time too many."


Last Updated on Thursday, 24 September 2015 08:57

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