Written by Eric Wise
Tom Mehaffie said he is excited to embark on his career as a state representative, following his election to the state House of Representatives representing the 106th District.
Mehaffie won the 2016 primary election against Jonathan Keeler of Derry Township. Mehaffie was unopposed Nov. 8 in the general election, which he won with 21,836 votes, according to the unofficial Dauphin County results.
As a new member of the General Assembly, Mehaffie begins his work as a representative-elect Dec. 1, as do all freshman representatives, including 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats this year. They will be sworn in Jan. 2, 2017.
There are parallels to Mehaffie’s years in business, in which he has owned and managed Breski’s Beverage in Swatara Township since 1993.
“It’s the same thing as my business with customer service — a focus on constituent service,” he said of being an effective state representative.
“First of all, I am hoping to continue and grow upon great constituent service,” Mehaffie said. “John Payne did a great job, and I want to continue building on that.”
He said he would like to acclimate himself to his role as a representative before discussing any specific goals.
Payne, a former commissioner in Dauphin County, did not run for re-election after seven terms. The 106th District includes Middletown, Royalton, Hummelstown, Conewago Township, Derry Township, Lower Swatara Township and part of Swatara Township.
“I am so lucky to represent this area,” Mehaffie said. The tourism of Hershey, a top-notch hospital at the Hershey Medical Center and many other businesses make the district special, he said.
Mehaffie said in his new job, he will look to work with and in support of Dauphin County and all the municipalities of the district. He plans to keep the staff and location of the district office the same as he takes the reins from Payne.
Mehaffie said that when was campaigning and enjoying the chance to meet the people of the 106th District, he was often asked if he would continue Payne’s annual veterans breakfast, and his response was “absolutely.”
Payne’s concealed carry firearms and handgun safety courses are “very well-attended,” Mehaffie said, indicating he would like to continue providing that type of program. He said he would consider hosting a town hall or town hall conference call with constituents.
“I am going to look for other venues for our constituents,” he said, in reference to other programs during the year.
As a state representative, Mehaffie will leave his post as the president of the Lower Swatara Township board of commissioners.
Following Mehaffie’s verbal resignation during the Nov. 16 township meeting, each of the four commissioners thanked him for his service and dedication to the township over his seven years as a commissioner. Commissioner Laddie Springer said that he had great respect for his leadership, and said that although they sometimes disagreed, “We always parted as friends.”
“I will truly miss the people of Lower Swatara Township, the staff and my fellow commissioners,” he said. “I am honored and privileged to have been able to serve the residents of the township.”
In his new post, Mehaffie said he will still be there for those residents.
“People know they can reach me for help, including all the municipalities in the district,” he said.
Mehaffie to keep Payne staff, location of office
State Rep.-elect Tom Mehaffie will keep the same district office occupied by former Rep. John Payne in Hershey, and longtime staffers Jody Flynn and Teri Naples will be staying on.
“I am especially grateful to have an experienced staff working right beside me in the district office,” Mehaffie said in a press release. “Jody and Teri are very dedicated to constituent service, and they know how to get things done. Residents in need of assistance with state-related issues should never hesitate to contact our office for help.”
The office is located at 250 W. Chocolate Ave., Suite 2, in Hershey and can be reached by phone at 717-534-1323.
Information is also available at www.repmehaffie.com.
Services available at the office include:
• Assistance with PennDOT paperwork (lost cards, changes, corrections, special registration plates, vanity plates and temporary placards for persons with physical disabilities).
• Information and applications for senior citizen benefit programs, including Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE/PACENET prescription drug programs.
• Information and applications for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
• Help with securing birth and death certificates (photo identification required).
• Information about legislation.
• Assistance with resolving matters relating to state agencies, such as Veterans Affairs, Human Services, Labor and Industry, Insurance, Environmental Protection or Conservation and Natural Resources.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:21
Written by Dan Miller
They’re officially making moonshine in the old Elks Building in downtown Middletown.
Well not moonshine, exactly, but whiskey for sure, with bourbon, vodka and gin soon to follow.
Having received all required government approvals, Tattered Flag Brewery and Still Works about a week ago started distilling its own craft spirits inside the 105-year-old Elks Building, said Pat Devlin, one of four members of the Tattered Flag partnership.
The other big news is that Tattered Flag is about a week away from opening its full-service brew pub restaurant on the second floor — meaning that “every ounce of the building would be open at that point,” Devlin said.
That does not include the Elks Theatre, which is not part of the Tattered Flag project and is still owned by the borough.
Portions of the Tattered Flag second-floor space will be available for private parties and special events such as rehearsal dinners and small weddings. In addition, one room on the second floor has been set up with a Penn State theme.
Tattered Flag has been gradually expanding its hours since the second week of July, when the business first opened its tasting room to the public. With the full opening of the second floor, Tattered Flag will be open five days a week.
The business will be closed on most Mondays and Tuesdays, the two days of the week that Tattered Flag will devote to keeping up production of beer and spirits, Devlin said.
Getting to this point is the culmination of a dream for the partnership, which first presented its plan to turn most of the Elks Building into a combined craft brewery-distillery brew pub to Middletown borough officials and to the public in the summer of 2015.
In August 2015, borough council and the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority approved leasing most of the Elks Building — all but the Elks Theatre space — to Tattered Flag.
The borough also approved a $1.5 million loan to Tattered Flag — including $1.1 million toward the cost of transforming the building into the combined craft brewery/distillery brew pub, and $400,000 to finance Tattered Flag acquiring its portion of the Elks Building through a mortgage. Tattered Flag in January 2017 is to begin repaying the loan to the borough.
On Dec. 30, 2015, Tattered Flag closed on its acquisition of the 13,000-square foot Elks Building space.
“It’s been a long 14 months, a struggle at times challenging at other times but every time we turn around and finish something we are looking to give our customers the best product,” Devlin said about the transformation of the building. “It’s something that I think the town can be uniquely happy with.”
As of Monday, Dec. 4, the partnership had not set an official date for opening up the second floor. The date will be publicized in a low-key fashion through Tattered Flag’s Facebook page and its website, Devlin said.
“It’ll be kind of a friends/family event for us, and new staff to get them acquainted with our system, run through our bugs and then be open to the public,” he said.
Tattered Flag now has a staff of about 15, including a full kitchen staff, a brewery staff and a distiller who right now is part-time. Tattered Flag is still hiring and can always use more servers, Devlin said.
The full-service brew pub restaurant on the second floor will include in its offerings different types of burgers and french fries, steaks, salads, seafood and appetizers such as mussels, Devlin said.
The first floor tasting room will be open along with the brew pub on Friday and Saturday nights and possibly all day Sunday. Tattered Flag also might open up the tasting room during some of its lunch periods during the week, such as on Wednesday and Thursday.
Also referred to as the tap room, the tasting room will continue offering what Devlin referred to as a “public house” feel, in contrast to the more “upscale” upstairs brew pub.
The tasting room has “more of bar feel” where customers interact with residents and with bartenders and owners. The tasting room’s scaled-down menu will continue, with some variation from time to time.
The partners have always talked of Tattered Flag as a regional attraction, and the operation is already drawing a significant portion of its business from outside Middletown.
On a typical weekend, about 70 percent of the tasting room clientele is from outside of town, Devlin said. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the numbers flip-flop, with roughly 70 percent of the customers being from in town and the rest from outside.
Tattered Flag to date has mostly marketed itself through its website and Facebook page, and the effort is starting to pay off, Devlin said. People are making Tattered Flag a stop on brewery tours that are coming from Maryland and Washington, D.C., he said.
Sixteen people took the Amtrak train from Philadelphia to come to Tattered Flag, and “we’re the first stop of three” breweries in the region for a busload of 42 people from Ambler that is expected soon, Devlin added.
Not long ago, a busload of 40 people from the main campus of Penn State at University Park rolled up to Tattered Flag, and limousine tours are starting to arrive.
Tattered Flag is also seeing visitors who fly in to Harrisburg International Airport. Like Devlin when he’s out of town, the first thing they do is look on the Internet for the nearest brewery to the airport — and that’s Tattered Flag.
Tattered Flag has joined the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau, and is looking forward to becoming part of the new Middletown Business Association, Devlin said.
A word about Elks Theatre
Tattered Flag has a vested interest in the future of the Elks Theatre, since the theater space is attached to the rest of the Elks Building which is now the property of Tattered Flag. The partners have also talked of how having movies and live entertainment at the theater next door could be of mutual benefit for both the theater and Tattered Flag.
The partners made it known earlier this year that they were interested in working with Friends of the Elks Theatre, the nonprofit group that would like to lease the theater from the borough and operate it.
Tattered Flag made its own general contractor, A.P. Williams, available to do a walk-through of the theater to come up with an estimate the borough can use for what it will cost to renovate the theater and reopen it as a multi-use performing arts center — about $1.14 million, according to A.P. Williams.
The partners are aware of borough council’s recent decision to turn down the state’s offer of a $500,000 grant to help renovate and reopen the theater.
The partners aren’t passing judgement on that decision, but as long as the theater stays dark it is a missed opportunity for Tattered Flag, and everyone else, Devlin said.
“We miss out on it,” he said. “It’s another source of revenue that can be generated for us and for the theater obviously.”
“We have an interest in wanting to see something come out of it one day,” he added. “We’re all looking for more businesses to open down here. More businesses helps businesses here and gives more reasons for people to come to downtown Middletown to shop and to enjoy drinks or food at any number of restaurant locations here — grab a slice of pizza, go to Alfred’s Victorian, the Brownstone, Kuppy’s … . It would be nice to have more businesses for sure. That’s what everybody is looking for I think. That’s how you generate revenue, that’s how you bring people to the town.”
The partnership would buy the theater itself “in a heartbeat” if they could afford it, but that’s not the case, Devlin said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 16:38
Joey Keating and Tom Shaffer remain in stable condition in the Lehigh Valley Hospital Burn Center, a spokeswoman at the center told the Press And Journal on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Keating and Shaffer were critically injured when their car was in a single-vehicle crash in the 300 block of Stoner Drive shortly after 11 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25.
Keating, a 2016 Middletown Area High School graduate, and Shaffer, who graduated in 2015, were pulled from the wreckage of their car by four bystanders as the vehicle was becoming engulfed in flames.
The four individuals — Mavis Dixon and her daughter Jennifer Dixon, of Middletown; and Aaron Young and Rick Cruz of Lower Swatara Township — have been credited with saving the lives of the two young men, who were coming home after watching the Middletown Blue Raiders football team defeat Scranton Prep in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals in Bethlehem.
Keating and Shaffer both sustained “severe burns to the lower extremities,” according to a press release from Lower Swatara Township police.
The investigation into the accident is continuing, police have said.
— Dan Miller
The following update was provided to the Press And Journal on behalf of the family of Scott Shaffer, via Facebook. It appears in its entirety:
The Shaffer family’s loudest requests continue to be for prayers of healing, prayers for no infections, and prayers for continued progress. Scott continues to be in a critical, yet stable condition. The family was overcome with gratitude by the sheer numbers of community friends and family that lifted the boys up in prayer at the vigil. They have also been touched by the outpouring of calls, texts and words of encouragement. It is difficult to respond to everyone, and they are currently requesting privacy as they focus on supporting their son and his healing.
What do they need? You can send them a card of encouragement. Cards can be sent to their home. Karen, Dana, and I are continuing to collect gift cards for gas, groceries or food. We have been able to deliver some gift cards to the family and we will continue to collect as long as people want to give.
There are currently 2 - Go Fund Me pages accepting donations, one supports the Shaffer and Keating Families https://www.gofundme.com/scott-shaffer-joey-keating, and one supports The Dixon Family https://www.gofundme.com/dixons-medical-expenses. A new option for those looking to give is a bank account that has been set up to accept monetary donations. You may donate directly to Scott Shaffer by mailing your monetary donations to: Members First FCU, 5000 Louise Drive, PO Box 40, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. Checks should be made to “Scott Shaffer” and in the memo line write – “Donation” The meal train is currently full through the end of January. Yet, we will continue to monitor and decide if we should add additional days/weeks/months for meals.
Thank you to everyone for continuing to shower the families in anyway possible especially with your friendship and support.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 16:43
Written by Eric Wise
Lower Swatara Township employees have cleared playground equipment from Shope Garden Park and Old Reliance Park for a $309,000 improvement project that will be completed in the spring.
Each park will get new playground equipment and a swing set with the improvements.
The play area will have a poured-in-place rubber surface. A bed of wood fiber will be installed under the new swing set.
In addition, the township will install erosion and sedimentation controls, including a rain garden and signs that explain the purpose and function of the rain garden. Rain gardens improve the ground’s ability to absorb rainwater and prevent runoff.
The pavilions will be improved with gutters to divert stormwater and four new picnic tables. Recycling receptacles will also be added to the parks.
Former president of the board of commissioners Tom Mehaffie recently announced that state grants will pay for most of the improvements. The township received a Greenways Trails and Recreation Program grant for $184,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. In addition, the Community Conservation Partnerships Program from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources awarded a $112,000 grant for the parks.
The township is responsible for about $13,000 for the projects, which will be paid from its dedicated account for parks and recreation. Developers contribute to this fund in lieu of donating park land to the township.
Dan Wagner, public works superintendent for the township, said that the township removed sandboxes from Shope Gardens Park in 2015 in preparation for these improvements. The public works crew is also expecting to replace the basketball hoop at Old Reliance Park, Wagner has said.
Mehaffie said the township will be eligible to apply for additional grants from the state to improve its other parks.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 15:41
Written by Dan Miller
Exelon Generation will conduct its semi-annual, full volume test of the emergency warning sirens surrounding Three Mile Island Generating Station at about 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1.
This is one of two semi-annual tests performed each year.
The TMI emergency warning siren system consists of 96 sirens located in parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties that are located within a 10-mile radius of TMI. The sirens are not a signal to evacuate, but a warning to tune to a local Emergency Alert Broadcast television or radio station. County emergency management authorities activate the sirens, which can be used in the event of any emergency, including severe weather.
Three Mile Island Generating Station is located several miles south of Middletown. The plant generates enough carbon-free electricity for 800,000 homes.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 13:21