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LIKE CLOCKWORK: Some gold-leaf touchup completed on Middletown landmark

clockpainterJeff Watkins, a sign painter from Lockport, N.Y., brushes away some cobwebs on the town clock as part of preparing the surface for gold-leaf paint.

The folks from Lockport, New York, who restored Middletown’s town clock were back in the borough on Thursday, Oct. 6, to apply the finishing touches.

Jeff Watkins, a sign painter, was applying a primer known in the clock restoration business as a “sizing.” 

The sizing goes on first to provide a “tacky” glue-like surface, said Chuck Roeser, whose company Essence of Time rebuilt and restored the town clock, which dates to 1923.

Later, after the sizing has a chance to dry, Watkins applies gold-leaf paint. The gold leaf is being put on to touch up areas of the clock surface that were scratched when Essence of Time re-installed the iconic time piece in front of the Brownstone Cafe back in June. 

He has been a sign painter for 30 years and frequently works under contract to Roeser, who has rebuilt and restored such clocks as the one in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the oldest continuous running tower clock in the country at the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

“I don’t know of anyone who has done more gold leaf than he has,” Roeser said of Watkins.

The touching up of Middletown’s took less than a day, Roeser said. He and Watkins wanted to wait until the weather got cooler — not because that has anything to do with the gold leaf. It’s just easier on the people doing the job.

Otherwise, Roeser is working on rebuilding and restoring the town clock for the city of Seattle. It has eight dials, compared to the Middletown clock, which has four.

A dial is the word clock-makers use for what we call a clock face.

“You have a face. I have a face. A clock has a dial,” Roeser said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2016 08:58

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Middletown Road turn lane open



Rep. John Payne, left, and Michael Crochunis, district press officer for PennDOT District 8, cut the ribbon on Monday, Oct. 3 to announce the opening of the new right-turn lane on Middletown Road in Derry Township a Route 322. After Act 89 (the comprehensive transportation law) was signed into law, Payne asked for this project to become a top priority for the area due to the regular backlog on Middletown Road around rush hour/high traffic times, according to his office.

This project was awarded by PennDOT to Blooming Glen Contractors Inc. of Blooming Glen for $772,003. It’s actually two projects combined into one. There’s the widening for the right turn lane on Middletown Road and repair and repaving between Plum Road and the bridge over Route 322.

Also included was an upgrade to the traffic signal, and embankment stabilization where the road was widened for the turn lane. The overall project is not scheduled for completion until late November. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:58

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Penn State economists debate impact of Clinton, Trump plans on the country

Bayraktar WEBPenn State professor Nihau Bayracktar said Donald Trump's diagnoses of the economy are wrong.


Presidential actions and federal government spending make a great impact on the United States’ economy, but not all of the current candidates’ ideas will work out as intended, according to four economic experts who discussed the issues Sept. 28 at Penn State Harrisburg. 

The economy

As a start, the U.S. economy is doing quite well, especially coming out of the financial crisis or “Great Recession,” said Dr. Nihal Bayraktar, associate professor of economics at Penn State Harrisburg. 

“America’s economy is the strongest in the rich world,” she said. 

This contrasts the vision of Donald Trump. 

“His diagnoses are wrong,” she said. “The way he explains the current economic conditions does not reconcile with the facts.” 

Trump’s plans to cut spending while drastically cutting taxes are “not feasible,” Bayraktar said. “I don’t know how it’s going to happen.” 

Trump plans to cut 1 percent of federal spending per year, except for Social Security and the military. 

“He doesn’t have any clear economic policies, and he doesn’t explain much,” she said.

At the same time, Trump promises to lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and eliminate the federal estate tax. For income tax, Trump’s plan will see to it that “top earners will gain much more than other groups,” she said. “What he’s promising will cause more pain with little growth.” 

She showed projections of how the federal debt will grow dramatically more under Trump’s policies than those espoused by Hillary Clinton. 

In contrast, Clinton has called for an increase in corporate taxes and closing tax loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid taxes. Clinton has called for major federal investments in infrastructure and energy, and to improve communities with persistent, generational poverty. Jobs created under Clinton’s plans would come from middle level income earners.

“Most of the jobs are created by the middle income group,” she said. In contrast to repeated claims to the contrary, “top earners do not really create many jobs,” she said. 

Health care

When it comes to health care policies, government costs would go up under both Trump and Clinton, said Sabri Yilmaz, instructor in economics at Penn State. 

Trump’s plan to repeal and replace will cost about $500 billion, while Clinton’s expansion of Medicaid and other changes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will cost about $300 billion, Yilmaz said. However, the costs under Trump’s policy are harder to estimate because some of the details remain unclear. 

In overall health care policy, Trump’s plan could bring an additional net cost of $50 billion to the federal budget, while Clinton’s plan could add a net cost of $150 million. Those figures are dependent on the two campaigns’ projections for savings in other areas.

Yilmaz bemoaned the lack of honesty with the American people when it comes to the future of Social Security. Clinton and Trump have repeatedly stuck to a similar position that would require “no fundamental changes” to Social Security, Yilmaz said. However, as a larger and larger segment of the population hits the Social Security benefit age and retires, a smaller pool of workers supports them, Yilmaz said. Over time, this is unsustainable, and the longer politicians (not just presidential candidates) wait to address it, the more drastic changes will be to correct it. 

“They have to cut benefits at some point, and retirement age will have to increase,” Yilmaz said. “They need votes right now, so they are not saying.”


When it comes to education, the candidates’ positions are dramatically different. 

Clinton has proposed an additional $700 billion in education spending. She wants to provide free community college, “debt-free” public universities and introducing a program to halt the “school to prison pipeline” for certain communities, said Indrit Hoxha, associate professor economics.

The push for higher education may result in more students enrolling in college who will never finish, Hoxha said. 

Trump’s educational ideas call for the end of Common Core standards, downsizing or eliminating the federal Department of Education and getting the federal government out of the business of profiting from student loans. 

Trump has called for lower taxes as a remedy for providing more factories, more hiring and more jobs. Clinton focused on a $10 billion plan to keep jobs in the U.S., her “Make it in America” program and an “exit tax” on companies that take jobs to other countries, Hoxha said. 

Considering the approaches of both Trump and Clinton, Hoxha cited an analysis provided by Moody’s Analytics that showed Clinton would lead to far more jobs, while Trump would add far fewer jobs to the economy, perhaps even losing jobs at times. 

International trade

Despite assertions that Trump and Clinton have contrasting ideas about international trade, they hold closer views than you might think, said David Bueller, an expert on international trade and assistant professor of economics. Both oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership and understand the faults of the North American Free Trade Agreement, he said. However, Trump frequently stresses “the negative aspects of imports without mentioning the positives,” he said. 

Buehler also said that over the past few years, the percentage of foreign born residents in the United States has crept back to where it has been historically. “Overall, immigration tends to have a very positive effect on growth,” Buehler said. Trump has made immigration one of his key issues, demanding the construction of a wall and the immediate deportation of all criminal aliens. Clinton has focused on a policy that would enforce immigration laws humanely, he said. 

Regardless of the outcome of the election, the next president will face challenges in the economy, including a budget deficit and high federal debt, the poverty and income inequality in the country and increasing competition in the international arena, Bayraktar said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 15:25

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Middletown grad worked at presidential debate last week

 Bower WEB

Contributed photo -- Dylan Bower, a senior at Hofstra University majoring in finance, volunteered last week in the media filing center in an adjacent area to the presidential debate location, when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off for the first time.


Dylan Bower wasn’t in the debate hall when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off last week at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. But he was just about as close as you can come.

Bower, a senior at Hofstra majoring in finance, volunteered in the media filing center in an adjacent area to the debate location. That’s where almost all of the media — about a thousand members, he said — watched the first debate between the two presidential candidates, and where Trump talked to media after the debate was over.

The 2013 Middletown Area High School graduate assisted media outlets with whatever they needed, from getting set up at the site to helping them connect electronically.

“When you get to work at the media center like that, pretty much every news person from every channel pretty much was there,” he said. “I got to see a lot of the newspeople, see how they did their broadcasts.”

He said the experience during the debate was “really interesting.” Very few media were allowed in the debate hall, so most were working from the media center.

“It was very quiet. All you pretty much hear was people typing on their computers, everyone trying to post stuff to social media and trying to blog everything,” he said.

“Overall it was a really great experience and something I was really glad to be a part of because something like that doesn’t come along every day,” he added.

He said he had a good discussion with Bret Baier from Fox News prior to the debate. 

“I was with the Hofstra TV people. We were just walking around and ran into him outside. He stopped and talked to us. Really nice guy,” he said.

Baier discussed the experience as a whole and how great of an opportunity it is for young people to be able to be there for one of the biggest political events in recent history, Bower said. 

“He said it was a really great opportunity and we should take advantage of it,” Bower said.

He didn’t get to see either candidate in person. He said Clinton “just came and left,” although Trump did come to the media center afterward. But Bower said he was stationed too far in the back to get to see him.

He was able to see Megyn Kelly of Fox News and Wolf Blitzer of CNN on the air from where he worked.

He also had a brief interaction with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who started out the campaign season supporting Trump but was at the debate as a strong Clinton supporter. 

Everyone who had tickets for the debate had to meet at a location off campus and then they were shuttled to the debate hall, Bower said.

“I got sent over there for a few hours to screen people’s clothing to make sure everything was appropriate,” he said. There were no problems. “Everyone was pretty well dressed.”

Cuban walked in the door and he said “hi” to Bower. He also saw Cuban later in the media center.

Bower’s work wasn’t done just during the debate. He said his days were “chaotic,” including working from 5 a.m. until after midnight on debate day, as well as long days the two days before.

“But in the end I think it was all really worth it, especially if you are interested in communications and media like that, or even politics.

“Seeing how they put something of this magnitude together. From watching them build the stage over the last couple days. Watching all the media setting up outside. Even just seeing the security. It was pretty much on lockdown. It was just a really cool opportunity,” he said.

As he heads toward graduation, Bower said he’s not sure what is next. Although he is majoring in finance, he enjoys the communications business as well.

“I’m into doing sports anchoring and sportscasting. But I’m also interested in the business side. I want to go into entertainment or media. I just don’t know if it’s a sports anchor or news anchor position or the business side,” he said.

Over the summer, he interned with Jason Bristol at CBS 21 in the sports department. He worked at WRHU FM Radio, the Hofstra student radio station. It has the unique arrangement of being the flagship station for the New York Islanders NHL team.

During the 2014-15 season, Bower said he was the producer, in charge of all the Islanders broadcasts. He said he helped out with reporting at practices and interview players, and work as an on-site engineer. He said he has not been as involved in the past year as he focuses on his major.  

“Between the debate and the Islanders, I got two unique opportunities that other college students do not get to do. They are by far the greatest memories I’ll have coming out of college and they’ll be stories I’ll be able to tell for a long time,” he said. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:43

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Swatara Creek Road section closed

Part of Swatara Creek Road in Londonderry Township is being closed to traffic during weekdays so a contractor can install a fire hydrant on Red Bridge Road.roadclosed

Starting this week the road is being closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to Joseph Woodward of Pennsylvania American Water Co. The road will be open to traffic after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and on weekends.

The project will take about four weeks to complete, Woodward said. The fire hydrant is to help ensure an adequate supply of water in the area in case of emergency, he said.

The work is also part of extending a 16-inch water line to get water service to the Vine Street corridor and ultimately to Route 230 to meet future development needs, according to Steve Letavic, Londonderry Township manager.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 09:50

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