Written by Eric Wise
A few years after his retirement from Lower Swatara Twp., Ron Paul is ready to come back. He announced Oct. 19 that he would like to be appointed to the township’s board of commissioners to replace Tom Mehaffie.
Paul presented and read a letter of interest to the commissioners during the public comment period of the public meeting. “I have invested half my life working to make Lower Swatara Twp. a great place to live and work,” Paul read aloud from his letter. “I am truly looking forward to once again service this great community as a new member of the board.”
Mehaffie is running unopposed and expected to be elected Nov. 8 to the state House of Representatives, representing the 106th legislative district, which includes Lower Swatara Twp., Royalton, Middletown, Derry Twp., Hummelstown, Swatara Twp. and Conewago Twp.
The four remaining commissioners will have the opportunity to appoint a member to serve the remainder of Mehaffie’s term, which runs through the end of 2017.
Paul served 16 years as the township’s manager while continuing to fulfill his previous role as the planning and zoning director. Paul, now 70, retired in January 2012 after a total of 35 years of township employment.
Paul said the bug to get involved bit when he attended the township’s open house where a draft of the township’s comprehensive land-use plan. He considered all his work with the township and started thinking that he could put his experience to work as a commissioner.
“I feel I have a vested interest in this township and I want to continue to see it do well,” he said. “I know the township inside and out, and I know municipal government.”
No major issue prompted his interest in the position, Paul said. “I have a lot of questions, points of clarification, for the direction they are going.”
After hearing from Paul, the commissioners said they would welcome other interested residents to apply at the township for a possible opening on the board.
Regardless of who is appointed, seats on the board of commissioners now occupied by Mehaffie and Laddie Springer will be up for election in 2017. Paul said that even if he is not appointed, running for a seat on the board is a “good possibility.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2016 11:53
Written by Dan Miller
A Maryland-based company that was to build an electric substation for Middletown in the Woodland Hills development under an agreement with the former borough council has fired the first shot in a lawsuit against the borough.
The borough on Sept. 30 received a writ of summons filed in Dauphin County Court by URI. A complaint had not been filed in the case as of press time.
Borough Solicitor Adam Santucci in a response to the Press And Journal said that the borough does not comment on pending litigation. Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter did not respond to a request for comment.
David L. Stubbs, managing director of URI Group LLC in Silver Spring, Maryland, did not respond to a request for comment.
In September 2015, the former council under then-President Chris McNamara voted to approve an agreement whereby URI would build the substation in Woodland Hills and then lease it back to the borough.
The substation was part of a broader plan for Woodland Hills — the largest undeveloped tract of land left in Middletown — which was to include building up to 511 homes, apartments and townhouses throughout the 170-acre parcel.
The Woodland Hills substation was to consolidate and replace the borough’s two existing substations — the one on Spruce Street and the one on Mill Street that was rebuilt after being damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.
The agreement from September 2015 was approved pending review by Santucci. Publicly, nothing more about the deal was ever heard and in January, McNamara was out of office and council was under the new leadership of its current president, Ben Kapenstein.
The substation plan had also envisioned Dauphin County getting a grant that the borough could use to cover lease payments to URI for the substation.
But the county was never awarded any funding for the grant.
The substation is the second development project proposed by Stubbs and URI in Middletown that has fallen through in recent years.
In April 2014 Stubbs proposed to borough council plans to build a 100-room hotel on the southwest corner of West Emaus and Catherine streets.
But no development plans were filed and Stubbs in an October 2015 email to the Press And Journal acknowledged that URI was no longer “involved” in the proposed hotel.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 October 2016 11:11
Written by Dan Miller
Several businesses have lent their support to make the square at Union and Main streets look better.
Four businesses have sponsored landscaping improvements in one of each of the four pods that are on the four corners of the square.
The businesses were identified by Middletown Councilor Anne Einhorn as the Press And Journal, McNees Wallace & Nurick, Pennsylvania Properties, and IEC, an electrical contracting company in Middletown owned by Ian Reddinger, a borough councilor.
The business sponsors enabled the borough to buy mulch, plants and other materials instead of having to use tax dollars, said Einhorn, who said she had approached each of the businesses.
The labor involved in the improvements was donated by Thompson’s Lawn Care, a landscaping business in Londonderry Township, Einhorn said.
In return, signs will be put up at the square acknowledging the role of the businesses in making the improvements happen, Einhorn said.
“It looks good when people drive through, and that’s a start,” Einhorn told the Press And Journal on Oct. 21.
In hopes of attracting more sponsorship activities like these — from businesses as well as individuals — borough council at Einhorn’s urging on Oct. 18 created a new “square landscaping fund.”
Borough resident Robert Hauser suggested the fund be not just for the square, but expanded to attract sponsors to help spruce up and decorate other public areas of the town.
Einhorn said she is open to that idea.
Down the road, she’d like to see community gardens and landscaping in some areas of Middletown that aren’t as visible as the square, but where the improvements “would make a difference to the people that live there.” This could be part of the borough’s overall anti-blight effort, she said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 16:32
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Borough Council approved a new five-year contract that is “favorable” to residents for the wholesale purchase of electricity Oct. 18.
The new contract going into effect Jan. 1 with PSEG — Public Service Enterprise Group — a diversified energy company based in Newark, New Jersey, locks in what the borough will be paying over the next five years for electricity generation, said Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter.
The rate is $35.65 per megawatt hour from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2022. According to energyshare.com, a typical family home uses 3 to 4 MWh of electricity a year.
At 75 percent, generation is the biggest chunk of what the borough has to pay for electricity. Middletown is one of 35 boroughs in Pennsylvania that are in the public power business. The boroughs buy electricity from wholesalers and control the sale of electricity to businesses and residents.
The remaining 25 percent of the cost is for capacity and transmission, the prices for which are “fluid and variable” because these components are to be purchased by the borough on the open market, Klinepeter said.
In March 2015 council approved a one-year extension of an existing contract with Exelon to purchase electricity at a discounted rate. That extension remains in effect until Jan. 1 when the new deal with PSEG kicks in.
The PSEG contract is “favorable” in terms of what residents and businesses will have to pay the borough for electricity over the next five years, Klinepeter said.
“There’s a good chance we can hold the line” on electric rates although it is too soon to know for certain, he said.
The electric rate in the borough last went up in early 2016, when council approved a 1-cent across the board increase to help balance the budget.
PSEG was one of six electric wholesalers that submitted a bid proposal to the borough for a new contract, Klinepeter said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 16:14
Written by Dan Miller
If you live in Middletown and you like your trash collection service, don’t worry about it changing.
Borough council during its Oct. 18 meeting approved a new three-year contract with the town’s existing hauler, Penn Waste.
Penn Waste is increasing the price it charges to the borough by about $5,000 a year. However, that doesn’t mean the price that residents pay will have to go up, said Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter.
The borough may be able to absorb the increase without passing it on to residents, although that won’t be known for certain until all the numbers are crunched for the 2017 budget.
If the rate does have to go up, Klinepeter said the worst-case scenario would be a monthly increase of from $1.70 to $2.
If there is an increase, chances are the price won’t go up again throughout the three-year deal with Penn Waste. The company will be charging the borough $693,180 a year for trash collection starting Jan. 1, but that annual rate remains constant throughout 2018 and 2019, Klinepeter said.
Residents pay $25.65 for trash collection, a rate that hasn’t changed since 2011. There is also no change in the trash collection service that residents receive from Penn Waste.
Residents can continue to put out up to four bags of trash each week, plus one bulk item. In addition, residents can put out more than four bags a week by purchasing tags from the borough for $4 per additional bag.
Penn Waste has been the borough’s trash hauler since 2008. This year, council decided to put the trash contract out for bid. Three other companies bid for the borough’s trash collection contract — Waste Management, Republic Services, and Lebanon Farms — but all came in higher than the bid that was received from Penn Waste, Klinepeter said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 16:11