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Ballot set for May primary


All the challenges have been heard or withdrawn, and the May 19 primary ballot is set for Middletown Borough Council and Middletown Area School Board.

At the end of the day, the only change to the council ballot was the withdrawal of two candidates.

Travis E. Arndt withdrew as a candidate on the Democratic ballot for the Second Ward. As a result, the Second Ward seat could come down to the winner of the Republican primary between incumbent Council President Christopher McNamara and challenger Gregory Wilsbach, the former supervisor of the borough’s Electric Department, in November’s general election.

The other candidate to withdraw was Tom Strohm, who had been in the Republican ballot for a two-year seat in the First Ward.

Strohm’s move leaves Dana Ward unopposed on the Republican ballot for the seat. Ward in November would face the winner of the Democratic primary for the two-year First Ward seat between Dawn Knull and David Scully.

Republican Barry Goodling overcame two challenges that had been filed against him as a candidate for a four-year term in the First Ward. Goodling remained on the Republican ballot, and will face Rachelle Reid and David Rhen for the GOP’s nomination on May 19. The winner would go against Scully, who is the lone Democrat on the ballot for the four-year First Ward seat, in November.

As for the school board, the only change was the withdrawal of challenger Patrick Hughes. That leaves nine candidates on the ballot running for five open seats. All nine have cross-filed to be on both the Democratic and Republican ballots.

The deadline for candidates to withdraw from the ballot was Wednesday, March 25, said Jerry Feaser, director of Dauphin County’s bureau of elections and voter registration. Barring any unexpected appeals, the ballot is now a done deal. Dan Miller: 717-944-4628, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:31

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This Spud's for U: Idaho University Chooses Middletown for New Branch


The Press And Journal has learned that a college in Idaho will open a branch campus in Middletown, with a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled soon for a $31 million student center to be built in the borough.

A source from the board of trustees of Central Idaho University who requested anonymity said the school enviously watched the tremendous expansion of Penn State Harrisburg’s growing Middletown campus and wants to grab a share of the town’s fledging cottage industry – higher education.

“If Middletown wants to be a college town, they’re going to get a college town,’’ said the source.

Construction, which is set to begin this fall, will start with a spectacular student center that will rival the $30 million Student Enrichment Center that Penn State’s trustees approved for the Penn State Harrisburg campus last month.

The student center will be erected in the proposed heart of Central Idaho’s future campus – atop the mysterious Ann Street tunnel uncovered by demolition crews while tearing down a ramshackle wood frame house last year, a site that has been up for sale for months after the strange discovery.

Penn State Harrisburg officials would not comment on the apparent beginning of this new chapter of the Middletown area’s future. But some observers believe Central Idaho’s incursion into Blue & White territory marks the opening salvo of a protracted college competition for Middletown’s land and loyalty. “It’s heathy competition,” observed Lirpa Sloof of Middletown. “It’s all about the children, so I’m all for it.”

One sign of a potentially contentious battle for Middletown is Central Idaho’s announcement that its local branch campus will be called “Central Idaho Middletown’’ – or “CIM’’ – as a tribute to the town, while Penn State Harrisburg is named for a city eight miles away. “You can’t throw a textbook on quantum physics out a dormitory window at that campus without hitting Middletown,’’ noted the unnamed source.

Once a bustling military town where shops catered to workers at a nearby Air Force base, Middletown has wrestled with economic and social change during the last 50 years. The borough, Dauphin County’s oldest, watched as the Pentagon closed the Olmsted Air Force Base in the late 1960s, and as Penn State has taken over remnants of the military installation to serve as a campus for its burgeoning student body.

Penn State Harrisburg has grown to about 4,000 full-time students, many of whom have moved into rental properties in Middletown, and recently disclosed plans to purchase additional acreage in the area – an expansion that has sparked hopes for an economic revival, and angst over student rowdiness, among the town’s residents.

“We’ve survived without a coffee shop for 260 years,’’ lamented one resident, who asked not to be named. “Now it looks like we’re going to have a Starbucks on every corner.’’

Borough officials, caught by surprise by the announcement, said town policy prevented them from commenting on the record, but they would say confidentially that they have not studied the potential impact of Central Idaho’s move into Middletown, which is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation of its downtown business district this spring.

Officials did confirm that the borough may include potato vines in planters that could line the sidewalks of the new downtown street scape. A member of a yet-to-be-named community action group, who wished to remain anonymous, said a potato peeling contest may be added to town festivals in 2018 to draw students to the business district.

The CIM source said initiatives will be launched to woo substantial numbers of international students to the local campus, including the offering of a variety of international dishes in its cafeteria alongside baked potatoes, the college’s mascot, at dinner – and noted it recently won its first-ever Psi Tampa Beta National Championship in British Parliamentary Debate. 

The CIM campus would feature a yet-commissioned work of art as its centerpiece: a sculpture of Meriwether Lewis, the commander of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through Idaho and much of the Louisiana Purchase, shaking hands with George Fisher, the founder of Middletown. “Does Penn State Harrisburg have a statue of Joe Paterno shaking George Fisher’s hand? I don’t think so,’’ the Central Idaho source said.

A chancellor has not been named, but Central Idaho is considering a list of famous Idahoans to lead the new branch campus. The leading candidate thus far appears to be Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate and conservative talk show personality, who was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. Palin is a popular choice among the school’s trustees.

Additional details about the school will be reported as they become available. In the meantime, the source from Central Idaho suggested local residents access the school’s new Web site for full details,


Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:23

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Expect delays of up to 20 minutes Thursday in Vine Street turnpike bridge area

Motorists Thursday should expect delays of up to 15 to 20 minutes in both directions in the area of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge over Vine Street in Middletown, said Carl DeFebo, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.


Contractors will be putting beams in place as part of replacing the turnpike bridge over Vine Street.


The 15-20 minute delays will only occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.


The Vine Street bridge is part of a larger ongoing project, in which the turnpike is replacing its bridges over Vine Street, over Swatara Creek Road and over Swatara Creek, and over the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad.


The new bridges will be wide enough to allow for three lanes in each direction, in anticipation of future widening of the turnpike's main line between the Harrisburg East and Lebanon-Lancaster exits.


The entire project is expected to be completed in mid-2016, at a total cost of $47.65 million.


More information on the project can be found by going to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission web site.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:17

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Hummelstown cop charged in shooting


A Hummelstown police officer was charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of a South Hanover Twp. resident who fled an attempted traffic stop in the borough on Monday, Feb. 2, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office.

Lisa Mearkle, 36, a veteran of the Hummelstown force, was charged by Pennsylvania State Police on Tuesday, March 24, according to court records. She was awaiting arraignment.

District Attorney Ed Marsico scheduled a press conference on Tuesday to announce the charge.

Mearkle was charged in the death of David Kassick, who was shot at his residence in the first block of Grandview Road, in South Hanover Twp., police said.

Mearkle attempted to stop Kassick on a borough street around 4 p.m. on Feb. 2, but the man fled, state police said.

The officer pursued the man who got out of his vehicle and fled on foot behind the house, state police said.

After an altercation behind the house, the officer fired shots at the man, state police said.

Kassick was pronounced dead at the scene. Mearkle was not injured, state police said.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 15:48

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Hearing set in challenge to Middletown Borough Council candidate


A hearing is set for 9 a.m. Monday in Dauphin County Court regarding a challenge filed against the nominating petition submitted by Barry W. Goodling to run for Middletown Borough Council.


Goodling, a Republican, is listed on the spring primary ballot as one of four candidates running for his party's nomination for a four-year term on council representing the First Ward. The other three are Rachelle Reid, David Rhen and Sean Vaccarino.


The Republican who wins in the primary will face David Scully, who is unopposed on the Democratic ballot for the four-year First Ward seat. 


The challenge against Goodling was filed on Tuesday, March 16 by Councilor Michael Bowman, a Republican First Ward resident. Council in January appointed Bowman to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Thomas Handley.


Bowman would need to run this year to fill out the remaining two years of Handley's term. However, Bowman has said he is not going to run and his name does not appear on the ballot of the spring primary.


In the petition, filed on Bowman's behalf by Darrell N. VanOrmer Jr., an attorney in Elizabethtown, Bowman makes several allegations to support his conclusion that Goodling's nominating petition is invalid.


Bowman contends that although Goodling's signature appears on his nominating petition, the actual circulator who gathered the signatures for him was Sandy Nagle. Nagle, a former borough councilor, is also not a resident of the First Ward, according to the petition.


Bowman in his petition also challenges several of the signatures on Goodling's petition, and further attests that the documentation supporting Goodling's petition is incomplete.





Petition re: Barry Goodling

Rule to Show Cause

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 13:40

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