Written by Noelle Barrett
The air was musty. The roof leaked. Dust and dirt layered the floors and an assortment of paint colors layered the walls – those walls that were not stripped down to the brick.
The former liquor store at the corner of Pine and North Front streets in Steelton has seen better days. Now it may see many more with a new owner.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 19:59
Written by Dan Miller
The three finalists for the job of Middletown’s police chief arrived at borough hall last week for interviews by Middletown Borough Council’s public safety committee – and two of them met afterward with residents and the press.
John Bey, of Susquehanna Twp., a 25-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police, and Travis Thickstun, of Bloomington, Ind., a 12-year veteran of the Indiana State Excise Police Force, talked to the public and answered questions from the media after their interviews.
The third, Stephen Mazzeo, former Sunbury police chief and a 37-year veteran of law enforcement, declined to talk to residents at the committee’s public meeting, and refused to answer questions from a Press And Journal reporter afterward.
Commitee chairman Scott Sites said that Monday, Aug. 4 is the target date for choosing a new chief.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 20:12
Written by Dan Miller
A former Middletown Borough Council member on Monday, July 21 called on council members to replace Chris McNamara as president.
Diana McGlone, who blogs about Middletown government and politics, called for a change, citing an investigation by Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico over the alleged use of borough funds to trim trees at the home of one of McNamara’s neighbors.
In light of the investigation, “I behoove council to re-organize and remove [McNamara] as president,” McGlone said during the public comment period of council’s meeting Monday.
Council took no action regarding McGlone’s request. McNamara did not offer any comment in response.
The District Attorney’s investigation stems from allegations raised during council’s July 7 meeting by former borough electric department supervisor Greg Wilsbach.
Wilsbach, who resigned from employment with the borough effective July 10, publicly alleged that McNamara had authorized the expense of $850 in borough funds to pay for the trimming of trees in a neighbor’s yard.
While making his comments, Wilsbach handed Mayor James H. Curry III an envelope – the contents were never revealed – and asked the mayor to investigate. Curry turned the envelope over to Marsico.
Marsico has confirmed that his office is investigating the material that Wilsbach provided to Curry.
“With these current allegations surrounding the council president, our community has been greatly affected and the borough once again has a negative black cloud hanging over us,” McGlone added. “I no longer have any faith in our elected officials, as individuals of this body of council continue to act in an unscrupulous manner, while jeopardizing taxpayer finances with their reckless actions.”
Council also heard two residents call for the termination of Chris Courogen, the borough’s director of communications. Wilsbach and another former councilor, Rachelle Reid, called for the resignation, both referring to an argument between Courogen and Curry that occurred following adjournment of the July 7 council meeting.
Council took no action.
During the argument, borough police were called at Curry’s request. The matter was referred to Marsico’s office to avoid a conflict of interest, and Marsico announced he would not file any charges in the argument.
Still, Reid asked council to terminate Courogen. “If you don’t do it now, you never will,” said Reid, who was interviewed by Marsico’s office as one of two witnesses to the altercation between the mayor and Courogen. “Is there a reason why you are afraid to terminate this man?”
Courogen has said he is pursuing an administrative harassment claim against Curry, under provisions of a borough policy regarding harassment of employees.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:06
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Borough Council has voted in favor of pursuing a $3 million line of credit that would be obtained through PNC Bank.
But before acting on the measure, council inserted an amendment that would require any proposed expenditure using the line of credit money to be first approved by council before any of the line of credit funds can be drawn down.
The vote on the overall proposal, with the amendment, was 5-2 on Monday, July 21, with Councilor Thomas Handley abstaining. Councilors Scott Sites and John Brubaker voted against the measure.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 19:20
Written by Noelle Barrett
Middletown’s longtime public works director submitted his notification of retirement on Tuesday, July 22 and will take a job as Steelton’s superintendent of public works.
Ken Klinepeter, who has worked for Middletown for more than 34 years, will retire effective Aug. 11. He submitted his retirement notice to Borough Manager Tim Konek on Tuesday.
Klinepeter will start his new job with Steelton on Aug. 12.
“This was a difficult decision to which I gave long and careful consideration,” Klinepeter said in a press release he issued on Tuesday. “My decision to retire was strictly a business decision on my part after Middletown and I were unable to agree to future terms and conditions of my employment in a timely manner.”
His exit from Middletown Borough follows that of Greg Wilsbach, Middletown’s former electric department supervisor, who resigned effective July 10, after working for the borough for 26 years.
Klinepeter will receive a salary of $71,500 in his new position in Steelton. He currently makes $78,852.80 in Middletown.
Steelton’s superintendent of public works position has been vacant since Joseph Conjar retired in 2013, and the borough had contemplated not filling it, according to Maria Marcinko, Steelton Borough Council’s vice president.
Initially, Steelton was seeking a replacement for Dan Scheitrum, the former water plant superintendent and chief operator who was terminated
after the state Department of Environmental Protection cited the borough’s water authority with drinking water violations earlier this year. However, based on two impressive applicants – one being Klinepeter – the borough decided to hire a Superintendent of public works who would oversee the water filtration plant, according to Marcinko.
“We thought with what happened with DEP, it would be beneficial to have an extra layer in there, an extra check and balance,” she said.
Out of 16 applicants, Klinepeter stood out to council members as the most qualified to oversee the public works department, highway department and the water filtration plant, members said.
Mark Handley, who was hired during Monday’s meeting to fill Scheitrum’s position as chief operator of the water filtration plant, will report to Klinepeter.
“We are so blessed. Thirty-five years of education and experience in this type of work is phenomenal,” Marcinko said. “He has the expertise, skills, and all of the licenses. He’ll be able to deal with DEP, contractors, engineers … He knows how to do the job.”
Marcinko called the hiring of Klinepeter and Handley a “win-win” for Steelton.
Klinepeter said in his statement, “I look forward to working with a great Council and Authority board in Steelton who have welcomed me as if I were a family member.” Klinepeter said in his statement.
In the press release, Klinepeter said
he was “very fortunate and privileged” to work in Middletown for over 34 years.
“I will leave my employment with Middletown with many great memories and experiences,” he said in the press release. “During this time, I made friends, met or worked with many friendly and kind residents.”
Klinepeter also thanked Middletown Borough Council and Middletown Borough Authority members, and past and present staff “for the opportunities for professional and personal development.”
Chris Courogen, Middletown’s director of communications, declined to comment, citing borough policy regarding personnel issues.
“I have to adhere to the borough’s policy on that,” Courogen said. “We wish Kenny well in his future endeavors and we thank him for his service.”
Middletown council vice president Robert Louer said he wasn’t aware of Klinepeter’s retirement, and declined to comment before receiving official notification.
Borough Council President Chris McNamara did not return calls seeking comment.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 19:06