Police detectives investigating the Sunday, April 3, fire in Middletown that seriously damaged the Holly Hall building in the Village of Pineford Apartment Complex are asking for the public's help with their investigation.
The fire, which began sometime before 11:30 a.m., seriously damaged the building and displaced dozens of residents. Police are seeking any information people may have about when the fire was first noticed and are asking for any photographs and/or video footage that members of the public may have that documents the fire.
Last Updated on Saturday, 16 April 2016 05:56
Middletown Borough Council voted to accept the resignation of Second Ward Councilor Greg Wilsbach on Tuesday, April 5.
Wilsbach, a Republican, was elected to a four-year term in November. He said in a resignation letter dated March 22 that he was leaving to apply for a job as the borough’s public works director.
The borough will now accept letters of interest and resumes from Second Ward residents who want to fill the council vacancy created by Wilsbach’s resignation.
Council plans to appoint a replacement at its May 3 meeting, said council President Ben Kapenstein.
The borough also is accepting applications from Middletown residents who are interested in serving on the town’s new five-member planning commission and the Olmsted Regional Recreation Board. One seat is open on the rec board. Applications will be accepted over the next 30 days.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 16:23
The alert announced via the nixle alert service noted any residents of Pineford that were affected by the fire in need of clothing, toiletries, non-perishables or blankets are instructed to come to the MCSO building on Emaus St. today, Mon., Apr. 4 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Identification will be requested.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 April 2016 08:08
Written by Jim Lewis
When 90-year-old Isabelle Lehman looked out her window in her third-floor apartment in Holly Hall at the Villlage of Pineford on Sunday, April 3, she saw something that looked like a cloud drift across the lawn below.
It wasn't a cloud – it was smoke. She looked up to see a patio on an upper floor in flames.
She quickly called Dauphin County 9-1-1, and when a dispatcher asked her to stay on the line, she replied, "I can't. I have to get out.'' She grabbed her purse and left her apartment, her home for the past 30 years.
Flames ravaged the top of Holly Hall as firefighters from Middletown and several neighboring companies battled the blaze, which began around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
The cause is under investigation by the borough, state police fire marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Det. Mark Hovan, a spokesman for the Middletown Police Department. No one will be allowed back into Holly Hall for at least seven days because the fire is considered a "crime scene'' until officials learn more about its cause, Hovan said.
Miraculously, no injuries were reported. "It certainly is a tragedy, but the thing I am most grateful for is that I have not heard of one injury, be it crew or residents,'' said Middletown Mayor James H. Curry III. "That's something I'm extremely thankful for.''
Middletowners rushed to the rescue of fire victims, donating piles of clothing, toiletries, blankets – even toys – and food that was provided at an emergency shelter at the MCSO Building on Emaus Street. About 60 people arrived for aid, but everyone found a place to stay, said Dan Tobin, director of communications for the American Red Cross' Central Pennsylvania Chapter.
The donations from local citizens were "phenomenal,'' Tobin said. "The outpouring of support from this community is unbelievable,'' Tobin said, as fire victims wandered in and out of the MCSO Building.
Word of the victims' plight spread over Facebook, and people began arriving at the MCSO Building with donations. There were piles of jackets and blankets, soap and new toothbrushes, cake and pizza, sliced turkey and ham and mashed potatoes.
"People came in droves,'' said Dawn Knull, a Middletown Borough Council member, as she stood among donated supplies at the MCSO Building. The effort was not surprising, she said. "This is Middletown. Every disaster we have had, something like this happens. Middletown people come together.''
For Lehman, the greatest necessity was a place to stay, and she found one – another apartment in Pineford, where she wants to remain. She left behind an apartment filled with memories – knickknacks and furniture she's owned for decades. "I have good insurance, and I can buy new,'' she said. "But I would hate to think I lost some things I've had a long time.''
When she walked out the front door of Holly Hall, she was struck by the serenity. "It was very calm,'' she said, until fire engines began to pull up and firefighters shouted for residents to evacuate the building.
Standing in the MCSO Building, surveying donated items, Lehman found it difficult to sum up her feelings about what happened.
"It takes a while to sink in,'' she said.
Fire victims who need supplies – clothing, toiletries and other items – can get them from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, April 4 at the MCSO Building on Emaus Street, borough officials said.
A partial list of those who donated to the fire victims: Tattered Flag (clothing), the Antique Auto Museum in Hershey (jackets), Roberto's Pizza (food), the Brownstone Cafe (food), and several local churches, among others, borough officials said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 April 2016 14:29
Written by Eric Wise
Ellen Castagneto, superintendent of the Steelton-Highspire School District, will not be retained at the end of her current contract in June 2017.
The Steelton-Highspire School Board voted 7-0 with no discussion on Thursday, March 17 to approve a resolution stating the board will seek other candidates because her contract will not be renewed. Castagneto remains an employee of the district although she has not worked at the school district's administrative offices since October 2015, when the board approved leave under the district's policy for Family Medical Leave Act.
Steelton-Highspire continues to pay Castagneto her full salary and benefits, although her FMLA leave expired in January, and she has not returned to work.
Next week's edition of the Press And Journal will publish more information on this developing story.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 March 2016 07:10