Written by Eric Wise
A truck heading south on Vine Street caught and snapped a low-hanging power line 500 feet north of Oak Hill Road around noon on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
The accident pulled down a six-foot section of a utility pole and disrupted only telephone and communication lines, not electric lines, according to Patrolman James Bennett, who assisted with traffic control around the area of the incident. Some debris landed in the back yard of two homes on Oak Hill Drive, where a tree was damaged by the lines.
A Middletown public works crew and a technicians from Verizon were on the site to deal with the downed lines. A Verizon representative, who declined to be identified, said the company had requested two traffic control employees from Flagger Force to take over for the Middletown Fire Department in controlling traffic around the site.
Police declined to identify the driver of the Peterbilt rig from Environmental Transport Group of Flounders, New Jersey, responsible for the accident.
“He didn’t do anything wrong,” said Bennett of the truck driver.
Greg Wilsbach, Middletown public works director, did not respond to a request for information for this story.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:15
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Borough Council during its Oct. 4 meeting decided to move forward with proposed zoning changes to the downtown and other areas of the borough that were initiated by the previous council in 2015.
However, whether any or all parts of the proposed downtown zoning overlay will ever be implemented into law is not known, and may not be known for some time.
The borough under a plan proposed by Council President Ben Kapenstein will complete a final version of the proposed overlay, and make a presentation on the overlay to the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission in November.
This is to satisfy requirements of a grant that the borough received from Tri-County that covered 80 percent of the cost of hiring a consulting firm to draw up the proposed overlay. Otherwise, the borough ran the risk of having to repay the grant, which has a total budget of $47,580.
But satisfying conditions of the Tri-County grant does not obligate the borough to implement any or all of the proposed overlay, Kapenstein said.
Instead, council will turn the completed downtown overlay over to the borough’s new planning commission that was created earlier this year. The commission is expected to come back to council with recommendations on what parts of the proposed downtown overlay to adopt in the form of an ordinance, if any.
The commission is also expected to hold public hearings on the proposed downtown overlay so that business owners and residents can have their say on the overlay, Kapenstein said.
Council did not set a deadline for when the commission is to come back with recommendations on the overlay.
5-Day suspension of police officer approved
In other matters, council took two actions following a closed-door executive session at the end of the meeting.
In one of the actions, council by 6-1 vote approved a 5-day suspension of Middletown Borough Police Patrolman Mark Laudenslager. Councilor Robert Reid dissented.
The suspension is based on results of an internal investigation that were presented to council, Councilor Ian Reddinger said in making the motion concerning Laudenslager.
The timing of the suspension is to be determined by Police Chief John Bey, who was not at the meeting.
Kapenstein referred further questions regarding the suspension to Solicitor Adam Santucci. Santucci said the suspension is a “personnel matter” and declined further comment.
In an apparently unrelated action, at the beginning of the meeting a new part-time police officer, Adam Tankersly, was sworn into duty by Mayor James H. Curry III.
Lancaster firm to do forensic audit of borough finances
In the other action taken by council following the executive session, council voted 7-0 to hire RKL, an accounting firm based in Lancaster, to do a forensic audit of borough finances.
The new council early in 2016 had voted to have such an audit done at the urging of Councilor Diana McGlone. The audit was to cover the time period from Dec. 30, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2015, when a former council was being led by then-President Chris McNamara.
However, Kapenstein said the audit will also look more recent actions and changes that have occurred in order to “tidy up” the borough’s financial affairs and make sure they are proper.
RKL was one of two firms that responded to a request for proposals from the borough, Kapenstein said. The other firm sought to charge a price much higher than RKL, which proposes to complete the audit for a fee of from $15,000 to $20,000.
New property and code-related ordinances approved for advertisement
In other matters acted on by council before the executive session, council voted 7-0 to approve for advertisement three proposed new ordinances regarding property maintenance, construction, and code enforcement.
The ordinances are necessary in order for the borough to do effective code enforcement, said McGlone, who has been working on the proposed ordinances for several months.
Council will consider final adoption of the three ordinances at an upcoming meeting.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 09:40
Written by Eric Wise
Humidity was thick in the air as about 10 people gathered along Spruce Street late Saturday night, trying to see what was going on. Many lit cigarettes, with the smoke hanging like smog in the misty night drizzle.
It was about 11 p.m. Oct. 1 — at least two hours after police responded to the area and word leaked out online that a man had pointed a gun at himself or a female companion in one of the mobile homes nestled across the street from American Legion Post 594 on East High Street. No one was sure what was going on in the 100 block of the street.
It wasn’t until hours later that officials confirmed an armed man was taken into custody after a dispute with someone else in the mobile home — with a shot fired. No one was injured.
There were tense moments before the incident was resolved, however. Three State Police troopers kept perimeter watch from the parking lot of the American Legion, where the hill gave them a good vantage point. They were sending people away from the area around the American Legion.
Police cars with lights flashing blocked High Street at the Spruce Street and Pine Street intersections. High Street was quiet, except for chatter among the small group, whose members came and went on Spruce Street, trying to find out more and then retreating from the chilly mist.
A Hummelstown police officer, carrying a rifle, stood at the ready on Hoffman Avenue, behind the group of eight mobile homes that line a private driveway that connects High Street and Hoffman Avenue.
Police had a mobile command post, with Chief John Bey and Sgt. Richard Hiester, set up at Oak Hills Park, but they were not taking questions from the media or providing updates.
The incident had begun hours earlier, at 7:30 p.m. when the residents summoned emergency medical help for an older man with heart attack symptoms, Bey said. The EMS crew requested police support when a man, believed to be the son or son-in-law of the man with heart trouble, threatened to shoot himself with a gun.
When police arrived, the man moved into a back room of the home. Police requested help from other departments in the area, and several responded, including Pennsylvania State Police, Hummelstown, Lower Swatara Township, Steelton, Highspire and the Dauphin County Crisis Response Team. Police blocked High Street and asked that residents allow them to resolve the situation at about 9 p.m., as the standoff began.
Another EMS crew arrived around 11 p.m. and donned helmets and flak jackets, and stood at the ready, conferring briefly with the troopers in the parking lot.
They walked down toward the mobile homes, disappearing into the darkness.
Around 11:35 p.m. onlookers heard police issuing orders with a megaphone. By 11:38, a man’s screaming answered the megaphone, which barked back.
A shot or pop was heard at 11:40 p.m., followed by silence. One onlooker said, “That was two shots.” Others were not so sure. But the screaming and the megaphone both stopped.
Police later confirmed only one shot fired.
“He shot right through a closed window shade and through the window,” Bey said. “The round impacted his yard. There were officers in and around that area.”
Within a few minutes, someone moved an ambulance to High Street in front of the mobile homes, removed the litter and wheeled it to the scene. A few minutes later, the litter was loaded back in the ambulance, empty. The ambulance left, followed by the State Police and police cars from Hummelstown, Lower Swatara Township and Highspire, as if the incident had been resolved.
Middletown Mayor James Curry posted online after midnight that the incident had been resolved without any injuries and a suspect was in custody.
Bey confirmed the man with heart trouble and the shooter’s wife were safety removed.
The man was taken into custody and will receive psychiatric help, Bey said. He was uncertain of what led the man to firing a shot or barricading himself in the home.
“He was in some kind of heated verbal exchange with his spouse,” Bey said. “I don’t know what the subject matter was.”
Bey refused to release the name of the man involved, and said they have not filed charges. He said police are conferring with the district attorney’s office about whether charges should be filed regarding the shot fired through the window of the home.
Reporter Dan Miller contributed to this story.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 09:45
Last Updated on Saturday, 30 July 2016 08:31
Middletown Police arrested and charged a Baltimore man in connection with a burglary and attempted burglary of two homes on the north side of Middletown.
Michael C. Diehl, 22, has been charged with burglary for his role in the break-in Fri., June 17 of a home in the 1000 block of Plane St. An HP laptop computer and an iPad with an estimated valued of more than $1,000 were reported stolen from the residence.
Police also charged Diehl with criminal attempt burglary for an attempted burglary of another home located in the 1000 block of Cypress Street.
Diehl has also been charged with two unrelated drug offenses, intentional possession of a controlled substance by person not registered, use/possession of drug paraphernalia and false identification to law enforcement officer, police said.
“An alert citizen provided real-time information to the 911 center of the location of the suspect and another male that led to their detention and investigation early Wednesday morning (June 22),” said Middletown Police Chief John Bey. “She recognized the one male from an alert provided during a neighborhood canvas by patrol officers, and called immediately. Information developed by interviewing these suspects led police to a residence in the 1100 Block of Cypress Street, where a search warrant was served on the residence and police recovered numerous items of stolen property.”
Bey said police were further assisted in their investigation after viewing a video provided by a neighbor. Bey said the home surveillance tape showed Diehl attempting to break into the Cypress St. home on June 17.
Diehl was arraigned June 22 before District Judge Raymond Shugars and held at Dauphin County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday, July 1, at 9 a.m. before District Judge David Judy in Royalton.
Bey said the accused had been staying at a residence in the 1100 block of Cypress St.
“This is a fine example of the ability of alert citizens helping police to bring a successful conclusion to a crime spree in their neighborhood,” Bey said. “The Middletown Police Department thanks all those who helped with this case and provided tips that we diligently followed up on.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 June 2016 13:43