Written by Dan Miller
Middletown residents will have the chance to see – and possibly meet – the two remaining finalists to become the borough's next police chief on Monday, July 21.
Middletown Borough Council's public safety committee will interview one of the two finalists behind closed doors at 4 p.m. in council chambers at the borough hall. The closed-door session will last about 30 minutes, after which the committee will present the candidate to the public and ask the candidate several questions in open session.
Then, starting at 5 p.m., the committee will repeat this same process for the other finalist.
If you cannot be at either the 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. session, your best shot to meet either or both of the two candidates could be at about 6 p.m.
By then, the committee expects to be done with its part of the process, said Councilor Scott Sites, public safety committee chairman. So from about 6 p.m. on, the candidates will be free to meet and mingle with residents, and answer their questions – if the candidates choose to do so.
Borough residents already have the scoop on one of the three finalists, John Bey of Susquehanna Twp. Bey could not make Monday's session, so the committee interviewed Bey and presented him to the public on Tuesday, July 15.
Bey took full opportunity of the chance to meet with borough residents in council chambers after the committee was done with him.
As for the other two finalists, who will be interviewed on Monday: One is from this area, while the other is from the Midwest.
The full council will meet during its monthly committee-of-the-whole session at 7 p.m. on Monday. However, council will not act on the top cop job at that meeting, Sites said.
The target date for council to choose the next chief is Monday, Aug. 4, Sites said.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 19:46
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown Borough Council will discuss a proposed $3 million line of credit that would be used to help pay for various capital projects during a meeting on Monday, July 21.
The borough is exploring the line of credit jointly with the Middletown Borough Industrial and Commercial Development Authority. The authority acted in favor of securing the line of credit during its last meeting on Wednesday, July 9, during which the authority also approved a sales agreement to acquire the Elks Building from the Greater Middletown Economic Development Corp.
Authority Solicitor Salvatore Bauccio at the time said that the idea behind the line of credit is for the authority to have funds available while the borough waits to receive money from various government grants that are in the pipeline.
Essentially, the line of credit would serve as a "bridge" funding mechanism, allowing the authority to move forward on projects until the money from these grants becomes available to the borough.
According to language in a proposed ordinance before council, the $3 million line of credit would be issued through PNC Bank and would be backed by "the full faith and credit" of the Borough of Middletown. That means that if the authority spends any or all of the line of credit money and cannot repay the bank by any other means, the borough is on the hook.
Bauccio said earlier that the line of credit would enable the authority, should it ultimately acquire the Elks Building, to move faster with various improvements to the building, such as fixing portions of the ceiling and roof. The authority also hopes to refinance terms of the building's $500,000 mortgage which must be repaid to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The ordinance does not mention the Elks Building by name, but says that proceeds from the line of credit are to be used for unspecified capital improvement projects, as well as "alterations, restoration and repairs" within Middletown that have resulted from flood damage.
In a July 14 meeting during which council's finance committee discussed the line of credit, Borough Manager Tim Konek identified two government funding proposals now in the pipeline that could be used as repayments for the line of credit.
Konek described as "forthcoming" to the borough $1.2 million in flood reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"The stream is flowing," Konek said, referring to the FEMA funds.
Konek also noted that the borough has applied for a grant from the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program – officials call it "R-CAP" – to pay for streetscape and infrastructure improvements in town.
The borough has applied for $2 million. The state could decide to award the entire $2 million, or something less than that, or refuse to provide the grant at all.
Jay Pagni, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett and the state's Office of the Budget, confirmed that the state has received the borough's R-CAP grant application and that it is still pending. He could not say when the administration will make a decision on the borough's application.
The authority could use other sources of funds to repay the line of credit. It is not restricted to repaying the money with grants that the borough may or may not receive.
Chris Courogen, the borough's director of communications, noted that one of the authority's goals in acquiring the Elks Building is to increase the cash flow that the building and its various tenants generate. That could also be a source that the authority could tap to repay the line of credit, Courogen said.
Read the proposed ordinance:
Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 19:30
Written by Dan Miller
John Bey lives in Susquehanna Township and is a veteran of 25 years in the Pennsylvania State Police. He has held a variety of positions in the state police, from serving on the force's Special Emergency Response Team for eight years to being director of the state police's Heritage Affairs Office. Bey is currently director of training for the Bureau of Training and Education of the state police.
Bey is also a senior master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, where he has served for 28 years.
Bey is one of three finalists Middletown Borough Council is considering as the town's next police chief. Council's public safety committee presented Bey to the public tonight following a closed-door interview with Bey that lasted about 30 minutes. The committee then asked Bey four questions in open session. Afterward, the committee adjourned the meeting and Bey spent about 20 minutes answering questions from residents, until no more questions were left.
Close to 20 residents attended the session, including several other borough council members, and two uniformed members of the Middletown Police Department.
The public safety committee is to meet with the two other candidates in closed-door interviews starting at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, after which these two finalists are also expected to be presented to the public before the full council meets at 7 p.m. Of the two other finalists, one is from the area and the other is from the midwest.
One of the residents asked Bey why he wants to leave the state police.
"It's time," Bey said. "I have over 25 years" with the state police. "I'm ready to get back down into boots on the ground."
Bey said he has been "reading the papers" and is well-aware of the challenges and issues that confront the borough and its police department. He said the department needs a "180-degree" turnaround and a change of culture.
"I understand that it is a beehive I would be coming into," Bey said of Middletown. "You just have to give me some time."
Bey said as chief he would seek to form a "Middletown Advisory Council" made up of citizens in the community from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. The council would also include the police chief and have representation from business owners, the faith-based community, and the borough council. Bey said the council would hold regular meetings "to begin to get our finger on the pulse of the community."
Bey said as chief he would emphasize training and accountability in the police department. In response to a question from Public Safety Committee Chairman Scott Sites regarding relations with Penn State Harrisburg, Bey said he knows this is a priority of Mayor James Curry so it would be his priority too. Bey said he would meet with the Penn State Harrisburg police chief toward developing an "action plan" to address college functions and activities that could impact the town.
One potential stumbling block could be a requirement Sites mentioned that the new chief move into Middletown within 15 months of accepting the job. Bey said he just built a new home in Susquehanna Township and would have to discuss the issue with his family. He noted he would only be 13 miles away from Middletown.
Sites said the residency requirement is in writing, but he also suggested there could be some flexibility regarding the issue.
Bey said if the borough chooses him as chief, he would be here for "a long time."
"We all know that change is difficult but change is also good," he said. "I'm not from Middletown, I'm not beholden to anybody and I don't owe anybody favors…there will be no hidden agendas."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 00:30
Written by Dan Miller
Middletown residents can meet one of three finalists to be the borough's next chief of police at the borough hall on Tuesday, July 15.
Councilor Scott Sites, chairman of Middletown Borough Council's Public Safety Committee, said one of the three finalists cannot attend the July 21 meeting that the committee had set for residents to meet all three candidates. So the committee set a meeting for Tuesday so residents can meet that candidate. Residents also will be able to meet the other two candidates during the Monday, July 21 meeting.
As for Tuesday night, Sites said that the committee will interview the candidate behind closed doors starting at 5:15 p.m. He expected this interview to last from 30 minutes to an hour.
Immediately after, the committee will present the candidate to the public in council chambers. Sites said residents can "meet and mingle" with the candidate, and will have the chance to ask questions. The committee will take no action Tuesday night regarding any of the candidates.
Mayor James H. Curry III said Middletown residents have never before had the chance to directly question candidates for the top cop job.
The mayor is not a member of the committee, but has been allowed to participate in the interviews of police chief candidates that have taken place so far. The police chief reports to the mayor under the borough's form of government.
Borough councilors Robert Louer and John Brubaker are the other two members of the public safety committee.
The Monday, July 21 session for residents to meet the two other candidates will start at 4 p.m. in council chambers. The process will be the same as Tuesday's process – the committee will first interview the two candidates behind closed doors, then present them to the public.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 July 2014 19:44
Written by Dan Miller
The Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority tonight approved an agreement of sale to acquire the Elks Building from the Greater Middletown Economic Development Corporation.
As described by authority Solicitor Salvatore Bauccio, the acquisition is to be a cashless transaction in which the authority takes title to the historic building, and assumes responsibility for the $500,000 mortgage on the property.
However, much more needs to take place before the deal is final. Bauccio said approval of the agreement of sale begins a 90-day "due diligence" period. What that basically means is that the authority has up to 90 days to assess the physical condition of the building, analyze the building's existing lease obligations, and uncover anything else that could increase or impact the overall cost of owning the property.
If, for example, the physical issues with the building are much more expensive than what the authority believes to be the case, the 90-day period gives the authority a way out of the deal. At the same time, Bauccio said the authority could be ready to close on the sale before expiration of the 90 days.
Besides the physical issues - which Bauccio said include needed repairs to portions of both the ceiling and roof - at least another $50,000 is needed to buy digital conversion equipment for the Elks Theatre.
Even if the authority decides to move forward, the agreement still needs final approval from Middletown Borough Council, and from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
DCED is the source of the $500,000 mortgage. Bauccio said the $500,000 is to be repaid to DCED in five annual installments of $500,000, the first one due in 2015. Bauccio said that the authority wants to refinance terms of the mortgage with DCED, in such a way as to allow the authority to move quickly toward fixing the building and improving it, while also meeting its repayment obligations.
The hope is that these improvements will eventually increase the building's cash flow so the property can be more self-sustaining, he said.
The authority in the same meeting gave tentative approval to obtaining a $3 million line of credit from PNC Bank. Bauccio said the line of credit would give the authority funds while awaiting release of government grant money. He said that the authority is in the process of applying for a $500,000 state grant. The PNC line of credit also requires borough council approval, besides final approval from the authority.
Bauccio would not release a copy of the sales agreement until after he can review the agreement with the borough solicitor, which could occur Thursday. He said the agreement provides for the Elks Theatre to be operated not by GMEDC but by a yet-to-be-formed local nonprofit organization.
Borough Council President Chris McNamara, an authority member, said the new organization is to be put together by two Middletown businesswomen; Robin Pellegrini and Dana Ward. Pellegrini is also on the authority and serves as its community liaison, McNamara said.
McNamara said authority ownership of the building is essential to preservation of the historic structure and the Elks Theatre itself.
"The theater is not closing as a result of this. Just the opposite" is the case, McNamara said.
The GMEDC board had already approved the sales agreement with the authority. GMEDC board Vice Chairman Gordon Einhorn was at the meeting at the start, but left while the authority was holding a closed-door executive session on real estate and personnel matters, before the authority reconvened to vote on the sales agreement.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 01:14