Written by Dan Miller
Middletown is still looking to convert all its streetlights to more energy-efficient LED bulbs, but the job will take longer than originally planned.
Just a few weeks ago it looked as if council was ready to approve taking out a $490,000 bank loan so The Efficiency Network (TEN) of Pittsburgh could convert all of the borough’s 708 street lights to LED — light-emitting diode — bulbs by the end of 2016.
But council has now signed on to a new plan proposed by Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach calling for the borough’s own public works crew to do the conversion completely in-house.
That will save a considerable amount of money — $248,000 for the borough to buy the bulbs and do the conversion, vs. the $476,730 estimate provided by TEN.
But instead of getting the conversion done this year, Wilsbach hopes that borough crews can have the job done by early to mid-summer 2017, Wilsbach told council during its second meeting to discuss the proposed 2017 budget on Nov. 3.
Wilsbach is also proposing the borough apply some of the savings from doing the conversion in-house toward a separate, but related project — installing new “historic” style streetlights along Emaus Street from just east of Union Street westward to where the proposed West Emaus Street extended is to connect with the new Amtrak train station to be built along West Main Street.
The vintage streetlights will complement nicely plans to reopen the historic Elks Theatre, and will continue the theme set by the downtown streetscape, Wilsbach said.
The historic streetlights would be the same as the three that were installed in front of the Municipal Building at 60 W. Emaus St. a few years ago, Wilsbach said.
The project would also include fixing up sidewalk along Emaus to Wood Street.
The extended West Emaus Street is to serve as “our gateway into downtown for the college (Penn State Harrisburg) so you do want to dress it up,” Wilsbach told the Press And Journal. Nearly all of the work can be done in-house, except for some digging and trenching.
The historic streetlight project would cost the borough about $125,000, which when added to the estimated cost of doing the LED conversion in-house would total about $373,000 — still more than $100,000 less than the $476,730 that the borough would have paid TEN, Wilsbach said.
Installing the historic streetlights will be done in tandem with replacing the bulbs throughout all the streetlights, Wilsbach said. The historic streetlight project may take a little longer to allow for engineering, bidding, and outside contracting but generally Wilsbach hopes that the historic streetlights can be in place by roughly summer 2017.
The borough converting the streetlights will include all the bells and whistles that the town was to get by TEN doing the job — such as new software that allows for remotely increasing or decreasing lighting at any streetlight anywhere in the borough at any time.
Besides saving money, Wilsbach said an added benefit of doing the job in-house is that it will allow borough public works employees to trouble-shoot any actual or potential problems involving streetlights and utility poles.
That’s especially relevant in Middletown, where the borough is responsible for providing electricity to businesses and residents.
“When you change a streetlight and are doing a little bit of pole maintenance, that’s when you start finding problems, then you address the problems to keep people’s power going,” Wilsbach said. “I’m sure we will find issues that (will prevent) future outages for customers, and that’s great.”
Under the original plan, TEN had guaranteed annual estimated energy savings of $31,219 from converting the streetlights to LED that would cover the borough’s cost of financing the project.
The guaranteed savings would have enabled the borough to pay off the $490,000 bank note by 2030, Council President Ben Kapenstein had said.
Council still plans to borrow the money to do the conversion — and the historic streetlight project — in house, but the payback can now be a lot quicker, Wilsbach said.
“After nine years the project pays for itself. After nine years you can look at (the energy savings) as money in the bank.”
Kapenstein said the borough’s only obligation to TEN was having the company do an audit of the borough’s existing streetlights for $2,500, which has already been done.
The audit “was the first step where (TEN) came in and looked at all of the lights so that they could put together their analysis,” Kapenstein said. “No other agreements were signed. Therefore, at this point, we are able to bring the project in house.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2016 15:17
Reminder - the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority is to meet at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The borough council meeting is to follow at 7 p.m.
BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING – November 15, 2016
Call to Order – 7 PM
Pledge of Allegiance
Public Comment on Agenda Items
1. Approve Meeting Minutes – November 1, 2016
2. Approval of Bills
4. Adopt Resolution No. 2016-26 Fund Balance Policy
5. Adopt 2017 Tentative Budget
6. Authorize Advertisement of Ordinance No. 1333 – 2017 Real Estate Tax Rate
7. Approve Investment Services Manager
8. Approve IT Services
9. Ratify Emaus Street Water Line Additional Cost of $4,000.
10. Approve Response to RACP Grant Award Letter
Note – General public comment will be limited to 4 minutes per speaker
Last Updated on Monday, 14 November 2016 15:17
Written by Jason Maddux
A car was stolen at the Hardee's restaurant in Middletown at about 6 p.m. Sunday.
The incident started inside the store when a pair of suspects approached a customer and stole her wallet and keys from her. They then went into the parking area and stole her car, The man threatened to shoot the victim if she did not let him take the car, according to police.
The male suspect is white, 35 to 40 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall with sandy hair and wearing a green hoodie and blue jeans.
The female suspect is white, 20 to 30 years old, 5 feet 2 inches tall with dirty blonde hair in a pony tail wearing a gray sweatshirt and jeans.
The vehicle is a gray 2007 Dodge Durango with PA registration ECF1453. It was last seen westound on Main Street.
Anyone with information about the suspects or vehicle should contact Middletown Police at 558-6900.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 November 2016 08:48
Written by Eric Wise
Although the two signs showing the Middletown raiders mascot have been removed from the sides of the new Middletown Area High School Building, they will be back soon enough, school officials said.
“They were created incorrectly,” said Jody Zorbaugh, district communications specialist. “It was just not quite the design that was specified.”
The district will not have to pay for the repairs or tweaks to the design because the manufacturer failed to fabricate the signs specified under contract.
After the signs are corrected, the blue raider and the gray raider will return to the sides of the building that drivers have already become accustomed to seeing while driving on Route 441 past the school.
“We received word that the Raiders should be reinstalled shortly,” Zorbaugh said.
The raider signs and the “Home of the Raiders” sign were gifts to the new school from the district’s alumni association.
Last Updated on Friday, 11 November 2016 12:48
Written by Dan Miller
A group of Penn State Harrisburg students spent this historic election night watching the returns come in during an election party on campus.
The party was held in a big room in the Community Center in the student housing complex. Staff members with the Residential Life Department, which hosted the party, quizzed the students' knowledge of U.S. election history with trivia questions as the returns came in on a big screen TV.
There was also free food, games, and maps of the United States with states to be colored in red or blue depending on the outcome.
The party was for students who live on campus, most of whom are first-year students and voting for the first time, said Amanda Katherine Blaugher of the Residential Life Department. "We wanted them to experience what could be a very influential election for them."
Judging from the responses from some of the students, nobody seemed overly enthusiastic about either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Caitlyn Hope of Shamokin didn't vote because she wasn't registered. But if she had voted, Hope said she would have gone for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate because she felt Stein is the only one who wasn't corrupt.
"I think the election is just a big mess because both candidates are not appropriate for our country," she said. "You have one candidate who leaks out information and who wants to go to war, and you have another candidate who doesn't know anything about politics. He just threw himself in there thinking he knows everything."
Jordan Jones of Williamsport said she planned to vote and had registered in her home county of Lycoming, but discovered too late she would have to cast an absentee ballot to vote here.
"I don't think that either candidate is very fit to be a president," she said. "Trump is racist and sexist and just a giant angry man who thinks he can use his power and his wealth that he gained over the years to try and become president. He's using fear to control his voters. Hillary should be in jail, she shouldn't even be running."
Yet she would have voted for Trump, because she thinks it is less likely he will get anything through Congress, "whereas Hillary would. I'd rather neither of them be able to pass anything."
Jacob Baumert of Augusta, Ga. voted for Clinton. He supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries but could not vote then.
If voters feel the choices are bad, they have no one to blame but themselves, Baumert said.
"Whether you hate them or love them or whatever, we allowed it to get this way through all our infighting. This election is a product of our hatred toward one another."
No matter who wins - Clinton or Trump - "I honestly think that neither of them will be able to get anything done because Congress will block them, unless they get their respective party to control" the House and Senate, Baumert said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 November 2016 12:01