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
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