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223 area code will be put in use next year

The 717 area code won’t be the only one in use in central Pennsylvania come next year. And the change will mean more digits to dial as well.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has received notice that the number 223 will be the overlay for the 717 area code.

The new area code was selected by Neustar Inc., the neutral third party area code relief planner for Pennsylvania, according to the PUC. The new 223 area code number will be assigned to new telephone numbers once the available supply of numbers in the current 717 area code is exhausted. Based on current forecast predictions, the supply of phone numbers available in the 717 area code is projected to exhaust by the third quarter of 2017.

To dial within the 717 area code will require 10-digit dialing once the 223 area code is added. That means callers will have to dial 717 or 223 first.

On Oct. 27, the Commission voted 5-0 to approve the overlay plan, based on extensive public input from throughout the 16-county region in Central Pennsylvania served by the 717 area code. The overlay area code relief option was supported by the majority of individuals who submitted written comments or testified at the PUC’s Smart Hearings, along with the telecommunications industry, according to the PUC. The alternate way to handle the change would have been to split the 16-county 717 area code geographically.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2016 15:28

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Out & About: Robots rule at sixth annual competition


Penn State Harrisburg was host to the sixth annual South Central PA Robotics Competition on Nov. 12. The event was jointly organized by Harrisburg Area Community College, Dauphin County Technical School, Cumberland-Perry Technical School, and Penn State Harrisburg.

 This event is part of a larger STEM initiative and is open to all students from all schools, as well as home-schooled students throughout the region.

Contestants worked in teams of three high school students plus a mentor from one of the participating colleges.

Teams were presented with six tasks in robotic motion and control. The winning team had to program an educational robot to perform these tasks as quickly and precisely as possible.

To see more photos by Earl Hammaker of the robot competition at Penn State Harrisburg, check out our print edition or click here for our E-edition.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2016 14:34

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23 Years Ago - 11/09/2016

23YA23 YEARS AGO - Students Jump Rope For Heart – Students of Middletown’s George Feaser Middle School literally jumped at the chance to fight heart disease at the schools sixth annual Jump Rope for Heart. The event was held on Friday, November 5.


From The Wednesday, November 10, 1993 Edition Of The Press And Journal


Community Action Center Looks To Expand

 An “after-school enrichment program” and a “discovery room,” those were the main topics discussed at a recent meeting of the Middletown Community Action Center.

 CAC is one of five satellite branches of the Community Action Commission, a private, non-profit social service agency partially funded by the state Department of Community Affairs.

 Formerly located on South Union Street, CAC relocated its operation in October 1992 to a 2,250 square-foot basement area of Woodlayne Court, the area having been donated by Pennrose Properties, the Philadelphia-based developer and manager of the housing complex.

 Since June of this year, CAC personnel and representatives from other social agencies have been meeting to exchange ideas and form partnerships in the delivery of existing services and the development of new services.

 Bill Gross of Three Mile Island and GPU Nuclear Corp. and employee Pat Conlon were present to propose a new program, a GPU/TMI-sponsored after-school enrichment program. Leah Kauffman, of Girls Inc., also proposed a new program, a discovery room. The discovery room would be equipped with shoeboxes containing materials, which if properly assembled produce a result, such as a light bulb lighting up.

 Elaborating on their proposed after-school program, Gross and Conlon stressed it would be more than a tutoring center and more than a homework assistance program. It would also include social development skills, they said.

 It is hoped that both new programs will be up and running sometime in early 1994. Gross hopes the after-school program will be available by January. “It’s just what this town and the school needs,” he said.

DiFrancesco Announces Run For Lt. Governor

 A prominent local figure has kept a year old promise that he would seek a high-ranking political position in Pennsylvania when the time was right.

 Dominic DeFrancesco, the Lower Swatara Township resident who gained national prominence and acclaim as the National Commander of the American Legion in 1991 and 1992, told the Press And Journal on Monday morning that he would run for Lieutenant Governor in the 1994 gubernatorial election.

 DiFrancesco was scheduled to make a formal announcement of his candidacy Tuesday morning in the Capitol Rotunda.

 Stressing that he will pursue reform-oriented themes in his coming campaign, DiFrancesco criticized the state’s current Democratic leadership during an interview on Monday.

 “We can’t go on with politics the way they are today,” DiFrancesco stated. “They’re closing down the Senate while our economy is going to heck, and you have a lot of partisan politics taking place. Nothing is being done right now and yet we’re paying high salaries for these people.”

 A Korean War veteran who fought for long-term benefits and health care during his tenure in the Legion’s top post, DiFrancesco insisted that he would work for the people of Pa. as vigorously as he did while traveling the globe on behalf of veterans. And, he said, although he will run for office as a Republican, he will not subscribe to “heavy party affiliation” as some officials do when elected.

 “I don’t have the baggage that other politicians have,” he explained. “I don’t owe anything to the political action committees (PACs), so I don’t have to worry about doing what they ask me to. I feel there is a change needed. I want to try to get this state moving again.”

 As national Commander, DiFrancesco traveled more than 200,000 miles as the official spokesman for the world’s largest veterans’ organization, representing more than 3 million members. He met with President George Bush in the Oval Office numerous times during his one-year term, as well as with other U.S. leaders, the Pope and foreign heads of state. He also testified before Congress on various veteran issues, including the Persian Gulf War registry, a new GI Bill of Rights, Agent Orange compensation and the management of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

TMI Intrusion, Trade Center Bombing Highlighted

Nuclear Industry Battling Threat Of Sabotage With New Measures

 The February intrusion at Three Mile Island by a Berks County man continues to play a substantial role in the future of the nuclear power industry.

 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which has studied the incident at length and presented its findings to Congress, has now proposed security changes that would require nuclear plants across the nation to prevent against acts of sabotage involving the use of land vehicles.

 In a press release issued last Thursday, NRC officials named the TMI intrusion and the truck bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City as the primary reasons for the security policy upgrade. Based on those incidents, the release said, “The NRC believes that a vehicle intrusion or bomb threat to a nuclear power plant could develop without warning in the future.”

 The amendments would modify the NRCs “design basis threat” - by which the nuclear industry postulates possible risks to plant security – to include the use of land vehicles “for transporting personnel, hand-carried equipment and explosives,” the statement noted.

 According to officials, nuclear plants would require under the amended regulation to establish vehicle control measures to protect against unauthorized entry into vital areas. The proposed rule would also call on individual plant operators to submit their revised security plans within 90 days after the amendment becomes effective. 

Plants would then have 360 days to implement the new measures.

 The intruder in the TMI incident drove his station wagon through security gates and fences at the plant on Feb. 7 and evaded an army of security personnel and police officers for four hours.

 Less than three weeks after the intrusion at TMI, the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center caused an even greater wave of concern that the U.S. may not be as safe from extremists as it had been previously.

Water Main Break Cuts Service To W. Donegal Twp.

 Just four days after it had assumed control of the Rheems Water Company, the West Donegal Township Authority (WDTA) survived a major crisis as it was forced to deal with a water main break that cut service to most of its customers in the Rheems area Monday night.

 According to the WDTA’s chief operator, Raymond “Bid” Witmer, the break occurred shortly before 9:30 p.m. at a point almost in front of the Rheems Fire Station on Harrisburg Avenue at Lime Street.

 Witmer said a six-inch main that carries water from the pumping station on Harrisburg Avenue to the system’s storage tank in the northwestern section of town broke open and water soon covered more than a block of Lime Street.

 Efforts to control the water leak were thwarted by the lack of emergency shut-off valves, Witmer explained, and the Township Authority’s crew was finally forced to turn off the water to about 95 percent of its customers at about 1 a.m., Tuesday. Witmer said the system lost an estimated 175,000 gallons of water before service was shut down.

 Service to the John Cope Company and a number of homes between that plant and the Rheems Nursing Home weren’t affected by the break, Witmer explained. Service to the rest of the community was finally restored at about 11:30 a.m., he added.

 “It really caught us by surprise,” Witmer declared. “We had no idea that anything was wrong until we got the first call just before 9:30.

 Witmer said he and Steve Jarvis, assistant system operator, were on duty from that point on until water service was restored just before noon Tuesday.

 Witmer and Township Authority engineers are investigating the incident in an effort to determine what might have caused the break. He conjectured that a partially blocked storm water drain might have forced storm water to run under the water main and that, in turn, may have seriously undermined the main, which cracked open in that affected area.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 November 2016 16:55

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Elks grant requires matching $500,000

A $500,000 state grant to help reopen the Elks Theatre that has been authorized by Gov. Tom Wolf is good news for Middletown — but it isn’t free money.

The borough to get the grant must come up with $500,000 in local “matching” dollars, based upon requirements of the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, the state program which is the source of the grant funds.

The Elks project must cost at least $1 million to qualify for the RACP grant, according to a list of frequently asked questions about the program posted by the state online. 

The borough has received a letter from the state dated Oct. 28 authorizing release of the $500,000 for the Elks Building by Wolf.

Money that has been spent before the authorization date — in this case Oct. 28 — cannot be counted toward the $500,000 matching requirement, according to the list of FAQs.

That indicates that none of the money that has been spent so far to transform most of the Elks Building into the Tattered Flag Still Works can be counted toward the match, nor any money that has been spent on improving the theater. 

The theater is the only part of the Elks Building still wholly owned by the borough. On Dec. 31, 2015, most of the Elks Building was sold to a company representing Tattered Flag for $400,000 by the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority. Tattered Flag has a $400,000 mortgage on the property.

The authority and borough council has already committed some future funding toward reopening the theater. 

All proceeds from sale of the McNair House property on the northeast corner of North Union and East Emaus streets and from sale of the now-vacant former Klahr Building site in the first block of South Union Street are to go toward the theater under action taken by the authority in August. 

The authority still owns both properties, but is looking to sell them as soon as possible as part of the ongoing dissolution of the authority that has been ordered by the council.

Council on Nov. 1 approved hiring a real estate firm to appraise the McNair House property, which consists of three separate addresses under one tax parcel. 

The authority has received bids from properties on either side of the Klahr tract, however at present sale of the Klahr parcel is “kind of in limbo,” according to Councilor Ian Reddinger, who chairs the authority.

The authority in August also decided that an estimated $50,000 that the borough expects to receive over the next two years from leasing a cell tower to AT&T is to go toward the Elks Theatre renovations.

Estimates for how much it would cost to renovate and reopen the theater run from about $500,000 to close to $1.3 million.

The borough soon hopes to get a firmer estimate from A.P. Williams, the company that is working for Tattered Flag to convert its portion of the Elks Building into a combined craft brewery/distillery brew pub.

On Sept. 15, representatives of A.P. Williams, Tattered Flag, and Friends of the Elks met to discuss A.P. Williams coming up with a firm estimate for what it would cost to carry out a proposal that Friends of the Elks Theatre submitted to the authority in 2015 to reopen the theater as a performing arts center.

Friends of the Elks, a nonprofit group, was created out of the Greater Middletown Economic Development Corp., the nonprofit entity that owned the Elks Building and operated the theater for several years until the authority bought the building in 2014.

The GMEDC continued leasing and running the theater until April 2015, when the authority closed the theater for renovations. The theater has not reopened since.

A report with some firm numbers from A.P. Williams should be coming out “fairly soon,” said Gordon Einhorn, a member of the board of directors of the Friends group.

Einhorn expects that the A.P. Williams estimate will come in lower than the nearly $1.3 million price tag that was identified during a public meeting in July by Jonathan Crist, an attorney living in Conewago Township who operated the Elks Theatre from February 1986 to October 2005.

Crist’s estimate was based upon his “understanding” of the condition of the Elks Theatre at the time he left in 2005, Einhorn said. For example, Einhorn said that Crist’s estimate did not take into account a new roof and a new heating and cooling system for the theater that were done by GMEDC.

If the A.P. Williams estimate comes in less than $1 million, other things could be added in that would bring the total to the $1 million benchmark required for the borough to get the $500,000 state grant, Einhorn said.

The Friends group is willing to help raise any money that might be needed in order for the borough to meet the $500,000 matching requirement, Einhorn said. 

But that’s not possible until the borough makes some kind of commitment to the Friends group regarding the proposal that Friends has made to operate the theater Einhorn noted.

“We can’t raise funds for a project that we are not a part of yet,” he said.

The borough has 30 days from when it received the authorization letter to decide whether it will accept the RACP grant, Council President Ben Kapenstein told the rest of council on Nov. 1.

The borough then has six months to submit its application to the state, which among other things would have to document that the borough will have the $500,000 in matching funds.

Completing and submitting the grant application looks to be a daunting challenge in and of itself. The borough used to have its own in-house grant writer, but that person left the staff in 2015 and no one has been designated to replace him.

Kapenstein said he has set up a meeting with David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp., to possibly assist the borough in completing and submitting the grant application.

There might be “a small charge” involved, but it would be money well spent, Kapenstein said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 November 2016 15:18

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Out & About: Rep. Payne hosts breakfast for veterans

FlagRecipientsPress And Journal photo by Eric Wise -- Rep. John Payne presented a United States flag to the oldest veterans representing the branches of the military who attended his annual veterans breakfast. Back row, from left, Rep. John Payne, Deb Payne, Lester Smith (Air Force), Rosemary Connolly (Air Force, oldest female veteran), Lowry Lance (Pennsylvania National Guard), Richard Fanning Jr. (Air Force). Front row, from left, Rene McCurdy (Army), Stanley Stewart (Marines), Quentin Smith (Army Air Forces) and Josiah Bethards (Navy). Fanning was presented a flag as the veteran who most recently returned from overseas (Kuwait).

State Rep. John Payne treated 300 veterans from his district to breakfast Nov. 4 at the Spring Garden Reception and Conference Center.

Payne presented flags to the oldest veterans from each branch of the service, including the oldest veteran, Rene McCurdy, 96, who served in the Army during World War II and lives at the Middletown Home.

Payne presented videos in tribute to the service of all veterans.  Payne recalled his father’s service in World War II in the Pacific, although his father had seldom mentioned it.

Veterans who attended served collectively for a period covering the past 70 years, the World War II era to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also represented all branches of service, including the Army, Navy, Marines, Army Air Corps/Air Force, the National Guard, Coast Guard and Women’s Army Corps.

To see more Press And Journal photos by Eric Wise of the Veterans Breakfast, check out our print edition or click here for our E-edition.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 November 2016 14:42

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