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Dauphin Co offers free Medicare help

To help Medicare enrollees select plans that best fit their needs,  Dauphin County Commissioners Jeff Haste, Mike Pries and George P. Hartwick, III and the county’s Area Agency on Aging will host free “Medicare 101” seminars throughout the county.

“We’ve received so many calls and requests for help that we’ve decided to expand the APPRISE program this year and offer several seminars at local senior centers,” said Hartwick, who oversees the county Area Agency on Aging. “It’s a great opportunity to have all your questions about Medicare enrollment answered.”

The sessions are conducted by trained advisers to help Medicare participants  assess their coverage options, checking qualification for low-income programs, navigating enrollment and giving easy-to-understand answers to questions about Medicare.  

Seminars will be held at the following locations:

Millersburg Senior Center, 109 Edward Drive, Millersburg

  • May 13
  • September 9

 Mohler Senior Center, 25 Hope Drive, Hershey

  • March 19
  • May 21
  • July 16
  • September 17
  • November 19

Rutherford House Senior Center, 3300 Parkview Lane, Harrisburg

  • April 23
  • June 18
  • August 20
  • October 15
  • December 10

All seminars  begin at 9 a.m.  No registration is necessary. 

“These well-trained volunteers can help you navigate the process of Medicare enrollment,” said Haste.

“Medicare plans can change from year to year,” said Pries. “We are hosting these free seminars for Medicare beneficiaries and their families so that they can carefully review their options and select the best plans for them.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 08:58

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Mayor’s Facebook post sparks people to attend meeting

protestone1 28 15WEBPress And Journal Photo by Jim Lewis - Residents hold signs during a rally outside Middletown’s borough hall on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Kim Haney stood in a crowd of Middletown residents who had gathered outside the borough hall in a protest against borough government that was organized on Facebook, clutching a sign made by her 15-year-old daughter condemning partisan politics.

“Put Middletown 1st,’’ the sign demanded – and Haney hoped that members of Middletown Borough Council, who were scheduled to meet in about 45 minutes, would see it.

PROTEST SCRN SHOT CURRYShe was disturbed by recent events in the borough that she sees as nothing more than political gamesmanship by those who run borough hall – a majority of council and some borough administrators. When Mayor James H. Curry III took to a video he posted on the Facebook page of Middletown Residents United, urging citizens to speak their mind on important issues at council meetings, she and a number of others heeded the call, showing up at the door of borough hall about 45 minutes before council was to meet on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

She is not political – she planned to follow the crowd into council’s chambers and attend her first council meeting that night – yet she was compelled to join when she decided politics was trumping public service.

She disliked the tenor of a recent borough newsletter about council projects, judging it to be needlessly partisan, and was disturbed by a failed attempt by Curry to post a notice of local warming stations for residents who may have lost heat during a recent cold snap. And like others in the crowd, she questioned why Borough Manager Tim Konek had not yet signed a contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to plow state-owned streets in the borough after council approved the pact by a 5-2 vote last month – a pact opposed by council’s president and vice president.

So she joined the rally, then headed to council chambers, along with a crowd large enough to fill the seats in the meeting room and spill down the hallways beyond the chamber’s door.


You can view our video of the rally by clicking on this photograph:



“I’m a teacher – when you’re a teacher, you sit back, you have so much work to do,’’ she explained, vowing that from now on she would be “getting more involved.’’

What followed was a struggle – to have demands heard, to keep order – that dipped and swayed in surprising directions during council’s meeting, including a failed call to replace the council president to a vote by a majority of council members to draft a “code of conduct’’ for future public meetings.

For Cortney Hartnett, a resident who joined in the rally, the evening left her “disgusted."

“There’s obviously a good-old-boys club going on here," Hartnett said. “We’re trying to speak up and have our voice heard."

Curry took to Facebook to urge residents who disagreed with recent borough actions to fill the council chambers for Tuesday night’s meeting, narrating a short video he posted online.

The turnout at the meeting was “excellent," Curry said during a council recess. “Warms my heart," he said before council reconvened.

Protestors listed their concerns as they stood outside borough hall, ranging from cuts in borough funding of the Middletown Public Library to reductions in the borough’s workforce to a downtown improvement project that has succeeded in replacing old water and sewer lines but has yet to move forward with a streetscape facelift promised by council.

“This has to be one of the worst administrations that I know of," said Kate Wealand, a longtime resident who joined in the rally.

Some called for the resignation of Konek and Chris Courogen, the borough’s director of communications and editor of the borough newsletter.

Some in the crowd said they were eager to show their support for Curry, whose video summons resonated with them, but skeptical that the rally would bring change.

A similarly-sized crowd came to a council meeting years ago demanding to know why council was cutting funding to the library, said resident Cathy Winter. “They did exactly what they wanted to do," she said.

Councilor Suzanne Sullivan countered that protestors haven’t explained what the ruling majority on council has done wrong. “You keep saying we are destroying the town – give me an example," she told the crowd during the meeting.

“We all need to get along if we want this town to go forward," she said.
Councilor Scott Sites made a motion calling for council President Christopher McNamara to resign his presidency, which failed by a 5-3 vote.

Sullivan followed with a motion to have the borough solicitor draft a “code of conduct" for all public meetings, which was approved by the same 5-3 vote.

Curry said the move “seems like an attempt to slip an iron plate over the mouths of the people." Sullivan noted that, before she was elected to council, she would come to council meetings and speak her mind, “but I did it in a respectful manner – and the council there gave us a lot more grief than the council here."

Some in the crowd insisted that the turnout was a sign of things to come – a growing tide of dissatisfaction that would continue through this year’s local elections. “You do what you have to do," resident Vera Williams told councilors during the meeting, “and we’ll do what we have to do."


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 January 2015 13:30

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They call me 'Rough Bananas'

bananasphoto1 28 15WEBSubmitted photo - Troy Baker stands at the terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine.

Just after 6 a.m. on one July morning of his 5-million-step journey, Troy Baker found his path was blocked. He was hiking on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire when he came upon a moose and her calf ahead.


She was not concerned about moving, either. Baker got within 20 yards of the moose when he realized she was taking her time eating. “I had to wait because I didn’t want to get too close,” he said. It was about 15 or 20 minutes before the pair cleared the way.

The moose – nearly the size of a cow, probably weighing around 600 pounds, Baker estimated – was just one of the interesting creatures he met after he left his job to hike the trail at the age of 34. He saw about 10 bears and plenty of snakes – rattlesnakes, copperheads and rat snakes – but the most memorable encounter was when he came upon an injured chipmunk.

“I looked up to see a rattlesnake about 5 feet away that I’m sure had just bitten the chipmunk,’’ Baker said. “So I backed down the trail and watched the rattlesnake come and eat the chipmunk.”

Baker began his journey on April 28, and he reached the trail’s southern terminus on Sept. 30. He says about one-fourth of those who set out to complete a through-hike, which means they intend to hike the entire 2,189 miles of the trail within a year, are able to complete it.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:58

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Fire damages Steelton bar, apartments

firephoto1 21 15Press and Journal photo by Dan Miller -- The Jazz on Front bar and apartments dates back to the 1800s, when it opened as an inn for travelers on horseback or in carriages, according to Steelton Mayor Tom Acri.


A mattress set ablaze by a 7-year-old child caused a fire that shuttered a downtown Steelton bar and left nine residents homeless on Monday, Jan. 19, according to the building’s owner.


The building at North Front and Conestoga streets was home to Jazz on Front. The three-story building had four three-bedroom apartments in the upper floors, said Rick Kaylor, the owner.


The bar owner and residents of the apartments were in the building when the fire started shortly after 1 p.m., said Steelton Mayor Tom Acri. Everyone got out safely and there were no injuries.


The American Red Cross is helping the residents.


The fire started in a third floor apartment. The roof collapsed, and there is extensive water damage to the bar and the two lower floors, Acri said. Companies from many surrounding communities joined Steelton firefighters and brought the blaze under control by about 2:30 p.m.


“The support was great,” Acri added.


The cause of the fire is being investigated by Steelton Fire Chief Steve Brubaker and the Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal, the mayor said.


However, Kaylor said the fire marshal has confirmed to him that the fire was caused by a child who was visiting tenants in the building.


Acri estimated the damage at $300,000.


Kaylor said on Tuesday, Jan. 20 that he didn’t know yet if he will rebuild. He was about to meet with an insurance agent to weigh his options.


“It is what it is. You get dealt things in life and you have to deal with them,” he said.


The building dates back to the 1800s, when it first opened as a carriage house. People rode their horses there, went inside for a drink, and could spend the night in a room upstairs, Acri said.


The building evolved into the downstairs bar with apartments upstairs. It’s always been that way as long as anyone can remember, the mayor said.


Kaylor had plans to invest more than $100,000 in renovations, Acri said. Just this past weekend, Kaylor had put new batteries in the smoke alarms, Acri added. The building is one of four in Steelton that Kaylor has owned since 2007.


“My retirement,” Kaylor mused as he surveyed the damage Tuesday.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 16:14

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Steel-High, MASD spent money to fight Highspire move



An effort by Highspire residents to withdraw from Steelton-Highspire School District and join the Middletown Area School District passed its first hurdles in 2014 – and it ended up costing the school districts legal fees. 

Dr. Ellen Castagneto, Steelton-Highspire’s superintendent, reported to the Steelton-Highspire School Board that the district’s cost in 2014 was $16,000 in legal and staff costs. Nearly all of it – $15,720 – came in the fourth quarter, when the petition was heard in Dauphin County Court, and the petition was allowed to proceed to the next step with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Asked about the costs to Middletown, Dr. Lori Suski, Middletown’s superintendent, said the costs have totaled $15,641. That included $7,681 in legal costs and $7,960 in administrative/staff time.

A court order from Oct. 15 allowed the petition to proceed to the state Department of Education.

The districts now have until mid-February to complete detailed questionnaires for the state to review.

Officials from both districts have said they oppose the move – however, state officials will have their say next, as the petition and questionnaires will be reviewed to see if the move has educational merit.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 16:04

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