Written by Dan Miller
A hookah lounge is coming to downtown Middletown.
Raj Nagassar, 37, and his wife, 27-year-old Ela Gupta, who live in Cameron Woods in Royalton, hope to open a hookah lounge by mid-February at the southeast corner of South Union and Emaus streets.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 21:12
Written by Jim Lewis
He calls himself her Truth Teller. He’s coached her through basketball dribbling drills, made her run sprints, worked on her shot.
After her games, he tells her what she did right, and what she could have done better.
He’s helped her for as long as she can remember. When Ja’lynn Burton-Jones, Middletown Area High School’s newest 1,000-point scorer, lists the people who helped her become a better basketball player, he makes the list, along with her coaches and teammates.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 16:38
Written by Eric Wise
Friends remembered a special hope and devotion to family when thinking about Frank, Kristy and Taylor Kramer, a Middletown family of three who died on Friday, Jan. 16 following a crash on Interstate 70 in western Pennsylvania.
State police reported to the Observer-Reporter newspaper that the family’s minivan struck a tractor-trailer rig from behind on I-70 near Speers in Fallowfield Twp., Washington County. The minivan then caught on fire, police said. No other injuries were reported in the accident.
The Kramers lived in Middletown for 25 years.
Frank Kramer was the Press And Journal’s press operator from 1989 through 2010. He lavished much of his time with his family, especially the needs of his daughter Taylor, who had Rett syndrome.
Friends said Frank continued to devote everything to his family, even as he suffered from a variety of ailments, including a kidney transplant, a recent cancer diagnosis and the continuing effects of a serious head injury.
“He was the foundation that enabled our company to establish itself as a quality commercial printing company,’’ said Joe Sukle, publisher of the Press And Journal. “Frank’s quiet, determined demeanor exemplified his personality. More than often a shrug of Frank’s shoulders or a barely audible ‘OK’ or ‘we can do that’ typified a lengthy conversation with Frank.”
Prior to his work at the Press And Journal, he had been a pressman at the former Democrat-Messenger in Waynesburg and the Observer Reporter in Washington, Pa.
Tom Menear, a longtime pressman at the Press And Journal, said his history with Frank goes back more than 20 years, with connections at the newspaper and Middletown American Legion Post 594, where both men served as officers.
“He never had a bad word for anybody,” Menear said. “He helped everybody he could.”
“Under the veneer of his stoic manner you could always tell Frank held hope for himself, his wife and his daughter,” Sukle said.
Kristy Kramer was a reporter for the former Democrat-Messenger. She served as the editor of the former Hershey Chronicle newspaper in the early 1990s, but had devoted much of her time recently to Taylor’s care and raising money for Rett syndrome.
Anne Gelata, of Middletown, worked with Kristy at the Hershey Chronicle when Kramer was a reporter and editor. “She was very good at what she did. I admired that,’’ Gelata said. “I admired her even more as the years went on for her dedication to her family and daughter, Taylor.”
The Kramers and their friends from the American Legion spearheaded local efforts to raise money for Rett syndrome-related causes, including “Stroll-a-thons” on City Island in Harrisburg and book sales, Menear said.
“She was a true advocate for Rett syndrome,” Gelata said. “She was always doing some kind of fundaiser to raise money for Rett research.”
Gelata said she was grateful for Kramer’s support of Gelata’s daughter, who has neurofibromatosis. Thanks in part to Kristy Kramer’s assistance, Gelata’s daughter took a trip sponsored by Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Menear said he found Kristy a “very cheerful person” at the many fundraising events they attended. “Her needs came second; the focus was always Taylor,” he said.
Menear said he best remembers the glow from Taylor when she liked or enjoyed something. Taylor, who graduated from Middletown Area High School in 2012, loved cartoons. “She’d get this bright smile on her face,” he said. “She was an angel, a blessing to all of us.”
The Kramers “were just all-around amazing people,” Gelata said.
“Even through all of their struggles … they were well-loved and will be greatly missed by all who knew them.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 16:30
Written by Jim Lewis
All three Dauphin County commissioners announced they would seek re-election this year, offering a 10-year stretch without a county property tax increase as evidence that they should return to office.
Up next, said one incumbent: The possibility of merging some or all of the municipal police departments in the county, a move that could “make our neighborhoods safer – and save taxpayer dollars,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries.
Pries and fellow Republican Jeff Haste announced on Thursday, Jan. 8 that they would run together, staging appearances in Hershey, Harrisburg and Millersburg to launch their campaign.
Democrat George Hartwick III, the minority commissioner, announced on Tuesday, Jan. 13 that he would also seek re-election, staging appearances throughout the day at
the Warwick Hotel in Hummelstown, the county Admistration Building in Harrisburg and the county’s Northern Dauphin Human Services Center in Elizabethville to launch his campaign. No other Democrat has announced their candidacy yet.
The county awarded Middletown a $250,000 gaming grant – money from players at Hollywood Casino at Penn National – for upcoming improvements to the downtown business district, proof of the Republicans’ leadership and teamwork, said Haste, who has served as a commissioner since 2002.
The borough also received a $1.5 million low-interest loan from the Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank, a new endeavor that helps fund transportation projects and other development.
“Middletown is facing economic difficulties and without the grant, the borough may not have been able to afford the improvements, which promise to attract businesses and grow the borough’s tax base,’’ he said. “When gambling came to Pennsylvania, we worked with state lawmakers to make sure all our residents would benefit.’’
Pries, who has served since 2010, said he and Haste were seeking re-election “because there is still a lot left to accomplish,’’ including work to lower flood insurance rates for county residents.
Hartwick, the former mayor of Steelton, has served as a commissioner since 2004.
The trio are the first to announce their election campaigns for the May 19 primary. Candidates cannot circulate petitions to get their name on the ballot until Feb. 17, and must turn in their petitions by March 10.
A number of municipal and school board positions will be decided in 2015. Among the races:
• four seats on Middletown Borough Council, including two in the First Ward, two in the Third Ward and one in the Second Ward.
• five seats on Royalton Borough Council
• three seats on the Lower Swatara Twp. Board of Commissioners
• five seats on the Middletown Area School Board
• two seats on the Londonderry Twp. Board of Supervisors
• four seats on Highspire Borough Council
• five seats on the Lower Dauphin School Board, including two seats representing Londonderry Twp. and Conewago Twp.
• five seats on the Steelton-Highspire School Board
• four seats on Steelton Borough Council
• Dauphin County courthouse row offices, including district attorney and sheriff.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 21:34
State Rep. John Payne was appointed as the majority chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee – his first committee chairmanship in his six terms in office – on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
Speaker Mike Turzai made the appointment as the House reconvened for its 2015-16 session.
The committee oversees slot machine gaming, bingo, small games of chance, amusement laws and table games in the state.
Payne represents the 106th District, which includes Middletown, Royalton, Lower Swatara Twp., Hummelstown, Derry Twp., Conewago Twp. and part of Swatara Twp.
Turzai also appointed Rep. Dave Hickernell as the majority chairman of the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee. Hickernell’s 98th District includes Londonderry Twp.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 21:16