Written by Dan Miller
Now that Middletown Borough Council has decided to keep the borough’s Human Relations Commission, the question becomes: What to do with it?
Council voted 6-2 on Monday, Sept. 15 against a proposal pushed by President Christopher McNamara to do away with the commission, which has been defunct for decades.
McNamara had floated the idea on the advice of borough Solicitor Adam Santucci. According to McNamara, Santucci said the local commission not only was defunct but also was no longer needed due to the existence of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunties Commission.
Council’s discussion of the issue before its vote was basically a rehashing of the debate that occurred on Tuesday, Sept. 2, when council voted 5-3 to publicly advertise an ordinance to eliminate the commission.
McNamara said that the commission’s current purpose is nothing more than to receive complaints and, if the complaints have substance, refer them to the state HRC.
However, the commission has had no members for many years. Nor has the borough spent any money on the commission for many years, because there was nothing to spend any money on, according to borough spokesman Chris Courogen.
But Mayor James H. Curry III asserted that the commission is needed now more than ever because of the large influx of new Penn State Harrisburg students – in particular, the many students coming here from countries all over the globe.
Curry also dismissed as “bogus” the argument that a local commission is not needed because of the existence of state and federal agencies.
If that’s the case, “then you shouldn’t have a local government” at all, Curry said.
Councilor Anne Einhorn lent support, saying that even with state and federal agencies this is a service that should be “personalized for people” by having a local commission. Having a local commission would strengthen the borough’s relationship to the community, she said.
Councilor Thomas Handley said he has heard from many residents who do not want to see the commission go away.
“We are here to represent their will,” Handley said.
Councilors Einhorn, Handley, John Brubaker, Suzanne Sullivan, Ben Kapenstein and Victoria Malone all voted against scrapping the commission. McNamara and council Vice President Robert Louer dissented. Councilor Scott Sites was absent from the meeting.
Afterward, Handley told The Press and Journal that the concerns he heard from residents did not point toward any particular kind of problem or issue of discrimination in Middletown. It was more a case of residents wanting some place “local” to go with a complaint instead of having to go to a state or federal agency.
Handley hopes that the council can now take another look at the commission – and what is to be done with it.
“I think it needs to be reorganized … resurrected,” Handley said. “It should be revisited as far as the scope of their duties, and we will take it from there.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 20:03
Written by Noelle Barrett
Dressed in pink from head to toe, a yellow sash draped over her shoulder, Polly Shepler Barlow felt like royalty as she waved to a crowd of adults and smiling children from a black Mercedes.
There was a lot to take in. The last time she rode down Highspire’s Second Street during a parade was 1964. Fifty years ago, she was named the Sesquicentennial Queen, and had a crown encrusted with shiny diamonds to prove it.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 17:48
Written by Jim Lewis
If your image of a champion of legalized marijuana is the stereotypical scruffy, stoned pothead, you may be surprised to know that the leader of an effort to legalize medical cannabis in Pennsylvania is a buttoned-down Republican senator, a graduate of an evangelical Christian college in Indiana who represents a mostly-conservative district in the central part of the state.
Mike Folmer is not only a senator, but a cancer survivor, and he believes medical cannabis provides some relief to people suffering from cancer, HIV and extreme seizure disorders, among other things. Last spring, he co-sponsored a failed bill, which he called the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act,’’ during the state Legislature’s previous session.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 21:38
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the new Rutter’s convenience store on Vine Street in Londonderry Twp. on Thursday, Sept. 4.
Scott Hartman, CEO of Rutter’s Farm Stores, a chain of convenience stores, cut the ribbon in front of the new business.
The new store offers gas, a deli and free WiFi.
Rutter's donated money to three local causes as part of the store's debut ceremony.
The chain donated $1,000 to the Middletown Area Blue and Gold Club, $1,000 to the Lower Dauphin Falcon Foundation and $1,000 to the the Londonderry Fire Company.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 21:28
Written by Dan Miller
During the same meeting that a consultant said Middletown must do a better job of reaching out to Penn State Harrisburg students, Middletown Borough Council voted 5-3 to advertise an ordinance that would abolish the town’s dormant Human Relations Commission.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 21:19