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Dauphin County gaming grants bring close to $1 million to area

Posted 4/17/19

By Dan Miller and Laura Hayes

danmiller@pressandjournal.com laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

Of $6.4 million in gaming grants awarded by Dauphin County commissioners on Feb. 27, close to $1 …

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Dauphin County gaming grants bring close to $1 million to area


By Dan Miller and Laura Hayes


Of $6.4 million in gaming grants awarded by Dauphin County commissioners on Feb. 27, close to $1 million is going to projects that directly benefit the greater Middletown area.

Commissioners each year announce projects to receive funding using proceeds derived from Dauphin County’s share of gaming revenue that is generated from the Hollywood Casino at Penn National in East Hanover Township.

Under state law, the county must use the grant funds for projects that help human services; improve local infrastructure such as water and sewer; enhance transportation; address health and safety needs, assist with emergency services, and further public interest objectives.

The projects to receive funding with a direct impact upon the greater Middletown area are as follows:

• $181,276 to Lower Swatara Township to reduce debt on township bridge replacement projects, and to update the township’s public sewer plan. Known as the Act 537 plan, the plan is 35 years old, said Lower Swatara Township Manager Betsy McBride. She believes the gaming grant will also go toward paying down township debt for replacing a bridge on Richardson Road in 2015. The township took out a $500,000 Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank loan over 10 years to pay for the project, township accountant Rebecca McClain told the Press & Journal.

• $150,000 to Londonderry Township toward replacing the Lauffer Road Bridge. Township engineer Andrew Kenworthy told the Board of Supervisors that this was the last critical bridge following a study of township bridges. Township Manager Steve Letavic said the original cost of the project was $702,000, but the township was able to offset $571,260 through the gaming grant and the Dauphin County Bridge Bundling program. “That is a great savings to our residents,” he said. Kenworthy said design would take place in 2019 and construction in 2020.

• $125,000 to Middletown Volunteer Fire Department toward the department replacing its pumper truck. The current pumper is from 2000 and is nearing the end of tis 20-year life expectancy. A new pumper costs between $650,000 to $700,000, according to borough Fire Chief Kenny Whitebread Jr.

• $125,000 for improvements at the Linden Centre shopping center at Route 230 and the airport connector in Lower Swatara Township. The gaming grant money is to go for curbing, paving, site utilities and stormwater work. This grant is also conditioned upon this award being “the last funding request for the project,” according to a Dauphin County press release. Linden Centre owner and developer James Nardo and Marisa Benjamin with Towne Retail (Nardo’s development company) did not provide further information.

• $120,000 to replace the irrigation system and to develop a new water source at the Dauphin Highlands golf course in Swatara Township just west of Lower Swatara Township. Dauphin County General Authority owns the golf course.

• $100,000 to purchase a mini-pumper for the Harrisburg International Airport fire department.

• $94,394 for two projects in Steelton. The borough fire department is to receive $64,394.43 for personal protective gear and mobile equipment and lighting. The remaining $30,000 is for phase two of a skate park.

• $25,000 to Harrisburg Rugby Football Club for design and construction of rugby fields with lights. The club is building the fields at Sunset Park in Londonderry Township. They broke ground in November with an estimated completion by spring 2020.

• $10,000 to Middletown Area Interfaith Housing toward continued renovation and improvements of the building at 17 S. Union St. that is owned by the Interfaith Housing Board. Proceeds that the board receives from lease of the building go toward support of the Middletown Communities That Care program, said Ellen Willenbecher, who is president of the Interfaith Housing Board. The building is occupied by Vintage Vault Gallery, which signed a one-year lease for the space in late summer of 2018. The board plans to do fundraising this year and, adding this money to the $10,000 received from the county, resume renovations of the building in the fall of 2019, Willenbecher said. The board plans to have discussions with the owner of Vintage Vault Gallery aimed at the gallery staying in the building during renovations and beyond the one-year lease. Improving the building will make it more marketable and, hopefully, increase the lease proceed contributions to Communities That Care. “It’s helping kids one brick at a time,” Willenbecher said of the initiative.

Besides these projects directly benefitting the greater Middletown area, the county also awarded a $160,000 gaming grant to D&H Distributing for the company to build an expanded training center at its new headquarters in Lower Paxton Township.

D&H wants to build two warehouses in the Jednota property in Lower Swatara Township. The gaming grant award is not related to the Lower Swatara project, D&H Distributing Co-President Dan Schwab told the Press & Journal in an email.