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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 10/17/18

Cruel-tide greeting: Flood wipes out borough’s Christmas decorations

Tropical Storm Lee was the Grinch who stole Christmas from Hoffer Park.

His torrential rains bloated the Swatara Creek to …

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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, edition of the Press & Journal

Posted

Cruel-tide greeting: Flood wipes out borough’s Christmas decorations

Tropical Storm Lee was the Grinch who stole Christmas from Hoffer Park.

His torrential rains bloated the Swatara Creek to record heights, flooding the park’s nearby storage shed where Middletown kept thousands of dollars worth of Christmas decorations for its annual visit from Santa Claus. The water nearly reached the roof, soaking an estimated $30,000 worth of wreaths, bows, animated figures and strings of colored lights that transformed the park into Santa’s kingdom.

Things that sparkled and twinkled and glowed with holiday glee were covered in muck. Even Santa’s chair, a recliner-throne in a red velveteen-ish cover, was destroyed, thrown on a pile of ruined holiday cheer at the park to await an inspection from an insurance adjuster.

No one knew how much money the borough insurer would give Middletown for its yucky yuletide decorations. Or when the money would come.

No Christmas in Hoffer Park? It seemed that way.

But Borough Council has saved Santaland. Council voted 5-0 at a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4 to spend up to $6,000 on new Christmas decorations – a fraction of what was lost, but a start, borough officials say – so St. Nick can listen to the wish lists of local children in at least a bit of holiday style.

You’d better not cry, because Santa Claus is indeed coming to town. About 1,000 kids and their families visited Santa at Hoffer Park last year, a turnout so large that councilors were moved to buy new decorations in case an insurance check didn’t arrive in enough time.

It would have been unthinkable to lose Christmas in the park this year, after all Middletown has been through with the devastating flood, said Council President Mary Hiester.

“We need to keep some sort of normalcy for residents in the community,’’ said Hiester.

Council had considered spending half the $6,000 on seasonal decorations for autumn – the town’s fall decorations also were destroyed in the flood – but chose to spend the entire sum solely on Christmas decorations.

Each Christmas, Hoffer Park would be covered in holiday splendor. Colored lights hung on trees and bushes. Figures of Santa and his reindeer rode a small, mechanical merry-go-round. The man himself held court in a shelter decorated with the photos of Middletown kids sitting on his lap.

“I think there are a lot of people who just drive through it,’’ said Councilor Barbara Arnold, one of the five councilors who agreed to buy new decorations.

Councilor Diana McGlone offered to donate her small monthly council salary for the rest of 2011 for new decorations.

Some were donated by Middletowners over the years.

Exelon to replace 96 warning sirens at TMI with louder devices

Exelon Nuclear will spend more than $9 million to replace warning sirens at its nuclear plants in the mid-Atlantic region, including Three Mile Island.

Replacement of 96 sirens surrounding TMI has already begun and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012, said Ralph DeSantis, spokesman for TMI.

A total 400 sirens will be replaced at TMI, Limerick Generating Station near Philadelphia, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in York County, and Oyster Creek Generating Station in New Jersey, officials said.

The new devices come with a built-in backup battery that will allow them to work in a power outage, an improvement over the existing sirens which have been in place since the mid-1980s, he said.

“The new sirens with battery backup will add an additional layer of confidence to our emergency preparedness system,” said Glen Chick, TMI site vice president.

Football Raiders falter in second half

Six weeks into the current fall season, the Blue Raiders continue to be a work in progress.

Once again, a great first-half effort fell by the wayside as another top opponent ran away in the second half to record a lopsided victory.

After standing up to unbeaten Palmyra and trailing by just a touchdown in a hard-fought first 24 minutes of the Mid-Penn Capital Division clash, Middletown’s upset plans were dashed as the visiting Cougars powered their way to a 47-14 win at War Memorial Field on Friday. The loss dropped the Raiders’ record to 2-4 on the year with four games remaining in the regular season.

Outmanned and outsized up front, the Raiders were crushed by the impressive running of power back Preston Bare who tore up the defense with more than 300 yards. Running behind a big, agile and talented offensive line that included tackles Nate Greene (295) and K.J. Williams (260), and guard Jon Hicks (235), Bare found plenty of openings to blast through despite the efforts of the Middletown defenders, whose biggest starting lineman weighs in at 240 pounds.

In the early minutes of the game, played on a beautiful night for football, it appeared as if the Cougars were on their way to an easy romp after scoring two touchdowns in the first six and a half minutes for a 14-0 lead.

An interception by Nick Slobozien on Middletown’s third offensive play of the game set up the first Palmyra score, a 21-yard touchdown run by Bare at the 7:34 mark. Following a three-and-out by the Raiders, Bare scored again on an 8-yard run with 5:25 left in the opening quarter to make it a 14-0 game.

Later in the period on another Palmyra drive that started in the first quarter and carried into the second, the Middletown defense, aided by a pair of holding calls, forced a Cougar punt. But the Raiders went backward and Mel Fager was forced to punt.

Getting the ball at the Middletown 28 gave the Cougars another opportunity to put more points on the board. But the Raider defense had other ideas. Two big stops by Tony Venneri and pressure on quarterback Mason Laudermilch by Louis Hile on third down brought up a fourth and 10. One play later Jeremy Bailes picked off a Laudermilch pass at the 31 and raced untouched 69 yards for a Middletown touchdown with 7:48 left in the first half. Colton Whitner’s kick made it a 14-7 game and the Blue Raiders were right back in it.

The Middletown defense made two more stands to keep the score unchanged at the halftime intermission. But the Raiders’ uplifted spirits were doused at the outset of the second half when Palmyra’s Andrew Latchford ran back the opening kickoff 95 yards to start the second half onslaught. That key play, coupled with a Cougar interception of Jared Truesdale’s pass attempt on Middletown’s next possession and Bare’s third touchdown of the game, gave the visitors a 27-7 lead with 7 minutes left in the third quarter.

Another Middletown turnover, a fumble recovered by Latchford, set up Palmyra’s third touchdown of the period, a 4-yard run by Dom Faiola at the 2:22 mark. And, to make matters worse, the Cougars added a 1-yard diving TD in the final minute. The Blue Raiders generated some offensive momentum, however, on their ensuing possession.

Starting at their own 34, the Middletown offense moved to the Palmyra 49 on runs by Chris Holloman and Nick Garman as the third period expired. Holloman’s 17-yard dash to start the fourth quarter was followed by solid running by Garman and Josh Matinchek that set up Matinchek’s 4-yard touchdown run with 7:47 left in the game. After Whitner added the PAT, however, the Cougars’ John Binner returned the following kickoff to the Middletown 26 and Palmyra scored again with 4:30 left to nail down the win. A final drive by the Raiders ran out of time at the Palmyra 10.

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