Harrisburg Schools To Furlough More Employees Yet Hires Cyber School Director

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Harrisburg School District announced 15, and possibly more, furloughs for non-teaching staff to help save up to $687,000 as part of its recovery plan — if the union contract isn’t approved.

“We’re not playing here,” Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno said Monday.  “This is about recovery — financial recovery.”

With tensions already high from recent teacher resignations and furlough notices, they further escalated when the School Board voted to hire a director for the district’s cyber charter school at an uncertain salary.

Veno said the next set of furloughed positions haven’t been announced.  As many as 20 positions with an average salary of $40,000 could be considered.  In July, the district furloughed custodians, library and health aides and maintenance workers,

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/harrisburg_school_district_to_2.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Some Residents Ready To Take A Stand After Rash Of Recent Shootings In Harrisburg

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than giving in to fear in the wake of eight shootings reported in the city since July 30, some Harrisburg residents are taking a stand against further bloodshed.

Rallying behind the city’s latest effort to combat crime, residents from all over the city will meet at the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg on Monday to discuss future cooperation between different neighborhoods to stop violence and keep the street clean.  At the center of the meeting is Bryan Wade, the city’s new Community Policing Coordinator.

“Harrisburg in general is very fragmented, you have a lot of good things going on, but in terms of information about neighborhood and community safety and what each group is up to, it’s very fractured,” Wade said of the current state of community groups.  “I’m hoping to bring some more cohesion and unity to the process.”

Since early April Wade has been reaching out to existing neighborhood watch groups like the Friends of Midtown and the 18th Street Neighborhood Watch to marshal interest in the meeting.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/some_residents_ready_to_take_a.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Harrisburg Parking Deal Would Preserve Local Control Through CREDC And Increase City Revenue, Sources Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Control of Harrisburg‘s parking garages will remain local, and annual revenues into the city’s coffers will increase millions over current figures under the terms of the long-term lease of parking assets being negotiated by the city’s state-appointed receiver, according to multiple sources close to the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak on the record.

Leasing the assets directly to an outside for-profit operation, as had originally been planned, raised concerns within the city that parking rates could increase out-of-control to boost profits while the assets themselves could languish and degrade in the hands of a company with no long-term interest in the welfare of the city.

What’s more, according to multiple sources, the on-going financial plight of Harrisburg and fluctuations in the bond market made private bond financing less attractive to the companies originally interested in such a deal.

Although the basic structure of the parking deal has been previously reported, new details are emerging.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/harrisburg_parking_deal_would.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Pending Sales Of ABC 27, CBS 21 Leave Uncertainty For Station Managers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The managers of ABC 27 and CBS 21 said Tuesday it was too early to tell what changes may be in store for both local television stations now that an agreement is in place that requires both to be sold.

“We don’t know much and it’s to be seen (what will happen),” said Joe Lewin, the general manager of ABC 27.  “We’re going to become part of the largest broadcasting group in the country. That’s what we know. That could be a very good thing.”

Lewin was referring to Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which on Mondayannounced a $985 million deal that includes the acquisition of seven ABC affiliates — including ABC 27 — and a 24-hour cable news network.  Those stations are being sold by Allbritton Communications.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/potential_changes_yet_to_be_se.html#incart_river_default

Former CBS 21 Reporter Kirk Wilson Confirms News Director’s Connection To Prostitution Sting

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kirk Wilson, former CBS 21 reporter, confirmed Saturday that the man who fired him in May from the news station and a man police arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitution are one and the same.

“That’s the face that fired me,” Wilson said in reference to a mug shot of David Baer issued by Swatara Township police.  Baer is the station’s news director, taking the job just about two months ago.

Wilson, the former Carlisle mayor, said he was also able to confirm that connection by talking to employees at the station.  He said they didn’t know any more about the case than what was issued in a Swatara Township police news release.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/former_cbs_21_reporter_kirk_wi.html

$3.8 Million Heroin Ring Busted After Operating In Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin Counties; 12 People Arrested

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in th...

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in the south central part of the of . Red denotes the Harrisburg-Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the Lebanon Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Harrisburg-Carlisle-Lebanon CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG – Twelve people, including nine from the midstate, were charged this morning in the distribution of more than $3.8 million worth of heroin in Cumberland, Dauphin and Franklin counties, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General‘s office.

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said the investigation focused on the alleged heroin trafficking activities of Sabriel “Pony” Rivera, 29, of Chambersburg.

According to the grand jury report, Rivera was a major source of heroin sold in the Harrisburg area; he allegedly purchased in Philadelphia and distributed through dealers in Dauphin, Cumberland and Franklin counties.

The investigation took place from December 2011 through January 2013, according to court records.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/state_agents_bust_38_million_h.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Force Of Tropical Storm Lee Still Felt As 69 Houses Face Demolition In Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost two years after Tropical Storm Lee, the cleanup continues as houses damaged by flooding along the swollen Swatara Creek and later bought by the federal government are being demolished.

During the past few weeks, local municipalities have hired contractors to remove the houses, purchased through the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s Hazard Mitigation Program.  Buyouts from FEMA were determined by the cost of rebuilding the house and future flood insurance claims.

At least 69 houses have been targeted for demolition, almost all of them on land near or adjacent to Swatara Creek.  The total cost is $8 million with the municipalities carrying 3 percent, or $250,000, of the cost.

But the long-term effects of the demolition will be bourn by the localities, as the properties slip from tax rolls and elected leaders are left wondering what to do with flood-prone vacant lots.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/tropical_storm_lee_fema_buyout.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Harrisburg Strains To Eliminate Condemned Buildings; Residents Simmer Over Fire Hazards, Nuisances

HARRISBURG–In the 2000 block of Susquehanna Street, routine home maintenance included pruning a neglected tree to eliminate a ladder animals used to enter the upper floors of two condemned homes in the middle of the row.

It included dealing with encroaching mold from the condemned homes’ soggy beams.  It included adding boards at his own expense to keep out squatters, a neighbor said.

Harrisburg has about 400 vacant buildings whose status is considered “emergency” due to hazards and eyesore they pose or criminal activity they attract.  The city expects to demolish 35-40 this year — the most it can do given budget constraints and staffing shortages, said Robert Philbin, the chief operating officer.

“All I can tell you is the city is doing the best it can do,” he said.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/harrisburg_strains_to_eliminat.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Firefighters investigating Back-To-Back Fires In Harrisburg As Possibly Related Arsons

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harrisburg resident Michael Bordner had just put his eldest daughter to bed in his home at 2042 Susquehanna Street when, just after midnight Monday morning, chaos erupted.

“I laid down at about midnight and then, at about 12:15, I heard all the alarms going off in my home,” he said.  “At the same time I heard my stepfather saying ‘Get [your daughter] grab the dog; we have to get out, there’s a fire!'”

Bordner’s stepfather, Tim Bucher, who was visiting the house Sunday night, had woken up only moments before when he noted a strange smell and bright light emanating from the row house next door at 2044 Susquehanna Street.

“I peeked out the third floor window because something didn’t smell right,” Bucher recalled, almost from a daze Monday morning as firefighters stomped up the ruined stairs to Bordner’s home.  “It didn’t smell like a fire, but when I looked out the window and looked down I saw flames coming up from the floor below.”

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/firefighters_investigating_bac.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Steel For I-81 Rebuild Sourced From Pennsylvania Steel Mills

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In about a month, the massive bridge beams being manufactured for the emergency Interstate 81 rebuild project will be coming from beam fabricator High Steel Structures in Lancaster.

The company’s manufacturing facility — one of three in that city and four in the state — stands in sharp contrast to the fallen production factories that dot parts of the rust belt as it loops through Pennsylvania.

The steel industry was once a giant in Pennsylvania, and not just in Pittsburgh, Johnstown or Bethlehem, cities whose names are synonymous with steel.

While many of the heavy industrial mills closed — and indeed, Bethlehem Steel ceased to exist in 2003 — steel manufacturing is still a part of the state’s industrial landscape.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/all_in_family_steel_for_i-81_r.html#incart_river_default

Harrisburg To Get A Record $5 Million For Fire Protection For Capitol Complex

Harrisburg will receive full compensation from the state for providing fire protection and emergency services to the 40 tax-exempt state buildings located in the Capitol complex in the 2013-14 state budget making its way through the General Assembly.

Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin County, applauded the funding that he along with state Rep. Patty Kim, D-Harrisburg, and Harrisburg’s city receiver Gen. William Lynch fought to get included in the $28.4 billion spending plan.

Despite that, Teplitz voted against the budget plan, which passed the Senate by a 33-17 vote. Democratic senators lambasted the plan for being too light on education and human service spending.

This amount going to Harrisburg exceeds the $2.5 million that Gov. Tom Corbett had proposed in his budget and what Teplitz called “the abysmal $496,000” in the House-passed budget.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/harrisburg_to_get_a_historic_5.html#incart_maj-story-1

Costs Associated With May 9 Tanker Truck Fire Increased To $13 Million

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has upped its estimate of the cost to repair damage caused by a May 9 tanker truck fire in Susquehanna Twp.

But, not by much.

District 8 spokesman Greg Penny said the original estimate was $10 million.

That has been increased to $12 million-$13 million.  The original estimate did not include reconstruction costs because it was not known at the time.

G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc., of York was the low bidder for the reconstruction at $3.3 million.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/costs_associated_with_may_9_ta.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Harrisburg Homicide Count Hits 11 For 2013

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man has been arrested and charged with homicide following a shooting that occurred late Saturday night near Dewberry and Blackberry streets in Harrisburg.

A city man in his 40s, whose name was not released as of 11 a.m. Sunday, allegedly shot the ex-husband of a woman with which he had been involved, Harrisburg police Capt. Annette Oates said.  The incident is classified as a domestic dispute.

The man who was shot, a 53-year-old city man whose name is not yet being released, died at the Harrisburg Hospital.  

Expanding Suburbia: Route 39 In West Hanover Township Primed To Grow Over Next Several Years

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s hard to miss the signs pointing to Route 39‘s future north of Hershey in West Hanover Township.

Some of them are quite large and aligned toward the road.

While the names are all different — High Associates, Brownstone, Landmark Commercial Reality, among them — the message is pretty standard: “Available.”

In West Hanover Township, Route 39, also known as Hershey Road, is open for business.

What used to be rural farmland and rolling green hills is once again quickly becoming dotted with new developments and “For Sale” signs as two lines of force converge along Route 39.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/expanding_suburbia_route_39_in.html#incart_river_default

Harrisburg Mall Assessment Plummets From Nearly $66.5M To Less Than $8M In Three Years

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A dramatic drop in the Harrisburg Mall‘s tax assessment means Dauphin County, a municipality and school district are collecting an estimated $838,164 a year less in revenue than they did in 2010.

The new value of the mall is $7.987 million — less than one-eighth of the nearly $66.5 million assessed in 2010 and less than half of its 2012 assessment of $17.65 million.

For Swatara Township, that lost revenue, in part, contributed to the township’s need to raise taxes in past years.

Central Dauphin School District remained aware of the property’s decreasing value and took that into consideration concerning its budget.  For Dauphin County, the most recent drop means the loss of less than one-half of a percent of the county’s annual budget.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/harrisburg_mall_assessment_dro.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Will A New Face In The Mayor’s Office Improve Harrisburg’s Image?

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note: YES!  We would like to see Eric Papenfuse win the November election.  It’s time to restore someone with business acumen to the office of the mayor in Harrisburg.  Eric is an excellent businessman and has been a leader in helping to revitalize Midtown Harrisburg.  Eric’s bookstore, Midtown Scholar, is one of the anchors of the new Midtown.

When major financial news organizations send reporters to a city the size of Harrisburg to cover the election for mayor, it usually means things haven’t been going well.

That was evidenced Tuesday night, as a Reuters news dispatch described Mayor Linda Thompson‘s defeat in the Democratic primary. The story began, “The embattled mayor of Pennsylvania’s financially crippled capital of Harrisburg was ousted on Tuesday…”

Embattled.  Financially crippled.  Harrisburg.

No matter who wins in November, the city’s next mayor must repair Harrisburg’s badly damaged brand, and that could be one of the most formidable aspects of the job.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/05/harrisburg_mayor_thompson_pape.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Have We Lost All Desire To Vote?

Editor’s note:  Apparently yes!

While other row offices were eliminated, Luzerne County’s home rule charter kept the controller to independently scrutinize its $260 million in spending, 1,400-plus workers and more than 50 departments providing services from tax assessment to 911 dispatch.

The public — not county employees or officials — pick the person who fills this $64,999 elected post for the next four years to be the fiscal watchdog.

Although an estimated 256,800 residents are eligible to vote on this decision, the number who narrowed down the controller finalists from four to two in Tuesday’s primaries was 31,000 — only 12 percent of the over-18 population.

“When you break it down and see the percentage of the population making the decision, that’s pretty troublesome,” said Barry Kauffman, executive director of the nonprofit citizen advocate group Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/539857/Have-we-lost-all-desire-to-vote

Area Truckers Not Troubled By I-81/Route 322 Shutdown After Tanker Fire

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just like Harrisburg area commuters, the local trucking industry is being inconvenienced by the shutdown of I-81 and Route 322, but it hasn’t been hamstrung by the subsequent delays.

Trucking executives say they’ve been able to comfortably plot new routes for their fleets of 18-wheelers around the area affected by Thursday’s explosive truck accident, and haven’t experienced anything more than a couple hours delay.

“It somewhat limits our ability to conduct business as usual,” said Jim Germak, president of Jagtrux in Marietta. “The gridlock in Harrisburg is something we have to deal with just like everybody else.  But it’s not a total panic.”

Germak, who oversees a fleet of 40 trucks that transport materials for a range of customers such as Armstrong ceiling tile in Lancaster, said his drivers suffer from the shutdown most during the day, and particularly during the morning and evening rush hours when traffic jams can extend truck trips up to two hours.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/05/area_truckers_not_troubled_by.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Road Repairs Could Take At Least Two Months After Tanker Fire On Interstate 81

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Damage from a fuel tanker explosion near the interchange of Interstate 81 and Route 22/322 will cost tens of millions and shut down a small section of road for two months or more, state officials said Thursday afternoon.

Earlier Thursday morning, a fuel tanker exploded and rolled over on the highway, causing what Gov. Tom Corbett believes is the worst damage to a Pennsylvania highway since a tire fire off I-95 near Philadelphia in 1996.

Both directions of I-81 from Route 581 in Cumberland County to I-81/83 split in Dauphin County are closed.  Officials said they expect it to reopen in time for the Monday morning commute.

The ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322 remains closed.  Eastbound Route 22 through the interchange toward the City of Harrisburg remains closed.

Read more and see pictures:   http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/05/harrisburg_bridges_shut_throug.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Violent Crime Wave Continues With 3 More Shootings, Robberies In Harrisburg

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Within hours of Harrisburg police’s first foot patrol to curb the city’s most recent wave of violent crime, police responded to three more shootings and several robberies.

As of Wednesday afternoon, police had arrested two male teenagers, a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old, as well as a 23-year-old man in connection with the crimes, and additional charges are likely as the investigation continues, city police Chief Pierre Ritter said.

Speaking from the site of the latest foot patrol in the Allison Hill neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, Ritter addressed the department’s need to keep up with criminals, who he said are quick to target areas far away from planned police enforcement zones.

“What we’re seeing happen is, when we make foot patrols in one area, these guys go to another area to commit crime,” Ritter said. “Criminals are becoming more and more mobile.”

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/05/post_562.html#incart_m-rpt-1