Harrisburg Neighborhood Safety Zone Program Nabs 16 Guns, Cites Over 150 Code Violations

HARRISBURG — Police confiscated a gun, wrote nine traffic tickets and issued 100 citations for property code violations during the third phase of the capital city’s Neighborhood Safe Zone initiative.

The eight-day crackdown on crime targeted North Sixth Street between Radnor and Woodbine streets, and along North Fourth Street from Radnor to Jefferson streets, Mayor Linda Thompson said.

Thompson spoke during a news conference Tuesday to provide an update on the NSZ program launched two months ago.

Modeled after initiatives in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the program increases enforcement in specific areas for a brief duration: police crack down on crime, then code enforcement officers survey properties for violations — resulting in everything from littering citations to deeming structures unfit for human habitation — and illegal dumping.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/04/harrisburg_neighborhood_safety.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Will Dauphin County Create The State’s First Land Bank To Fight Blight?

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

The Dauphin County Commissioners will begin discussing legislation Wednesday to become the first municipality in the state to create a land bank authority to clean up vacant and blighted properties.

A land bank allows a government agency — in this case as part of the Dauphin County Redevelopment Authority — to acquire properties that are abandoned, run down and whose owners are delinquent on property tax payments.  The land bank could then rehabilitate the property and resell it or demolish the building for some kind of green space.

Land banks have been used to revitalize communities in Michigan, the Cleveland area and around Atlanta, among other places.  In year, Gov. Tom Corbett signed the Land Bank Act, hoping that municipalities here would have similar success.  City councils in Reading and Philadelphia have discussed creating land banks, as have several counties, but so far none have.

The county commissioners will discuss the measure at their weekly 10 a.m. meeting, and are expected to hold a vote next week.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/04/will_dauphin_county_create_the.html#incart_river_default

Pennsylvania State Police Suspend Breath Tests For DUI Suspects

Pennsylvania State Police have temporarily stopped using breath alcohol testing for DUI suspects in the wake of a court decision that calls the devices’ accuracy into question.

The suspension, which took effect Jan. 9, is a precaution pending the outcome of an appeal in the case, state police spokesman Adam Reed said.  In the meantime, state police will require DUI suspects to undergo blood testing, Reed said.

Dauphin County Judge Lawrence Clark dismissed DUI charges against 20 motorists after an attorney challenged the procedures used to calibrate breath alcohol testing machines used by the state police.

Clark wrote in his Jan. 31 decision that the failure of a manufacturer to use an independent laboratory in the initial calibration of the machines raised serious questions about the accuracy of their results, rendering them inadmissible as evidence in court.

Read morel:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-pa-dui-breath-test-suspended-20130131,0,408270.story

Sunday Is Rare Opportunity To Drive Through Wilderness Near Harrisburg

It’s not often that Lancaster countians are offered the opportunity to drive through a wilderness area surrounded by wildlife, steep mountains and autumn colors only an hour away.

And for two of the last three years bad weather has washed out the popular one-day-a-year, self-guided driving tour on an old railroad bed through the haunting and beautiful Stony Creek Valley, a mere 16 miles north of Harrisburg.

But repairs have been made and unless another freakish storm blows through, the best Sunday drive around will take place on State Game Lands 211 in Dauphin and Lebanon counties on Sunday.

For one day only, the Pennsylvania Game Commission opens its gates to public vehicles, allowing the public a one-way leisurely drive for 17 miles through the heart of this heavily wooded narrow valley that traces lovely Stony Creek.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/753046_Sunday-is-rare-opportunity-to-drive-through-wilderness-near-Harrisburg.html#ixzz28qaRI3IV

Farm Aid Sets The Stage In Central Pennsyvlania

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

For just over a quarter-century, Farm Aid has used pop music to try to help fix some of the problems in American agriculture: the disappearance of family farms, the corporatization of food, and the widening gap between producers and consumers.

The nonprofit organization will bring its annual fundraising concert to Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, to once again share its message in a very public way. Performers will include founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, as well as Dave Matthews, Animal Liberation Orchestra, Kenny Chesney, Jack Johnson, Pegi Young & the Survivors, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.

The show came to Pittsburgh in 2002, and organizers say they are excited to be bringing it back to Pennsylvania.

“We looked at Hershey before,” said Carolyn Mugar, Farm Aid’s executive director. “It’s right in the middle of some the best farm country in the region, and the size is perfect. We’re going to change out all the concessions to be homegrown and regional, and it is really going to feel like the venue is ours that day.”

Harrisburg Shootings Lead To Street Barricade, Shaken Residents

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

Hours after Harrisburg police barricaded an uptown street for safety, shots rang out throughout the city’s crime-ridden Allison Hill early Saturday, wounding at least two men and leaving residents shaken.

Residents, some awakened by volleys of bullets, found the sound of gunfire all too familiar.

Gunshot victims bled on the streets, one on South 14th and one on Brookwood.

Police cars, their lights flashing “like Christmas trees” as one resident described it, descended on the neighborhoods.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/08/harrisburg_shootings_lead_to_s.html

Harrisburg International Airport To Begin Offering Nonstop Flights To Denver

English: Harrisburg International Airport Penn...

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Harrisburg International Airport has used a new tool to arrange nonstop service to a new destination.

The airport will offer nonstop flights to Denver, Colo., starting May 22, it announced Thursday.

The service, provided by Frontier Airlines, will be offered Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays through Sept. 9 on a 138-seat Airbus 319 aircraft.

That’s the farthest west that nonstop service ever has been provided out of Harrisburg, airport spokesman Scott Miller said.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/584605_Harrisburg-International-Airport-to-offer-nonstop-flights-to-Denver.html#ixzz1m6DLq2GX

Harrisburg City Council Adopts 2012 Budget With 16 Percent Tax Hike

Harrisburg City Council tonight adopted a $54.3 million 2012 budget that includes a 16 percent real estate tax hike for homeowners.

The increase will tack on $50 to $100 in real estate taxes for most property owners.  A person whose property is assessed at $50,000 would pay $40 more annually in property taxes.  Property owners with houses valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $80 in taxes per year.

Council’s budget cuts spending by $1.2 million compared to the $55.5 million plan Mayor Linda Thompson introduced last month. Thompson’s proposal also included a 16 percent tax hike.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/12/harrisburg_city_council_adopts.html

Harrisburg Receiver Granted Extension To Develop Financial Plan

English: Recreation of the flag of the city of...

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The newly appointed state receiver for Harrisburg, David Unkovic has been given an extension by Commonwealth Court to develop a plan to bring Harrisburg back from the brink of financial ruin.  The Harrisburg Authority’s failed retrofit of the city’s incinerator plunged the state capital $317 million dollars in debt. 

Harrisburg entered Act 47 as a first step to recovery.  The Harrisburg City Council and Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson have been at odds with the Act 47 team and each other.  Failure to follow the Act 47 team’s suggestions or come up with their own plan, the Governor of Pennsylvania appointed a receiver to take control of the city’s finances and come up with a plan to untangle Harrisburg from the incinerator debt.

The deadline has been extended from January 2nd until February 6th.  We applaud the wisdom of this decision.  Allowing sufficient time for the receiver to formulate the best possible plan is a “no-brainer”.  Harrisburg didn’t get into this situation over night and rushing to get out could make things worse.

Harrisburg International Airport Poised To Escape Next Round Of Air Service Cuts

Harrisburg International Airport (HIA) is doing well and traffic is up. With the price of fuel, many airlines are looking at the cost-effectiveness of their 50 passenger regional jet fleets.  With todays fuel prices it has become more cost-effective to fly larger planes.  Fortunately, HIA is equipped to handle larger planes.

There are 1.8 million people within an hour of HIA which makes this a sizable market.  Because of this, many carriers flying into the HIA will simply start using larger planes. 

Delta has seen at 50 percent increase in traffic on their DFW to HIA route due to the Marcellus Shale gas industry.  Harrisburg is the hub of Pennsylvania’s state government and home to large companies like Hershey, which use air travel for business.

Airport officials are stating American Airlines bankruptcy filing will not impact travelers flying out of HIA.  What American Airlines decides to do with its regional airlines will determine what the future holds for HIA, not the bankruptcy filing.

Smaller market airport like State College and Venango Regional will most likely be under scrutiny by airlines as they decide whether flying from these locations remains cost-effective.  Can these smaller markets generate enough passengers to fill 70 – 100 seat planes?  Time will tell.

28th Annual Pennsylvania Christmas Craft and Gift Show Starts December 1st!

If you want to shop till you drop then look no further than the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.  The 28th Annual Pennsylvania Christmas Craft and Gift Show has HUNDREDS of vendors with merchandise for every taste and budget!

In addition to shopping, there is food, entertainment, a 120-foot train display, gingerbread house building and visits with Santa for the kids!

OMG you say!  Tell me more!

WHEN: 10am – 8pm Dec. 1 & Dec. 2  

9am – 8pm Dec. 3  

10am – 5pm Dec. 4

WHERE: Farm Show Complex, 2300 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg

COST: $7, $6 seniors

INFO: (717) 233-5100 or www.pachristmasshow.com

Harrisburg Under Control Of State Appointed Receiver

David Unkovic, most recently chief counsel of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, was named by Gov. Tom Corbett to lead Harrisburg quickly out of financial distress. He will be assisted by the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge.

At a press conference, Unkovic deflected concerns about his past, including 23 years at the firm of Saul Ewing, which represents Assured Guaranty, the largest insurer of Harrisburg incinerator bonds.  He’s also worked for other firms that have ties to the incinerator debacle, including Public Finance Management and RBC Capital Markets…

Read the rest of the story… http://www.theburgnews.com/Index.html

Pennsylvania Fall Foliage News

Click on the link below if you are looking for information about fall foliage viewing in Central Pennsylvania:

http://www.wgal.com/news/29397588/detail.html

Dauphin County Damage From Tropical Storm Lee Tops $150 Million

The latest damage estimate from Tropical Storm Lee has topped $150 million in Dauphin County!

  • 294 homes and businesses were destroyed
  • 1,039 structures sustained major damage
  • 1,265 structures had minor damage
  • Over $800,000 worth of crops were also destroyed

Thomas Hylton Tells Derry Township How To Be All They Can Be

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Image via Wikipedia

From the Derry Township website:

Speaker to Kick-Off the Review of the Comprehensive Plan

Pulitzer Prize winning author of Save Our Land, Save Our Towns and Smart Growth leader, Tom Hylton, will kick-off the Township’s Comprehensive Plan survey, Your Vision for Derry Township, on Monday, September 12, at 7 p.m., at the Hershey Public Library. (The survey will be available online at www.derrytownship.org in late August.)

Hylton won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles he wrote about Smarth Growth issues in Eastern Pennsylvania.  He also authored and produced a documentary that showed on WITF.  He will discuss Smart Growth, Walk to School Programs, and how to make a community the best that it can be.  (Because it has worked so well in Pottstown)

The September 12th event is free and open to the public.  However, seating is limited. To reserve a seat, email SandyBallard@derrytownship.org and she will mark a seat(s) with your name on it until 6:45 PM and notify you via email if the event needs to be moved to a larger location.

Visit saveourlandsaveourtowns.org for more information on Tom Hylton.  Funding for the presentation is being provided through a Dauphin County grant. (Money for glossy mailers in November)

All I can say to the nice folks in Derry Township is, before you go getting all in a lather, come to Pottstown and see Mr. Hylton’s handiwork first-hand.

Harrisburg City Council Rejects Act 47 Plan And Mayor’s Plan – State Takeover Likely

Harrisburg City Council rejected the Act 47 plan, and now they have rejected Mayor Linda Thompson’s plan one last time.  Critics say the mayor’s plan is basically the same plan as presented by the Act 47 team.

Rejecting the mayoral plan means the original plan will end up being enforced by the Commonwealth.  Council is delaying the inevitable.  However, denying the plan gives naysayers the ability to distance themselves from the plan should it go badly.  This amounts to a CYA move for the no votes on council and the ability to come back and say “I told you so!” later.

Governor Corbett says he will sign legislation to appoint an oversight board to enforce the state recommended financial recovery plan.  Harrisburg is $310 million dollars in debt from a failed retrofit of the city’s incinerator.

First Estimates In – Dauphin County Damage Total From Lee

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Image via Wikipedia

The first official guesstimate of how much damage Tropical Storm Lee caused Dauphin County is in – and it is a large figure.  Not as large as the incinerator debt, but daunting nonetheless.

The magic number is $52.7 million worth of damage to commercial and residential properties in the county.  That is just one county out of MANY.  This storm will be very costly!

Harrisburg officials say they will need 60 days to come up with a number on how much they spent and the amount the city will be seeking in reimbursement from FEMA.

In other news, the National Guard will be pumping out basements in Shipoke since the city says it does not have the expertise or the manpower to do so.

Embattled Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson Threatening River Gawkers With Arrest

Harrisburg Mayor, Linda Thompson is threatening to arrest and fine gawkers who wander down to Front Street to take pictures and check out the Susquehanna River.  10,000 city residents from Front to Third Street are being evacuated and the mayor wants people to stay away from the river.

There are plenty of pictures online that you can check out here: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/09/curiosity_causes_people_to_hea.html

Pennsylvania Turnpike Closed Between Harrisburg East And Reading Interchanges

Pennsylvania Turnpike Bristol/New Jersey Exten...

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The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has closed a 39-mile section of the toll road due to a bridge in Dauphin County being threatened by rising flood waters from the Swatara Creek.

To find out the suggested detour routes, click here: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/09/pennsylvania_turnpike_closes_a.html

Harrisburg Under State of Emergency – Susquehanna To Crest At 26.2 Feet

Unlike Wilkes-Barre, Harrisburg has no dike system in place.  The Susquehanna River is projected to crest at 26.2 feet or 9.2 feet above flood stage.  This will involve the evacuation of residential sections of the city (Shipoke, Front, Second, Green and Vaughn Streets).

Along with the City of Harrisburg, the Dauphin County Commissioners have declared a state of emergency.