Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

March News Digest

Primary Field Set

This year’s municipal primary looks to be a hot one in Harrisburg, as Democratic voters face a crowded field for both City Council and school board.

Last month was the deadline for handing in nomination petitions, and numerous candidates filed, according to the Dauphin County Bureau of Elections & Voter Registration.

For council, three, four-year seats are up for grabs.

Three sitting council members have turned in nomination petitions: Danielle Bowers, Dave Madsen and Westburn Majors. This is the first contested race for Bowers, who was appointed last year to fill an open seat following the departure of former Councilman Cornelius Johnson.

The Democratic incumbents will face three challengers in the primary: Christina Kostelecky of Midtown, Brianna Smith of Midtown and Dionna Reeves of North Allison Hill.

No Republican candidates filed to run for council.

In the very crowded primary race for Harrisburg school board, 12 Democratic candidates will vie for five, four-year seats. These include current school board directors Lionel Gonzalez, Lola Lawson, Ellis R. Roy and Patricia Whitehead-Myers, and eight challengers: Jayne Buchwach, Lewis Butts Jr., Ralph Rodriguez, James Thompson, Doug Thompson Leader, Gerald Welch, Cory X. Williams and Steven Williams.

No one filed to run in the Republican primary.

In the only other city race, incumbent Treasurer Dan Miller is seeking re-election for a four-year term. He is unchallenged in the Democratic primary, and no candidate filed to run in the Republican primary.

On the county level, incumbent commissioners Jeff Haste and Mike Pries are running for re-election unopposed in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, incumbent George Hartwick and challengers Diane Bowman and Tom Connolly are vying for the two Democratic slots.

For other county offices, none of the Republican incumbents have competition in the primary: District Attorney Fran Chardo, Sheriff Nick Chimienti, Clerk of Courts Dale Klein, Recorder of Deeds Jim Zugay, Treasurer Janis Creason, Controller Timothy DeFoor and Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans’ Court Jean Marfizo King.

On the Democratic side, Cole Goodman has filed for Recorder of Deeds, Tim Butler is running for Treasurer, Brad Koplinski is running for Clerk of Courts and Bridget Whitley has filed for Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans’ Court. All are unopposed in the primary.

This list is regarded as preliminary pending possible challenges to nomination petitions, which sometimes knocks candidates off of the ballot.

The primary election is on May 21. The winners will continue on to the general election, which is Nov. 5.


HU Tower Gets Planning Approval

The Harrisburg Planning Commission last month gave its blessing to a new downtown high-rise for Harrisburg University, a building design that knocks another two floors off of the project.

The land development plan, approved unanimously by the commission, envisions a 17-story building totaling 386,200 square feet of space at the corner of Chestnut and S. 3rd streets.

“I think this is a very good project,” said commission Chairman Joe Alsberry, before casting his vote in favor.

Last year, HU floated a concept for a building exceeding 30 floors, which would have made it the tallest building in the city. Last fall, the height was cut back to 19 floors and now has been approved at 17.

With Planning Commission approval, the land development plan now must be approved by City Council before HU can break ground.

The building consists of three parts: an academic portion that would house mainly health sciences programs, a separately owned hotel and a restaurant. The university envisions a two-year construction period.

In its vote, the city Planning Commission approved the consolidation of the four parcels that make up the building site: 222 Chestnut St. and 24, 26 and 28 S. 3rd St. Currently, 222 Chestnut St., the largest parcel, is a surface parking lot, while the 3rd Street parcels all house 19th-century commercial buildings, which would be demolished during the site-clearing process.

HU’s attorney and architects, who attended the meeting, were satisfied with the approval, with one exception.

As a condition for approval, the city’s Planning Bureau suggested that HU make changes to the building façade so that it would have a more “consistent” design, with less visible concrete.

HU attorney Diane Tokarsky of McNees Wallace & Nurick pushed back hard on the suggestion that design changes were needed.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” she said. “There would be a significant cost to the university to begin redesigning the façade of the building.”

City Solicitor Neil Grover clarified that the city can’t force the university to change its design.

In the end, HU representatives said they’d willingly continue the conversation with the city, but within limits.

“We would be happy to have further dialogue,” Tokarsky said. “But we need finality. We’re not redesigning this building.”


Lead Paint Abatement Continues

Harrisburg is known for its historic homes, which often have such touches as wide moldings, pocket doors and ceiling medallions.

Sometimes, those houses have something else much less desirable—lead-based paint.

Therefore, the city government wants residents to know that it is seeking applicants for its 2019 lead paint remediation program, an effort aimed at lower- and moderate-income owners and renters.

“It’s not just homeowners,” said Franchon Beeks, program manager and interim director of the city’s Department of Building and Housing Development. “We need more tenants and landlords to be aware of the program.”

The program is open to city residents who meet certain conditions, including income requirements (50 to 80 percent of median family income) and having children in the household younger than 6 years old, since eating chipped, lead-based paint can result in learning disabilities and behavioral problems. In addition, the housing unit must have been built before 1978.

Beeks spoke last month during a Harrisburg City Council work session, offering council members a recent history of the program and a look at plans for 2019.

She told council that a federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “Lead Hazardous Reduction Demonstration” grant for $3.7 million had expired on Dec. 31. However, the city has received notice that the Pennsylvania Department of Health had approved a one-year, $986,245 grant, allowing the lead paint control and remediation program to continue through 2019.


Petition Drive for Charter School

A group denied permission to open a new public charter school has begun a petition drive to overturn the decision of the Harrisburg school board.

The board of the proposed PA STEAM Academy needs to gather valid signatures from 1,000 city residents, 18 years and older, to force the matter to the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas.

“The bottom line is—what’s in the best interest of the kids?” said Susan Kegerise, a former Susquehanna Township school district superintendent and now a member of the proposed charter school’s board. “We’re going to keep going because it’s in the best interest of the kids.”

PA STEAM Academy has until mid-April—60 days following the city school board’s unanimous denial of its charter application on Feb. 19—to gather the signatures for its appeal. If the court validates the petitions and issues a decree, the matter goes to the state Department of Education’s seven-member Charter School Appeal Board, which will make a final decision to affirm or overturn the school board’s decision.

To coordinate the petition drive, PA STEAM supporters have been gathering signatures during city festivals, on 3rd in the Burg nights, in Strawberry Square and at the Broad Street Market, among other places.

In the meantime, PA STEAM is still moving forward with a planned opening for the fall semester, said Carolyn Dumaresq, president of the charter school board and a former state secretary of education.

To do so, board members will need to hire a principal, six teachers and support staff, in addition to accepting the first round of students.

PA STEAM plans to open with 120 students, grades K-2, in Midtown 2 at N. 3rd and Reily streets in Harrisburg. The 115,000-square-foot building is currently occupied by HACC, but the college’s lease expires in 2022, and it is slated to begin moving programs out of the building later this year.

PA STEAM plans to expand on an annual basis, adding a grade level each year until it becomes a K-8 school. It also expects to grow horizontally, so that each grade level eventually would have 80 students.


Gaming Grants Announced

The Dauphin County commissioners last month allotted $6.4 million to some 60 projects in its annual disbursal of gaming funds.

Locally, Harrisburg city will receive $203,000 to upgrade its phone system and create an off-site backup storage facility for data such as crime, property, tax and codes information.

Elsewhere in Harrisburg, Hamilton Health Center will receive $115,000 to remove contaminated soil in an adjacent lot to prepare for a planned facility expansion.

“We’ve run out of exam room space, and we want to expand our medical and behavioral health services,” said Jeannine Peterson, Hamilton’s CEO.

Funding for the projects comes from the county’s share of gaming revenue generated from Hollywood Casino at Penn National in East Hanover Township.

The Dauphin County Gaming Advisory Board reviews project requests before sending its recommendations to the commissioners for approval. While 62 projects were funded, another 37 were denied funding.

Other notable projects in the immediate Harrisburg area that were funded include:

  • D&H Distributing for a new and expanded training center: $160,000
  • Tri-County HDC to help fund a $1.4 million project to build 12 townhomes on Adams Street in Steelton: $125,000
  • Steelton Borough for Phase 2 of the Skate Park and for fire department gear and equipment: $94,394
  • Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg for generator purchase: $70,000
  • The Salvation Army for security system installation: $53,000
  • Camp Curtin YMCA for an affordable housing construction project: $50,000
  • Dauphin County Library System for computer equipment: $50,000
  • Penbrook Borough for sewer interceptor replacement: $50,000
  • Harrisburg Scottish Rite Masonic Theatre for auditorium upgrades: $47,780
  • Cameron Street Boxing Club for facility renovation and equipment: $35,000
  • Breaking the Chainz Inc. for a van: $29,411
  • Harrisburg University for HUE Festival security services: $25,000
  • Theatre Harrisburg for seating and platforms purchase: $25,000
  • Stephens Episcopal School for safety and security improvements: $8,230

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


So Noted

Charlotte Katzenmoyer was selected last month as the new chief executive officer of Capital Region Water, the Harrisburg area’s water and sewer authority. Katzenmoyer previously served as the long-time director of public works for Lancaster city.

Darla Hoover last month was named artistic director of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, following the death of CPYB founder and Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary. Hoover previously served as associate artistic director.

Laura Hughes has been named executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross. Before joining the Red Cross, Hughes held roles with Spooky Nook Sports and The American Heart Association.

Ron Hetrick last month was appointed WITF’s new president and CEO, replacing Kathleen Pavelko, who has retired. A Harrisburg native, Hetrick joined WITF in 2000 and has served as senior vice president of finance and administration since 2015.

Michael Boyd Menswear will open this month at 2205 Market St., Camp Hill. The men’s clothing retailer operated for many years on N. 3rd Street in downtown Harrisburg before relocating.

Stephen M. Massini will take over as chief executive officer for Penn State Health, it was announced last month. Massini, the current executive vice president, will assume the position upon the retirement of current CEO A. Craig Hillemeier, who plans to step down in the summer.

Tiki T’s Mini Donuts and More is expected to open this month in the ground floor space at the Bogg on Cranberry, a newly renovated apartment building at N. 2nd and Cranberry streets in Harrisburg. Owner Will Horn said that he will offer branded coffee, bagels and waffles, in addition to his signature bags and buckets of miniature doughnuts.


In Memoriam

Marcia Dale Weary, the founder and long-time leader of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, died last month at age 82. Born in Carlisle, she founded the Marcia Dale School of Dance in 1955, which later became the nonprofit Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, now an internationally recognized school of classical ballet. To honor her legacy, donations may be made to the school. Visit

Changing Hands

Adrian St., 2474: M. Jones to H. Montoya & S. Flores, $60,000

Boas St., 1954: Family First Financial LLC to M. Brown, $51,500

Briggs St., 1927: Mosca Greene Associates to J. Fider, $55,000

Briggs St., 1931: Front Door Properties LLC to Equity Trust Co. Custodian Gary D. Brown IRA, $33,500

Crescent St., 249 & 306: C. Frater to PD Estate Properties LLC, $56,000

Cumberland St., 120: B. Kephart to Berlin Group LLC, $87,000

Green St., 916: Bricker Boys Partnership to J. Ehring, $95,000

Green St., 1701A: J. & V. Wills to M. Ton, $196,500

Green St., 1947: S. Roeder to J. Howett, $208,000

Greenwood St., 2111: CW Property Management LLC to J. Elias Holdings LLC, $30,000

Hudson St., 1219: B. Messick to R. & P. Michael, $106,000

Manada St., 1915 & 1917: W. & K. Nolt to PA Property Brothers LLC, $83,500

Market St., 2305: DND Enterprises to D. Jordan & A. Knee, $129,000

Muench St., 215: A. Barone to T. & S. Wisyanski, $130,000

Muench St., 216: WCI Partners LP to K. Boyce, $118,000

N. 2nd St., 805: W. Grace to B. Mummau, $165,000

N. 2nd St., 1715: G. Hitz to PA Deals LLC, $72,000

N. 2nd St., 1815: Pharma Enterprises LLC to M. Tenba, $97,000

N. 2nd St., 2143: R. Steele to A. Arnold Jr., $169,000

N. 2nd St., 2534: M. Tuck to A. Massaro, $165,000

N. 2nd St., 2827: J. Prosseda to J. Charles Realty LLC, $349,000

N. 3rd St., 1820: B. & R. Gordon to MMLM Realty & Ian Smith Contracting, Inc., $69.000

N. 3rd St., 1935 & 1932 Logan St.: D. Goodwin to K. & E. Hummel, $245,000

N. 3rd St., 2214 & 2214A: C. Frater to PD Estate Properties LLC, $104,000

N. 4th St., 3022: R. Birch to CNC Realty Group LLC, $123,750

N. 5th St., 3132: Willowscott Investments LLC to R. & D. Corrigan, $137,900

N. 6th St., 1000: A. Antoun to N&R Group LLC, $31,000

N. 12th St., 56: LMK Properties LLC to B. & L. Young, $30,000

N. Front St., 1525, Unit 611: K. Uhlmann to G. & J. Hellmann, $190,000

Paxton St., 1125, 1150, 1200, 1201, 728 S. 13th St., & 701 S. Cameron St.: Sutliff Enterprises Inc. to Last Enterprises LLC, $7,175,000

Penn St., 915: Penn St. LLC to J. Craig & F. Combs, $60,500

Penn St., 1626: D. Cinelli to H. & D. Brubaker, $139,900

Pennwood Rd., 3243: Consolidated Holdings International LLC to I Deal Cars Holdings LLC, $230,000

Race St., 560: G. & N. Glen to E. Stoltzfus, $108,000

Rolleston St., 1016: C. & R. Wilson to N. Barger, $51,500

Rumson Dr., 2987: G. Marshall to L. Payne, $70,000

Seneca St., 235: D. Ulloa to H. & B. Cook, $145,000

Showers St., 616: S. Clearfield to S. Rinato & M. Siegel, $125,000

S. 14th St., 1443: Harrisburg Housing Authority to City of Harrisburg, $50,000

S. 17th St., 315: N. Bhatti to 2566 Investment Group Inc., $42,000

S. Front St., 621: N. Rados to C. O’Donnell, $122,000

State St., 231, Unit 601: LUX 1 LP to R. Brooks, $184,900

Susquehanna St., 1408: W. Baker to Campus Square Partners, $290,000

Susquehanna St., 1418: W. & C. Baker to Campus Square Partners LP, $30,000

Susquehanna St., 1816: C. Harner to R9 Holdings LLC, $34,000

Susquehanna St., 2118: K. Scott to J. Elias Holdings LLC, $34,000

Swatara St., 2008: C. Woods to Y. Velazquez, $58,000


Harrisburg property sales for February 2019, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.

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