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Vectron plant in Mount Holly Springs to be sold to Microsemi

Vectron International, whose assets include a manufacturing facility in Mount Holly Springs, will be sold for $130 million in a deal announced Thursday.

Vectron’s parent company, the Knowles Corp., will sell Vectron to the Microsemi Corp. under an agreement that is expected to close in December, according to a release by Microsemi.

Microsemi had not responded as of press time to inquiries regarding any staffing or operational changes at Vectron’s Mount Holly Springs site.

Vectron is a major manufacturer of frequency control and sensor systems, according to its ownership. The company produces radio and electronic components used in precision communications and navigation devices.

"Microsemi is focused on building the industry's most comprehensive portfolio of high-value timing solutions," James J. Peterson, Microsemi's chairman and CEO, said in the release.

"Vectron's highly complementary technology suite expands our product offering with differentiated technology and allows Microsemi to sell more to its tier one customers in the aerospace and defense, communications and industrial markets while improving upon the operating performance of the combined model as we execute on significant synergy opportunities," Peterson said.

The Mount Holly Springs facility concentrates on building military and aerospace controls, according to Vectron’s website. The company’s headquarters is in New Hampshire, and it also owns two manufacturing facilities in Germany, as well as sales offices in China, Singapore and India.

Microsemi is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California, and has approximately 4,800 employees worldwide, according to the release.

What is now the Vectron plant was originally built by McCoy Electronics in 1952, according to The Sentinel’s archives. The company was one of several local manufacturers who pioneered the development of piezoelectric technology, using quartz crystals to build radio controls that would lead to the rapid development of electronics after WWII.

McCoy Electronics eventually became part of Oak Industries, which was acquired by Corning in 2000. Corning sold the site to Vectron in 2004 due to a downturn in the telecommunications market, according to Sentinel reports at the time.


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The Prosecution: DA oversight may reduce overcharging for Midstate police

Felony or misdemeanor?

Simple assault or aggravated assault?

The difference in charges may not seem that great, but can have large and lasting ramifications. In Pennsylvania, what charges get filed and who gets to make that initial decision varies from county to county.

All criminal charges in Cumberland County must be approved by the district attorney’s office before being filed.

“We’re 20-plus years into that here in Cumberland County, so there are a lot of people who have worked in the system who don’t know any different,” Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said.

In neighboring Franklin, Adams, Perry, Dauphin and York counties, the initial decision of what to charge is largely driven by police.

Dauphin County requires prosecutor's approval of some charges but not all, according to the Pennsylvania District Attorneys' Association.

“You want to have the appropriate charge charged,” Freed said. “You don’t want to be in a situation where I’m going to charge a million things so that I end up with one thing. You want to charge a case appropriately.”

Bringing a prosecutor into the initial charging decision may provide a buffer to overcharging, according an analysis of court records conducted by The Sentinel.

The Sentinel reviewed all criminal cases filed in Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Adams, York and Perry counties in 2016 and separated out all simple assaults and aggravated assaults.

One of the main differences between defining simple assault and aggravated assault is the severity of the injury to the victim.

For simple assault, the defining standard is causing or attempting to cause bodily injury. Aggravated assault requires causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury. However, what accounts for "serious" injury can be subjective.

Cumberland County featured the lowest ratio of charged aggravated assault to simple assault than any of the surrounding counties, according to The Sentinel’s analysis.

More than 88 percent of all charged assaults in the county in 2016 were deemed simple assault, the analysis found. That is roughly nine to 18 percentage points higher than all other counties.

“We have to make sure we are charging appropriately and not just charging agg so we can get the simple,” Freed said.

Fees

If defendants are being charged with felony aggravated assault in one county or misdemeanor simple assault in another for the same behavior, it can raise a host of costs for both the defendant and the county.

“(A case) can result in increased bail if it’s charged inappropriately high,” Freed said.

In 2016, the median bail for a person charged with simple assault, but not aggravated assault, in Cumberland County was $10,000, according to court records. Less than 7 percent of those defendants had bail set at more than $50,000. Nearly 40 percent were released without having to pay any bail, according to The Sentinel’s analysis.

Less than one quarter of all defendants charged with simple assault last year in Cumberland County were unable to post bail, court records show.

At the same time, the median bail for a person charged with aggravated assault in the county was $50,000, five times higher than the misdemeanor counterpart, according to The Sentinel analysis.

Nearly half of all these defendants were unable to post bail, The Sentinel found.

Any defendant who is unable to post bail is taken to their county jail or prison where they remain until they come up with the money, have their bail reduced or complete their case.

Sitting at only 54 percent of total capacity, Cumberland County Prison had the lowest utilization of the six counties examined, according to Measures for Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides county-level data on criminal justice systems.

Dauphin and Adams counties jails were both above 100 percent capacity. None of the other counties had jail capacity utilization below 80 percent, according to Measures for Justice.

Cumberland County also had the highest percentage of defendants released pretrial between 2009 and 2013, with roughly 85 percent of all defendants being released, according to Measures for Justice.

“At charging, we are making a probable cause determination,” Freed said. “It’s not beyond a reasonable doubt. … Do I have reasonable cause to show that someone tried to cause serious bodily injury?”

Charges

Freed said the determination and oversight at charging is not a guarantee the defendant will be convicted and does not necessarily mean charges will not be reduced as the case moves forward.

“I have probable cause to charge,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I have sufficient evidence to convict.”

However, Cumberland County also has the highest conviction rate of the six counties reviewed, according to Measures for Justice.

Nearly 87 percent of cases between 2009 and 2013 resulted in a conviction in Cumberland County. In Franklin County, that number was less than 73 percent, according to Measures for Justice.

“Reasonable minds can differ about what charges should be filed and what amount of charges should be filed,” Freed said. “Should you charge everything that can possibly be charged?

“I don’t have my head in the sand. I’m not going to sit here and say that doesn’t happen around the country,” he said. “That’s the policing every assistant district attorney has to do. That’s the policing every elected or appointed district attorney has to do. … You have to have that probable cause.”

This story was produced as a project for the 2017 John Jay/Measures for Justice fellowship.


Science Says: Jack Frost nipping at your nose ever later

WASHINGTON — Winter is coming ... later. And it’s leaving ever earlier.

Across the United States, the year’s first freeze has been arriving further and further into the calendar, according to more than a century of measurements from weather stations nationwide.

Scientists say it is yet another sign of the changing climate, and that it has good and bad consequences for the nation. There could be more fruits and vegetables — and also more allergies and pests.

“I’m happy about it,” said Karen Duncan of Streator, Illinois. Her flowers are in bloom because she’s had no frost this year yet, just as she had none last year at this time either. On the other hand, she said just last week it was too hot and buggy to go out — in late October, near Chicago.

The trend of ever later first freezes appears to have started around 1980, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data from 700 weather stations across the U.S. going back to 1895 compiled by Ken Kunkel, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

To look for nationwide trends, Kunkel compared the first freeze from each of the 700 stations to the station’s average for the 20th century. Some parts of the country experience earlier or later freezes every year, but on average freezes are coming later.

The average first freeze over the last 10 years, from 2007 to 2016, is a week later than the average from 1971 to 1980, which is before Kunkel said the trend became noticeable.

This year, about 40 percent of the Lower 48 states have had a freeze as of Oct. 23, compared to 65 percent in a normal year, according to Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private service Weather Underground.

Duncan’s flowers should be dead by now. According to data from the weather station near her in Ottawa, Illinois, the average first freeze for the 20th century was Oct. 15. The normal from 1981 to 2010 based on NOAA computer simulations was Oct. 19. Since 2010, the average first freeze is on Oct. 26. Last year, the first freeze in Ottawa came on Nov. 12.

Last year was “way off the charts” nationwide, Kunkel said. The average first freeze was two weeks later than the 20th century average, and the last frost of spring was nine days earlier than normal.

Overall the United States freeze season of 2016 was more than a month shorter than the freeze season of 1916. It was most extreme in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon’s freeze season was 61 days — two months — shorter than normal.

Global warming has helped push the first frosts later, Kunkel and other scientists said. Also at play, though, are natural short-term changes in air circulation patterns — but they too may be influenced by man-made climate change, they said.

This shrinking freeze season is what climate scientists have long predicted, said University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Jason Furtado.

A shorter freeze season means a longer growing season and less money spent on heat. But it also hurts some plants that require a certain amount of chill, such as Georgia peaches, said Theresa Crimmins, a University of Arizona ecologist. Crimmins is assistant director of the National Phenology Network . Phenology is the study of the seasons and how plants and animals adapt to timing changes.

Pests that attack trees and spread disease aren’t being killed off as early as they normally would be, Crimmins said.

In New England, many trees aren’t changing colors as vibrantly as they normally do or used to because some take cues for when to turn from temperature, said Boston University biology professor Richard Primack.

Clusters of late-emerging monarch butterflies are being found far further north than normal for this time of year, and are unlikely to survive their migration to Mexico.

Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said natural variability, especially an El Nino, made last year exceptional for an early freeze, but “it represents the kind of conditions that will be more routine in a decade or two” because of man-made climate change.

“The long-term consequences are really negative,” said Primack, because shorter winters and hotter temperatures are also expected to lead to rising seas that cause worse flooding during heavy storms.

In suburban Boston, Primack and his wife are still eating lettuce, tomatoes and green beans from their garden. And they are getting fresh figs off their backyard tree almost daily.

“These fig trees should be asleep,” Primack said.


Cedar Cliff’s Alex Lanbtz is tacked by Mechanicsburg’s Will Hoover on a carry duringthe first quarter of their game on Friday night.


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South Middleton Township
Plan approved for State Police headquarters in South Middleton

A final land development plan for a new Pennsylvania State Police Carlisle headquarters in South Middleton Township was approved by township supervisors on Thursday night.

The headquarters will be built on a 4.73-acre lot on Dunwoody Drive just off Alexander Spring Road about a half mile away from the existing police barracks at 1538 Commerce Drive in the township. It will be midway between Exit 44/Allen Road and Exit 45/College Street off of I-81 and less than a mile from each exit.

Township supervisors said they’re elated that the barracks will remain in South Middleton.

“We’re so thrilled. It’s a very strategic location, close between those two (interstate) exits,” Supervisor Tom Faley said. “They are our police. Having them in our neighborhood gives them a faster response time. It’s a win-win. Our state police are very professional.”

Project engineer John Snyder said developers hope to start construction “as soon as possible.” Faley said that SP Carlisle Associates LLC of Dillsburg is developing the building. The state police will obtain the headquarters under lease.

Flagpole dedication

Supervisor Ron Hamilton announced that the township is hosting a flagpole dedication and a reinstatement of a memorial for state Trooper Scott Ball at 1 p.m. on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, at Spring Meadows Park. Directing the event is township parks supervisor Kurt Uhler.

Master Sgt. Ball was one of the first Pennsylvania National Guardsmen killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2007, township officials said. His monument is being moved from another section of the park to a more prominent spot near the flagpole and state Route 174.

The ceremony also will include the raising of a flag donated for the new 70-foot flagpole by South Mountain American Legion Post #694. The overall project was arranged by Eagle Scout Matthew Otto.