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South Middleton Schools
Rice Elementary School overhaul nears completion two months ahead of schedule

The $2.8 million overhaul of the W.G. Rice Elementary School is nearing completion about two months ahead of schedule, South Middleton School Board members learned Monday.

“We will have everything wrapped up by Thanksgiving,” Andrew Glantz, district director of buildings and grounds, said during an update to the facilities committee.

Only minor cosmetic and punch-list items remain before the district could officially close-out a project that involved the upgrade or replacement of most buildingwide systems.

Work scheduled for this week includes the testing and balancing of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system to verify optimum air flow and to make sure the equipment responds properly to changing needs, Glantz said.

After school on Wednesday maintenance department staff transferred the nine sections of the second grade back to their original classrooms.

The second grade was moved in October to a different part of the building to make way for contractors to come in and upgrade the original classrooms. With the work completed, the students can move back.

Committee chairman Tom Merlie called the transfer of second-graders to and from the temporary classrooms “a strategic orchestrated shift”.

The district this summer transferred the third grade from Rice to the Iron Forge Elementary School. The transfer freed up space within Rice that gave the district greater flexibility to shift students around, limiting disruptions during the overhaul. The transfer also allows more room for enrollment growth.

The Rice project included the full replacement of the building’s HVAC system, including a new chiller, a new automated control system and new rooftop units.

The project also called for the replacement of about 85 percent of the roof and 60 percent of the carpeting. The entire building interior received a fresh coat of paint and a wall was removed to create a large group instruction room and “maker” space for students to experiment with technology and innovation.

Select light fixtures were replaced with energy efficient LED lighting. A transformer that dated from the 1960s was replaced. The fire alarm system was replaced and the public address system was upgraded.

In related news, the $22 million project to renovate and expand the Iron Forge Elementary School building is nearing close-out with only punch-list items remaining, Glantz said.

He said the district is withholding funds from the general construction and electrical contractors until the work is completed. The goal is to get the work done by Dec. 1.

“The projects are definitely in the winding-up stage,” Glantz said.

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Saint Patrick student wins First Night button design contest

First Night Carlisle announced this week that Mia Snyder is the winner of this year’s button design contest.

First Night, celebrating its 20th year locally, is a family-oriented nonalcoholic celebration of the arts held on New Year’s Eve on the streets of downtown Carlisle. Admission to the evening’s events is granted by the purchase of a button, designed each year by a junior member of the community.

“It’s so much fun to see all of the creativity that goes into our button contest each year,” First Night director Amy Routson said. “Mia’s artwork was so clever with the fireworks spelling out ‘1st Night.’ It just really captivated us. She also did a great job of capturing a downtown feel and incorporating the car to really capture this year’s theme.”

Buttons go on sale Dec. 1 at both Carlisle Giant locations, M&T Bank, Pinnacle’s Hospitality Shop, Carlisle Theatre box office and online through Buttons are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event.

That theme is “First Night CARlisle, Celebrating 20 Years.” The emphasis is on the “car” in Carlisle and the event will feature a car drop at midnight instead of the button drop of recent years.

Snyder, a seventh-grader at Saint Patrick School in Carlisle, will get to press the button that starts the car drop just before midnight. She also receives four complimentary buttons for her family and a week of art camp, courtesy of Carlisle Arts Learning Center.

Snyder said she had forgotten she entered the contest until her mom received the call that she had won.

“I heard her on the phone and she was really excited,” Snyder said. “I did not expect to win.”

“We are so proud of Mia. She always puts 100 percent effort in everything she does,” said Mia’s parents, Matt and Susan Snyder. “We hope she remembers all of her special achievements such as this for years to come.”

Snyder likes art and is very happy to be the recipient of a week at CALC camp. She also thinks it will be “really cool” that thousands of people will be walking around downtown Carlisle wearing something that she designed.

CALC executive director Becky Richeson said she is pleased to support Snyder and First Night Carlisle.

“First Night is a wonderful family event that brings members of our community together to kick off the new year — to look toward the future together,” Richeson said. “Carlisle Arts Learning Center is happy to support children’s creativity.”

Mia’s art will be brought to life on the buttons that are purchased by attendees to gain admission to the festivities. This year’s button sponsor is Waveline Direct LLC, a printing company in Mechanicsburg that printed the First Night Carlisle event program.

“I would also like to thank digital artist Mary Ann Parks for enhancing Mia’s original artwork to make it ‘button ready,’” Routson said. “This is Mary’s third year as the graphic designer who pumps up the colors and makes some small tweaks to ensure that everything is bold enough for the final printed buttons. She really has a good feel for it and works very hard to maintain the integrity of the original art.”

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Ask/Answered: How many votes were cast for incarcerated mayoral candidate

Asked/Answered is a weekly feature for reader-submitted questions. Follow the blog online at

How many votes did Scott Robinson receive for mayor of Carlisle in Tuesday’s election?

In total Scott Robinson, the Republican candidate for mayor of Carlisle, received 768 votes, according to the Cumberland County Bureau of Elections.

He lost to incumbent Democrat Timothy Scott by nearly 1,400 votes, according to the bureau.

This is just slightly more votes than he received during the primary in May. In that contest, he garnered 751 votes in the uncontested race for the Republican nomination.

About the time polling places were closing in May, Robinson was arrested by Carlisle Police, who said Robinson was using a a power drill to attempt to break into an occupied rental property he owns when they arrived on scene.

Robinson became combative with police and was subdued with a Taser, according to an affidavit of probable cause. He has been incarcerated at Cumberland County Prison since then, awaiting trial on charges, including felony burglary, stemming from the incident.

Most of Robinson’s votes during Tuesday’s election came from people voting straight party. As the Republican nominee, any straight party Republican ballot cast tallied a vote for him.

However, Robinson’s vote total eclipsed the straight party Republican vote total in Carlisle by roughly 250 votes, according to the bureau. This means roughly 250 people actively selected Robinson’s name when casting their ballot.

By precinct, Robinson’s share of the vote Tuesday ranged from about 18 percent in Carlisle 4-1, which has a polling place in the first block of West Penn Street, to more than 31 percent in the adjacent Carlisle 1-2, which has a polling place at the Carlisle Alliance Church in the 200 block of East North Street.

Less than half of Robinson’s votes in the Carlisle 1-2 precinct came from straight party ballots, according to the bureau.

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Mechanicsburg draft budget proposes 17 percent tax increase for 2018

At a town hall meeting on Monday night, Mechanicsburg Borough’s manager presented a draft of the borough’s 2018 budget with a suggested tax increase of 17 percent.

Borough manager Roger Ciecierski said that next year’s figures show “the cost of doing business in the Borough of Mechanicsburg. The prices of things are going up.”

Ciecierski explained Friday that “outside forces” are affecting the budget. For example, health insurance for borough employees is going up 53 percent, according to Cieceirski.

When borough officials first drafted the $5.109 million preliminary budget, they faced a $500,000 shortfall. Ciecierski said they were able to reduce that by half due to cuts, but he hadn’t wanted to start cutting into the money for capital projects, especially with concerns over the MS4 stormwater requirements.

Ciecierski instead Monday suggested increasing the borough’s millage rage by 0.5 mills. The proposed half-mill tax increase would generate an additional $300,000 in revenue, which would cover that deficit in the budget.

Ciecierski noted that the budget is still in its preliminary stages, and the council has not yet had a chance to review the proposed budget. He also noted that the borough hadn’t raised taxes last year.

He added that while the millage increase itself is 17 percent, the increase in overall revenue is only 4.5 percent.

The borough’s current millage rate is 3.333 mills, meaning that a property owner assessed at $100,000 in the borough pays $333 annually in real estate taxes. With the half-mill increase proposed by borough administrators, the owner of a $100,000 property would pay an additional $50 in real estate taxes next year.

The borough council isn’t expected to finalize the draft until the end of December, Ciercierski said. The borough will also have budget hearings that will be open to the public.

Downtown revitalization

Also on Monday, Downtown Mechanicsburg Partnership representatives said they “soon” will present a final draft of the borough’s downtown revitalization plan. In April 2016, attorney David Galloway, then-president of the Downtown Mechanicsburg Partnership, told borough officials the organization was in the process of developing a model draft of a new streetscape for the downtown’s core area.

Jayne Drake, project manager of the revitalization effort, said on Monday that since then, the organization has garnered public opinion about the plan from a large sector of the borough’s population, including local government, business owners and members of the public attending community events.

“Every single person we’ve talked to has been very enthusiastic about the plan,” Drake said. “The reactions have been, ‘This is incredible’ or ‘This has been a long time coming.’ Every single person we’ve talked to has been very enthusiastic.”

*This story was corrected Nov. 10, 2017 to reflect the accurate budget number and to add more information.


Clark, Lawrence Strausser, Donna