Millers Mutual Insurance mourns death of board chairman

Harrisburg-based Millers Mutual Insurance is mourning the loss of Chairman of the Board Scott Newkam, who died unexpectedly May 28.

Board chairman since 2001, Newkam retired from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co. in 2006, where he was president and CEO. He also sat on numerous other boards, including as a
director of High Real Estate Group.

“We are incredibly thankful for the outstanding leadership, guidance and wisdom Scott brought to our organization as he served as chairman of the board for the past 21 years,” Jonah Mull, president and CEO, said in a release. “His presence will be greatly missed at Millers.”

“Scott was a true leader and mentor to so many people,” added director Dave Lavery. “His insight and guidance will be deeply missed. It has been a privilege for me and the other board
members to work alongside Scott.”

Millers Mutual Insurance serves commercial policyholders in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington, D.C., through a network of independent agents.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.

Westmoreland County company enters settlement in 2018 death of Allegheny County man 

The Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has approved a nearly $1.2 million settlement with a Westmoreland County company that it claims violated the Public Utility Code after a 2018 electrocution incident killed an Allegheny County resident. 

The commission recently voted 3-0 to adopt an initial decision accepting a Joint Petition for Approval of Settlement between the commission’s independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement and Greensburg, Westmoreland County-based utility company, West Penn Power Co. 

In the petition, the commission alleges that West Penn violated the Public Utility Code on April 12, 2018 when a conductor owned by West Penn fell into the wooden property of Terry and Frances Colton. 

The conductor, which caused a brush fire at the Colton’s property, killed Terry Colton after he came into contact with it, according to the March 26, 2021 complaint. The complaint goes on to say that West Penn failed to properly inspect and maintain the right-of-way and manage the vegetation within the right-of-way on the Colton’s property. 

As part of the settlement, West Penn has agreed to undertake “substantial remediation measures” which includes remediation of materials, programs and policies to help prevent future malfunctions of equipment as well as enhanced oversight procedures for contractors by West Penn Power employees. 

Following the remediation, the company will file with the commission for acknowledgment that it has complied with the measures. West Penn will also be paying a civil penalty of $1.175 million. 

“West Penn Power Company submits that this settlement is the result of the parties’ cooperative efforts, and constitutes a fair, equitable and reasonable resolution of this proceeding,” West Penn wrote in the joint petition. 

Don Springer, founder of Phoenix Contact USA, dies

Don Springer, founder of Phoenix Contact USA. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Don Springer, founder and former president of Bloomberg, Germany-based Phoenix Contact’s U.S. subsidiary, has died.

Springe who retired in 2004, founded Phoenix Contact USA in Harrisburg in 1981. The manufacturer develops and builds industrial electrical and electronic technology products such as cables, lines, connectors, power supplies and more.

Prior to bringing the company to the U.S., Springer was a leader at AMP Incorporated, now part of TE Connectivity.

Under his leadership, Phoenix Contact grew rapidly and became the U.S. Group Center of Competence with more than 800 employees across the country, according to Phoenix.

“At Phoenix Contact, we share the loss of Don with the Springer family and stand firmly rooted in his visionary leadership of our U.S. Subsidiary,” said Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA. “Don’s positive outlook, coupled with his deep and impactful personal relationships throughout our industry, have left a legacy of success and prosperity for our company, our distributors, and our customers. He will be missed by so many.”

Kinsley Construction founder remembered for life-long passion for family, business and nature

Robert Kinsley, founder of Kinsley Construction. PHOTO PROVIDED

Robert Kinsley, founder of Kinsley Construction, died Wednesday morning surrounded by his family, the York-based construction company announced in a statement this week.

Even after Kinsley retired from Kinsley Construction, the business he founded in 1963, he continued to have an active involvement in the company’s business operations and made it a priority to visit project sites whenever possible, said Kinsley’s son and Kinsley Enterprises CEO Robert Kinsley II.

Kinsley, an avid outdoorsman and proponent for land preservation, oversaw the growth of his small construction company to a multi-departmental enterprise with divisions including buildings, steel, custom work and highway and bridges.

Born on October 17, 1940, in Philadelphia, Kinsley began his career in the construction industry after graduating high school in 1958. In the early 1960’s, the budding businessman opened his first company — a lawn grading business.

Kinsley opened Kinsley Construction in 1963, which he grew alongside his wife, Anne, and their five sons, who continued to run the business after his retirement.

“We have lost an amazing leader,” Robert Kinsley II said. “Bob was our founder, a visionary leader and man with unfailing energy. He cannot be replaced. There are no words big enough to describe the impact he had on so many of us.  All of us will remember just trying to keep up with him when he walked across a job site.”

Since its founding, Kinsley Construction has grown to employ 3,200 people and completes hundreds of projects a year. Recent projects include D&H Distributing’s new headquarters in Harrisburg and the incoming Harrisburg Federal Courthouse slated to be finished in 2021.

Other than founding his own business, Kinsley’s passion for history led him to found and act as chairman of the Gettysburg Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on the history and preservation of Gettysburg National Military Park.

Kinsley was also a founding member of the Agricultural and Industrial Museum of York County and the Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York County, where he helped preserve thousands of acres of land in southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.

During his free time, Kinsley enjoyed horseback riding, fishing and hunting and loved to spend time in the fields and wooded trails of his farms.

“Today, Mr. Kinsley’s presence is recognizable throughout our organization and community,” the company wrote in a statement on Thursday. “His support of preservation, entrepreneurship and values led by integrity created a culture like no other.”

Robert Kinsley tours a construction site. PHOTO PROVIDED


Penn State Health announces its first coronavirus death

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center confirmed its first fatality from COVID-19 at the Hershey-based hospital Friday night.

The patient, who the hospital said was in a high-risk category for COVID-19 mortality, was one of 10 patients currently being treated for COVID-19 at the hospital as of Friday.

Patients at the hospital are cared for in negative-pressure rooms that allows air to flow into the room but keep contaminated air inside.

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is currently suspending all non-essential surgeries and testing and has put in place a restricted visitation policy.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Monday afternoon that the statewide total of positive cases has risen to 4,087. In Dauphin County, that number has risen to 36.

Harrisburg’s longest running mayor leaves an equally long legacy

Former Penn National Insurance CEO Jim Taylor and Former Harrisburg mayor Stephen Reed take the first strikes in the groundbreaking of the insurance company’s upcoming 15-story headquarters in the city’s downtown in 1994. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

For most of his time as president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC, it was not uncommon for David Black to receive a phone call from Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed asking for the chamber’s help to secure funding to bring a new business into the city.

If someone could potentially open a business in the city’s downtown, it was likely that Reed would put them on speaker phone and ask Black to help on a loan then and there.

“He was a mayor who was driven,” said Black. “His life was the city—he bled the city.”

Harrisburg’s mayor from 1982 to 2010, Reed was known for never taking no for an answer when it involved bettering the city and its economy, something that made him well known in both the state and federal arenas as he hunted for grants for projects to improve Harrisburg.

Reed died in January following a 14-year fight with prostate cancer. The legacy he left behind is a city that has become one of Dauphin County’s biggest economic drivers, contributing to 26,000 tourism-related jobs within Dauphin County.

During his 28-year tenure as mayor, Reed introduced initiatives that would make the city more appealing for businesses to set up shop and for visitors to enjoy.

“When it came to an idea for promoting the region, Steve did not have a shy bone in his body,” said Jeff Haste, chairman of the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners.

Under Reed’s leadership, Harrisburg welcomed a minor league baseball team to a newly renovated City Island, helped with the creation of a STEM learning center and a technology university in the city’s downtown and made the city attractive for restaurants, hotels and corporate headquarters.

A brand new Second Street

In the early 1980’s, Harrisburg’s Second Street consisted of boarded-up buildings and few businesses. Where Hilton Harrisburg hotel sits today, stood a XXX movie theater and nearby, an adult book store.

“It was awful,” said Black. “I remember seeing these Steve Reed signs on the boards covering the windows on Second Street. It’s hard to imagine compared to how vibrant it is today.”

Reed wanted to see Second Street grow into a thriving business sector but he was not the type to go about such a change slowly, said Haste. Instead, Reed cast a large net to find restaurants that would invest in his vision for the city. The ones that eventually found a home on the city’s ‘Restaurant Row’ have now come and gone, but they’ve been replaced by other businesses in and around Second Street.

“He was able to go through a generation or two of restaurants,” Haste said. “Some of the restaurants came, had their hay day and now they are gone—it continued beyond their time.”

The Hilton and Crowne Plaza

Second Street was also invigorated by the addition of the Hilton Harrisburg and Crowne Plaza Harrisburg-Hershey hotels.

By 1993, the city’s momentum was picking up speed when Penn National Insurance, formerly located in three four-story office buildings at 19th and Derry Streets, began looking for a place to build a tower to house its headquarters. The insurance company was unsuccessful with its search for a new property in the city and began looking elsewhere when Reed and his team intervened.

“A local developer who had been part of our board of directors for years, received some information from the mayor’s office with some ideas and proposals for ways that we could develop property on Market Square,” said Christopher Markley, a corporate spokesperson with Penn National.

Penn National ended up following through with the property on Market Square after receiving a $2.7 million financial package from Gov. Robert Casey. By 1996, the company finished its 15-story tower. Since then, Penn National has had a perfect view of Harrisburg’s revival as the city’s downtown brought with it more residential and business development, said Markley. There is a deep sense of pride within the organization in seeing how vibrant the city is today, he said.

Reed announced plans for what became Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in 2001 after a visit to Richmond, Va. PHOTO/FILES

More changes

When Reed became mayor, City Island made a name for itself as a concert venue. Throughout the 80’s the island between Harrisburg and Wormleysburg drew in acts like Metallica, Huey Lewis & The News, Billy Idol and the Grateful Dead.

Despite its status as a concert venue, the island also had a reputation as a haven for criminal activity—something that Reed hoped to deter when the city bought the Nashua, New Hampshire-based Nashua Pirates. The team was re-named the Harrisburg Senators in 1986, and Riverside Stadium was built the next year. In 2005 the stadium was renovated and renamed to FNB Field, and the city sold the team in 2006.

City Island became a popular site for tourists, lured by attractions such as the riverboat Pride of the Susquehanna, the Skyline Sports Complex, Water Golf on City Island and Lil’ Grabber Railroad.

A steady flow of projects meant to invigorate the city became a hallmark of Reed’s leadership, said Haste, who noted that every time a project was finished, the city’s “mayor for life” never rested on the accomplishment.

Between 1994 and 1999, the city began acquiring about 3,500 items for another destination meant to draw tourists to the city— the National Civil War Museum, which opened in 2001. To prepare for the museum, the Harrisburg Chamber took a trip to Richmond, Virginia. It was during that trip that Reed realized something else was missing in the capital city – a university. Richmond had one, Harrisburg should, too.

In 2001, Reed announced plans for a four-year college that would operate in the city as the Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute. By 2003, the institute changed its name to Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and invested more than $18 million to renovate the former YWCA building that became the school’s first home.

“Mayor Stephen R. Reed was a visionary whose foresight changed the landscape of Harrisburg,” said Dr. Eric Darr, president of Harrisburg University. “Under his leadership, Harrisburg University was created as a hub for STEM learning and economic development. He lived to see today’s HU recognized as a model of higher education and civic impact.”

Reed’s desire to grow the city as a destination for STEM learning also resulted in the groundbreaking of the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in 1997. A task force formed by Reed helped the center acquire the grant funding from both Harrisburg and the Commonwealth that would help fund the project.

Reed’s failed projects

Two notable projects spearheaded by Reed did not succeed.

The first was his idea for a Wild West Museum, an attempt to continue the success of the Civil War museum. Reed spent more than $8 million of taxpayer money on artifacts. Plans for the museum were eventually discarded, but in 2015, former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane charged Reed with 499 criminal charges after approximately 1,800 of the artifacts were found in his Harrisburg home

Reed eventually plead guilty to 20 felony and misdemeanor counts related to receiving stolen property, and was sentenced to two years of probation and a fine.

The former mayor was also embroiled in attempts to improve the city’s incinerator. The incinerator was shut down in the early 2000’s by the federal government after a report by the Environmental Protection Agency noted it was polluting the air with dioxins.

Reed’s administration tried to reopen the incinerator and pay for it by charging fees to surrounding counties, the plan was unsuccessful. The firm working on the incinerator filed for bankruptcy and, over time, the city found itself $300 million in debt.

The city would have to sell bonds to pay another firm to finish the job. The city debt resulting from the project led to Pennsylvania offering a bailout to the city in 2011.

While there is no doubt both failed programs, particularly the incinerator, had a negative impact on Reed’s legacy, his supporters believe that they were minor compared to where Harrisburg is today.

“Everyone says that (the incinerator was a) big negative but I say, did the city ever go bankrupt? No,” said Haste. “It is not as big as a failure as everyone wants to make it out to be and there were lessons that can be learned from that.”

Business today

A man of many ideas and the willpower to get them done, Reed’s vision for a prosperous Harrisburg has left a significant mark on the city. While those who know him say he wouldn’t take no for an answer when he believed in an initiative for the city, Haste said what he learned most from the former mayor was to fight for something until he found a middle ground.

“If I didn’t agree with him, some people would take that as a no and take the ball and go somewhere else. Steve didn’t do that,” Haste said. “He would sit, think about what I said and he would find a way to incorporate my concerns into the plan to make sure it would happen”

If the city’s business sector has taken anything away from Reed’s leadership, his friend’s and longtime collaborators say it has been that sense of collaboration.

Economic drivers like Harrisburg University still have much to contribute to the city, according to Haste. With incoming additions like the university’s new Health Science Education Center under construction at South Third and Chestnut Streets, he said it will be hard to imagine how much more the city will grow.

Harrisburg’s  ‘Mayor for Life,’ Stephen Reed, remembered as a visionary

Stephen Reed – File

Former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed, who died on Saturday following a 14 year fight with prostate cancer, was remembered as a driving force of economic development in Harrisburg and a friend of the city’s business community.

The seven-term Democratic mayor, who was known as Harrisburg’s “mayor for life,” served from 1982 to 2010.

“Steve Reed was a rare visionary whose 35 years of elected public service, 28 as Mayor, was focused on restoring and re-inventing Harrisburg as a great city,” the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC said in a statement issued Sunday. “Our city, our region is simply a better place because of Mayor Reed. He was a friend and a champion of the Chamber & CREDC.”

During his tenure as mayor, Reed spearheaded projects such as bringing the Harrisburg Senators and FNB field to the then crime-riddled City Island and rehabilitating the city’s “Restaurant Row.”

Under Reed’s leadership, the city became a hub for STEM learning with the 1997 groundbreaking of Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts and the 2001 founding of Harrisburg University.

“Mayor Reed understood that Harrisburg could only prosper if the downtown became a destination for arts and culture, providing opportunities for advanced learning through the exploration of science and technology, and the catalyst for curious young minds to explore the Earth and beyond,” said Ted Black, CEO of the Harrisburg-based Whitaker Center. “He realized that vision with the creation of Whitaker Center. It is a living testament to his legacy of leadership and vision for the Commonwealth’s Capital City.”

Dr. Eric Darr, president of Harrisburg University, said that the school’s standing today was due to Reed’s foresight and vision for the city.

“He lived to see today’s HU recognized as a model of higher education and civic impact,” he said. “The legacy of Steve Reed includes lives changed and a region transformed, in part because Harrisburg University emerged from his vision of a vibrant city full of opportunities.”

While Reed’s legacy as mayor was planted in his efforts to grow the city’s economy and its name as a tourism destination, two particular projects harmed that legacy. In 2015, 499 criminal charges were brought against Reed by then Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The charges were in response to the former’s mayor’s efforts to open a Wild West Museum in the city using artifacts allegedly purchased using the city’s bond funds.

Reed eventually plead guilty to 20 felony and misdemeanor counts related to receiving stolen property, and was sentenced to two years of probation and a fine.

In 2017, the state’s grand jury released a report questioning Reed’s method of financing a trash incinerator that cost Harrisburg hundreds of millions of dollars, but no charges were filed because the statute of limitations expired.

Strasburg Rail Road Co. president dies

Craig Lefever, president of Strasburg Rail Road, died on Sunday. (Photo: Submitted)
Craig Lefever, the recently named president of Strasburg Rail Road Co., died Sunday from cancer.

He was 52.

Lefever took over leadership of the railroad in December but had worked for the company for 31 years overall.

“Craig’s greatest contributions were his commitment to workplace safety, professionalism in human resources and adhering to the best practices in the industry,” his fellow employees said in a statement. “Craig was never one to seek attention or recognition. Rather he strived to provide his department heads and the company employees in general with the resources and motivation to move the company forward in the best fashion possible.”

The Lancaster native first began working at the railroad in Strasburg Township, Lancaster County as a carpenter. During his time at the popular tourist attraction, he held positions as a compliance officer, car shop supervisor, general manager and vice president.

He succeeded the railroad’s former president, Linn Moedinger, who led the organization for 18 years.

Lefever had a degree in music education from Millersville University and played bass on the worship team of several local churches, according to his obituary.

Surviving Lefever are his three children, wife and two sisters.

The railroad has put in place an interim leadership team to lead it until its board of directors finds a replacement.

“It was established immediately after the onset of Craig’s recent health setback and has been operating smoothly since that time,” said Susan Nicholas, one of the railroad’s board members.

The Strasburg Rail Road was founded in 1832 and features steam locomotives and freight, dining and private train cars.

Summit Health announces death of finance VP

Jeff Carty, vice president of finance for Chambersburg-based Summit Health, died on Friday. (Photo: Submitted)

Summit Health Vice President of Finance Jeff Carty died of natural causes on Friday while driving on Interstate 81 in Guilford Township, Franklin County. He was 55.

An employee of the Chambersburg, Franklin County health system for 35 years, Carty is remembered by his coworkers as a passionate family man and a vital part of Summit Health, which is now part of York County-based WellSpan Health.

“He was the calm in the face of pressures, an extraordinary wealth of information, and excellent judge of events and financial situation, and the person many of us sought out for advice and counsel,” said Kimberly Rzomp, Summit’s CFO. “He will be sorely missed every day.”

Carty was recognized for his commitment to the company during a Summit Health employee event last week.

“We lost an incredible man,” said Pat O’Donnell, president and CEO of Summit Health. “Not only was Jeff a respected and integral part of our leadership team, he was more importantly a friend. He was kind and genuine towards every person he worked with, and treated every situation he faced with care and respect.”

Carty is survived by his wife of 31 years, Laurie Truett Carty, and their two children.

He graduated from Penn State University with an associate degree in business and accounting in 1983, according to his obituary. He was also a board member of Medic 2, a Waynesboro EMS Company.

Outside of work, Carty was an avid drummer in rock bands and drum corps and most recently instructed percussion ensembles at his alma mater, Waynesboro High School.

Jeannie Constable, public relations manager for Summit Health, said the company will announce when it decides on a plan to fill Carty’s role.