Thanks to Businessman Scott Appel and Touch of Color Flooring

By Matt Zencey | The Patriot-News
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on February 20, 2014 at  8:15 AM

Harrisburg’s police officers got about 2,000 square feet of new carpeting in their downtown headquarters Saturday, thanks to a donation from Touch of Color flooring.

It’s the first big donation landed by Mayor Eric Papenfuse, in his campaign to spruce up the shabby conditions in the Martin Luther King Government Center.

Touch of Color co-owner Scott Appel said, “We all know the struggles the city of Harrisburg has been through.” His business partner heard the mayor’s call for help and they decided they wanted to do something specifically for the police.

“You’re out there risking your lives every day,” Appel said to police Captain Annette Oates at Wednesday’s media briefing on the donation. “We think it’s our duty to help.”

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At Harrisburg city hall, the elevators have new carpet, thanks to a donation from Touch of Color flooring, a commercial vendor in Lower Paxton Twp. The new carpet, installed at no cost in the Emergency Operations Room, the breezeway from city hall to police quarters, and the city hall elevators, has a rough retail value of about $6,000, he said.

Appel, who lives in Lower Paxton Township, said his business is eager to do more.

Noting that a roof leak forced him to change the area where his company installed the carpet, he said, “As soon as you get the roof leak fixed, we’re happy to come back again. Whatever we can do to help. It’s our pleasure.”

While Touch of Color serves commercial clients, Appel’s businesses include Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet, a retail store on Allentown Boulevard.

Appel encouraged other businesses to support the fix-up campaign at city hall. From many people pitching in to do what they can, big progress can be made, he said.

Police Captain Oates said the carpet in most of police headquarters is the same carpet she saw when she started, 28 years ago. Both she and mayoral spokeswoman Joyce Davis pointed out that working amid moldy, old carpet is a health issue.

One room at the government center was so bad, Davis said, it triggered her mold allergy and made her sick for three days.

With the new carpet in place, Captain Oates said, “It’s so nice not to sneeze anymore.”

HBG police HQ leaks.JPG

One of many places in Harrisburg police headquarters where the leaking roof has caused damage. On a quick tour to show off the new carpet, it was obvious the city government center needs a huge amount of help recovering from years of austerity and neglect. Scores of ceiling tiles were missing or stained from leaks and rips in the nearly threadbare carpet were common. Despite the cleanup work by volunteers on inauguration weekend, there’s still plenty of grunge awaiting attention in police headquarters.

“There is no money to do this kind of thing in the budget,” Davis said. The Papenfuse administration is talking with other potential sources of donated help about roof repairs and revitalizing the plaza in front of city hall.

“We want the city government center to be the image of the new Harrisburg,” Davis said.

There’s still an almost overwhelming amount of work to be done toward that goal, but the newly installed free carpeting is a great start.

Matt Zencey is Deputy Opinion Editor of PennLive and The Patriot-News.

Email and on Twitter @MattZencey.

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