Recent social media posts accusing the City of Lebanon of taking down a plaque honoring Tim Stine, the firefighter who perished in a HACC fire over 30 years ago, are mistaken, say city officials.

Stine lost his life on Nov. 13, 1990, while fighting the massive downtown blaze that destroyed a converted department store building housing Harrisburg Area Community College’s Lebanon campus.

Read More: Remembering Tim Stine on the anniversary of the 1990 HACC fire in downtown Lebanon

HACC used its existing site on the 700 block of Cumberland Street to rebuild the campus, which was sold to the City of Lebanon in July 2021. After completing renovations, the city moved into the new space in May 2022.

Read More: Grand opening of Lebanon’s new City Hall, a return downtown after six decades

Front page of the Nov. 14, 1990, Lebanon Daily News. (Source: newspapers.com)

Social media commenters accused the city of disrespecting Stine’s memory by removing the plaque from the street-level lobby when it moved in to what is now City Hall.

But that’s wrong, said Mayor Sherry Capello. The plaque belonged to HACC, not the city, and wasn’t there at the time of the move.

“There was nothing done intentionally. When we moved into the building it wasn’t in place,” she said after a recent pre-city council meeting. “HACC had to move from the first floor to the third [where it is now the city’s tenant]. They probably took it with them, because … it was given to them, not the city.

“In October, HACC reached out to the city and said ‘We have this plaque, do you want it?” Capello said. “And we said ‘Of course, we want to do something.'”

City Fire Chief Duane Trautman now has the plaque. As to how it got to him, he told LebTown on Nov. 17 that “it appeared in my office about a month ago, with a note that just said ‘fire.’ I said ‘where did this come from?’ and we learned that HACC had packed it up and dropped it off.”

Trautman confirmed that “HACC took everything out of the lobby” before the city moved in.

The mystery was solved when the city received an Oct. 4 email from HACC’s chief financial officer, Timothy Sandoe.

“We are honored to gift this plaque to the City of Lebanon,” said Sandoe. “Mr. Stine gave his life to protect the residents of Lebanon County. Therefore, we agree that the plaque should be displayed in a location that you deem appropriate.”

Capello said the plaque is definitely returning.

“We plan to put the plaque back up and re-honor [Stine] for his sacrifice,” she said. “We don’t forget our firefighters.”

A public announcement of the re-dedication will be made once the date is set.

Donate to the Tim Stine Memorial Scholarship Fund

HACC CFO Sandoe says “the HACC Foundation still accepts charitable contributions for the Timothy Stine Memorial Scholarship Endowment.”

Information is at the HACC Foundation web page.

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Chris Coyle

Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...

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