KULPMONT — Some 65 tons of asbestos and related materials have been removed from the former J.H. & C.K. Eagle Silk Mill and “the dangers are now gone and the building is secure,” according to borough Councilman Robert Chesney.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 3 on-scene coordinator Ann DiDonato supervised the project, which amounted to the removal of approximately 16,500 pounds of metal and other hazardous materials, including pesticides and mercury, from the industrial building at the western entrance of Kulpmont. Both the brick and metal smoke stacks also have been dismantled.
Federal funds from the EPA were used for the project, and contractors worked through adverse conditions to complete the work.
According to DiDonato, the often frigid and dark conditions were definitely obstacles throughout the process.
“The Pennsylvania winters are certainly challenging weather-wise,” said DiDonato. “We also had to bring in our own light source, given the building had no power.”
Chesney had nothing but praise for the those who came to the area to help.
“Ann DiDonato was a godsend; her and her staff were a pleasure to work with,” he said. “We are very thankful for their aid in this large undertaking.”
Every year, EPA awards more than $4 billion in funding for grants and other assistance agreements. From small non-profit organizations to large state governments, EPA works to help many organizations achieve their environmental goals.
The timeline of this particular project began when the current Kulpmont Borough council itemized potential actions that could improve the community.
“When this borough council formed, we tried to immediately prioritize what needed to be done when it came to positive things for this community, particularly that could be done at no tax expense to citizens,” said Chesney. “The mill was the immediate top priority, as it posed several potential dangers.”
The board searched for grants and loans as soon as it could.
The borough sent a letter to DiDonato at the EPA Regional Office in Philadelphia and, at that point, things started to happen.
“Kulpmont Borough requested our assistance and, upon learning about the issues at the mill, I reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and a trip to the site in Kulpmont was made,” said DiDonato.
DEP is the agency responsible for protecting and preserving the land, air, water and public health through enforcement of the state’s environmental laws.
Through cooperation with DEP, the EPA can assess a property for hazards and can complete cleanups for the community — with a DEP referral — if hazards are found that are affecting, or may potentially affect, the community.
In this case, officials said, hazards were indeed present and causing a potential danger to the borough.
Several issues along the way, including the government shutdown late last year and difficulty receiving access to the building from its former owner, made the project more difficult, but DiDonato said she is pleased with the job contractors did at the mill.
“From the moment I received a letter from Kulpmont Borough to the conclusion of the project — it was about two years,” she said.
ELYSBURG — For the last 100 years, the people of Ralpho Township have been meeting on Labor Day weekend at Ralpho Township Community Park for a community-wide celebration affectionately known as “All Home Days.” Churches have always been a part of that gathering and in years past, when blue laws were still in effect, the park was shut down on Sunday except for a combined worship service.
While times have changed, two local churches want to make sure that the community remembers its faith heritage. Grace Chapel in Overlook and the Elysburg Alliance Church plan on holding a joint worship service at All Home Days at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.
There will be a live worship band and special children’s program, along with a message from God’s word shared by pastors Alan Langelli of Grace Chapel and Andrew Knisely of the Elysburg Alliance Church. Scripture for the sermon will be taken from John 14 about the centrality of Jesus. Recorded in the Bible, Jesus states that he is “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” according to John 14:6 and the two pastors are excited to be able to share this message with members of the community and visitors alike.
“Jesus is the most important person to ever walk on planet Earth and his teachings of love and forgiveness have shaped both Western Civilization and American culture,” said Knisely. “We do well to keep our Lord at the center of our worldview.”
Langelli added, “Jesus came into this fallen world, offering help, healing and hope, not just for the present, but also for all eternity. And he is still doing the same today. Jesus lived the perfect life none of us could, then laid it down at the cross as payment for all our sin. And because he rose from the dead, he is alive to hear and help us when we call on him by faith.”
When asked why the churches are not meeting in their respective houses of worship that Sunday, Knisely replied, “We decided a number of years ago to close our church campus once a year during All Home Days and to take our service over to the community park. It’s been valuable for us to meet there annually and demonstrate our commitment to being an integral part of the community. Our church’s philosophy of ministry is to be disciples who make disciples, which we can’t do in isolation.”
He continued, “Jesus himself took his message to the people, preaching in towns, villages, and cities where they could hear the good news of the Gospel. We are trying to do that, too. Furthermore, we’re happy to have Grace Chapel joining us this year.”
Langelli is happy to be involved with this special event and spoke of his church’s desire to maintain an active outreach in the community.
“In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus told his followers that we are the salt of the Earth and light of the world. We can be neither if all we do as a group is meet within the four walls of our church building,” he stated.
“Our calling, as well as our commission, is to connect with our community by being the hands and feet of Jesus in personal and practical ways and by doing so, we will be helping people connect with the resurrected and living Lord Jesus Christ.”
As a firefighter with the Ralpho Fire Co., Langelli is delighted that a special offering will also be taken to benefit Andrew Jones, an Elysburg firefighter, who is suffering from Legionnaire’s disease.
“Andrew is a great blessing to all of us and I’m glad we will be able to be a blessing to him as he recovers from this illness,” he said.
An offering will also be taken to benefit the Elysburg Food Bank. More than $600 has been raised at previous All Home Days events to support those who have fallen on hard times. Both pastors extend a warm invitation for all to come to this free service and are happy to represent the churches of the community as everyone looks forward to the next 100 years.
CATAWISSA — A multitude of exciting programs and initiatives are taking place at Southern Columbia Area as students make their way back to school Tuesday.
New classroom equipmentAmong the arrivals at Southern this year will be new equipment in the metal technology classroom. The district was awarded $10,000 through a competitive grant by the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education sponsored by the Bayer Fund, which will equip the department with a horizontal bandsaw and a hydraulic metal fabricator. A presentation of the grant funds is slated for mid-October or early November.
“The new equipment will give students exposure to industry-grade equipment, enhancing course curricula and creating new opportunities for college credit with the Pennsylvania College of Technology,” said Southern Columbia Area School District Superintendent Paul Caputo.
The first of the Penn College credit opportunities will be available this coming school year as high school students enrolled in teacher Andy Meyer’s 3D modeling and design course will earn three Penn College credits.
Projects aplentyNumerous projects will be rolled out this year that were made possible through funding by the Southern Columbia Community Foundation’s Teacher Grant program.
Among them include “SCA Roars into Space,” which is intended to enhance literacy and each student’s knowledge of science, with a focus on space science. It will also promote character education traits such as empathy, compassion and acceptance of others.
SCA C.A.R.E.S. (Caring Adults Reaching Every Student) is another project focused on fostering the social and emotional development of students in grades K-12.
Tablet PC’s in physical education is a project targeting 10th-grade students enrolled in physical education teacher Ted Deljanovan’s strength training classes.
Lastly, F.I.T. (Fitness Inspires Thought) is a collaboration of library manager Amanda Noblit and physical education teacher Claire Cambell. It’s a program that combines physical activity with academics. It will equip the high school library with three Bike Desk 3.0 lightweight, folding exercise bikes — enabling student to improve their cardiovascular health while reading books, working on school assignments or surfing the web.
Title I Beginning this school year, the Title I program, which provides reading support to G.C. Hartman Elementary students, has converted from a targeted assistance program to a school-wide program.
“Every student becomes a Title I student and has access to those resources,” said Caputo. “It gives the school greater flexibility on these funds, which we will continue to focus on reading and literacy.”
CodingThrough an initiative funded by Pennsylvania Department of Education’s PAsmart Targeted Grant program, the district will introduce coding into its K-8 computer science and STEM curricula and pilot its integration into other areas such as science and math. Middle school math teacher Aaron Cole and elementary teacher Zach Mallet will be among the project teachers piloting he cross-curricular integration efforts.
Safety firstSafe school efforts will be enhanced by the creation of a digital UHF radio network which will provide the district with a robust, reliable means of communication between educators and first responders.
“This will greatly enhance our ability to communicate with one another,” noted Caputo.
Installation of LED lights district-wide as well as a solar-powered speed limit sign along Route 487 are two more safety measure that will be in place this school year.
A primary goal of the district in 2019-20 is “Looking at the whole person: Social emotional well-being of our students and staff.”
“To that end, we will engage in a variety of initiatives designed to allow our student community to work together with families and outside organizations to help students who suffer from trauma, and those with mental illness, to reach their potential to do great things in life,” said Caputo.
New programs in the middle school to support the social emotional well-being of students include the Kindness Club, Girls on the Run, peer meditation and also specialized groups for students including stress management and also focus and healthy conflict resolution.
“We are continuing to train staff and students in the area of social-emotional skill development,” said James A. Becker, principal of Southern Columbia Area High School and superintendent-elect. “These skills will be embedded into classroom lessons along with activities and assemblies through out the school year.”
‘Start with Hello’Southern Columbia is one of 30 schools in Pennsylvania partnering with Sandy Hook Promise and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to bring the “Start with Hello” program to it’s kindergarten through grade 12 students. The “Start with Hello” program seeks to break down social isolation or the “feeling of being left out, lonely and treated like you are invisible.”
“Students, staff, parents and other community leaders who interact with children are asked to take three steps: See someone who is alone, reach out and help and start with hello,” said Caputo, explaining the core of the program.
Aiding smooth transitionWith High School Principal Jim Becker being named the superintendent-elect, the district is searching for a high school principal.
“I’m ready for the next challenge in my career,” said Becker. “I feel that I have been interning for the superintendent’s position here at Southern Columbia my whole career.”
The district hopes to hire a principal at the October board meetings and have him/her assume duties in January, providing a month-long transtion to allow the new principal to get acclimated while Caputo works with Becker regarding the duties of superintendent, which Becker will assume Feb. 4.
“I am excited to work with the school board and the whole Southern Columbia community to keep our district progressing in a positive manner,” said Becker.
TREVORTON — As renovations continue at Trevorton’s Heritage Building, the first invited guests will be Trevorton High School band members from 1963 to 1966, along with a legendary musical figure.
On Oct. 12, rain or shine, former band members are invited to meet, greet and honor Don Zech, the community’s most respected band director of all time. From 1 to 4 p.m., former band members will have the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce with the guest of honor.
Zech’s time as band director at the high school began on Aug. 26, 1963. Through hard work, enthusiasm, and tenacity, he built a band that drew a crowd. He demanded perfection in sound and display, which is why the townspeople were often awakened at 7 a.m. to the sights and sounds of “Anchors Aweigh” being played over and over and over as the band and director marched up, down and around the town.
The Zech gathering coincides with Trevorton’s annual fall festival, an event planned by the fall festival committee. The day begins at 8 a.m. with the third annual Red Devil 5K Run/Walk. This fundraiser event, which honors Trevorton athletes, is sponsored by the Trevorton Heritage Society and benefits the Heritage Building renovation. The parade follows at 11 a.m. on Shamokin Street. From noon until dusk, activities, vendors and entertainment will be at the Foundry Recreation Area. At dusk, the Trevorton Ambulance will conclude the festivities with a spectacular fireworks display.
The rain date for the fall festival activities will be Oct. 13. Prospective vendors need to contact the municipal building at 570-797-1974 to ensure a spot. Band members planning to attend the gathering need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the municipal building.