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Elysburg Fire Department celebrates 100 years of service

PAXINOS — A century of service by the Elysburg Fire Department was celebrated Saturday evening with a formal gathering at Masser’s Banquet Hall.

Stories from the department’s rich history were shared, the department’s growth applauded and deceased members recognized during the anniversary banquet.

President Harvey Boyer welcomed attendees, which included current and prior chiefs, staff and volunteers along with representatives from neighboring fire departments, family, friends and honored guests.

Boyer began by stating that the fire department has gone through some “interesting times” in the past two weeks.

He acknowledged members Dylan Ryan, who suffered a knee injury, and Andrew Jones, who was hospitalized with legionaries disease, but was able to attend Saturday’s festivities.

“In a time of shootings, negative politics and tweets, and a world that doesn’t just seem to care, the firehouse and Andrew’s family saw humanity actually does exist,” Boyer said of the countless well-wishes and cards received by people from as far away as Brazil. “Welcome home, Andrew. Welcome home.”

The event continued with a memorial service that remembered late first responders through the reading of the Fireman’s Prayer by Lt. Dennis Seroskie, a bell ceremony by Capt. Eric Haupt and the meaning behind the empty table by Eric Jones.

Following a meal and fellowship, the celebration officially began with members entering the hall with the colors and the charter of Elysburg Fire Co. No. 1, which was signed by the original officers and approved by Northumberland County Judge Fred Moser on July 14, 1919.

Following the singing of the national anthem by member Dylan Kramer and a blessing by Chaplain and past Fire Chief Donald Dyer, Boyer, Fire Chief Dennis Kroh and Deputy Chief Robert Dluge Jr. shared their thoughts on the past 100 years.

“The blend of many (who) come together and accomplish so much in the spirit of service to the community. That’s what’s it’s all about — serving others,” Boyer said after describing the comedic sides of some department members.

He said the founders recognized there was a need to serve Elysburg through the formation of the department that would consist of members with positive qualities.

While looking at the charter, he said to department members, “You and I are entrusted to continue this rich tradition.”

Kroh, who at 17-years-old became a firefighter with the Union Fire Co. in Coal Township, detailed various emergency incidents throughout the years, including a cottage fire at Knoebels Amusement Resort in 1932 that was fought with an 80-man bucket brigade.

“I’m proud of the hard work and dedication of our current members. It’s a great group to work with,” Kroh stated. “In my opinion, the men and women who represented the fire company before me did exactly what we are doing now, and that is providing the best service for (our community).”

The department and community has gone through a quantum change since its formation, said Dluge, an active firefighter for 52 years.

He said the operative concept of fire fighting decades ago was “surround and drown.” Cotton duct hose, rubber coats and plastic helmets were the norm around World War II.

The obsolete gear, he said, has now been replaced with “state-of-the-art” equipment, including hydraulic tools that expanded the department’s mission to include technical rescue capabilities.

He said evolutionary changes have also occurred in the emergency medical services provided by Elysburg Ambulance.

“Today, we are one of the very few rural departments to offer a paramedic service to the communities we serve on a 24-hour day, seven days-a-week basis,” he said. “The equipment and skills of our medics, today, are not something that could have been envisioned 50 years ago.”

The audience then shared stories, which told of both sadness and happiness.

Among the storytellers were past Chiefs Wayne Horne, Mark Slagle and Dyer, past president and Rep. Kurt Masser, and trustee and Ralpho Township Supervisor Blaine Madara Sr.

The ceremony closed with a 20-minute commemorative video and final thoughts by Horne, Slagle and Dyer.

“The people who have come and gone the past 100 years, and the people who are about to come — and hopefully come the next 100 years — I would like you to all stand up and give the greatest round of applause you can imagine,” Dyer said to the audience. “Without the volunteers, the fire and EMS services, none of this would be possible.”

AOAA awarded $198,000 state grant for box culvert under Route 125

COAL TOWNSHIP — The Anthracite Outdoor Adeventure Area (AOAA) has been awarded a $198,000 state grant for design of a box culvert under State Route 125.

Northumberland County was among several counties to be awarded grants Friday to expand trails and support new all-terrain and snowmobile riding opportunities in the state under Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.

“The infusion of this funding will help improve riding opportunities for ATV and snowmobile enthusiasts across Pennsylvania,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “ATV and snowmobile trails help attract visitors to the commonwealth and have a positive economic impact on nearby communities.”

AOAA Director of Operation Dave Porzi was delighted with news of the grant.

“We are very excited about being awarded the $198,000 grant,” he said. “It was very generous of Gov. Wolf and his administration.”

Porzi said the culvert will serve as the crossing at the eastern-western reserve at the facility and allow riders to cross under the highway.

Impersonator, music, food, games and weather make Deppen Day successful

MOUNT CARMEL — Generosity given on behalf of others.

That was the legacy of Joseph H. Deppen, one of Mount Carmel’s most generous and prominent residents whose special day in the borough Saturday once again proved a huge success.

The third annual Joseph Deppen Day featured Deppen impersonator Casey McCracken, talks by Deppen Scholarship winners to Bucknell University, an assortment of musical talent, food, games, a watermelon-eating contest and a “Touch the Truck” educational program sponsored by PennDOT that involved equipment operator John Mestlin, of Ranshaw, displaying and explaining the uses of a brand new Mack truck.

Deppen passed away at the age of 88 on Jan. 24, 1963. At the time of his death, a trust of $1 million was left behind to send Mount Carmel Area graduates to Bucknell University, and an additional $1 million with Lankenau Medical Center.

He was described in his obituary as one of the oldest practicing attorneys in Northumberland County. He had a law office at 32 N. Hickory St., and resided on South Chestnut Street near Town Park.

The Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship Fund was created in memory of Joseph’s sister, who graduated from Bucknell in 1902. Deppen himself was a 1900 Bucknell graduate.

The celebration in Town Park kicked off at 11 a.m. with master of ceremonies and Joseph Deppen Day Committee member Joe Swatski offering brief remarks before introducing the Rev. Joan Brown for the invocation. Brown serves as pastor of Grace United Church of Christ and United Presbyterian Church, both in Mount Carmel.

During her blessing, Brown told everyone they should be very grateful for Deppen’s generosity, spirit and love for his community and neighbors.

The Rev. Frank Karwacki, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, described Deppen as a “cheerful giver.”

Swatski thanked all the members of the Joseph Deppen Day Committee chaired by Julie Griffiths before turning the microphone over to McCracken, who donned a hat and World War II overcoat similar to ones worn by Deppen.

The impersonator, who like Deppen himself, was seen eating lunch in Town Park, said many people considered Deppen to be eccentric, frugal and a man set in his ways who lived in a house without electricity.

McCracken praised Deppen for being willing to help his hometown through his generosity.

Providing entertainment were the Mount Carmel Area High School Band, Our Boys Band of Kulpmont and After Hours Big Band.

Griffiths, who has been a liaison for the Deppen fund since 1982, praised the committee members for their hard work and made a request for more Mount Carmel Area students to strive to become Deppen Scholars.

Griffiths said there have been 120 graduates of Mount Carmel Area who have benefited from the Deppen Scholarship.

“Thank God we had beautiful weather today to honor Mr. Deppen,” Griffiths said. “I want to thank the committee from the bottom of my heart along with Casey McCracken and everyone else who assisted us.”

Committee member Jake Betz commended Griffiths for her organizational skills and her dedication to making sure one of Mount Carmel’s greatest benefactors continues to be remembered.

Betz said he would like to see more Deppen Scholars attend the special day.

Deppen Scholars in attendance Saturday were Elizabeth Sassani (Bucknell Class of 2015), Julie Corrigan (1985), Matt Ecker (1970), Jim Darrup (1988), Betsy Nolan (1973) and Judy (McCoy) Heffley (1971).

Each of the scholars talked about how they benefited from being able to attend Bucknell through the Deppen Scholarship.


Elysburg Fire Department President Harvey Boyer, right, and Fire Chief Dennis Kroh share a laugh at the department’s 100th anniversary celebration Saturday at Masser’s Banquet Hall.