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Mural in Mount Carmel VFW honors all branches of Military

MOUNT CARMEL — Oct. 13 celebrates the birthday of the United States Navy, but on Sunday all branches of the armed forces were celebrated during a presentation of a new mural inside Mount Carmel VFW Post 2110.

The work of local artists Mark Sassani and Logan McCracken, the mural is prominent upon entry to the VFW, marking a vibrant contrast to the surrounding grey walls.

“They asked me to show all branches of the military,” said Sassani. “Those were the only specifications they gave me, so I tried to cover everything I could.”

The mural contains scenes from recent wars in the Middle East, the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II.

Tanks, servicemen and women, air force pilots and naval vessels are intricately portrayed in the artwork.

“This is the first time I’ve seen it since it has been completed,” said Frank Zaleski, VFW trustee. “It looks real sharp.”

VFW member Anthony Candelora concurred.

“I think it’s great that we can have a mural on our wall that represents all of our military,” said Candelora. “And that we have skilled artists locally that can produce such things in honor of all of those who’ve served our country.”

Sassani has always had a passion for art, initially an art student at Mount Carmel Area before furthering his education at Mansfield University.

From there, Sassani taught at Mount Carmel for 32 years, while simultaneously running an art business.

Upon retirement from teaching, Sassani devotes most of his time to artistic endeavors.

“I keep very busy doing portraits and regular paintings. I enter competitions, do art restorations, antique statues, etc,” said Sassani, who last year collaborated with Logan McCracken and his daughter Lori Ann Sassani Ruggiero to paint murals on the side of Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville.

The mural inside of the VFW now couples with a mural outside the building titled “America the Beautiful.”

“I had a painting of this local scene near Lavelle that always reminded me of how beautiful our area is,” said Sassani.

He was assisted with that particular mural by Lori Ann, Mary Anzulavich and Nikki Frank.

Just prior to converging at the VFW for the presentation of the mural, the Mount Carmel Area Joint Veterans Committee hoisted high the memory of Albert Samuel Palmer, who served the U.S. Army during the Philippine Insurrection.

It was the 519th Changing of the Colors flag ceremony at the flagpole at the intersection Second and Oak streets.

Woman accuses Kulpmont councilman of stealing Mill star

KULPMONT — Kulpmont resident Jill Smith accused borough councilman Walter Lutz of stealing a star from the former JH & CK Eagle Mill in Kulpmont during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Lutz noted that he and others saw the star in a window at the mill prior to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducting extensive work at the location.

“We were informed by the EPA that once they started work, nobody would be allowed in,” said Lutz.

Lutz said at that point, he and a member of EPA “security” went into the mill in an effort to salvage the item.

“I took the item and secured it in a building I have in Kulpmont,” said Lutz, who said he looked into potentially restoring the item months back.

“Truthfully, I’d forgotten all about it until it was brought up at the meeting,” said Lutz.

Lutz added that he had unsuccessfully attempted to reach out to the owner of the Mill, Daniel Luzon, of Bronx, New York, months ago to discuss the star.

During Wednesday’s borough council meeting, Smith asked Lutz for an update on a conversation she said the two had regarding the star.

Lutz told Smith that the Kulpmont100 organization was looking into getting a new star, given the old one was weathered.

Smith said that Lutz had told her that he’d sent the star somewhere to be refurbished.

“I don’t recall telling you that,” Lutz responded.

Smith asked Lutz where the star was “today,” and he noted it was in his possession.

“So you personally took the star and you have it,” she said. “That’s theft because you didn’t have permission from the owner to have anything out of there.”

Lutz then asked Smith “Who’s the owner (of the building)? Do you know?” and Smith said she’d “keep it under my hat”.

“So you just go into properties and take things that don’t belong to you,” said Smith. “I think you are a thief in our borough.”

The work on the mill 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. The brick and metal smoke stacks of the edifice were also dismantled.

All for the Kids

SHAMOKIN — Excited children, their parents, local businesses and officials made downtown Shamokin their spooky destination of choice for Sunday’s second annual “Trunk or Treat” event.

Independence Street in Shamokin saw hundreds of fun costumes on display. Ghouls, ghosts, witches, bears, spiderman and even Conan O’Brien were represented as candy and other goodies were shared throughout the two-hour event.

Organizers Mark Rebuck and Barry Kehler could be seen feverishly serving up hotdogs to kids and their families, putting smiles on faces all afternoon.

“We have a little bit more hotdogs than last year,” said Rebuck. “Things are going really well.”

Rebuck said he was very thankful to all who donated for the cause.

“It’s time consuming organazing evens such as this,” said Rebuck. It takes a lot of time out of one’s day to run around and talk to people, picking up baskets and collecting donations — but it’s so rewarding to see when it turns out really well.”

“Weather has held up and if the people keep on coming, we’ll keep it all going,” said Rebuck. “As long as we have these hot dogs, we’re gonna keep it rolling.”

While Trunk or Treat is more of a festive Halloween community get-together than car cruise, many sharp rides were parked along Independence Street for the occasion, with most owners handing out candy from their vehicles.

Derrick Lash, of Lavelle, said this is the second year he’s taken part in the event with his 1997 Ford F350 truck, which was ghouled-out with chains, zombie-crossing caution tape and “spider webs”. The truck also had Breast Cancer Awareness Month stickers/ribbons and information adorning it’s windows and back windshield.

“This is always a good time,” said Lash, who said he tries to get to as many car cruise events locally as he can.

Also seen walking the street was 15 year-old Bobby Erb, who had his pet ball python, named Shoelace, around his neck which made for immediate interactions with all passing by.

“Some people like it, some want to hold it — others, not so much,” he said.

Local businesses were out in full force giving candy, pretzels and more to local youths.

Michele Rebuck and her daughter Ashley could be seen giving treats to kids all afternoon from the back of a Batman-inspired truck.

“It’s all about the kids,” she said with a smile on her face.

When all was said and done, over 800 hot dogs were given out to kids and their families.

“It was way busier than last year,” said Kehler, whose wife Vanessa also aided in preparation for the event. “We’re planning on doing this event for as many years as we can — It’s always nice to give back or make somebody’s day.”

Mark and Michelle Rebuck and Barry and Vanessa Kehler had a sign during the event thanking all of the event’s sponsors, which included Fox Coal, Weis Markets, Pool World, Jack Williams Tire and Auto, Kool Kar Performance, Wayside Inn, Sunbury Motors, Napa, Chevrolet Buick of Shamokin, Autozone, Lens Automotive, Advance Auto, Heritage Restaurant, , Tranquility Tattoo, Cathy Bellve, Bimbo Bakery, The Plumbing Outlet, Sonya Bray, the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, Steve’s Auto Body, Brian Persing Masonry, Betsy Holdren, Evolutions Contracting, Maurers Dairy, Age in Place Home Health Care, Walmart, Sandra Davies, Fire House Winery, the mayor and his wife and Ashley Long as well as the Brady, East End and Friendship Fire Companies.