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First responders celebrated in borough

KULPMONT — Kulpmont100 Inc. added to its list of successful projects Saturday with its inaugural First Responders Day parade and musical salute.

Despite the threat of rain at the outset of the 1 p.m. event, a crowd was on hand to witness the procession that included bands, marching groups and a long line of fire engines, emergency response vehicles and members of state and local law enforcement units.

The 40-minute parade down Chestnut Street (Route 61), the main thoroughfare in the borough, had every firefighting organization and emergency medical group from the immediate area represented.

Dave Shinskie, a retired state police officer who is secretary of Kulpmont100, said the observance, just three days before the 17th anniversary of 9/11 was intended to raise awareness and support of first responders and law enforcement officials. It included a musical salute after the parade at the West End Fire Association grounds.

Doubly proud

Kulpmont fire chief and Shamokin police Patrolman Raymond Siko II drove through the parade in a Shamokin Police Department cruiser and said it felt good to see the “great turnout,” not only by emergency services, but also “people of our community and surrounding communities (showing) their support for all emergency responders.”

As the fire chief, Siko said, “I can’t begin to thank Kulpmont100 for organizing this and doing this to recognize our responders, fire police and EMS. As everyone knows, it’s a thankless job, and for these people to come forward and recognize everyone like they did, I can’t say enough about the gratitude I have for these guys.”

Rain holds off

Dark clouds loomed overhead while units scheduled to participate in the parade gathered on Fifth Street at the east end of the borough. But as the procession moved down Chestnut Street, only light rain fell.

Led by Kulpmont Our Boys’ Band, a Kulpmont police cruiser and a mounted state police honor guard, the parade included Mount Carmel Area High School Band and several marching groups, among which were Kulpmont Youth Football League officials and players, and a special appearance by students from the St. Louis de Montfort Academy in Herndon. Also attracting attention was the performance of Emelia Adam, of Hamburg, a national twirling champion who tossed flaming batons.

More than 50 fire engines, ambulances and emergency squad vehicles were part of the parade. State police as well as municipal police from every community in the area participated.

Grand marshal proud

Chet Guard, a U.S. Navy veteran, firefighter and a member of Kulpmont’s fire departments and civic organizations, served as grand marshal. He rode along with his daughter, Diane Brennan, of Tucson, Arizona, in an antique car driven by Joe Cesari, a Kulpmont resident who is active in planning community events and fundraisers.

Gard, 92, said being asked to grand marshal the parade was a honor, and he’s proud to have been a part of it.

He joined the fire department after leaving the military after 28 months of service in 1946, and it became a lifelong passion to serve, he said.

“To me, in my heart, it was number one, really, and that’s what this parade way about today,” said Gard.

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'Climate, jobs and justice' awareness comes to Shamokin

SHAMOKIN — While environmental groups turned out nationwide Saturday for the “Climate, Jobs and Justice” event, three organizations demonstrated the environmental impact of coal mining and restoration efforts locally.

Approximately 20 people met in Claude Kehler Community Park as a chilly rain drizzled down to take part in the event sponsored by Susquehanna Valley Progress, Climate Reality Project and the Hub for Progress, which consists of several different organizations in Lewisburg, Danville and the Columbia County area.

Penn Darvin, of Climate Reality Project, explained that on Sept. 8, events are held across the country for “Climates, Jobs and Justice,” and for 2018 they precede a large national gathering in San Francisco this week where state and local government officials will meet to discuss ways to respond to climate issues.

The event helps create discussion on ways state and local governments can take on the burden and responsibility of helping the United States adapt to climate change, Penn said, adding “there’s a feeling the federal government had kind of opted out of this.”

Susquehanna Valley Progress Chairwoman Nicole Faraguna said people all over the world Saturday were rising up to demand action on climate change.

“We thought there’s no better place to have an event than a place like Shamokin and Coal Township, which has been hit so hard by (the country’s) energy policies. The idea is to educate people on the work and progress that Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance has been making in terms of cleanup on the creek,” she said. (Read more on the subject from Faraguna on Page A5.)

Look ahead

The group toured a site on the Venn Access Road and near Claude Kehler park to learn about and discuss successful recovery efforts. Faraguna said they originally chose another restoration site in Ranshaw, but a large bee nest made them reconsider that option.

Originally from Shamokin, Faraguna said she would like to see towns like it “move into the future and instead of looking back on our coal history and coal heritage. Let’s look to the future and really start thinking about how we can revitalize and rebuild the coal communities and help position them so they can participate in the 21st century economy.”

Shaunna Barnhart, director of the place studies program for the Bucknell University Center for Sustainability and the Environment, brought two Bucknell students with her to participate. It was sophomore Ruby Lee and junior Arianne Evans’ first trip to Shamokin.

Invitations were sent out by Barnhart, who said she thought it would be a great opportunity for students to learn more about local environmental issues and what local organizations are doing.

Lee said her professor for her management for sustainability course suggested students interested in a community-based perspective attend, so she made her first trip to Shamokin to learn about the creek restoration projects.

“There’s not much I can say about the area until I learn more of what’s going on, and right now being informed is definitely important if you want to bring some positive impact,” said Lee.

Evans offered another perspective, stating, “I think what’s cool about being Bucknell students in this area is we are studying, but this isn’t our home yet, so being able to reach out to people and find ways to become part of the community and take what we learn in the classroom is a great resource, and these communities know that we can be a resource as well.”

Everyone should learn

Also making the visit to Shamokin was Geoff Goodenow, of Lewisburg, who works with the Merrill W. Linn Land and Waterways Conservancy, an organization interested in land and water preservation. The former biology teacher has always had an concern regarding environmental issues and was happy to learn of the event through an email invitation.

Goodenow said though Shamokin is not in their area of focus, some of the issues may be relevant, and he was hoping to learn something new that could be used.

“I’m pleased that this is being sponsored and it provides a neat educational opportunity for the public,” said Goodenow. “Everybody should know what is going on, what the causes were and what the restorations are to make our environment a little better.”

Vote for the environment

Lou Ann Pacocha, of Coal Township, is involved with numerous environmental organizations throughout the area, including the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance. She learned of the event on Friday when she saw a poster while on a walk in the downtown area.

A self-pronounced “tree-hugger,” she decided to attend the event to meet like-minded people. Pacocha said she firmly believes in sustainable energy and has had solar panels on her house for years, which she described as the best decision she ever made.

The event was important as a means to raise awareness, she said.

“Don’t be apathetic about voting. You’ve got to vote for the environment,” she added.

Demanding action

Faraguna was thrilled with the turnout, saying, “I think it’s really good to see folks from outside the community come, people who have never been to Shamokin and may not understand the impacts of something like coal, but also really celebrate people who care about this issue. Even despite some rain, we’re here and we’re standing up and we’re demanding some action on climate.”

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Boy, 14, crashes SUV in Shamokin

SHAMOKIN — A 14-year-old boy allegedly took a Ford Escape for a drive with three juvenile friends and crashed into an ambulance at Shamokin and Sunbury streets around 3 a.m. Saturday.

City police Cpl. Jarrod Scandle said the boy was driving south on Shamokin Street and drove through a red light, causing a collision with the AREA Services ambulance. The ambulance was not in route to a call and was not transporting a patient at the time.

Two EMTs, Shayla Hendricks and Shawn Myers, and all four juveniles were transported to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital to be treated for minor injuries and were released.

Scandle said he notified parents of the juveniles either on scene or at the hospital. Both vehicles sustained severe damage and were towed.

Scandle said the investigation is ongoing, and that charges are pending against the young driver.

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Police nab man after roof escape

SHAMOKIN — A man wanted on warrants out of Schuylkill County climbed onto a neighbor’s roof on Pearl Street Saturday afternoon in an attempt to avoid apprehension, police said.

Travis Beaver, 19, of Shenandoah, had been living with his parents at 1001 N. Pearl St., according to Cpl. Jarrod Scandle.

Scandle said the mother of Beaver’s girlfriend called police asking to do a welfare check around 4:56 p.m., stating she was concerned for her daughter. At the home, police learned from the girlfriend that Beaver was upstairs.

Scandle said when police went upstairs to take Beaver into custody, he allegedly went through a door in a common attic to the neighboring property at 1003 N. Pearl St., and climbed through a metal hatch onto the roof.

A ladder truck from Station 30 was called, and Scandle climbed onto the roof in an effort to apprehend Beaver. However, the defendant climbed back through the hatch to escape Scandle, he said.

Officers went into the neighbor’s home and found Beaver hiding in a bedroom closet. He was in police custody by 6:05 p.m. and transported by Scandle to Columbia County Prison, Bloomsburg, where he was incarcerated on the warrants.

Felony charges of burglary, criminal trespass and flight to avoid apprehension will be filed with Magisterial Judge John Gembic III, Scandle said.

Fire not believed to be suspicious

SHAMOKIN — A second-alarm fire that burned through the second floor and attic of a home at 39 S. Seventh St. Friday afternoon is not believed to be suspicious, city fire investigator Raymond Siko II said Saturday, but he hasn’t yet identified a cause.

Siko confirmed the fire started in a second floor bedroom at the front of the house, owned by Charles Johns, where flames were shooting from the windows when firefighters arrived shortly before 5 p.m.

A 14-year-old boy was in the home at the time and sustained minor burns to his fingertips trying to extinguish the fire. He was treated on scene and refused transport to a hospital for further evaluation, Siko said.

Firefighters entered the home through the first floor with fire hoses and conducted an interior attack, preventing the fire from spreading to the first floor. The first floor, however, did sustain water and smoke damage.

Firefighters smashed windows out on the second floor and cut holes in the roof to vent the home. They contained the fire to 39 S. Seventh, but flames shooting out windows caused siding to melt on neighboring 41 S. Seventh St.

Siko said he has an idea as to the cause of the fire, but won’t release further details until the investigation is completed.

Assisting on scene were Shamokin, Coal Township, Atlas and Overlook fire departments.

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Gordon, Florence combining for wet stretch

SHAMOKIN — Florence may pay a visit next week, but the heavy rain forecast for today is thanks to Gordon.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon have prompted a flood watch from the National Weather Service (NWS) for a large portion of Pennsylvania that went into effect at 8 p.m. Saturday and continues through Monday evening for Northumberland, Montour, Columbia, Schuylkill, Snyder and some 30 other counties.

Rain was forecast to become heavy at times over western areas Saturday night and become heavier over eastern areas today. Rain will then continue heavy at times into Monday.

Gordon’s remnants have combined with “deep moisture and a front” to bring periods of heavy rainfall and the threat for significant flooding from the Midwest to the Mid -Atlantic states through today, NWS reports.

Meanwhile, over the Atlantic, Florence, which had been the first major hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season before weakening to a tropical storm over the past couple of days, is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane and perhaps even once again to a major hurricane, AccuWeather reports. The storm is on a path that may threaten Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast by mid-to-late next week, the agency said.

Due to an unusually persistent wet weather pattern in parts of the East this summer, the ground remains saturated in many areas. Rivers and streams continue to run at levels well above normal. With this in mind, AccuWeather meteorologists warn that it won’t take much additional rain to create significant flooding. The saturated ground will increase the potential for trees to blow over in tropical winds, which could increase the risk for damage and power outages.

AccuWeather experts offer the following tips:

• Know where the nearest shelter will be in case of an evacuation (and if pets are welcome).

• Set aside insurance documents and proof of home/land ownership and any other important papers in case of a ”grab and go” circumstance.

• Take photographs of the interior and exterior of your home or business to document for insurance purposes.

• Making a family or employee communications plan.

• Stock up on enough supplies to last at least a few days in the case of sheltering in place.

• Plan for the care of pets.