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9-11 heroes remembered in MC ceremony

MOUNT CARMEL — There’s an old saying about raining on a parade, but for one day you can throw away that old cliche. In a fitting way, Mount Carmel’s 17th annual 9/11 ceremony began just as the first drop of rain fell from the sky Tuesday evening. As steady rain proceeded to follow, it was if tears poured down from above, while heroes from all walks of life were remembered for their heroism and sacrifice in saving lives during the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Only the bravery of a small group of people prevented a fourth attack by crashing a plane in a field near Shanksville.

At 6 p.m. as firefighters and fire police, rescue squad personnel, EMS, police officers and a VFW Joint Veterans Honor Guard began their slow march down Oak Street from Second to Sixth Street, a crowd of more than 100 people, young and old alike, held their umbrellas, video recording and waving American flags, which were handed out to them by honor guard member Helen Reba, of Frackville.

“I’m very proud to be here today and a part of this,” said Reba.

In addition to the honor guard, the Mount Carmel Fire Department, rescue squad and police department, as well as the Kulpmont Fire and Rescue and Elysburg Fire Department, all participated in the event.

Once the parade reached Sixth Street it stopped at the Clover Hose Company where a brief memorial ceremony followed.

“We have a great group of people who’ve all come out here today to help make this possible. We’ve been doing this for 17 years now and every year it’s an honor to remember our fallen heroes and honor those who serve today,” said Mayor Phillip “Bing” Cimino.

Sitting alongside her two friends, Mount Carmel resident Marylou Nolter added, “It brings back many sad memories. I feel for all those families who suffered loss on 9/11.”

Following the playing of our national anthem, an eight-gun volley, “Taps” and “Amazing Grace,” the Emergency Services Organizations flag was raised alongside those of fire and police.

The Rev. Joan Brown then offered a brief word of prayer, asking for the blessing of emergency personnel.

“We remember that day when our sense of peace, security and innocence were taken away from us,” said Brown.

A number of special readings were performed by Cimino’s niece Melissa Mekosh, including the touching “I Was There: Silent Night 9/11” which spoke of God’s loving presence in the lives of each of those who suffered through the 9/11 tragedy.

The solemn ceremony concluded with Cimino ringing the firefighter’s bell 17 times in honor of those who fell on 9/11.

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Ralpho Township amends transient retail merchant ordinance to allow Sundays

ELYSBURG — The Ralpho Township Board of Supervisors adopted at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday an amendment to the transient retail merchants ordinance that adds Sundays to the days transient businesses can operate from a fixed position.

Supervisors voted, 3-1, to allow the change at the conclusion of a hearing conducted by solicitor Todd Kerstetter during which the public and board had an opportunity to comment. Voting in favor were supervisors Blaine Madara Jr., Vincent Daubert and Stephen Major. Voting against was supervisor Dan Williams. Supervisor Blaine Madara Sr. was absent.

A transient business is defined as a businesses engaged in peddling, soliciting or taking orders upon any street, alley, sidewalk or public ground or from house-to-house in Ralpho Township. The business is prohibited from engaging in activities on legal holidays or between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The amendment also added language that limits transient business activities to no more than four days during a seven-day period and any transient business that operates for three or more consecutive days shall refrain from activity for the following three days. Exceptions to the state-mandated license fee of $25 will continue to include farmers selling their own produce and minors delivering newspapers.

Prior to the vote, Williams expressed concerns about the amendment and questioned where in the township transient businesses could set up.

“What protects our brick and mortar businesses from (transient businesses) totaling taking over Elysburg for a $25 permit,” Williams said.

Mark Lyash, code enforcement officer, agreed with Williams’ concerns that the ordinance currently allows a transient business to sell anywhere in the township.

Major clarified that the amendment only changes the number of days transient businesses can offer products, not the locations.

Supervisor Madara Jr. commented that the ordinance has been in effect for a number of years, but the township has not experienced any problems.

“All we are changing is the day,” Madara Jr. said. “If this does become a problem, in which the township is overrun with yard sales on every single street, then two months or six months down the road we could look at the ordinance as a whole.”

The amendment, which goes into effect in five days, was welcome news to Tom Waltman, pitmaster of Son of a Butcher Barbecue, who suggested the change at August’s meeting and was in attendance Tuesday.

Waltman operated inside Richard’s Farm Market stand along Route 487, between Elysburg and Knoebels Amusement Resort, but left the building around July once Adams Family Farm occupied the space. He bought a utility shed for the storage of cooking appliances, but then learned the business couldn’t operate on Sundays.

“For me, church and state is suppose to be separate. So, what’s so sacred about Sundays?” he said following Tuesday’s meeting.

Waltman, who has cooked a variety of meats at the road-side stand, said most customers are locals and the feedback has been phenomenal.

The stand has been closed for a month or so, but Waltman said he now intends to re-open for the last weekend of September and continue the business through October and possibly longer, depending on the weather.

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Starting the conversation: National Suicide Prevention Week

The topic of suicide comes with a stigma that makes it taboo to discuss, but presently, professionals are attempting to teach people how to speak up to help save a life during the annual National Suicide Prevention Week, which began on Sunday and ends Saturday.

This week brings important dialogue into focus, which generates conversations to help those who don’t suffer from mental illness how to better understand what their loved one may be experiencing.

Dr. Nicole Quinlan, pediatric psychologist at Geisinger Medical Center, said it’s a hard topic to broach. Oftentimes the stigma attached to mental health causes the feeling that one won’t be well-received or will be judged if they share their struggles.

The general stigma is historical, Quinlan said, and goes back to the idea that people should “toughen up” and “get over things” rather than address that there may be underlying issues that may need to be treated by a medical professional.

Biologically, humans are programmed for survival and have a “do whatever it takes to stay alive” instinct, so for someone to experience the reverse of that may be unsettling.

“When we talk about suicide specifically, that stigma is there because for someone who has never felt that way, it would be hard to wrap your mind around why somebody would want to take their own life,” she said.

Negative reactions

There’s also the internal struggle existing within the person suffering suicidal thoughts with the idea they will be burdening someone by talking to them about what they are feeling, because they know how difficult those thoughts are for them alone to manage.

Quinlan said, “For the person going through it, they’re not thoughts and feelings they want to have and they want to protect people they love from going through it.”

Negative reactions received in the past or behaviors/comments from other people can also create a fear or lack of understanding, she said. The emotional impact may shut a person down from ever opening up to someone in the future.

It’s important to make those suffering from mental illness feel safe and well-received if they open up about needing help, Quinlan said.

She stressed, “Say it not once, but always, especially to those you are worried about, that if there’s ever anything at all you want to talk about, I’m here, even if it’s just to listen and not pass judgment.”

Those who have themselves suffered from mental health issues should be open with loved ones they believe are struggling and let them know that they understand and they aren’t alone.

For those who haven’t experienced suicidal thoughts, it’s important for them to recognize they don’t quite understand what their loved one is going through and not try to relate. People are often compelled to want to fix things and solve the problems of those they love, but trying too hard to say they understand may be considered invalidating to the person’s feelings.

“Sometimes people can point out all of the reasons why life isn’t that bad or what the reasons are they can see that person live for, and that person in the moment doesn’t appreciate that,” Quinlan explained. “Jump away from that ‘fix it’ mentality and say ‘Hey, I hear what you’re saying and no matter what you feel about things, I care about you and I don’t want to lose you.”

Afraid to speak

A lot of people are also afraid to speak about suicide because they fear bringing up the topic will put the idea in their loved one’s head, which Quinlan said is absolutely not true. Starting the conversation won’t cause any harm.

“We know the people closest to us best. Parents know their children better than anyone, spouses know their partner better, and if they see changes they’re worried about — maybe they’re not taking care of themselves, not showing up for social events or work the way they used to, maybe making what seems like poor, reckless decisions that are unlike them, using substances more, not taking care of things they love anymore, making statements about not being around or ‘I’m not worried about school or work because it won’t matter soon.’ Those kind of things may seem small, but if anything in those areas seems off, I think that’s when it’s important to reach out to the person and say I’ve noticed these changes and I’m worried,” Quinlan said.

For those suffering suicidal thoughts who are afraid to speak to a loved one, hotlines exist that connect them with professionals who can help when they are in crisis. Some find it easier to speak to a stranger, Quinlan explained, and the hotlines provide 24-hour assistance for those in dire need.

The hotlines can help people better understand the resources available for seeking help, and Quinlan said it’s important for people to contact their primary care provider. There are times when people are feeling most hopeless and little things feel so insurmountable that the notion a doctor who could fix it could be hard for the person to see in that moment, but talking with a medical provider can help them view it from a medical perspective.

The National Suicide Prevention hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Those suffering suicidal thoughts can also text 741741 to reach a professional for assistance. Visit to learn about additional resources.

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Trump leads nation in solemn remembrance of Sept. 11 attacks

SHANKSVILLE — Standing in the field where the last of the Sept. 11 planes crashed, President Donald Trump praised the “band of brave patriots” who helped bring down the jetliner and saved the lives of countless others in the nation’s capital.

Trump paid his respects Tuesday at a rural Pennsylvania field where the fourth airplane hijacked that day crashed after its 40 passengers and crew learned about attacks in New York and Washington and tried to storm the cockpit.

Terrorists at the controls of Flight 93 planned to fly it into the U.S. Capitol, Trump said. But through the bravery and sacrifice of passengers and crew, he said, “the Forty” spared Washington from a devastating strike.

“A piece of America’s heart is buried on these grounds, but in its place has grown a new resolve to live our lives with the same grace and courage as the heroes of Flight 93,” the president said, standing on a dais just yards from where the plane went down.

“This field is now a monument to American defiance. This memorial is now a message to the world: America will never, ever submit to tyranny,” Trump said as applause rang out from the audience of Flight 93 family members, dignitaries and others.

Before he spoke, Trump listened as the names of the 40 victims were read aloud, followed by the tolling of bells. He was joined by his wife, first lady Melania Trump, Gov. Tom Wolf and former Gov. Mark Schweiker, who was the state’s lieutenant governor on 9/11.

Nearly 3,000 people died that day when other airplanes were flown into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an attack planned by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during a U.S. military operation ordered by President Barack Obama.

In Shanksville, Trump spoke of the passengers who boarded the United Airlines 8 a.m. flight from Newark, New Jersey, expecting to get off in San Francisco.

“They boarded the plane as strangers, and they entered eternity linked forever as true heroes,” he said. “A band of brave patriots turned the tide on our nation’s enemies.”

Before leaving Washington, Trump marked the anniversary with tweets, including praise for Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney who was New York’s mayor on 9/11.

Trump had been in his Trump Tower penthouse, 4 miles from the World Trade Center, during the 2001 attacks. He has a mixed history with Sept. 11, often using the terror strikes to praise the response of New Yorkers but also making unsubstantiated claims about what he did and saw that day. He has also accused fellow Republican George W. Bush, who was president, of failing to keep America safe.

He has said, when talking about Muslims, that “thousands of people were cheering” in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, as the towers collapsed. There is no evidence of that in news stories at the time.

Trump also has said he lost “hundreds of friends” in the New York attack. He has not provided names but has mentioned knowing a Roman Catholic priest who died while serving as a chaplain to the city’s fire department.


Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.


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Storefronts have wood paneling installed over windows, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in New Bern, N.C., as a precaution against storm damage from Hurricane Florence. (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)