“That was impressive.”
Those were the words transmitted by a first-responder immediately after the 9/11 mobile exhibit traveled by the Southern Columbia Area student body.
Students and educators formed a line on a grass plot in front of the high school Friday afternoon to view dozens of motorcycles and emergency apparatus lead the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit that honors those who died in the terror attacks nearly 18 years ago.
The Tigers’ were not the only example of patriotism during the approximate three-hour escort through Union, Columbia and Northumberland counties with a final stop at Ralpho Township Community Park.
The tractor-trailer traveled underneath a large American flag draped between two ladder trucks parked on Oak Street in Mount Carmel, young children from a daycare in Elysburg and people near the Shamokin Firemen’s Memorial who were looking on in amazement.
The high-tech, 53-foot tractor-trailer, which transforms into a 1,000 square foot exhibit, will be open 1 to 7 p.m. today through Monday as part of All Home Days 100th celebration in Elysburg.
“Sept. 11 happened a long time ago,” Elysburg Fire Department Assistant Chief Harvey Boyer said, “but we are hoping the young generation will come and see this and realize what America went through.”
Boyer held back tears as he stood next to the trailer in a parking lot just north of Lewisburg.
“This is emotional,” Boyer remarked.
He was one of a number of firefighters who had gathered to escort the mobile exhibit operated by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. It was launched in 2013 to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives on 9/11.
Officials from several regional fire departments joined and left the convoy during the duration of the escort, which traveled through several municipalities, including Sunbury, Bloomsburg and Coal Township.
According to Boyer, it’s common for the tractor-trailer to receive an escort to its final destination in each community it visits. He became emotional thinking about the efforts to lead the memorial to the community.
“It’s an honor to have it,” he added.
William Cameron Engine Co. Chief James Blount said it was an honor for his department to be involved in escorting the tractor-trailer through the Lewisburg area.
“This is a good opportunity to reflect on all the men and women who made the sacrifice,” Blount said.
He noted that it was also a good opportunity to reflect on responders who fell ill in the days, months and years since responding to Ground Zero.
As the procession left the Lewisburg area, it included representatives from multiple agencies and organizations, such as the Red Knights, which is a motorcycle club comprised of firefighters from across Pennsylvania.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Brooklyn firefighter Stephen Siller was killed during the attacks in New York City.
Upon hearing the news of the burning Twin Towers, he drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes.
Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back and raced through the runnel to the Twin Towers, where he have up his life while saving others.
For more information on the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, visit tunnel2towers.org.
SHAMOKIN — A clogged and leaking drain pipe inside the walls of the American Legion building has resulted in a partial collapse of the facility’s third-floor ceiling at the Lower Anthracite Model Railroad Club’s (LAMRC) train display room.
According to city Administrator Robert Slaby, the leak, which was discovered a few months ago following roof repairs, is located inside the ceiling and walls of the top floor, which houses the Shamokin Youth Basketball League (SYBL) gymnasium.
Slaby indicated that the leak has not yet been repaired. However, he did indicate that a temporary fix, which would alleviate the problem and prevent further damage, will be performed by a contractor in the near future. A long-term and more permanent solution would then be discussed moving forward, taking into account cost, time and contractor availability.
Peter Fleming, president of the model railroad club, spoke of the damage to the train display.
“At the beginning of this summer, we noticed that one of the ceiling tiles had come down in the northwest corner of the room near the display’s viewing platform and close to the outer wall,” said Fleming.
“There was also evidence of significant moisture and water damage on the floor in that area. Another member and I covered that end of the layout with a blue tarp. At the time, we were also concerned with apparent water damage that was appearing on the ceiling, along with noticeable sagging.”
Fleming explained that when he and other members entered the display room at about 6 p.m. Thursday, they saw about a dozen ceiling panels that had fallen on top of many of the layout’s historic model buildings. One waterlogged fallen panel reportedly went straight through the display platform and onto the floor. There was also more than an inch of water on the floor in that same area of the room. He added that it had been two or three weeks since anyone had been inside the club.
“Our club is very appreciative of all the support that the public has given us throughout the years. We’ve had some very talented past members who custom built many of these historic model buildings. Some of the models in the display we may not be able to repair, such as the power house for one of the local collieries,” said Fleming, adding, “We hope to have the display cleaned up and operational for our Christmas open house if all goes well.”
LEWISBURG — A deputy state secretary of agriculture told farm people Thursday night that the recently enacted Pennsylvania budget included a Farm Bill for the commonwealth.
“The House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, came together to get $23.1 million for Pennsylvania agriculture,” said Cheryl Cook, secretary for market development. “Senate programs I hope are going to be helpful to us for years, as we start looking more to the future.”
Cook spoke to an AgChoice Farm Credit customer appreciation picnic.
The state Farm Bill, Cook later noted, was a package of almost a dozen different bills addressing agricultural interests.
“The main thing is planning grants,” said Cook. “If you’ve been thinking about diversifying into something other than say, dairy, and you want to know how to ‘pencil out’ poultry (or) how to look at ‘value added’ and maybe get into the ice cream business instead of the milk business, this kind of grant money will help you noodle through all that stuff and maybe come up with a plan.”
Cook added that the commonwealth was tops in small farmland preservation, covering 600,000 acres. It will help farmers make plans for business, marketing and succession plans for the next generation of farm people.
However, tariffs, subsidies and federal intervention in international trade loomed large to some on hand.
“When they started monkeying around (and) arguing with China, we lost the pig market,” said Bob Boyles. “Now we’ve lost the soybean and corn market.”
Boyles farms 400 acres with steers and hogs near Hughesville. He said some farmers could face bankruptcy when the cost of planting a crop exceeds what could be gained from it. Boyles was also skeptical of promotional hooks which encouraged buying local when some farm products are closely tied to other states.
“We’re stuck with it until the president changes from Republican to Democrat,” he said. “There is too much that we don’t know about.”
The number of dairy famers in his area, Boyles observed, has gone from more than 20, to one.
“He’s worried about making payments,” Boyles said. “His wife has to go to work to help meet the payments. That’s disgusting. She was always there helping him.”
He noted that costs of milk production, about $16.50 per hundredweight, exceed the typical $13 dollars the dairy farmer gets. Going to work for a pipeline company, Boyles said, was understandable.
Meantime, Tom Styer of Muncy, was suspicious that food prices were being kept artificially low.
“Cheap food means the farmer doesn’t have money to spend,” Styer said. “He can’t buy new equipment and the young people can’t get into it because they can’t afford it.”
Styer, with a Muncy area produce farm, grows sweet corn, strawberries and vegetables. A corn subsidy, he said, would only have gotten him $45, and required two trips to Williamsport to get it. Styer said President Trump didn’t seem to be for farmers.
Others lamented tariffs on aluminum, which has raised prices for containers used in food service. Large entities, it was observed, were more likely or able to absorb the higher costs than small operations.
Congressman Fred Keller (R-Pa. 12) addressed the gathering. Keller saluted the ag community and noted that picnics and county fairs showcase the commonwealth’s top industry.
More than 1,000 people registered for the AgChoice Farm Credit customer appreciation picnic at Ard’s Farm. Cook game the Ag Choice model, a member-owned cooperative, a thumbs up for its credit and financial services. They also offer crop insurance, continuing ag education and programs for young farmers.
AgChoice representatives noted that they serve more than 50 Pennsylvania counties and four in West Virginia. It was their seventh customer appreciation event of the summer.