Halloween week is here, and, this year, there are many ways to celebrate across the region.
The Shamokin Halloween parade held by Shamokin Area Businesses for Economic Revitalization (SABER) at 6 p.m. Wednesday will kick off the parade scene. (The parade was postponed from Tuesday due to the weather).
Participants will be judged in either singles, doubles, groups or floats categories. Judges will be positioned at Legacy Park located at Market and Arch streets. Each winner will receive a cash prize, amounts to be announced, according to Kathy Vetovich, president of SABER.
Mayor John Brown asked parade participants to refrain from throwing candy from vehicles to ensure the safety of spectators.
The Moose Family Center on Rock Street will host its traditional haunted house and the Shamokin Area High School football team will have a pep rally located at the municipal lot at Independence and Rock streets, which is the end of the parade’s route.
The Borough of Kulpmont will celebrate Halloween 7 p.m. Thursday with a parade of its own, courtesy of the Lions Club. Participants will meet at the Church of the Holy Rosary. A panel of judges are typically seated in front of the St. Pauline Visintainer Spirituality Center along Chestnut Street.
Signup begins at 5 p.m. with step off at 7 p.m. The route is east on Scott Street, north on Sixth and west on Chestnut Street to the West End Fire Co., where refreshments will be handed out.
“We’ve been having this parade for over 50 years,” said Dave Bango, chairman of the Kulpmont Lions District 14G Halloween Parade Committee. “Last year was the first year we missed because of the pandemic.”
Bango said the committee is watching the weather forecast, but hopes are that the heavy rain expected for the end of the week holds off until after the parade. A rain date is currently under consideration.
The Mount Carmel Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie 464, is sponsoring the 42nd Mount Carmel Halloween parade as part of its commitment to promote the community and follow the national organization’s motto of “People Helping People.”
This year’s event will take place 11 a.m. Saturday with a rain date scheduled for the following day at noon, if necessary.
The parade will form on Sixth Street between Hickory and Oak streets and Sixth Street between Oak and Maple streets, if necessary. The parade will proceed down Hickory Street and turn on Second Street, after which it will turn down Oak Street and the business district heading to the front of the Mount Carmel Eagles, 147 S. Oak St., where children will receive gift bags.
The Elysburg Haunted House benefiting the Ralpho Fire Co. and Elysburg Fire Department heads into the last weekend of the haunt season. Gates open at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Thousands of people have so far visited the attraction, which features two trails, an abandoned home and several outbuildings. Among the attendees Saturday night was 22-year-old Kiana Adams and 23-year-old Zoe Zarko, both of Shamokin.
“I enjoy people coming up and scaring me. The hot chocolate is a bonus when it’s cold out,” Zarko said while waiting in a line that snaked several times near various food vendors.
Adams said meeting “the witch” at the main entrance sets the mood for the evening. She said the mysterious person provides safety instructions and often tells a haunting story.
A few miles down the road, Knoebels Amusement Resort will wrap up Hallo-Fun this weekend. Guests can experience tasty seasonal treats, thrilling games, entertainment by R.A.T.L. and spooktacular attractions, such as the haunted Antique Car and Pioneer Train. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
In conjunction with trick-or-treat Sunday evening in Ralpho Township, the Elysburg Fire Department Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will once again be sponsoring “Operating Be Seen.”
First responders will be located at Butternut and Hemlock lanes in Elysburg starting at 5 p.m. to hand out free glow necklaces to children. They will be in or around official department vehicles.
“The program is in its 14th year. It began as a way to give back to the community, increase visibility and ultimately increase safety for trick-or-treaters in the community” said Matt Siko, EMS operations manager. “On average, over 600 necklaces are distributed each year.”
Siko offered the following tips for a safe and fun trick-of-treat experience:
• Go in groups with adult supervision.
• Never go into a stranger’s home.
• Have an adult inspect all treats.
• Cross a street at a well-lit corner.
• Bring a flash light and a phone.
• Plan routes and only visit well-lit homes.
• Never accept a ride from a stranger.
MAHANOY CITY — The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) are searching for 36-year-old Santonio Pierre Malone who investigators say shot two people, killing one, just before 3 a.m. Sunday outside Rmusic21 Lounge at Centre and Second streets in the borough.
According to PSP, borough officers responded to a disturbance outside the bar. Upon arrival, it was discovered that two people, Juan Carlos Romero, 33, of Hazleton, and Alofi Bladimir Ramirez, 29, were shot.
The disturbance, investigators say, may have started when the victims were refused entry to the lounge.
During the disturbance, Malone allegedly brandished a firearm and shot Romero multiple times in the middle of Centre Street. He then shot Ramirez, who was kneeling behind his vehicle parked near the Lounge after retrieving a handgun. The suspect fled the scene.
PSP were requested to assist and assumed the investigation.
Romero was pronounced dead at the scene. Ramirez was flown to Reading Hospital and was in serious condition as of Sunday afternoon.
PSP say an arrest warrant has been issued for Malone on an open count of homicide. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call state police at Frackville.
SUNBURY — Northumberland County President Judge Charles Saylor is seeking another 10-year term on the bench in the Nov. 2 general election.
On the ballot will be a question asking voters if Saylor should be retained for another term as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
His current 10-year term, which is his second, expires at the end of the year.
Saylor said he takes great pride in his accomplishments on the bench. At the top of his list was establishing the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program in the county. The program provides children in the foster care system with a voice in court through trained volunteers.
Another foster care initiative was the celebration of all adoptions by holding an Adoption Day program in November every year.
Saylor has been active in his 20 years on the bench in seeking out programs that could benefit youth in the county. Currently, there is a juvenile truancy task force that is actively taking steps to address this serious problem.
The judge has always supported treatment courts. The county presently has five specialty courts, including veterans treatment court that he launched in 2009.
Saylor has served as president judge since 2017. As president judge, he has oversight of all court-related offices.
He attempts to lead by example to make the judicial system as effective as possible in moving cases to a just resolution. The court has remained open as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saylor also has served as chairman of the county prison board since 2017 and has helped guide the transition to a new jail in Coal Township that meets the county’s needs.
Saylor has a busy caseload in which he handles a wide variety of issues. He has presided over many high-profile criminal cases and complex civil litigation.
“One of the reasons I enjoy being a judge is the challenge of dealing with the variety of cases, and significance to the parties of the matters that come before me,” he said. “With my 20 years experience as a judge, I can effectively handle the increased caseloads of today. In doing my work, I strive to be not just knowledgeable of the law, but also use common sense.”
Saylor, 71, of Point Township, was born in Bethlehem, and has been married to his wife, Marty, for 50 years. They have two children, Amy and Matthew, and three grandchildren.
He graduated in 1971 from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and earned his law degree from Dickinson School of Law in 1974.
Saylor served as a law clerk to President Judge Michael Kivko (1974-75) and Judge Samuel C. Ranck (1975-76) and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1974 and Federal Bar in 1979.
He had a private practice from 1976 to 2001 and was an associate with attorneys Roger V. Wiest and William Harvey Wiest, who later became a county judge. The law firm had subsequent partnerships with attorneys Robert Muolo, David Noon and William Swinehart.
Saylor’s areas of practice included civil litigation and municipal and zoning laws. He served as solicitor for Northumberland County for four years, Point Township for 19 years and Rush Township for 15 years.
In 2012, he won the Red Cross “Hero” Community Impact Award and was named Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA Volunteer of the Year in 1996.
He served as president of the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA in 1998 and 2013-14, president of Sunbury Rotary Club, board member of the Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library and president of Northumberland County Bar Association.
Saylor was president of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges in 2018-19 and chairman of the Office of Children, Families and the Courts Committee on transitioning out of foster care in 2012-13.
He was a charter member of the Pennsylvania State Roundtable for Dependency and Children and Youth in 2005.
He co-authored the Judges Benchbook on Dependency in 2010 and a revised edition of the Trial Judges Handbook for Management of Civil Jury Trials in 2015.
Saylor also was co-editor of the Judicial Bench Cards relating to Protection from Abuse Hearings in 2020.
He was a panelist for Judges Practices for Handling “Sovereign Citizens” litigants in Pittsburgh in 2019, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in Philadelphia in 2009, and National Court Improvement Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2009.
Saylor was elected judge in 2001 and retained in 2011.
Under his leadership, Northumberland County is one of five counties in the state to participate in the Family Engagement Initiative and has reduced the number of children in foster care by over 65%.
He has presided over the DUI, mental health and veterans treatment courts and served as co-chairman with Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley of the Summit on Northumberland County Drug Overdose Crisis in 2017.
The judge was a member of the steering committee that established the Children’s Advocacy Center in Northumberland County.
He consolidated the adult and juvenile probation departments under the county’s chief probation officer Tim Heitzman and established scheduling protocols for speedy trial protections in criminal cases.
Saylor has served as a mentor to nine law clerks during his judgeship.
SUNBURY — Republican Christina “Tina” Mertz is seeking her second four-year term as Northumberland County register/recorder in the Nov. 2 general election against Libertarian Alison Smeltz, who serves as secretary/treasurer of the Susquehanna Valley Libertarian Party.
Mertz, 57, of Point Township, began serving as acting register/recorder in January 2016 after succeeding Mary Zimmerman, who retired. She successfully ran for her first four-year term in 2017.
“During the past four years, I have implemented numerous things into the office such as e-recording of documents, which has been welcomed by attorneys, title searchers, my staff and many people from the general public. I also established in the office the Veteran ID Program, which has been very successful.”
Mertz said she continued some scanning projects of old books onto her internet software and recently purchased new computer monitors. Her office also started doing “zoom” probates, which was sorely needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During these many months of day-to-day uncertainty with the virus, it was imperative that my office continue to process deeds, mortgages, marriage licenses, estates, etc., with the least amount of interruptions, which we’ve been able to accomplish.”
She said, “My hope is that the voters of Northumberland County will keep their confidence in me and reelect me so I can continue to serve them for another four years.”
Smeltz, 41, of Sunbury, graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School in 1998 and then attended culinary school in Pittsburgh.
She worked at Sears in Selinsgrove, Muncy and Bloomsburg from 2002 to 2015 and served as human resources supervisor at Sears in the Columbia Mall for three years prior to the store’s closing.
Smeltz also served as office manager of a small home health agency for approximately two years before leaving for health reasons.
She is currently a personal designer in the custom framing department at Michael’s.
Smeltz is the secretary-treasurer of the Susquehanna Valley Libertarian Party, a regional affiliate of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania that serves Northumberland and Snyder counties.
Smeltz was appointed last year as inspector of elections for Ward 6 in Sunbury and is seeking the same position in the general election.
“My main reason for seeking the office of register/recorder is because I believe in choice.” she said. “The Democratic committee did not run anyone against Tina (Mertz), so the Susquehanna Valley Libertarian Party wanted to run someone to give voters another option. I see register/recorder as more of an ‘office job.’ It’s not an overly politically-motivated position, or at least, it shouldn’t be. I believe this is an instance where one’s registered political affiliation should have little bearing.”
Her personal reason for running for the office is connected to her grandmother, the late Rae Smeltz, whom she described as a “great lady in Sunbury who was involved in so many things.”
Smeltz said her grandmother, who had a great influence on her life, was a member of the Litefest Committee, Soroptomist Club and the original board of Sunbury Revitalization Inc.
Rae Smeltz served on Shikellamy School Board and was active in the Girl Scouts and her church.
Smeltz said her grandmother also helped her husband operate Smeltz Auto Sales in Sunbury.
“I have a deep appreciation for my grandmother’s extensive involvement and incredible dedication to our community and I seek to emulate that,” Smeltz said. “I have learned so much and met some truly amazing people. I already have plans for further involvement in the coming months and into next year.”
She added, “I have said rather publicly that I am fairly certain Tina has been doing a great job. If she wasn’t, the public would hear more about the office. I don’t seek to derail any progress she has made while in office. I’m simply here to offer voters another choice.”