SHAMOKIN — The $130,000 state grant awarded this week to the City of Shamokin will pay for a hydrologic and hydraulic study on Shamokin Creek and its tributaries, the SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) announced Wednesday.
“Flooding impacts communities regularly, but so does its costs. We want to assure residents with this study that the mitigation measures are truly needed as well as recommending the best solutions possible,” Betsy Kramer, SEDA-COG revitalization coordinator, said in a news release. She did not immediately return calls for additional comment.
The study has been planned for some time. It was an aspect of the city’s Act 47 three-year exit plan released in December 2019.
Earlier that year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released its proposed flood insurance rate map (FIRM), which expands the 100-year flood zone area within Shamokin and adds more than 200 residential and commercial properties to it.
A 100-year flood zone refers to the area that is predicted to flood during a 100-year storm, which has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year.
Owners of properties within these flood zones must have flood insurance if their mortgages are backed by a federal agency such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition, Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.) and Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) are considered in this group.
Purchasing flood insurance adds an extra layer of expenses for any home- or business owner.
When complete, the study will include recommendations from a professional engineer and will identify how floodwaters move within the city and how to address the impacts that arise.
The proposed flood insurance rate maps for Shamokin could go into effect as early as this summer.
SEDA-COG has a Flood Resiliency Program and offers services related to flood resiliency and mitigation assistance both within and outside of its 11-county region. Its goal is to help break the damage cycle and stop its drain on people and communities.
SEDA-COG will use the grant and study to implement solutions and teach residents about proactive approaches.
“After the study is complete, the City of Shamokin will be better poised to take further action to address the concerns surrounding the proposed development and the revitalization of the city,” said Teri Provost, SEDA-COG’s director of flood resiliency. “The study will provide public awareness and technical assistance to property owners on how they can better prepare themselves prior to the new FIRMs becoming effective this summer.”
Mitigation measures could include a letter of map revision, which could revise the FIRM, as well as implementation projects to mitigate the potential for flooding and improve resiliency for properties within the 100-year floodplain.
COAL TOWNSHIP — Overcoming obstacles, veteran stage performers will say, is key to producing a successful show — and the music department at Shamokin Area High School is striving to do just that with next month’s production of “Godspell.”
The musical that follows a small group of people who help Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a wide variety of storytelling techniques will be presented in-person and online at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8; Friday, April 9; and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 10, in the high school auditorium.
It’s been a year since the cast of “Newsies” left the stage due to the state closure of schools. What was originally thought to be a three-week delay turned into an unfortunate cancellation of the entire production.
The return of musical theatre to the stage at Shamokin is a welcome relief to Joshua Bashore and Rosalind Kane, who, like their fellow senior classmates, wanted one last chance to perform before graduation.
“It’s honestly amazing,” remarked Bashore, who portrays Jesus. “There’s almost no other schools in this area, and around the country for that matter, that are allowed to do shows. Barely anyone can do shows, and we are.”
Kane was uncertain during blind auditions in January that a musical would even occur due to the ongoing and uncertain impacts of COVID-19. Those feelings have turned into hope and excitement as show time draws near.
“We did not know if there would be an end result. Now, with the deadline in view, it just makes it so much better (and) more worthwhile, because you are getting ready,” said Kane, who portrays one of the non-Biblical characters. “I think the real kicker is going to be when we have the first audience, because we never got to have that with ‘Newsies.’ We never had that experience.”
With COVID-19 cases decreasing and vaccinations on the rise, Director Kevin Styler was granted permission to hold a show with certain mitigation efforts, such as a seating arrangement and face masks worn by the audience and performers.
In accordance with state guidelines, Styler said 170 in-person tickets for each show are available. That could change, however, with Gov. Tom Wolf announcing this week that maximum occupancy for indoor events would increase to 25% on April 4.
For in-person tickets please visit www.showtix4u.com/event-details/48251 or call the box office at 570-648-5752 ext. 4114.
To compensate for the reduced number of in-person seats, Styer chose to livestream the shows. The feature, he said, will allow people that normally could not attend shows to now enjoy an evening of music from the confines of their homes.
Livestream tickets can be purchased at www.showtix4u.com/event-details/48246. Once you have purchased your ticket for the livestream you will be given a code to use the night of the show.
Bashore said, “My grandmother and her husband got to see me in my first show and now they will get to see me in my last show. And none of my other relatives in England have seen me in anything, and now yesterday a bunch of them bought livestream tickets. It’s so special that my family will be able to watch the show.”
Kane, who has performed in high school musicals since 2016, appreciates the physical presence of family and friends, but encourages anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable with sitting in an auditorium to purchase a livestream ticket.
“Josh and I, personally, are very big actors. And this is not only just for stage, but for film. Closeup acting is something we work on very often,” Kane said. “Now that we have this option, it just opens you up to more possibilities than before.”
Regardless of the venue and type of show, actors are instructed to perform to the person in the back of the room. Face masks and livestreaming have emphasized stage presence now more than ever.
“Another theme with theatre is that you overcome the issues, whether they’re happening on stage or not,” Bashore said. “You try to find the right way to do it — and that’s what it’s kind of like with the masks.”
Bashore and Kane said a small cast has made them united, which they believe will reflect on stage. Both veteran stage performers indicated that the final curtain call will be a heartbreaking moment.
Cast members include Micah Miller as Judas. Ensemble members are Owen Amato, Michael Artman, Hannah Bashore, Elliot Bennett, Sloan Derk, Raven Dudra, Riley-Kate Elio, Bennet Elio, Jacob Erdman, Makayla Eyster, Alaina Glowatski, Robert Harvey, Garrett Kitchen, Sandy Lin, Selena Lin, Ashlea Oakum, Rylee Pensyl, Brenden Rogers, Molly Rossnock, Destiny Smith and Samantha Stancavage.
Production staff includes Sharon Styer, assistant director; Molly Pincoski, choreographer; Daniel Shuman, set construction; and Ben Anderson and Ryan Shevitski, sound and lighting technicians.
The effects of the pandemic over the past year were unpredictable both for private business and government agencies, but the Pennsylvania Lottery seems to have weathered it relatively unscathed.
The lottery’s executive director, Drew Svitko, testified before the Senate Pennsylvania Appropriations Committee as part of its series of budget hearings, saying that his department actually did quite well, all things considered.
“Most of growth, to be clear, are from scratch-off tickets,” Svitko said. “iLottery was a tremendous boost to us in the pandemic because it allowed people to play safely. … We’re a well-diversified business, and we saw that really benefit us in the last year.”
Popular retail venues for lottery purchases — grocery and convenience stores — initially hurt during the pandemic are climbing once again as people are getting out more.
“And those retail sectors are now booming,” he said.
Luck played a part as well, he said, with huge Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots.
Even slumping sales from bars, restaurants and taverns without monitors hasn’t dampened the rising overall revenue.
“We have to budget conservatively,” he said. “But for next year and beyond I would still expect us to grow, but that growth will not be what it has been this year.”
Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Pittsburgh, asked how skill games and video gaming terminals effect the lottery.
Svitko said about 28% of the state’s lottery retailers have at least one VGT in their locations since the state first began installing them in 2017. The pandemic reduced usage, but as the machines are being turned back on, he expects the impact to go up.
“We’re have a fantastic year but it’s still a very real and mathematically proven impact those machines are having on us and those programs we fund for older Pennsylvanians,” he said.
ATLAS — Judging by the three action items on Mount Carmel Township supervisors’ meeting agenda Wednesday night, springtime is near.
The supervisors unanimously approved items related to baseball teams playing on two fields in the township.
First, approval was given to the Atlas and Locust Gap junior league baseball teams to use the Strong Baseball Field throughout the spring and summer, pending proof of insurance. The coaches will submit schedules outlining what dates and times the teams will use the field.
The supervisors then agreed to give $500 donations — a total of $1,000 — to support field improvements at the Strong field and for upkeep and maintenance at the Midway Field in Diamondtown. The Atlas and Locust Gap junior league baseball teams will receive one donation while the joint recreation committee will receive the other.
Another sport will required the closure of Brett Veach Way on Thursday, April 1. That’s the date of the Mount Carmel Area Track and Field Breslin Invitational meet.
A second issue involving traffic was announced. Directional parking on township streets will again be enforced beginning April 1. Motorists who fail to abide by the rule will be ticketed.
Police Chief Brian Hollenbush warned those who make use of the recycling bins that they may be issued a citation if they fail to obey signs posted there regarding the correct use of the facilities.
“If the recycling containers are full,” but people continue to stack their recyclables on the ground or nearby, “... you will get a quality of life citation,” Hollenbush said.
If defiance to the rules continues, the chief said, “we’re going to start locking the gate.”
From January 2 to March 17, code officer Ed Amarose issued 12 quality of life citations, he told the board.
Supervisor Chairman Aaron Domanski urged residents to break down cardboard before putting it into the containers. That means removing tape or staples so boxes can be folded flat.
Domanski reiterated the basic rules for those using the recycling bins: Do not leave items on the ground. Only place No. 1 and 2 plastics in the bins. Tin and steel cans are not accepted, nor is household garbage.
The chairman noted that two neighboring municipalities — Kulpmont and Marion Heights — appear amenable to learning more about a partnership grant that would enable all three to update their zoning ordinance plans.
The grant is through the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
“It is advantageous to our township to do this,” Domanski said.
In other news, the township’s streets department plans to start patching potholes next week.
Though no community members participated in the public meeting, Domanski said he was pleased to offer the opportunity.
“We didn’t even have a monthly meeting last year in March,” he said, “Things are looking better as we move into the future.”
Domanski and his two fellow supervisors, Richard Mychak and Charles Koveleskie, attended the meeting.
The next public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 21. Meetings are currently held virtually.
The township offices will be closed from noon Friday, April 2, through Monday, April 5, for the Easter holiday. They will reopen Tuesday, April 6.
SHAMOKIN — This year’s Music in the Park series at Claude Kehler Community Park in the 500 block of West Arch Street will feature nine new bands or musical artists.
“We will have our most diverse group of entertainment since we started the music series in 2014,” commented Dave Spotts, who has coordinated the event since its inception.
Spotts urged local and out-of-town residents to take advantage of the free concerts sponsored by the City of Shamokin.
“This is a community concert series,” Spotts said. “We know people are itching to get outdoors and enjoy some music after being restricted for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re confident bigger crowds will attend the events this year.”
Spotts, a longtime professional musician from the local area, stated, “It fills me with joy to see the enthusiasm in the crowd at the concerts. This has been a labor of love for me and the other volunteers who assist with the series.”
He said vendors and food stands will once again be available at every concert.
Spotts, who noted only four concerts were held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, expects 2021 to be the best concert series to date because of the variety of talented performers.
The concert series coordinator praised city officials for sponsoring the events and providing use of Claude Kehler Community Park at no cost.
“Without the city’s help, these events couldn’t be held,” Spotts said. “Everyone on our committee is very grateful for the city’s generosity in providing these great concerts for the community.”
Spotts said donations are accepted at the concerts or by contacting him at 570-898-2377.
He said the regular concerts are scheduled to be held from 6 to 9 p.m. from May 30 to Sept. 19, with music starting at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 14, a special Rock the Block concert will be held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on two separate stages at the park. “There will be 10 hours of continuous music on that day,” Spotts said.
A fall festival will be held in the park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. Blue River Soul (smooth jazz) will perform from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ricky and Harv will entertain the crowd with a variety of music from 3 to 6 p.m., and the Irv Ball Band will play rock music from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s from 3 to 6 p.m.
Spotts said Silverheel is scheduled to play classic rock at the park at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 3, in conjunction with other events being held that day in Shamokin prior to the annual fireworks display to celebrate the Fourth of July.
The following is a list of dates and performers for the regular concert series:
• Sunday, May 30 — Lite Switch (classic dance hits).
• Saturday, June 5 — Strawberry Ridge (bluegrass, folk and blues).
• Saturday, June 19 — Tim Beck 2 (soft rock, country and variety).
• Wednesday, June 23 — Keep Out Brass Band (jazz and funk).
• Saturday, July 17 — Deuce (80s and 90s rock).
• Wednesday, July 21 — Odyssey (70s rock).
• Saturday, July 31 — RATL (rock and country).
• Saturday, Aug. 7 — Ann Kerstetter Band (blues and rock).
• Saturday, Aug. 21 — After Hours Big Band (swing and jazz).
• Wednesday, Aug. 25 — Bob Randall Band (country).
• Saturday, Sept. 4 — Upper Cutt (80s and 90s rock).
• Sunday, Sept. 19 — Lite Switch (classic dance hits).