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This photo combo shows, from left, Travis McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan, and Gregory McMichael during their trial at at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga. Jurors on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021 convicted the three white men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man who was chased and fatally shot while running through their neighborhood in an attack that became part of the larger national reckoning on racial injustice. (Pool, file)

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Light Up Lincoln event will educate public about multiple monuments on Lincoln Street
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SHAMOKIN — “It’s going to be a great night for Shamokin.”

That’s how Kathy Vetovich described the Light Up Lincoln event being held Saturday night in conjunction with the second annual Home for the Holidays celebration. Both events are sponsored by Shamokin Area Businesses for Economic Revitalization (SABER).

Vetovich, who is the organizer of the celebration and has spearheaded numerous community-related events in the city, said, “Many volunteers have worked hard to make this year’s event even better than last year. Lincoln Street will shine and all attendees will get a great history lesson about all of our wonderful monuments. There will also be character actors such as entertainer Groucho Marx and longtime mine inspector Clarence “Mooch” Kashner (Vetovich’s grandfather) on Lincoln Street leading up to City Hall, which will be organized by Amanda Krebs.”

She said the popular event will give Shamokin area citizens and out-of-town residents an opportunity to learn about the history and significance of the various monuments that line Lincoln Street.

Vetovich said many business people and individuals, including students from Shamokin Area and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional schools, who are members of Future Innovators of Shamokin (FIOS), have donated their time to decorate the monuments for the holidays.

Mayor John Brown thanked Vetovich for once again organizing the event.

“A big thank you goes out to Kathy,” said Brown. “This is the second year for Home for the Holidays and Light Up Lincoln and hopefully the new administration that takes over in January will continue to support these events. This is another big event that brings people to Shamokin who will hopefully patronize our businesses.”

Light Up Lincoln will kick off at 5 p.m. at Legacy Park with narrator Alek Washuta providing a history of the Stanley Coveleski Monument. Coveleski, a native of the Shamokin area, is a Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.

Other narrators include a Shamokin Carbons official for the Rosini Family-Ann Koshinski Monument, former Shamokin Mayor William Milbrand for the Fireman’s Monument, an official with Citizens for a Better Community (CBC) for the Eagle Silk Mill bell and eagle, Phil Krebs for the Price of Freedom Monument, Lauren Zimmerman for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Mayor Brown for the Cpl. David Witmer Memorial and City Hall, a Klacik & Associates official for the John F. Kennedy Memorial, Mike McLaughlin for The Hiker Monument, Tom Kutza for Shroyer’s Dress Factory, Francis Doncheski for the Victoria Theatre, John Treese for WISL Radio and Allison Williams from Step Up Shamokin for the 99 Steps.

Tours of the Kallaway Center for the Arts and Bamse Coffee & Roaster on Lincoln Street also will be provided.

A special Christmas carol event will be held at City Hall and Santa will visit Bamse after the event. The Shamokin Area brass ensemble will provide entertainment at Bamse following the Light Up Lincoln event.

Twenty-eight vendors and the sounds of numerous musical performances will grace Independence Street from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday during the Home for the Holidays celebration.

Strolling musicians will rove throughout the downtown district with acts scheduled by students from the Music Studio by Patty Zablosky, Reach for the Stars from A&B Children’s Theatre, Leon B Music and the Strolling Accordians.

Local Vocals from The Studio will begin performing at 11 a.m. at Bamse Coffee & Roaster. At 1 p.m., Keri Kreative Dance Center and Heath’s Gym Dance Crew will perform in the parking lot of Fulton Bank, 100 W. Independence St. Following the performance, the child performers will lead Santa through town to Bamse and will stay there until 7:30 p.m. for pictures.

A petting zoo will be located on Ninth Street for the duration of the four-hour event.

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Mount Carmel Township holds the line on taxes

ATLAS — Mount Carmel Township’s real estate taxes would remain the same at 18.75 mills under a proposed 2022 budget presented to the Board of Supervisors last week.

“I think over the past 18 months, during the pandemic, everyone has had it though. We continue to provide full services heading into 2022, and residents won’t see an increase in property, personal or per capita taxes from the township,” remarked board Chairman Aaron Domanski. “This is a testament to the board to do what is right for the township and its residents.”

Real estate taxes are debt service, 1.5 mills; street lighting, 2 mills; fire protection, 1.5 mills; and general, 13.75 mills. A mill rate, also referred to as the millage rate, is a figure representing the amount per $1,000 of the assessed value of property, which is used to calculate the amount of property tax.

General expenditures are $376,941.37 and police expenditures are $539,149.15. Police salaries and health care are the brunt of the police budget, which also includes an annual six-figure payment toward pensions, according to Domanski.

“Our budget is similar to last year. Expenditures and services will remain the same,” said Domanski, adding that the township continues to explore ways to generate additional revenue. “I thank the residents for working with us to make Mount Carmel Township as good as it can be.”

The Mount Carmel Township Board of Supervisors intend to vote on adopting the $916,090.52 proposed budget at its next monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8. A copy of the budget is available for viewing at the municipal building during regular office hours.

Domanski said the township has received its full allotment of $155,000 from the American Rescue Plan, but the board has not expended the funds. He said the board is waiting for final regulations from the federal government.

In other business, Domanski clarified that the Mount Carmel Township property listed in the Nov. 5 edition of The News-Item as a property transfer from Kevin and Cheryl Boylan to the Board of Supervisors was actually a loan indebtedness through the HOME grant program, which is managed by SEDA-COG.

The township, he continued, is having trouble with people dumping inappropriate materials in the recycling bins. Recently, someone dropped a large amount of vinyl siding in the plastic bin. Domanski said 99% of township residents are following regulations, but cautioned that the other 1% are “bad eggs” who are putting the program at risk.

Domanski said the township intends to send a letter to the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) regarding consolidation of township fire apparatus as part of a joint police study with Kulpmont and Marion Heights. The study, which comes at no-cost to the township, is being conducted by DCED.

Domanski stressed that the study is solely to gather information for the township to digest.

“It’s just in the informational stage. It’s a free study provided by DCED to see what information comes back. We will take that information and go from there,” he said.

Domanski reminded residents that the township offices will be closed today and Friday. On behalf of the board, he wished everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Ohio State offensive lineman Luke Wypler lifts teammate Julian Fleming into the air following Fleming's first career touchdown on Saturday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

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Soul Mining: Thanksgiving 2021 — God's in it this minute

First Thessalonians 5:18 is one of those Bible verses that you might wish wasn’t there. It calls us to do what we aren’t by nature geared to do. The Apostle Paul writes, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I am all for celebrating those blessings that make me smile, but that which rips my heart out, not so much. At the very least, I am especially glad that the Scripture doesn’t command us to be grateful “for” all things because being appreciative of cancer, death, discouragement, anxiety and despair makes no sense to me whatsoever. I don’t believe that Jesus was grateful for all the suffering that He had to endure upon the cross as much as He was standing upon the truth that His heavenly Father was working even the bad things together for good when all was said and done. I am so grateful that the Lord can redeem our messes into masterpieces!

But sadly, I still tend to be a whiner and complainer. I’m not bragging about this trait because I wish it would not define me as it does. I am trying not to be a “half-full” or “half-empty” kind of guy, but become someone who appreciates that he has a glass at all. I like the fact that the Apostle Paul said that even he had to learn how to be content. You can be sure that I am still enrolled in that class. I do honestly desire that the Lord would continue to teach me how not to become so frustrated by things when they don’t go my way. I should be used to that by now, but I am hard-headed. I am pretty good at the art of feeling sorry for myself. When you want to splash around a pool of your own self-pity, your imperfect circumstances will provide you with plenty of ammunition.

If you ever venture into my office, you will discover that there are Peanuts everywhere. I’m not referring to the type that the elephants eat but the ones that have been a Sunday newspaper staple as far back as I can remember. I feel for Charlie Brown. I actually feel like Charlie Brown many a days. Did you know that in all 17,897 comic strips, Charlie Brown never once got to successfully kick the football from Lucy? Asked whether Charlie Brown would finally get to kick the football in the last “Peanuts” comic strip, Schulz replied, “Oh, no! Definitely not! I couldn’t have Charlie Brown kick that football; that would be a terrible disservice to him after nearly half a century.” The Cartoonist later regretted his decision, and became remorseful, and in 1999, recalling the final time he signed the comic strip, “All of a sudden I thought, ‘You know, that poor, poor kid, he never even got to kick the football. What a dirty trick — he never had a chance to kick the football!’”

I can’t count how many moments that I have looked up to heaven and begged, “Dear Lord, please let today be the day you allow me to kick the football!” Some days, I feel like God is Charles Schulz, and even though He knows how much I want to connect with that pigskin, He always pulls it away and allows me to land smack dab on my back. I am not saying that these feelings are accurate. I know in my head that the voice of truth tells me a different story, but I do wrestle with the devil’s darts, which shout to me things like, “God is playing a cruel joke on you and He seems to be enjoying it.” This frustrates me to no end.

I have learned the hard way that if we are ever going to be able to be “thankful” in each situation, and develop an authentic attitude of gratitude, we need to make sure we keep looking up before we start mouthing off. If we don’t, our worship will quickly be reduced to glorified whining and our contents of praise sabotaged to morph into nothing more than lots of pot shots about our present position. Life is never easy when you are stuck in an unpleasant present.

Do any of these statements sound familiar? “I don’t like where I am God.” “I can’t believe that You would just leave me here!” “Lord, how can You say you love me when You just up and left me to fend for myself all alone?” It is when our wounds are the rawest we need to turn down the volume of Earth’s noise so that we may position ourselves to hear heaven’s voice loud and clear. The language of lies can only be eliminated by “truth talk.” I like what Christian Artist Ellie Holcomb calls them. She says that they are her, “Fighting words.”

It’s so easy for any one of us to be led astray. As a follower of Jesus, there is power in your story when you choose to press on and plow through, even though you aren’t enjoying the scenery. It is only by going the distance do we later discover the divine assistance we were provided when we thought we were abandoned. We need so much more than just “bumper sticker” clichés when the road of life gets treacherous. We need to ask the Lord for a “bumper car” mentality. We need to make sure our “crash helmets” are on. Life is more often like riding the “Phoenix” coaster at Knoebels than settling for a nice, quiet ride on the merry-go-round in the kiddie section.

When you lose your health it’s hard not to lose your hope. Getting older presents its own challenges when you can’t do the things you once could. But no matter what our circumstances may be, the truth remains the same and that is God is in it this very minute. You may not like where you are or what you are or when you are but it doesn’t negate the promise of our Lord’s presence path of Jesus. When we look for the Lord rather than just use the Lord for what we want, we experience His presence in the midst of our pain, even when we don’t like the purpose. His company means more to us than the mere change in our current address.

In her book “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boom tells of a time she discovered that God was working even in the most horrific circumstances. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, had been imprisoned by the Nazis for hiding Jews behind the wall of their Holland home. They both, along with their father, ended up together in a concentration camp. Even in the midst of the suffering, the women prisoners gathered around Corrie and Betsie and found comfort in the little Bible studies they held in the barracks. When they were moved to Barracks 28, Corrie was horrified by the fact that their reeking, straw-bed platforms swarmed with fleas. How could they live in such a place? It was Betsie who challenged Corrie to not lose heart or hope.

Corrie decided in the middle of the dark, foul-aired room that she was going to thank God for the fact they were together. Corrie thanked God that they had a Bible. Corrie even thanked God for her fellow prisoners, that more people would be able to hear God’s Word. And then Betsie thanked God for the fleas. The fleas?!? This was too much. There was no way even Betsie could make Corrie grateful for the fleas. Betsie reminded Corrie that she may never know how God might be using the fleas.

Eventually, Corrie proceeded to give thanks for her place among the fleas even though this time she was sure Betsie was wrong. It turned out that Betsie was right; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by the soldiers coming in and harassing them. It was the fleas that kept those intruders out. Through those fleas, God protected the women from sexual abuse and harassment. Through those fleas, God protected the women from much worse things and made sure they had their deepest, truest needs met.

We all have “fleas” in our lives. We all have those things that we can see no use for, things that are obviously horrible, unpleasant, painful things that we want gone. No life is free of “fleas,” but if Corrie and Betsie can be our examples, God can use even these nasty insects for our protection and blessing. As we celebrate this Thanksgiving, let’s thank God for His constant care and provision, and for His hidden blessings that come in ways we can easily overlook when we don’t see Him. He is in it this very minute. He is Emmanuel. Jesus is the eternal reality of “God with us!”