A program to conclude the celebration of the 200th year of the founding of the County of Schuylkill was held Sunday on a dreary afternoon, which cut short the celebration because of the rain. The bicentennial finale was held outdoors in front of the towering courthouse building in Pottsville.

The highlight was the presentation of items from many boroughs and townships, which were placed in a time capsule.

Clerk of Courts Stephen Lukach, who was present when the 1889 capsule was opened in 1999, was in charge of storing the memorabilia into the new capsule. Lukach said it was donated by Ringtown Wilbert Vaults Inc., of Ringtown. He said the townships and boroughs which have not added their items to date still have time as the capsule will not be buried until Courthouse Commons is constructed on the grounds in front of the courthouse building on Laurel Boulevard.

Associate Judge Charles M. Miller represented the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County in welcoming more than 100 spectators who braved the chilly afternoon to witness the historic ceremony. The program opened under gathering clouds and a steady rain started to fall shortly before the conclusion.

There was a presentation of the colors by the Vietnam Veterans Color Guard, who still showed a lively step; and an invocation given by the Rev. Bob Hoenich, who recalled the growth of the county by people who worked in the mines, farms and textile industries. Paul Kennedy gave a powerful rendition of the national anthem.

The rain was falling and spectators were heading for cover when the three county commissioners picked up shovels to carry out the ground-breaking ceremony for the $400,000 Courthouse Commons as a lasting memorial for the 200th birthday.

It will consist of several platforms with bricks laid carrying the names of many citizens of the county and organizations, and will be able to be used for band concerts and outdoor programs.

Register of Wills Michael McCord and county grant writer Gary Bender were co-chairman of the bicentennial event. A number of dignitaries were in the audience. The courthouse was open for a tour by the public.