Wednesday, May 6, 2015
     

Features

Saturday, May 2, 2015
The Schuylkill Historical Fire Society acquired the former Columbia Hose & Steam Fire Engine Co. in 1998 for $17,000.

"We're strong enough to move into the future ... but into the distant future, I don't know," says Michael Kitsock.

That sobering assessment sums up concerns at one of the country's top firefighter repositories.

The Schuylkill Historical Fire Society Museum, 105 S. Jardin St., Shenandoah, showcases the proud history of Schuylkill County firefighting.

It's housed in the former Columbia Hose & Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1, which also served as the police station and borough hall.

Saturday, April 25, 2015
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Vintage speeder cars enter Tamaqua on April 12. All are occupied by rail fans en route to a photo session at the Hometown High Bridge and lunch in Jim Thorpe.

Train enthusiast Bob Knight would be the first to admit that speeder cars are probably mislabeled.

"They look like they speed along the rails," said Knight, of Sandwich, Illinois.

But speed is relative.

Truth is, most speeder train cars have a top speed of about 35 mph, so we're not talking NASCAR-type speed.

And with speeders, top speed is limited to the pace of the slowest car.

As a result, they typically zip along at 15 to 25 mph with frequent stops at scenic places and for bathroom breaks.

Saturday, April 18, 2015
Morgan Mengle holds a photo of herself just after birth in 1998.

Morgan Mengle is truly a miracle child. The 16-year-old Weatherly girl has gone through more than most people go through in a lifetime.

She has undergone not one, but four open heart surgeries to correct problems related to her congenital heart defects; had 13 cardiac catheterization procedures; and lived for months in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for various respiratory infections.

But through it all, Morgan has remained positive, and now the Weatherly High School junior wants to share her story while giving back to the hospital that saved her life.

Saturday, April 4, 2015
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Paul Corinchock, Tamaqua, shows how plain eggs can be turned into colorful heirlooms though the art of pysanky.

Paul Corinchock and Georgine Postupack Borchack are serious about preserving a rich tradition.

Part of the reason is the sheer beauty. But just as important is its deeper meaning.

The two artisans joined forces to teach the intricate art of pysanky during an eight-week wintertime course held at the Tamaqua Community Arts Center.

A group of 25 took up the challenge to create art based on a custom that reinforces the promise of new life.

Corinchock said the magic begins with an egg, but not just any egg. Start with one that's fresh and untainted by processing.

Saturday, March 28, 2015
R. Thomas Berner's exhibition "60 Years Later" takes visitors on a trip to intriguing locations around the world.

An exhibit showcasing 60 years of photography by R. Thomas Berner will bridge generations by supporting activities of today's youth.

Berner's first show, "60 Years Later: A Photo Exhibition," premiered March 20 at the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, with proceeds to benefit local groups.

The presentation, to run through April 13, features dramatic photography employing innovative techniques by Berner, a 1961 Tamaqua High School graduate and professor emeritus of journalism and American studies at Penn State University.

Saturday, March 21, 2015
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS  Marie Ondrus, left, and Irma Leibensperger carry an oil lamp, symbolic of lighting the way for a bright future at Lansford's Kennedy Park, which will mark its 40th anniversary next year but is in need of a face-lift.

It's been nearly 40 years since residents, businesses and coal miners joined hands to create a miners tribute on Route 209 in Lansford.

Today, the serene vista needs a face-lift.

John F. Kennedy Memorial Park is as stately as ever, but needs repairs and a few improvements.

Marie Ondrus and Irma Leibensperger are on a mission to make it happen, and they're looking for members of the community to step forward to lend a hand.

For instance, an authentic coal car is beginning to rot. A few boards must be replaced.

Saturday, March 14, 2015
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS A mental health first aid course will be offered Friday, March 25, at the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, 125 Pine St.

An estimated one in four Americans has a diagnosable mental illness.

Depression can be particularly dangerous because, left untreated, it can have fatal consequences.

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression.

"The reason for this is unknown, but changes in a woman's hormone levels may be related to depression," states the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Saturday, March 14, 2015
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS "I stabbed myself seven times," says Barbara Heigele Banditelli, describing what was the lowest day of her life.

Barbara Banditelli remembers the day she wrote her farewell note to family.

On Sept. 11, eight years ago, depression and prescription drug addiction had smothered her last ounce of mental strength. She felt she simply couldn't go on.

"I wrote a note to my husband, family and friends, stating I was ending my life," said the Tamaqua mother of two.

Nobody saw it coming, not even medical professionals.

Banditelli recalls telling her psychologist everything was going just fine.

But it wasn't.

Saturday, March 7, 2015
The Molly Maguire Meander walking tour ended in Tamaqua's East End with a visit to the 1801 Burkhardt Moser log home, the first house built in Tamaqua. Shown are tour guide "Porcupine Pat" McKinney and Schuylkill County Judge John Domalakes.

"Tamaqua has done so much historically to preserve its history," said Schuylkill County Judge John Domalakes, a local historian.

"There are blue historical markers all over town," said tour guide "Porcupine Pat" McKinney.

The Schuylkill County town, the largest borough in the county, is rich in railroad and coal history, and, particularly, Molly Maguire connections.

Tamaqua was the geographic hub from which the legendary Molly Maguires violence radiated, from the Pottsville area to Mauch Chunk, now Jim Thorpe.

Saturday, March 7, 2015
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS  "They brought the bodies here," says "Porcupine Pat" McKinney at the Tamaqua train depot. McKinney served as facilitator of The Molly Maguire Meander, an information-oriented, 3-mile hike through Tamaqua on Feb. 22.

The remarkable legend hasn't been forgotten.

After 137 years, the macabre role of the Tamaqua train station remains seared in the minds of local residents.

"They brought the bodies here," said "Porcupine Pat" McKinney, standing in front of the 1874 Tamaqua train depot.

McKinney, education coordinator for the Schuylkill Conservation District, led a group of the curious on "The Molly Maguire Meander," a 3-mile hike to some of 15 Molly Maguire-related sites in the Tamaqua area.