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Features

Saturday, April 19, 2014
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS The Heritage Center of the Western Pocono Community Library opened Tuesday. It is a museum of cultural and historic artifacts of the West Endof Monroe County.

The Western Pocono Community Library has turned another page in its book. This one reads, "Heritage Center of the Western Pocono Community Library."

It's an exciting new chapter and is all about the history and culture of the West End of Monroe County. It comes in the form of an actual building. The new Heritage Center is located in the library's former Back Door Books store at the corner of Route 209 and Bond Lane in Brodheadsville. It opened its doors to the public this week.

Friday, April 18, 2014
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/DONALD R. SERFASS This illustration depicts what the 1928 Lansford wake observance may have looked like when rosary beads placed in the deceased's hands slowly began to bloom.

Two eyewitnesses have emerged to describe details of one of the most spectacular stories to come out of the town of Lansford, an event that captured world attention in the Roaring Twenties.

One witness, Mary (Paslawsky) Dirnberger, was a 10-year-old child who hiked with family members from Coaldale in order to view the Miracle of the Rosary. The miracle was a phenomenon in which beads burst into small flowers during a family wake observance and for days afterward.

"They started to bloom and they were white lilies," said Dirnberger. "The whole thing was blooming."

Friday, April 11, 2014
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS John Paul "Bussy" Jones, New Ringgold, began digging farm dumps and outhouses in 1980 and never stopped, amassing a collection of rare old bottles.

In some ways, it's a typical old bottle. But it's also the rarest of the rare.

Unearthed 20 years ago, it was previously not known to exist.

And nobody has come up with another.

When a bottle collector finds an example in a league of its own, well ... it's enough to become uncorked with happiness.

That's the case with vintage bottle aficionado John Paul "Bussy" Jones, who believes he owns the rarest bottle in all of Pennsylvania. Fittingly, he keeps it locked away in a safe.

Friday, April 4, 2014
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS From left: Stephen Bennett, Dina Depos, Amanda Carson, Micah Gursky and the team of Parker and Barker, Mormon missionaries who forgo the use of surnames. The group pauses after putting finishing touches on the Tamaqua artist-in-residence studio inside the Elks Lodge building.

A lucky artist will be awarded a downtown art studio for three months.

When that happens, it will help to establish his or her career and advance the reality of the Tamaqua Art District, a movement 10 years in the making.

Since 2004, several large downtown buildings in the center of the 55-block Tamaqua National Historic District have been repurposed as art venues, including former churches and meeting halls.

Friday, March 28, 2014
LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWSCoach "Wink" Kovalchick instructs swimmer Anthony Witczak on the finer points of diving.

Teamwork.

Ask any coach and they will tell you the success of their team depends not on the individual superstar, but on how well their team can come together and support each other. Good coaches also know that how their athletes conduct themselves off the field is just as important as how they conduct themselves on the field. In this case, however, the field is a swimming pool, but head coach Jennifer Paisley wants to make sure that both of these lessons are an integral part of the training her young swimmers receive.

Saturday, March 22, 2014
AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Richard E. Forgay sits in his favorite seat in his home in Lansford.

When you walk into Richard E. Forgay's Lansford home, you are greeted by the warmth of love and memories of family that have settled into the walls over the decades.

Richard sits in his favorite armchair, a beige floral print high-back chair, enjoying one of his favorite beverages.

His eyes are kind, his smile inviting, and he is dressed like he just came home from a day at the office.

He is sharp as a tack, even at 84 years old, remembering the good ol' days as if they were yesterday.

Richard is one of the remaining gatekeepers of Lansford's rich history.

Friday, March 14, 2014
Left, Shawn Noonan and right, Joe Campbell, both Pennsylvania State Police troopers of the Lehighton barracks, presented the Aquashicola Fire Company a check for $4,984.67, the proceeds from the first Gary "Lumpy" Koons Golf Tournament. AFD's Second Assistant Chief/Treasurer Chris Jahelka accepted on behalf of AFD.

Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company (or Department, AFD), has it all ... everyday heroes in its volunteer firefighters, dedicated members and a community that supports it successfully.

On March 1, AFD held an 85th anniversary party, recognizing many neighboring community emergency responders.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company's 85-year history:

1929-water mains laid with hydrants in Towamensing Township and a volunteer fire department formed. Aquashicola firemen responded to fires on Front and Mill streets as far as their hoses would reach from fire hydrants. They relied heavily on assistance from Towamensing Township Fire Co. #1 (also known as Palmerton Fire Department).

1949-A Thanksgiving Day fire claimed three lives and sparked an interest for an organized fire company.

Friday, February 28, 2014

By DONALD R. SERFASS
dserfass@tnonline.com
Tamaqua is known as the Land of Running Water.
But in early days, a good portion of the water was mixed with malted barley, hops and yeast.
The town hosted a budding beer industry second to none.
In fact, the manufacture, bottling and distribution of beer was so popular, the town is believed to have spawned one of Lancaster’s largest breweries.
Empire Brewery, a former industry giant, might have been an outgrowth of a smaller brewery in 1877 Tamaqua.

Saturday, February 22, 2014
Al Dietz

For the first time in 72 years, there's a story about the busy man behind the familiar name.

Veteran newsman Al Dietz, behind-the-scenes court reporter on the Schuylkill County beat, spoke this week about highlights of his legendary career.

That development, in itself, is news.

Dietz, 92, has turned down interview requests for decades, and in no uncertain terms.

"I don't make news. I cover it," said the courthouse news courier whenever asked for an interview.