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Friday Feature

Friday, May 9, 2014
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Auctioneer Dean R. Arner draws bids for a 1947 Studebaker pickup during Saturday's sale of the largest private collection of cars in Schuylkill County.

One by one, memory-filled pieces of automotive history rolled out of a large Taggartsville garage and through the streets of Tamaqua.

For years, the former Tamaqua Auction building housed a large portion of the private car collection of Richard Konkus.

Konkus, co-owner of Konkus Produce, was well known. He was one of the original vendors at the Hometown Farmers Market, selling homegrown corn since 1950. The business continues there every Wednesday.

But if produce was his livelihood, cars were his passion.

Friday, May 2, 2014
ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Eric Hoffman, assistant chief at West End Fire Company, talks about the Buffalo truck which was the first one purchased by West End.

Dong, dong, dong rang the fire engine bell.

Later a siren was added to West End Fire Company's Buffalo firetruck. But in the early years it was a bell that warned people it was coming.

The West End was a community in serious need of a fire company. The closest and still operating was the Blue Ridge Hook and Ladder in Saylorsburg. A company was formed Oct. 14, 1931, and the first truck was purchased the following year. The company was meeting in Altemose Hall over the Altemose Store on Route 209.

Friday, April 25, 2014
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS/LISA HILES  Hope of Christ Presbyterian Church was completed on March 22, 1896.

A team of tough, dedicated Panther Valley coal miners did the unthinkable in 1931.

The hearty, confident workers planted dynamite inside a tall and stately house of God and lit the fuse.

But they weren't bent on destruction. Instead, they used skills honed from the dark recesses of the earth to artfully carve out a basement beneath a church. Their sweat, ingenuity and faith created much-needed space beneath the priceless 1896 brick cathedral at the corner of White and Market streets.

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.

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.