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Sixth graders learn about local government

  • ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Sixth grade students look at products made from recycled materials. They were allowed to take home whichever ones they wanted. There were also informative booklets.
    ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Sixth grade students look at products made from recycled materials. They were allowed to take home whichever ones they wanted. There were also informative booklets.
Published April 24. 2012 05:01PM

Mrs. Lindsay Serfass' sixth graders from Towamensing Elementary School were the first class to hike across the parking lot to the Towamensing Municipal building for a lesson about local government.

Planning Chairman Connie Bieling said they intended to go over what happens in the municipal building. While most of the students live in Towamensing, many hands were raised when the question was asked who was not born there.

She said Roy Christman published a small newspaper called the Towamensing Times, which has since ceased publication.

One of the things the students should do is become native to their area, said Christman. That required some knowledge of the land. He held up a white pine branch and asked who knew what it was. They knew it was pine but needed help with the "white." The next one was a hemlock branch, and then a cell tower branch - one of the branches that are supposed to hide the cell tower at the firehouse.

Someone knew Carbon County was named after an element but needed help with carbon from coal. Towamensing is an Indian name for wilderness. There are other Indian names in the area such as Pohopoco and Aquashicola.

There were four eras of history, each one getting shorter: prehistoric represented by fossils, and, second, the American Indian with the Lenape locally were here 6,000 years ago. There was an Indian trail along the Pohopoco Creek from Lehighton and their culture lives on in small ways. The next era was the farming period. The majority of the settlers were the Pennsylvania Deitsch from Germany and their biggest artifact is the bank barns that still dot the countryside.

He showed how flails were used to beat the grain off the straw. To the sides of the threshing floor were a hay mow and a straw mow. He had an ox shoe and said there would have to be two because an oxen has a cloven (divided) hoof.

Christman scraped a boy's arm to demonstrate how the hair would be scraped off a pig during the butchering process.

The last era is theirs, he told the students. The land is divided into rural (open land), urban (large cities), suburbs (the developed land surrounding cities), and exurbs (the land where people live and commute to work). He urged them and their parents to try and preserve some things from the earlier eras.

Carbon County became a township in 1843. Township government consists of three supervisors, said Supervisor Chair Penny Kleintop. They serve six-year terms and have monthly meetings on the first Thursday of the month.

Residents are invited to bring their problems. Resolutions and ordinances are passed as needed. There is a road crew that cares for the roads and collects garbage.

Lora Nothstein is the secretary and Tom Nanovic is the attorney for the township.

Supervisor Tom Newman said people are allowed to speak at public meetings and that meetings are held under the rule of law. The zoning officer is Christine Meinhart.

Beltzville Park is 3,900 acres, a "big chunk" of the township, and of that amount 950 acres is the lake.

The Historical Commission recorded all sites in the township that are 100 years old or older. He said the kids should ask their grandparents about early life. "They have wonderful stories," said Newman.

The group moved outside where Tom Costenbader was waiting with road crew members to talk about the recycling program. He began with the fact that ashes can be dumped in the salt shed. There are specific locations to dump number one and two plastics, aluminum cans, tin cans, and various colors of glass. Corrugated cardboard can be placed in a township site or the nearby county blue bins.

He said the cardboard is mixed with water to form a pulp which is made into things like paper towels, tissues or cat litter. Glass goes to Alliance Sand which grinds it and adds it to sand. Newspapers are shredded, with water and then bubbles added. The bubbles separate the ink from the paper. It is dried, pressed and made into new paper.

People have to pay to drop off tires which are ground into mulch for playgrounds.

A large pile of cardboard that had been dumped on the floor would be compacted into 1-1/2 1,000-pound bales. Aluminum cans are crushed into 60-pound cubes and stored until there are enough to deliver. The compactors were demonstrated.

Costenbader said it takes three truckloads each week to pick up all the garbage in the township.

You and your families can all help with recycling because then the township does not have to pay to dump it in a landfill, he said.

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