Monday, December 23, 2013

Festivus - Airing of the Grievances Shamokin Style

"I couldn't get up the steps. They were a ball of fire," said Shamokin Police Chief Edward Griffiths.

Patrolman Nate Rhodes climbed to the second story at the rear of the home. He tried to enter a window but flames shot out when it was opened.

The above two paragraphs were taken from the News-Item's report about the fire that took the life of Missy Pangburn on December 10th.  Also, but not appearing in this blog is the picture of Shamokin police officer Jarrod Scandle also volunteering his time as a firefighter battling flames from the second story roof.

This past Friday, Shamokin City government decided to balance their 2014 budget on the backs of public safety with four full time officers being projected to be furloughed along with two special officers.  The budget shortfall is in the neighborhood of $800,000. Their fate may be decided tonight at a meeting of city council.

There are a few questions that need to be asked and answered:

  1. Where did the shortfall in revenue fall from 2012?
  2. How much did the Northumberland County cost the city with constable duties?
  3. What was the increase in health benefits premiums.  If companies were changed from a year prior, why the change?
  4. Was the problem a conflict of personalities with the council and chief clerk with checks and balances?  Was it plain malfeasance??? 
With 6501 calls to 911 and only 7300 citizens, safety is of the utmost service needed.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Battle for the Coal Bucket, Memories of Thanksgiving Long Ago.

With the arrival of the Thanksgiving holiday centered on a turkey feast and the Black Friday frenzy, it was 40 years ago that Shamokin and Mount Carmel last played for the Coal Bucket on Thanksgiving Day.

The News-Item takes a look back and thanks to the Mount Carmel television station, very high quality video still exists of that game. 

One thing that really stands out in the video footage is the size of the crowd and how engaged they were at the game.

Thanks to the News-Item and WKMC at Mount Carmel, take a look back:


Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963

Our parents generation holds the above date firmly in their memories.  Where were they when they found out the terrible news coming from Dallas?  I was born until 1966, so I wasn't a gleam in my parents eye at the time.  My parents were newlyweds having been married two months earlier.

For the current generation, it is hard to be told horrific news and having no Internet or social media to view or search for information.  There was just radio and limited television.

Over the past 47 years of my life, I heard some brief accounts of what happened locally.  I cannot rewrite history or jump into all the theories surrounding the assassination. For those who those who were school age at the time, the common thread seems to be confusion. That Friday being the Friday before Thanksgiving and long before gearing up for shopping became commonplace, most area schools dismissed early.  Most were not told of what happened until they met their parents at home.

The other common thing they came home was to see a parent or grandparent crying.  In 1963, many citizens were sons and daughters of immigrants or immigrants themselves.  They left a world behind to find hope and peace.  In one violent act, their world changed forever. For some strange reason, some people thrive on the negative, but most live off of hope.  Somehow, born or not, we all lost a little of hope that day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Southern Columbia - Old Forge Preview 2013

During Southern Columbia's five consecutive PIAA championships from 2002-06, District 2 did not present much of a challenge to the Tigers playing in the last 11 out 12 finals.  The only exception was the 1997 loss to Riverside. Since the parade of championships ended in 2006 and Southern's district streak snapped in 2007, the Tigers were eliminated in 2008, 2010, 2012 by a District 2 team.

Good news for the Tigers that we are in a "odd numbered" year. However, District 2 sends a strong representative in Old Forge who avenged an earlier season loss to Dunmore and handled the Bucks in a 27-7 win last Friday night in Dunmore.

The Tigers recently played Old Forge in 2011, beating the Blue Devils by 11 in a 45-34 win.  It wasn't easy.  The 2013 version of the Blue Devils features a strong running game led by first year senior starter Brandon Yescavage who has rushed for over 2000 yards, carries over a 9/carry average and has scored 38 touchdowns. Most people can't recall a first year senior starters who has rushed over 2000 yards in recent memory.

For the Tigers,  it was good to face a strong rushing and power game the week before with Dominick Bragalone and South Williamsport.  A key to watch on Friday will be the Blue Devils coming off a big win on the road against Dunmore and long bus ride suffering a letdown against Southern.  Many thought Old Forge would not be playing in Week 13.  On Friday, there will be a locker full of Blue Devils waiting to take the field at Kemp Memorial. They are there for a reason.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sometimes Lost with Southern Columbia

For over the past 20 seasons, Southern Columbia's seasons have been measured in Chocolate and Gold more than wins and losses.  The Tigers are often measured if their season ends at Hersheypark Stadium and they are getting on the bus with PIAA gold around their necks.

Lost in all of these comparisons is the importance of the regular season.  Over the past threes seasons, Southern Columbia is 29-1 in the regular season with two consecutive undefeated regular seasons.  The Tigers have won 21 in a row in the regular season with the last lost coming in Week 9 of the 2011 season with a 22-21 loss to Mount Carmel. 

This measure of excellence means that in the districts playoffs, the Tigers never have to hit the road.  For the fans out there, who can remember the last time Southern had to hit the road for a district playoff game?????

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Southern vs. South Williamsport District Final Preview 2013

Southern hosts South Williamsport in the District IV A championship game this Saturday at 7 pm.  The Tigers follow the same script this week as they did last week.  They play a team that they dominated earlier in the season.  The difference with this week's game is the style of the opponent.  The Mounties like to keep the ball on the ground with junior Dominick Bragalone.

Bragalone has shattered Lycoming County records for yardage and touchdowns.  He needs 60 yards for 3000 yards and has 44 touchdown going into Saturday's game.  Unlike last season's senior dominated team,  South Williamsport had to rebuild this year's squad.

Unlike what you see in college and pro ranks, high schools stick to pretty much the vehicle that brought them to dance.  Will we see some different things from South.  The Mounties success will hinge upon moving the football and keeping Southern out of the endzone.  Poor punting on special teams was their demise in Week 4. 

Bloomsburg who lost to Southern in Week 7 by a 50-13 count, were only down 21-14 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd.  The game ended 49-14 with the Tigers scoring one less point and the Panthers scoring one more. 

It will be critical of South Williamsport to find success in the running game and keep the Southern offense off the field.  Mistakes made on special teams in Week 4 have to be cleaned up.  If the Mounties can do these two basic things plus a whole lot more, they may have a shot in the 4th quarter.  If the game is still a contest in the 4th quarter, the Mounties will still have to worry about the lack of depth when compared to Southern.

Saturday will be interesting to say the least.  South Williamsport will be second team in as many weeks to see if they close the gap of an earlier loss.  The Mounties are 20-3 over the last two season with all three losses to the Tigers.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Southern vs. Bloomsburg Playoff Preview 2013

Southern Columbia will begin it's quest for it's 7th state championship in school history when the Tigers host a rematch with the Bloomsburg Panthers this Friday night. One of the first things you have to ask yourself if your Bloomsburg is how you put 45 points on the board against Southern.  Southern's lowest output of the season was 44 points.

On paper, the Tiger's offense jumps out at you with the right combination of running and passing.  Looking a little deeper, it is the defense that will be transportation to a possible trip to Chocolatetown on December 13th.  It was the defense that couldn't stop Dunmore in 2012 at Valley View.  It was the first time in nearly 20 years that the Tiger defense had the ball run down their collective throats.

In the first game, Bloomsburg quarterback Ricky Klingerman was knocked from the game.  It basically rendered the Panther offense grounded and limited to what they could do.  Does Bloomsburg have enough on the roster to keep them off balance and give them a run?  It is hard to say.

The march to Hershey begins on Friday.  Out in front, the Tiger defense will be leading the way. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Today marks Election Day in Pennsylvania and most parts of the country.  Unfortunately, less than 20% of registered voters will exercise their right to cast a ballot.


It makes me sad as a citizen to see this happen and it only seems to get worse by the year.  Although, this is not a presidential election or for members of Congress, there are many contested school board, municipal and county elections.


Long ago, our forefathers gave us the First Amendment of free speech.  We the people have a say!


Women have only had this right less than 100 years.


Always remember, whether you agree or don't agree with the current condition, you have a right to be a citizen.  Think of all those soldiers, protesters, movers and shakers who made this possible in your lives.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Turning Back Time

This past Saturday in the United States, most areas of the country returned their clocks back to standard time.  Translation? We all had an extra hour of sleep.  There was some banter on social media regarding how people hate the early sundown that will now be part of our lives for the next few months.  I posed the question on social media.  "If you had a chance, where would you reset your clock in your life?"

I had over 20 people comment about the question.  I really wasn't surprised by the answers themselves but the overall theme to them.  Most responded and from what I could tell, they wanted to go back to their early adulthood to the period when the were graduating high school and making their way in the world. They hinted around that part of life called the "do over". Others responded to the period just before a loved had passed.  Surprisingly, only one person responded that they had great memories in the past but they want to move forward in time.

I guess we as human beings try to connect to a time and place in our lives to people and things that we love.  What we fail to realize is that life is changing daily minute by minute and second by second.  Only do we realize after the years go by how much things have changed in our lives or stayed the same.

Regardless of whether we want to go back in time to find that place of comfort, we should all try to find some balance and live life to the fullest. Even though we don't realize it, the seconds are ticking.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Battle for Coal Bucket

In a high school series that dates back to 1893 when Grover Cleveland was president, Shamokin and Mount Carmel will strap on the helmets one more time on Friday night. In recent years, this game has not  produced surprising results only some surprising scores.  This rivalry tilted in Mount Carmel's favor over the years and the Red Tornadoes look to win 18 in a row in 2013.

This year Shamokin Area looks to avoid their first winless season since 1983's squad went 0-11.  Back in 1983, Shamokin hired Jack Murdock to take over the Indian's fortunes who were 1-10 the previous year under the direction of Bob Chesney who's only win was over a 1-10 Lourdes Regional squad.  30 years later the Indians have come full circle.  They have a new coach on the verge of going 0-10 after the squad finished 1-9 the previous year under a different head coach. For the record, Shamokin's three-year mark was 5 wins against 28 losses.  After yet another coaching change a few years later, the Indians were in the state semifinals in 1991. 

As far as head football coaches at Shamokin, Sam Schiccatano was the only one to win in his first year.  The Indians defeated Mount Carmel at Kemp Memorial 42-8 in Dave "Whitey" Williams debut for Mount Carmel.  Late in that game, a young freshman returned a kick off for Mount Carmel for a touchdown.  That player named Brett Veach went on to a great college career at Delaware and now works for Andy Reid's undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

Is Shamokin on the verge of winning again?  Their is some hope at the junior high level who posted an 8-1 record this season.  Although it is a better gauge than freshman football was years ago (Shamokin went 10 years without losing a freshman game), I will wait until the class of 2018 walks down the aisle.

Last week Mount Carmel honored their 1973 Eastern Conference Championship team.  They were the last one to play Shamokin Area on Thanksgiving Day 40 years ago this November.  The Red Tornadoes needed a late score to win that game 20-15.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shamokin Still Searching for First Win of the Season Against Shikellamy

In Week 8, there was little hope in the central PA high school football universe the Coach Cove's first win at the helm of Shamokin would come against Southern Columbia. However, the Indian came out of the game with a lot more positives than normally come out of 56-0 score.

The Indians held the Southern rushing attack under 300 yards with the longest run being 24 yards.  This was after the Shamokin gave up big runs to Lewisburg and Milton.  The Indians also held Adam Feudale under 50 yards for the game.  Southern could have easily had the 300-yard game had they chose to leave in their starters.  What builds and continues the program for the past three decades is getting the 2nd team and JV's significant quality playing time.

Shamokin came up with the acronym called "medS" to build upon their program.  In order to be successful the Indians will have to build upon these four letters going forward.  The "m" stands for mental and includes knowing your part of the game to taking dumb penalties.  "E" stands for experience, not just years playing football, but the natural reaction to plays.  "D" stands for depth.  It is having athletes available to replace two-way players without missing a beat.  "S" and there is a reason it is capitalized.  It stands for strength.  Growing strength in the weight room will help over come deficiencies in the other three letters.

If a microcosm of Shamokin's season was in their first drive, keeping the ball for over 6 minutes then having to punt from their own 35, Shikellamy could be on the same boat.  The Braves were expected to battle Danville for a possible HAC-1 title the previous week.  After a 45-7 loss, one has to wonder what team will show up on Friday. It seems like ages ago where Shikellamy's victory over Selinsgrove in Week 3 and Shamokin's pounding by the Seals the following week feel like ancient history.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Southern vs. Shamokin Preview 2013

It's funny how rivalry's develop and change over the years.  Some get white hot due to close games and down to the wire outcomes.  Others due to close proximity to one another. While others will stay the course due to longevity with one another. 

From 1974 through 1985, the eighth week of the season for the Shamokin Area Indians was devoted to their annual backyard brawl with Lourdes Regional High School.  During those years, Lourdes Regional were co-champions of the Eastern Conference in 1974 with a tie against West Scranton while the Indians won the title outright against Dunmore. Lourdes Regional won that first meeting with Shamokin, 24-19 then lost the next 8 in a row.  In 1983, Lourdes Regional won again by a 20-8 to 8 score as the Indian finished 0-11 under first year head coach, Jack Murdock. The Red Raiders won the following season with the famous hitch-and-pitch from Chris Reiprish to Vic Olear back to Joe Witt for immortality.  Shamokin Area won the final contest between the two schools.

What does Lourdes Regional have to do with all of this?

On Friday night, Southern Area will start two running backs who's parents were from the OLOL Class of 1982, A starting linebacker's parent graduated from OLOL in 1983 while a starting offensive lineman's mother graduated from OLOL in 1984. My guess is that there are probably more on the Southern roster along with a mix of Shamokin alumni. 

Shamokin Area will be underdogs to heavy underdogs in their final 3 games of the seasons.  30 years ago was the last time the Indians ended a season winless under new head coach.  Many OLOL alumni were there 30 years ago in the stands in week 8 and that should hold true for this Friday night. It has taken Shamokin 30 years to come full circle. Out of the ashes of 1983 came a state semifinal appearance in 1991.  Is the bottom at hand?

My hope for tomorrow night is not only a competitive game, but to have Journey sing the national anthem followed up with a halftime performance of "Don't Stop Believin!"

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Southern Columbia Preview vs. Bloomsburg in 2013

Last week, Southern Columbia celebrated 50 years of varsity football against Selinsgrove by honoring their 1963 team. It was actually outstanding to see many members and their families attend the event. The Tigers then proceeded to harpoon the Seals with a 33-7 lead after one quarter and a 47-7 lead by the half to the 2009 AAA state champions.

The questions that one has to ask is whether Southern is that good or is Selinsgrove that bad.  My answer is that the Tigers are that good and are going to get better.  This year's version of the Tiger offense features 5 guys that could run the ball with Adam Feudale, Blake Marks, Matt Lupold, Nate Hunter, and Brad Noll.  This opens up the air game for Jake Becker to pick you apart with Luke Rarig or Zach Tillet plus go to the backs out of the backfield.

This week's game is centered around the year 2009. Southern finished off the 2009 AAA champions in style last week.  It was 2009 when the Tigers lost to Tri-Valley at Schuylkill Haven in a playoff who were coached by current Bloomsburg head coach, Mike Kogut. The controversial call went against Southern on the Tri-Valley goal line. The Tigers thought they broke the plane, but were eventually called for assisting the runner.  It ended up being the difference in a three point loss.

Bloomsburg is a team that Southern has played every year they had varsity football including a few in the post season.  The rivalry was dominated early by Bloomsburg but has been dominated over the past three decades by the Tigers.  The Panthers have played Southern tough since 2007, but this year's version of the Tigers has a chance to rank up there with the 1994 and 2006 teams who this writer considers the best in school history.

Shamokin vs. Mifflinburg
Shamokin had a strange stat of all stats last week when the Indians held the ball for 9 minutes of the second quarter and were outscored 28-0.  For the Indians, they have to look at that 9 minutes and look at what can be and work for it.  You do that 4 times a game you win easy. 
The Achilles heel for the Indians not only this season, but for the past decade or so.  It is even more troubling when these big plays come on the 3rd and 4th down.  Again, coaching could only do so much.  It is eventually up to a player if they want to make the Heartland Conference 1st team or the Xbox All-Madden team.
Last weeks game served notice of you can be and also of what you don't want to be. The decision is eventually yours.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Shamokin vs. Milton Preview 2013

Shamokin will try to get their first win of the season tonight on the road against Milton.  There really isn't much to preview here.  Milton comes into the game with a 3-2 schedule but a win against Carson Long.  However, the Black Panthers have got 13 touchdowns on the ground from two senior backs.  Most of the 18 seniors on Milton's roster were on the team for that District IV final game in 2011, when Shamokin scored on a late drive for the championship.

The whole key for the Indians tonight will be to get a lead and play with the lead.  The Indians haven't done that all season.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Shamokin Indians at the Half

While the Shamokin Indians had some high hopes going into the 2013 with a new head coach and offense, the current result is an 0-5 mark at the halfway point of the season.  Friday's game against Lewisburg was a microcosm of their season.

If you look inside the numbers from this past Friday's game.  Lewisburg ran 40 offensive plays compared to 56 to Shamokin.  Four of those plays for the Green Dragons went for 68, 22, 51, and 31 yard scoring plays for 162 yards.  Shamokin only netted 204 yards total out of those 59 plays.

If you take away those 4 plays Lewisburg averages a little over 3 yards a play.  With them, their average skyrockets to over 7 yards a play.  What this translates to over the long run is frustration.  If you play 36 out of 40 hard on defense only to get beat by four plays, it does play with your psyche a little bit, especially when your offense is putting points on the board. 

Not to start out with excuses, but Shamokin has been hit with an injury bug to it's players the past two season with key players and captains missing plenty of time.  Add to the injuries is player indifference and moving on to other schools.  The Indians loss 3 key contributors to the 2013 season through this route. 

The Good
At times, the Indians showed that they could play hard on both sides of the ball.  They have bounced back well against some bad losses and continue to play hard while being depleted with injuries and other distraction.  That is a credit to the kids and the coaching to get prepared each week.
The Bad
Big plays have haunted the Indian secondary for the last decade or so, it is nothing new.  We continue to get exploited on height mismatches.  I don't know if players got any better or if they actually got worse over the last decade.  That includes the opponent. 
Lack of scoring has also been a problem.  Defenses feel they have to shut out the team in order to win and that creates some undo pressure. 
Special teams have been shaky giving up a long kick off return and two blocked punts.  There is huge upswing to improvement to this aspect.  The Indians have also returned a kick for touchdown.
Coaching changes can be good, but there are still growing pains.  Sometimes you can't make honest evaluations or where to plug players into positions until you see them play over a period of time.  How they react in certain situations is key.
The Ugly
This past week there was a quarterback change with a senior taking over for a two-year starter.  Both are good kids and will continue to be good kids long after the season is over.  I would like to remind people of Silas Redd (Remember him?).  To borrow from Pennlive PSU writer David Jones:
All that said, there’s a lesson here for everyone. What looks like an easy, simple choice isn’t always the best one. Sometimes it’s not only the right thing to fight through rough times, it does you good down the road.

Jones alluded to this when talking about Redd's transfer to USC seemed like the easy choice to make when the road seemed so rocky at PSU.  Shamokin football is going through some tough times. It is up to the Indians in the next 5 weeks to fight through them.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shamokin vs. Lewisburg 2013 Preview

Although hopes seemed high for Shamokin Area coming into 2013, the Indians find themselves at 0-4. A 3-1 Lewisburg team comes into town looking for the 4th win and being in the mix of the AA playoffs.  The Indians have been competitive against Pottsville and Danville, while lackluster against Jersey Shore and especially Selinsgrove.

For Lewisburg, the scribes are calling this a possible trap game with Montoursville on the schedule for next week.  The Green Dragons may not be as big and strong as the 2012 (subtract PSU run on Brandon Smith), but they will be in the thick of the AA playoff race.  With a lone loss to Mount Carmel and a close game with Shikellamy, it is hard to gauge the overall strength of the Green Dragons.

Shamokin at time could play with anyone.  The problem has been consistency.  Their offensive has left their defense on the field for huge chunks of time throughout the season.  That is not a good formula.

In talking to Coach Cove this week, the staff feels once the ball gets rolling in the right direction things will really take off and snowball from there.  Let's hope that happens very soon.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Shamokin Area Week 4 Preview Against Selinsgrove

Going into Week 4, the Shamokin Area Indians are winless and face an uphill battle this week against Selinsgrove. It is not that the Seals have a team expected to make a deep run in the playoffs, but the fact that Shamokin hasn't won in Selinsgrove since 2003.

Last season, the Indians gave the Seals all they could handle at Kemp Memorial, but mistakes cost Shamokin the victory.  When they faced off in Week 11 at Harold Bolig Memorial Field, it seemed like the Indians couldn't wait to get the winter sports season started. 

Last week Shamokin couldn't capitalize on an early turnover and were down 21-0 to a good Danville squad with 11:25 left in the 2nd quarter.  From that point on the Indian played great defense and didn't allow an Ironman touchdown until 5 minutes left in the game.  Offensively, Shamokin was able to put together a 14-play drive for a touchdown and had another touchdown called back.

What Shamokin team will show up?  Will it be the one that went toe to toe with one of the better teams in the Heartland or will Selinsgrove's 3-5 defense prove itself again at home against the Indians?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shamokin vs. Danville Preview 2013

First of all I would like to say congratulations to Coach Yisreal and his wife Jill on the birth of their first child this week.  No excuse to miss practice though......just kidding!!!

In preparing for this weeks preview with Danville Ironmen, I noticed head coach Jim Keiser is heading into his 5th season.  In four seasons and 2 games into the 2013 campaign, the Ironmen have a 40-11 mark while Shamokin is at 16-32.

Back in the 5th game of the 2009 season when Keiser and Shamokin coach Dan Foor were in their first season, the game between these two teams was considered a toss up.  Danville was a week removed for a 62-6 drubbing by eventual AAA state champion Selinsgrove. The Indians and Ironmen went into the locker tied at the half, 10-10. 

As the 2nd half approached, a steady rain came.  While Shamokin wilted, Danville grew up.  The Ironmen ended up winning the game 24-10. The victory marked the first of six in a row to close out the regular season and the Ironmen have gone 38-9 since. Having players like Andew Shoop, Andrew Andreychik, Michael Owens-Wright, Sam Dressler and Croll doesn't hurt either.

Shamokin's fortunes have not been great. Going 16-32 in the last 4 seasons and 23-55 since 2005, the Indians are searching for any spark to jump start their season and program.

The Indians come into the game being outrushed by a 3-to-1 margin, a 2-to-1 disadvantage in first downs and a -3 turnover ratio.  Something good has to happen. 

With new Yisreal in the fold, here is a toast to new beginnings. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shamokin Area Hosts Jersey Shore In Must Win

Shamokin Area finds itself in a familiar spot after week #1 at 0-1. The Indians haven't won their opening game since an overtime win against Southern Columbia in 2005. Jersey Shore comes into this game with a 13-game losing streak.

When you look at the schedules of both team, this game figures to be a toss up. Both team look at it as the opportunity for a win. For the team with a new coaching staff, this game is so very important. With Shamokin Area looking at an away game with a highly rated Danville in Week 3, this is a make or break game. The Indians could look at this as improvement and win with motivation to get ready for the Danville or this is the same old team and attitude and nothing is improving.

Last week the Indians showed signs of improvement with a better rushing attack and some cleaning of penalties. The Achilles heel over the years have been pass defense and last Friday was no different. Travis Blankenhorn had close to half of Pottsville's yards from scrimmage with only 4 receptions. Shamokin Area will have to shut down the Bulldog rushing game and opportunistic passing game in order to put a "w" on the board this week. Will the Indians improve on last weeks effort? We will find out on Friday night.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nobody Asked, But...........................

Last week the Times-Shamrock Company the parent company of the News-Item, decided to put the paper up for sale.  Included in the sale is the Citizen-Standard of Valley View.  Not included in the sale is The Republican based in Pottsville.

When the News-Item and Pottsville Republican were merged under the umbrella in 1997, editorial, management, and sales staff were shared and merged.  What is bad for the News-Item as this goes forward, the paper isn't printed locally anymore and putting some management back in place maybe cost prohibitive going forward.  Had the Republican been part of the sale, I would be more at ease of the paper's survival.

Like it or not, our community needs it's newspaper now and for the future in order to inform and promote the local area.  In the long run, our area is better served by having it's own local paper.  Shamokin and it's surrounding area have had a local presence for over a century.

Shamokin Area High School experienced some growing pains on the past Tuesday when it took close to an hour and half to get the students inside the high school and start classes. Depending where you are on the side of school security, it was a new experience to the staff and students.  Most of the schools in the immediate area have not gone to such measures.  The closest noted one was Hazelton Area where members of the administration and school board traveled in the wake of Sandy Hook in Connecticut.
It seems that no policy was in place regarding the use of metal detectors in the school. The school opted to go from an all student to a random student check.  Do the teacher and administration have a policy to clear themselves?  I am aware that board and administration have the utmost regard for the safety of our students and children in mind. 
I do have to question why people are not asked to clear security at the local football games.  Will fans have to clear metal detectors at the high school basketball games?   If they are eventually searched, will they still come?
It looks like the good old USA is looking for support for an air strike against Syria.  With never ending issues in Iraq and Afghanistan the nation is really sick of wars to nowhere.  I find it interesting how those who have beat the drum for Iraq and Afghanistan are doing an about face.  Is it worse to see Boehner an ally of Obama or the US of the Taliban?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Yisrael Makes Debut as Shamokin Hosts Pottsville

On Friday night, Shamokin Area Football will begin the Yaacov Yisreal era of the program. The Indians are hoping for a new beginning and better start to the 2013 than in 2012. After winning a District title and state playoff game in 2011, injuries and youth added up to a 2-8 campaign in 2012.

The 2012 numbers are a little deceiving. Shamokin Area lost 4 games by 10 points or less and played touch in a few others. Like last year's injury in the preseason to Andrew Hasuga, the 2013 season has also been hampered by injuries to key people and positions.

What will change in 2013? First, from attending a meeting back in May, Shamokin made strides in the weight room. Hopefully, that trend continued through August. The second thing was my Tuesday visit to practice. The players seemed more focused and engaged about football and nothing else. That was good to see. The number that will make or break Shamokin's season will be turnovers and takeaway ratio. Not only did the Indians turn the ball over around 3 times a game, those turnovers resulted in short fields for their opponents. Eventually, something had to give. If your turning it over, you are also putting it on the ground and recovering. This was a also a huge problem and killing drives. So far instead of getting down due to injuries, it looks like some younger guys have stepped up. Let's see if this carried into the 2013 season.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Giving Up Summer's Ghost

It seems like every year when the calendars turn their weeks past Easter and Mother's Day, we culturally have an eye on the big prize. That prize being "Meteorological Summer" or simply known by June, July and August. If you have children, they could sleep and not have to listen for the school bell. If you don't have children, you won't have the bus schedule affecting your morning or evening commute.

In our neck of the woods in the world, we probably view these three months like no other three in a row. They are filled and planned with activities that provide excitement and enthusiasm. Each day can offer a new and exciting but yet a different adventure. No matter how much we kick and scream, it all ends Labor Day weekend. The weather doesn't drastically change overnight, but we have all been conditioned to simply give up on the season. We ask ourselves. Where did summer go? What did we do? Often we hear some say that there is nothing to do. I will go through a list of some simple things. Some we may do and some we may have forgot. Maybe something will make your list in the summer of 2014. These are no particular order other than starting with something simple.

  1. Go for walk.  Points if you ask a friend or go a few times a week.
  2. Go for a bike ride.  Modern technology has made it easier and nice places to ride are close by.
  3. Visit a state park.  There is one probably less than a half hour away from where you live.
  4. Attend a festival. The food is usually good and most raise money for a good cause.  Points if you volunteer your time.
  5. Try to swim.  Our public pools  have had a tough time in recent years but it is still good exercise.
  6. Attend or host a cookout.  Not only is the food good, but you can always meet a new friend or catch up with an old one.
  7. In addition to #6, sit by a campfire.  Summer can never complete without it.  Points if you make s'mores.
  8. Go camping.  How primitive or modern is totally up to you.  Points if you only use a tent. Remember to clean up.
  9. Patronize a local produce stand.  Like the "Swallows of Capistrano" these stands make their appearance in early June only to fade away after Labor Day.
  10. Start and maintain a garden.  Points if you "can" or "jar".
  11. Clean something that is normally hard to get to or takes some time.  All that stuff that piled up over the winter needs to go.  Points if you also help someone do it. Outside is a good place to start.
  12. Go to Knoebels. Listen to the merry-go-round and wooden roller coasters.  That is always the best reminder summer is here and it is time to get started!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Powerball Fever!!!!!

With everything going on in the world around us, the jackpot of the Powerball Lottery has risen to around 600 million dollars!!!  That astronomical amount in the jackpot would probably yield a cash payout of over 400 million dollars.  What does one really do with that kind of money?  Save it, spend it or just give it away? 

The human race doesn't have a very good track record when it comes into receiving a large amount of money in a short period of time.  If you look at some of things in central PA, the Hershey Trust and the Weis family philanthropy with Geisinger come to mind.  These contributions will last and have last long after the donors have gone. 

If you look at a somewhat smaller, local scale, you have the Deppen Scholarship at Bucknell which celebrates 50 years this year and Curvery Scholarship at Villanova University, founded by a former Mahanoy Area High School graduate.

Former New York Yankee and Baltimore Oriole, Mike Mussina earned in the neighborhood of 250 million dollars from his playing day and still makes his home in Lycoming County.  His foundation provides 12 scholarships a years to a graduating senior in all 12 high schools of Lycoming County.  In addition, his foundation contributes to many other local and some national youth programs.

In all these cases, the people mentioned above have put a lifetime of work into these endeavors.  Somewhere along the way, they were blessed work ethic, common sense, talent, and in some cases a little bit of luck along the way.

In our own area of Shangri-La (Shamokin), we had coal barons and other industrialists that made fortunes in our area only to read about them is dusty history books at our local library.

We don't know how our lives can change in an instant.  At 11:05 tonight, someones life can be changed forever.  We all have had hope and dreams of over the last few days. We imagine what life can be like.  Odds are that there will be less than 5 winning tickets across the country.  That means for most of us, we will be back to the grind by Monday morning if not sooner.  One thing to hold on to is our hope and dreams.  They are good things to have and no good thing ever dies.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is Carney Gearing Up for Another Run?

This letter to the editor was printed in today's Daily-Item, with questions for current 10th Congressional Representative Tom Marino:

There is no question that we live in a violent world. There is no question that we try to control such violence by incarcerating its perpetrators. There is also no question most people fail to fully appreciate the danger facing those who guard the violent. We were reminded of that danger and that violence last Monday with the killing of Canaan Penitentiary guard Eric Williams.

I read Sunday’s Sunbury Daily Item feature on the prison guard situation at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in the context of the Williams murder and was amazed at the duplicity rendered by Rep. Marino. Admittedly, I disagree with Marino on most issues, but for him to claim that he’s “listening” to the guards is sadly laughable. Listening is not the same as acting.

Mr. Marino’s actions are what matter and his actions indicate that he doesn’t care. In 2011 and 2012 Marino voted to cut funds for the Bureau of Prisons, including guard staffing, and he voted in favor of the current sequester that requires $338 million in Bureau of Prison cuts.

In real terms that means 2,200 fewer prison guards, and according to the Department of Justice more inmate violence and guards in peril. Tom Marino can pay all the lip service he wants to the issue of adequate staffing of prisons, but his actions speak far more loudly. It’s fair to ask Mr. Marino if he apologized to the guards for voting to cut prison funding when he was listening. And if Mr. Marino is truly concerned about reducing violence in our society why did he just vote against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act? Please let me quote directly from Marino’s own congressional website from May of 2012:

“In my experience as a county and federal prosecutor, I have seen first-hand the progress we have made in combating domestic and sexual violence since VAWA was enacted in 1994. We still face challenges that point out the continuing need for VAWA programs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a 2010 survey that more than 12 million Americans were victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner over the course of a year.  I strongly support the reauthorization of VAWA so that federal law enforcement and public health agencies can continue to support state and local efforts to bring the perpetrators of domestic violence, intimate partner homicide, and sexual assault to justice.”

Mr. Marino, are you trying to have it both ways? Why vote against legislation that you correctly support? Why vote to abolish enhanced legal protections for the nation’s most vulnerable? I am sure women of every age (and those that love them) wonder why as well? Protecting all Americans from violence is a duty of our legislators, and their actions resonate louder than their words — and some actions echo from the depths of hypocrisy.

Christopher Carney, Dimock
The writer is a former U.S. representative for the 10th District.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

A few years ago, I got together with some crazy friends and promoted Colon Cancer Awareness.  Once again March is upon us and so is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Despite being highly curable, colon cancer still ranks #2 in all deaths due to cancer.

If you are male or female aged 50 or over, talk to you health professional about screening.  If you have a family history of the disease discuss this with you health professional. Colon Cancer is the number one curable form of cancer and can be prevented with early screening.

The American Cancer Society is also a great resource on the disease.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

7 in 5!!!!!!!

There are many things we take for granted in everyday life.  Most of the time we don't realize all the work that goes into something until we need that exact service.  Recently, our community has suffered through 7 fires in 5 days including blazes that were raging in bitter cold temperatures and also being investigated for arson.  Our local volunteer firefighters

Having some first responder and emergency training in my career, I will try to offer up how a day went for a volunteer firefighter on Monday morning when the temperature was struggling to hit 20 degrees.  Those who didn't have an immediate work obligation were out the door as soon as possible while those who did made the necessary arrangements in order to respond. While several fire companies assembled there was a on scene commander to oversee the operation and traffic control.  Other personnel were accounting for residents while others battled the blaze to prevent it from spreading and determining if a possible human rescue was needed.  All the time no volunteered questioned why they were there in harm's way.  They simply knew it was their duty as a trained volunteer.

While their equipment may have been just packed away, they would receive two more calls at 7 pm and 10 pm.  They didn't know what to expect, but answered each time.  I seen a firefighter and fire police at 6:30 am on my way to work.  One could only ask, was they engaged for 24 straight hours?

We actually have it pretty good in Pennsylvania.  We have a group of people who train long and hard in a variety of conditions, upkeep expensive equipment to gain another year of service, and are ready to answer the call when alarm sounds.  They don't ask for much just ask for a little support in return. 

With lack of volunteering for anything being down in today's society, our volunteer firemen have received a bad rap for a variety of reasons.  In the end, they still forge ahead and get the job done risking everything on every call.  There are some that pay the ultimate price

There are times like this when arson was involved and possible loss of life on the table, we get off too easy by just saying thank you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shamokin Names Yaacov Yisreal New Head Football Coach

Yisreal sits down with reporters

 Introduction by President Brian Persing

Shamokin Area welcomed former Penn State standout Yaacov Yisreal as their 11th head coach since 1965.  Yisreal comes over from Halifax after coaching the undermanned Wildcats to back-to-back 4-6 seasons.

After some questions and missteps about the hiring practice, the board approved Yisreal by a 9-0 vote. A candidate who was considered a finalist for the job had pulled his application from the process.  Yisreal comes to Shamokin by way of Chicago through Penn State meeting future wife Jill Martz at State College.

Shamokin Area has been a graveyard of coaches since enjoying some success on a state level under Dave Zielinskie the early 1990's.  Since then the Indians have gone through 4 head coaches including an unsuccessful second stint by Zielinskie.  To make matters worse, Shamokin has not beaten rival Mount Carmel since 1995. Shamokin's two main rivals, Southern Columbia and the Red Tornadoes have won 11 state titles since 1994.

What has happened to Shamokin over the last 20 years where nearby schools such as Selinsgrove, Mount Carmel and Southern have all mined PIAA gold? Every time the football coaching job has opened, the battle cry has been for more discipline on and off the field.  In addition to discipline, another new cry has been the youth programs need an overhaul.

Having played in high school football in the 1980's before extensive weight training and before the high fructose corn syrup and video game era, I think players were more self motivated to do well. Each coach that has come in the last 20 years have enjoyed some degree of success, but have been able to maintain or build upon it. For the most part, I believe have been held to different standards than other coaches in the district.

One thing I have seen in the last 32 years including 4 as a player is I have seen Shamokin decline in the number pure athletes that we once had competed.  I am not knocking our current group, but years ago you had many athletes excelling and dominating at three sports not just one. If you look at some of the success Shamokin enjoyed over the last 20 years, it has been tied to a strong running attack with a running back rushing for over 1000 yards. 

Changing Shamokin's fortunes on the field require a change in culture off the field.  One of the hardest things to do is to take a step backward to move forward.  Southern and Selinsgrove were growing areas so it was a little easier.  Mount Carmel has always been good and they have been able to maintain, but here have been chinks in their armour over the last several seasons. 

In speaking with Yisreal right after he had been hired, he had said that he wants to make his presence felt in the community.  He also stated that he had been part of top notch high school program, a top university program and was exposed to excellent NFL coaches.  As an undersized D-1 defensive back Yisreal beat the odds to make himself into a quality player and learned the game.  All he asking is he get the same effort from his players.

In measuring a coach, all you have to do ask one question.  Do you want your son to play for Yisreal. The answer is easy and resounding yet.