Run to Rebuild 5K to Benefit Flood Victims

When Ginny Larson and Brooke Wilson met as graduate students in the Student Affairs program at Bloomsburg University, they had very little idea that they would eventually work together to become disaster recovery organizers.  Larson, a Bloomsburg native, 2004 graduate of Central Columbia High School, and 2008 graduate of Bloomsburg University, was drawn back to town for her masters degree for this simple reason:  “I love the area.”  Wilson, a native of Rockport, Massacusetts, discovered Bloomsburg when she decided to pursue her masters and received a graduate assistantship in the Sports Information office at BU.

Both, however, were incredibly affected by the flooding and destruction they witnessed following Tropical Storm Lee.  Larson, who has called the area home since she was 8 years old, said,  “I was devastated. I know we have had  flooding problems in the past but once I was able to drive downtown and see the destruction, I cried so much I could barely even drive. [This town is] a part of me and who I am. Seeing it demolished was heartbreaking, and I was one of the lucky ones not harmed.”  Wilson compared what she saw in Bloomsburg to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

When the two returned to campus after the flood closure, they instantly knew they had to help.  Wilson said, “I knew I needed to plan something that would be a big event to help those in need even if it would be months later. Many people seem to forget that families and people had lost so much and that they still are in need of help, although the damage my not be seen it is still there.” Several of their peers in the Counseling and Student Affairs program were affected and forced to relocate, which made the destruction all the more personal.  According to Larson, “Although many of us will never forget what happened, we wanted to do something that showed we hadn’t forgotten, symbolize community support, yet was uplifting and fun. That is how the Run to Rebuild 5k walk/run was born.”

After working with their program advisor, Mark Bauman, and Jean Downing, the Director of the SOLVE office, the idea began to take off.  Larson and Wilson are working with the Bloomsburg University’s Student Veterans Assocation to hold the event, and have received extensive support from the Bloomsburg YMCA, the SOLVE office, and multiple fraternities and sororities.  All proceeds will be donated to the Columbia County Volunteer Organization for Disaster Relief. “The event was organized in such a small amount of time, but we hope to have a great turn out to show the community we are here for them,” said Larson.

The Run to Rebuild 5K will be held Saturday, November 12 from 8:00am – 11:00am.  The race will begin at 8 AM and runners and walkers are welcome. Registration will be held from 6:30-7:45 AM at the Bloomsburg YMCA.  The cost is $5 for students, $10 for pre-registration ($15 on day of the race), and $50 for a group of 10 OR MORE.  The entry form and more details can be found here.

According to Larson, it should be a full day of community events, “Following the race, the Veteran’s Day parade is being held in downtown Bloomsburg. In addition, at 1:00 pm Bloomsburg University’s last home football game against Lock Haven will be taking place. If you bring your race bib, you will even get half off your football ticket!”

For more information or to join their community, go to Run to Rebuild 5K on Facebook.

Update: Due to the response from the community, we are kicking off The Bloomsburg Daily Charity Challenge.

The Power of Maps: The 2011 Flood

People have been using maps to share information for thousands of years. First used as simple illustrations to plot paths from location A to location B, maps have evolved into rich information sources. In the age of the Internet and the rise of simple and powerful tools like Google Maps, normal people now have the power to create new forms of maps that mix detailed information with locations. These new “mash-ups” are able to provide information to people very quickly and easily.

In many ways, people are using simple techniques to build powerful and sometimes life-saving maps to quickly share information about locations. Take for example the Maps4Aid site that uses mapping technologies to allow normal people to help fight violence against women in India. Following the devastating Japanese earthquake, Safecast was developed to depict a heat map of country-wide radiation readings. And a more simplistic example, but nonetheless an important one, is Lost Pet Atlas. If you have lost a pet, you can provide some very basic information so that others can see where the pet was lost and how to help by visiting. I think it is safe to say that mashing location data with deeper information is a perfect match for helping people in times of crisis.

As the weather reports began letting people know that significant flooding was going to occur in the Bloomsburg area, many people began asking questions about the safety of their homes. Wanting to know if they should stay or evacuate their residences, many people went looking for information about the location of the flood plain, water levels, and how the predicted rise of Fishing Creek and the Susquehanna River would impact their location. Faced with the news that Bloomsburg could see record rainfall levels, many were left without any easily accessible information about how to make informed decisions about their location. I have heard from several Bloomsburg residents that they were told to find a neighbor who lived there during the 1972 flood and ask if it is safe. That is an unacceptable response.

With that in mind, The Bloomsburg Daily has started a project to informally collect, share, and map stories of the affected areas in Bloomsburg. The way it works is you fill out a short form and we dynamically plot that location on a sharable Google Map. While at the moment all that we are showing is the actual locations of flooded homes, we will eventually be able to share the stories. This will give Bloomsburg a quick and easy reference point to refer to in the absence of a neighbor who lived through the 1972 or 2006 or 2011 floods.

So please take a moment and share your story at The Bloomsburg Daily’s 2011 Flood Map page, or for time being in the form below. Think of it as a community history project that can not only allow us to help one another, but also provide a long-term record of what happened in September of 2011.

Most Power Restored from Early Snow Storm

The early snowstorm that affected our area on Saturday continues to wreak havoc for many Pennsylvania residents.  The storm, which dumped between 7 and 10 heavy inches of snow on trees still holding their leaves, knocked out power to thousands of PP&L customers.  As of Saturday night, PP&L said that about 200,000 customers were without power.

Fortunately, as of 7:30 AM this morning, only 59 households in Columbia County and 20 in Montour County were still without power.  This was down from 1652 in Columbia County and 100 in Montour County as of 7 AM yesterday.

Customers to the southeast have not been as fortunate with 61,368 households without power in Lehigh County and 24,479 in Northampton County.  However, PP&L tells us that they are working around the clock in difficult conditions and have already restored power to 186,000 customers.

Photo by Bob Rush


The View From Here: Day After First Snow

The Bloomsburg Daily photographer, Bob Rush set out on an early morning excursion to share images of the first snowfall in the region for this year. Bob’s photographs are an amazing view into the beauty of our area. According to Bob, “They were taken at sunrise on my mother-in-laws farm across from my house at the bottom of Mystic Mountain just South of Numidia.” A huge thank you goes out to Bob for navigating the snow, the cold, and the early morning hour to bring us these wonderful pictures.

Sunday Slowdown: On Women, Beer, and Brewing

Everyone (including us) moves pretty quickly during the week. On Sundays, it’s nice to take a little breather. The Sunday Slowdown column will feature links, stories, articles, videos, or other interesting things that our writers find during the week. We will all contribute and try to share things that we find interesting, thought-provoking, and sometimes even a bit silly. But remember: this is community journalism, so if you find interesting things to share, make your voice heard and share with us at

If you take a drive around the area, it is quite easy to see that brew pubs are the places to be. We now have the Berwick Brewing Company, Marley’s Brewery, Old Forge Brewing Company, and Turkey Hill Brewing Company where interesting, locally-crafted beers are made and enjoyed on site (or taken home in growlers to be enjoyed later).  The trend seems to have been born from an increase in home brewers who pursued the craft as hobby and then realized there was a market for more complex beers.

Why has it happened in the last ten to twenty years especially? Homebrewing was illegal in the United States until 1978, when President Carter signed a bill that repealed prohibition-era, federal restrictions on making small batches of beer and wine. So hobbyists turned into professionals and beer drinkers who were fed up with insipid, watery “macrobrews,” were happy to become customers.

Up to this point, the vision you are probably crafting in your brain is one of hulky men lugging sacks of grain, brewing beer in their basements, and then consuming it with other men.  But women actually play a large role in both the history and consumption of beer.  A recent article in Slate, “The Hops Ceiling,” talks about the role women have played in beer making, as well as the challenges they face attempting to break into the industry that they essentially created.

Four-thousand-year-old Mesopotamian clay tablets describe the brewing process in a hymn to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer. From ancient Sumeria through medieval Europe, women ruled the kettles. Beer can be described as liquid bread, so there was nothing unusual about women using their baking ingredients to brew in home kitchens. It wasn’t until entrepreneurial women began to sell their beer that men really moved in, restricting the creation and sale of beer to powerful male-only guilds.

As someone who both cooks and enjoys beer, I find it interesting that so many responsibilities, when considered only “domestic,” are relegated to women.  And once those responsibilities have commercial potential, they become male-dominated. The professional chef versus the home cook is the perfect example; cooking is the job of most women at home, but women have an extremely hard time breaking into the chef role in restaurant kitchens.  Brewing beer is apparently no different.  We come to find out that women not only like to drink beer, they like to brew it too.

Photo by Daquella manera

Study Looks at Water Quality in Private Wells Near Marcellus Drilling

Bryan Swistock
Bryan Swistock, extension water resource specialist.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A study of more than 200 drinking-water wells near Marcellus Shale natural-gas wells in 20 counties did not find statistically significant evidence of contamination from hydraulic fracturing — a process used by gas drillers to release natural gas using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemical additives.

The study was conducted by researchers and extension educators in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. The research was funded by the state General Assembly’s Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center at Penn State. A free online seminar focusing on the study results will take place from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Information about how to register for the live webinar can be found at online. A recorded version will be available for those who cannot log in for the live offering.

“This is the first project to provide an unbiased and large-scale study of water quality in private water wells used to supply drinking water to rural homes and farms both before and after the drilling of Marcellus gas wells nearby,” said project leader Bryan Swistock, water resources extension specialist.

Conducted from February 2010 to July 2011, the study found methane in about a quarter of the water wells before any drilling occurred, but the concentrations were generally below advisory levels for treatment, Swistock said. The presence of methane can be naturally occurring or related to drilling activity.

“We really didn’t see any significant changes in methane levels after drilling or hydraulic fracturing,” he added.

There is no federal drinking water standard for methane as it can be ingested without harm, but high levels can cause an explosion hazard as the dissolved methane escapes from water.

Elevated levels of dissolved bromide were measured in some water wells and appeared to be a result of the gas-well drilling process and not hydraulic fracturing.

“Bromide was not detected in any of the water wells before drilling, but it did show up in several wells after drilling, which needs to be investigated further,” Swistock said.

The study’s modest number of samples for methane and bromide and the relatively short length of the study speak to the need for additional data collection and analysis, Swistock pointed out.

“Future research should look at a broader number of water contaminants over a longer period of time,” Swistock said. “More detailed and longer-term studies are critical to ensuring that Pennsylvanians’ private water supplies are protected.”

Wells in the study were not randomly selected. Project publicity solicited participation from well owners who knew gas drilling was going to occur near them, and many responded by contacting Swistock or other project investigators working for Penn State Extension.

“Our network of Penn State Extension educators throughout the state was absolutely critical to the efficient completion of this project,” Swistock said.

The first phase of the study included 48 private water wells located within about 2,500 feet of a Marcellus well pad. These wells were tested by Penn State researchers both before and after gas-well drilling. Twenty-six of the 48 were near Marcellus wells that were drilled and fracked, 16 sites had drilling but no fracking, and six sites were controls where no drilling or fracking occurred.

These wells were tested for 18 common water-quality parameters that could occur from gas-drilling activity, including chloride, barium, sodium, iron, manganese, methane, ethane, bromide, and oil and grease.

The second phase was comprised of 185 additional private water wells located within about 5,000 feet of a Marcellus well pad. Homeowners provided water test results collected by independent, state-accredited laboratories prior to Marcellus gas-well drilling. These tests then were compared with samples collected by Penn State personnel or by homeowners trained by Penn State personnel after gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing occurred.

Phase two included 173 sites near hydraulically fractured gas wells and 12 control sites where no drilling had occurred with five miles. These wells were tested for 14 common water quality parameters — methane, ethane, bromide and oil and grease were not included due to funding and sample-collection constraints.

Separate statistical analyses of results from each phase of the project produced similar results, according to Swistock.

In addition to the increased bromide concentrations in some water wells, a small number of water wells examined in the study also appeared to be affected by disturbance due to drilling, as evidenced by sediment and/or increased levels of iron and manganese that were noticeable to the water-supply owner and confirmed by water-testing results.

“While most water wells, even within 3,000 feet of a Marcellus well, did not have changes in water quality after drilling or hydraulic fracturing, that was the distance where we did sporadically measure increased bromide, sediment or metals. This seems to be the distance that we need to focus on for future testing and research,” Swistock said.

In addition to future research directions, the study also identified critical education needs for owners of private water wells. Most water-well owners had difficulty interpreting detailed water-test reports that they received as part of pre-drilling surveys, according to the researchers.

“As a result, most homeowners with pre-drilling water-quality problems were unable to identify them even after receiving extensive water-testing reports,” Swistock said. “There is a clear need to help homeowners understand pre-drilling problems, their risks and how to solve them.”

Other investigators on this project were Elizabeth Boyer, associate professor of water resources and director of the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center in the School of Forest Resources; James Clark, extension educator based in McKean County; Mark Madden, extension educator based in Sullivan County; and Dana Rizzo, extension educator based in Westmoreland County.

The full initial report and executive summary of this study are available on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s website at The investigators currently are preparing this work to submit for publication in the peer-reviewed literature.

This story was originally published at Penn State Live.

Remember When: Halloween

PumpkinsIt’s time to break out the candy corn, dust off the skeletons, and hang the spider webs. This week’s edition of “Remember When…” takes us down memory lane to, where else? Halloween.


How was Halloween explained to you as a child? I remember being told the story of All Hallow’s Eve in elementary school music class while listening to Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain.” Does anyone else remember that?


Laurilyn Witherup-Bailey has some elementary school Halloween memories that are funny now but at the time, maybe weren’t so amusing to her:

“I remember in elementary school always trying to stump the teachers, who had to guess which kid was underneath the costume.  One year, I had the bright idea of wearing a nylon stocking over my head underneath my hot, rubberized mask–so as to better fool whoever was peering into the mask’s eye holes.  We had to first parade around the school before the teacher could start to guess identities, and by the time we got back to the class I was so uncomfortable I was crying and begged the teacher to guess me first.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t understand me very well due to the nylon and the rubber mask (and probably my sobbing didn’t help), and she couldn’t offer a guess as to who I was, so I took off my costume without being called out. That was my one and only year with those rubberized masks.”


Cole Camplese went to St. Columba. Their traditional Halloween parade was slightly different from Bloom Elementary:

“Every Halloween we had a parade around the parking lot. The deal with St. Columba was that we all had to dress up as our favorite Saint.  What that meant was that you would have something like 100 kids all dressed in white robes, rope belts, and wire hanger halos.  Everyone looked exactly alike. The memory makes me laugh even now as I type it. Imagine passing by and wondering what the heck was up with that! It had to have been the lamest way to celebrate Halloween.”


Kristin Ziesloft-Camplese has fonder memories than her husband of selecting costumes. She writes:

“My mom made a lot of my costumes (for 5th grade I waddled around as a pumpkin), but on the off years, I remember going to Nichol’s or Ames and buying the entirely plastic, cheapo costumes.  Do you remember how they smelled? And they were in little boxes with clear fronts?”

I remember those, Kristin! Remember how they were stacked on the shelves in piles and you had to look at the top of each box, to see the mask and find out which costume it was? I had a clown and a Wonder Woman box costume, but I really wanted to be Batman…


Once we got to the middle school, most of us who were artistically inclined got a chance at some point to paint a window uptown for Halloween. I can’t remember what my design was, but I know I was assigned the police station and was not happy about it. What’s the fun of “playing hooky” uptown all day if you’re going to be watched by “The Man?”

Jeremy Harvey drew a luckier lot:

“I remember we did this in middle school as part of Mr. Ryan’s art class… we got to go down during the school day in 8th grade. My brother Josh and I painted the window of Serruci’s pizza, if you remember where that was. By the end of the day, we were pretty pleased with the results. I think we painted a night scene with a pumpkin and black cat under a scary tree. It was spooky for sure!”


Mia Kiefer offers these memories of her childhood Halloweens in Bloomsburg:

“My favorite memories included planning our costumes. We didn’t go to the store and buy them ready-made. We had a big trunk in the attic that contained all the costumes from Halloweens past. It was crammed full of scarves, hats, masks, pants, and piles of assorted other pieces. We would spend hours combining this and that until we had exactly the look we wanted. When we were all set, we’d start off–always with Mom or Dad following along. We only went to the houses of people we knew. We would never consider just going up and down the street outside our neighborhood like so many do today. Our neighbors would actually try to guess who we were and sometimes made us sing a song before we got our treat. Nobody worried about tainted candy or anything like that. We were safe and we had a great time.

Then we reached the age where we didn’t need our parents tagging along anymore. The costumes were forgotten and we thought we were the ‘baddest kids in town’ because we soaped a few windows and threw some corn at houses. And the neighbors didn’t disappoint–they would come to the door and flick the light on, acting like they were going to string us up. We’d hide in the bushes down the street, hoping they wouldn’t give chase.”


And finally, not to be outdone, our resident Master Rememberer, Jack Edwards, remembers when Halloween was “like an offshoot of April Fool’s day:”

“You soaped windows, threw shelled corn kernels, and knocked on doors and then ran and hid. I think that’s long gone too. Today you’d get arrested or shot, and understandingly so. Within reason, it seemed to be allowed back then and was acceptable behavior on Halloween night.

One Halloween back in early the 1960s, I ventured up into Sherwood Village and met up with some friends for an evening of ‘Halloweening.’ My friend Ray Cronover kind of took charge — the man with the plan so to speak — and we walked the neighborhood looking for mischief to get into. Apparently, this wasn’t Ray’s first Halloween as PA State Police cruisers were circling by and close at hand. Ray knew each and every one of the officers on a first name basis!

All of a sudden, there it was, a house left unattended with the garage door open! ‘Let’s take all the stuff inside and put it on the roof!’ (Luckily, there was a ladder too.) Quickly, we worked as a team and Ray got up on the roof and arranged things where he thought they should go. Just as we stood back to observe our work, the S.W.A.T. team moved in. ‘Ray, you and your friends put all that stuff back right now and we won’t have to get your father involved.’ So, we did.

I sincerely miss my old friend Ray and those too few years of growing up in my hometown of Bloomsburg. I bet most people won’t remember, but Ray’s dad was head of the state police barracks on West Main for years and years. Maybe a lot of people won’t remember that, but I sure do.”

For more of Jack Edwards’ Halloween memories, follow this link.

To add your Halloween memories to the collection, add a comment below.

Jack Edwards Remembers Halloween

PumpkinsSeems like my memories of Halloween, growing up back home in Bloomsburg, center around the tradition of “Trick or Treating”. Was that tradition just a little different back then?

When you were little it seemed like your parents bought you a Halloween costume, but not a new one every year. Each year it went back in the box and was put in the attic with the Christmas stuff where it waited until the next year. That plastic mask might not endure a hot summer in the attic, but often masks came on the back of cereal boxes, I mean, if you didn’t mind being the Lone Ranger, Tonto, or some other single masked crusader.

Now the part that was different was that when you went Trick or Treating you knocked on the doors of friends, neighbors, and relatives. You were invited inside and they had to guess who you were before you got your candy treat. That guessing was an important part of re-establishing kinship and familial ties, I’m thinking. Today, waves of trick or treaters come through the subdivision hitting every house that has sufficient outside lighting so that parents and chaperones standing and observing from the fringes can see that nothing funny is going on. The supply of wrapped candy is kept just inside the front door so they can collect their treat and move on as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The other aspect I remember was just the “Tricking” part! Back then it was like an offshoot of April Fool’s day. You soaped windows, threw shelled corn kernels, and knocked on doors and then ran and hid. I think that’s long gone too. Today you’d get arrested or shot, and understandingly so. Within reason, it seemed to be allowed back then and was acceptable behavior on Halloween night.

One Halloween back in early the 1960s, I ventured up into Sherwood Village and met up with some friends for an evening of “Halloweening”. My friend Ray Cronover kind of took charge — the man with the plan so to speak — and we walked the neighborhood looking for mischief to get into. Apparently, this wasn’t Ray’s first Halloween as PA State Police cruisers were circling by and close at hand. Ray knew each and every one of the officers on a first name basis!

All of a sudden, there it was, a house left unattended with the garage door open! “Let’s take all the stuff inside and put it on the roof!” (Luckily, there was a ladder too.) Quickly, we worked as a team and Ray got up on the roof and arranged things where he thought they should go. Just as we stood back to observe our work, the S.W.A.T. team moved in. “Ray, you and your friends put all that stuff back right now and we won’t have to get your father involved.” So, we did.

I sincerely miss my old friend Ray and those too few years of growing up in my hometown of Bloomsburg. I bet most people won’t remember, but Ray’s dad was head of the state police barracks on West Main for years and years. Maybe a lot of people won’t remember that, but I sure do.

Jack Edwards was born in the Bloomsburg hospital in November of 1949 to Jack W. and Vera Jean Edwards. Jack W.’s parents were Del and Pauline Edwards who had the bakeshop on the corner of West and Main and the Gramma Edwards’ stand at the fair. He became interested in music when he saw girls screaming on the Ed Sullivan Show. He played bass for several local bands, meeting his future bride, Peggy Hasenzahl, at a dance in the Central cafeteria.  They got married in Ocala, FL in June of 1971. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Hollywood, CA to become rich and famous. They now have a printing and graphic design business on the north side of Houston, TX.

Potentially Historic Snowstorm a Possibility for Bloomsburg Saturday

The National Weather Service in State College has issued a Winter Storm Warning for all of Columbia County from 2 am-10 pm Saturday due to expected snowfall of 4-8 inches.

The snow should start late tonight/early tomorrow morning, and may be mixed with a bit of rain at the onset. The snow should pick up and possibly become heavy at times tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures during the snow will be right near freezing, so the snow will be the heavy, wet variety.

This raises two fairly serious hazards. First, many trees still have their leaves, and heavy, wet snow will weigh them down since the leaves will help the trees hold the snow better than bare branches. This raises potential for widespread power outages as the large branches collapse under the weight of the snow and bring down power lines. Think of someone pouring wet cement on your outstretched arm, you can hold your arm up no problem. Now, imagine holding a serving tray on your outstretched hand and someone pouring wet cement on the tray – it would be very hard to hold up your arm. Same idea with a tree.

Second, heavy wet snow such as what is expected can be very slippery for drivers. If the snow falls hard enough, it should accumulate on roads. Travel is strongly discouraged tomorrow.

There is the possibility this could be the largest snowstorm to hit Bloomsburg in October; the average snowfall for the entire month of October at the closest official reporting station, Williamsport, is .1 inches. There is, of course, a chance that this potentially historic storm ends up a miss, which would be great for weather-weary Bloomsburg residents.

However, this is a year where Pennsylvania has seen 30 tornadoes, record annual and monthly rainfall, historic floods, earliest accumulating snow at higher elevations in some parts of central Pennsylvania, record July heat, and even an earthquake. A ridiculously early snowstorm would certainly fit in with the rest of those events.