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Mt. Gretna Newsletter

Mt. Gretna, Pa. "Not a place, but a spirit."   Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
No. 121                                                                   August 1, 2011

For the 37th Straight Year

Despite Challenges, Mt. Gretna's Outdoor Art Show Attracts People Who Create and Buy Art

Soaring temperatures, a sluggish economy and shriveled streams of artists and their patrons isn't exactly the magic elixir for outdoor art shows these days. Yet what explains the durability of Mt. Gretna's Outdoor Art Show, now in its 37th consecutive year?

 Facing all the hurdles that plague such en plein air events across the country, this year's show will arrive Aug. 20-21 with all flags flying: Its 250 exhibit spaces are sold out, a waiting list of eager young people clamored to win a spot in the coveted emerging artists category, and the area's tastiest food vendors are ready to dazzle the crowds with "food  as special as the art." 

What's behind the momentum? A five-star reputation for one thing. Traveling artists who make their living by selling their art at outdoor shows have good things to say about Mt. Gretna. "I've gotten more calls this year than ever before from artists who told me that they heard about our show from fellow artists," says show director Linda Bell. "The word has gotten out that we have a lot of patrons who come here to buy art, and it's also a compliment to all the volunteers who go out of their way to help them in a show that's admittedly difficult to unload and set up in." Despite declines in attendance affecting nearly every outdoor art festival (last year's crowds were down over 40% from the record levels of 2000, when 19,854 patrons came through the gates), the Mt. Gretna show still ranks favorably in terms of sales, satisfaction and smooth-running operations over the third weekend of August.

High on the list of crowd pleasers, in addition to the juried artwork on display, are the free entertainment and food court offerings, which provide special pleasure for Linda. "I'm thrilled when someone tells me that they found the food as special as the art," she says.

The Mt. Gretna show, like most, still faces many hurdles. "In my conversations with other show directors, we're all coming to the conclusion that the traveling artists are getting older. Some have passed away or are retiring. And there's not too many younger artists who want to be exhibiting artists on the road. It's a hard way to earn a living. And many of the artists who are traveling express a deep regret that there are no exhibiting artists coming into the art field," she says.

Yet the bright spot is the show's "emerging artists" category. Her most satisfying experience as show director came a few years ago when she presented a Judges' Choice Award to Cory Nogle, the first emerging artist ever to capture that honor. "His mother broke down in tears when I presented that check to him," says Linda. 

Will there always be an art show in Mt. Gretna? Linda certainly hopes so. "Even if you don't like the art show--a I know there's a downside to having the art show in your backyard--there's definitely a downside that I don't like myself. But like it or not, having that art show in our community along with all the other cultural activities increases the dollar value of our houses." We're not a bedroom community. We actually know our neighbors," she says. there's yet another benefit: monies that annually flow back into the community. "The whole of Mt. Gretna gets together to pull off this show, so the whole of Mt. Gretna should reap the benefits," says Linda.  

 Among groups that shared $30,000 in proceeds last year were the Mt. Gretna Fire Department, Lawn Ambulance, the Cicada Festival, Gretna Music, Gretna Theatre, the Summer Programs, Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society, the Campmeeting and Mt. Gretna Heights associations, Mt. Gretna Library, and the Tabernacle. This year, the show will provide part of the funds needed to help resurface a roadway used by art show patrons as well as emergency vehicles and residents of Timber Hills and Conewago Hill.

 Although she doesn't foresee her retirement anytime soon, Linda says she always wants "the art show to be remembered as a special time with lots of happy memories for everyone. I would like people to smile when they think about the show, about the porch parties they had, what they did during the show, and remember it in a really happy light."


Proposal to Rezone Mt. Gretna Forest Land Meets with Questions, Concerns & Opposition  

The news that approximately 90 acres of forested land opposite Mt. Gretna Heights and the Campmeeting might be rezoned to permit construction of added single-family homes and perhaps open the possibility someday for townhouses has stirred questions, dismay and, in some quarters, strong opposition throughout Mt. Gretna.  

Bordered by Butler Road on the east, the tract lies between Route 117 and Old Mine Road in West Cornwall Township.

West Cornwall Township planning commission member and Mt. Gretna resident Ben Wiley points to the green, red and yellow areas that could be rezoned. 

The land is presently zoned as Residential Forest, which would allow perhaps as many as 78 homes on the site. Land owners are requesting that 65.5 acres located north of the Rail Trail be rezoned as R-1 and the remaining 25 acres that lie south of the trail be rezoned as R-2. If their requests are granted, some residents worry that many more dwellings could be built, especially on the 25-acre site rezoned as R-2.  

Within days after the rezoning request was filed, a group opposing the change began organizing. A July 19 meeting at a private home brought out residents from nearly every sector of greater Mt. Gretna, so many that the hosts were compelled to discourage attendance because of limited seating. To accommodate larger groups, a future session is planned Aug. 9 at 7:00 pm in the Mt. Gretna Heights Community Building.  

Although ultimate decisions will rest with the supervisors of West Cornwall Township, those opposing the request say the potential consequences could adversely alter the character of Mt. Gretna, which many feel is --among communities of similar size throughout America -- rarely matched in terms of its historical, environmental, recreational and cultural offerings. Additional concerns relate to increased traffic and parking problems, especially during the summertime when overflow parking along Route 117 is already a safety concern.      

Just how many dwellings could be built on the site? It depends on what factors are included in the estimates. At a township planning commission meeting June 22, landscape architect Michael L. Saxinger, representing principal landowner Eastern Enterprises, Inc., which owns approximately 70 acres, pointed out that topography, flood plains and environmental concerns would limit the number that could be built. He added that an initial sketch plan his firm developed showed that as many as 80 to 85 dwellings, including townhomes and single-family homes, were possible on the usable land that his client owns.

Others, however, fear the number of dwellings might be much greater.

The Farmers' Encampment Building, erected in 1890, on the site where rezoning that could permit multifamily housing has been requested. The oldest building in Mt. Gretna, it is now used as a skating rink. 

"Once the zoning is changed, any plans they say they have doesn't matter," says Evelyn Koppel, a Mt. Gretna resident who is among those challenging the rezoning plan. "We have to focus on what the zoning allows and assume that if they're given permission, it would happen."

She and others have organized a committee to oppose any zoning change for the tract.  "We want people to know that if they are interested in joining our effort they can email their name, address and email address to, and we'll put them in our group notification list. We will keep them informed and let them know what they can do to help. We're gathering supporters and building a long group email list to keep people on top of this. We're also asking that everybody write to the West Cornwall Township Supervisors and the West Cornwall Township Planning Commission (, asking to receive email updates on any action taken on this issue. The township has agreed to do that so we'll know of any public meetings, votes and the minutes of their meetings. We should all be informed, and we should attend every meeting on this topic."

The West Cornwall Township Planning Commission has invited "as many affected parties who want to be heard" to their Aug. 25 meeting, says commission member Ben Wiley, a Campmeeting resident. The commission's meetings start at 7:30 pm at the township office, 73 S. Zinns Mill Rd.    

At their June 22 session, the township planners tabled the rezoning request to allow more time to study the matter. On the recommendation of township consulting engineer Jeff Steckbeck, they opted to seek comment on this and other pending zoning matters from Michelle Brummer of the Harrisburg office of Gannet Fleming, a consultant now developing a regional comprehensive plan for several municipalities in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District. Her recommendations are expected to play a key, though not decisive, role in influencing the township supervisors' ultimate vote. Steckbeck predicted that the supervisors' vote was unlikely to come before sometime late next winter or early spring.


Spurred by growing interest in America's cultural heritage

National trail links Chautauqua communities across U.S.

The Chautauqua Trail was officially launched last month. It's a national trail that links Mt. Gretna to13 other communities across the United States that share a common heritage. Established by the Chautauqua Network, which has as its mission to help everyone develop intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically to their fullest potential, the trail is part of a strategic initiative to promote the 21st century Chautauqua Movement and articulate its value in today's society, according to its new website.
Mt. Gretna resident Kathy Snavely, elected last year as Chautauqua Network secretary, says the group is well-funded and has the resources it needs to carry out its mission. She notes that many Americans today now plan their vacations around an interest in history. Mt. Gretna is one of more than 200 chautauquas established in this country during the late 1800s and among the few that remain.
The new website provides "an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Chautauqua Movement and contemporary Chautauqua communities... each unique in its own right but [sharing] a common goal of providing opportunities for personal growth, rest and renewal," said Chautauqua Network president Frank Gwalthney. He believes that each of those communities is "uniquely positioned" to take advantage of the resurgent interest in America's cultural heritage. 


Blanket Statement 

If anybody knows how to keep warm on cold nights, it's former Mt. Gretnan Kim Miller Gardner, now living in St. Paul, Minn., where last winter nighttime temperatures dropped to 22 below.

Since she moved there a few years ago, Kim's applied her talents to quiltmaking and recently returned with a 77" by 100" quilt based on the pattern, "Summer Haven." She donated it to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company volunteers for a raffle'll be ongoing for the next few months.  

Raffle tickets are $5 each or three for $10. All funds go to the fire, which is in the final push to hit their $400,000 fundraising goal. (They are, by the way, getting close to the finish line.)   

Although Kim (left) did most of the work, she credits her niece, Amanda Campbell of Bath, Maine, for teaching her how to use a longarm quilting machine.  

Amanda, who writes an informative blog for Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop in Bath, also donated the quilt backing, batting and quilting thread.   

Working together, Kim and Amanda make a statement.  


The annual tour of homes, cottages & gardens 

A Treat for Visitors... and Those Who Yearn to Live Here 

For a clue to how Mt. Gretnans first discovered their homes and cottages, look no further than the annual tour of homes, cottages and gardens.    

To be sure, the Art Show, Jigger Shop, lake and offerings at the Playhouse all play a part. But "what usually causes the phones to ring in real estate offices is the house tour," says Rhoda Long of tour sponsor Brownstone Real Estate. 

Now in its 27th year, the tour always takes place the first Saturday in August, from 10 am to 5 pm. It's an event often cited in The New York Times annual roundup of recommended house tours for

Maple Lodge

Mid-Atlantic states. This year, it also won a spot in Victorian Homes  magazine's list of "things to do, places to go, and exhibits to see in the world of Victorian art and architecture."  

Made possible by homeowners who graciously open their cottages and homes to appreciative and respectful visitors (dusting off their shoes at the front door is a time-honored tradition), the tour benefits Music at Gretna, one of the nation's premiere music festivals.

Complete descriptions of this year's 13 Tour Stops appear online. They include: Bellisimo, in Mt. Gretna's Campmeeting, where owner Geri Benseman loves her "5-star community" and claw foot tub, Just a Cottage Small (a Chautauqua cottage named for

A Sense of Place garden


a 1926 Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians 78 rpm record),

Maple Lodge, "the least-changed cottage" in Mt. Gretna, and A Sense of Place, a Timber Hills garden that rekindles childhood memories and helps preserve wildlife. 

Other stops on the tour include:

A Cottage to Build a Dream On, Kirkwood and Mimi's Maison in the Campmeeting; the Lenington Cottage and the Mt. Gretna Historical Society in the Chautauqua; 96 Birch Avenue, the Community Building and the Mt. Gretna Inn in Mt. Gretna Heights; and the Honeychurch Residence in the Village Cove section of Timber Hills. 


Turns out, they were right around the corner

Sharon Solie and Jared Nourse both were born in Milwaukee, both graduated from high schools there in 1957, and both were part of a long-range study of 10,317 men and women b the University of Wisconsin. But, until recently, neither realized the other also lives around the corner in the Campmeeting, 625 miles from home.

The first clue came when a researcher hinted to Sharon that another study participant was a neighbor. Because the longitudinal research project delves into careers, marriages, lifestyles, health issues and other personal details, however, researchers must keep names confidential. So Sharon asked the Mt. Gretna Newsletter for help in tracking down her fellow Wisconsinite.

Soon after our July issue was out, Jared's wife Gail noticed the article and called it to his attention. Sharon, it turned out, lives around the corner from the Nourse cottage on Markwood Avenue.

At a reunion on Sharon's porch, the two met, laughed and even sang a few bars of that Blatz Beer jingle popular 54 years ago, "I'm from Milwaukee and I ought to know..." Now, they do.  



Cicada Festival Tickets Still Available for Some (But Not All) Shows
Yes, you can still get tickets to Cicada Festival performances this month, even though the final concert, Phil Dirt and the Dozers, Aug. 16 has been sold out for weeks.
Promoter Ceylon Leitzel says he's anxious for local audiences to hear the
Teen Challenge Men's Chorus Monday, Aug. 8. "These 14 men from Teen Challenge in Rehrersburg, Pa. perform contemporary Christian music and familiar tunes with Christian-based lyrics," he says. Tickets for this performance only are $5. Other shows in the all-volunteer Cicada series are $12 each.
Another of Ceylon's favorites is
Eddie Bruce, who'll salute Tony Bennett on the occasion of his 85th birthday Wednesday, Aug. 10.
Also on tap are the
Bronx Wanderers Tuesday, Aug. 9 and Johnny Angel, and The Halos Thursday, Aug. 11. "Non-stop action from this group of singers, dancers and musicians from Pittsburgh," says Ceylon. On Monday, Aug. 15, the festival presents Hotel California, which is nearing sell-out status. Telephone 964-2046 for tickets.


Surprise hits of the summer season? Add Bill Gifford's Friday morning Mt. Gretna Writer's Series to the list. Last week, Christopher McDougall (above), author of the national bestseller "Born to Run," attracted a standing-room-only crowd at the Hall of Philosophy.
Still to come are former Wall Street Journal features editor Ken Wells (Aug. 5), whose "The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous" won the Harry Chapin Book Award,
Steve Volk (Aug. 12), author of "Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable -- and Couldn't," and Chet Williamson (Aug. 19), author of more than 20 books including a local favorite, "Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas." All sessions start at 10:00 am.


Picky buyers? Yes, but sometimes with cash

At the right price, properties can sell quickly  

So is this really a good time to buy a home? An article in last month's idea-packed Bottom Line/Personal newsletter summed up the pluses: Prices are low, you can lock in great interest rates, homebuilding has dropped to its lowest ebb, and in many areas of the country owning is now cheaper than renting.  

So how do these national trends play out in Mt. Gretna? 

To be sure, Mt. Gretna is not the USA. Prices are generally a bit higher here. And

price declines haven't been as steep.

And regardless of national trends, it's often hard to draw conclusions from the modest database. Even in boom times, fewer than 30 homes in Mt. Gretna typically change owners during the course of a single year.   

Yet more than 25 years of reading the real estate tea leaves have given Mt. Gretna Realty's Fred Schaeffer (inset, right) a knack for interpreting faint signals with the deft touch of a cardiologist listening to heartbeats.

Currently, 32 homes are on the market, but nearly half of them are priced at $300,000 and up -- a category that has seen only eight sales here since 2009.What's selling are homes in the $250,000 and under sector, says Fred. Thirteen of them have already sold in 2011, some in as little as four days.

Smart buyers? It would seem so. Mt. Gretna homes bring higher per-square-foot-prices (up to $185 per sq. ft. vs. $100 per sq. ft. in communities just a few miles away). Moreover, says Fred, Mt. Gretna homes tend to hold their value. Therefore, Mt. Gretna real estate is a better place to make an investment, he believes.  

To date, 18 Mt. Gretna homes have already sold this year. That compares with a total of 22 in all of 2010 and 18 in 2009. (The "boom years" of 2008 and 2007 saw a total of 25 and 27 home sales, respectively.)  

Drill down and the sales numbers look like this:

Under $200,000: 8 sold year-to-date; 6 in 2010 & 2009; 5 in 2008; 6 in 2007.  

$200,000-$300,000: 9 year-to-date; 13 in 2010; 8 in 2009 & 2008; 11 in 2007.  

$300,000-$400,000: 1 year-to-date; 3 in 2010; 4 in 2009; 11 in 2008 and 8 in 2007. 

$400,000-$500,000: None sold in the past three years; one in 2008 and two in 2007. 

Is it too early to draw conclusions for the entire year? Perhaps not, since the bulk of home sales traditionally place in the first six months.  

But Rhoda Long (inset, left) of Brownstone Real Estate, thinks the next few weeks could see a sudden spurt.  

"After the house tour, our phones usually start to ring," she says. "Buyers are extremely picky. They want top quality for bottom dollar. They're watching HGTV and reading that nationally prices are dropping, dropping, dropping. We're telling sellers they have to adjust their prices to the market if they really want to sell. And they have to make repairs and have everything in top shape," she emphasizes. But people are looking and often have cash, she finds. "We've had some sales of homes that were on the market two or three days. Some of them were to people who had been looking for years. Finally they said, 'Prices are where they need to be, and I'm not going to wait any longer.' And when the right house came on the market, they jumped."  

What's that mean for buyers and sellers in Mt. Gretna? Perhaps Bottom Line/Personal, with its optimistic headline "Now is the Time to Buy a House," may be right on the money.  


Echoes of History in a Quiet and Unique Observance:

Illumination of Campmeeting Grove Coming Aug. 20

It is a glow from yesteryear. A quiet, singular tradition of the Campmeeting, one that harkens back to the day when youngsters finishing up their studies at church summer camp strolled through the streets, lanes and byways of the historic Campmeeting, singing hymns they had learned in camp. The rite traces its origins back to the 1930s and '40s. But until it was revived by Campmeeting resident Irene Rollman in 2009, the observance had been all but forgotten.  

Irene, who spent her childhood years in the Campmeeting but acknowledges that she has no first-hand memories of the celebration and that precise details of its early history are missing, nevertheless sparked its revival. Inspired by similar events carried out elsewhere around the country, including a grand illumination observed by the Campmeeting Association of Martha's Vineyard, she and others who helped revive the tradition hope to preserve its religious heritage. Hence the name, "Illumination of the Grove," to distinguish it from other observances and adhere to the quiet tenor of the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting.

Discussing the observance a few years ago, Irene said, "I don't want to mislead anyone. We don't have written accounts of how the observance was carried out 70 or 80 years ago. Much of what we do is based on the way we suppose it might have been. Residents sat on their porches and listened to the children singing hymns they had learned at church camp as the camping season came to an end." As a gesture of their appreciation, they illuminated their porches with what were called Chinese lanterns as campers circulated through the Campmeeting.  

Photos: Madelaine Gray   

This year's event, sponsored by the Mt. Gretna Community Library, begins at 8 pm on Saturday, Aug. 20 with self-guided walks through the historical Campmeeting. Visitors are encouraged to bring flashlights and battery-powered lanterns as they stroll through the Campmeeting Grove.


Lancaster artist Liz Hess has added another Mt. Gretna painting to her growing collection of scenes from around the world, all accented by her trademark red umbrella.

She completed this work last month after spending time here "being artistically inspired" by what has become Mt. Gretna's own distinctive trademark, the rows upon rows of illuminated porches that captivated visitors during last month's Grand Illumination.  

At right, Ms. Hess's latest work, a pastel original which premieres at her Prince Street gallery on Lancaster's First Friday (Aug. 5). She introduced her first Mt. Gretna umbrella scene in January 2010 and has another one in the works. Before becoming a full-time artist, Ms. Hess spent eight years in mission work in Sweden. Now a frequent visitor to Mt. Gretna, she was here last month both to paint and to appear in a video that will show this globe-trotting artist at work.


Time to Sever Ties to South Londonderry Township?

Nearly everybody he's talked to thinks that Jack Heisley has a good idea: Merge the communities of Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge into Mt. Gretna Borough.

The 74-year-old insurance broker, who's lived on Village Lane for the past 15 years, says he's had enough of paying top tax rates and "getting almost nothing in return, especially when you compare us to Campbelltown." 

"We don't have municipal water. Our sanitary sewer is contracted

through the Mt. Gretna Authority. Snow removal is contracted with Mt. Gretna Borough. South Londonderry can't provide the police coverage that our neighbors enjoy from Cornwall Police Department. And very few of us have children using their schools," he says.

"How much are we paying, and what are we getting in return? Those are questions I'd like to have answered," says Heisley, who says the tipping point came when South Londonderry officials recently voted to pay $500,000 for land to build a park that no one in the three local neighborhoods is ever likely to use.

He wants to talk with people willing to explore the possibilities, particularly people with legal and accounting expertise. "The first step is to get together and talk about the plusses and minuses," he says. If you'd like to join in the conversation, call him at 964-1994 or email He plans to hold a meeting on the topic early in September.   


How to Cool Off on a Hot August Night? Come on down to the tennis courts along Rte. 117. The Mt. Gretna annual tennis tournament got underway this past weekend with some of the top men's competitors from throughout Lebanon County on hand. The matches continue probably Aug. 7, depending on the weather.  

There's also a bountiful supply of food, courtesy of some of the best cooks in Mt. Gretna. Meatloaf sandwiches are a specialty, but you can also find homemade casseroles, cakes and pies available. Mike Rohrbach, a Lebanon elementary school teacher with family ties to Mt. Gretna (his grandparents Bob and Betty Mason lived on Timber Road for 30 years) is taking over the tournament for 84-year-old Stan Templin, who ran the series since 1966.  Far and away, it's the best tennis you're likely to find in Lebanon County all year long. So is the meatloaf.



Larry Fr, Gretna Theatre's producing director, lauded in a Lancaster Newspapers article last week by entertainment critic Jane Holahan, whose article, "The Little Theater That Could," credits Larry with a stunning turnaround. He came on board in 2006 with "a commitment to rebuilding the theater's reputation," wrote Ms. Holahan, "and he's been doing just that." The theater "finished up its 84th season on a high note," she said, "with a wonderful production of 'Funny Girl'." 


Former Mt. Gretna Heights resident Wendy Ulmer will be at Gretna Emporium this month for a book signing.

What makes the occasion extra special? It's for the paperback edition of her first book that honors the memory of her father, Bill Uhler, who, with his wife Ruth, lived in the Heights 40 years. He was an artist and also a former Mt. Gretna Art Show exhibitor. She's also the sister of Kim Miller Gardner (see "Blanket Statement," above). 

Wendy now lives in Maine and will sign copies of "A Campfire for Cowboy Billy" from 11 a.m. to 2 pm Saturday, Aug. 6, and from 4 to 7 pm Sunday, Aug. 7.


Setting up an easel next to canoes alongside the lake on a sunny morning last month, Jean Zaun recalled the ties to her surroundings: "Mt. Gretna ingrains itself in you and becomes a part of who you are," says Jean, granddaughter of early Mt. Gretna cottage owners Nora and William, who also ran the Karmel Korn Shop on Cumberland Street in Lebanon (now Wertz Candies).  

A school girl whose relatives owned a candy shop? "I had many friends," she admits, "but the caramel corn may have had a lot to do with that." A 1983-84 Art Show exhibitor, Jean confines her en plein air paintings to private galleries, including her own. "I like having my work shown under stable lighting conditions. It's a lot less hassle showing at a gallery, but then they take 40%, too," she says. Now showing at the Garth Gallery in Columbia, has a show coming in February at Red Raven Art on Lancaster's Gallery Row. She's also been featured in

Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's World and  B

magazines and has appeared with her chocolate sculptures on The Food Channel and other television shows.

Her many links to Mt. Gretna also include Esther and George Jackson ("my adopted aunt and uncle"), art patron Gary Schaeffer, fellow musician (Jean also plays flute) Dale Dourte, and girlhood friend Connie Buck. When she's not at the lake she sometimes comes to paint and relax at the frog pond in Mt. Gretna Heights. Painting outdoors "is a wonderful way to embellish yourself in nature," she says. "If you're fortunate enough to have art in your life, you're never bored."

 -------------------------------------- Hostetter (inset, far left) leads the Leadership Lebanon Valley 2011 class on a tour of Mt. Gretna last month. Sponsored by the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce to help identify and develop people with potential for future leadership roles in all phases of community life, the 11-month program includes a "heritage and culture day" to familiarize class members with the historical, architectural, cultural and recreational assets of area communities. Chamber director Larry Bowman, a Campmeeting resident, says  comments he heard from class members following their tour were "excellent, and they wanted to learn and experience more about Mt. Gretna."    


Needed:  Ideas, Old Computers & New Volunteers

A Computer Lab at Church? It's Coming Next Summer

New ideas are perking all the time at the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.

The latest is a computer lab being planned for next summer.

Anna McDonald, who arrived in Mt. Gretna two years ago, plans to coordinate the effort, which will include computer classes and maybe even laptop clinics so people can bring in their own machines. She needs three ingredients:  

First, people willing to donate their used computers and such things as printers, a projector and networking equipment.

Anna and daughter

Brin, 5 months old 

Next, ideas for classes (such topics as Facebook, online shopping, how to pay bills safely, create a website and Google maps)

And finally, volunteers who can be there for weekday hours to allow anyone in the community to come in for assistance, classes and maybe even laptop clinics so people can ask questions using their own computers.

"To make sure things run well, we'll need to limit the age of donated machines to five years at the most," she says. If you're not sure whether your equipment would qualify, ask Anna with an email to

She hopes to open the lab when the season starts next year on Memorial Day weekend. Anna, who works for a mathematical software company from her home, formerly taught a computer class at the Lancaster Public Library. "I really miss sharing that information," she says, "and I'm excited about having a way for people to remain connected here among the trees."


You won't have to wait until the Art Show to see the latest works of two Mt. Gretna artists. Mary Kopala and David Adams, who for years divided their time between New York City, Bucks County and Mt. Gre, now find they can spend more time at their Campmeeting cott That means more time for art and exhibits like the one coming up Aug. 5 a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Lebanon Valley Council of the Arts on Willow Street in Lebanon.

Mary's a former psychologist and college professor. Dave started out to be an astronomer but became a college administrator. Now retired, they enjoy working with their art -- she with mixed media drawings inspired by travels to Provence, he with High Dynamic Range photographs that put familiar Mt. Gretna subjects in a new light. The exhibit continues through August. 




$1,000 Dale Grundon Memorial Scholarship added to the Mt. Gretna Arts Council's college scholarship program. Honoring the photographer, stained glass artisan, raconteur and railroad-cap-wearing Dale who loved Mt. Gretna and served the council and many other groups, the award will go to a student majoring in photography. It is one of five scholarships now funded through the Arts Council's Summer Premiere, which also underwrites Summer Calendar expenses not covered by advertising.     

23 YEARS Nancy Besch (inset, right) has been coordinating services -- handling such things as guest ministers, vocal and instrumental musicians, preparing

the worship services, printing the bulletins -- and other details as Chancellor of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua Sunday 10:00 am worship services in the Playhouse.  

She has plenty of help. Mary Ellen Kinch has been pianist and accompanist every Sunday for more than two decades, Terry Schoeneck and Jim Mummert provide plants and flowers for the services, and many volunteers arrange for ushers, help with the audio system, present the flowers and clear the stage following every service. The flowers in this picture were for a special memorial service the Chautauqua held for Dale Grundon last month.   

Outdoor religious services are also conducted during the summer at 10:00 am in the Tabernacle by the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Located on Fourth Street and Boehm Avenue in the Campmeeting, the church also provides an 8:00 am indoor service in the air-conditioned chapel.


5th STREET Block Party, a Campmeeting tradition that goes back at least 11 years and honors the motto, "Once a neighbor, always a neighbor." Organized by Kelly Weaber, Mark Keefer, Linda Campbell and Jess and Karen Henry last week, the party was revived after a brief hiatus a few years ago. Pa wore T-shirts commemorating the day as well as parties of years past. They also shared laughs, viewed old photos, feasted on grilled food, sampled  varied covered dishes, and applauded the music of Rob Marquette and Scott Galbraith. When someone streched the original block party banner across the street, that signaled this year's July 30 party was officially underway. And before everyone scattered, plans for next year's celebration were already churning.     


If you're restoring an older home and want to know how to also protect historic trees, arborist John Brewer will have answers at a Friday, Sept. 2 program at 7:30 pm at the Hall of Philosophy. His clients include Longwood Gardens and Milton Hershey School. Brewer says he'll answer questions and give tips on special precautions to take during historic renovations. The offering is part of a Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society series.

Questions Readers Ask
I've heard that 90% of the trees will be cut down on the stretch of woods between Route 117 and Butler Rd. This will be done to hook up the five homes on Route 117 to new sanitary sewer lines. Erosion and other environmental problems will probably ensue. This will be done by the township between August 2011 and April 2012. Imagine how that will look.  How many residents know about this?

<> We asked West Cornwall Township consulting engineer Jeff Steckbeck about that. He replied: "A sewer main will be installed along Route 117 for a distance of approximately 2,000 feet to the east of Butler Road as part of a much larger project.  The 12-month contract began in and will not be totally complete until early 2012.  I do not expect the Route 117 lines to be installed until the autumn of this year, at the earliest. The exact location of the sewer lines has not yet been determined.  We are applying for a PennDOT permit to locate the line along the edge of the shoulder of the road.  If that permit is issued, as I expect, tree disturbance would be limited. The statement '90% of the trees will be cut down' is not true. The sewer authority and my firm are sensitive to beauty and nature in the Mt. Gretna area.  We are attempting, whenever possible, to avoid disturbance of habitat or removal of trees.  Unfortunately, some habitat and tree removal will be necessary but minimized to the maximum extent possible in this DEP and EPA mandated sewer project, which is driven by the Chesapeake Bay Initiative."

[] I have quite a few lightly handled books that I could part with. Could the library use them?

<> It's a thoughtful (and appreciated) offer. Unfortunately, the library is currently unable to accept books, even those which are "lightly used." So many books are offered each year that the library volunteers usually must dispose of them for reasons of space, lack of long-term storage options, mold or other defects. Nevertheless, they appreciate the expression of support that prompts your question and hope everyone will continue to contribute their time, interest and financial support to the library's endeavors throughout the year. Donations may be mailed to Mt. Gretna Library, c/o Debbie Clemens, P.O. Box 430, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.

But here's an alternative idea: The Mt. Gretna Fire Company each year sponsors a book sale in June. They set up a book drop-off at the fire hall the first Saturday in June, a week before the book sale begins and welcome your contributions. Make a note of it on your 2012 calendar.    

[] I visited Mt. Gretna last summer, and there was a vendor stand, unattended, that had baskets of peaches and wineberry jam. I bought quite a few of the jars but have no idea of when they may be setting out their wares again. Since I live in Philadelphia, do you know how to contact them or if anyone else who makes wineberry jam may be selling it again? I understand wineberries grow all over the Mt. Gretna area. 

<> Janet Rudd, who runs the stand near the waterfall along Route 117 with her two sons (as an educational project for her eldest son to raise money for a Boy Scout trip to Philmont), says that although the wineberry season is nearly over, they'll reserve some wineberry jam for you. Janet and her family like to pick various fruits and generally have raspberry, blackberry, peach, cherry, strawberry and blueberry jams available. She will be selling peaches (picked from a friend's local orchard) and her jams on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays while supplies last. If you want to be sure they'll have some on the day you come, email her at, and she'll make sure that you receive what you want, even if they are not open that day. If the weather cooperates, she hopes to keep the stand open through August and into September with a fresh supply of peaches and raspberries.  

[] I last spoke with Helen Carpenter and Nancy and Marlin Seiders in 1992 while doing genealogical research on Helen's grandfather, my great-grandfather's brother. During a visit to Mt. Gretna, I met Marlin but later lost contact with him and Helen. They have all now passed away. I am interested in any information that Marlin may have collected and would like to make contact with a family member familiar with his research or who has access to early family photos. I am also interested in making contact with anyone from Helen's side of the family. When this project is completed, I would glady share my information with their families. Eric Christenson, 145 Terrace Court, Level Green, PA 15085. Email:   

<> We hope a reader or two will see your request and respond promptly. Marlin Seiders occupies a special place in the traditions of this community, for it was he who captured its essence,"Mt. Gretna. . . not a place, but a spirit" which appears on the masthead of this newsletter.       


R. Jeanette Barnes (1919-2011)

Together with her sister Edna, in the ranks of Mt. Gretna's legendary figures, she rose to icon status, one of those always fastidiously dressed, carefully groomed and elegant women whose graceful appearance set a standard. was one of the two "Barnes Sisters," summer residents whose meticulous Campmeeting cottage became so exemplary that it served as the cover illustration for the Mt. Gretna Summer Calendar in a painting done by Mt. Gretna artist Eva Bender.  

Jeanette's sister Edna, a few years older, continues to live at Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, the town where they were born, reared and educated.

Jeanette was a graduate of the local high school and Elizabethtown College. She also attended the University of Denver. For 37 years she taught school in Elizabethtown and was a talented musician, a cellist with three local symphony orchestras including the Harrisburg Symphony, where she was a performer for more than four decades. She also had taught school in Japan, Germany and Panama. During the many summers she spent here, she became one of this community's most active members.  She was a Gretna Theatre board member, regularly attended the Chautauqua Sunday services in the Playhouse and was a member of the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society. A complete obituary appears online.




Updates & Other Stuff to Post on

The Fridge


Bluegrass Monday Nights at La Cigale... and First Sundays (Aug. 7) at the Gov. Dick Nature Center. Every Monday around 6:30 pm. First Sunday Bluegrass jams begin at 2 pm; beginner sessions at 1 pm.

Tuesday, Aug. 2: 

Grandest National Night Out of them all... a Cornwall extravaganza, with real helicopters, the Hershey Kissmobile, an antique police car, burgers, hot dogs, sno cones and root beer floats. You won't believe your eyes. 5 to 9 pm. On Alden Street. 

Wednesday, Aug. 3: 

Annual Community  

Luncheon, 12 Noon,

Hall of Philosophy. Speaker Alletta Schadler, who became in 1969 the first woman to head a county extension service in Pennsylvania, is credited with being among the first "to recognize the issues related to land use" according to a 2010 Hidden Heroes nomination by the Lebanon County Commission for Women.    


Saturday, Aug. 13:

"Mama Mia," Family Movie Night at the Tabernacle, complete with free popcorn! Sponsored by Timber Hills residents, who invite one and all. 8:00 pm. Please bring snacks and drinks to share. 


Saturday, Aug. 27

Annual Hike to the Cardinal Flowers, a walk the late Dale Grundon had conducted, led this year by Evelyn Koppel and Sid Hostetter. "We just wanted to keep the tradition alive," says Evelyn. Starting at 9:30 am, from the bridge opposite the pizzeria.   


Saturday, Aug. 27

Music Under the Stars. Big band music, better than a tailgate party plus you can bring a picnic basket, purchase wine, dance with friends, do something out of the ordinary... under the stars, by the lake,  everything under cover if it rains. Starts 7:30 pm. Advance tickets $18 (304-0248), $20 at door. Proceeds benefit local non-profits.   


Tom Meredith's Bible Festival Picks:

Count on Tom for impeccable "don't miss it" suggestions for the Mt. Gretna Bible Festival. His favorites this month: popular Christian motivational speaker Tony Campolo, Wednesday, Aug. 24; the Susquehanna Chorale, Sunday Aug. 21; and Quintessentially Brass Sunday, Aug. 28 all starting at 7:00 pm. Plus, this Saturday at 10:00 am, a special family program: Jack Hubley with his Birds of Prey.    


And keep in mind: The Annual Community Picnic Sept. 3 at 4:00 pm.

Hall of Philosophy. Bring a covered dish to share. Everyone invited. Reservations: 964-1830. 


Mt. Gretna Newsletter: Winner of Constant Contact 2010 All-Star Award