YES, THEY'LL WIDEN PINCH ROAD THIS SUMMER. . . CAUTIOUSLY
Ever notice how, when you cross the county line from Lancaster, Pinch Road suddenly becomes about a foot narrower? Well, PennDOT plans to fix that.
Funds for the widening project were just approved, and the Asplundh crews have already finished trimming trees along the roadway, the first step before actual widening can begin, probably in July.
PennDOT supervisor Larry Kreiser promises that nothing will be done to disturb the stone gutters running alongside the Chautauqua and Campmeeting areas. In fact, PennDOT will confine its work to the roadway beyond the stone-lined drainage ditches, toward the Lancaster County border. He also assures that they'll avoid working during times that might conflict with the art show.
Although the work will be done this summer (perhaps even before July if funds originally intended for snow removal are diverted to the eight road-widening projects now planned in Lebanon County), resurfacing operations might not follow for another year or two.
A LITTLE RAIN, BUT NOT ENOUGH. . . NOT NEARLY ENOUGH
An overnight downpour on Mar. 2 brought 1.1 inches of blessed rain. But we'd need almost two straight weeks of rainfall like that to replace what's missing.
Borough officials last week mailed a reminder of the drought emergency ban on washing cars or paved surfaces, or using water for grass, trees, ornamental gardens, outdoor gardens and the like. Their notice warns of "serious conditions this summer if substantial recovery is not realized during the next two months." But the U.S. Weather Service is not optimistic. Although they hope they'll be wrong, forecasters now predict the drought will last into 2003, says borough secretary Linda Bell, who attended a briefing for municipal officials last week.
Bill Care reports that Mt. Gretna's water supply is "stable." But he is clearly worried. Water problems in nearby communities such as Richland and Myerstown have taken on serious proportions, he says. (See IN BRIEF, below.)
Meanwhile, thanks to officials at Governor Dick Park, water woes that began New Year's Eve in Mt. Gretna Heights when a well collapsed may be easing a bit.
Although the first drilling attempt, to a depth of 600 ft., failed to deliver enough usable water, Heights officials asked for and got an easement to drill another well just inside the Governor Dick property line. It worked.
Water began flowing at 80 gallons per minute at the new site, and officials hope for an even better flow when a larger drilling rig finishes the job in a few days.
In the meantime, until final regulatory hurdles are cleared, Heights residents continue under emergency restrictions with water fed through fire hoses from the Mt. Gretna Authority. Heights president Keith Volker estimates the drilling project will cost $65,000, with another $25,000 to $30,000 needed for an interconnect backup required
by Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection. The interconnect, with Mt. Gretna Authority, is "much cheaper than drilling another well, and we believe a much better solution," says Keith.
AS PROTESTS SUBSIDE, NATURE CENTER MOVES AHEAD
Plans are moving ahead for the Governor Dick Nature Center. Park directors heard presentations last month from three producers of log cabins. They also began forming a volunteer support committee "to assist the board in matters related to the park," and again issued assurances that they oppose plans for a cellular tower, new roads or logging in the 1,105-acre park. Some former opponents of the plan now have offered to serve on the support committee, says board member Carol McLaughlin.
The board normally meets on the third Thursday of each month but has changed this month's meeting to tomorrow night (Mar. 12) to accommodate members' schedules. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m., at the West Cornwall Township building, 73 South Zinns Mill Rd.
Carol expects the board will select the winning bidder in April and begin construction on the 2,200 sq. ft. facility in June, "at the earliest."
WANTED: FUNDRAISING EXPERTS
Mt. Gretna's fire company needs volunteers to help with an upcoming fundraising campaign. They're hoping to replace a 20-year-old engine next year with a smaller "attack piece" that's easier to maneuver through narrow streets yet still offers an effective response to fires in surrounding forest lands. Officials drove a similar unit, loaned by a Dauphin County fire company, through Mt. Gretna streets last month. Cost of the new engine is about $160,000.
In addition to possible state grants and low-cost loans, the Mt. Gretna fire company (which meets the third Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m.) hopes to raise funds locally and is calling for volunteers of all types, especially persons experienced in raising funds.
DATE ANNOUNCED FOR 18th ANNUAL TOUR OF HOMES AND COTTAGES
Mt. Gretna's 18th annual tour of homes and cottages takes place Saturday, Aug. 3. Proceeds help support the nationally renowned Music at Gretna festival. Over the years the event has also attracted people who discovered Mt. Gretna through the tour and subsequently bought homes and cottages here. This year's tour will again include a number of area gardens as well as cottages and homes throughout the Mt. Gretna community. Emi Snavely, 964-3800, is the tour coordinator.
COMING UP, FACES' FIRST GATHERING OF THE SEASON
FACES holds its first organizational meeting of the season next month. The lively and energetic group that coordinates volunteers with organizations needing their help meets at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, Apr. 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Who should be part of FACES? Everyone who volunteers to help make Mt. Gretna summers hum --- at the theater, information center, library, concerts or anywhere else. Jan Layser (964-3459) and Trish Myers (964-3406) invite you to register and serve as an usher. . . join the board. . . coordinate an opening night theater gala. . . or tackle anything else that suits your fancy and helps Mt. Gretna flourish.
The 300 FACES volunteers who donated over 3,000 hours of service last season were honored at a dinner last fall. Recognizing valuable service is a part of it. But the main idea is simply to serve a vital role and be a part of an organization that builds lasting friendships throughout the community. Everyone is welcome. And everyone has fun.
BRIGHTENING WINTER DAYS
One of the best things about e-mail is that even during the winter you can keep up with people that, ordinarily, you'd hear from only in the summer.
Pat Pinsler, for example, checks in from time to time when she collects her e-mail at libraries or stops at homes of e-mail-equipped friends and relatives while roaming about the country in a motor home. Pat discovered the joys of motor home travel on a trip to California with her
family many years ago. She promised herself that, when she retired, she'd devote two years to seeing the U.S.A. from the road. Now in her tenth year of motor home adventures, she doesn't intend to quit anytime soon. "I just happen to love playing the tourist, seeing our wonderful country, chatting with people in all areas, and, along the way, picking up some bits of history," she says.
Ann White sent us a note from Naples, Fla., where she and Bob Good are now full-time residents --- but with friends and memories tied to the Conewago lakeside home where they lived for more than 20 years. The world, she's discovered, is truly a small place. Ann recently mentioned to a new acquaintance in Naples that she had moved from a small town in Pennsylvania called Mt. Gretna. "Oh," said the woman, "then you know one of my best friends, Leanne Harrington."
Other welcome correspondence comes to us from around the world. Artist Annelies Kelemen-Weber, who participated in our art show last summer, writes from Austria, "I will never forget all the nice, helpful people there and the lovely community." And we hear regularly from one of our favorite people, Hoagy Hogentogler, former Mt. Gretna mayor, raconteur extraordinaire, and first-class friend. now living, and brightening the lives of folks, in Florida.
Friends around the world. . . lighting up even dreary winter days with messages that streak in like sunbeams. . . one of the reasons we enjoy writing this newsletter.
IN BRIEF (45 Words or Less)
 May 25th's Summer Premier will offer bidders a chance at a one-of-a-kind Mt. Gretna scene: a stained glass hanging panel created by Dale Grundon and appearing on the cover of this year's Summer Events calendar.
 Summer Premier organizers are still accepting auction donations, says Trish Myers, 964-3406. In addition to the Grundon original, the Premier will feature works donated by local artists and exhibitors at last year's art show.
 The 2002 Summer Events calendar closes Friday, Mar. 15. Send listings to Deborah Hurst, WjH5200024@aol.com. To insert business advertising or $35 patron listings, which help cover production costs, call Jim Burchik, 964-3834, or Edie Miller, 964-2325.
 A satellite view of Mt. Gretna shows up at http://www.terrafly.com/. For a high-altitude glimpse of Rt. 117 and Pinch Rd. during what in Mt. Gretna passes for rush hour, just type in zip code 17064.
 Bill Care invites folks wondering about the Carnegie Avenue renovation project (where macadam was removed last week from roadway being returned to parkland) to stop by his office for a chat. He welcomes questions anytime about that, or any other borough activity.
 Water shortages will likely delay plantings of trees and shrubbery in the Carnegie Avenue project.
 Nearby communities hit critical water levels. Some wells in the Myerstown area have dropped from 100 to 10 gallons per minute. If those wells run dry, truck deliveries of water only for drinking appear the sole, and stark, alternative.
 Chautauqua now limits community building rentals to "members of the Mt. Gretna community." Non-residents may rent the Heights' building, provided they have a Mt. Gretna sponsor. Volunteers handle community building rentals: (for Chautauqua, John Smith, 964-2101; for the Heights, Dick Steinhauer, 964-2362).
 Comcast finally launched its Internet cable service in Mt. Gretna last week. Mt. Gretna Computing (964-1106) is handling setups for residents.
 Dance classes joined the bustling lineup of weekday arts activities gearing up for the Heights community building this summer. Others include book reviews and courses in flower arranging, painting, and growing and cooking with herbs.
 Those bright orange Asplundh trucks sawing tree limbs along Pinch Road are part of a 74-year-old Willow Grove-based company with 24,000 employees in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
 The 2002 Ebright Concert will salute the music of Frank Sinatra in an Aug. 9th presentation featuring more than 30 of Sinatra's biggest
hits, directed by legendary Philadelphia bandleader Al Raymond.
 Officials urge everyone to think carefully before removing trees. It takes only minutes to cut them down but, in many cases, 100 years to grow. Cottage owners sometimes discover that adjacent trees are not actually on their property. "Ask before you cut," they caution.
 Artwork donations are flowing in for WITF-TV's art auction Apr. 12-14. Among the early contributors, Dale Grundon offers one of his prize prairie style stained glass lamps and encourages others to help also: http://www.witf.org/temps/home/Gallery33.shtml
 Parents can now register three- and four-year-olds for fall nursery school at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, a sponsor since 1981. Carol Mather (964-2208 or 964-3578) has details and says visitors to the school are always welcome.
 Heights officials say they'll finish repairs at the community building by May. The renovation fund now stands at about $11,000 of a $20,000 goal. Mailing address for donations: Mt. Gretna Heights, Inc., Box 391, Mt. Gretna, Pa. 17064
 Works of Mt. Gretna art show co-founder Reed Dixon now appear at Lancaster Museum of Art, North Lime and Chestnut streets, in a show that runs through Mar. 30.
 Gretna Theater premiers the musical "The Road to Freedom" 11:00 a.m. Saturday (Mar. 16) at Annville's Allen Theater. It's Gretna Theater's 75th anniversary outreach program for 6,000 area youths. Tickets, $5, are free to educators and community leaders. Call 964-3627.
 Previews of Spring in Mt. Gretna, 2002 edition, now dazzle the Internet at the website geocities.com/delights_17064, courtesy of Dale Grundon.
 A reader wonders why, during a shortage, tennis courts need water. Good question. Answer: they're made of HarTru, a $25,000-per-court surface of finely ground green stone that would be ruined, perhaps blown away, if allowed to dry out.
 Environmental protection for Conewago Creek gains support from several residents in Mt. Gretna, where the creek's headwaters begin. Next meeting of the Tri-County Conewago Creek Association begins at 7:00 p.m. Mar. 27 at the Londonderry Township building in Middletown.
 Former Mt. Gretna gift shop operator Veda Boyd discusses her new book, "One Came to Stay" (Masthof Press, 314 pp., $14.50), an autobiographical account of growing
up in Lancaster County, at Mt. Gretna library Jul. 24 at 7:00 p.m. See http://www.masthof.com/pages/newbooks.html
 "What they did with the food at that show last year was wonderful," an unsuspecting Hershey fitness instructor told Linda Bell, wearing an Art Show t-shirt during a workout session. "Thank you," replied Linda, graciously. Last year's food vendors all plan to return, she says.
 Art show judges arrive Apr. 13 to select the artists who will exhibit at this year's show, Aug. 17-18.
 A Florida woman would like to buy a summer home near a lake in Central Pennsylvania for visits with her daughter and grandchildren. Contact Lucille LaBarbara, Prudential WCI Realty, Inc., 4130 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, Fla. 34103.
 A Mt. Gretna resident seeks a roommate to share large home here; $600 per month, plus phone. All other utilities included. Tel. 964-1805.
 For sale: Dynasty six-seat hot tub with 42 jets. Three years old but barely used. $4,500. Tel. 964-1805.
14 Rainfall deficit (in inches) to date. Deficit at this time last year: 3 inches.
11.5 Inches of snowfall recorded so far this year. Normal is 36 inches.
400 Returns (an unusually high percentage) from 1800 surveys mailed recently to Mt. Gretna theatergoers. What respondents liked best: "coming to Mt. Gretna," seeing favorite celebrities, and economical ticket prices (among the lowest in a five-county area).
84 Years since a Mt. Gretna author wrote a poem that begins, "Not for me the hiving city, Not for me the pulsing shore, But a little woodland corner -- This I ask and nothing more." Can anyone name the poet. . . and the poem? Answer next time.
5 Building permits issued by Mt. Gretna borough so far this year.
35 Building permits issued by Mt. Gretna borough in 2001.
139 Tons of snow removal salt still sitting in a Mt. Gretna storage building, awaiting "the winter that never came." The dilemma now, as deadlines fast approach: how much salt, if any, to order for 2003?
28,000 Patrons now coming to Gretna Theater productions each year, up from 9,000 four years ago. Totals include about 6,300 students in the theater's Central Pennsylvania youth outreach program.
80 Miles that bicyclist Bill Care typically rides every Saturday, part of the training for his first race of the season Mar. 24, in Virginia, as the newest member of a world-class team of cyclists now in their 50s.
THIS MONTH'S FAVORITE QUOTE
"The clearest sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness." -- Montaigne
FINALLY. . .
We're sometimes asked for e-mail addresses of our readers to promote political, commercial or worthwhile charitable causes. We hope you'll understand that, to protect against unsolicited messages, we follow a practice of never disclosing the e-mail addresses of persons and organizations receiving this newsletter.
Moreover, since this venture is merely a personal hobby, not an official publication nor an attempt to represent the views of any person or group, we generally prefer to promote the positive, emphasizing things that enlighten and unite. (To that extent, we adhere to a Four-Way Test familiar to members of Rotary International: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?" That practice, both in writing and in living we find, serves us well.)
Please continue to pass along printed copies of this newsletter to friends and neighbors who don't yet have e-mail and mention to those who do that this letter is free for the asking.
Thanks and best wishes.