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Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter No. 15, Friday, April 12, 2002


A group opposing plans for a Nature Center at Governor Dick Park has set up a comprehensive new website explaining their objections. They’ve also announced plans for a public meeting in Mount Gretna next Wednesday.

Friends of Governor Dick Park, “formed out of a love for this forest,” established a website at Along with giving a detailed history of the parkland, the website says that the proposed development is both unnecessary and contrary to
the park’s original deed. The webpage also cites “unbearable ecological costs,” the lack of any educational plan, uncertain funding for ongoing operations, and inadequate public notice before cutting down trees.

The Apr. 17 meeting, starting at 7:00 p.m. at Mount Gretna United Methodist Church, will include presentations by a consulting botanist and a Millersville University biology professor.

Meanwhile, the Governor Dick board is moving ahead with plans to name a contractor next month for the 1,700 sq. ft. Nature Center. The board meets next Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in the West Cornwall Township building, 73 South Zinns Mill Rd.

Board member Carol McLaughlin says that members of an advisory Support Committee haven’t yet been named, but plans call for the committee to include at least one member of the Friends of Governor Dick Park. Others will likely include representatives of the Audubon Society, Rails-to-Trails, and other interested groups.

She says some public misunderstanding of the board’s aims may have stemmed from a study the board commissioned three years ago from the RBA Group, a consultancy of engineers, architects and planners. The consultants proposed a number of possible uses for the land, including an amphitheater, “They suggested a number of possibilities, but these were just suggestions,” says Carol. “None of these things have been set in stone. The only thing planned in Phase I is the log cabin nature center. Nothing has yet been planned for Phase II, other than trail markings and a printed brochure.”

Carol says the Governor Dick board was formed in 1998 and decided the following year to engage a consultant to advise on possible future use of the land. Why not just leave things as they were? “I’m not sure,” says Carol, “but at the time public hearings were held, everybody seemed to think it was a good idea.” And after public funds were granted for the building, “it was either use the money or lose it. So going ahead with the building took priority.” Now that plans are underway, she says the board has received requests to hold future meetings there from many different groups, including the boy scouts, the Audubon Society and the Lebanon County Conservancy.


PennDOT says everything is set for a late June, early July start on the Pinch Road widening project. When we reported that last month several readers expressed concern. PennDOT, they warned, has a propensity for removing trees. A state road project earlier this year chopped down 69 of some 150 historic trees along Donegal Springs Road in Lancaster County before outraged citizens brought the cuttings to a halt. Nothing like that is in store for Pinch, promises PennDOT.

“All the trimming we plan to do has already been done,” says Dale Good, who handles state road projects in our area. “The Asplundh crews have done as much as they’re going to do. We just wanted to trim the trees so when our truck boxes are up in the air they won’t catch any limbs.” Dale says that he’s also aware of local aesthetic sensitivities. “We’re talking with Bill Care about the stone drainage ditches between the Campmeeting and Chautauqua and want to leave those alone. There was some concern initially about shoulder drop-off and liability, but I think we’re going to be okay.” Dale says that he and his family are frequent summer visitors to the Jigger Shop, and he’s aware that in Mount Gretna, folks don’t like to see things change.


That pot pie dinner benefiting the Mount Gretna fire company on Palm Sunday was just the latest example in a long string of good deeds that Hideaway owner Jason Brandt does for our firefighters. He not only provides the meal but turns over the entire proceeds to the fire company, not even taking anything out for expenses.

And those pig roasts, block shoots and other events? Jason supplies
the refreshments free of charge. “He’s one of our biggest supporters,” says fire company vice president Joe Shay, who told us that Jason also supplied six tables for the social hall, cleans the fire hall kitchen, blows leaves away from the front door, and supplies free ice and other incidentals anytime they’re needed. “Last year,” says Joe, “Jason’s mom even planted the flowers in front of the fire hall.” And on Sundays, those folks helping direct cars into the parking lot for church? Yep, they’re part of the Hideaway team, too.


Mount Gretna Heights residents must continue living under emergency water restrictions for a few more weeks. They’re using 7,000 to 8,000 gallons a day supplied through fire hoses by the Mount Gretna Authority. But residents in the 69 homes there should be able to resume using their normal 13,000 gallons a day when work on the new well is
completed around the middle of next month. Drillers hope it will yield up to 150 gallons a minute. In the meantime, Heights officials are working out an agreement with the authority to provide emergency backup between the two systems.

Meanwhile, life under a drought emergency continues for everyone in Mount Gretna. That means no washing cars or paved surfaces, and no use of water for grass, trees, and ornamental or outdoor gardens. “Unless we get unexpected rainfall from a tropical storm, I imagine the emergency rules will stay in effect throughout the summer,” says Bill Care. Despite some recent rainfall, the deficit continues to hover at around 14 inches.


Ellen Brighton has a new CD out, a six-song Contemporary Christian album, “My Tribute.”

The Vanderbilt vocal performance grad (1995) spent many summers here as a youngster. Ellen Ebright is now Mrs. Ellen Ebright Carlton and combines both names for her professional appearances. She toured Russia as a soloist with the Nashville Symphony and has two solo recitals coming up this month in Nashville. She also sings with the Schola Cantorum Nashville (an elite a cappella group) and the Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral Choir as a soprano section leader and soloist.

A few folks here know Ellen as the shooter who returns each year to handle land displays at our July 4th Fireworks, a specialty she learned under the guidance of her dad. (“Land display” is actually a misnomer, she says, “because the ones I fire end up the highest in the air.”) She and husband Tom live with Toby, Ty, Turi, Tate, Triscuit, TJ, Timber and Triton (eight cats) in Tennessee.

To order the album, send $10 with your return address to Ellen Ebright Carlton, 129 Saddlebridge Lane, Franklin, Tenn. 37069.


Pennsylvania’s Game Commission this week lengthened the periods that horseback and trail bike riders will be able to use designated trails in state gamelands. The changes, adding two weeks each September and another four weeks each spring, follow a year-long study in which commissioners looked at “unintended degradation” caused by riders.

Area resident Lois Herr, who helped lead Friends of Gretna Gamelands several years ago, says she’s still bothered by what she views as unnecessarily restrictive limits on the trails available to riders. “I was never convinced by PGC arguments that private horseback riding damaged trails,” she says. For details of the commission's ruling, see


The author of that poem we quoted last month, written 84 years ago by a Mt. Gretna author? She was Ann Hark, daughter of J. Max Hark, Chautauqua’s first chancellor. Jack Bitner tells us that Ann wrote a number of books, mostly about Pennsylvania Dutch culture and customs. “Hex Marks the Spot” is
her best-known work, but for most Mount Gretnans the favorite was “Phantom of the Forest,” a children’s mystery tale that took place in and around the Conewago Hotel. That book, says Jack, is now hard to find.

And the poem (which some readers say captures the very essence of Mount Gretna)? It’s called “Just A Cottage On A Hill” and begins, “Not for me the hiving city/ Not for me the pulsing shore/ But a little woodland corner--This I ask and nothing more.” The nine-stanza poem ends, “Yes, it's calling and I'm coming/ For the spell is on me still--/ Just a little bit of heaven, Just a cottage on a hill.” (If you’d like a copy of the entire poem, drop us a note at We’ll forward the full text.)

Jack says the Hark cottage, located along Rt. 117, faced the lake; he adds that a romantic attachment involving her chauffer ended tragically. She was, says Jack, a “woman of today in her Victorian world.” (Our thanks to John Smith who discovered the poem and piqued our curiosity.)

IN BRIEF (45 Words or Less)

[] The DEP approved Mount Gretna Authority’s plans for a UV disinfectant system, a $60,000 project that will eliminate chlorine gas. Ours is among the first Pennsylvania municipalities to use it. Says Bill Care, “This is good news for the environment, good news for everybody.”

[] Workers expect to finish up the Carnegie Avenue construction project around mid-May, but landscaping will likely be delayed because of the drought. For the latest look at what workers have been up to, see

[] The PUC ordered Verizon to add Hershey to the local 964 calling area. “A rare victory for the little guy,” says Keith Volker, who expects a statement soon from the Consumer Advocate’s office. Verizon has 120 days to make the change.

[] Photographer Lynee Porter needs more homes and cottages for the Mount Gretna Interiors poster she’s planning. She’ll donate part of the proceeds to arts activities here and would like to hear from you at or 306-6178.

[] The website has added scenes from last year’s art show. The site also lists 2001’s top 30 award winners --- 10 artists who received cash prizes, 20 others who also automatically qualified for this year’s show, bypassing the Apr. 13 jury.

[] Mary Hernley promises she’ll be back along Route 117 with her flowers just as soon as “the tulips start to bloom.” When, exactly, depends on the weather. “If it gets real warm, they bloom more quickly.” She’s been selling flowers for over 30 years.

[] Want to know what the weather’s like in Mount Gretna? Here’s a website for the latest updates on temperature, sky conditions, wind, humidity, UV index and other climatological details:

[] Along with the Carnegie project, Dale Grundon has posted new Web scenes of preparation work for the Design Center, and former mayor Hoagy Hogentogler’s daily routine of feeding ferrel cats at Port Canaveral’s Jetty Park. See:

[] Hoagy and Doris looked out their kitchen window the other day to see Chuck and Charlotte Allwein coming up the sidewalk. “Shazam, a delightful surprise,” he says. Another recent visitor: former Mount Gretnan Hannah Matarazzi, who suggested the ferrel cat photos.

[] Pam Willeman will teach Astanga Yoga classes at the Mount Gretna Heights Community Building on Monday and Wednesday evenings starting Jun. 3. Classes teach mindful breathing, isometric contractions that build strength and endurance, and guided meditation. To enroll, call 964-3193.

[] Ballet and musical show dance classes for youngsters age six to 14 begin July 1 at the Heights Community Building with instructor Judy Williams of The Movement Laboratory. Call Pat Pinsler, 964-3858, to register.

[] Barb’s Porch & Pantry Café features dishes from the QE2 Apr. 19. They close for vacation Apr. 26-28. From now until Jun. 12,
normal hours are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with Sunday breakfasts from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

[] Live scenes from Chautauqua, N.Y. appear on the Internet at

[] The Chautauqua Colorado Association, near Boulder, displays upcoming lectures, tours and cultural activities planned this summer at Founded in 1898, the community is set amid parkland and gardens at the foot of the Flatirons mountains.

[] Small World I: Timbers Dinner Theater manager Tap Roberts in New York the other day to audition cast members for this summer’s musical revue, spotted Tom McMahan, Mount Gretna summer resident at 102 Pennsylvania Avenue, strolling along the streets of Manhattan.

[] Small World II: Conewago residents Joe and Laura Feather, in line for a Hawaiian luau, chatted briefly with people waiting behind them, who introduced friends, John and Gail Del-Baugh of Mount Gretna. Exactly 4,767 miles from home, the couples met for the first time.

[] Tim Nieman hopes to get state approval soon for The Pennsylvania Chautauqua historical marker. A proposed inscription traces the Chautauqua’s founding in 1892 to advance “literary and scientific attainment among the people, and the promotion of popular culture in the interest of Christianity.”

[] Music at Gretna presents its final concert in the Beethoven violin and piano sonatas series 3:00 p.m. Sunday (Apr. 14) at Elizabethtown College. Violinist Nancy Bean and pianist Clipper Erickson perform at the Leffler center.

[] Cindi Eby, teacher, tutor and stress management facilitator, would like to remain in Mount Gretna following the sale of a Brown Avenue home she now rents. Call her at 964-3535 if you know of a property. E-mail address:

[] Kathy Snavely hopes to arrange for fresh, weekly deliveries of organic vegetables to Mount Gretna this summer. Three persons have already signed up. She needs a few more to make the plan work. Contact her at or 964-1866.

[] Environmental protection volunteers will evaluate water quality Apr. 20 at various locations along the Conewago Creek, which has headwaters in Mount Gretna. They also meet at 7:00 p.m. Apr. 24 at Lawn Fire Company. To join them, contact Matt Royer, or 783-7470(w), 651-0978(h).

[] Planners say this year’s Summer Premiere and art auction at the Community Building May 25 promises to be one of the best ever. The annual event, sponsored by the Arts Council, begins at 4:00 p.m.


4 Homes for sale in Mount Gretna, one each in the Timbers, Chautauqua, Mount Gretna Heights and the Campmeeting. “We need houses to sell,” says realtor Emi Snavely.

42 Miles raced last week by bicyclist Bill Care, on a team that includes two former national champions. Bill, who took up competitive cycling four years ago, placed 23d in a field of 80 highly ranked amateurs over age 50, including two-time national champion Barry Free of Spring Hill Acres. Bill’s average speed: 23 mph.

4.55 Inches of rain that fell in Mount Gretna last month. Welcome, but not enough to put a dent in the 14-inch deficit.

3.5 Inches of surprise snow last Saturday morning in Mount Gretna. Residual temperatures in the pavement caused it to melt quickly. “The kind of snow I like,” says Bill Care, “beautiful. . . landing on the grass and the trees, enhancing the aesthetics, and no work.”


“It would be an inconvenient rule if nothing could be done until everything could be done perfectly.” – Winston Churchill


Some 55 million Americans now go online every day, using the Internet for a variety of purposes, the largest of which is to exchange e-mail messages. Someone asked how many Mount Gretna residents have e-mail. We honestly don’t
know. What is certain is that, judging by the requests we receive for this newsletter every week, the number is growing. They include people who live in Mount Gretna as well as people who used to live here or would like to.

E-mail is, of course, a woefully inadequate medium compared to talking face to face, seeing friends and neighbors at the post office, or walking down to The Corner Deli and greeting folks on a Sunday morning. But it helps fill in the gaps and informs a growing a network of folks who share our love of Mount Gretna --- a larger network than we ever imagined when we began this venture over a year ago.

So please continue your good work of telling others that this informal newsletter is free for the asking, that its only purpose is to inform and unite and share in the Mount Gretna experience, which, in our humble opinion, is uniquely one of the finest that anyone can ever have.

Thanks and best wishes,

Roger Groce
213 Stevens Avenue (717) 964-2205