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Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter No. 37, June 27, 2004

TOWN TALK
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We don’t have a Top Ten Topic List. But if we did, the question, “What’s happening at the store?” would surely lead Mount Gretna’s conversational parade these days.

Built soon after the turn of the century and called “The Deli” in recent years, the Mount Gretna store closed last month. Few changes in this remarkably changeless community have landed with greater impact. Bob Andrews, after 13 years of operating the store seven-days-a-week, 12-hours-a-day, left to pursue other interests. And residents, stunned by the store’s sudden demise, have since scrambled to find alternative sources for coffee, newspapers, and those essential early-morning conversational encounters with neighbors that --- here in Mount Gretna --- fill information gaps with an efficiency that rivals CNN.

Yet the good news is that several people appear interested in starting a new business at the same location. Among developments enhancing the site’s commercial potential are ever-expanding year ‘round recreational activities here --- including triathlons and the surging popularity of the rail-trail (with its planned $144,000 extension next year leading into the heart of Mount Gretna).

As we mentioned in our “preview” edition a few days ago, the building’s owners say calls from prospective tenants have been “voluminous,” and discussions are continuing. Phil Schneider, who helps direct property operations, says “talks haven’t yet reached the point where someone has signed, but discussions are certainly very active. And, of course, we’d like to have somebody there sooner rather than later.”

Although he can’t predict what type business might occupy the space, Phil says that many prospects have solid business backgrounds and express interest in “continuing or enhancing it as a store.”

Other topics sprinkling community conversations these days include the Design Center, now ready to begin operations, and the fireworks, cancelled this year while officials sort through safety and financial concerns.

Realtor Emi Snavely, lining up commercial rentals for Design Center owner John Mitchell, says the building is now “ready for action.” She’s talking with several prospective renters. Mitchell intends to use a portion of the center as a showroom for his thriving imported fabrics business (see http://lacigale-usa.com/), but additional retail and office space in the 2,400 sq. ft. center will be available for others.

What won’t be available in Mount Gretna, at least this year, are aerial fireworks displays over the lake. But this won’t be the first time a Fourth of July here has passed under darkened skies. The same thing happened in 1976, when financial woes also cancelled the displays. Then, just as now, people were disappointed. And the late Tom Ebright sparked a move to get them going again the following year. Enthusiastic volunteers have kept the tradition alive since then. People now wonder whether some group might be willing to step in and assume responsibility for the displays --- even if on a more modest scale --- in future years. “This just won’t seem like the Fourth without them,” said one reader, reflecting, perhaps, the sentiments of many.

Meanwhile, newspaper readers are discovering they can pick up their out-of-town favorites at Le Sorelle Porch & Pantry Café. Owners Stephanie Lamont and sister Tiffany Lamont Winters have opened their restaurant an hour earlier (7:00 a.m.), Tuesdays through Sundays, to accommodate local residents seeking coffee, newspapers, and a convenient nexus for neighborly chats. Regular breakfast servings begin at eight. (The café --- recently receiving a Patriot News restaurant reviewer’s enthusiastic endorsement --- also is open for lunch until 1:00 p.m. and accepts reservations for Italian dinners on Fridays and Saturdays, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tel. 964-3771; also see http://porchandpantry.com/)


“X” MARKS THE SPOT --- AND THE SPOT’S MOUNT GRETNA
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That big Aug. 8 triathlon --- part of an international race series sponsored by Nissan --- is a definite “go” for Mount Gretna, the only site in Pennsylvania this year for a Nissan-XTERRA race. It’s one of 47 events in 28 states for athletes seeking to compete in the national championship this September at Lake Tahoe and in the international finals at Maui in October.
Race director Brad Kurtz, a three-time ironman world championship finisher who grew up in Ephrata and then moved to Hawaii where he helped organize the XTERRA competition, says half of the Mount Gretna race proceeds will go to Governor Dick Park. The rugged off-road triathlon includes a half-mile swim, a 15-mile mountain bike ride and a five-mile run along the rail-trail. Details appear on the web at http://www.eventimpact.com/events.html.

Last month’s minitriathlon, as noted elsewhere in this newsletter, attracted 500 competitors and raised $10,000 for neurodegenerative disorder research. And as triathlons grow in popularity, Mount Gretna’s natural assets --- including the lake, trails and surrounding hills --- are likely to prove an irresistible allure. As two-time Ironman world champion Scott Tinley said in 1998, “Make no mistake. Off-road triathlons are here to stay. You may not have a mountain-bike triathlon in your neighborhood yet, but sooner or later you will.”
Six years later, Mount Gretna has two.


IN BRIEF (45 words or less)
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[] So how did that electronic speed monitor suddenly show up to slow down traffic this summer on Route 117? Tom Miller asked. Chief Bruce Harris acted. Presto! It got done. Amazing how simple life can be sometimes in a small town.

[] Although the cicadas vamoosed abruptly last week, Cicada Festival banners should be showing up any day now, at $50 each. Unlike the bugs, the banners will be limited in number we’re told. Natalie Smith (964-3225) is taking orders.

[] Lynden Gallery presents “Four Who Live and Work in Mount Gretna” at its Aug. 6-Sept. 4 exhibit in Elizabethtown, featuring “four very different artistic expressions” by Shelby Applegate, Eva Bender, Barbara Fishman and Lou Schellenberg. Details, including an artists’ reception Aug. 21, appear at www.lyndengallery.com

[] PennDOT promises it’ll look into improving nighttime visibility along Route 117 into Mount Gretna. Among the solutions PennDOT’s Lebanon traffic unit will consider for this unusually dark, unlighted highway (which challenges aging motorists --- especially on foggy, rainy nights): embedded pavement markers that reflect headlights.

[] Organizers will present plans for a Mount Gretna historical society at 7:30 p.m. July 12 in the Tabernacle. Fred Buch says the public’s invited to join, meet interim officers, and fill out cards indicating their interest in serving as board or committee members.

[] Generators hummed even louder than swooning cicadas during recent power outages. That amazed local bicyclists, returning from a brief out-of-town jaunt and discovering that dozens of generators suddenly roar into action the minute power fails in this century-old, now electricity-dependent, community.

[] Art show co-founder Reed Dixon now offers digital prints of selected works. The Pittsburgh native is a former Hallmark Cards illustrator and Armstrong World Industries designer whose work has also appeared in magazines and children’s books. See his latest paintings at http://reeddixonart.com/artwork.asp.

[] Those popular Euro-style bumper stickers displaying “MTG” in big, bold letters just arrived at “Remember When” gift shop. Cost: $2.50 each. Call Reenie Macsisak (964-2231, 964-0404) or e-mail: gretnacat@comcast.net. She and husband Joe happily ship orders to customers everywhere.

[] The gift shop is also one of the places where you can buy advance tickets for two of the summer’s most popular events: the Elisabeth von Trapp concert ($15) at the Tabernacle July 24 and the annual tour of Mount Gretna homes ($10) Aug. 7.

[] Evelyn Duncan, motorhoming through Florida enroute back to Mount Gretna next month, says Mount Dora, Fla. seemed vaguely familiar. Not surprising. With hills, trees, a lake and annual art show attracting 350,000, Mount Dora is also the winter home of Chautauquans Bill and Leanne Harrington.

[] Mount Gretna’s “Socrates Café” series of monthly philosophical discussions is up and running. Like its NPR namesake “where questions are more important than the answers,” the facilitator-led sessions resume July 3 at Gil and Nadeen Feinberg’s cottage, 108 Harvard Ave. at 1:00 p.m. (E-mail: gsfesq@verizon.net)

[] A few volunteer spots remain open at Gretna Music. Needed are ushers for classical concerts. Also, folks who enjoy hosting receptions, helping out in the office, or aiding with parking control, hospitality and other assignments. Tel. 361-1508.

[] They’ve booked a 16-piece band, started Thursday night dance lessons at Chautauqua’s Community Building and are offering discounted ($15) tickets --- all part of a plan to make that Aug. 28 Big Band event at the lake an annual event. Details: 964-1829.

[] Former Mount Gretnans Sue and Al Pera opened a cooking school at their Camp Hill Cornerstone Coffeehouse (a consistent area reader survey winner). For information on Cornerstone Culinary Kitchen --- offering different classes each week --- call 717-909-6854, e-mail cornerstoneccoffeehouse@comcast.net, or see www.thecornerstonecoffeehouse.com

[] “The Young Disciples,” a North Carolina group including Mount Gretna as a late addition (after Bible Festival brochures were printed) to their East Coast tour this year, perform at the Tabernacle tomorrow (June 28). The contemporary Christian music program starts at 7:30 p.m.

[] Historians will probe the enduring allure of writer Ann Hark at Chautauqua’s Friday evening series July 9. “A woman of today in a Victorian world,” Hark once wrote a children’s mystery involving the Conewago Hotel. A Mount Gretna romance with her chauffeur ended tragically.

[] Lancaster Art Museum chose “Celestial,” Shelby Applegate’s newest large work, for a display that opened June 11. The museum, at 135 North Lime St., opens 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and Noon-4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

[] Mount Gretna’s Bill Routson suggests giving unwanted computers, VCRs and cell phones to an Ephrata non-profit group that repairs and donates them to needy persons and international aid agencies. Details: www.FreeGeekPenn.org; telephone (717) 721-2494.

[] “This Week in Mount Gretna,” the bulletin that reports what’s happening here from June to Labor Day, invites notices of coming events --- including those that missed the Arts Council’s Summer Calendar deadline. E-mail entries to Kathy Snavely, info@lightkeeper.net.

[] In its latest newsletter, Allen Organ Company traces Walter McAnney’s devotion to “the king of instruments.” Walter, whose Princeton Avenue home becomes a recital hall on Thursday evenings in July, has personally owned five different Allen Organs over the past 50 years.

[] The first of this year’s Thursday recitals at the Hewitt-McAnney residence, 1 Princeton Ave., begins at 7:00 p.m. July 1 with Wanamaker Grand Court Organist Peter Richard Conte. Limited seating, by reservation only. Tel. 964-1830.

[] Mount Gretna photographer Madelaine Gray’s work appears through July 24 at a Lancaster County Art Association exhibition. Judges also selected mixed-media artist Shelby Applegate’s work for the show, held at 149 Precision Ave., Strasburg. Details: (717) 687-7061.

[] Waiting lists are lengthening for some of the Chautauqua’s popular summer crafts programs. If you’re planning to register, don’t wait, advises coordinator Kathy Snavely, who also reminds that a travelogue on Greece (details: 964-1830) comes up July 16 at the Hall of Philosophy.

[] Add Rose and Ed Moore to the list of Mount Gretna restaurant owners (See “DINE WITH A NEIGHBOR,” in our February 2004 issue). Rose says sales have zoomed 85 percent since they took over “The Pantry at Lititz” last year.

NUMBERS
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8 Inches of water pouring into the borough’s office June 17, following a storm that knocked out power and flooded streets and basements throughout Mount Gretna’s neighborhoods. With ground saturated and storm sewers filled, rainwater swirled underneath the Post Office for the first time since the borough opened its offices there eight years ago. Elsewhere, water gushing down the mountain ripped out stones and tore gaping holes in waterways that often double as walking paths. One Heights resident reported “the most water damage I’ve ever seen on Oak Avenue.”

21.9 Percent of Mount Gretna borough residents who are age 65 and older (according to the 2000 U.S. Census). Nationally, 12.4 percent are in that category. Other interesting stats from the Bureau’s 2000 demographic profile: Mount Gretna residents with college degrees: 47.8 percent. U.S. average: 24.4 percent. Median family income here: $87,500. U.S. average: $50,046. The bureau also reported 205 housing units in the borough, 57 percent of them occupied year ‘round. Source: http://factfinder.census.gov
These statistics, of course, merely hint at the area’s true demographics. They’re a tiny snapshot of an even tinier borough (one of the smallest in America) --- not a composite portrait of the family of neighborhoods on both sides of Route 117 that make up what most folks regard as “Mount Gretna.”
How many people live here? As we reported in our November, 2001 issue, nobody really knows. The fire department bases its planning on 1,500 residents. Realtors tell clients the population swells from about 1,000 in winter to 2,500 in summer. Such estimates wouldn’t satisfy the Census Bureau, of course. But people, not statistics, are what’s important here. In Mount Gretna, as in Lake Woebegone, “all the women are sturdy, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” Census Bureau statisticians can put that one in the bank.

31 Mount Gretnans who placed trash cans out on Memorial Day, a full 24 hours before the Tuesday pickup. (Now, truly, folks: Where else are you gonna find facts like that?)

44 Years that audiences have been coming to the Briody family’s Timbers Dinner Theater. Michael Branson, with a resume crammed by Broadway and cruise ship credits, joins longtime Timbers director Sharon Miller in creating this year’s musical revue. Popular local musicians Andy Roberts, Rod Miller and Dave Lazorcik draw on tunes from Chorus Line, Funny Girl, Zorba and other favorites to highlight music’s role through each stage of our lives, from childhood through old age. The shows run July 13 to Sept. 4, with dinner theater packages starting at $22.00. Reservations: 964-3601.

91 Percent increase over last year at Cornwall Borough police department’s yard sale to benefit families in need this Christmas. “So many people donated great stuff, and a lot of shoppers just said, ‘Keep the change,’” says delighted organizer (and police secretary) Shirley Trimmer. Total now available to buy toys, food, clothes and fuel oil for this year’s deserving families: $516.22.

105 Years the Campmeeting Tabernacle has remained standing, a testament to the craftsmanship of John Cilly who built five such auditoriums (including the original Mount Gretna Playhouse, which collapsed in 1994). The Campmeeting structure, built in 11 weeks for $1,500, is one of two that survive.

10,000 Dollars raised in Mount Gretna’s first minitriathlon Memorial Day Weekend. Proceeds go to the Myelin Project, probing the mysteries of neurodegenerative disorders such as those afflicting 27-year-old Chris Kaag, the cheerful, upbeat race organizer crippled by the disease six years ago.
The event attracted 500 competitors and nearly 300 spectators. Among them, a Mount Gretna resident who wrote, “Everything was so organized! Chris did a fantastic job with having the areas well-marked, keeping the people where they needed to be, incredible volunteers, food, and prizes. The setting was just fabulous, and it was a great day.”

11,000 Dollars raised at the May 29th Summer Premiere. “A huge success, perhaps the biggest amount ever,” says co-organizer Janice Balmer who credits “tremendous community support” and auction donations from local artists including Dale Grundon, Barb Fishman, Eleanor Sarabia and Laura Feather. Proceeds help underwrite the Art’s Council’s printed version of the summer calendar of events (also available online at http://www.mtgretna.com/artscouncil/cal.html)

35,000 Population of a region in Swaziland served by a single physician --- Dr. Ned Wallace, a longtime Mount Gretna summer resident. With the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, Swaziland is where Ned and wife Emily chose “to establish a medical practice far from the comforts of home, in the world’s most difficult health environments,” said Moravian College officials in awarding him an honorary doctorate this spring.
What’s it like to deliver health care single-handedly to entire populations, help U.S. medical students see the ravages of HIV and AIDS firsthand, and direct clinical care to people devastated by this pandemic? “Fatiguing, frustrating, exhilarating, exciting, challenging and overwhelming,” sums up the summertime Brown Avenue resident. See: http://www.moravian.edu/studentLife/commencement/honorary.htm

QUESTIONS READERS ASK
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[] RABBETLESS? “I find this amazing: Why are there no rabbits in Mount Gretna?” Another reader, who lives in the Heights, also regards rabbit scarcity as “puzzling.”
<> Our panel of experts says rabbits are indeed hard to spot in Mount Gretna, although a few romp in the meadow-like areas of Timber Hills and sometimes can be seen nibbling grass in state game lands. In Mount Gretna, “with the many cats we have here, chipmunks, baby rabbits and baby birds have a tough time,” says a panel member.
Moreover, as forester Barry Rose pointed out in this newsletter not long ago, wildlife diversity depends on habitat diversity. In surrounding woodlands, invasive plants and pervasive deer have destroyed native plants that once provided the ground cover rabbits and other small animals need to survive.

[] BOOTHLESS? “I missed the deadline to submit entries for judging in the Mount Gretna art show. How can I exhibit in the craft market, which is held simultaneously (Aug. 21-22) across the street?”
<> Call 964-2273 to apply. A website, http://www.craftshowsusa.com/PA/JAS04.html, says the deadline for this year’s craft market is July 30.

[] BANNERS UP “My Chautauqua banner was left out all winter; where can I find a replacement?”
<> John Smith (964-2101) has a supply, including five from the single-sided old pattern ($25) showing leafy trees and “plenty” of the new, two-sided, pattern ($50), which features pine trees. Both versions display the founding date, 1892.

[] POWER OFF What caused Mount Gretna’s recent power outages?
<> Trees falling across power lines along Mount Wilson road, leading into Mount Gretna, disrupted electrical service for several hours, say newspaper reports. As area manager Jim Bates told us last February, Met Ed has concentrated on improving electrical service here. The utility trimmed trees and added technical devices to help assure uninterrupted service, placing Mount Gretna’s electrical reliability “in the top 25 percent” of Met Ed’s Lebanon County service rankings. “Mount Gretna is in the top 10 percent of the circuits that get the attention,” he adds. Why? “Because I watch it closely. I’m not saying that it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, but we have a strong desire to improve. And frankly, Mount Gretna, Spring Hill Acres and Cornwall—all with many trees—have been the worst performers in the past.”

FIREWORK FISSLE “I was wondering if the beautiful Fourth of July fireworks over the lake will be held on Sunday the 4th or Monday the 5th.”
<> No fireworks will be seen this year. Financial and safety concerns led officials to cancel the display, the first time Mount Gretna’s Independence Day observance has been without aerial displays since 1976. They resumed the following year under the leadership of the late Tom Ebright (who also spearheaded rebuilding efforts when the Playhouse collapsed in 1994).
Despite a firecracker-less fourth, the Rehrersburg Keystone Band will be giving a concert that appreciative audiences say remains delightfully unchanged from almost exactly the way it was in the band’s first appearance here 45 years ago. A traditional candle-lighting ritual follows, delighting youngsters who collect candle drippings and add them to previous year’s collections (carefully stored away beneath beds and in cottage closets). All part of an annual quest to see who can build up Mount Gretna’s biggest Fourth of July wax ball.

BIKING BUFF “Will the new Nature Center have any impact on trail access by mountain bikers (like me)? When land is designated as a nature preserve, the next step is often to kick out bikers and horseback riders.”
<> “Although the subject has been discussed, there are no plans to eliminate mountain bikers or horses from the Governor Dick property. Maybe --- and this is maybe --- in the future certain trails will be designated as biking trails. But there are not immediate plans for change” says board member Carol McLaughlin.

HISTORY BUFF “I’m a Lancastrian interested in the history of Mount Gretna. Do you know of any books written about the borough and where I could find them?
<> Indeed we do. Jack Bitner, 24 Muhlenberg Ave., loves to greet people who share his fondness for Mount Gretna. Although his 1990 book, “Mount Gretna: A Coleman Legacy,” is no longer in stores, he has a few copies left. Cost: $20.

Kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Ave.

P.S. A reminder: If you switch to a new e-mail address, please remember to tell us the previous address we should drop from our (now bulging) mailing list. We’re aware that some publishers have software that automatically detects and makes such changes in the twinkling of an eye. But ours is not only a low-budget venture, it’s also low-tech. . . hovering somewhere near the bottom of the cyber-barrel. We appreciate your help.

Also remember that, thanks to the Mount Gretna Inn, you’ll find back issues of this letter on the web at http://mtgretna.com/news. Colorful glimpses of Mount Gretna life --- from photographer/stained glass artist/naturalist/writer Dale Grundon --- appear at http://dalesdelights.com.

Finally, a word about the purpose and practices of this letter. It exists for no other reason than to inform, entertain and occasionally amuse its readers. . . while doing much the same for its editor, for whom this is simply a hobby that helps keep mental cobwebs at bay as we pass through the golden arches of early retirement.

We cannot respond favorably to requests for the e-mail addresses of our subscribers --- even for worthiest of causes. We regard your giving us your address to us as a matter of trust, and we respect privacy. We also appreciate your kindness in occasionally dropping us a note, your public-spiritedness in telling us of things others might want to learn about, and your thoughtfulness in letting others know that this modest service is available free to anyone sharing an interest in what goes on in Mount Gretna, wherever in the world they happen to live.
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A Special Note to Our Website Readers: Before preparing each newsletter, we usually dispatch a special alert to our e-mail address list inviting everyone to send ideas for topics of interest and upcoming events. We attempt to make that alert as informative as the newsletter itself. Here is the “Call for Articles” that preceded this issue:

Sent: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 8:20 AM
Subject: Coming up, another issue of Mt. Gretna's electronic newsletter (Pls. Forward)

Can 1,500 people keep a secret?

We’ll put that to the test this month. For soon it will be time for another edition of Mount Gretna’s electronic newsletter. We cordially invite inquiries, inspirations and instaurations of every kind from readers around the corner and around the world. (But hurry. Send them without delay to rtgroce@hotmail.com.)

As usual, however, we sprinkle our “pre-newsletter announcements” with what we hope will be informative summaries of what’s happening --- or about to happen --- in Mount Gretna right now.

So, to help keep everyone up to date, let's begin:

[] Yes, you CAN buy an out-of-town paper in Mount Gretna. Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry Café now opens at 7:00 a.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, providing coffee and a convenient spot to pick up the New York Times, Harrisburg Patriot, New York Post, Lancaster Intell and other favorites. You can also catch breakfast starting at 8:00 a.m.
The Tuesday openings are new. So is the hour-earlier time of 7:00 a.m. All part of an effort to make Le Sorelle an increasingly popular spot for neighbors to meet, greet, and catch up on all the news.

[] Meanwhile, interest appears strong in re-opening the store that has long served as this community's commercial hub. Owners say they’ve received “voluminous” calls from prospective tenants inquiring about the rental space vacated by former deli operator Bob Andrews. Bob left to pursue other career interests at the end of last month, following 13 years of continuous seven-day-a-week operations.
Phil Schneider, who helps direct property operations, says most of those inquiring about the location “have business backgrounds and seem interested in operating it under formats that would include continuing or enhancing it as a store. We can’t control exactly the outcome,” he says, “but we certainly want to continue to rent the space in a practical way.”

[] Another of this season’s “Second Saturdays” comes up this week. Volunteers will gather at 9:00 a.m. outside the post office. Then, over the next half hour or so, they’ll help transform Mount Gretna with plantings, rakings and basket-hangings that are part of a campaign swirling to life on the second Saturdays of each month this summer. Sue Loehr (273-6674 or 964-2225) can use a dozen or so workers with willing hands, hearts and gloves.

[] Large Item pick-up day comes up June 14. (Some call it “the great community exchange day,” since residents traditionally stroll along Mount Gretna streets, hauling home on Saturday and Sunday treasures that neighbors intended to toss out on Monday.)
It’s a custom that cottage-dwellers here have cherished for years. Officials ask cooperation in avoiding dangerous materials such as propane tanks, batteries, paints, oils, petroleum-based products or their containers.

[] With the return of visitors and theatergoers, the summer season produces a predictable shortage of parking spaces hereabouts. So officials again issued a reminder: Restricted parking rules in the borough take effect an hour before playhouse performances and continue for half an hour afterwards. Police also promise rigorous enforcement of no parking zones to assure clear paths on narrow streets for emergency and other public service vehicles.

[] Playhouse performances got underway last weekend and continue this Friday and Saturday nights with the New Black Eagle Jazz Band (which returns Sunday at 11:00 a.m. for the traditional jazz worship service.).

[] Gretna Theater opens its mainstage season next Tuesday with “Groucho: A Life in Revue,” which runs through June 26.

[] Gretna Music’s chamber music series begins June 20 with the Colorado Quartet. (A 5:30 p.m. preconcert performance by Pennsylvania Academy of Music students who participated in the Quartet's master classes, and remarks by Allen Krantz, precede the 7:30 p.m. program.)

[] Other events coming up fast include the first of this year’s “Wednesdays at the Library” talks. Tom Meredith presents “History of the Campmeeting” June 23 at 7:00 p.m..

[] Tennis competition begins June 12 with the Mount Gretna Open Women’s Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles, a tournament that runs through June 18.

[] The fire company’s classic car show June 19 precedes a 7:00 p.m. Heritage Festival opener at the Tabernacle, with the “Pastimes,” a doo wop group.

[] Want to know all that’s happening? The Arts Council’s 2004 Summer Events Calendar now appears online at http://www.mtgretna.com/artscouncil/cal.html.

[] A reader writes to advise everyone enjoying the outdoors these days to take sensible precautions. Although thousands of hikers, bikers and joggers have found our surrounding hills and trails remarkably incident-free, police say that two assaults have occurred along the rail trail in northern Lancaster County (The latest occurred last September, just north of Elizabethtown near Routes 743 and 283. It involved a Caucasian man with “pockmarked face and red-tinged scraggly beard” in his 30s or 40s who is still at large.) No incidents have been reported along the trail in Lebanon County, but public safety officials nevertheless advise that people enjoy the outdoors in small groups, or at least with one other person, whenever possible.

Finally, the BIG SECRET.
========================

Heb and Marian Herr, as you probably know, are giving up their home here and returning to the southern Lancaster County community known as Willow Street. Of all the people who’ve lived in Mount Gretna, few are better known --- or better loved --- than they. Heb, a carpenter, has fixed everything from broken stairs to broken dreams for countless residents needing a craftsman to restore homes and cottages to their original grandeur. Marian, a gifted artist who is among the gentlest of souls, once collected taxes here. In the process, she proved that a warm heart and gracious manner can make even a tax collector one of this community’s most beloved citizens.

To honor them, friends and neighbors are planning a potluck (covered dish) dinner Thursday, July 1 at the Chautauqua Community Building. It starts at 6:00 p.m. Plans are afoot to lure them down the hill and welcome them to the surprise gathering. Coordinating details are Peg and John Smith. Everyone’s invited to join in the fun and in this tribute to Heb and Marian. Call the Smiths (964-2101) or e-mail them (smiths@ptd.net) by June 25, letting them know the number of persons who’ll be in your group and what food or dessert you’d like to bring.

But ssshhhhh. It’s a secret. (And if 1,500 readers can keep this under wraps, we’ll probably reach a new high mark in The Guinness Book of Records. So let’s give it a try!)

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We’ll have dozens of other noteworthy (we hope) items in our monthly issue, coming up soon. So send along news and notices you’d like others to share --- including questions you’re merely curious about. And do it now, while they’re fresh in mind. (David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” says anything you can do in two minutes ought to be done right now. We finally got around to reading Allen’s book in February, about a year after we retired.) So now, with nothing to do and all day to do it, we’re more productive than ever. Hope you are, too.

Kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Avenue

P.S. Check http://dalesdelights.com for photos of Mount Gretna's spring (including the May 29 Summer Premiere). And http://mtgretna.com/news/ for back issues of this newsletter.