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an occasional newsletter of the Nanty Glo Home Page                           January 31 2001

Penelec's many contributions

More thoughts about the Greater Johnstown economy and what we learn from relative poverty.

Though Bethelehem Steel and Bethelehem Mines were the primary factors in the metro area's economy for most of that economy's history, it's my impression that no industrial entity tried harder to build the area and its economy than the Pennsylvania Electric Company, which by the early 1960's was known as Penelec and now known as GPU. For this reason it seems devastating (looking on as a geographical outsider) that the GPU division has closed its Johnstown headquarters to move to Reading. Why, I have no inkling.

Though the home of my youth received its electricity from the government utility "competing" with Penelec, the Rural Electric Administration or REA, my first real impression of Penelec was that it bought large ads in the weekly newspapers of Nanty Glo and Ebensburg to, at first, promote its services and, later, promote the development of "coaltricity." As a budding community journalist, this was of course a positive, a major contribution to the economy that supported my aspirations to a career.

When I was editor of the Journal and a student at Johnstown Pitt, Penelec entered my life in a large way. Because I undertook to write features about tourism and destinations within a drive of Nanty Glo ("Pennsylvania Places," I called the department), the vice president of Penelec, Dan Parks, who also was the founding president of the County Tourist Council, contacted me to offer my first major freelance editing opportunity. The company, as part of its intentional support of the area's economy, promoted tourism by publishing a tourism guide of all the counties the company served in Pennsylvania, which in territory (but not population) was the major portion of the state. Using our weekends (on top of being a fulltime student at Pitt and fulltime editor of the Journal), my two closest friends at the time, Clem Deffenbaugh and Stuart Wertz, and I toured all those counties and visited every state park, state historical site marker, and point of interest to verify what the previous edition of the guide said regarding mileage, times to travel, and amenities. Besides the biggest income I'd ever earned (it covered a year's expenses as a commuter student at Pitt), it included a mileage allowance, hotel expense, and food. I persuaded Dan to cover the expense of all three of us so I'd have company on the enterprise in consideration of our sharing rooms and using economy accommodations rather more middle-price-range ones.

It was the experience of a 22-year-old life (by then). We got to see most of Pennsylvania up close and personal. The next year, never one to be miss an opportunity, I proposed to Dan that I publish a tourguide of the Johnstown metro area (about 50 miles radius) as a supplement of the county's weekly newspapers' and, acting as president of the Toruist Council rather than Penelec VP, endorsed and supported the project, which got me entree to all the prospective advertising entities in the area (the largest of which was Penelec). That tabloid-size supplement to the Sedloff weeklies and two others under contract (and also circulated as a stand-alone publication on the Turnpike and other tourist information offices), paid for my next year's expenses as a Pitt undergrad. Though I went on to edit several papers with over 100,000 circulation, a Keystone Press Award I won for the tourguide remains the only journalism prize I've ever won.

Those were great years.

Why did Penelec become disenchanted with greater Johnstown? Or was it merely a matter of corporate reorganization, or new leaders coming in who wanted to do something for the economy of their native areas?


Two emails sent to this department but not to the email list have come in regarding the ongoing topic, the local economy.

Frank Charney writes:

Hello Jon, To satisfy your curiosity about cogeneration, go to the web site www.airproducts.com/ees/cambria.html. (Google helped me with the search). Air Products Corp., of Allentown, had the major role in building the first Ebensburg Cogeneration Plant. There is now a second facility on the New Germany Road near the Ebensburg Mini-Mall, and another plant at Colver. One use of the plant, east of Ebensburg that you saw, supplies low-pressure steam to Laurel Crest Manor, a nearby local nursing home. At the onset of their Ebensburg presence in the early 1990s, Air Products, in a benevolent gesture to the community, paid for the construction of the Revloc Recreational Park with its two first-class baseball fields, a basketball court, and several covered picnic pavilions with convenient, bricked restrooms. There are also hiking trails covered with pine bark mulch.

Thank you, I have checked out the web site and want to see that park. The only time I've ever been in Revloc was when I was delivering Journals to the paperboy or -girl in the years that I was the editor and circulation assistant (Betty Nedrich being circulation manager).

And Joe Gordon writes what may launch a whole new but still related topic:

I was thinking about the local economy as I attended the auction sale at Rummel Bros. Lumber last Saturday. The old high school is no longer a saw mill; no longer a school. I checked my old locker; my Keds that I left there are gone. What is going to take its place?

From this, one might surmise that the Rummel Lumber Yard has gone out of business, or moved. Any information on that? And as I observed that the operation seemed to be a major factor in the economic base of the Triangle Restaurant (at the Belsano Y; aka "The Pinehurst"), I hope this doesn't signal the end of that enterprise.

Married women's woes

Why are married women heavier than single women? Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed, Married women come home, see what's in the bed and go to the fridge!"

Sent by Mike Harrison

A prayer

Thy lips, O our Lord, have pronounced these promises: call Me and I will hearken unto you; knock at My door and I will open it.

Like the harlot do I call out to Thee: according to the superabundant compassion of Thy Lovingkindness, forgive us our debts and our sins. Like the publican do we beseech Thee, and like the prodigal son who squandered his inheritance do we call out to Thee, repenting in our soul: we have sinned against heaven and before Thee,

O Lord. Accept us, as Thou hast promised, that the guardian angels and the archangels might rejoice over us. Thou who didst accept Simon's repentance, accept also the repentance of Thy servants and have mercy on us.

Come, O sinner who have sinned before the Lord, come to Him repenting in your soul, and He will forgive you your debts and your sins. Shed tears at the Physician's door, sigh and beseech Him, show Him the scabs on your soul. Preserve your tongue from all manner of evil, and may your lips that were created for praise not pronounce words of blasphemy.

Forgive your brother if he has sinned against you, and Christ will forgive you as He has promised, according to His lovingkindness. Have mercy on us, O our Lord, forgive us our debts and our sins and vouchsafe us Thy radiant habitation.

St. Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373)
commemorated 28 January
Sent by Christopher Haas

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