Celebrate the beauty of the seasons and their changes.
I was looking at the greenery today and realized that fall is around the corner. For years my great friend Jim would say each year when the Crawford County Fair rolled around that that was the end of summer. I was always a little more optimistic realizing we have great falls in northwest Pennsylvania. I almost uttered Jim's words today but caught myself and remembered we still have great end of season lowers to be viewed and gorgeous weather ahead still.
Celebrate the beauty of the seasons and their changes.
Did you hear a giant "Eureka!" Friday from downtown Franklin, precisely from the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce office, more precisely from the chamber's executive director Jodi Baker Lewis?
She and the entire Applefest committee got a bit of good news. Route 8 will not be closed down during Applefest after all.
A revised work schedule for the two-year, $32.6 million project released today from PennDOT indicated the road will be open by September 30 and if further work remains to be done, it will be closed again after the festival is over.
"GRATEFUL... elated, ecstatic, fortunate." said Jodi Baker Lewis, executive director of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, who brings the festival to Franklin each year. After hearing the original possible timeline indicated Route 8 might be closed that weekend she was admittedly a little freaked out. Applefest draws tens of thousands of people from all over the region and from all directions. Route 8 being closed would potentially be a detriment from people traveling from the south.
Baker Lewis said that the festival, which was closed last year, is filling up. "We still have room for more food vendors and a possibly a couple more non-profits."
She said there has been a great response from crafters and those spots are likely full at this point.
As for now festival preparations continue as planned because another bit of good news came across Baker Lewis's desk. She learned that permitting for the closure of Liberty on Saturday and Sunday will be announced sooner than later. At one point she said they wouldn't know if they could close the streets down until the week of the festival making planning difficult, but this week she learned she should know within days.
So it's been a good week for Applefest news and for Baker Lewis. "We do this for the community, It's how we say thank you."
Editor's note: The advertisement above will appear throughout the month on Eight & 322 thanks to the Chamber's support of this endeavor. We thank them for their support.
About the Route 8 closure for repairs
From PennDOT Press Release issued August 27, 2021
All northbound and southbound traffic will be detoured to Old Route 8 and Georgetown Road starting September 7, 2021. Plans call for the detour to be lifted by September 30, 2021 in time for Franklin’s annual Applefest event.
If needed, the detour will be reinstated on October 4, 2021. The detour is expected to be lifted permanently by mid-October.
The detour is needed for rehabilitations work to be done to the bridge over Georgetown Road in Irwin Township, including roadway approaches, deck surfacing, and barrier repairs.
The work is part of the two-year, $32.6 million project to repair and reconstruct nearly 10 miles of Route 8 from Georgetown Road in Irwin Township to Polk Cutoff Road (Route 3024) in Sandycreek Township in Venango County.
Construction continues on the southbound lanes. The detour for southbound traffic, is posted using Old Route 8 and Georgetown Road. It is expected to remain in place until September 25, 2021, at which time it will be opened to the Route 308 exit.
Additional information on the project is available online at Route 8 Reconstruction Project on www.penndot.gov/District1.
And yes, let us all HAVE A GREAT DAY! Sometimes something so simple can be so brilliant.
"The Pride of Pennsylvania" entertains football fans during half-time of the Knight football games both home and away, but they also perform other times too, here is their 2021 schedule. They also perform in the spring in Washington D.C. during the national Memorial Day Parade.
Eight & 322 will be at most of the Franklin knight games this season beginning with a road trip this Saturday up north to start the season off. You can see photos from the games we cover on our sports section. And even more photos can be viewed at https://sayerrich.zenfolio.com/
We are looking forward to getting back on the sidelines to cover these young athletes.
I remember beating the buzzer during an NBA championship game 7 after receiving a sweet pass from Tiny Archibald on the outside. The net went swoosh and the crowd went wild.
I was the star of the Boston Celtics from 1978-82, in fact Larry Bird said I was the best player he'd ever seen.Okay, maybe that was all in my imagination. But the drivewa right behind my head in the above photograph was the Boston Garden. That stump to the right of my ear was once a large sassafras tree with a basketball hoop and backboard. That "arena" saw a number of the "NBA greats" launching balls from all over the uneven gravel driveway (er, I mean parquet floor).
This past weekend, I went home..... well I went to where home once was. This old house behind me was where I grew up. It doesn't really look like it did then, but some will never change because they are enshrined in the hall of fame of my mind.
My bedroom was in many different places over the 22 years I lived under that roof. During my teen years, it was upstairs on the second floor. That window above the garage doubled as a door at times. I wasn't a sneak out of the house kinda kid, but I was an occasional forget my house key kinda kid. Scaling that roof and crawling in that window was..... well sorta common.
The garage was added on, along with a two story addition in the back, when I was in junior high. I never really bonded with the garage. This eliminated a side entrance into the kitchen and a playground at the end of a longer driveway where I'd learned about social constructs, city building, racing cars and running steeplechases. That driveway was perhaps the most imaginative place I have ever existed.
The garage sorta killed that place, but perhaps so did growing up.
And we all grow up.
I said I went home earlier... this is not my home. It was and there is great love and memories there, but I grew up. (Now let me just say that perhaps my parents selling the house out from under me helped me grow up, but still.)
Home is where the heart is. Home is where you find yourself. Home is your heart. This is a house on in Scituate, RI. There have been at least three families who have made this place their home. It was my home from 1966 until about 1988, when my mom and dad moved to Pennsylvania for my dad's job.
I joke that I'd still be there if they hadn't left. Thank god they left. It has allowed me a life I wouldn't have had otherwise.
But there, I know where the bodies are buried. (And by that I mean a couple of dogs named Princess and Chipper and a stay cat we never really named.) I know there is likely about $20 in lost coins under the floor boards upstairs, probably other treasures too. I'm sure there are things my brothers tucked away in the rafters, including some classic baseball and football cards that I'm sure I left behind.
This place provided me a safe haven to grow. The wet basement with its bunker like appearance allowed me to send dispatches to troops on the front lines. Later when we figured a wood stove in the winter made it a fun place to hang out, I learned how to Dream On and met Aqualung blasting from the Hot Rocks of my brothers 8-track. Yes I learned classic rock, before it was classic in this house.
I will admit one of the things I wanted to look at today was the telephone pole across the street. I'm sure it's a different pole, but that was my main target for rock and snowball throwing my entire adolescence. That old pole probably had to be replaced because of the beating I gave it. I was very accurate back then. As I went to look at it, I also remembered how I suffered from poison ivy every year of my youth because the basketball ended up in the ditch where that pole sits. So I didn't look hard for my pock mocked façade that day.
See I have grown up. I miss being young, but I prefer being old. Life is good and it gets better with age like wine, if wine had knees that ached and bills to pay.
Feature picture of the day
Sprucing up the facade of a Chestnut Street building on Wednesday, a worker power washes high overhead. I was tired at the end of a long day but decided to stop to make a feature photo from the underground entrance below the probation offices. One of my early photo assignments was completed in that underground area when it was Tony Rinella's barbershop.
Updated to correct the date of the first football first game.
Franklin band director Steve Johnston wasn't 100 percent sure where this year's band would be at the point. COVID effectively took more than a year's worth of experience away from the underclassmen. But to his amazement and pleasure, this band seems hungry and learns very fast.
And with enthusiasm.
"This is one of the most focused and dedicated groups we've had," he said of the 105 student band. "And they're good kids."
He reveled at how much they have improved in such a short time. And he keeps adding wrinkles to the routines by changing up dance moves in the middle of songs. His notepad is littered with stick figure drawings, beats and notes that emphasize his confidence in this group's ability to learn. This is where he visualizes what we eventually see on the field during shows and at halftime of Franklin football games.
He peppers in tales of tradition, sometimes in subtle ways like describing a very dear piece of equipment he uses every day. "The very first thing I ever bought when I became a marching band director was this whistle," he said as he held up the item and explained he has had it since 1993. He plans to have it until he retires, though it needs a little work to have the same sound he is used to from his beloved whistle.
He also brings back former students who show the way they did it "back in the day."
Though the kids have to get up early in the summer, work hard for four hours each day, sweat a lot and get really exhausted - they learn and, for the most part, wear smiles as they perform.
The two-week camp ends this Friday, though they have one more scheduled practice next week. Then it's game on as the football season starts on the road August 28. Franklin's first home game is on September 3 against Fairview.
Below are a series of photographs from Tuesday morning.
Over 400 classic cars descended on the Venango Regional Airport Saturday for the annual Wings and Wheels. Dozens of air craft flew in for the event with the Beach City Baby WWII era aircraft being the center of attention. The Civil Air Patrol had a flight simulator for kids to try their hand at flying while seated at a table. Music, food and lots of places to roam around to look at memorabilia and shined up classic rides. Even an old retired balloon became a fun house. Another highlight of the day was a chance for a short helicopter ride that dozens of people took advantage of in between walking or riding a shuttle or an old army jeep.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has lifted its recommendation against having your bird feeders out. While the bird sickness still remains a mystery, reports of sick or dead birds are on the decline.
Here's a link for more information.
This photograph and post is from our The Nature of Things columnist Anna Applegate. Check out her column after catching up on the latest bird feeding info and filling your feeders to again enjoy the bird visits.
The Barrow was loaded with laughter and people for the Franklin Civic Operetta Association return featuring a musical review with "Together Again For The First Time."
Below are a few moments with more to come soon.
4-hers were finishing up their week long events by preparing their animals for annual Livestock and Cheese Yield Auction Friday at the Venango County fairgrounds. The tired 4-hers had mixed feelings about the fair drawing to a close, they admitted it was a long week, but so much fun too.
Saturday's events include senior showmanship, 4-h awards and the demo derby in the evening. That pretty much wraps up the activities with the release of the animals on Sunday.
The rains held off on Friday for a change giving the parking area and driveways a chance to dry out a little, though it was still pretty soft in mid afternoon giving the fire police parkers a challenge of where to put the cars coming in for the auction.
After tomorrow it's down to the final cleanup and packing for home until next year.
"It's fair week!" is the usual response with a shrugged shoulder and a 'whaddya gonna do" expression when participants are asked if they are staying dry. Rain and storms have plagued the Venango County Fair for years. Whether huddled in barns to stay safe or working to keep flood waters rolling off the hills into the barns at bay, the work of preparing the animals for shows goes on even with the rumbles of thunder and lightning all around. Once the fair starts it has to keep going on. That's life.
The muddy parking lots and Kiwanis Bowl will still be places to navigate today as the fair begins to wind down with more activities for the kids as well as preparations for the very popular livestock and cheese yield auction tonight in the Phillips Arena at 6 p.m.
Beside the usual work of feeding, bathing and caring for the animals at the fair, the chatter in the barns Thursday night centered around how many had to make trips home to deal with the effects of the soaking rains on their farms and in their flooded basements. Flood waters poured into barns at the fair too during the last two days of heavy downpours. Like a giant family, the fair participants all chimed in to help clear as much water as possible and minimize the mess of mud and falling leaves around the grounds.
Llife goes on. The fair goes on.
On Thursday night, after a lot of back breaking work, a Cornhole tournament filled the Phillips Arena while thunder and lightning still rumbled outside. But the fun sounds of the kids engaged in serious, but friendly competition may have drowned out those sky boomerss outside.
"Jerry took this awesome photo of a rainbow" or "Jerry always took the best pictures, he had that great rainbow picture at the courthouse that time" or "Jerry took that great shot of a eagle."
I love stuff like that. Jerry Sowden was The Derrick visual reporter for 20 years and he is a great photographer. I always considered him a friend and colleague, I admired his eye and work. So when folks told me these things I understood and truly appreciated his impact on the community. At the same time, I was like, "I want to take that picture too, it sounds awesome."
We cannot make each other's pictures. And why should we. We have a voice, a vision and a way. Jerry was on my mind big time today when I saw this rainbow hovering over town and I wondered what his photo looked like that I heard so much about over the years. And how can I make a good photo of this?
So I laid down on the very wet sidewalk and pushed my camera (phone) towards the road and made this picture below.
Yes, that is my finger. As I fumbled trying to get the exposure right on my phone, I snapped this frame. I have a few fingers in the lens stories regarding my iPhone, but this one made me realize, "I'm not Jerry!" Something I was told when I started at The Derrick years ago.
I love my job.
So this was the shot I was trying to get, but what it really needs is someone walking by with a red umbrella just off to the right center. Jerry would understand what I'm saying.
The best part is I got soaked and it looked like I may have peed myself to get a picture that needs one more element. That reminded me of a time I really wanted to get a photo of a car spraying water at me on a flooded street in Meadville. I nearly got knocked off my feet to get a picture that really wasn't that great.
Photography can sometimes be an exercise is self-deprecating futility. But I won't trade it for anything. And I had fun thinking about all these things as I tried to take pictures of this rainbow tonight.
Part of being a journalist is trying to keep a slight disconnect so you can go about doing your job.
Sometimes that disconnect is hard. As small community journalists we meet our subjects who we eventually realize are our neighbors. So covering them we will have some sort of an emotional connection.
Sunday, during the intermission portion of the Taste of Talent, I knew there was going to be a presentation given to honor the life's work of Ronnie Beith who sat unknowing this was about to happen. When she realized what was happening, her face became so beautifully moved that I too stood there with tears in my eyes listening to the praise lauded on this most deserving and humble neighbor to all of us.
Mayor Doug White even declared it Ronnie Beith Day.
Ronnie is one of those people who ask, "What can I do to help you?"
She and her late husband Bill looked at the city of Franklin as a blank canvas awaiting a masterpiece. And that's what these true artists of hometown small community/big mind visionaries worked hard to do - create a masterpiece.
Now Ronnie is going to call me later and assure me that it isn't just her and Bill, that it takes a lot of people to pull off seamless events... and she is correct. But it is also true that a talented choreographer, a smart coach or a champion of people is needed to corral all the pieces together and make everything a success.
That is Ronnie Beith through and through.
I first met her in 2015. At the time I was "the new Jerry" and I know everyone, including Ronnie, was a bit apprehensive that Jerry Sowden was no longer their newspaper photographer and they had to get to know this new guy. Ronnie embraced me immediately and gave me encouragement and said I'd do fine. At the time, I didn't realize that this is what this graciosos champion of Franklin does for everyone, she lifts us up and looks for ways for us to be better knowing if she does this, we are all better.
She tirelessly works and even when she wasn't allowed to work during the pandemic, she just quietly and nonchalantly made sure things did not get lost or forgotten.
So when I caught wind she was going to be honored at the Taste of Talent finals, I changed my plans in order to be a witness.
I don't believe anyone deserves to honored by Franklin more than Ronnie does. Her brilliant, tireless leadership even through difficult times should be bottled and sold to every community looking for its own heart, because she has it figured out and she is this town's heart.
And her hand is most certainly in this masterpiece of Franklin, Pennsylvania.
Last week choreographers worked out positioning after the music directors tweaked some songs.
This week the final touches are being polished for the "Together Again for the First Time" which opens Friday night at The Barrow-Civic Theatre at 7:30 p.m.. This past week they were finalizing props and costumes for their musical revue style performance that is the return of adult theater at the Barrow. Last month the youth theater brought back live audiences to one of the cultural centers of Northwest Pennsylvania.
Visit the Eight & 322 Calendar for more information on more shows.
Best and Gressley share top honors in annual Taste of Talent finale; Beith honored for years of dedicated service to Franklin
Franklin's 2021 Taste of Talent vocal competition sent the vote scrutineers into a frenzy of recount after recount until they realized that it was....... a tie.
Ian Best and Scott Gressley were crowned co-champions. Substitute emcee Tammi Dahl made the big announcement, including that votes had to be counted three times to determined which of them had won with the answering coming up - Both.
The crowd gave a loud cheer of approval at the two crooners sharing the crown.
Traditionally the winner gets $1,000. Mike and Joyce Hughes elected to make sure this years champs didn't have to split the cash prize and graciously insured each went home with a grand.
Best and Gressley shared a hug following the announcement and then likely headed down the street to prepare for their respective roles in this week's opening of "Together Again for the First Time" at the Barrow-Civic.
The 2019 contest also ended in a tie when Joni Zacherl and Joey Lillard shared the spotlight. Those two were back in town performing Sunday night as well. They joined judges Rachel Mellor and Nathaniel Licht in a special performance of "You Are So Beautiful" that was dedicated to Ronnie Beith.
The song was part of a surprise intermission ceremony honoring Beith for her longstanding contributions to to the community especially in the area of event planning. Franklin Mayor Doug Baker declared August 8, 2021 Ronnie L. Beith Day.
Beith became emotional during the surprise announcement, which included the announcement that a plaque that will be displayed on the bandstand in the future. During her brief remarks she shared how blessed she feels to be part of the Franklin community.
Later she posted further comments online. "What an amazing and humbling day! Thank you for your love and I am at a place in life that I accept the love with gratitude and will continue to give it back and pass it on."
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