This edition marks the close of another year, a year that has brought with it tragedy and triumph. We all know the bad news but maybe we should look at the good news.
One of the first stories that comes to my mind is the tragedy of the fire at Farmers Inn. This well loved restaurant burned just prior to the start of the summer season. I don’t think the owner, Kim Lucas, even had a second thought about rebuilding. Not only did she plan for the future but she managed to open for the summer on a reduced scale. I found her efforts to be inspiring. In an age when many people would have taken the money and retired to Florida, Kim started over again. That requires courage and faith. We wish her all the luck she deserves.
There were three local groups who provided inspiration. The first is the Summerville Veterans Memorial committee. This small dedicated group recognized that Summerville did not have a veterans memorial. They decided to do something about it. They overcame a series of rejections and the usual nay-sayers and, in just a few months, developed a fund raising plan and a design. They would not take no for an answer and broke ground last fall for the monument. They hope to unveil the finished project in time for Memorial Day.
The second group is the new Victorian Christmas committee. Instead of seeing this local tradition perish, they stepped up and made it happen. If you have never taken part in a festival you cannot know how much work it takes to plan and execute that plan. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way but the fact is that we had a festival.
The third group is the new Brookville Laurel Festival. This group is in the process of reviving a decades old tradition. These volunteers endured some criticism and negativity when they began but they have organized and are proceeding with a plan for the annual summer festival. Their future is littered with uncertainty but they have the desire to succeed.
Our area received some good news on the business front when it was announced Legacy Trucking was taking over the old Days Inn location. Even more good news the announcement that Cresco-Yeltrah was going to use the old St. Marys Carbon plant for its medical marijuana grow facility.
This fall the Brookville Area High School celebrated 50 years of high school musicals. Five decades of high quality musical entertainment is reason to celebrate and they could not have produced a better show than “Shrek.” The dedication of the students and staff is certainly inspiring.
There were individual stories of success. I enjoyed the story of Ben Rowan who got his start on the stage at the BAHS and has performed around the world. Even with all of his success, Ben gave credit to the home town folks who set him on his career path.
I was inspired by the story of Brodie Zacherl. This former Raider wrestler was near death and has recovered and is back on the mat. The support this young man received from his family and the wrestling community was truly inspiring.
One little girl made a big difference just by selling lemonade. Gabby McLaughlin raised money for the Cancer Center in Clarion County to honor her late grandmother. Her efforts were recognized by WJAC-TV who presented her with a Jefferson Award.
Perhaps the most inspiring story of the year is that of Ryan Dush. He never asked for any recognition for what he does but suddenly he was featured on national news. Air Force Staff Sergeant Ryan Dush is a member of the 106th Rescue Wing based on Long Island. His unit was detailed to help in the rescue effort following Hurricane Harvey in Houston. The photos were stunning. Ryan was seen suspended from a helicopter clutching a baby. In just a few days Ryan’s team rescued more than 100 people. A young man from a small town in Pennsylvania putting his life on the line to rescue people he had never met.
He made us all very, very proud.
There are dozens of other stories who inspired me this past year. People who faced adversity with grace and courage. These are the stories that make this business incredibly rewarding.
As for the coming year, I wish you all good news.