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Life Around The Susquehanna River: 3 Things to Know

Mar 16, 2016 07:12PM ● Published by Erica Shames

Photo by Bob Stoudt

Hate Has No Business Here
The member businesses of the Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business coalitions that speaks for small businesses on public policy issues, and small business owners throughout the country are banding together to stand up against the hateful rhetoric and violence aimed at Muslim and Arab community members.   

"This swell of hate and fear permeating our national dialogue is dangerous," states Amanda Ballantyne, national director, Main Street Alliance. "It must be met head-on with clear statements of principle from ... leaders in our communities."

After the recent spate of anti-Muslim rhetoric, members of the congregation of Temple Beth-El in Sunbury reached out to the Sunbury mosque community. "They wanted to make sure members of the Sunbury Islamic Center knew we supported them, and to create a bond between us," explained Rabbi Nina Mandel.  

The end result was a dinner, dubbed "Abraham’s Tent," attended by 60 people, including adults and children. "We all made an extra effort to make sure we sat with people we didn’t know, and work on engaging in conservation," continued Rabbi Mandel. "Hopes were expressed to have more events, including another meal in early spring, perhaps with other faith organizations." 

The program was dubbed Abraham’s Tent, explained Rabbi Mandel, because Judaism, Islam and Christianity all share a connection to the Biblical figure Abraham, who is known for his hospitality and radical welcoming of the stranger. "Our hope is to build connections with our neighbors, to learn more about one another’s traditions, and to develop a supportive network. We can honor our differences and maintain our humanity most easily when we sit down and simply share," she explained.  

Everyone is encouraged to print out and display—at their business, religious center, community organization, at home and in schools a poster available at mainstreetalliance.org/hate_has_no_business_here that states: 

"We stand with our Muslim community members and we stand with refugees and immigrants in our community. We welcome everyone. There is no place for hate in our businesses, our homes, or in our country." 

First Section of Nature Trail Opens  
The first .4-mile of a 12-mile trail following the historic canal path linking Danville and Bloomsburg opened in late 2015. The trail capitalizes on one of the Middle Susquehanna region’s most historic and beautiful assets: the North Branch Canal.  

The trail project constructs a pedestrian and bicycle link that connects residents and visitors to the culture, nature and beauty of the Susquehanna River and the canals that once served as the lifeblood of the region. The trail links communities, increases recreational options, and provides economic and environmental benefits. 

The North Branch Canal Trail project aims to develop a family-oriented pedestrian and bicycle trail between Danville and Bloomsburg along the route of the historic North Branch Division of the Pennsylvania Canal. The trail corridor extends 12 miles between Danville and Bloomsburg via Catawissa along the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Additional segments of the trail will open in spring 2016 and more segments are planned as resources become available. 

"It has taken more than a decade of concerted effort to make this trail a reality," said Bob Stoudt, director of MARC.  

Trail construction will help stabilize, preserve and restore historically significant canal structures to allow current and future generations to learn about and physically connect to the region’s past.  It will also serve as a catalyst for nearby trail-related economic development and promote healthy outdoor fitness. 

"The North Branch Canal Trail will serve as an additional catalyst for business growth and expansion in Danville by attracting new visitors, opening new opportunities for trail-related businesses, restaurants and hotels, and more," said Jim Wilson, executive director of the Danville Business Alliance. "And it will enhance Danville’s growing reputation as a regional destination."

According to Stoudt, the intention is to open a portion of the Columbia County side of the trail this spring and additional sections will open as soon as the bridges and culverts are in place. "Our goal is to have the whole 6.2 mile-long trail open by this fall," he confirmed. 

Library Sports Rare Moorish Fretwork
Citizens gathered for the dedication ceremonies on the evening of Jan. 30, 1890 to celebrate the 60 x 30-foot stone structure dubbed the Amelia S. Givin Library, in Mount Holly Springs. 

Givin presented the library to the town fully furnished and stocked with books, funding the project with monies she inherited from her father, whose Mount Holly Paper Co. was incorporated in 1865. 

An 1889 article in the Philadelphia-based The Times, describes Amelia Givin as one of "Carlisle’s wealthy ladies," who decided to "build a handsome, free library at Mount Holly Springs, her birthplace." Hummelstown brownstone was used in construction and the building was erected at the site of the former Central Hotel. 

"The library is not only the oldest in Cumberland County, but also one of the first dozen or so in the state," noted librarian Cynthia Thompson.  

In 1989, a 2,000-square-foot wing was added, but the original structure hasn’t changed much over the years. Today, patrons will see what The Times described as "Moorish fretwork" partitions separating the rooms and the spiral staircase leading to the "librarian’s room."

"When I walked in and saw the woodwork, it blew me away," shared Dillsburg resident Paul Tucker, a woodworker.  

Tucker learned how a fascination with the East played a huge part in bringing the style to our shores and into the homes of wealthier families.  "The woodwork in the library is an attempt to mimic that which was popular in Egypt and Northern Africa primarily," he explained. "They needed window screens to provide shade and to allow the air to pass through and tended to create geometric designs, which you’ll see in the Givin Library."

According to Tucker, the Givin Library contains the most extensive and elaborate installation of Moorish fretwork still in existence today. 

The Amelia S. Givin Library, located at 114 North Baltimore Ave., was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.—Stephanie Kalina-Metzger 

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