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Susquehanna Life

Life Around the River: The Miller Center, Slifer House, Martin Guitars & More

Sep 06, 2017 01:27PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

The Miller Center

Miller Center Opens 

When Pennsylvania House furniture manufacturer closed its Lewisburg factory in 2004, many possibilities for the property were tossed around. While mixed-use development occupies most of the site, an abandoned warehouse sat empty—but full of promise.

Matt and Beth Miller identified the need for an indoor fitness and recreation center as a result of driving their four children to recreation facilities throughout the state and, along with Matt’s father Dale, were drawn to the open structure of the warehouse as a possible venue.

One of the best parts of the location, according to board member Beth Miller, is that users can safely and easily bike to the facility on the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail.

“We were immediately attracted to the proximity to the rail trail, parking amenities [nearly 300 spaces] and distance to downtown, but there were challenges,” says Miller.

Obstacles, according to executive director Jim Mathias, included navigating a 100-year floodplain, proximity to wetlands and securing required rezoning.

Miller says that the five years of planning was actually a blessing in disguise; it forced board members to think through programs that would support the vast space.

“Sustainability is critically important to us,” she emphasized. “We are a non-profit, community-based organization.” 

Evangelical Community Hospital’s long-term lease for medical space eases some financial pressure. But successful marketing of fitness center memberships, hard court rentals and community support are key ingredients to long-term success.

In addition to the Miller family’s donation of $6.5 million, the Miller Center received $2 million of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funding for the initial site work. The Degenstein Foundation granted the organization $1.2 million and Geisinger Health System donated $250,000. Bridge financing was secured from PNC Bank. 

According to Mathias, physical fitness, personal wellness and physical therapy are top priorities. Coach development also is a critical need. The goal is to develop coaches who are positive, well-trained and provide constructive feedback and clear expectations for young athletes. Miller and Mathias agree that effective and positive coaching leads to improved athletic performance. 

The Miller Center proactively has forged community partnerships with Evangelical Community Hospital, Sun Orthopedics and Physical Therapy, North Union United Soccer, Next Level Strong Basketball, Bison Field Hockey, Victory Sports, Geisinger Health System and Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority.

The official ribbon cutting takes place March 3. For more information, visit Lisa Z. Leighton


Band Keeps it Local

The Slifer House museum in Lewisburg served as the setting for a new music video for the song Ghost, by Pages for Paul, a self-proscribed Americana Alt-Country band with a regional following.

Guitarist Paul Curcuruto was inspired to write the song during a Facebook exchange with a musician-friend who posted the question, “Have you ever gone back to the house you grew up in and felt like a ghost, because it's all changed and no one there remembers you?”

Paul actually wrote the song, post by post, on Facebook. Lyrics, sung by Karen Nogle, include:

“I drove by my old house today,

The top of the hill where we used to play.

The wall of stone I built still there,

But little else that I hold dear.

I’m just a ghost now here of late,

There’s no one left that knows my fate.”


Paul met with Steve Gibson, director and co-owner of Fist in Post Productions, to discuss the idea for a music video. 

“I originally wanted [the video] to be [shot] in a house with peeling paint and a really gritty edge,” said Paul. “But Steve suggested Slifer House as a more elegant place with history. I liked that. The song isn’t very gritty.”

“This was a unique opportunity for the Slifer House Museum,” said Kirsten Winner, museum project coordinator. “Everything is displayed in its original position, therefore the charm of the museum and the Victorian era is very authentic.”

The Victorian era setting also enhances the video’s ghostly theme. Gibson used lighting and special effects to cause band members to appear transparent, augmenting the mood.  

A Slifer House Museum artifact, a Regina Corona #35 Music Box, appears in the beginning and end of the video. Made in Rahway, N.J., in 1894, the music box is housed in a mahogany cabinet that contains a dozen 15 ½-inch discs storing various tunes. “The music box has no speakers, so sound is generated through the use of a sound board, similar to a piano,” Winner noted.

The real magic [of the music] comes with the music videos, Paul said “CDs are like business cards,” he likened. “But you make videos for people all over the world to experience.”

“I’m hoping the video gives people a taste of the Slifer House Museum and encourages them to visit,” said Winner.

Other Fist in Post projects include The Feed, an award-winning horror movie that debuted at The Campus Theatre, Lewisburg, and corporate videos for Transitions, Bucknell University, IBM and the Lewisburg Yoga Center.

In talking about the music video for Ghost, Jessica Paquin, co-owner of Fist in Post, said, “We loved the idea, and were pleased to work on this great video.”—Chelsea Ritter


Clinic Provides Dental Services

In the heart of Sunbury, a dental clinic provides high-quality and compassionate dental services to community members who lack adequate dental coverage.

The Susquehanna River Valley Dental Health Clinic opened its doors in 2009 in a vacated dental clinic, and sees an average of 750 patients a month from Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties.

The clinic aims to minimize the cost of care to patients by maintaining an operational and fiscally sound business model, according to clinic director, Sylvia Maud Noteware, DMD. In addition to Dr. Noteware, the clinic employs another full-time dentist, a part-time dentist and several volunteer-dentists. Basic dental services to children and adults include cleanings, x-rays, fillings, dentures and extractions.

To qualify for services, patients must have dental coverage through PA Medical Assistance programs such as ACCESS, GHP, Aetna and AmeriHealth.  The clinic also sees qualified low-income uninsured patients for a flat fee per appointment for basic services.  SRVDHC does not accept private insurances and is not a free clinic. 

According to Dr. Noteware, “Services for patients with Medical Assistance programs are reimbursed by the state Medicaid programs.  Uninsured patients pay their flat fee per appointment, and we receive grant money from generous charitable organizations in the community to offset costs outside of the uninsured flat fee.

“We improve our patients’ oral and overall health by treating issues of oral pain and infections,” she added. “We improve our patients’ aesthetics and self-esteem as well.”

The clinic is located at 335 Market Street, Suite 1, in Sunbury and can be reached at (570) 286-7500 for appointments.

Martin Guitar Celebration

Rory Block

As part of its 30th anniversary season, the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University in Lewisburg will devote a day to the legacy, tradition and craftsmanship of Martin Guitars on Saturday, Oct.14.

The schedule for Martin Guitar Gathering: A Celebration of the Legacy of C.F. Martin Guitars in American Roots Music day includes facilitated workshops from 11 a.m. to noon and 3 to 4 p.m. throughout the Weis Center; community guitar jam from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Weis Center atrium lobby;  film screening of Ballad of the Dreadnought— A Musical Icon Turns 100 in the Weis Center auditorium from noon to 1:30 p.m., with panel discussion featuring Dick Boak, museum, archives and special projects director at C. F. Martin & Co. and Jerry Zolten, educator, author, producer and musician. The day will conclude with three live performances by artists who play Martin guitars: Rory Block, Bill and the Belles, and Del McCoury.

“This revered guitar manufacturer is the instrument of choice by thousands of noteworthy guitarists all over the world,” noted Kathryn Maguet, executive director of the Weis Center. “We hope to shine a light on the fascinating story of Martin Guitars from its humble beginnings grounded in the German immigrant experience to the sophisticated and precision craftsmanship admired today.”

Blues musician Rory Block will perform in the Weis Center atrium lobby at 6 p.m. Heralded as “a living landmark”, “a national treasure” and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists,” Block has committed her life and career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world. A traditionalist and innovator, she wields a vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk.

At 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center auditorium, Bill and the Belles will open for bluegrass legend Del McCoury. Bill and the Belles offers a contemporary reimagining of a bygone era, a vocal-centric performance that breathes new life into the sounds of early country music. From sentimental Southern ballads to the popular songs of Tin Pan Alley to regional fiddle breakdowns, a Bill and the Belles show is a celebration of the diversity country music once represented. The Del McCoury Band is the most awarded bluegrass band of all time. Their most recent release Streets of Baltimore​ took home the 2013 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, adding to their 2006 Grammy win for The​ Company We Keep ​and over 30 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, including Entertainer Of The ​Year nine times.

All events are free, with the exception of the Bill and the Belles and Del McCoury performance at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28 for adults, $22 for seniors 62+, and $18 for youth 18 and under, and are available by calling the Campus Box Office at (570) 577-1000, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or online at

The day is sponsored, in part, by C.F. Martin & Co. in Nazareth and the News-Item in Shamokin.

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