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Keep up with weekly happenings in and around northern Blair County with “Local Intelligence,” a commentary from The Daily Herald’s General Manger, Chris Lash. Chris will give insight on the events that shape our area every Friday. “Local Intelligence,” a service of The Daily Herald.

The Tyrone, Tipton, Bellwood map project is almost complete and will arrive in your Daily Herald officially next Saturday, February 8. I want to thank again the many area businesses who made this possible and assure you that most of them will have extra copies to be picked up if you want to send to family members and former residents. Whew! This was a lot of work, but is going to really be a nice piece that you can even frame.
Besides learning all the roads, alleys, streets, routes and by passes while putting the map project. I also spent time learning more of Tyrone’s history. Let me attempt to dazzle you with some of what I learned. The current population of Tyrone is 5,528 and spans an area of 1.4 square miles. Organized in 1850, Tyrone was originally called “Eagleville”, “Shorbsville” and even “Tyrone City”. Tyrone of course became a railroad town instead of an iron industrial town and they of course made history with the paper mill. Thanks to the Tyrone Historical Society who makes putting together our historic projects so simple.
I’m currently talking with PENNDOT about the projects and funding involving the roads in Tyrone. On Pennsylvania Avenue and on 10th street coming off of I-99 there are some bumps and potholes, that at times makes my SUV shake to the point that I think a tire is going to fall off. As spring draws a little closer, lets hope that the PENNDOT projects for the borough get started. From what I’ve read from meeting notes, the funding is there to pave the streets in this community. So let’s get them started!
Next Saturday on 1340 WTRN radio the annual TACO radio auction hits the airwaves. Broadcasting live from our new Pennsylvania Avenue offices, Cary Simpson will lead the charge and your bidding on some great products. The donated items are currently being displayed in the window of Attorney Ned Newlin’s office in downtown Tyrone. These type of radio auctions started in Pennsylvania. A broadcaster by the name of Charles M. Erhard of Punxsutawney started what would become a state wide project when he did the first Rotary radio auction on 1540 WPME radio. Charlie of course claimed this to me and since I always respect my radio elders I’m reporting it as he told it to me.
It’s Groundhog Day….again! This Sunday, Punxsutawney Phil will again make his official prognostication live at Gobblers Knob. Let me give you some more history on one of this countries longest running winter traditions. Groundhog Day started in Germany and was known as Candlemas Day. Badgers were actually used at this February second celebration to forecast the weather and to be eaten. German residents traveled to the homes by horse or by foot of their neighbors for a half way through winter party. Cabin fever was an actual disease and Candlemas Day was a short break from a long hard winter. When German settlers started arriving in Pennsylvania, they continued the celebration and picked the Groundhog as its official mascot. Gobblers Knob has several pieces of history behind the name. My favorite is the fact that residents got together and GOBBLED down groundhog meat as part of the celebration that winter was almost over. On Sunday with the television cameras on and 30,000 people or more in the crowd, Phil will do it again. In 114 years he has only not seen his shadow eleven times. But to study the science of Groundhog day is to miss the point. It’s a celebration on the exact half way point between the first day of winter and the first day of spring. And with my ten years as a member of the Punxsy Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, I’ve learned its great for Pennsylvania, great for the people in attendance and its supposed to be stupid. I predict that Phil will say “six more weeks of winter” on Sunday. So I have a back up plan. My wife and I are leaving for Florida next Friday. This column will take two weeks off and I look forward to some sunshine.
Have a great weekend and Happy Groundhog Day! Scocakaplee to all of you. Which is groundhogese for “Have a great day”!!

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Local Intelligence

Congratulations to the Tyrone YMCA, its board of directors and its executive director for securing the loan that will now pay off its back taxes eliminating that thorn in its side. Now the “Y” can really concentrate on the programs and assets that it delivers to the community.
My “Tyrone Tom” and Groundhog Day ramblings have continued to cause quite a stir in Punxsy, PA. So much so that I’ve been called back to duty to do some kind of performing like I did for ten years.
Next Sunday I will lead the throngs again at Gobblers Knob and in front of a special guest. New Governor Ed Rendell will be in attendance as the first sitting Governor of Pennsylvania to ever take part in the festivities. So I invite you to look for me on TV – PCN is the best – as I once again make a fool of myself pretending to be a song and dance man. The one nice thing is that temperatures are expected to be around 45 degrees that morning. Can you say early spring?
I thought Mayor Stoner and Borough Manager Al Drayovitch did a nice job of explaining the Streetscape program and other projects and the way they are funded. Most Streetscape projects are meant and designed for downtown areas. So I don’t understand why there are people who disagree with how these funds are being used. Travel to Brookville and see the finished project there – it even features angled parking.
I have already seen some color renditions of the Tyrone, Tipton and Bellwood map project and it’s incredible!
I want to take this time to thank all the businesses who participated. I now know the name of every street, road and alley from Tyrone to Bellwood. And I have to say if you couldn’t or didn’t participate in this massive and time consuming project, I believe you really will be impressed with the finished project. Special projects like this come once in a lifetime at a newspaper of our size. To all of our readers I think it will be something that you can again send to former residents and family members. It can also be a piece to be framed and hung at home or businesses.
I again had a great time sharing the project and meeting area business owners. I even got thrown out of one place. That hasn’t happened for a long time, so I enjoyed that as well.
There are some really nice empty store fronts in downtown Bellwood!
I know from experience that running a small business has lots of ups and downs. But if I was going into retail, I would look at both Tyrone and Bellwood. Those empty spaces next to the Bellwood Post Office are perfect locations. All you need to do is remember to advertise.
Do you want to see more local photos in the Herald? This continues to be an ongoing debate inside of our offices. If you would and you have access to e-mail, feel free to drop me a line at clash2@adelphia.net
The friendly bet at my house for Super Bowl Sunday is that if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that I have followed second to the Steelers since 1976, win on Sunday, then we’re moving south for good. It’s added a bit of fun with my kids and helped just a tiny bit to deal with the recent freezing cold temperatures.
Enjoy the game on Sunday! Go Buccaneers!

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Local Intelligence

Today’s column is dedicated to the person responsible for inventing the four-wheel drive vehicle. This week has been a test of patience as I encountered two days of snow on Cresson Mountain that made my trip to Tyrone last two hours. If not for the invention we now call the 4X4, I would have been stuck at home.
Groundhog Day in Tyrone? Here I go again, but this time I have reason to write. Each week I get e-mails and comments from our readers on issues or comments made in this column. And this week I even received a picture that is featured here today. The accompanying photo features Tom Fisher and Mark Moore taking part in the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Tyrone as part of the Bucky Fisher Groundhog Chapter.
I’m impressed and would love to know more on the history of this group. I hear they still celebrate on February 2nd to this day. Special thanks to Vergie Werner for the old photo. And, yes. In the early days of Punxsutawney Phil, a stuffed version of a groundhog was used for the annual trek to Gobblers Knob. It’s a far cry from the live celebrity version of the Seer of Seer’s whose now featured on TV and in movies and with his own TY Beanie Baby that hit the market last week. Five thousand “Phil” Beanies sold out in Punxsutawney in one hour.
Tomorrow in The Daily Herald, Tyrone Mayor Pat Stoner will once again explain in detail on how, why and when the grant money that is designated for the continuing streetscape project is to be used. If you’re going to write a letter to the editor, please get your facts straight on the issue. I have asked questions concerning streetscape many times and understand how it works and how the money can be spent.
I have enjoyed another week of meeting the business owners of both Bellwood and Tyrone.
We are in the final stages of our “Great Tyrone, Tipton, Bellwood Map Project” and I can now say that I know the area, the buildings and the roads like the back of my hand. Our artist did an incredible job of drawing each business and other important buildings and landmarks. But he did not fill in the names of the featured streets and businesses, so this has been my job over the last week. I look forward to the finished product presented to all of our readers for their approval.
Can I ask a question?
Why would anyone in Tyrone and Bellwood choose another newspaper to read over The Daily Herald?
I review two other area newspapers every day and see hardly anything about Tyrone, Bellwood and Northern Blair County. And when you do see an article about our communities, it’s days old and re-written versions of our already published stories. Maybe I’m too close to what I’m writing about, but I’m proud of where this newspaper is right now. I never rest on laurels and the staff here knows that. Everyday we will continue to be better and strive to create a product that is informative and entertaining to read.
Congratulations again to the Tyrone-Snyder Public Library on the tickets sales for the big oldies concert. Is it a sell out yet? Everyone should also support the upcoming music and magic show to benefit the Tyrone YMCA.
I’m enjoying following the incredible season so far of the Bellwood-Antis Blue Devil boys’ basketball team. I’ve spent a lot of time in Blue Devil country the past two weeks and your community is tremendous with support of the athletic programs of the high school.
I’ll be cheering for my Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs this weekend and dreaming that I’m in Florida. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading.

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Local Intelligence

I called it pretty snow this morning, even while I was driving my four wheel drive down Cresson Mountain on pavement that seemed go untouched by PENNDOT’s trucks. I guess referring to it as “pretty snow” is my way of dealing with the harsh winter that has hit the north east this year. I’m usually in Florida by now, but that has also been put aside due to other obligations. The streets and roads in and our of Tyrone were better this morning as crews seemed to be prepared for this new storm. Delays for the school districts turned into cancellations for the day based on the fact that more snow is arriving this afternoon and this weekend.
The old Herald office is nothing but a memory now as our move and clean up is complete. While in the old building for a few minutes yesterday I could still sense the history of the newspaper even while looking at dirty corners and walls.
I was glad that our newspaper was able to share the goals of Tyrone’s Mayor Pat Stoner as she looks forward to starting and finishing projects in 2003. Thanks for sharing and giving all the residents details of where this community can head in the future.
I thought of an idea this week and shared it with some friends and neighbors in business in Tyrone. Could Groundhog Day be held in Tyrone the same as it is in Punxsutawney? As a former member of the “Inner Circle” of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club I learned the in’s and out’s of working on this unofficial holiday for ten years. I had unique experiences of leading crowds of 50,000 and the opportunity of being doing live TV with the folks from the “Today Show, Good Morning America and many others. It was fun and always broke up the long winters!! My new concept however was, could “Tyrone Tom” be created and be billed as Pennsylvania’s official groundhog forecasting the weather for just the Keystone State instead of the world? Could this be something that would draw people to this community like it does up north? I really thought this through this week as many people have done in other Pennsylvania communities around February second. Maybe I was bored, maybe I’m sick of winter, and maybe I need to stop thinking so much. As I was just putting my finishing touches on a proposal to give to the Tyrone Chamber of Commerce. I got a frantic sounding phone call! A friend and fellow “Inner Circle” member had gotten wind of my thoughts and wanted to let me know that a bounty would be put on my head if I attempted to somehow steal the concept in some way. While it was a fun and friendly warning I couldn’t help but sense the seriousness in his voice. I have know dropped the thoughts and moved on to other ideas. Tyrone Tom? Hmmm! Imagine the possibilities!
The response to our 2003 historic Tyrone calendar has been tremendous. We’ve had dozens and dozens of readers come through our doors to pick up extra copies. And there’s plenty more where that came from if you would like your copy or one for a friend or family member living here or somewhere else. You can pick additional copies up for just fifty cents by stopping by our offices at 1067 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I hope that you and your family have had a good start to the new year. Thanks for reading and let’s hope that we are able to keep our resolutions for more than just a few weeks.