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President’s Message: A Great Place to Play (Especially Outside)

By Chris Berleth

I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t like the weather in central Pennsylvania, wait five minutes.” That may be a little on the nose, but if like me, you’re anxious to enjoy a more consistent weather pattern than the on again off-again blustery breezes of the last month, then I’ve got great news for you.

Yes, cloud cover may have made for a poor showing during the much-anticipated solar eclipse, and perhaps a freak wind and rainstorm briefly knocked out electricity in your neighborhood. (Special thanks to PPL Electric Utilities for a seriously speedy response time to the dozens of downed limbs and wires just a week ago.)

If you honored Vietnam Veterans in Berwick on April 13, you likely needed a winter coat, and just a day later, if you watched the inimitable Lady Lois and her parade from Berwick City Hall to the Stuart Tank Museum on N. Vine St, in shorts and tee shirts as the Catawissa Military Band played. Maybe you didn’t brave the cold for the B.A.R.T. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, but you did join the hundreds who walked the trail the following day.

Two weeks ago, I testified before the House Policy Committee about pro-business tax reform, and in so doing, I mentioned that residents of Columbia and Montour Counties are “sturdy people” when it comes to enduring the hardship of the tax burden. May it also be said of our community when it comes to the weather. “Weather be darned, we’re going to get ready to play.”

Opportunities to Play Abound
In Bloomsburg this Saturday, I hope you’ll join me for outdoor fun and festivities at Downtown Bloomsburg Inc.’s Renaissance Jamboree, which promises to be even better than last year’s. With vendors aplenty, Renaissance will be packed with food, shows, and fun for all ages. If you’ve tuned in to the Danville Business Alliance, you already know that the Danville Growers’ Market is back, and the 38th Annual Spring Fling is just over a week away on May 4th.

It's also a big weekend in Elysburg – this weekend marks Knoebels Amusement Resort’s Opening Weekend for its 98th season!

But even that’s not all the fun to be had outdoors.

It’s my joy to tell you about an awesome resource that I’ve just learned about – a game-changer for outdoor enthusiasts in our region. In a meeting with Otto Kurecian and the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau this week, held at the Montour Preserve, I was enthralled to learn more about the partnerships that have created outdoor recreation maps for the area.

After all, it’s one thing to know that there are things to do, and another thing entirely to be able to plan an itinerary around those resources. Now, you can do just that.

Looking to fish and boat in Montour and Columbia Counties? There’s a map for that.

Want to enjoy the parks and trails in both counties, and do a little hiking? There’s a map for that too.

Maybe you’d like to see some of the history of Washingtonville, or get a better sense of the Chillisquaque Creek Watershed, with all of its natural beauty? Great news, there’s a map for that too. This map is probably my favorite - it even goes so far as to show known log-jams and hazards, so that if you were to drop a kayak into the creek, you can navigate accordingly.

Did you know that the region is increasingly popular with mountain bikers, and that the region is fast becoming a destination for biking trails, across Montour, Columbia, Union, Snyder and Northumberland Counties? There’s a map for that too.

As you know, the Chamber is committed to representing employers in support of vibrant and sustainable communities in Columbia and Montour Counties. Today, we salute our friends at MARC and the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau, whose work catapults this region forward as a destination, and we ask you to join your Chamber in support of vibrant downtowns, celebrations of history (including the upcoming Ribbon Cutting for the Columbia County Historical Society), and a furthering of the message that here, we have a great place to live, work, and play.

One last plug – Hailstone Economic and their placemaking initiative is offering no-cost seminars to businesses, nonprofits and municipalities about the benefits of cross-sector collaboration, elements of successful partnerships, and more. If what we’ve seen from MARC and the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau are examples of the kind of work Hailstone is promoting, then we can’t help but endorse seminars like this. Check it out.

May the blustery days of early Spring give way to May flowers and outdoor fun – and just in case you need ideas for additional fun, I can think of at least two events that will bowl you over with a swingin’ good time.

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