Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, Inc.

Meeting of May 16, 2015

56th Anniversary Dinner

Dutch-Way Restaurant, Gap, PA


President Tom Walczak called the meeting to order at 1:05 p.m. welcoming members and guests to our 56th Anniversary Dinner.  This is an event each year where we can celebrate ourselves for our many accomplishments over the past year, all of which are a testament to our membership.  Congratulations to all for making the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of PA what it is today!


New Members and Guests: Among the guests were Ginny Ehrich’s daughter Patty and her husband Kevin.  Tina Chack introduced her fiancé’s grandmother Ethel.  New members Suzanna and George Lovas from Maryland were also in attendance.


Tom reminded everyone that copies of the April minutes were circulating for review.  Approval would be sought later in the meeting. 


Treasurer Bob Kuether read the monthly treasurer’s report.  There were no additions/corrections to the minutes.  It was approved as read by the membership.  As of April 30th we have 368 members renewed for 2014-15, 28 less than one year ago.


Tom thanked Bob and Judy Kuether for their work in arranging today’s dinner and Judy, Ed Myers and Linda Finkelstein for making the favors and centerpieces.




Pat Cook:  On May 5, 2015 she, Ken and Bob Kuether attended the Jackson’s Mill (PA-05-25) Ribbon cutting for the new grasshoppers.  There were 29 people there. Seven from our society.  It was nice and the bridge looked nice.  They also visited Claycomb (PA-05-12) which looked nice and Felton’s Mill (PA-05-03) which we don’t know how it is still standing.   She noted that Bedford County pushes their covered bridges but was surprised not to see anything about the ribbon cutting in advance.  Pat had red ribbons from the ribbon cutting on the display table in case anyone wanted one.


Tom also mentioned the lack of publicity for the event.  He received a call afterwards from Alice Malone, a member who lives in the area, who saw the picture in the local paper after the fact but knew nothing of it beforehand or she may have attended.  Promotion of the event was purely word-of-mouth and email invitations, nothing in the local papers announcing the upcoming event.


Bonnie Shultz: She and her sister visited Jacks Mountain (PA-01-08) which was nice and Martin’s Mill (PA-28-01) which is only a skeleton.  They also visited Zimmerman (PA-54-01) and Rock (PA-54-02) which was nice and 4 stringers.  In Carbon County they visited Harrity (PA-13-01) which has some timber decay; Little Gap (PA–13-02) was nice but had varying shades of red on the side.  She and Gary Bartoo visited Hillsgrove (PA-57-02), Cogan House (PA-41-02) and Lairdsville (PA-41-03) all in good shape.


Barbara McCauley’s son took her out on Mother’s Day to Schuykill County where she saw Rock and Zimmerman and to Columbia County to see Snyder (PA-19-14).  It was good to see Snyder had been painted since she last saw it.  In total they saw 12 bridges.  It had been 20 years since seeing the 12 bridges and nice to see that they were all in good condition – some excellent.


Tim McLaughlin saw 16 bridges in Chester County while on our annual safari.  He prompted a round of applause to Michael Chorazy for his work in organizing and leading a great safari!

Michael Chorazy thanked Bob Kuether for rescheduling our Anniversary Dinner to accommodate the dates for the safari.  An earlier safari gave us nice weather, less traffic and fewer leaves on the trees around the bridges.  He sent thank you notes to all who helped with the safari and to Ian, the property manager at the Preserves (easy to work with and enjoyed seeing our group at the bridges).  Tim McLaughlin suggested sending a safari patch to Ian as a thank you for accommodating our group.


Greg Williams mentioned an article about a 60’ X 18’ covered bridge being built on private property by the Gratons in Norwich, CT.


Joyce Soroka was not able to attend today’s dinner but sent the report below which Gloria Smedley read during the meeting.


I set up a display at the I-81 Welcome Center for the week of May 3-9, which was National Tourism Week, and May 9-17 for SPCBW.  On May 8 at the Welcome Center, I gave travelers chocolate covered popcorn that I made.  I had many visitors stop and talk about covered bridges.  I think the popcorn was the draw for them to stop at the display and talk. J


On May 5, along with other Society members and officers I attended the ribbon cutting at Jackson’s Mill Covered Bridge in Bedford County.  I was honored to be selected by the officers in attendance to address the participants at the event.  The following day I worked with former members of the Bedford County Covered Bridge Society regarding the lettering to be placed back on the bridge.  This was completed by May 8.


On May 9, I presented a program titled Pennsylvania Covered Bridges, an Overview at the State Library.  The State Library is open to the public the second Saturday of each month. 


On May14, I presented the program again as a “Lunch and Learn” session for Commonwealth employees.  These “Lunch and Learn” sessions are offered monthly by the State Library with a variety of topics.


The day prior to this presentation I was informed that Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) would be filming my program to air on PCN in the future.  I was very excited with this news.


The State Library staff forwarded two inquiries to me from two other state agencies inquiring if I will do the program for their staff.  I am in the process of working with these agencies to schedule the program.




President Tom Walczak enjoyed the safari and thanked Michael Chorazy for his work on it.  We saw 16 bridges including a surprise visit to Jackson’s Mill (PA-36-33#2) that wasn’t on the itinerary.  I was able to get many great reflection shots.  He thanked Bob and Judy for taking care of the safari registrations and bringing the country store to the safari.  He also thanked Greg William and Tim Cohen for their work as safety coordinators.  Tom attended the May 5th ribbon cutting ceremony at Jackson’s Mill and noted that the bridge looks beautiful.  Seven members of our society attended.  He was somewhat disappointed at the time that the saying over the portal ($5 fine for anyone riding or driving over this bridge faster than a walk) was not repainted but has since been done.  He stopped on the way here this morning to get updated pictures with the saying in place.  After the ribbon cutting he and his father stopped at New Baltimore (PA- 56-09#2) in Somerset County and found it in good shape.  He also saw Kidd’s Mill (PA-43-01) in Mercer Country which seems to have a dip in the roof line.  Rafters seem to have slipped off chords in places causing the dip.  He intends to let the appropriate officials know about this.  Tom prepared and manned a display for See Pennsylvania’s Covered Bridges Week at the I-80E Welcome Center in Mercer’s County.


He thanked all who had participated and had displays at various locations.  We were well represented throughout the state.


Ray Finkelstein held two (2) presentations; Lower Macungie Library and his Community Center.  Joyce Soroka gave a talk to 2 groups both available to the public and State Employees along with a display at the State Library.  Bob and Judy Kuether put up displays at the Susquehanna Bank in Harrisburg, Hershey Public Library and at the Lancaster Visitor Bureau for the day.


Pennsylvania has 14 Welcome Centers and our Members set up displays at 10 of the 14 Welcome Centers throughout Pennsylvania.  Below is the list of participating members and centers.


I-83 N                           (York Co)                      Jim & Gloria Smedley   

I-81 N                            (Franklin Co.                 Joyce Soroka              

I-70 W                          (Fulton Co)                    Bob & Judy Kuether

I-79 N                           (Greene Co)                  Bob & Judy Kuether     

I-70 E                           (Washington Co)           Judy Talmonti

I-80 E                            (Mercer Co)                   Tom Walczak

I-95 N                            (Delaware Co)               Heather Watkins

I-78 W                           (Northampton)               Ray Finkelstein

I-276 W                         (Montgomery)               Steve Wolfhope

15 South                       (Tioga)                          Bob & Judy Kuether


First Vice President, Jim Smedley:  The rehabilitation of Jericho Bridge (MD-03-02 & MD-12-01) is well underway.  It is stripped down to the trusses.  The plan is to remove the bridge from Little Gunpowder Falls to Jericho Road, replace rotted wood which is expected to be about 15% of the truss, then place it back over the Falls.  The project should be completed by the end of the year.


Also, the 3 Frederick County MD bridges are currently being rehabilitated as we meet today.  When completed all three bridges will have fire retardant paint, and a fire alarm system. Roddy Road Bridge (MD-10-02) also will get 190 feet of new guard railing along Roddy Creek Road and toe wall for scour protection.  Utica Mills (MD-10-01) will get scour protection at the center support, replace siding as necessary, clean and paint siding and install a new roof.  New portals boards have already been installed.  Loys Station (MD-10-03#2) will just include fire retardant paint.  They already have an alarm system.


Thanks to everyone for sending in photos for the 2016 calendar.  We received about 115 photo entries this year along with about 15 that we reentered from last year because they were really nice photos.  Although we had a good supply of photos and some new photographers, most of the photos that rated high and were used for the calendar are from the same photographers as last year with the exception of Tim Cohen who has two photos in the calendar.  There are 5 photos of bridges that have never been in any of our previous 7 calendars. 

We are taking a look at the current process for calendar photo entries and decisions in an effort to get some photos in from members who had not had a photo in a calendar.  I am also looking at adding more judges to rate the photos.


The deadline for PA Crossings Newsletter is June 7th, the day of our June meeting.


Second Vice President, Ray Finkelstein visited Rock Covered Bridge to take a few pictures of the completed rehab – looks great.  He received information from Penn Dot representative Kris Thompson that Manassas Guth (PA-39-03) in Lehigh County will be starting its rehab in about a month.  It will have all its siding replaced, floor replaced, and painted Barn Red.  Truss and roof will not get any work.  He had a report with him if anyone wanted to see it that goes over the complete rehab.  He started work on a Shutterfly book of the safari and thanked all that contributed pictures.  He promoted See PA’s Covered Bridges Week with the following:  on May 5th at their annual Community Night he gave out many rack cards and talked with residents in the area promoting covered bridges; was at the Route 78 Welcome Center on May 11th and will hopefully set up a permanent display in the near future there; gave a presentation at his local library on May 13th with about 30 people in attendance – strong interest, and has had a display at the local library since mid-April.


Third Vice President, Steve Wolfhope created and manned a display during National Tourism Week and SPCBW at the King of Prussia Visitors Center.  It was a small room but they gave him two tables for his display which was well received by staff and visitors.  There was a lot of interest in the covered bridges and many requests for brochures.  He visited many bridges while making a trip to a train meet in NY near Newburgh.  During his travels he saw the following bridges in Connecticut: Bulls (CT-03-01), West Cornwall (CT-03-02), Comstock (CT-04-01#2), Johnsonville (CT-04-07), and Kent Falls State Park (non-authentic)  (CT-03-D) and in Massachusetts he visited Upper Sheffield (MA-02-01#2), Arthur Smith (MA-06-03#2), Bissell (MA-06-04#3), Burkeville/Conway (MA-06-01), Creamery Brook (MA-06-11) where they were selling maple syrup on the bridge, Pumping Station (MA-06-02#2) which was unbelievable, Gilbertville (MA-08-04/MA-14-01), Grays Sugarhouse (non-authentic) (MA-06-g) and Goodrich (non-authentic) (MA-07-a).  Most bridges were in good shape.

Fourth Vice President, Ed Myers spent much time communicating with the Governor’s Office about the SPCBW Proclamation.  It was finally received on Monday May 11, 2015.  He reminded us of several upcoming events.


Recording Secretary, Gloria Smedley enjoyed the safari and thanked Michael for his efforts.  She and Jim shared time manning the I-83N Welcome Center Display for SPCBW.


Corresponding Secretary / Program Chair Pamela A. Heisey – no report.

Treasurer Bob Kuether attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Jackson Mill.  He thanked everyone for their work and efforts making and manning displays for SPCBW.  We had 18 displays in total at Welcome Centers and various locations throughout the state.  He reported on an ABC program that just aired about the burning of Dellville (PA-50-16) bridge.  His interpretation was that once the insurance funds begin to flow it will be rebuilt.

Jim Smedley saw the article about the ABC program and commented that it seems the insurance company is delaying getting the funds out – waiting for the arsonist to be caught lest he/she burn it down again after it is rebuilt.  Good news was that they should be able to power blast the charred wood and use insurance funds to replace siding, keeping the original structure intact.

Historian Fred J. Moll – no report.



Yvonne Geib, former member, passed away on April 26, 2015.



Ed Myers read the Governor’s Proclamation for SPCBW.  Our Society was responsible for having this put into law beginning in 1969.  PA is the only state to annually honor its bridges.

The membership previously approved the amount of $5,000 for painting a bridge.  Our estimate for painting Esther Furnace (PA-19-20) in Columbia County has come in at $5,500.  This includes all the paint for the painter to complete the outside and inside of the bridge with society members painting the portals as we have done in the past.  Tom solicited questions – there were none.  Tim McLaughlin made a motion to approve the additional $500 and Ben Evans seconded it.  The membership unanimously approved the motion.

Bob Kuether will move forward Monday to give 30 day notice to the commissioner’s office for the bridge to be painted on June 20, 2015.  We will start at 9am, restroom facilities are available, and lunch will be provided by the commissioner.  Tom encouraged members to participate and said to let Bob know if you plan to attend as he will need a head count for lunch.


Clyde and Alda Sheib will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary on May 30, 2015.

Tom solicited suggestions for 2016 safari.  Connie Francis suggested VT/New England.  Many were in agreement.  Bob Kuether offered to lead it.  He will look into it and will provide more info at the next meeting.

Judy Kuether suggested Washington County.

Bob mentioned new items for sale in the country store - 2016 Calendars, CDs of society publications, National Society mugs and postcard sets of Chester County bridges.


Bonnie Shultz showed an ‘Amish Treats’ Cookbook that has a sketch of a covered bridge inside.

Connie Francis saw a painting of Mercer’s bridge for sale for $100 at a local café, and noted that the East Lampeter Police patch has a covered bridge on it.


APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  Minutes were approved as presented.



Our Next Meeting will be held on Sunday June 7 at 2:00 p.m. at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Manheim.

The Program will be ‘Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley: Past and Present’ given by Ray Finkelstein.



ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.



Respectfully Submitted by Recording Secretary, Gloria Smedley


June 1, 2015