Attendees of the recent ribbon-cutting ceremony (top) of the Summit Loop Trail in Laporte Township, Sullivan County, embark on an inaugural walk. The trail was funded in part by an EMHR Partnership Mini-Grant as an element of the future Summit Center for Wellness – spearheaded by the Loyalsock Foundation. The EMHR awarded Wyalusing Borough mini-grant funding in 2022 to install a new sign (above) at the entrance of Creekside Park, as well as for other enhancements. Bill O’Brien (left) of Vosburg, and Albert Probst and Dan King from Dalton (below) were among the volunteers to help Friends of the Howland Preserve and the North Branch Land Trust do extensive trail enhancements in 2022 with EMHR Partnership Mini-Grant funding. The Howland Preserve has since become Vosburg Neck State Park.
The Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR), which serves Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, will award $65,000 in Partnership Mini-Grant funding to 13 different entities representing all four counties. The initiatives vary greatly from restoration and enhancements of recreational areas and historic venues to programs and projects focused on education and the arts.
“The EMHR received over $85,000 in funding requests from 16 organizations and municipalities in the four counties that it serves, which is less than in previous years,” said EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin. “Typically, we see more than 20 applicants and well over $100,000 in requests, so this was a bit of a surprise. Either way, we’re incredibly happy to provide this financial support to our heritage partners and aid in the completion of recreation and historic preservation projects across our region.”
Chamberlin praised the many hours and due diligence of Partnership Grants Review Committee members who individually scored the applications and selected the projects that best represented the mission and goals of the Heritage Region.
Projects for which funding was approved this year varied greatly between size and purpose, as well as the types of entities that applied. In previous years, most requests for funding were submitted by historical societies and heritage associations. And, though they fared well among recipients for 2023, six municipalities in three counties also successfully petitioned for support of new or ongoing initiatives.
Among them, Harford Township in Susquehanna County was among the big winners this year, garnering a $10,000 grant to prepare a 10.36-acre parcel of land for the new Harford Township Recreation Complex by removing select trees, shrubs and invasive species and replacing them with native plants. A cut-off swale will be installed as part of the project to address drainage issues.
Also securing a maximum mini-grant of $10,000 was Keystone College and the Keystone College Environmental Education Institute. The latter will use EMHR/DCNR funding to provide an educational workshop designed to bring nature-based tourists to its Woodlands Campus that straddles the border of Wyoming and Lackawanna counties. Other projects to be funded will be the publication of a history book related to the Historic Dennis Farm in Susquehanna County and the hosting of a Makers Market highlighting the school’s apiary. The event is being held in partnership with the Route 6 Alliance and the EMHR.
In Bradford County, Sayre Borough will receive $4,253 to replace the existing roof on the Howard Elmer Park Bandstand with a copper-colored metal roof that is more historically accurate. The borough put up a $21,747 cash match to receive the financial boost for the $26,000 project. Not far behind in terms of scope is French Azilum, Inc., successfully petitioning for $9,750 to clean, sand and repaint the historic LaPorte-Hagerman House that was built in the 1830s.
The Wyoming County Cultural Center and Dietrich Theater was a double winner this year, receiving grants totaling $2,225 for a Families in Nature program and a five-presentation Endless Mountains Heritage Series. The Nature program will include a series of classes for children and their caregivers for outdoor exploration and play, and the Heritage Series will cover topics including the indigenous people of the area and the Moravian mission of Friedenshutten near Wyalusing.
Two grants were awarded for projects in Nicholson. The Nicholson Heritage Association will receive $1,580 towards the creation of additional exhibits in the new Nicholson Tourism Center in the former DL&W train station building, and Nicholson Borough will conduct a feasibility study to find the best ways to construct a community recreation trail that will connect Nordahl Park, open spaces along Martins Creek, and remnants of the old trolley line to Main Street.
Sullivan county, which received four grants last year, is not on the 2023 list of recipients. The EMHR received just one application from the county this year that unfortunately did not score among the list of awardees. Susquehanna County, on the other hand, did extremely well this year, receiving a total of six grants for a wide range of initiatives.
Clifford Township will get $4,256 toward the installation of an ADA-compliant bocce ball court in the township park. The Brooklyn Historical Society successfully petitioned for $837 in funding for direction signage on U.S. Route 11 to direct travelers to the Martins Creek Viaduct Overlook, which was also provided funding by the EMHR in recent years. The Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association will receive $4,737 to restore the historic wooden windows in the Society’s museum. Oakland Borough was granted $7,500 to develop a scenic overlook to provide users of the new Endless Mountains Gravel Bikepacking Loop amazing views of the Susquehanna River valley below. And Forest City Borough will receive $2,362 to place the first of several sculptures to connect the D&H Rail Trail to the Forest City community.
“Each and every one of these awarded projects – whether it be trail enhancements, events, signage, educational programming or one of the many other things we do here at the EMHR – will better the communities in which they take place and the Heritage Region as a whole,” said Chamberlin. “While these are called ‘mini-grants,’ the projects they help fund truly make an astounding impact on our area. We love creating these partnerships and working together to make our region a better place to live, work, and visit, and we look forward to seeing them progress over the next year or so as they work toward completion.”
Rick and Shirley Auden of Laporte get ready to explore the Summit Loop Trail created with an EMHR Partnership Mini-Grant by the Loyalsock Foundation as part of the future Summit Center for Wellness.
Friends of Salt Springs State Park in Susquehanna County used EMHR Partnership Mini-Grant funding in 2022 to expand three trailhead parking areas that were prone to muddy conditions during wet weather.
Artist Cat Badger (above, right) explains the historical aspects of a mural that now adorns the walls of the lobby of the Mattern Building in Mildred, Sullivan County, to WNEP reporter Jon Meyer. The project, proposed by the Sullivan County Council on the Arts, was a 2022 winner of EMHR Partnership Mini-Grant funding.