Heritage Region Nets $213K Grant from DCNR

Direct Dennis/Perkins descendant Daryl Gore (top) stands next to the newly excavated foundation of the Perkins homestead, which may have been used in its later years as a refuge for African Americans escaping slavery. Funding leveraged by the Endless Mountains Heritage Region helped to make the projects like this, the electrification of the iconic caboose at the Sayre Historical Society Museum (above), and the completion of a second “Telling Wyoming County’s History” mural (below) possible.

Staff and board members of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) were delighted to learn recently that the organization that serves and promotes heritage assets in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties will receive $213,750 in Community Conservation Partnership Program (C2P2) funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

Though not as much as last year’s allocation of $242,000, the amount still ranks among the highest allocations ever received by the EMHR and was more than anticipated as the coronavirus health crisis puts stress on the state’s budget, as well as those of businesses, nonprofit organizations, families, and individuals.

The EMHR is incredibly grateful to be receiving such a substantial grant from the DCNR, particularly in these ambiguous and challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin remarked. “This state funding allows the EMHR to financially assist so many heritage-related organizations and projects across the four county area.”

The EMHR’s high ranking again among the 12 designated PA Heritage areas is equally flattering, Chamberlin noted. “It is very humbling to our team, and we thank the DCNR for their continued support of the work we do.”

This has been a difficult year for non-profit organizations,” said EMHR administrative assistant Vanessa Billings-Seiler. “This funding is so much more than just money. It allows the EMHR the opportunity to work along side Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties and their heritage, agriculture and river projects.”

With such and unexpected year and the competitive nature of grant funding, no one knew what the result would be,” said Robyn Cummings, executive director of the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency. “Cain and his team have been very successful in transitioning their mission into action through heritage events, new partnerships, increased memberships and historic preservation.” Jean Ruhf of the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau echoed Cummings’ sentiments.

The funding stream from the DCNR, which is never guaranteed, helps the EMHR to continue management of the Susquehanna River North Branch Water Trail, conduct an annual Partnerships Grants program to support new and ongoing heritage initiatives, and to complete the second of three phases of an updated Management Action Plan.

The MAP, Chamberlin explained, helps the EMHR achieve sustainability and establish a proposed slate of objectives and actions to implement over the next five to 10 years. “We also have many outdoor events planned for 2021, so we ask the public to stay tuned to our website and social media pages,” he stated. For example, the EMHR hopes to conduct the Sullivan County Hikes & Bikes series that had to be postponed this year.

COVID slowed down some projects proposed by recipients of Partnership Grants in 2019, but most have since been completed or are in their final stages. Among them are the Troy Historical Society’s “History of Troy” Mural. According to project coordinator Bill Brasington, the wall has been prepared, and artist Sarah Edwards will soon be applying iconic images that depict the story of the western Bradford County borough.

The inability to bring together people in groups has required some additional creativity from the Bradford County Regional Arts Council for the “Young Explorers Project.” In an effort to simultaneously connect youths with art, nature and literature, coordinators would usually prepare for an outdoor adventure, a book reading, and a crafts session.

It’s about engaging the senses and learning how to do research too. You really want to get them outside and digging in the dirt and seeing trees,” BCRAC director Elaine Poost explained, noting that participants also maintain journals. “We ask them to record ‘This is what I saw, and this is what I thought about it.’”

Poost is reaching out to previous participants in an effort to get books and art supplies to them and conduct the program virtually. If nobody can get together, she suggested, virtual participation could be limitless. Interested readers can contact Poost at 570-268-2787.

The P.P. Bliss Gospel Songwriter’s Museum in Rome was also a recipient of a grant to enhance curb appeal of the facility in Rome. In addition to composer Philip Bliss, the museum honors a host of heavenly composers who lived in the Bradford County town. “Our little museum really appreciates the support of the EMHR,” said Anne Gardner, whose parents were among its founders and whose grandfather was a friend of Bliss. “We are a very small organization, and we are dependent on donations from our community and from our visitors.”

The support of the EMHR is really important to us because it allowed us to venture into a new area of programming,” Poost related. “The first round of funding allowed us to purchase some science equipment that we will be using for several years.”

The Endless Mountains Heritage Region was established in 1998, serving a 2,850-mile area encompassing the aforementioned counties with the goal of maintaining and enhancing the unique rural character and culture of the Endless Mountains. The many initiatives funded through the EMHR increase the quality of life for our residents and encourage tourism across the region. This year’s DCNR grant will help the EMHR to continue its mission.

For more information, follow the EMHR on Facebook and at www.EMHeritage.org.

Projects at the Sayre Historical Society Museum brought to fruition with assistance from the EMHR this past year included renovation of the attic in the old train station (above) to better serve as storage space for museum archives and new electric wiring for lighting of the iconic caboose (below).

The Bradford County Regional Arts Council has applied for EMHR mini-grants two years in a row to fund the Young Explorers Project. Geared to pair youths with nature, the arts and literature, Young Explorers (below) maintain journals of their experiences and make crafts with natural items.

Recent enhancements at the Historic Dennis Farm near Kingsley supported by EMHR funding include the installation of new interpretive wayfinding signage (below).

Tunkhannock artists Bob Lizza (below) is putting the final touches on the second of three giant mural panels that will soon be applied to the rear of the Dietrich Theater. 

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