Places of worship have been important to residents of Pine Grove since the earliest days of settlement in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Travel was difficult in those early years, so small groups of like-minded folks met in each other’s homes for worship. By about 1830, circuit-riding preachers of Methodist, Baptist and Brethren faiths contributed to the religious life of Pine Grove residents. In the mid-1800s, as roads were built and transportation became easier, a number of small church structures were built. Some served for only a few years, while others survived and their congregations grew.
The log school at the corner of Fox Hill and Akeley Hollow Road served Russell Methodists from 1852 until 1853, when a group of 48 members decided to build a new church on Main St. in downtown Russellburg. Land at the present day church location was purchased in 1854 and a new church was built. For a time, the new church building was rented to members of other denominations for their worship services. The new church became known as the “Russell Union Church” and later as the Russellburg Methodist Church. When the town changed its name from Russellburg to Russell in 1883, the church changed its name to the Russell Methodist Episcopal Church. By 1903, remodeling of the church was needed, so it was reroofed, a choir room built and a new steeple was erected.
As early as the 1850s, it was the custom in the Methodist Church for the denomination to designate the church pastor. When a group in nearby Akeley wanted to organize another Methodist church in 1917, the pastor at the Russell church took on responsibility for the Akeley congregation, too. Between 1917 and 1920, the congregation met in the Akeley Grange Hall. In 1920, when the one-room schoolhouse on Akeley Road was vacated, the Akeley Methodist Church purchased the structure and remodeled it both inside and outside.
Back in Russell, remodeling projects occurred in 1922, when a balcony and choir loft was added to the sanctuary. A basement classroom was added in 1940 and enlarged in 1954. A separate educational building known as Wesley Hall was added in 1964. In 1968, the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form the United Methodist Church. Perhaps the greatest structural change to the Russell Church was the addition of a recreational wing on the south side of the main church structure in 2015.
In addition to denominational churches, Pine Grove Township includes several non-denominational churches, including Cable Hollow Evangelical Church, Calvary Chapel of Russell / River of Life, Faith Bible Chapel, Gouldtown Community Church, Praise! Fellowship and the Wiltsie Community Church. Thanks to Karen Martin for help with the history of the Russell United Methodist Church.
ROAR December Meeting
The ROAR Committee met for its regular monthly meeting at the town office building on December 3, 2018. Quotes for the proposed sidewalk project are still being received. Thus far, only one of the three requested quotes has been received. Replacement of sidewalks in downtown Russell is proposed for this spring when there is warmer weather.
Details of ROAR’s 501c3 application are still being completed. The application should be complete early in 2019.
The ROAR Committee thanks everyone who has given financial support to ROAR during the 2018 calendar year. Thanks also are due to everyone who helped with ideas, their time and any other commitment to ROAR, especially the First Annual Pine Grove Days celebration. Your support is greatly appreciated.
The Hometown Christmas and the tree lighting both were a great success. After the tree lighting, many folks returned to Russell United Methodist Church for soup and pie. The Barber Shoppers and Chautauqua Shores Singers serenaded participants as they ate. A good time was had by all. Plans are presently being made for “Breakfast with the Easter Bunny” this spring. At the January ROAR meeting development of plans for the 2019 Pine Grove Days festival will begin.
The next ROAR meeting will be held on Monday, January 7, 2019, at the Pine Grove Township Office building at 6:30 pm. If you have ideas for ROAR or would like to get involved in ROAR activities, you are invited to attend. A special invitation is being made to Pine Grove residents to attend the February 4, 2019 meeting at 6:30 pm to bring ideas to ROAR. The place of the meeting will be announced in these pages and on the Township website.
As mentioned in last month’s report, the remaining work on the State Street reconstruction will take place in the spring. This will include repairs to lawns and sidewalks, further improvements to drainage and application of a seal coat. Safety markers soon will be placed along sections of the street where deep, uncovered ditches remain. The repairs to the Big Four Road Bridge have been completed. The repairs to the underpinning address PennDOT safety concerns about the bridge.
Next maintenance season, the township anticipates reconstruction of Pine Street and the lower end of East Street. These projects will be bid out. The township maintenance crew will focus on the oiling and sealing of selected roads, as well as routine summer road maintenance. Also, PennDOT will undertake replacement of the bridge at the end of the Egypt Hollow Road. It is likely the construction of the new bridge will begin in early spring.
The number of township road maintenance equipment pieces has outgrown the available storage space. Additionally, it has been difficult to store and preserve road salt. To address these issues, the township is planning on construction of a combination salt storage and equipment storage building. A request for bids will go out soon with the construction of the building to take place this spring or summer.
With the coming of the winter maintenance season, the township will do its best to keep all of the 28 miles of our streets and roads open and safe. However, we are faced with one of our major pieces of snow removal equipment reaching the end of its useful life. The maintenance crew is doing an outstanding job of keeping it running while waiting for its replacement to arrive. We expect the new plow truck, which was ordered in July, to arrive any day now. If residents have concerns about road conditions, please contact the township office at 757-8112. We will do our best to respond to your concern.
The replacement of approximately 25 sodium vapor street lights with LED lamps is about complete. LED lights are much brighter than traditional sodium vapor lights and use less electricity. Resident feedback about the new lights is encouraged. We anticipate eventually replacing all 90 or so street lights with LED lamps over time.
At the December Supervisors’ Meeting, a 2019 budget of $589,350.00 was passed. The budget does have a small, projected deficit of $1950.00. The budget includes the construction costs of the storage shed, upgrades to road maintenance equipment, annual road maintenance costs and reconstruction costs of identified streets and roads. Also, the annual audit of the township’s financial records will begin soon. This will be for the fiscal year 2018.
The township’s municipal authority has been approved for a low-interest loan to complete upgrades to the water system. The bid has been awarded, and construction should start after the first of the year. It’s anticipated the project should be completed within three or four weeks. The improvements will help with water quality and reliability of the system.
As previously reported, the township continues to address concerns about delinquent water and sewer bills, blighted and neglected property, concerns about the dike at the mouth of Johnny Run and water infiltration into the sanitary sewer system.
We remind all township residents that minutes of Supervisor’s Meetings are posted on the township website at www.pinegrovetownship.org. Emails can be sent to email@example.com.
From all Pine Grove Township Supervisors and employees, we wish all a very happy and safe Holiday Season.