Russell-Akeley Life

May is the birth month of both of our daughters, so it is a time of reflection for what has happened in the previous year and what we will do in the future. Our older daughter was almost three years old at the time we moved to Russell, February 12, 1973, so I could accept a job with the U.S. Forest Service, and our younger daughter would be born here in three months. Yikes! That’s 45 years ago. My wife did most of the initial looking for a house. We had both grown up in the same town in southern New Jersey. It was a town with tree-lined streets and about two blocks of shops, split by the local rail line. It was a town with a big Fourth of July parade, games and fireworks each year. Both of us had grown up in houses on residential streets near our local schools, much like the streets in Warren. We were looking for a home with a little more space between the houses and a bigger yard than we had grown up with.

My wife had narrowed our search down to three houses. One was in Russell. The small town atmosphere appealed to us. Downtown Russell was tree-lined at the time with a church, hardware store, laundromat, small grocery store, fire house, post office two service stations and other small shops and offices. The home we selected was on the corner of Ferncliff Drive in Russell. It was part of a small housing development officially called the Yeagle subdivision. The home was two years old when we purchased it from a couple who were moving to a job in eastern Pennsylvania, where they had grown up. Much of the area around Ferncliff Drive was undeveloped. The area behind our home had been an agricultural field and the area which is now Sunset Drive and Werner Drive was an agricultural field. For a while, string beans were grown there. They used mechanical pickers and one could easily fill a shopping bag with string beans left by the mechanical picker. Later, corn was grown on the site.

Ferncliff Drive had only a few houses when we moved there, but over the next few years, others were built. Russell was conveniently about equidistant between Warren and Jamestown, so it was a desirable location in which to live (it is still). In a few more years, houses were built along Werner Drive and what is now Greenbriar Circle. Over on Cider Mill Hill Road, there was another housing development and at the height of land along Route 62, there were housing developments on either side of the road. Back in our neighborhood, the rolling agricultural land adjacent to Greenbriar Circle became Pine Grove Acres. While other homes would be built, much of this development stopped by the end of the 1980s.

Other changes also were afoot. Shopping patterns changed as malls and other commercial developments occurred in the Warren and Jamestown areas outside of “downtown”. One by one the shops in Russell closed as other shopping opportunities occurred and even these opportunities are being challenged by Amazon and other vendors of things we need.

So where are we now? Russell is still a wonderful place to live. Take a drive around the area and I think you will agree with me. But, we have some challenges. We need to redevelop downtown Russell and make it wonderful again. That’s the goal of the ROAR Committee – Revitalization of Akeley and Russell. For a time, folks in Russell put on a Memorial Day Parade, complete with fireworks in the evening. It was an event that pulled our community together. Well, it’s back! From May 26-28, ROAR will present Pine Grove Days. The three-day event will include a 5K Run for ROAR, a Vendor Fair, Kids Zone activities for kids, dedication of the new Liberty St. Bridge, a Pine Grove Days parade, a Corn Hole tournament, a street dance, fireworks, a community picnic, a community worship service and a Memorial Day service. The ROAR Committee has been working very hard to make this a memorable event.

Supervisors’ Report

The supervisors and road master have completed their assessment of the 28 miles of township streets and roads.

From this assessment, priorities for this summer’s maintenance season have been set.

The supervisors anticipate requesting bids for a complete repaving of State Street, the lower half of East Street from Main to its end near Race Street and Woodland Drive. There are some drainage issues on Woodland that will have to be addressed before the paving. Other roads that will receive attention, including spot repairs and seal coating, are: Norberg, Gouldtown and Townline. The road crew also will be cleaning ditches and improving drainage throughout the township. Another project will be the construction of a public parking lot next to the Russell United Methodist Church. The lot will be shared by the church and community. The supervisors have voted to allocate funds for a smaller plow truck to replace the current one, which is reaching the end of its useful life. The new truck will be ordered soon and when completed will arrive fully equipped and ready for work. It is anticipated that the truck will be here by early November.

Several properties in the township are at or nearing the criteria for blighted property or have reached the state of violating the township’s nuisance ordinance. Owners of such property have been asked to clean up their property to avoid further action against them. The supervisors would much rather see property owners take it upon themselves to bring their property up to reasonable standards of care than to initiate further actions against them.

Speaking of cleaning up, the annual Pine Grove Township Clean-up Day will be Saturday, May 19, from 8 a.m. to noon. The cost will be $10 for cars and $20 for pick-ups or small trailers. Remember that tires, paint/chemicals or electronics can not be accepted.

Progress is being made on securing funding for finishing the municipal water system that serves the village of Russell and the immediate surrounding area. It is hopeful the funding will be in place by late summer or early fall, at which time requests for construction bids will be sent out. This work, once completed, will bring the entire system up to current standards and make it a much more reliable system that is easier to maintain.

The township has engaged an engineering firm to locate the sources of entry of ground water into the sanitary sewer system. There is evidence that the township is paying for processing of sewerage that includes large volumes of rainwater. The study should identify specific areas where ground water is entering the system and flowing to the treatment plant in North Warren. Once identified, the sources of penetration will be eliminated. The processing of rainwater is needless and expensive.

PennDOT has begun completion of the newly-constructed Liberty Street Bridge. Work includes placing top soil along the sidewalk and seeding the area. The approaches and bridge itself also will be paved.

For more information on Pine Grove Township activities and public announcements, visit the township’s website at www.pinegrovetownship.org. E-mails can be sent to pinegrovetwp@verizon.net. The township office is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Pine Grove Lions Club

The Lions Club has begun its annual spring sales. Items being sold include: several types of brooms, large and small garbage bags, double- and triple-A batteries and Dan Smith candy bars. The Pine Grove Lions and the Lioness Clubs also will be represented in the Pine Grove Township Days parade.

The Lions soon will be cleaning Larimer Park in Russell to ready it for the summer season. Anyone interested in renting pavilions at the park can do so by calling 757-4525.