Russell-Akeley Life


I suspect that by this time of the year most residents of Russell and Akeley are tired of winter, snow and low temperatures and eager for spring to come with flowers and moderate temperatures. Many of us still have not forgotten the winter of 2016-2017 when there were many days with below zero temperatures and a few that reached 30 degrees below zero. I remember one of these days on which we had chosen to begin a trip to Florida. In the early hours of a late February morning, I went into the garage to start the car. The car thermometer read 30 degrees below zero and the tire pressure light on the dashboard was on, indicating that our tires were underinflated. That day, the temperature did not go above zero until we crossed into North Carolina.

Perennial plants often respond to stresses such as low temperature by producing larger than usual flower and seed crops – a survival mechanism. In 2017, sugar maple trees had very large flower and seed crops throughout the northeastern – United States in response to these unusually low temperatures. This resulted in an unusually large crop of sugar maple seedlings in the spring of 2018. Dogwood and spruce trees in our area had a similar response.

From the earliest days of our county, unusual climatic events have been recorded. Warren County archivist, Francis Ramsey, recorded the events of “The Year Without A Summer.” July 3, 1817, was a nice day, but by evening, streams were frozen. There was a heavy frost over the region and this extremely cold weather lasted all summer. Tree leaves fell prematurely and crops were destroyed. The situation became dire as food supplies began to run out throughout the area. Many people would have perished, except for the actions of Robert Falconer, an early Sugar Grove settler from Scotland, whose business was the export of cotton. Falconer arranged for food to be shipped into the area, which undoubtedly saved the lives of many area residents.

During the winter of 1840, six feet of snow had fallen by the end of January – remember snow removal was more difficult then than now.

On June 4, 1859, snow began to fall at about 11 am. By 4 p.m. there were two inches of snow on the ground. About 4:30 p.m. the snow began to melt, but as the storm clouds cleared the temperature dropped into the 20s. Crops froze overnight and by morning tree leaves were falling.

The winter of 1916 saw several weeks straight of below zero weather with two feet of ice on the Conewango Creek and the Allegheny River.

A hail storm occurred August 4, 1920, that flattened grain fields between Russell and Fentonville, N.Y. Hailstones on Fox Hill drifted to a depth of 12 inches. On level ground, it was five to seven inches deep.

Most of us will remember, where we were and what we were doing on the evening of May 31, 1985, when a tornado roared across Pennsylvania from Albion to State College, knocking down trees and houses. My wife and I were at the Sheffield Rod and Gun Club, celebrating the retirement of a Forest Service colleague. There were perhaps 60 people at the Club when all of a sudden, the wind began to blow very hard, rattling windows and doors; sleet and hail pelted the building. Then, as suddenly as it had come, the wind stopped. The tornado had come within several miles of the club. It wasn’t clear until the next day what had happened. Many acres of trees in the path of the storm were blown down, and in some communities, houses were damaged and lives lost.

Perhaps, when we compare the cold and snow of this winter with winters of the past things are not so bad after all. It will not be long before we trade snow shovels for rakes and lawnmowers.


Revitalization of

Akeley and Russell


Remember us? Once a best-kept secret, ROAR is gaining notoriety. Fund Raisers and generous donations from businesses and individuals are the lifelines of our financial support. Our recent event, Breakfast with the Easter Bunny was a great success, with more than 100 tickets sold. However, our biggest and very successful community event was Pine Grove Days 2018. The Pine Grove Days 2019 celebration is in the planning stages now. The day’s events will be held in downtown Russell and Larimer Park, on Saturday, May 25, of Memorial weekend.

Vendors will be offering their goods and services all day. Imagine the air filled with the aroma of slow roasting BBQ chicken, on a smoky grill, sticky, sweet cotton candy, snow cones, fresh baked goods to name a few. Who doesn’t like the old staple of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs cooked outside? French fries, wraps, tacos, etc, will arouse your appetite for sure and possibly cause a hasty return for seconds. Elanias’ Pizza will be offering several specials. ROAR will be, selling T-shirts. Vendors can rent a 12 ft x 12 ft space for $25 and can begin setup at 7 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. For vendor contact, call Mark and Faye Schwanke at 757-9469 or Linda Nelson at (814) 730-2868.

To quench your thirst, refreshing, ice cold lemonade will be sold for $1.00 a large cup and you can keep the cup with the Pine Grove Days logo as a souvenir. Certainly, a great deal. Bottled water and pop will be available from the Boy Scouts, as well. Handmade craft items, paintings, and jewelry made by local artisans will be on hand for looking and purchasing. The Trading Post will offer items of yesteryear about which you will assuredly say, “I had one of those” or “I remember that.” A flea market will be set up near the Trading Post for your “looking pleasure,” as well.

For those with way too much energy, Kids Korner will feature two bouncy houses, Marty Loomis’ Bubblegum Machine, and a Magic show. We would like to include more of the kids’ activities. If you have any ideas, let Linda know at (814) 730-2868.

What is a Celebration without a Parade? Don’t worry, the parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Woodland Drive near Route 62 and proceed to Main St. to State St. to Perrigo St. and end at the Russell Volunteer Fire Department. The parade will feature a Grand Marshall who will lead, followed by Fire trucks, Boy and Girl Scouts, tractors, vintage vehicles, Farrah Grotto Trikes, Little Miss and Little Mr. contestants and the Fair Queen. Rescue Dogs, Conewango Township K-9 Officer “Nic”, Sheriff’s Department, Fairy Tale Troupe, Kazoo Band, etc. We are still looking for a marching band. If you would like to be in the parade that day, contact Katie Walker at (814) 730-6614 or Deb at (814) 706-1878.

Are you on the competitive side? The 5K race will be right down your alley. Bring your running/walking shoes, you know, the ones with the wings on the sides, as the race will begin at 9 a.m. on Main Street with registration at 8 a.m. The course will proceed thru scenic southern Russell from East St., south on Main St. to Woodland Drive to Williams St., cross Werner Drive to Greenbriar Circle and return to Main St. to Liberty St. to Conewango St. to East St. and finish on Main St. at the place the race started. Registration is at 8 a.m. The first person to register will receive a free T-shirt. The cost of registration is $15 if you register before May 1 and $20 after May 1. Online registration is available on Facebook.

For competition skills on the lighter side, a Corn Hole Team Tournament will be held at Larimer Park in Downtown Russell with cash prizes for first, second and third places. Registration is at 1:00 pm and the competition starts at 2 p.m. Never underestimate the dexterity of tossing those little bags of corn kernels into a round hole. The Chairperson is Deb at (814) 706-1878.

The Bloodmobile will again be available in the Russell United Methodist Church parking lot for those who want to donate.

If by chance you have been known to “cut a rug”, a Street Dance will be held on Main St., with DJ Mike of Sharp’s Roller Rink on Route 62 in Russell, spinning your favorite tunes. This will be a great opportunity to hone your Disco, Jitterbug and latest dance moves.

New this year is the Little Miss ROAR and Little Mr. ROAR pageant. Contestants will ride in the parade with crowning taking place at noon in the Kids Korner area. For entry forms and information, contact Vicki at (814) 757-8074, (814) 757-8379, (814) 706-2104 or stop in at the Trading Post in downtown Russell during open hours.

Demonstrations will include, Civil War Medical procedures, Boy Scout Knot Tying and more to be announced.

Everyone, young and old alike, will enjoy those colorful bombardments in the sky, simply put – Fireworks. This year’s display is will be sparked by Jim Lauffenburger. It will be a fitting Grand Finale to this Second Pine Grove Days Community Celebration. Bring a chair and your oohs and aahs!

Donations are always welcome as are volunteers for Saturday, May 25. Checks can be made out to ROAR PO Box 303, Russell, PA 16345. Donations for Fireworks must say FIREWORKS ONLY.

Mark your calendars and plan to attend PINE GROVE DAYS 2nd ANNUAL COMMUNITY CELEBRATION sponsored by ROAR and the generosity of Russell United Methodist Church.

May Supervisors Report

At a supervisors’ meeting a few months ago, several residents asked if it was necessary for the township to participate in the Warren County Planning and Zoning program. The supervisors agreed to look at this issue, which they have done. The supervisors will invite those residents expressing concerns about the township’s zoning program to an informal meeting to discuss the findings of the supervisor’s review. Also, any interested township resident is welcome to attend this meeting. The meeting will be scheduled sometime in May and the date posted on the township’s website.

The Board of Supervisors has agreed to support the tax relief program (LERTA) being proposed by Commissioner Jeff Eggleston. The supervisors will be issuing a letter of support for the township’s involvement and support of this program.

Some items of interest and importance to township residents are: Pine Grove Clean-up Day is set for Saturday, May 11. The cost will be $10 for cars and $20 for pick-ups and trailers.

The following materials cannot be accepted: oil, paint, propane tanks, hazardous waste, yard waste, tires, batteries, electronics, household garbage and items that can be routinely recycled. Replacement of the bridge at the entrance to Egypt Hollow Road from Priest Hollow will begin on April 15. This necessitates the closure of the approach to Egypt Hollow Road from Priest Hollow Road. Construction on upgrades to the municipal water system in Russell will begin in May. The work should cause minimal disruption to traffic. As reported in last month’s article, the large tree blocking the mouth of Johnny Run is a serious concern. To address this problem, the township will be able to obtain a permit to deal with the tree and restore the bank which has been eroded due to the tree. Work will take place on this once the permit is received and the water in Johnny Run is at low flow. The supervisors continue to work on prioritizing road maintenance and upgrades for this spring and summer. Once the plan is finalized and funding in place, the schedule of the road work will be placed on our website and reported in our Russell Life article. The schedule also can be seen in the minutes of Supervisors’ meetings which are posted on the township’s website.

As a reminder, township residents are encouraged to attend meetings of the board of supervisors. The meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

If any resident would like to formally speak at a supervisors meeting, please call the township office at 757-8112 to be placed on the agenda. Minutes of supervisors’ meetings also are posted on the township website. Additionally, resident concerns or communications with the township can be sent via email to pinegrovetwp@verizon.net. The township’s website is www.pinegrovetownship.org.

Russell Volunteer

Fire Department

The Russell Volunteer Fire Department continues to achieve outstanding response rates to emergency medical service (EMS) calls. For the month March, the department achieved a 90% response rate for 19 EMS calls. The department also responded to four general alarms in March. For the first quarter of 2019, it responded to 17 general alarms and 56 EMS calls with an 89% response rate for EMS calls. The department also has been successful in recruiting new volunteers. By the end of April, the department will have three additional members trained in interior firefighting and one exterior firefighter. Additionally, there is the potential of two more EMTs joining.

Pine Grove Lions Club

The Pine Grove Lions Club will once again be selling brooms, garbage bags, and batteries in their annual spring fundraiser. Door to door sales will begin the week of April 22 and continue for several weeks. The sales will cover the Russell, Akeley, Lander and Sugar Grove areas. The club will be cleaning and preparing Larimer Park for the summer season.


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