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CLOSE QUARTERS -- Troop 97 tours scary prison, decorated battleship

ship5 18 16Submitted photo -- Attending Troop 97’s campout on the USS New Jersey, a floating city that’s more than three football fields long, were, from left: Mason Swartz, Owen Wealand, Suzie Hoyt, Kyle Hoyt, Jennifer Mills, Bryce Mills, Chris Hoyt, Jason O’Donnell, Ben Spangenberg, Bill Lee, CJ Kiessling, Mitch Lee, Joshua Brion, Matt Pauley, Stacey Swartz, Cole Carlson, Garrett Little, Alex Hatt and Jake O’Donnell.

It is a haunting world of crumbling cell blocks and guard towers, once home to notorious gangster Al Capone and bank robber “Slick Wille’’ Sutton. But the creepiness of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia didn’t deter Londonderry Twp.’s Boy Scout Troop 97 for a tour of the famously scary prison.

The troop took a private tour that allowed them to enter holding cells, punishment cells, the operating room, the exercise yard, the chaplain’s office and the synagogue. The scouts learned about tunnels that were dug by Sutton and 11 other prisoners in 1945 as a futile means for escape.

Only one inmate ever escaped the prison, and he was never caught.

The prison operated with a solitary confinement policy from its opening in 1829 to 1913, when the policy was abolished for being inhumane. Solitary confinement returned to the prison from 1929 to 1956. The prison was closed in 1971 due to disrepair and then reopened as a museum in 1994.

Eastern State has an eerie aura about its hallways. It’s not surprising that it is said to be haunted.

The troop then camped overnight in the USS New Jersey, a battleship moored in nearby Camden, N.J. Scouts stowed their gear in the same lockers that held sailor’s personal belongings when at sea, slept in the same bunks as the enlisted sailors and chowed down in the crew’s mess hall.

The battleship is 11 stories high and almost three football fields long. The “Black Dragon,” as she is called, played key roles in World War II,  and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars during her years of active service between 1943 and 1991. With 19 Battle and Campaign Stars, the USS New Jersey is the nation’s most decorated battleship and surviving warship.

The troop participated in the presentation of colors flag ceremony on board the ship, toured the ship’s 16-inch gun turrets, brig, laundry and the combat engagement center and relaxed in the captain’s and admiral’s quarters.

The scouts and Assistant Scout Master Chris Hoyt, presented a commemorative plaque to the ship’s officers that Hoyt made for the visit. The plaque was displayed in the ship’s museum section even before the scouts left.

For more information on Troop 97, call Kevin Little at 717-944-1957 or Ted Pauley at 717-944-2766. Troop 97 is sponsored by the Londonderry Fire Company.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 15:38

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Members 1st donates $25,000 to Big 33 Buddy Program

checkphoto5 18 16Submitted photo -- Members 1st Federal Credit Union associates present a $25,000 donation to Big 33 Foundation officials and Big 33 players.

Members 1st Federal Credit Union donated $25,000 to the Big 33 Foundation, the promoter the annual Big 33 high school football all-star game, for the foundation’s Buddy Program.

The Buddy Program pairs special needs children with athletes in the foundation’s all-star sports events – the football classic and the Big 26 high school baseball all-star contest. The children share time with the athletes both on and off the practice field during game week. The Buddy Program was started in 1985.

Members 1st raised the money for the program through in-branch sales and two special events – a 5K run and its Community Carnival – during the month of April.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 15:17

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Angels of Mercy gives roses, cards to mothers at Middletown Home

angelsphoto5 18 16Submitted photo -- Angels of Mercy founder Maria Frisby, second from right, and member Billy Nolen, left, present Mother’s Day roses and cards to residents at the Middletown Home.

Members of Angels of Mercy gave Middletown Home residents Mother’s Day roses and cards on Sunday, May 8.

Maria Frisby, founder of the group, and Billy Nolen presented the flowers and cards to mothers who live at the Lower Swatara Twp. home.

Frisby also recited a poem, “Happy Mother’s Day,’’ that she wrote for the residents.
Angels of Mercy attempts to reach out to people to spread a message of peace and love. Frisby is a former Ms. Pennsylvania 2004.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 15:08

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Out & About: Middletown Area High School Middletown Area Middle School Choral Spring Concert

directorkelley5 18 16

Stephen Sondheim, the award-winning composer and lyricist of Broadway and film, is so passionate about music that he once declared, “If I cannot fly, let me sing.’’

Students at Middletown Area High School and Middletown Area Middle School joined voices to express their passion for music at their Choral Spring Concert on Tuesday, May 12 at the middle school.

The high school chorus, Grade 6 chorus and the Grade 7 and 8 chorus performed. Andrew Vensel is the high school’s choral director and Nicole Kelley is the middle school’s choral director.

To see more photos by Jodi Ocker of the concert, check out our print edition or click here for our E-edition

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 14:32

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Carlson earns Life Scout rank

colephoto5 11 16Submitted photo -- New Life Scout Cole Carlson plans to move up to the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, and is considering required community service projects that would benefit his grandfather and other residents of the Middletown Home.

Cole Carlson, of Boy Scout Troop 97 in Londonderry Twp., has earned the rank of Life Scout, the culmination of 23 merit badges, 180 hours of volunteer work and eight years of scouting.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 15:54

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