The Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, Inc.

Monthly Business Meeting

Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, Manheim, PA

Sunday, March 5, 2017


President Tom Walczak called the meeting to order at 2:04 p.m.  He thanked Jim Smedley for conducting the meeting last month as Tom was out sick.  He led us in the pledge of allegiance.




Tom reminded members the minutes are in the box in the back for review and approval later.


TREASURER’S REPORT:  We have two new members:  Jeffrey Donat of Allentown, PA and Esther-Ruth Kester of Belleville, IL.  We have 377 members renewed for 2016-17, 10 more than 1 year ago.



Joe McCarthy showed the group a computerized drawing of plans for Blenheim Bridge (NY-48-01) that was done by the design team.  The design calls for 1750 pieces of wood, over 150,000 board feet.  The first truck load is expected next week.  Abutments will be redone.  The bridge will be raised higher than its original height off the water.  Joe visited Sheeder-Hall (PA-15-12) last week to take a look at the work needed to be done by the company he works for.  It was crowded with fisherman as it is the #1 trout place to fish in the area.  The work on this bridge needs to be done quickly.

Connie McLaughlin drove over Smith’s Bridge (DE-01-02 #2) and says it looks good.  She talked about seeing pictures of Thompson’s cement bridge in Brandywine on Facebook when it was a covered bridge.

Pat Cook saw 6 romantic shelters while on vacation in Florida.  She also posted an article on the bulletin board highlighting the covered bridges of Southeastern PA.


President Tom Walczak – Last Sunday Tom visited Kidd’s Mill (PA-43-01) in Mercer County. He is on the board of the Shenango County Conservancy.  Kidd’s Mill is in dire need of repairs.  Fundraising efforts are underway with the County.  They had received a grant from the state for $120,000 but actual estimates of work are over $159,000, partially due to environmental protection matters concerning muscles in the water.  Shenango Conservancy couldn’t fund the project entirely so they asked the county for help.  The County offered $12,000.  In the end, the Conservancy was dissolved and the bridge project turned over to the County – it’s their problem now.  As of last week, the roof was sagging on the west side.  Minor emergency repairs were done last Fall so the bridge survived the winter.

Yesterday Tom stopped at the MD Visitors Center west of Frederick.  He asked for information on covered bridges and was surprised to find the employee was very helpful and well informed on the bridges.  Jim Smedley noted he had been contacted by someone at that Center and had sent them information on the bridges some time ago.  Joe McCarthy noted that he helped to build that center.

First Vice President Jim SmedleyRoddy Road Bridge is completed as of mid February except for top coat of paint, headache bars, fire alarm system and finishing some flooring.  Everything in the bridge is new with the possible exception of the top chords. It is a replica bridge built to historical specifications.  The National Society has designated it a #2 bridge.

After he and Gloria picked up the newsletter last month they stopped by a few bridges with Bob and Judy Kuether on their way home.  Moods Bridge (PA-09-07 #2) looks nice except it could us a fresh coat of paint on the portal boards. South Perkasie (PA-09-05) looks good, as does Pine Valley Bridge (PA-09-12).

This Wednesday he and Gloria will be doing a presentation for senior citizens at the Chiques Church of the Brethren here in Manheim.  The presentation is the one Jim did for our society a few years ago titled “Agnes Destroyed our Bridges.”  He has modified it a little taking out some of the more detailed or technical info about covered bridges and adding in some information about our Society.

The deadline for PA Crossings is June 4th, the weekend of our safari in Bedford County, PA.

Second Vice President Ray Finkelstein  -  On the 17, 18, and 19th Bob Kuether, Steve Wolfhope and Ray visited the bridges of the Safari working on getting the route set up.  Ray visited Bogert’s on one of our warm days 2/23/2017 while taking a walk, got inspired, and will shortly have information hopefully by next meeting on directly who has the power to rehab Bogert’s.  Ray will draft a letter and is requesting that members send the letter in support.   He also plans to attend a Commissioners Meeting and voice our concerns in getting the bridge repaired.  We do have more backing than I thought and grants are being requested.  This year the Friends of the Allentown Parks is combining the Cherry Blossom Festival in Allentown and Bogert’s Rehab all in one.  It will take place on April 29th.  Ray put information up front for this event.  He will  have a table at the event.   Tuesday May 2nd is the 7th Annual Community Day at the Lower Macungie Township Center.  Ray will man a table to again encourage people to visit Covered Bridges especially in the Lehigh Valley and to join the Society. This is a non-selling event. 

Third Vice President Steve Wolfhope accompanied Ray Finkelstein and Bob Kuether on a 3 day trip to Bedford and Somerset Counties to help with continued planning of our safari.

Fourth Vice President Tim McLaughlin – Tim visited several bridges in the past month including Speakman  #1 (PA-15-05), Wertz (PA-06-06), Poole Forge (PA-36-01) and Knox (PA-15-15 #2).  Today he saw Bitzers (PA-36-04).  It looks like the exterior has been stained light green. (Joe McCarthy noted that this is likely fire retardant that has been applied to the bridge.)  The bridge seems to lean downstream, both portals and wingwall have been shored up and covered with tarps.

Historian Fred J. Moll will be giving two covered bridge programs this month.  The first program is on March 8th for the Berks County Parks Department for their volunteers who help guide visitors in the park and around the Wertz’s/Red Covered Bridge area.  They want to know more about covered bridges and their covered bridge in particular.  This is not a public program and is not being advertised so there will be a small group attending.  Half of his presentation will be talking about the history of the bridge and the other half of the program will be a short Power Point presentation on other bridges along the Tulpehocken Creek.              The second program is for the Scottish Rites people and is on March 15th.  As far as Fred knows this also is just for their members and he has been invited to have lunch with them before his presentation.  He will present his regular Berks County Covered Bridge program for them.    

Recording Secretary Gloria Smedley – no report.

Corresponding Secretary/Program Chair Pam Heisey - No report.

Treasurer Robert Kuether  - no report.


REPORTS OF ILLNESSES OR DEATHS – Tom posted 3 obituaries on the bulletin board: William (Bill) Jeffrey, Charles (Chuck) DeVenney, and Marcia Shanafelt.   Chuck purchased our first set of red safety flags for our safaris.

Tom received a Christmas card from Helen Small (wife of Roger Small) in which she noted that she had celebrated her 100th birthday back in November.



Safari Update by Ray Finkelstein:

·         Safari is June 3,4 and 5.

·         Our monthly business meeting will be held Friday Evening at the motel. 

·         Motel info is in the latest PA Crossing Newsletter.

·         When making reservation please tell them you are part of the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society.

·         Shirts will have the Dr. Knisley Bridge (PA-05-16) on them and can be ordered thru Sunday April 2nd.  Shirt color is navy blue. Group picture will be at the Dr. Knisley Bridge which we will visit on Saturday. (Please wear your safari shirts).

·         Ray placed some forms up front for both the safari and shirts (and Anniversary Dinner).

·         We will not visit Palo Alto Bridge.

·         The final routing is not set yet.  Ray is hoping to go back at the end of March. 


NEW BUSINESS – Connie McLaughlin was appointed to the East Fallowfield Township Historical Commission.  The township is trying to get the Mortonville Bridge on Strasburg Road refaced with stone on the side that faces the road instead of the naked Jersey barriers. The Township doesn't have the money so they are trying to find Grants that we can apply for so if anyone is aware of anything, let me know.



APPROVAL OF MINUTES – February minutes were approved as presented.

NEXT MEETING - Our Next Meeting and Bake Sale will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Sunday, April 2, 2017.  The program will be “Highlights of Our Trip to New England in 2016” by Tim and

Connie McLaughlin. 


 ADJOURNMENT:  The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m. following a presentation of the movie “The Last Covered Bridges of Pennsylvania”.


Respectfully Submitted by Gloria Smedley, Recording Secretary

March 17, 2017