Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, Inc.

Annual Picnic at Poole Forge Park

Meeting of July 2, 2017


President Tom Walczak called the meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. welcoming all to our annual picnic. 

New Members and Guests: New members Jean and Anthony Fiore, Jr. were in attendance.  Nice to see longtime member Ortha Klischer and her daughter and son-in-law today.

Tom reminded everyone that copies of the June minutes are available for review.  Approval would be sought later in the meeting. 

Treasurer Bob Kuether read the treasurer’s report for the month of June.   We have 385 members renewed for 2016-17, eight more than a year ago.


Pat Cook attended the New York Covered Bridge Society meeting at Myers Covered Bridge (NY-55-D).  She also saw Newfield (NY-55-01) and 3 Romantic Shelters.  Today she saw Bitzer’s Mill (PA-36-04) which has a fresh coat of brown paint.

Pam Mailey saw Aline (PA-55-04) and says it really needs help, lots of overgrown weeds, broken boards and in desperate need of painting.

Joe McCarthy reported that his company completed its work on Sheeder-Hall (PA-15-12) this past Friday.  The State will spray fire retardant and paint the bridge.  It will be another 2-3 weeks before it is open to traffic.  He said ¼ of the wood for Blenheim (NY-48-01) has been shipped.  Work continues in his shop and on site.  He thanked Ray and all that helped for a great safari!

Ortha Klischer spoke to the group about how much she has enjoyed being a part of the society and the many events and meetings she’s attended through the years.  She turns 94 this week.  This is probably the last meeting she will be able to attend.  The group sang Happy Birthday to her.


President Tom Walczak participated in the safari to Bedford and Somerset counties last month.  Kudos to all who helped in planning that great safari.  He announced we are open for suggestions for safari locations for next year.  He thanked Dawn and Jerry from Historic Poole Forge for use of the picnic area.

First Vice President, Jim Smedley and Gloria conducted their first presentation session at Kurtz’s Mill Bridge with the group of ESL students (English as Second Language) last Tuesday and it went very well.  This group was a small group of about 12 but they had many questions for us.  Their next session is a larger group of about 25 on July 11th and they finish with a group of 100 students on July 25th.

Newsletters were mailed on June 15th so you should all have them by now.  The deadline for fall issue of PA Crossings is October 1st, the date of our meeting and dinner fundraiser in Manheim.


Second Vice President, Ray Finkelstein thanked all who helped him with the safari.  He gave a presentation last week at Luthercrest retirement community with about 60 people in attendance.

Third Vice President, Steve Wolfhope attended last month’s safari where he saw the bridges in Bedford and Somerset counties.  He’s planning a trip in a couple weeks to see all the bridges in Georgia and Alabama, weather permitting.

Fourth Vice President, Tim McLaughlin complimented Ray on a great safari which he thoroughly enjoyed.  On the way home from safari he and Connie saw Shaffer’s (PA-56-11).  Since then they have seen Gibson’s (PA-15-10) which has been re-opened, Speakman #1 (PA-15-05), Sheeder-Hall, Kennedy (PA-15-13 #2) which has more missing portal boards, Rapp’s (PA-15-14) and Knox (PA-15-15 #2) which are both looking good.

Recording Secretary, Gloria Smedley encouraged members to join our society facebook page for information and photos of events and news.  She mentioned that our newest member who is here today, Anthony Fiore, is a Facebook celebrity with his many videos of his visits to covered bridges.

Corresponding Secretary / Program Chair Pamela A. Heisey – No report.

Treasurer Bob Kuether commented on what a great job Ray did organizing and leading the safari.  He announced our 2018 calendars are available today.  He ordered 400 and has already sold almost half of them in two months.  He and Judy made a trip to New York to pick up a collection of items from a New York Covered Bridge Society member who had passed away.  He thanked Gloria Smedley for selling $200 worth of patches on eBay for the society last month.

Historian Fred J. Moll – At the Anniversary Dinner Fred mentioned that covered bridges are being more recognized for their scenic beauty and as a favorite backdrop for photographers.  In the Reading Eagle of June 8, 2017 this was again true. He showed a copy of an article. The photograph was of a group of young people called The Green Reiders, who were bicycling cross country from Central Park in New York City to Seattle.  They stopped and camped out for two nights next to the Pleasantville Bridge.  Their mission was to encourage people to grow their own food, plant fruit trees, and plant flowers, and while traveling across the country they do good deeds. While here in Berks County, they weeded, mulched, and planted flowers in flower beds along Penn Street, the main street in Reading.   

On June 15th, he and Ray were invited to attend a PennDOT Statewide Conference on Heritage, held in Carlisle.  They were to speak and discuss our Society’s thoughts on PennDOT’s Section 106 meetings and how they could be improved.  During a break a woman asked us how our Society got started.  She was interested in starting a Society herself to help save iron bridges.  Fred and Ray gave her some encouragement and some good ideas.  In the afternoon they visited the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing at Latimore Valley.  Neither one of them was there before and found the museum quite interesting.  And at night they attended races at Williams Grove Speedway.  They left Fleetwood at 6 in the morning and returned home after midnight, over 18 hours later.  Fred believed they both had a good time and for a change of pace they did not see one covered bridge during their travels.           


REPORTS OF ILLNESSES OR DEATHS – Charter Member Harold Sitler passed away.

OLD BUSINESS: Ideas for next safari:  Adams Co. & MD, Southeastern Ohio, Upper VT, Western OH.

NEW BUSINESS:  Details of our Pasta Fundraiser Dinner to be held at the October 1nd meeting have appeared in PA Crossings.  Gloria encouraged members to sign up and bring a friend.

COVERED BRIDGE ITEMS – Greg Williams showed a covered bridge puzzle he found at the Dollar Tree and covered bridge bookends from the Burning Bridges Antique shop in Columbia.  Tina Chandler bought a glow-in-the-dark puzzle and saw coffee urns at the convenience store with covered bridges on them.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  Minutes of the June meeting were approved as presented.

NEXT MEETING: Our Next Meeting will be held on Sunday, August 6th at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Manheim.

ADJOURNMENT:  The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.  Everyone gathered near the bridge for the group photo.

Respectfully Submitted by Recording Secretary, Gloria Smedley

July 7, 2017