The Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, Inc.

Monthly Business Meeting and Annual Picnic

Poole Forge Historic Park

Sunday, September 13, 2020 1:30 p.m.


President Tom Walczak called the meeting to order at 1:37 p.m. welcoming everyone to our first meeting since March and since the pandemic struck.  He mentioned our meetings will follow Covid restrictions especially because of our elderly membership.  For today’s picnic members were asked to abide by Covid guidelines, maintain physical distance, wear masks when closer than 6 feet, and bring their own picnic lunch. We are making plans for future meetings but have nothing definite yet.  We cannot return to the church through the rest of 2020.  He encouraged members to check our social media resources (website, Facebook, email) for information on future meetings and locations. Tom led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.




APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Tom reminded everyone the minutes for last March are available for review and he will ask for approval later in the meeting.


TREASURER’S REPORT:  We have 379 members renewed for 2019-2020.




Tim McLaughlin and Connie visited all the PA bridges last year.  This year they are doing motorcycle trips and filming each bridge as they travel through it. 


Joe McCarthy lived near Speakman #1 in 1980.  During a horseback ride through the area he found the bridge underwater.  Fast forward to today, he encouraged them to raise the bridge during recent rehabilitation but they didn’t take his advice.  During the last hurricane water was up 3-4 feet on the bridge with debris bashing the sides so now it needs new siding.  At Dreibelbis he found some tire marks, burn out, on the floor.




President Tom Walczak has only seen two bridges in passing, Diehl Turner and Heirline, both are okay.  He has not traveled during this pandemic time mostly due to concerns about his elderly dad living with him.


First Vice President Jim Smedley and his wife Gloria took a little road trip in early June to Bedford County to see Packsaddle Bridge after it was rehabilitated and also stopped to see about 6 other bridges in Bedford and Somerset counties.   They also visited Dreibelbis a couple of times during the rehabilitation and also the bridges being repaired in Bucks County.  In July they visited family in Ohio and took a one day trip through southern Indiana to see 7 bridges including the newly built Cedar Ford Bridge in Monroe County.

The deadline for PA Crossings is Sunday October 4, 2020.


Second Vice President Ray Finkelstein – Ray attended the Dreibelbis Covered Bridge Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and said Fred Moll gave a great talk.  He returned this past week to drive through Dreibelbis.  He continues to do his walking where he often sees Bogert’s and Wehr’s covered bridges.

Third Vice President Steve Wolfhope visited Dreibelbis and noted what a nice job they did on the rehabilitation.


Fourth Vice President Rob Griner – Bob was not present but sent his regards via Tina Conn.  He expects to be at the next meeting.


Treasurer Bob Kuether – no report.


Historian Fred Moll  - Back in February Fred wrote a letter to the Berks County Commissioners and gave them suggestions on preventing the constant damage to the height restriction devices at the Pleasantville Bridge.  He suggested moving the devices off of the abutments and installing a camera at the bridge.  He read the response he received from the commissioners. A portion of the letter read “I appreciate your concern for the recent issues with trucks hitting the height restriction devices that are in place causing considerable damage not only to the device, but also to the abutment walls.  This was discussed in our recent bridge meeting and they are proceeding with a plan to move the “headache bar” off the wing walls.  The new headache bar will be designed to have a breakaway feature which will be less costly to repair if it is hit….There was discussion about the possibility of installing a camera.  No decision was made on that at this point, but they are considering it.”


He received an e-mail from a young couple that invited him to visit them.  They moved into Adam Leize’s house near Reading.  It was Adam Leize who built Leize’s Covered Bridge in 1834.  The people were redoing the house back to its original look including uncovering the plaster walls and finding a stone wall and fireplace.  They wanted more information on the surrounding area around the bridge.  What made the visit worthwhile was when they took Fred into their backyard and showed him the original abutments of Leize’s Covered Bridge.  He never saw these abutments before because they were on private property and are covered up with weeds.  There was also visible a center pier sticking out of the center of the Schuylkill River that supported the two span bridge. It was quite interesting.  What kept Shirley and him busy during these boring days of the virus was watching and photographing Joe and his men in the rehabilitation of the Dreibelbis Covered Bridge.  Between the two of then they took 1,627 photographs of the project.  And he also kept a weekly diary of what happened each week at the bridge.  He hopes these will be around 150 years from now when our future generations wonder how the covered bridge was rebuilt.   


Corresponding Secretary Pam Heisey: Not present.  No report


Recording Secretary Gloria Smedley:  No report.


ILLNESSES/DEATHS of MEMBERS:  Condolences go out to Betty Miller who was present today on the death of her husband Curtis.  Martha Heist passed away on May 1st.  Alda Sheib mentioned that Ginny Eyrich had a stroke but is improving. Tina Chandler thanked all those that sent cards after her recent knee surgery.  Connie McLaughlin had a heart attack in the spring and thanked everyone for the cards and well wishes.  Frank Mailey had 3 stents put in his left leg and will return September 23 for same on right leg.  Pam Mailey is undergoing testing for a high resting heart rate.  Arleen Bradley called Tom on his birthday. She will be 92 on her next birthday, Nov. 1st. She wished to be remembered to the group.  Tom’s girlfriend JoAnn sends regards to the group.  In July Olive Jones turned 101.  She has good days and bad days and has a visiting nurse come 2-3 days each week.  Jerry Martin is recovering from a fall.


OLD BUSINESS:  Jim Smedley discussed plans for next year’s safari.  The 2021 Safari tentatively planned for May 22-24 to southeastern Ohio (same as originally planned this year).  He has to contact the motel to see if those dates are available and get new pricing.  General info will appear the October newsletter and more details will be provided in the February 2021 newsletter.


NEW BUSINESS:   Tony Abramo discussed plans for the one day safari he will lead on October 17, 2020 to see Lancaster County bridges.  He thanked Gloria and Jim Smedley for making a couple trips with him and Karen to plan the route for the one day event.  He had a flier available and information will appear in the October issue of PA Crossings.


NEW COVERED BRIDGE ITEMS:  Jim shared details of a new book called ‘Kissing Bridges of Somerset County” by Ronald Bruner.  Jim provided pictures to the author that appear in the book.  It is a good “coffee table” book with lots of nice pictures.  Members can contact Jim if they want details on cost and how to obtain the book. 


Tim McLaughlin announced that Poole Forge’s crock for this year is available.  Any members wishing to purchase one should let Dawn Ekdahl know by the end of the month.  Cost to society members is $65.



Connie McLaughlin of the Nominating Committee conducted the election of officers.  Tom thanked her and Tim McLaughlin for their work on the committee.


A unanimous vote was cast for the officers listed below:

President:  Tom Walczak

First Vice President:  Jim Smedley

Treasurer:  Robert Kuether

Second Vice President:  Ray Finkelstein

Recording Secretary:  Pam Mailey

Third Vice President:  Frank Mailey

Corresponding Secretary/ Program Chairperson:  Pamela Heisey

Fourth Vice President:  Bob Griner

Historian:  Fred Moll


Tom thanked Gloria Smedley and Steve Woldhope for their 6 years each of service as officers.


APPROVAL OF MINUTES – March minutes were approved as presented. 

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 3:15 p.m.

NEXT MEETING – Our next meeting will be held on October 4, 2020.  Location yet to be determined.


50/50 RAFFLE DRAWING – Tom thanked Gloria Smedley for her work on this year’s 50/50 raffle.  The winner of today’s drawing will get $1,194.  The Society made $1,985 on this raffle.  The Society total includes their share of the 50/50 tickets taken in plus numerous donations also submitted during the raffle.  Pat Cook’s granddaughter was asked to draw the winning ticket.  Heather Watkins was the lucky winner of the $1,194.


Respectfully Submitted, Gloria Smedley, Recording Secretary, September 20, 2020.