The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 8, 2014

Samantha’s tree house a victor

Parachuting monkey 12-year-old’s housewarming gift

SELINSGROVE — Turns out Samantha Carlson gets the last laugh, one that can be heard at the Selinsgrove Borough Building, where the zoning hearing board crushed the little girl’s birthday dream of a front-yard tree house after an eight-month ordinance dispute.

Samantha’s tree house, ordered to be razed earlier this spring, has been relocated and is being reassembled at 22 N. High St., in the backyard of family friends Noelle and Cindy Vasquez and a half-block from the borough building.

The tree house John “J.C.” Carlson began to build for his daughter’s 11th birthday in May 2013 now sits 6 to 7 feet above ground and atop what remains of a huge felled oak.

Seems Victor Vasquez, 7, wanted a tree house, too, and here was J.C. Carlson with a freshly made frame he had to remove from his front lawn eight blocks away, at 701 W. Spruce St.

With five grandchildren in the Vasquez family, it became a natural fit that the tree house move there, and Samantha can come play and hang out in it whenever she wants, Cindy Vasquez said.

The families attend the same church, Victory Baptist in Shamokin Dam.

“I knew it would be for the good in the end,” Carlson said Saturday, getting ready to help Vasquez with construction.

“She still gets to have it, and all these other children get to enjoy it, too.”

Borough officials “can look out their window and see it,” said Faye Carlson, Samantha’s mother, which made her kind of glad.

However, she said the whole experience “was a good lesson for (Samantha): You can’t always get what you want.”

In May 2013, J.C. Carlson was about to finish building the tree house for Samantha when the borough zoning office informed him the structure was illegal, deemed an ordinance violation because it was on his front lawn on a lot that doesn’t accommodate its large size.

The zoning hearing board denied a variance request that June that would have saved the tree house, but public outcry stoked the fight.

J.C. and Samantha Carlson were even interviewed on Fox News, and 500 of Samantha’s classmates signed a petition to the borough to let the house stand.

The issue went as far as Snyder County Court, where Senior Judge Louise Knight in January upheld the zoning hearing board’s decision.

The borough was careful about issuing a building permit for the tree house at the new location, Cindy Vasquez said. Officials visited the property to see where the house was going and checking things out before issuing the monthlong $20 permit.

Victor is excited about his forthcoming playhouse in the air, though he’s not sure what he’ll do in it yet.

“Just play around,” he said.

Samantha on Saturday brought him a house-warming gift: A monkey on a parachute that Victor can drop from the house.

Everyone hopes construction is finished by June 30, though it has cost about $400 “and it’s not even done,” Vasquez said.

That total doesn’t include the trailer he bought to haul lumber and whatever else he needs for the project from Lowe’s, where he made two trips just on Saturday.  

What remains of Samantha’s original tree house? Pretty much everything, including walls and a roof.

But there is siding and two or three windows and even a deck planned for the structure, now much larger than its original 8- by 6-foot size.

n Email comments to

Text Only
  • Porter Another teen says he threw rock on I-80, too

    MIFFLINBURG — The father of the third juvenile charged as an adult in a July 10 rock-throwing attack that left an Ohio woman fighting for her life was apologetic following his son’s arraignment Monday.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victim of rock-throwers making progress

    DANVILLE — Sharon Budd, the 52-year-old Ohio woman fighting for her life after being hit by a rock thrown from an Interstate 80 overpass, is slowly coming around, according to her husband, Randy.

    July 22, 2014

  • Danville train diver left hospital 4 days before suicide

    DANVILLE — The young man who killed himself by diving under an Iron Heritage Festival passenger train underwent treatment in mental health facilities as recently as four days before his death, according to Montour County Coroner Scott E. Lynn.

    July 22, 2014

  • Today's editorial: Dubious achievements in press secretary-ism

    Ryan Shucard, press secretary to Valley Congressman Tom Marino since May, recently posted on LinkedIn that he was excited and ready to elevate the congressman’s legislative profile — which Shucard did last weekend (but not in a good way) when he got himself arrested for bringing a pistol into a federal office building.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mayor's dog recovering from attack

    DANVILLE — Bernie and Red Swank have two different routes they take daily when they walk their dogs, and at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of Water Street, a German shepherd attacked Lex, their white 5-year-old lhasa apso.

    July 21, 2014

  • Basic subsidy for Lewisburg schools down slightly

    LEWISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed executive budget will provide the Lewisburg Area School District with an additional $90,457 from the state, but most of the increase will be reflected in $125,275 to support a Ready to Learn grant.

    July 21, 2014

  • Shikellamy extend deadline for school project

    The Shikellamy District board agreed at a special meeting last Thursday, to extend until Sept. 5, the deadline for the receipt of bid documents for the $17 million Shikellamy Middle School project. Bids were originally scheduled to be opened Tuesday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Second juvenile charged as adult in rock-throwing incident

    MIFFLINBURG — A second juvenile was charged as an adult Monday morning for his alleged involvement a July 10 rock-throwing incident that left an Ohio woman fighting for her life.

    July 21, 2014

  • Midd-West to hire Snook's replacement tonight

    Newport School District’s director of educational services is slated to be hired tonight by the Midd-West School Board to fill the vacant director of curricular and instruction position.

    July 21, 2014

  • rgbcar20abw.jpg My 1st Car Photo Contest Winner

    Maxton Mielke, Sunbury, won the My 1st Car photo contest this week. Photos can be entered in this week's contest: Pet lookalike at Look for the Outshoot the Experts contest and submit your best photos! Photos can also be submitted on our facebook page or via Instagram and Twitter with #dipets.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.