The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 7, 2013

Taking a Stroll Through Northumberland

By Cindy O. Herman
The Daily Item

— NORTHUMBERLAND—“We tend to help each other out in time of need,” said G. William Orren, O.D., of Orren Eye Associates in downtown Northumberland. He recalled when his office was damaged with water.

“The Fryes came over within half-an-hour with vacuums,” Orren said, referring to next-door Frye’s Interiors and adding with obvious gratitude, “We could open that day to see patients.”

  That small-town support is appreciated by many Northumberland residents.

  “It’s quiet. Quaint,” said Jennifer Frye Hess, of Frye’s Interiors. “I like the old buildings. The history.”

  “I like that you know your neighbors,” said Laurie Berard, owner of the Townside Garden Café. “I love living in the park. It’s like the heart of the town.”

  Berard appreciates knowing generations of friends, like longtime family friend John Apple.

  “When he drives by my house, he beeps and waves,” she said with a happy chuckle. “Now I’m making all those connections with my kids and their kids.”

  “I just can’t say enough good things about living in Northumberland and working in Northumberland,” said Helen Martin, who has owned RE/MAX River Valley Reality for 15 years. “It’s still small-town, so people know each other and look out for each other. I just feel really lucky to have grown up here and to have my kids grow up here.”

  She mentioned a childhood friend who moved away in third grade and now lives in the North Pole. “But Northumberland is still home to her,” Martin said. “Northumberland just does that to people, I’ve found.”

  Amy Eberly, who grew up in Northumberland and graduated from Shikellamy High School, recently opened Shear Heaven Pet Salon in the borough.

  “I’m a new business and I was looking forward to coming back to my hometown,” she said. “When you grew up here it was kind of a close-knit town. A lot of my friends are still here. A lot of memories are here for me.”

  Heather Harter nearly formed a bad memory when her dog recently needed emergency care. It made her appreciate Northumberland’s location, close to emergency veterinary care as well as to cultural events at places like Hershey Theatre, Williamsport, and even a free children’s play her kids saw at Bucknell this Christmas.

  “In Norry itself, I don’t know, I love it,” she said. “I can walk to my church, the library, the playground. There’s tons of stuff they do for the town and the kids. I don’t think I’d ever want to leave.”

  Jay Seidel, owner of the Front Street Station, also appreciates Northumberland’s family-friendly values and central location.

  “My wife and I like the convenience that we can leave and be in downtown Manhattan in three hours, two-and-a-half to Baltimore,” he said. “It’s just a nice place to live. We’re kind of in the center of it all, aren’t we?”

  “It’s a darling little town. It really is,” said Kathy Mahoney, enjoying some reading at the historic Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library. Her eyes danced as she spoke of living in the town park for 45 years and raising her eight children. “It was the greatest place in the world to raise them.”

“We do our best as a community to help each other and to get involved,” said Paige Simpson, circulation clerk at the library.

  Steve Mertz, owner of the Norry Pharmacy, noted the schools, clean environment, and hunting in the area, as well as the chance to give back to his community.

  “We love working with our customers,” he said. “Last night I came in at nine o’clock to help somebody with a couple prescriptions in dire straits. That’s what makes the whole job.”

  Like many of her neighbors, Heather Harter is happy to be a Norry Pineknotter. Talking about a recent trip to Disney World, she recalled thinking, “This is a great place to visit. But I was happy, happy, happy to come home.”