The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 26, 2014

Planning begins to save Girl Scout Little House

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— NORTHUMBERLAND — Northumberland’s iconic 70-year-old Girl Scout Little House is getting a makeover and upgrade— courtesy of the Borough Council and a large number of volunteers eager to roll up their sleeves and help preserve one of the area’s most enduring and historic structures.

The building at 344 Third St. is in disrepair and has been closed all winter since a water pipe broke, flooding sections of the basement and main floor. The borough owns the house, which Daisy Scouts, Brownies and Girl Scouts use for meetings and other events, such as crafts-making.

“If we can fix it up,” resident Barbara L. Kistner said, “it can be rented out by the borough for small parties. It can and should be for more than just Girl Scout meetings.” Kistner, who is helping to organize the volunteer efforts along with Borough Councilman Steve Reed, chairman of the community development committee, said many things need to be done before the building can be used again.

“At this point, we’re waiting for Ted August, a Point Township resident, to draw up a plan that will plot out all that needs to be done in the house,” said Steve Reed, a Northumberland councilman and chairman of the borough’s community development committee.

When word first got out that the building might no longer be available to Girl Scouts, the reaction by borough residents was immediate. “They didn’t want to see it go,” Kistner said.

Nor does the borough, Reed added. “It has a history. And the cost of keeping it open, once the needed repairs are done, is fairly minimal.” Electricity costs about $900 a year, he said. The building is small, with just a front multipurpose room, kitchen, bathroom and basement.

Kistner said there have been “quite a few donations to help out,” although she declined to say how much money had been collected to save the house.

“People have offered to do yard work, get rid of some of the leaves, and we have to clean the gutters,” she said. “We’ve also had an offer to take down a tree that is potentially hazardous. There is a chance someone could donate an entire heating system for us.”

A group of United Way workers will be meeting at the house April 26 to help with the cleanup effort.

After the problem with the pipes, Kistner said, the group is thinking about moving everything up to the first floor, where things would be safe from flooding.

“We could use some ceiling tiles and new flooring,” she said. “I’ll probably be replacing some windows myself. Of course, if anyone wants to volunteer, they should contact Jan Bowman, borough secretary, at their 175 Orange St. offices.”