A year’s review: 2014 in the Abingtons

June 19th, 2015 9:29 am

First Posted: 12/4/2014

If anyone were to make the claim, “nothing ever happens in the Abingtons,” they would be wrong.

As we prepare to celebrate new opportunities in 2015 and look back on the many wins, losses and unusual happenings of 2014, at least one thing is clear: we live and work in a bustling area, where through the various victories, losses, ups and downs, community pride still thrives.

The following is just a small sampling of some especially noteworthy news stories from the past year.


Ten weeks of summer concerts meet with a second year of success — Co-sponsored by the Abington Area Joint Recreation Board (AAJRB) and the Overlook Estate Foundation, as well as several community sponsors, the Lakeside Wednesday Concerts series at Hillside Park, Clarks Summit, once again turned out to be an event that brought everyone together — from babies and toddlers to senior citizens, and on many occasions, even the family dog.

Mace in Dickson opened the series June 25 at Hillside Park, followed by Kenny McGraw’s Brass and Ivory Orchestra with Chris Dimattio July 2, Jeffrey James Band July 9, Doug Smith and Erin Malloy July 16, The Wannabees July 23, East Coast Trio July 30, Whiskey Tango Aug. 6, Lightweight with special guest Senator John Blake and Friends Aug. 13, Coal Town Rounders Aug. 20 and Hitchin’ Cricket Aug. 27.

Local music fans look forward to another exciting summer of jamming in 2015.

Abington Heights grad makes it to major league baseball — Cory Spangenberg, AH class of 2009, had his first big league hit, a two-run single, helping lead the San Diego Padres to a 3-1 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks Sept. 1. But the Clarks Summit native didn’t forget about his hometown, returning to give a presentation at the Scranton School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children Oct. 29, and playing catch with the students there.

Encouraging the students to follow their dreams, he told them, “Never let anyone tell you, you can’t (do something). When I was growing up, I was too small, not fast enough, not athletic enough but if you work hard at something you never know what you can accomplish.”

Local conservation group completes first phase of ongoing trail project — Countryside Conservancy officially opened Phase I of its Trolley Trail, a multi-use pathway stretching from Dalton to Clarks Summit. Each section includes handicap accessible paths with trailheads located at the intersection of Old State Road and Routes 6 and 11, Arch Avenue, Ackerly Road, Waverly Road, Church of the Epiphany (upper parking lot) and South Turnpike Road.

Shortly after the trail’s opening in October, The Abington Journal correspondent Joan Mead-Matsui wrote in a first-person account, “You can’t help but feel the history as you stroll along the trolley trail, while at the same time observing and hearing the sights and sounds of Mother Nature - the birds chirping, deer feeding on plants and, most recently, fall splendor with the footpath covered in brightly-colored leaves.”


Clarks Summit native dies climbing highest mountain in the Andes — A memorial service was held on March 9 for Francis James Keenan, 28, of Newton Ransom Boulevard, Clarks Summit. The 2003 Abington Heights graduate and rock climber died on Dec. 31, 2013, after summiting the nearly 23,000-foot Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina.

According to his obituary, Keenan was “a person who loved what he did, going from country to country climbing mountains in the free world.” He was the son of Diane Lozinger-Keenan and the late James Keenan.

Patsel’s closes after 15 years of business in Clarks Summit — John and Pat Atkins closed the doors of their restaurant one final time after a Grand Finale Evening Aug. 31, attended by approximately 120 friends, family and customers.

Patsel’s was opened by the couple on Aug. 31, 1999 and for 15 years offered guests a “cultural cuisine” amid a distinctive décor of commissioned art, as well as an expansive garden. The business placed several times throughout the years in The Abington Journal’s Best of the Abingtons Readers’ Choice Awards, most recently winning first place in the Best Atmosphere/Decor and Best Formal Dining categories in 2013.

Abingtons residents mourn the loss of Lakeside Wednesday Concerts series videographer “Skip” Ward — Although he was a resident of Archbald, the death of John M. “Skip” Ward, 63, on Aug. 15 was mourned by (and came as a shock to) many Abingtons area residents who were involved in the AAJRB’s Lakeside Wednesday Concerts series at Hillside Park, to which the videographer gave of his time during the first part of the summer.

Also a photojournalist, according to his obituary on legacy.com, Ward was employed by KYW News in Philadelphia, NFL Films, Prudential Insurance in Fort Washington, WYOU/WBRE, and WVIA and did freelance work for a number of organizations, including Fox 56, the Pennsylvania Society, Frankie Carll Productions and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, in addition to owning his own business, Visual Memories.

On Aug. 12, the AAJRB Hillside Park Facebook page read, “The Abington Area JRB will miss Skip — this good man. We are grateful for the privilege to know him, his generous spirit and for him sharing his special talent with us.”

Trending topics

Unfinished homework leads to bomb threat — An Abington Heights High School student faced charges of terroristic threats, false alarms to an agency of public safety and disorderly conduct, after a phone call he placed to the school district in March, stating a bomb was set to go off in the high school.

Kullen Hosier, of South Abington Township, according to a South Abington Township Police affidavit, provided a written confession after he was questioned by the police, stating, “At 8:30 a.m., I called the school and said there was a bomb. I did this because I wanted school to be cancelled because I didn’t do my homework.”

Bear cub visits the dry-cleaners — In June, a bear cub almost walked into Eagle Cleaners in Clarks Summit, before being chased across the street by workers and ending up in a tree in front of the Abington Heights School District’s administration building. Pennsylvania Game Commission Supervisor Tim Conway determined the critter to be around six months old and between 15 to 25 pounds, but its sex was unknown.

Later, after its curious crowd of visitors dispersed, the cub reportedly slid back down the tree and ran off into a wooded area on the other side of the building.

Full out social media war breaks out over local business’ refusal to host same-sex wedding reception — When, in July, The Inne of the Abingtons, North Abington Township, refused to hold a wedding reception for a lesbian couple, the business’ Facebook page exploded with negative reviews criticizing the venue owner, and threats of violence toward the establishment were reported. Many Facebook users, on the other hand, supported The Inne of the Abingtons’ choice and both sides engaged in “comment” combat.

— Compiled by Elizabeth Baumeister