June 21, 2004


BLOSSBURG, June 21 – Twenty-five residents of Blossburg and surrounding communities gathered June 16 to examine the community’s strengths and weaknesses in a visioning session sponsored by Blossburg V.I.B.E.

The first of two sessions focused on an analysis of the community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

After brainstorming and small-group discussions, participants chose five strengths:

  • Island Park;
  • a strong community orientation with many volunteer-based service organizations;
  • good borough and basic services;
  • friendly, energetic people;
  • and a role as the cornerstone of surrounding communities such as Morris Run, Arnot and Covington.

The group also came to consensus about several community weaknesses:

  • a lack of communication about Blossburg’s events, opportunities, services and website;
  • a lack of employment opportunities;
  • a lack of activities for adults and youth;
  • a lack of a focal point to draw people into town;
  • and vacant store fronts.

The opportunities and threats section of the evening was more challenging, according to Kathy Hemling, owner of Windowbox Flower Shop. However, the group did choose five opportunities on which to focus attention:

  • opening the movie theater that has been dormant since 1975;
  • encouraging service-oriented specialty shops;
  • building on existing outdoor activities;
  • promoting available low-cost land and housing;
  • and improving communication with area residents and others.

Participants also identified four major threats to the community:

  • the proposed dump in Hamilton Township (see for details);
  • the potential loss of a major employer;
  • the loss of youth to better job opportunities elsewhere, and its corollary, a decreasing, aging population;
  • and a lack of interest in community connections and V.I.B.E.-type meetings.

To begin addressing the lack of communication about Blossburg’s events and services, participants recommended the revival of the “Blossburg Banter” column in the Wellsboro Gazette. Renee Woodhouse, a resident of Morris Run and co-owner of The Sanitarium, a new tattoo shop located on Main Street in Blossburg, volunteered to write the column. Woodhouse is accepting information for the column at, 570-638-2828 or at the Blossburg borough building.

Blossburg resident Heidi Jones, owner of Ridgerunner Consulting, facilitated the session with assistance from Jill Nickerson, another Blossburg resident and owner of Toddler University Daycare and Preschool, Inc., which will open in September.

“The three hours flew by,” said Nicholas Starks, a former resident of Blossburg who said he has many friends in the town. “Heidi is an excellent facilitator and kept things moving.”

“This was the best seminar I’ve ever attended,” Blossburg Mayor John Backman said. “I hope more people attend the next one.” His wish was echoed by Hemling and Woodhouse.

The next session will be held June 30, 6-9pm, in the community room of Blossburg Memorial Library. Jones said anyone who lives, works, plays or attends school in Blossburg is welcome.

The June 30 session will focus on creating a vision statement to guide planning, and developing an action plan with a set of working groups devoted to various projects in preparation for submitting grant proposals to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and other funding sources, Jones said.

The library’s community room is handicap accessible. Refreshments will be served. Prospective participants may contact Jill Nickerson at 570-638-2005, 570-638-2586 or

Blossburg V.I.B.E. (Visions in Business & Entertainment) is a new group created by Blossburg Borough Council and Blossburg Improvement Association to envision, plan and implement projects that will enhance the quality of life for those who live, work, play or attend school in Blossburg.

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