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New series of ‘Hero’ banners to be unveiled

BOB ROLLEY/THE EXPRESS Hometown Hero Banners that will grace the streetlights and Riverwalk of downtown Lock Haven are proudly displayed upon unpackaging by Downtown Lock Haven Inc.’s Hometown Hero Banner Volunteer Committee members recently. All banners were taken down and washed before those new and reprinted banners and rehangs are put back up starting Monday in advance of the Saturday, Aug. 28, unveiling ceremony at the J. Doyle Corman Amphitheatre. The public is invited to the ceremony. Wheelchairs and assistance will be provided to access the venue. Among the program volunteers present at a recent meeting were, from left, Mike Hoy, Jacque Newlan, Ari Newlan, Cara Montarsi, Krisy Meeker, Jennifer Hagaman and Marie Vilello.

LOCK HAVEN — It’s possibly the longest-running community banner program of its kind in America.

We’re talking about Downtown Lock Haven’s Hometown Hero Banner Program and it’s about to continue what has become a wonderful tradition here.

Saturday, Aug. 28, volunteers, banner sponsors and — importantly those being recognized with banners — will gather at the J. Doyle Corman Amphitheatre to ceremoniously unveil the latest round of about 200 banners of active-duty military personnel, veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, emergency first responders and health-care workers.

With this latest campaign, the nonprofit and its key campaign partner — the Clinton County Veterans Affairs Office now headed by Jennifer Hagaman — will have displayed some 2,500 banners along the streets of downtown and on the Riverwalk.

The banner program is a key fundraiser for Downtown Lock Haven Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is to enhance community and economic development in the business district.

Among the highlights of this year’s ceremony — which begins at 10 a.m. — are guest speakers Navy Rear Adm. Sara “Clutch” Joyner, a Navy pilot who has made several deployments in support of Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Operations Southern Watch. She has earned numerous commendations/medals. She has accumulated over 3,700 flight hours and 750 arrested landings on Naval aircraft.

Adm. Joyner currently serves as Navy chief of legislative affairs, serving the 117th Congress of the United States.

Also speaking will be Randy Padfield, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). Padfield has more than 30 years experience in emergency services delivery and training, including fire-rescue, Emergency Medical Services and emergency management-incident management disciplines.

Prior to his tenure at PEMA as deputy director for response, he was the director of the Public Safety Training Center at Harrisburg Area Community College. He has been involved in numerous local, regional, state and federal responses throughout his career, including the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

The special local guest speaker is Timothy Reeves, CEO of Bucktail Medical Center at Renovo, who will make a special presentation on behalf of a BMC staff member who lost her life to COVID-19, Margaret “Margie” Palmer.

Reeves came to BMC, a small, rural critical care hospital, in 2014 when the facility was in financial distress. He devised a fiscal reorganization plan emphasizing quality patient care; bringing outsourced services back into BMC; devised tighter spending controls and renegotiated contracts.

Reeves is also very active in the community.

Cara Montarsi, a local State Farm agent and chair of the Hometown Hero Banner Program Volunteer Committee, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Other scheduled speakers include: Angela Harding, president of the board of directors of Downtown Lock Haven Inc. and a Clinton County commissioner; U.S. 12th Pa. Congressional Dist. Rep. Fred B. Keller; Pennsylvania 25th District Sen. Cris Dush; Pennslyvania 76th District Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, and Joel Long, mayor of the City of Lock Haven.

Also integral to the program and ceremony with volunteer participation are: the Korean War Veteran Honor Guard; Vocalist Kendall Eichenlaub; Pastor Frank Hartzel, USAF, Vietnam Veteran; Vocalist Elaine Barth; area Veterans and families representing all branches of the service and all military eras; Monica Anderson, SFC, U.S. Army, and bagpiper John MacMillen, USAF, Vietnam Veteran.

The ceremony program guide sponsored by Bitner-Bechdel American Legion Post 623 in Beech Creek will be available in The Express community newspaper’s Thursday, Aug. 26, edition, two days prior to the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Downtown Lock Haven volunteers — with help from the local unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard — will rehang new and old or reprinted banners starting next Monday, weather permitting. The banners were taken down to be cleaned.

Any banners not re-hung will be available at the Downtown office at 205 East Main St., but not until Aug. 30 and during normal business hours.

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