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Who Would’ve Ever Thunk It?

What an amazing week it was in the West Branch Valley. Normally, each happening would result in a cover story; however, with so many great things going on, that just wasn’t possible. I will provide a quick overview of each and be following up with more specifics in the future.

I’ll begin with the top story at press time. Bucknell University’s assistant coach and Lycoming County’s first lady of basketball, Kelly Mazzante, was preparing her squad for their national championship game versus UConn. What an unbelievable run by the Lady Bison in the NCAA tournament.

The best part of the story is the possibility Coach Kelly will be taking over the Penn State Lady Lion program next year. The PSU graduate, all-time leading scorer and proven winner seems like a perfect fit. The Nittany Lions are coming off of their worst season in recent program history.

Staying with the hoop thing, a quick follow up on last week’s cover story that featured the Loyalsock Lancers and Pennsylvania’s all-time winning basketball coach “CI” – Ron Insinger winning their 1st PIAA State Championship.

What an unbelievable final play of the game! Sock trailing Pittsburgh North Catholic 62-61 in Hershey. A full-court alley-oop pass from Aiden Gair to Reis Watkins for a walk-off dunk and celebratory dogpile. Here is what you didn’t know, Pedie MacDonald, the Lancer’s number one fan, and assistant coach suggested the play to Gair during the team’s last time out. Aiden then told Reis as the two changed the play call, unbeknownst to anyone in the Hershey Park arena.

Moving to the diamond. Montoursville senior Logan Ott threw a five-inning no-hitter in the season-opening 11-0 win. That’s not surprising; Ott is an absolute beast. What makes Lefty Logan’s accomplishment beyond record worthy is the fact he faced 15 batters, striking them all out on 45 pitches. Every pitch was a strike. Now that’s a perfect game!

Next up, the big news from Mayor Derek Slaughter’s office last week was the approval of a helipad on the top of the Genetti Hotel. The project will allow business folks, government officials, and top entertainers convenient and quick travel access to downtown Williamsport.

Energy Aviation near the Williamsport Regional Airport will design and manage the state-of-the-art facility. The company is owned by local business entrepreneur, Mr. Dan Klingerman, who is also the developer of The Liberty Arena complex. Upon speaking with Dan, I was amazed by the social and economic impact this new service will have on our area. This beginning with flight travel for the performers of this summer’s Liberty Arena Beach Party. It will enable performances by Hank Williams Jr., George Strait, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, and a special appearance from Toby Keith. This year’s event is a country music celebration of America.

Back to the Williamsport Regional Airport. Our Lycoming County Commissioners announced there will be airline service available to all the major hubs across the United States. This was made possible by American Airlines being replaced by Delta and United Airlines. There will also be a new restaurant and welcome center constructed featuring a Chick-fil-A, Joe’s Crab Shack, and Ruth’s Chris. The idea is to make the Airport Complex a place folks from the region want to visit, not avoid.

The shocking news out of Harrisburg last week was the sudden resignation of Governor Tom Wolf to join Bernie Sanders’s presidential scampaign. Candidate Sanders feels Wolf is the perfect person to promote his socialistic ideals and approach to American business and industry. Sounds like a perfect match. Wolf was replaced by former Governor Tom Ridge, who will serve out Wolf’s current term.

I will have a big announcement next week from a Lycoming County resident who will be throwing his hat into the ring to be our state’s next governor.

Lastly, tip of my Columbia fishing hat sporting a rendition of the American Flag and saltwater fish to Jamie Spencer and Wesley LaPoint. The normally bass fishing duo caught a world record 927-pound bull shark. That’s remarkable in its own right, the fact they hooked it where Loyalsock Creek flows into the Susquehanna River makes it beyond unbelievable.

Prior to penning this, I did not have a chance to interview Spence and Wes. I will be assigning the story to Ken Hunter. This is the second time this has occurred in our area. If you remember back in 2004, Ken landed the first shark ever caught in Pennsylvania. The complete cover story can be found on our website. Bull sharks have become notorious for migrating from oceans into freshwater tributaries; they have the capability of surviving in both.

Helmrich’s Seafood will be processing the world record catch. Bob Helmrich reached out to me and let me know the fresh shark filets will be on sale on Friday and are perfect for the Lenten season.

Helmrich’s has just recently added take-out service (see page 18 and would love to have it ready for your pickup. It’s available fried, wood-fired, Cajun, and lemon pepper.

Jamie and Wes will also be donating a portion of the shark meat to the Old Lycoming Township Fire Department for their annual fish fry fundraiser. They recently had the event postponed and could use some extra community support. Great job on sharing your catch of the day, boys!

Let’s all be careful out there and take care of each other. God Bless America

Jim Webb

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