Good news from 2013

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From homicide to arson fires, The News-Item's Top 10 stories of 2013, recapped in Tuesday and Wednesday's editions, once again had tragedy as their central theme.

To brighten up the first weekend of 2014, here's a look back at some of the better moments from last year.

Jan. 12: The District 8 Orchestra, hosted by Shamokin Area School District, had the unique honor of performing a special arrangement of "Amazing Grace" that was composed for the 10th anniversary memorial tribute concert for the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The orchestra was the first high school group in history to perform the piece, and it happened right here.

March 12: The "Raise the Region" online donation event was a resounding success, with more than $700,000 raised for nonprofits in a six-county area. Benefactors included Central Susquehanna Opportunities, which collected more than $9,000, and the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities, which received $5,000.

March 30: A record crowd of 375 made its way up the Paxinos Mountain for the annual Service at the Cross, a unique and enduring local tradition carried out on the Saturday before Easter by Boy Scout Troop 250 of Paxinos.

April 6: Tommy Reisinger, 12, of Atlas, organized a Wiffle ball tournament with about 50 participants and raised $250, which was matched by a local business, and donated it to the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

April 27: Progress continued as always at Knoebels Amusement Resort, with fans giving an opening day "thumbs up" to the park's newest ride, the Stratos-Fear, which drops riders from 148 feet in about five seconds.

May 9: In the most significant corporate effort to date in the fight against blight, UNB Bank, Mount Carmel, contributed $50,000 to the Northumberland County Blight Task Force for the demolition of five dilapidated homes in the borough.

June 12: A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Kulpmont for the opening of a large, beautiful playground at the Terry Miriello complex, the culmination of months of hard work and significant contributions of materials, expertise and labor from numerous volunteers.

July 6: Tradition lived on again in 2013 as a fireworks show delighted crowds throughout Shamokin and Coal Township. Citizens for a Better Community and Citizens Fireworks Inc. combined forces again to present the annual show.

July 20: In a unique show of patriotism, ground was broken in Elysburg for a new home for Cpl. David A. Noblit, who lost both legs in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2010.

Aug. 29: Some good economic news finally came our way with the announcement that the parent company of Great Dane Trailers had purchased the remaining portion of the former Fleetwood RV plant in Paxinos for $3.85 million in a bankruptcy sale. No more developments have been reported since, but we anticipate more good news from this purchase in the new year.

Sept. 28: More good news was produced by youth from the community when Mount Carmel Area students put on a Penn State-endorsed "Mini-THON," raising more than $12,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund, which provides cancer research support.

Oct. 5: Having kicked off the season with the new Stratos-Fear, Knoebels wrapped up 2013 by finally opening the Flying Turns, a one-of-a-kind toboggan-like ride that took seven years to perfect.

Dec. 15: Not many schools can boast of ownership of a Steinway Grand Piano, but Line Mountain showed off the restored gem it has with a holiday concert called "Ebony and Ivory." The piano is valued at $50,000.

Indeed, it wasn't all bad news in 2013, and we look forward to writing more good-news headlines in 2014.

(Andy Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)

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