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“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

I wonder how many of you remember Dick and Jane. Or the joys of the Weekly Reader. Just the thought of them transports me back to the Butler Street school, with sun shining through windows so tall that a pole was required to pull the shade down. Mrs. Wilson had a pitch pipe to get us on key as we sang “My Country Tis of Thee” after we said the pledge. Part of the morning was devoted to the study of phonics, which I liked, and math, which I didn’t. Still don’t. I still do times tables on my fingers, though now under the table so no one sees. Science wasn’t for me, either. But reading stories, and later writing them, made school bearable for me. I especially loved stories about heroism and our brave forefathers.

The books of my childhood shaped me — the way I view the world and how I live my life. They taught life lessons. I found people just like me on those pages, or people who were the way I wanted to be. As I advanced through the grades, I read classics like “The Red Badge of Courage” and “The Scarlet Letter.” In college, I was immersed in non-fiction but still had time for Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemmingway. I wanted to experience the things they had and to be as interesting as I found those writers. It led me to travel as far as my income the demands of life would allow. Reading has expanded and enriched my world.

I’ve tried to pass that along to my children and my students. When they were small, I regularly took my kids to the local libraries. One of their favorite memories is the glass floor on the upper level of the Osterhout. In the evening, we read stories about Babar the Elephant and mysteries of Encyclopedia Brown. Poems by Shel Silverstein always set off the giggles. As a teacher, I felt guilty taking a paycheck for reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” every year. Helping students find the beauty of figurative language and the deeper meaning hidden by symbolism made me feel like I was giving them something of great value that would last a lifetime.

I’m obsessed with books. Don’t give me a Kindle. I need the feel and the heft and the smell of a book. Just as I loved the smell of those pages of Dick and Jane’s adventures so long ago. Reading is a gift to be treasured and shared. How lucky we are to have a vibrant library in our community where we can take our children or grandchildren, where young and old can borrow a book or do research. And all for free. I’m reading mysteries now and like to read an author’s books in order. I stopped by the Wyoming Library to get the next in the series. Although not carried there, they were able to get it for me and called a few days later to say it had arrived.

Not all communities are so lucky. It isn’t easy to fund a library, so many across our country have had to close their doors. Ours has been serving us continuously since 1927. That’s something to be proud of. One of the library’s fundraisers will be a fill-a-bag book sale in April. Now is the time to spring clean your bookshelves and drop off any books you can bear parting with. I’ve been hanging on to some of my favorites, though I know I’ll never read them again. It’s selfish of me. Like keeping old friends locked up in a cage. Time to give them a new life. Why silence Jane Austen when her voice can speak in someone else’s head? Maybe a girl who will dream of visiting Longbourn and set off on a path of romantic adventures that will enrich her adult life. She’ll carry my copy of “Pride and Prejudice” on the plane with her as she begins her study abroad or just wanders aimlessly through streets familiar from stories loved, looking for characters alive in her imagination. I’d like that. I’m packing up my old books to donate. I hope you will too.

All types of books are being accepted, including adult fiction, children’s books, non-fiction, DVDs and audiobooks. Please, no textbooks, encyclopedias, medical books, catalogs, Reader’s Digest, condensed books or old, moldy books.

WA Kiwanis news

The Wyoming Area Kiwanis Club recently welcomed Jessica Budzak, program specialist at the Children’s Service Center, to its regular meeting. Budzak and others are developing an outreach program for preschool children who face drug related issues. She has been in the drug and alcohol prevention field for 17 years. She will participate in a new program by CSC to create a one stop shop to assist those being affected by drug or alcohol dependencies. Counseling, outreach and prevention information will be available to help those in need. For information, contact Budzak at the Robinson Counseling Center at CSC by calling 570-825-6425.

WA military scholarships

The Exeter, West Pittston, and West Wyoming American Legions are each offering financial awards to Wyoming Area graduating seniors who have enlisted in one of the branches of the armed services or who are planning to enlist. The only prerequisite is to present official commitment papers to Teddy Rabel, guidance secretary, no later than 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 5. Awards will be presented at Wyoming Area’s Scholarship Celebration on Thursday, May 23.

Library S.T.E.A.M. Club

The Wyoming Free Library S.T.E.A.M. Club will meet at 11 a.m. the last Saturday of every month. The first session is on magnetism and will be held Feb. 23. The club is open to ages 6 and older. Space is limited and registration is required. Call the library at 570-693-1364 for information.

Wyoming U.M. Church news

Wyoming United Methodist Church will hold a ham and cabbage dinner from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12. The dinner is dine in or takeout. For ticket information, call 570-693-2821. The church is located at 376 Wyoming Ave. and is handicap accessible.

Wyoming United Methodist Church will host a bus trip to the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse in Hampton, New Jersey, on Friday, May 17, to see “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Cost is $98 and includes bus, show, meal and gratuities. For reservations or information, call Audrey at 570-693-0905 or 570-693-2821.

Wyoming notices

The 2019 Wyoming garbage fee is now due. Face value of $200 is now due and in effect until May 15. After that, the cost will be $250.

Wyoming residents are advised to follow snow storm parking regulations. In the event of a storm of 3 inches or more, street parking is allowed only on the even side of the street on even days of the week and odd side of the street on odd numbered days.

West Wyoming Hose

Company pizza sale

During Lent, from March 22 to April 12, West Wyoming Hose Company No. 1 will sell pizza from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays. Baked and unbaked pizza will be available to order for pick up by calling 570-693-1811.

West Wyoming sanitation fee

West Wyoming Borough reminds people that sanitation fees are now due. Full payment of $200 is in effect until the end of February. The penalty fee begins March 1, when the cost will be $300.

St. Barbara’s Mardi Gras

St. Barbara’s Parish, 224 Memorial St., Exeter, will hold a Mardi Gras celebration from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 2, in the parish center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

The cost is $25 and includes dinner and entertainment. Tickets are available at the rectory and after weekend Masses. Please call the rectory at 570-654-2103 for information.

The event is open to those 21 and older only, and is BYOB.

Exeter veterans events

Exeter Events announced a veterans celebration will be held at the town hall, Lincoln Street and Wyoming Avenue, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18. Banners to honor veterans or current service men and women are being sold now. Cost is $225, or $25 to renew. To order a banner, call 570-239-5260 or email exeterevents2018@gmail.com.

Exeter refuse stickers

Exeter refuse stickers for 2019 are now available. Prices remain the same as last year. Stickers will be in rebate period until Feb. 28 at a cost of $150; $110 for seniors 65 and older. Proof of age is required.

From March 1-31, the regular price of $180 will be charged; $130 for seniors. April 1, the stickers will go into penalty and the price for everyone will be $250.

Stickers can be purchased at the borough building from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or by mail by sending a self addressed, stamped envelope to Exeter Borough Refuse Department, 1101 Wyoming Ave., Exeter, PA 18643. Please use a long business size envelope. For information, call Lynda at 570-654-3001, ext. 2.

Kaufer’s office hours

State Rep. Aaron Kaufer’s Exeter office, 1101 Wyoming Ave., is open from noon to 2 p.m. every third Friday.

Barbara Bullions writes about Exeter, Wyoming and West Wyoming for Greater Pittston Progress. To include an item in her column, email barbarabullions@gmail.com or call 570-301-2185 by Monday.