On day seven of our North American Study Tour, we visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to see the site of one of North America's greatest battles.It was overwhelming to see the exhibit at the Gettysburg National Military Park. The Cyclorama, which was painted in the late 1800's by Paul Philippoteaux brought the experience to life. Then, a walk through the onsite museum was thought provoking, inspirational and saddening: these people were willing to give their lives to protect their families and beliefs. More men fell in the battle of Gettysburg than in any other battle on American soil before or since the civil war.
After a quick lunch at Cracker Barrel and a 'gloves off' checker match between Brady and Rob, we were off to Lockhaven, PA. Mayor Rick Villetto lead us up a hill to a pavilion that overlooked a public swimming area in town, one of the main watercourses that dissects the mountains and surrounds the 2.3 square mile community. Mr Villetto was a member of the Pennsylvania Rural Leadership Program and became Mayor in 1999. Under his leadership and working with other concerned citizens, they have taken their community of 10,000 people from an unemployment rate of 23% to 6% by sourcing new industry and embracing change. Rick stated, "You CAN say yes." The community of Lockhaven is using the natural beauty of the area to its fullest to attract tourists and renew the love locals have for their home town. The shale oil industry is also credited for the change. Like anywhere, there will always be challenges with infrastructure and community, but with such activities as the concerts on the river and river races, the future seems bright.
A few energizing "take home" messages: