On December 9th, 2015, the Leadership Elk County (LEC) participants had the opportunity to learn about Elk County's history. The intent of this learning opportunity was to learn about how Elk County has evolved and been preserved. The day began at the St. Marys Historical Society with Michelle Bogacki, an alumni of LEC program, welcoming everyone.
Ray Beimel, Historical Society Director and owner of Beimel Photography, started the day showing a slideshow presenting the history of Elk County. He touched on the resources that were imperative to the land such as railroads, mining, farming, rivers, and lumber. He pointed out that Elk County was extremely thick with forest and the first tree that fell was in Iron Run. He continued to present interesting facts regarding the history of how businesses began and how some are still viable today. Also, Ray gave a tour of the Historical Society to the participants. Items such as old clothing, medical supplies, and pictures of people and businesses of the past were shown to the group to provide a look into the early history of Elk County.
Prior to the day’s meeting, participants were asked to conduct an interview with a person who they found fascinating such as a community leader, business owner or a relative. They were to engage in conversation about this persons experiences and how things have changed over time in Elk County. Each participant summarized their interview and gave a three minute presentation to the group. After presentations were given, it was evident that in order to understand history to its fullest extent one needs to experience it.
After the presentations were given, the class went on a tour of downtown St. Marys led by David Larkin, LEC alumni. The first stop was Tablespoons Cafe' & Deli which was previously Smith's Sport Store. The group then walked around viewing historical locations learning about the work of the Heritage Preservation Group that has helped to enhance the appearance of downtown St Marys.
The group then made a stop in Ridgway at the Elks Club on South Street where they enjoyed lunch sponsored by the Main Street Program. Michelle Bogacki, an alumni of the LEC program and current Main Street Manager, was introduced. Michelle took the group on a walking tour of Ridgway’s Historical District. Stops were made at the Udarbe Complex, the Towers Victorian Inn, the Cooke's-Murphy House, the Ridgway Public Library, YMCA, Elk County Historical Society, the Home of Tom Knotes, the Welcome Center, and various shops along Broad and Main Streets. Michelle pointed out to the group buildings that had recent renovations, old woodwork in the buildings from the Hyde & Murphy Company, and discussed upcoming projects.
The group ended their day at the Ridgway Elks where they began discussion regarding upcoming project that the LEC class will be partnering on with local non-profit organizations. These projects include a Community Supported Agriculture/Community Garden, Ridgway Beautification Project, Fundraising and Development, Mental Health/Aging Awareness Campaign, and a Senior Outreach Program. Each participant will be assigned to a group to work on a project after the next meeting in January 2016.
For more information regarding the LEC program, contact the Community Education Center at (814) 781-3437 or visit www.leadershipelkcounty.com.