Our community has much to be thankful for

To the editor:

It is the week of Thanksgiving, and I must express some gratitude for the wonderful community we live in and call the Juniata Valley. For me this year has been extremely busy, and there are so many things to be thankful for in my life. There are a few things I think everyone in our community should be aware of and be sure to thank all those involved.

One… We are so fortunate to have Downtown Lewistown Inc. and all those who give their time to make our community a better place to live. DLI and Jim Zubler, DLI’s executive director, are always busy working on projects that impact our area in such positive ways. Some of these projects are visible as you drive around, but others are never really in the public eye and most people never truly understand how DLI is impacting our communities. Just about everyone involved with DLI volunteers their time to the organization, and they do it just for the love of our community.

I worked with DLI this year to complete some building facade upgrades on two prominent and historic buildings in downtown Lewistown. DLI was instrumental in completing these projects and without the help of DLI these projects would have never been completed this year. I am extremely grateful for everyone at DLI that made these facade improvements come to life. These improvements not only make a difference today but for many years to come.

Two… The Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce dedicated a new bus shelter on Monument Square in Lewistown last week. Rhonda Moore from the chamber spearheaded this beautiful addition to our town. She tackled a need in the community that most didn’t even realize existed. It was amazing to watch Rhonda make this project come to life, but it was also extremely gratifying to see all those in our community answer Rhonda’s call for help.

So many people and businesses donated time, money and products to make the bus shelter a reality. Situated in such an iconic location of our community, it ended up being more than just a bus shelter. The corner the bus shelter occupies has been transformed into a beautiful little park overlooking Monument Square. Not only is there a bus shelter, but there is beautifully-landscaped oasis within our streets of downtown Lewistown. If you have not stopped by to check out the corner that the new bus shelter occupies, I would encourage you to do so, and be sure to thank all those who care about our community that transformed what we now see when traveling around Monument Square.

Three… When you drive down Market Street in Lewistown, the sidewalks are dotted with concrete planter boxes filled with dirt. These planters were intended to beautify downtown. Unfortunately, planters need constant attention to keep them looking nice, and for many years they didn’t receive the attention they deserve. That all changed a couple of years ago when my wife, Sara Buffington, decided to tackle this problem with the help of Scott Welham, the Lewistown Borough manager.

My wife spends countless hours organizing and overseeing this program. She even helps to plant and to maintain planters that have been adopted by others. It is a lot of work, but Lewistown reaps the benefits. During the summer months, our Market Street comes to life with planters that show just how many people care about Lewistown. Plus, many of those planters have recently been transformed for the winter months with new plants that will look nice over the winter months.

Not only am I grateful my wife tackled this program, but I am also grateful to all those who have made the commitment to adopt a planter. Their commitment is no small task. They are committing to many hours of planting, watering and maintenance, but they also must purchase plants. Be sure to look at these planters to see who has adopted them and thank them for making a difference.

We are fortunate to live in such a wonderful community. There are so many people working and volunteering to make this a better place to live. Just like all communities, we have things that we must work on and improve, but we also have many things working in our favor and must keep things going in the right direction to foster our own growth and improvements. I challenge anyone that is not grateful for what we have in our community to get involved. It is up to all of us to make a difference in our communities so that they flourish.

This Thanksgiving be sure to look around and show some gratitude for what we have in the Juniata Valley. We have so much to be thankful for, including those volunteering and working to make the community a better place to live!

I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Mike Buffington