Ruritan hopes to save State Line park

PAT FRIDGEN
Dale Hostetter, treasurer of the State Line Ruritan Club, stands next to the community center. It and the pavilion may be reserved for special events by the public.

Members of the State Line Ruritan Club are distributing letters door to door this week in an effort to save the village's community park. As caretakers for many years, the club with a dwindling number of members is fearful it may have to close the park permanently.

"We need to do something," said treasurer Dale Hostetter. "We need members to support this or form the State Line Improvement Association again."

Years ago the SLIA took care of some community concerns, such as the street lights. The organization eventually dissolved and Antrim Township now monitors payments by property owners for the lights.

The Ruritan Club has a unique place in Pennsylvania history. It is the first chartered Ruritan club in the state, formed in 1955. At its peak it had 36 active members, united to bring rural, business and professional people together for a common cause. The park became the beneficiary of most of the efforts, first in its construction and then in its maintenance.

Ruritan programs through the decades included providing fruit baskets at Christmas, scholarships for high school students and donations to the needy. Fundraisers came in the form of yard sales, Bingo, breakfasts and car shows. The money helped expand the park to what it offers today: a community center, ballfields, tennis/basketball court, horseshoes, playgrounds, and picnic pavilion. The three acres are maintained through the volunteer efforts of Ruritan members.

Upkeep takes a good chunk of the funds. Hostetter said vandalism is a problem. Kids have been scaling a chainlink fence around the building, which is built into a hill, and riding bicycles on the flat roof. People carve on the picnic tables and damage fixtures. Routine expenses include insurance, roof repairs, maintaining the tractor mower, and bills associated with the kitchen, dining hall and restrooms.

It has become more than the dozen or so members can handle. A boost in membership is the goal of the club after it hosts a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22 at the community building. Organizers hope the recipients of the letters will show up.

"This has become a bedroom community," Hostetter said. "Everyone doesn't know everyone any more. We are the only community group for State Line."

As for the value of the park, he said hundreds of people use it during the year. It is popular for reunions, church and family picnics, wedding receptions and funeral dinners. What he has seen on the grounds reminds him of old-time traditions, families picnicking on blankets, children happily playing on the equipment. "The next nearest parks are the Jerome R. King Playground or Antrim Township Community Park," he noted.

But without some help, he foresees a change to accessibility. Already, the lights in the parking lot are turned off at night. The entrance gate will be closed once it is deemed necessary.

The sign on the gate reads, 'State Line Community Park. Honoring our past and building for the future. State Line Ruritan, trustees.'

Board members Vic Moon, Hostetter, Judy Ellis and Penny Smith look forward to others helping achieve that goal.