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Articles written by James Wentz


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  • Nastasi and Hoenstine Hold Pa. Athletic Records

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Nov 17, 2022

    Morrisons Cove, a largely rural, agricultural and sparsely populated 144 square mile area nestled inside Appalachian foot hills in western Pennsylvania, might be thought the unlikely place to produce elite high school athletic record holders. But AJ Nastasi, a 1998 graduate of Northern Bedford High School, and Jeff Hoenstine, soon to be a 2023 graduate of Central High School, have etched their names into the Pennsylvania state athletic records books with extraordinary performances at area sport...

  • Mike Macovitch was Airman at Claysburg AF Station

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Oct 20, 2022

    Last month my writing colleague at the Herald, Joseph Walk, featured the history of the Claysburg area in his “Newcomers to the Cove” column. As a U.S. Air Force Veteran, he was especially fascinated to discover that a Cold War Air Force facility once claimed Clayburg as its home between 1952-61. We have a former serviceman at the base still living among us. Michael Macovitch, 89, of East Main Street, Roaring Spring, Taylor Township, was an airman stationed there between 1954-56. He met, cou...

  • Mike Macovitch was Airman at Claysburg Air Force Station

    James Wentz, For the Herald|Oct 20, 2022

    Last month my writing colleague at the Herald, Joseph Walk, featured the history of the Claysburg area in his "Newcomers to the Cove" column. As a U.S. Air Force Veteran, he was especially fascinated to discover that a Cold War Air Force facility once claimed Clayburg as its home between 1952-61. We have a former serviceman at the base still living among us. Michael Macovitch, 89, of East Main Street, Roaring Spring, Taylor Township, was an airman stationed there between 1954-56. He met,...

  • Erika Smith was a Place Kicker at Central

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Sep 22, 2022

    Hunter Smith is a multi-talented junior football player at Central High School. He is the fullback on offense, middle linebacker on defense and kicker/punter on special teams. In the role of place kicker, he is the second in his family line to fill that specialized position. He was preceded in booting extra points by, of all people, his aunt, Erika Smith, the sister of Hunter’s father Monte. Erika was the second girl, after baseballer Jone Bush at Martinsburg High School in 1950, to play a boys’ varsity sport in our area. Therein lies a tal...

  • Am I the Last of the Blair League Ballplayers?

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Aug 18, 2022

    Earlier this month a group of old time baseball players from the Blair County area gathered at DelGrosso’s park at Tipton to reminisce about their playing days decades ago. Most of those aging athletes played in the Altoona Greater City league, with perhaps a few from the long-gone Blair Twilight League that existed between 1947 and the 1960s. It is unlikely that any players from the Blair Baseball League, that played weekly Saturday games between 1919 and 1953, attended. In fact, with the r...

  • Shane Metzler is Central's Most Loyal Supporter

    James Wentz, For the Herald|Jul 21, 2022

    When the undefeated Central High School baseball team won the Pennsylvania 3-A state title last month at State College, part of the Altoona Mirror’s photo coverage showed Shane Metzler celebrating in the team’s dugout. And when the Herald published its fall schedule of local high school sports I closely scanned the list for Central football, looking for a particular name. And there it was: Shane Metzler was listed as the equipment manager for the team. I have followed Shane, 47, through the year...

  • Barry Smith's Transport Company sells for $170 Million

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Jun 16, 2022

    With a $500 loan from his father in 1975, Barry F. Smith of Roaring Spring invested in the first of what turned out to be a vast fleet of trucks and trailers that was worth $50 million in 1998 and was just sold to Heartland Express of Iowa for $170 million. Smith Transport and Heartland Express emphasized that the sale will not affect the workforce or operations by the Roaring Spring company. There will be no layoffs and business will continue as usual. Smith, 75, the second of five children...

  • Jack Bolger was Celebrated Boxer at Penn State

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|May 19, 2022

    John C. “Jack” Bolger was a funeral director in Martinsburg and Williamsburg starting in the 1950s. He established the Bolger Funeral Home that was passed along to his son, John K. Bolger, who has since retired, but whose name still adorns the business. A recent newspaper article about a former varsity boxer at Penn State reminded me of Jack Bolger’s prowess in the ring while representing the Nittany Lions before his graduation in 1950. Bolger excelled in the sport before it was termi...

  • Jone Bush was Hall of Fame Nominee

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Apr 14, 2022

    Morrisons Cove is well represented in the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, but may be missing one athlete worthy of induction. She is Martinsburg native Jone Bush, 86, who was considered for inclusion in the Hall of Fame class of 2004. More about her later. Every two years the board of directors for the Hall organizes a black tie dinner that honors new selectees. The last induction was last weekend, April 9, at the Casino in Lakemont. Morrisons Cove is already represented in the Hall by Harry Clarke and Mark Raugh of Roaring Spring and Galen...

  • Chancellor Dr. Lori (Ferry) Bechtel-Wherry Retiring

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Mar 10, 2022

    Lori J. (Ferry) Bechtel-Wherry, a native of Morrisons Cove, has brought growth, luster and prestige to the campus of Penn State-Altoona, where she has been chancellor and dean, the top executive, for the past 18 years. In addition to performing all the normal duties of a college chief executive officer (supervising the administration, leading the faculty, guiding the students, fund-raising), she has reached out to the surrounding communities and taken the lead in improving town-gown relationship...

  • Central's Dave Marko Sets Wrestling Coaching Record

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Feb 10, 2022

    Dave Marko became the all-time winningest coach in Blair County wrestling history last month when his Central High School squad knocked off Claysburg-Kimmel at Claysburg. That gave Marko his 318th career victory to move ahead of former Altoona High coach Marty Rusnak. Ironically, it was as the former Claysburg-Kimmel coach that Marko racked up 234 victories over 18 seasons, before moving to Central where he has notched another 84 wins, and counting, over eight seasons. Marko owes his start in Bl...

  • Old Cove Gyms Still Revered

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Jan 20, 2022

    Late last year Don Appleman of Williamsburg sprang into action when it was determined by his local school board that the “old high school gym” would be reconfigured to serve as a dining facility and to accommodate other school functions. He offered to buy the two basketball hoops that hang in the gym and have them moved and preserved in some other venue in the community, perhaps the town counsel’s building. Appleman has an acute appreciation for history and doesn’t want the memory of so many athletic achievements made in that gym, and thru thos...

  • Bill Cramer was a Gifted Historian

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Dec 16, 2021

    Commendable civic efforts are underway in Williamsburg to organize a historical society to document and preserve the celebrated history of the town and surrounding area. Roane Lytle was elected president of this fledgling organization. Other officers are Cathy Over, Peggy Mingle and Lugene Shelly. The group hopes to acquire space to exhibit the town’s memorabilia and highlight its illustrious history. According to Lytle, one of the projects being considered is a William Cramer Room that the society would fill with some of his historic a...

  • Thanksgiving–Facts and Frustration

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Nov 18, 2021

    The Thanksgiving holiday is once again with us. No one truly knows when the first Thanksgiving took place. Some academics say it was in 1621, when the Pilgrims celebrated their harvest with a three day turkey feast in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. Others say the first Thanksgiving took place in Virginia in 1619. Whatever, President George Washington called for a national day of thanksgiving in 1789, but it fell to Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to mandate that the holiday would take place at the end of November. Here, thanks to Google, are some...

  • Hoenstine Family Athletic Legacy

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Oct 21, 2021

    Since the 1950s, the Hoenstine family of Claysburg and East Freedom has produced a line of outstanding athletes who have enriched the playing fields of our area with sterling performances. And it all started with patriarch Dick Hoenstine at Claysburg. Dick and I were teammates on the Roaring Spring Blair League baseball team in 1953. He normally played for his hometown team at Claysburg, but that team folded after the previous year and, still wanting to compete in the Saturday afternoon games...

  • Reid Ritchey Saved the Dairy

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Oct 7, 2021

    Reid Earl Ritchey, Sr., 87, passed away last Sunday. He was the third owner of the dairy in Martinsburg that carries his family name. In an unlikely pairing, he became my best friend in high school. Reid and I were both freshmen in 1949–he at Martinsburg High School and me at Morrison Cove. We were both athletes and competed against each other in basketball and baseball. We knew each other from those competitions and were fierce rivals. When Martinsburg High combined with Morrison Cove in 1950, we became teammates and formed a lifelong c...

  • Central's Dave Baker is the Dean of Blair County Football Coaches

    James Wentz|Sep 16, 2021

    Dave Baker is the head football coach at Central High School and is, by virtue of his longevity, the dean of Blair County coaches. He has been a head coach in Morrisons Cove for 41 years. The graduate of Central High (1963) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1967) originally took over the reins at Williamsburg High School in 1970, where was already a member of the faculty. “The position opened up and I applied,” he recalled. “I have no idea how many other people wanted the job.” More ab...

  • Cheerleaders: Anna Lee, Peggy and Dave

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Aug 12, 2021

    Much is being written about the integration of Williamsburg High School football players and coaching staff into the gridiron program at nearby Juniata Valley High. But, that jointure also affects Williamsburg’s cheerleaders and musicians. Using historical precedent as a guide, they might benefit from studying the experience of Martinsburg and Morrison Cove High Schools, albeit without football being a consideration, since neither school hosted football. In 1950, when Martinsburg High closed and formed a jointure with Morrison Cove High, the n...

  • Williamsburg High School Football Program Has Had Ups and Downs

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Aug 5, 2021

    When it appeared that this year’s Williamsburg High School football team would have only 17 players available for gridiron action this coming season, decisions had to be made about the future of the program. What resulted was the canceling of this year’s schedule and an overture to nearby Juniata Valley High School for the Williamsburg players to join their team in a combined squad. That proposal was accepted and the arrangement may have sounded the death knell for high school football in Williamsburg. In fact, it might be the first step tha...

  • NBHS Graduate Brian Sell Was An Olympian

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Aug 5, 2021

    This Sunday's closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics will have unique meaning for a former local athlete. Brian Sell, a native of Woodbury and 1997 graduate of Northern Bedford High School, holds a special place in Morrisons Cove history. He is the only Cove athlete to represent the United States of America in Olympic competition. Brian qualified for the Olympic team by finishing among the top three runners in the New York City marathon trial in 2008. Sadly, he and his marathon teammates...

  • The Americanization of Tine Van Dop

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Jul 15, 2021

    Catharina “Tine” Van Dop passed away on Saturday, July 10, after living a meaningful life in her native Netherlands, also called Holland, and her adoptive home in Morrisons Cove. She was in her mid-90s. Her husband Abraham and she were born in the Netherlands and immigrated to the Cove in 1957. Between their births in the 1920s and the decision to move to America, some exciting, even tragic, events took place. Tine, for instance, spent the WWII war years living under harsh Nazi occupation in Holland. Abraham, who was serving his compulsory mil...

  • My Two Favorite Golf Courses: Iron Masters and Royal St. George's

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Jul 8, 2021

    In my active adult recreational sporting days, between the ages of 20 and 70, I concentrated on two especially enjoyable pastimes: snow skiing in the winter and golf in the summer. In addition to golf courses in the United States, I have been fortunate enough to play overseas at venues in Italy, Germany, Britain, Japan, Australia and Brazil. But, two golf courses have special places in my golfing memory. The first is Iron Masters, outside Roaring Spring. After WWII, the idea of constructing a golf course in rural Morrisons Cove was considered u...

  • Other Voices

    JAMES WENTZ, For the Herald|Jun 24, 2021

    Hunter Klotz, Central High School Class of 2021, Rodney Shultz, Tyrone High School Class of 2021, and I, Morrison Cove High School Class of 1952, have something in common. We all took time to savor a key moment in our high school athletic careers. The athletic memories of Klotz and Shultz were forged in a game much more important than mine, but my recollection is probably more common among the hundreds of local athletes who compete on behalf of their alma maters. In the June 14 PIAA baseball playoff between Central and Tyrone at PNG field in...

  • My Brother's Experience – Go Where the Jobs Are

    James Wentz, For the Herald|Mar 4, 2021

    The announced closing of the Appvion paper mill in Roaring Spring must have workers scratching their heads and wondering what the future holds. The excellent Opinion article in last week’s Herald (“The Time for Action on the Mill is Now,” Herald of Feb. 25, 2021) outlined steps that the Cove community, elected leaders and others can take to keep the jobs local. In a perfect world, good jobs would be found at New Enterprise Stone and Lime, the shoe factory in Martinsburg, the paper mill at Tyrone and other local businesses. But the world is no...

  • James Wentz: Gene Henry Had Business Sense

    James Wentz, For the Herald|Feb 25, 2021

    W. Gene Henry of Martinsburg has passed away. I interviewed him in 1997 for a personality profile and to respectfully ask about the source of his wealth. Henry made news that year by buying his former high school building. It is not many people who can claim to own their former seat of secondary learning, perhaps Gary Stern in the Brownstone building qualifies, but it is unusual that someone will buy a former classroom property.He bought the former Martinsburg High School, commonly called the...

  • Martinsburg's Frank Moore a Candidate For Penn State Hall of Fame

    James Wentz, For the Herald|Feb 4, 2021

    When Penn State-Altoona announced last year that it was establishing a new sports Hall of Fame, it piqued my interest. I became inspired to nominate Frank Moore of Martinsburg as a founding member of the Hall when it was specified that the nominees could extend back to the 1930s, when the Ivyside campus was called the Altoona Undergraduate Center (AUC). Frank Logan "Junie" Moore was my basketball and baseball coach at Morrison Cove High School in 1951-52. He came to the school with a reputation...

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