Never Have I Ever

I chose this article title because Never Have I Ever seen so much growth or been so proud of our community.  It is exhilarating to see the new businesses popping up all around us.  I recently met with some community leaders in Centre County and was pleased to discover that word is spreading.  They had heard about the growth we are experiencing on this side of the mountain and are planning a visit to see it firsthand.  I also spoke with a local realtor who told me that more and more people who do not work in the Juniata River Valley are moving here and commuting out.  Can you blame them?  Have you taken a good look around?  I still get choked up when I see our mountains bursting into every shade of green imaginable every spring, hike one of our numerous trails, or take a leisurely float down the Juniata.

Rose-colored glasses are no longer needed to imagine what could be.  Our resilient communities have come together with a renewed sense of pride and determination. So many areas are now considered up-and-coming including downtown Lewistown, McVeytown, Milroy, and Reedsville just to name a few.  For instance, on a visit to Reedsville visitors are afforded the opportunity to sip a glass of wine, savor their favorite latte, grab a smash burger, purchase a one-of-a-kind artisan leather good, add a unique boutique item to their wardrobe, enjoy a multi-course, farm to table dinner, and finish up with their favorite homemade ice cream served in a croissant bowl.

While traveling through Lewistown, one is hard-pressed to find a vacant commercial space.  Downtown is once again filled and vibrant.  It may not all be retail as it once was, but it is occupied and busy, which supports our businesses located there.  Thanks to the planter project, the fountain, bus shelter, and other major aesthetic improvements including the demolition of neglected buildings, we have a county seat that we can be proud of.

Mifflin County isn’t the only local community experiencing significant growth, Juniata County has seen the addition of a new flea market on Saturdays at the Midway Drive-in, a farmer’s market on William Penn Highway, two new coffee shops, one in Thompsontown the other in Richfield, and even a unique live music venue hosting sold-out shows.  This site, Ragamuffin Hall, is in a beautiful former church in Mifflin.  The Port Royal Speedway, or Speed Palace as it is lovingly referred to, may not be new, but extensive renovations are.  Several national touring series visit Port Royal during the racing season bringing racing teams and spectators from far and wide who stay here and spend money here, boosting our local economy!

Never Have We Ever had so much to appreciate and share with others.  Let’s trade in our rose-colored glasses for a good pair of Ray-Bans because our future Is looking bright!

Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce