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The photograph accompanying this column tells the story of a phenomenon that somehow escaped the Scribbler’s attention when he discussed big-wheeled Amish scooters a few years ago. One of two sources, both of whom want to remain anonymous, took the picture.
BRASHER FALLS, NY - With the number of Amish families growing in their community, members of the Brasher Town Board have adopted a resolution that asks the state commissioner of motor vehicles to require members of the Amish community to install slow-moving-vehicle emblems on all of their vehicles that are used on public roads and highways.
PINECRAFT, FL - Each winter, for close to a century now, hundreds of Amish and Mennonite families have travelled from their homes in icy quarters of the U.S. and Canada to Pinecraft, a small, sunny neighborhood in Sarasota, Florida. Arriving on chartered buses specializing in the transportation of “Plain people” from areas such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, they rent modest bungalows and stay for weeks, or sometimes months, at a time. It’s vacation. For many, it’s the one time of the year that they spend with people from communities other than their own.
ST. LAWRENCE, NY - In 2015, state and St. Lawrence county officials met with representatives of the Amish community to discuss how to increase safety when it comes to horse-drawn buggies.The all-black buggies can be difficult to see by drivers at night as well as in poor traveling conditions.Injuries and deaths often occur when motorized vehicles strike buggies using the same roadways.
MADISON, WI - Gov. Scott Walker signed into law this week a bill drafted to make roads safer for both auto and buggy drivers, mainly by requiring more visibility for horse-drawn vehicles.Authored by Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, and Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, the bill mandates that animal-drawn vehicles have a rear flashing yellow or amber strobe light, in addition to the one white headlight and two red rear lights already required by law.
Illinois - The proposed Illinois Amish Heritage Center has the potential to do more than inform the outside world.The Illinois Amish Heritage Preservation Foundation has set an ambitious goal: to build a heritage center in southwestern Douglas County. Already, the group has more than half of the $1.7 million needed to bring its plan to fruition.On 5 acres along Illinois 133, the Illinois Amish Heritage Center is to become a living-history farm and museum, so modern-day visitors gain an appreciation and understanding of the unique life and culture of this Illinois faith community that dates back to the mid-19th century.
MIDDLEFIELD, OH - Two West Farmington men are among three suspects accused of stealing a freezer full of ice cream in an Amish community.The Geauga County Sheriff's Office says Raymond Welz, Jr. and Mark Boggess, both of West Farmington, as well as Michael Pascal of Middlefield, have been arrested in connection with the crime.Detectives say Welz and Pascal were charged on March 21 with breaking and entering and theft after they were caught on a trail camera allegedly stealing a freezer an Amish freezer house on Old State Road in Middlefield Township.
WEST CHESTER, PA - A Sadsbury man was formally sentenced Tuesday to state prison for a series of burglaries at Amish owned businesses in western Chester County and Lancaster County.Jesse Lewis Johnson, 30, had pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary, and single counts of robbery, simple assault, flight to avoid apprehension and fleeing and eluding police in January. His sentence of 7 1/2 to 15 years behind bars was dependent on whether he paid restitution to his victims. If he did not, he would have faced trial and possible additional time behind bars.
MOUNT HOPE, OH - A sobering commitment to nonresistance in wartime was the theme given the most attention at the 13th Anabaptist Identity Conference.Hours of lectures on the experiences of nonresistant Christians during the American Revolution, the Civil War and World War I made up the bulk of the talks given March 15-17 in the horse sale barn at the Mount Hope auction complex.
Palm Desert resident John Peters, 66, came from a confused family background—which, in anyone else, might have led to dysfunction, insecurity and/or any number of psychologically traumatic results. But this ebullient man has not only prevailed—he has triumphed.Peters was born the youngest of four children in Intercourse, Penn. (Yes, that’s really the name.) His father died when Peters was 6 months old—and his mother remarried and moved, leaving behind the four kids. His two brothers were sent to an orphanage school; his sister was placed in a similar school.“There were no social programs back then for a young mother like there are today,” Peters says gently.
SARASOTA, FL - There’s a subtle quilt pattern that runs through Sarasota’s newest hotel.The small squares of color, along with handmade furniture and a few tastefully hung straw hats behind the front desk, set a unique tone for the 98-room Carlisle Inn off Bahia Vista Street near Beneva Road, just northeast of its sister property, Der Dutchman restaurant.This is a simple but elegant place.
While most tourists are planning their trips to smorgasbords and souvenir shops, the heart of Lancaster County gathers every year in the mud.It's mud sale season: The time of year where Amish and non-Amish (or "English") gather to bid on goods while eating hot dogs and drinking milkshakes.Farm equipment, hand-made quilts, horses, furniture, wagon wheels, a circular saw that "runs good" — it all can be yours at a mud sale, if you're quick enough with your bid.
Iron bars slammed shut with a clang in March 1958. It was the sound of the old order colliding with the new world.Horse-drawn buggies filled parking spaces outside Wayne County Juvenile Court in Wooster as dozens of Amish people waited quietly for the proceedings to begin March 12. The men wore black suits, suspenders and long beards. The women sat in long black dresses, black bonnets and boots.
LOOGOOTEE, IN - Stanley Knepp hears it all the time from friends and acquaintances outside the Church.Questions about avoidance of technology, beard styles and the differences between Mennonites and the Amish.“If I don’t know the answer, I’ll tell you I don’t know the answer,” he says before breaking into a big grin. “It never gets old.”
EDEN TOWNSHIP, PA - State police say a man pretending to be a police officer briefly detained an Amish buggy in Eden Township on March 4.The buggy driver told police a car pulled behind him and flashed red and blue lights. When the buggy stopped, the car’s driver asked if the Amish man had alcohol or drugs before driving away.The unidentified man appeared to be in his 20s, and wore a white T-shirt and sunglasses. His vehicle was a white and black decommissioned police vehicle, possibly a Dodge Charger.
DOVER, DE - A Hartly man received two years in prison Thursday morning involving a fatal hit and run crash with an Amish buggy in western Kent County last year.Robert H. Eckeard, 29 years old when arrested on Sept. 6, 2017, will serve a year of Level II probation upon release. He was convicted of leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death. Other charges were not further prosecuted after the guilty plea was accepted by Superior Court Judge William L. Witham Jr.The Delaware State Police determined Eckeard fled from the scene after his vehicle struck a horse-drawn carriage on Halltown Road (Del. 8) near the intersection of Hartly Road (Del. 44) on Aug. 31, 2017. Police said the buggy was attempting to make a left turn when struck.
Many people think of the Amish as living without. These devout communities, predominantly located in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, go without cars, TVs, computers, phones or even the electricity needed to run so much of 21st century gadgetry. But what researchers who have studied them have found is what the Amish have a surplus of: good health in late life. The average American life expectancy is currently just under 79 years. Back in 1900, it was only 47, but for early–20th century Amish it was already greater than 70. Over the decades, most Americans have caught up in overall life expectancy, but the Amish still have a significant edge in late-life health, with lower rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. So how do they do it?
TEXAS - It may not be in the headlines much any more, but months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017, the area is still recovering, and Mennonites and Amish from all over the United States are quietly contributing to those recovery efforts.Small towns, in particular, have suffered in the aftermath of Harvey's destruction without much help from the outside world."It didn't take long for us to realize this was where we were supposed to be for now," Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Executive Director Kevin King said in a statement in September. "And we are there for a lot of reasons. There is tremendous need. These are towns that are often last on the list. They become first on our list."
VAN BUREN COUNTY, MI - When it comes to horsepower, the Amish have a lot of it. Police are warning motorists, though, that they need the roads just as much as drivers do."A lot of these Amish people are moving into the township and the community we need to raise awareness early on before there is a problem,” said Chief Derek Babcock with the Bangor Fire Department.Babcock and Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott are teaming up. They said Amish buggy's have the same rights to the road as farm equipment and motorcycles.
JACKSON TOWNSHIP, OH - An Amish man hauling lumber on a horse-drawn trailer was killed Thursday, reports say.The accident occurred Thursday afternoon on Ohio 89 in Ashland County, the Mansfield News Journal reports. Meno L. Yoder, 51, of Polk, was hauling a stack of flat lumber on the trailer when it went off the right side of the road.
SUGAR GROVE TOWNSHIP, PA - An eight-year conflict has left a Pennsylvania family struggling to practice their faith against a sewage ordinance in Sugar Grove Township, Pennsylvania. Joseph and Barbara Yoder, an Old Order Amish family, have been ordered by local courts to install an electric pump in their outhouse, an action that directly contradicts their religious beliefs.Court documents from the original 2016 suit indicate that the Yoder family had previously been exempted in 2008 from the city’s demand that they connect their outhouse to the local power grid if the family paid both the connection fees and sewer charges along with monthly charges. Although the family kept up with these demands, in December 2010 the sewage authority filed a municipal claim against the Yoder’s, allegedly for “nonpayment of sewer charges.”
MADISON, WI - A new law authored by a pair of local lawmakers to ensure more safety on our roadways was passed by the State Assembly on Tuesday. State Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), and Representative John Spiros (R-Marshfield) worked together on the bill, and Spiros says AB 475 requires all animal-drawn vehicles, such as those used by the Amish and Mennonite communities, to have two amber blinking or strobe lights mounted on the rear of the vehicle.
PENN YAN, N.Y. (AP) — Rising populations of Amish and Mennonite communities in more rural parts of New York state over the past decade have meant an increase in horse-drawn buggies on the roads, and increasing concerns from law enforcement over collisions between the buggies and motorized vehicles.The New York Times reported that while there's no separate tracking of buggy accidents as a distinct traffic category, officials say it's a familiar problem, ranging from accidents where people are hurt to more serious collisions resulting in deaths of the buggy riders and the horses. Nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 101 fatalities from buggy accidents between 2011 and 2016.
I had covered many things in my 20-plus years as a reporter — but never a deadly buggy accident.Recently, though, a news brief from upstate New York caught my eye. A young Amish man driving a buggy died after colliding with a car, according to the article, which called the accident the second local buggy collision in an hour’s time.I called some government officials upstate and learned that, although statistics are scant, so-called buggy-to-bumperaccidents happen a lot. The New York State Police connected me with a sergeant devoted to dealing with Amish buggy concerns, Sgt. Bernard Kennett.
CLEVELAND, OH - Amish bishop Sam Mullet is asking the Cleveland federal judge who sent him to prison to overturn his convictions for orchestrating a series of beard and hair-cutting attacks on his enemies.Mullet argues in a motion filed Friday that his former attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ed Bryan, made a series of errors while representing him at his 2012 trial, and through two appeals. Had Bryan not committed the errors, Mullet's trial may have ended differently, the motion says.
PENNSYLVANIA - The case Yoder v. Sugar Grove Area Sewer Authority was heard in a Pennsylvania state appellate court, concluding a five-year legal battle when a 2-1 court decision ruled the Old Order Amish couple has to connect to a sewer system using electric equipment.The family can appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court but that does not guarantee its appeal will move forward."Americans should be free to follow their religious beliefs and this should be no less true for those like the Amish with unusual beliefs," responds Chief Counsel Randall Wenger of the Pennsylvania-based Independence Law Center.
SUGAR GROVE, PA - The Commonwealth Court has ruled that connecting an Amish couple’s property to a municipal sewer system using an electric pump does not violate the couple’s religious freedom.A split three-judge Commonwealth Court panel consisting of Judge Robert Simpson and Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini affirmed a Warren County trial court’s denial of the injunction requested by Joseph and Barbara Yoder. The Yoders asked the court to rule that they need not be required to connect to the sewer authority system through electric means. Judge Patricia A. McCullough filed a dissent.
WARREN COUNTY, PA - After a legal battle spanning more than five years, a Pennsylvania court has agreed with a lower court ruling that ordered a Warren County Amish family to connect to a municipal sewer, even though doing so requires the use of an electric pump.In an opinion issued Jan. 5, a divided Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court said the Yoder family, who are Old Order Amish and avoid use of electricity for religious reasons, should complete the mandatory connection "without further delay."