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Ohio Community Amish School Inspections Complete

I gripe a lot about heavy-handed government treatment of the Amish, but for this story I have no complaints.  An Ohio community recently completed fire safety inspections of Amish schools in their area.  It sounds like the matter was very sensitively, respectfully and even-handedly handled.   And in the process there are now some safer Amish schools in the area.  Click here to read the full article.

Van Crash Injures Amish; Barn-Raising

An Amish family in central Pennsylvania had the misfortune of being plowed into from behind by a van.  Three of their children were hospitalized.  Anytime such an accident occurs and there are no fatalties, though, big time blessings can be counted.  Click here to read.  The driver of the van said she crested a hill and the buggy was right there.  I sympathize with her because that can happen, which is why slow travel is essential in hilly Amish areas.  I'm just speculating, but the van driver probably wasn't speeding which could be why there were no fatalaties.

Meanwhile, here is a beautifully written article about a barn-raising in Pennsylvania. The writer of the article was very fortunate to have been able to witness such an event. Amish barn-raisings, for a variety of reasons, just aren't as common as they once were.  They still happen, though, especially after a structure gets destroyed by a fire or a tornado.  I have to admit I rolled my eyes a bit when the writer describes the noon meal being packed with "seven sweets and seven sours."  I've found this to be more of a tourist-based myth than an Amish culinary reality. 

Amish Family's Home Burns...

The largest Amish settlement in New York has long been around the Jamestown area in the far western area of the state. The Amish population has been steadily growing, though, elsewhere in the Empire State. The Mohawk Valley has seen a large influx of Amish and there has been a community for decades in the "North Country" near Watertown. It was near here at an Amish family's home became consumed with flames, cause unknown. Click here to read.

Mennonites in the News

Mennonites enjoy a large presence in the Canadian prairie province of Manitoba.  Many of them are descendants of Russian Mennonites who came to the area long ago.  One town is divided over recent attempts to make the municipality "wet" as opposed to its current dry status.  I'm not a big fan of alcohol. I can take it or leave it and when you throw in all the societal problems alcohol can cause I just assume leave it.  However, historically, the proponents of allowing alcohol in this Mennonite enclave are correct.  Alcohol has traditionally been consumed by Mennonites and even Amish.  In fact, alcoholism is a big problem in some Amish communities.  Church elders have usually taken a view of "alcohol is okay, in moderation." 

Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania town is embracing a new Mennonite church in town. The article gives some good history of the Anabaptist movement.

And, lastly, I've been railing lately against over-development in Lancaster County, PA.  I rolled my eyes when I saw this article.  Puh-leeze, people don't want to go to Lancaster County for bone china, wireless internet, and caviar.  If they do, then the Lancaster County I've known is slowly disappearing....

Scrapple Stuff

Scrapple is a staple in many Amish kitchens, especially during hog butchering season, which is usually during the winter.  The dish seems to be falling out of favor among younger Amish, but the dish still has diehards among older Pennsylvania Dutch. Click here to read an interesting article about this pork treat, and, um, the story even describes a place that serves VEGETARIAN SCRAPPLE??  Seems like sacrilege, but also quite delicious.

Breaking News: Amish Men Found Guilty Of Improperly Lighting Buggies

I'm still trying to find out more information on this story....but, here we go again..this battle crops up from time to time...usually the Amish lose.  It is a public safety issue....I don't know how I feel about....generally I think the Amish should just be left alone, but, I don't know...anyway, read the latest here.  I'll try to get more information on this and post on Friday.

Neat Sounding Store; More Permit Trouble

Twenty years ago the Amish presence in Illinois was pretty much limited to the Arthur area (one of my favorite settlements).    Today, Arthur remains the largest and oldest Amish community in the Land of Lincoln, but the "plain presence" is has been growing in other parts of the state.  This is an article that describes the recent opening of a really neat sounding Amish "country store" in a rural area between Galesburg, Illinois and Burlington, Iowa.  I wish this store was near me! Click here to read the article and if any of our site visitors have a chance to check this place out, let us know how your trip was!  I'm just not very familiar with the Amish settlements in this area so any information would be interesting.

Also, today, more trouble in the Keystone State.  The same ultra-conservative Amish that recently raised the ire of nearby English for dumping raw sewage in fields are now being hassled for building without a permit.  The government response all seems a bit heavy-handed to me, but, whatever. Click here to read.

Bird-In-Hand Takes Flight; Pop Goes The Wallet...

Gee, just what Lancaster County, Pennsylvania needs: yet another commercial development, this one a $45 million dollar "village" created by cookbook author Phyllis Good.  SIGH, I must be writing the wrong kind of cookbooks, a $45 bus ticket is too often out of my budget!   Now, lest anyone think I'm being sour grapes here....I wish the Goods well....I just have always pretty consistently been viscerally opposed to these types of comercial developments.   Don't you love posh new subdivisions that have names like "The Forest Preserve" or "The Trails at Powder Falls?"(I just made those up, but you get the idea)....developers pave over "Powder Falls" and then slap the name of what they've destroyed on yet another cookie cutter subdivision.  This Bird-in-Hand "village" just strikes me as something similar....Bird-in-Hand USED to be a quaint village and now you have an attempt to capitalistically contrive one.....just doesn't work for me....In another generation the Amish of the area will probably all leave because of this commercialism, leaving behind only the cultural ghosts of what once was....Oh well, you be the here to read about the proposed "village."

And isn't this cool: my brother interviews me about my website for AOL's Walletpop money blog and now I'm featuring the article of him interviewing me....becomes one dizzying circle, but take a look, it's an interesting post!

The "Amish Highway", Grabill Grumbles

I've blogged before about a very, very unique (by the way "very unique" is actually grammatically incorrect....something is either unique or it's not...the use of "very" is redundant...but..SIGH, literary license) bike trail that runs through Ohio's Amish country.   What makes this trail so unique is that it is a combination bike/buggy trail.   This allows buggies a safe paved passage from one end of the county to the other without having to jockey for space with cars.  As an avid cyclist I am determined to make it to this cool trail.  Hopefully I'll be able to head there this spring on a warm day and do a video package to share with you all.  Meanwhile, to read a little bit more about the history of this project, click here.

I'm always a bit amused - and annoyed - when some people accuse Lovina of being "too commercial."  She hand-writes the column, mails it to me, and that's it.  I do all the "modern stuff" with it. Not so for other Amish than have clandestine computer rooms, growing businesses that employ generator-run sawmills and attract rumbling trucks.  Such growth in Amish businesses have some in the tiny town of Grabill, Indiana upset.

Amish Romance Novels

I'm going to post this article so that others can read it and perhaps comment. I have never read any of Wanda Brunstetter's Amish-themed novels, so I shouldn't comment on something I haven't read.  My gut reaction is to be skeptical that the stories really portray the Amish all that accurately, BUT, I don't know, I haven't read them.  I just often find that fiction takes so many literary licenses that the truth is often lost...and for fiction that is OK.  So have any of our site visitors read Wanda Brunstetter's increasingly popular works?  If so, what did you think? Is my skepticism unfounded?

Um...okay, a story circulates in a few Pennsylvania newspapers that an Amish woman went into labor in the greeting card aisle of a Wal-Mart.  A volunteer firefighter who was in the store at the time helped with the delivery, according to news accounts.  Now Wal-Mart is denying it ever happened.  Bizarre.  Seems like it should be pretty easy to confirm or deny this story....