The Official Historical Society of Schuylkill County

Year End Activity at the Society


Happenings at the Museum
Jay Zane

Many personnel changes occurred during the month of December.  The Board of Directors bid farewell to loyal long-time member, Richard Tomko, a former St. Clair and Blue Mountain American Government high school educator.  Additionally, he is the present mayor of St. Clair and continues to devote much time to his community.  The Society looks forward to Mayor Tompko’s continued support and assisting the Society in a volunteer capacity.  Dave Derbes, a former Society president, is also leaving the board as a voting member but may remain in an ex officio non-voting role.  Three vacancies were also filled.  Returning to the Board are Frackville’s Jean Dellock, who to anyone involved in Schuylkill County genealogy, needs no further introduction.  Jean will continue to be the Society’s Librarian, head researcher, and Board Secretary.  Bill Van Stone is the second returnee and a 1962 Pottsville H.S. graduate who remains a proficient electrician.  Bill will certainly “brighten up” the Society as his electrical and computer expertise brought the Society into the 21st century.  His help was, is, and will be greatly appreciated.  A third vacancy was filled by a newcomer, Dave Williams, a professional land surveyor, mining engineer and president of the Valley View Park Association.  Williams has given local history lectures on various topics in the past, including a recent well-received lecture on Colonel Henry Pleasants and the battle of the Crater.   His multi-talents and enthusiasm will be a great addition to the Society.

Newly elected board members will be Martin Heffron from the Greater Minersville area.  Heffron is an Army veteran, who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and education degree from Alfred University in New York and his Masters of Arts and transpersonal studies from Atlantic University, Virginia. He is a retired specialized carpentry instructor at the State Correctional Institution/Mahanoy.  Lastly, the Society is pleased to have the Honorable John Domalakes of Frackville join the board.  Domalakes, a graduate of Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, (now De Sales University), received his juris doctorate from Dickinson Law School and after practicing law in Frackville was elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County.  Besides his judicial duties, he is a community activist who has devoted much energy and time to the Frackville public library and the Knights of Lithuania as well as leading history/natures hikes throughout the county.

The Society also bids farewell to Executive Director Tom Drogalis, who has served in that capacity for the past five years.  Tom decided to retire and spend more time with his family and his deacon ministry (as well as bike ride and play guitar gigs in the area).  Tom, the renaissance man that he is, did more than hold a title at Society.  He was active in promoting the Society’s mission, appearing monthly on WPPA radio shows, giving talks around the county, putting up exhibits, and assisting in a variety of tasks, from the difficult and skilled to the menial.  Big shoes to fill to say the least!  Hopefully the Society will hold on to him in some volunteer capacity.

Diana Prosymchak, the Society’s loyal Treasurer and Gift Shop Manager, was elected as Interim Executive Director until further decision by the incoming board of directors.  Diana, (who I fondly refer to as the Society’s “earth mother”) is from Mary D and she has devoted much energy to the Society over the years in a managerial capacity as well as coordinating volunteers and assisting Tom Drogalis – all above and beyond the call of duty.  She truly lives up to the Society’s mission statement of preserving and promoting our rich county history.  The outgoing board indicated confidence that she will do well in her new position aided by a newly invigorated board and enthusiastic group of volunteers.  Diana was also given a hearty endorsement by the retiring Tom Drogalis.  By accepting the executive position, Diana resigned as treasurer, to be succeeded by Minersville’s Tom Eltringham, who has in the past assisted the Society whenever requested, with his high degree of computer and organizational skills.  Tom had served in the role of treasurer for several organizations in the past.  President and Vice President will remain with those roles filled by me and John Walsh respectively.  Walsh is an energetic member who had created and led the much talked about “haunted history” walking tours for the past two years and who does numerous educational programs for school children.

If you want to suggest any ideas for the 2019 or beyond, please do so.  Personally, I was pleased with the recent contact I made with the Phillips Van Heusen and I hope to develop a relationship with the prestigious company that had its humble start in Schuylkill County.  I was also pleased with the new additions to our Molly Maguire Collection from the descendants of the late District Attorney, George Kaercher. More about that later….

         “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”