Sun Gazette Editorial - August 2000

My wife Melinda and I moved to Williamsport in August 1998. I had just recently sold my portion of a manufacturing business and Melinda had left her position at a company in Providence, RI. I grew up the son of a Navy SEAL and have lived all over the world moving with my family each time my father was transferred. My mother and father are both Williamsport natives, as were their parents, and many previous generations before them - many of who lived their entire lives in Williamsport beginning in the early 1800s. I have always been intrigued by what drew and kept my family in this area. My grandfather, Dr. Edward Lyon always referred to Lycoming County as "God's Country." He told me once when I was visiting from near by Penn State that I would someday live in Williamsport. At the time I couldn't imagine why and now my only regret is that it took my twenty years to figure it out.

After I left college I traveled to Boston to seek my fame and fortune in the music business. To make sure I wasn't a starving musician I invested in an audio business that turned out to be more of a success than my music. In the early 1990s I started a guitar case manufacturing company known as "Case The Music" - or CTM. CTM grew as a company that eventually had offices in Boston and Fall River, MA and a manufacturing facility in Tepatitlan, Mexico. Our principal products were duffel bags and backpacks for LL Bean and High Sierra, as well as certain accessory items for Cabela's.

My primary responsibility was director of logistics and customer service. Getting fabric cut in the United States, assembling components, shipping to Mexico and overseeing production at our Mexican plant became my life. I spent at least 10 days of every month for a period of over 2 years in Mexico. It was in Mexico that I began to take an interest in how people interact as a society and how the actions of a few can affect so many. I observed first hand a county divided - not by walls, or mountains or rivers, but by isolation. It is not intended for the many factions of Mexican society to unite for fear they would become one voice and thus too powerful. Isolation and solitude lead to apathy and selflessness, both of which are extremely contagious. I met so many people who had no idea where their families came from or had even ventured outside their own village. What we will become can only be determined by who we are. If we do not know ourselves it is impossible to interact with others. If we cannot interact with others we have no sense of community.

Last year I was hired as the executive director of the Lycoming Housing Development Corporation. My first formal act was to change the name of the organization to the Lycoming Neighborhood Development Corporation {LNDC}. The nucleus of every community is the neighborhood. With the help from organizations like "Our Towns 2010" I hope LNDC can link all the neighborhoods in Lycoming County into a single community to strengthen the bond that will assure unity and discourage the solitude that eventually destroys communities. It is the sense of community that is woven into the fabric of this county that enlightens me to this area.

Quality of life is determined by many things - yet when ever I ask someone what is important to their quality of life I get the same answer. A great place to raise a family. We all may not need forty years to figure out what is truly important - but I have learned that everything that is necessary for a great quality of life is here, in this area, right now. Whether it is the embrace of the mountains or the calming flow of the Susquehanna, or the honesty when someone calls you friend, a firm handshake or simply the pace that is geared for true happiness, Lycoming County is where I will always call my home. And although I wasn't born here, or raised here, it makes me want to stay here when someone shakes my hand, smiles and says welcome back.

Edward Lyon, Jr.