These buildings have important stories to tell

We’d like to send along a couple of Sun-Gazette shout-outs today to two people whose names now appear on local buildings — and for good reason.

Larry A. Ward graduated in 1966 from the former Williamsport Technical Institute, which later became the Williamsport Area Community College and is now Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Decades after his graduation, a newly revamped building on campus bears his name — the Larry A. Ward Machining Technologies Center.

That followed his gift of $1 million to the college — the largest alumni gift in the school’s history.

It was a bit of appreciation for the school that gave him all of the tools he needed for success as an engineer, manufacturing designer and business owner.

Manufacturing is alive and well, he told the crowd at the building’s dedication ceremony, adding that the local college “is what America needs to bring manufacturing back to America.”

That’s a sentiment many people have come to appreciate in recent times. For too many years — for decades — American manufacturing jobs have been lost in the pursuit of cheap labor overseas.

Now there’s a desire to bring manufacturing back to our shores. The tools for doing just that may be found right here in Williamsport.

Our next shout-out goes to 97-year-old Eugene “Geno” Ciccareli, who has been much more than just a member of the Sons and Daughters of Italy Lodge 138 in the city’s Newberry neighborhood.

In the lodge’s early years, Ciccareli was known as a binder.

“He was the glue that held this place together,” said the lodge’s Philip A. Preziosi, a former city mayor.

“When the lodge had its rough times, Geno was there to pull it back together.”

Some people may have been ready to write off the lodge, but “it was Ciccareli who kept us going and stepped up to the plate.”

It’s good that he did. This lodge, much like other social clubs, preserves the cultural heritage of its members.

Williamsport has long had an Italian presence, even a section once known as “Little Italy” that was displaced by flooding and redevelopment in the past century.

Now the Italian presence is back in the city, and back with vigor, according to Preziosi.

And so it seems appropriate that the restored headquarters of Lodge 138 will bear Ciccareli’s name.


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