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Sunbury ( ; "Sunberry") is a city in Northumberland Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, United Statesmarker. The city is located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, just downstream of the confluence of its east and west branches. The population was 10,610 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Northumberland Countymarker .


Sunbury's origins date to 1772. It was named after an English village near Londonmarker. Located at the site of the former Fort Augustamarker, Sunbury was incorporated as a borough on March 24, 1797, and as a city on December 29, 1920.

Thomas Edison installed the first successful three-wire electric lighting system in July 1883 at what was then known as the City Hotel. In honor of the event, the hotel was renamed the Edison Hotel.


Sunbury is located at (40.863894, -76.789174) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.2 square miles (5.6 km²), of which, 2.1 square miles (5.5 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (1.40%) is water.


[[Image:Sunbury-Lewisburg-Selinsgrove CSA.png|thumb|left|300px|Location of the Sunbury-Lewisburg-Selinsgrove CSA and its components:


Sunbury is the largest principal city of the Sunbury-Lewisburg-Selinsgrove CSAmarker, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Sunburymarker (Northumberland County), Lewisburgmarker (Union Countymarker), and Selinsgrovemarker (Snyder Countymarker) micropolitan areas, which had a combined population of 173,726 at the 2000 census.

As of the census of 2000, there were 10,610 people, 4,540 households, and 2,637 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,997.1 people per square mile (1,932.3/km²). There were 5,072 housing units at an average density of 2,388.8/sq mi (923.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.26% White, 1.29% African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.91% from other races, and 1.11% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.09% of the population.

There were 4,540 households, of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.2% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.9% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 87.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,893, and the median income for a family was $33,148. Males had a median income of $26,497 versus $18,994 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,350. About 14.6% of families and 18.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.7% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over.


Sunbury is a city of the third class. Pennsylvania Third Class Cities are municipalities with a population of at least 10,000 but less than 80,000 residents. The city operates under a commission form of government, with a Mayor and four Councilmen. The mayor is a member and serves as president of the council. All third class cities are governed by the Third Class City Code. Each Councilman and Mayor is in charge of one of the city’s major departments. The current mayor is David Persing.

These officials and the controller and treasurer are elected at-large for four-year terms. Appointments of all other city officers and employees are made by the council.

The city has a police department headed by a chief of police. There is an extensive staff including police officers, a K-9 unit and clerical support. One method the police department uses to battle the local drug problem is a program called DARE which is an outreach effort in the schools. They also coordinate with state and federal officials to stage drug sweeps of the city.

The Sunbury Municipal Authority manages the following services for residents, businesses and industries of the City of Sunbury and parts of Upper Augusta: drinking water, wastewater, flood control, recycling, and the Municipal Transfer Station for large rubbish. Residents may bring their trash there for disposal for a per bag or by weight fee.

In July 2007 the city council voted to begin a program aimed at dealing with blighted properties. Initially the program will address seven properties. The properties will be demolished at the taxpayer's expense and put to public use.

The city is located in the 108th District Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the 27th district of the Pennsylvania Senate in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. With regards to the U.S. House of Representatives, residents are in Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district.



In 2006 the following crime statistics were reported to the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System by the city police department:

Sex related offenses - 20

Robbery - 7

Assaults - 178

Property Offenses - 460

Arson - 4

Drug Violations - 54

Total Alcohol Crimes - 36

Are You Aware? Pennsylvania State Police Focus Report 2006.

Nineteen registered sex offenders live within the city in 2006 as reported by the Pennsylvania Megan's Law website.


In 2007 the following crime statistics were reported to the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System by the city police department:

Sex related offenses - 18

Robbery - 2

Assaults - 185

Property Offenses - 419

Arson - 8

Drug Violations - 46

Total Alcohol Crimes - 56

Are You Aware? Pennsylvania State Police Focus Report 2007.

Twenty registered sex offenders either live or work within the city in 2007-2008 as reported by the Pennsylvania Megan's Law website.

Notable businesses

Great Coasters International is a world-known roller coaster design and manufacturing firm and lists its contact address in Sunbury, though it is actually located outside of the city limits.

Weis Markets, a regional supermarket chain operating in five states, is headquartered in Sunbury. The company is a significant employer in the city and the region.


200 px

The local public school system is the Shikellamy School District. The administrative offices are located at Administration Center, 200 Island Blvd, Sunbury, PA 17801. Shikellamy High Schoolmarker has a 78% graduation rate according to the district report card 2005-2006. In 11th grade, 49% were proficient in math. For reading 62% were proficient in 2005-2006. The high school is ranked 384th out of 606 public high schools in Pennsylvania.

In 2007, the Pittsburgh Business Times ranked the district 434th out of 499 Pennsylvania school districts based on three years of Pennsylvania System of Student Assessment test scores.

The Shikellamy School Board set the budget at $34.62 million for 2007-2008. The board levies a variety of taxes to support its programs. Taxes include 62.5 mills real estate tax in 2007. Per capita taxes are $5 per resident. An earned income taxes of one-half of 1 percent of income yields a revenue of approximately $1.8 million. Additionally, the real estate transfer tax of one-half percent (Nothumberland borough, Point Township, Rockefeller Township) and one percent (Snydertown borough) is levied on real estate transfers.

Voters rejected a tax referendum in May 2007 which would have increased local earned income tax by 0.5 percent to reduce property taxes for homeowners and farmers by $176.

SUN Area Career & Technology Center is a regional vocational school, offering adult education classes, vocational education, and technical career training. SUN Tech serves over 1500 people annually. ISO9001 and Middle States Accredited. SUN Tech was presented with the Significant Achievement Award in Education for raising their Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program criteria score to 648 points, a 345 point increase from 303 points in August, 2000.

Residents also have a wide selection of alternative schools. By law, the local public school must provide transportation to schools within of the borders of the school district at no charge to the student.

Parochial schools

  • St. Monica's School is a Catholic Pre-K through 8th grade parish elementary school in the Harrisburg Diocese and is affliated with IU 16. Students are enrolled from Saint Monica, St. Pius X, Sacred Heart, and other central Pennsylvania parishes. Noncatholics are also enrolled from various local school districts.
  • Sunbury Christian Academy offers pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The campus is located just north of the borough of Northumberland. The student population is nearing 160. Programs and student accomplishments are noted regularly in local media.
  • Northumberland Christian School was founded in 1972 and is a ministry of the First Regular Baptist Church of Northumberland, Pa. The school offers an educational program for students from preschool through high school.

Charter schools

  • Connections Academy provides a form of public school that students can attend from home. This is a unique program that combines strong parental involvement, the expertise and accountability of publicly funded education, and the flexibility of online classes. Centered on meeting students needs and goals. Has a K-11th program. Students are required to take all state mandated, standardized tests in person at locations designated by the school.
  • SusQ-Cyber Charter School provides students in grades 9-12 with an electronically delivered accredited high school curriculum.
  • 21st Century Cyber Charter School is a state accredited, diploma granting school serving Pennsylvania students in grades 6 through 12. Modifications are made to suit individual student learning styles, varying academic levels and scheduling needs. Most classes are offered in honors, college prep, and career paths. All of the classes are designed to prepare the student for standardized tests such as the PSSAs. A specialized program meets the individual needs of Gifted students permitting them to escape the constraints of the local education entities.
  • Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School provides a structured yet flexible, interactive environment in a program for Kindergarten through 10th grade. The rigorous instruction, high standards, informed guidance, and individual attention provide each student with the opportunity to be highly successful. Teachers interact with students via email. Additionally the Elluminate classroom gives the student access to their teachers during the teacher’s office hours to ask questions related to content of a subject. "An independent audit of cyber-charter schools by KPMG Consulting, which was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, praised PAVCS for offering a well-researched program and an appropriate assessment plan."

The Central Susquehanna LPN Career Center, located in Sunbury, provides a one year full time program to prepare the indidivual to enter a career in licensed practical nursing. Classroom instruction and laboratory experience are offered in Sunbury. Affiliated hospitals, nursing care facilities, doctors' offices and childcare settings provide clinical experience.


The Degenstein Community Library is located at 40 South Fifth Street. It provides a wide variety of print, video, microfilm and online resources. Programs promote reading for all age levels.

The Northumberland County Historical Society maintains the Charlotte Darrah Walter Genealogical Library. It contains material on local history along with thousands of records of early familiesfrom Northumberland County and surrounding counties. Access to records is on a fee basis. There are also permanent exhibits dealing with the site in prehistoric times, at the time of the Moravian Mission and blacksmith shop, and Fort Augusta during the French and Indian War and later under the Americans, during the Revolutionary War.

The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way in 2006 commissioned a study regarding what matters most in area communities. They found that some major concerns were: alcohol and drug use among all age groups and its effects on the community, the dependency on social services and assistance across generations, and a lack of public transportation. It is the intention of the organization to focus spending on these issues.


The local newspaper is The Daily Item, and there are a variety of local radio stations, including the All News/Sports channel WKOK 1070 kHz AM, the Big Country Radio Network (WLGL 92.3 FM, WYGL 100.5 FM, and WWBE 98.3 FM) and WFYY Y106.5 FM and 94.1 WQKX.

Notable people

Parks and recreation

The extensive Sunbury Riverfront Park Project is in the planning and implementation stages in Sunbury. Major sections of the flood wall will be removed to allow access to an amphitheatre that is to be built in the flood plain, along the Susquehanna River. Concerns have been raised about opening the flood wall. As a result of several devastating floods that resulted in substantial property damage and loss of life, the extensive floodwall protection system was designed and built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1951. Additional height was added to the wall in 2003. The system has provided protection from 15 major flood events over the past 50 years. In 1972, flood waters from Hurricane Agnes crested at at Sunbury, two feet higher than the crest in 1936. The wall held back the water and residents showed their gratitude in messages they wrote on the wall.

Hurricane Agnes in late June 1972 was blamed for 10 deaths in Lancaster County, eight in Dauphin County, five in York County and four in both Northumberland and Luzerne counties, according to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

Additionally, a multimillion dollar fish ladder is being built to mitigate the impediment of the shad migration up the Susquehanna River that the annual inflation of the Adam T. Bower Fabri Dam causes.

The Adam T.marker Bower Memorial Dammarker, an inflatable fabric-tube dam barrage impounding the Susquehanna River, creates a 3,000 acre (12 km²) Augusta Lake for recreation. It is inflated in May and deflated in the fall.

The city offers baseball fields, a skating park, tennis courts, playgrounds, a community pool and a small park that is located next to the county courthouse, in the downtown area.

A vacant building in the Shikellamy State Park along the river is under consideration for redevelopment as an environmental research and education center. Designed in the 1960s, the facility was originally the Basse Beck Environmental Center. It has been vacant for several years. Several restaurants have failed at the site.


The city and state struggle economically, part of America's "Rust Belt". A Brookings Institute publication has cited reasons including a lack of inter-municipal coordination and cooperation, a changing employment base and a dearth of jobs paying a living wage, out-migration of young people, an aging population, the need for workforce development, and an inequitable local tax structure.

The Susquehanna Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO) received $173,500 in planning grant funding (2005) to support the redevelopment of the Wilhold Manufacturing facility located in Sunbury. The BOS funding paid for a market study, phase II environmental study, wetland review, traffic impact study and title survey. The site, an former rail yard and plastic manufacturing plant, is to be developed into four, shovel-ready sites. It was suggested that the redevelopment of this facility will result in the creation of 120 jobs. The site was purchased by Moran Industries, based in Watsontown, for $200,000. Moran is using the space for food grade storage.

External links

Notes and references

  1. History of the Edison Hotel
  2. MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  3. COMBINED STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENT CORE BASED STATISTICAL AREAS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  4. Scott, Rob, " City to take over 7 vacant houses." The Daily Item, July 24, 2007.
  5. Megan's Law Website
  6. Valley schools all over the chart, Daily Item June 6, 2007
  7. Shikellamy school board adopts $34.6M budget, Daily Item, June 20, 2007
  8. Shikellamy budget approved Daily Item, May 19, 2007
  9. Tax reform proposal falls in all Valley school districts, Daily Item, May 19, 2007.
  10. 24 PS 17-1726-A Transportation to charter schools
  11. Connections Academy
  12. Boss, Shira, "Virtual charters: public schooling, at home", Christian Science Monitor, January 2002.
  13. Northumberland County Historical Society web site.
  14. "Group works to define quality of life issues." The Daily Item, July 15, 2007.
  15. Background Information and Data, Sunbury Riverfront Park Project
  16. History of Sunbury The flood wall SEDA-COG, Oct. 12, 2005.
  17. Tropical Storm Agnes in the Susquehanna River Basin June 21 - 24, 1972, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Information Sheet
  18. DCNR to Remove Last Impediment to Shad on Susquehanna,
  19. Public parks of Sunbury
  20. Education center planned for vacant marina building, Daily Item. June 1, 2007.
  21. Alter, Theodore R. "Strenghtening Rural Pennsylvania" Brookings Institute. March 2007.
  22. Business in our Sites award
  23. Finnerty, John, "Moran buys Wilhold site", The Daily Item, Jan 13, 2006.

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