A week before the longest night of the year, six people were killed and three orphaned.
The following day, the man believed to be responsible for those deaths was himself found dead.
It was almost the end of a year that had started with a long, cold winter.
And it was the beginning of vigils and offers of support, both emotional and financial, from the community for the survivors of the Dec. 15 murders of Nicole Stone at her home in the Pheasant Run apartment complex in Lower Salford; her sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and Aaron Flick, and their 14-year-old daughter Nina Flick in Souderton; and her mother and grandmother, Joanne Gilbert and Patricia Hill, in Lansdale.
Stone’s ex-husband, Bradley Stone, killed all six and seriously wounded 17-year-old Anthony Flick, investigators said.
Another of the top stories of 2014 was Franconia’s efforts to balance the books after several years of red ink that had initially been masked from the governing board and the public, township officials said. Taxes were hiked by 19 percent and 10 township jobs were eliminated, including those of four full-time and two part-time police officers. The officers have started legal action to attempt to have the layoffs reversed, and a citizens group has formed to try to help find other solutions to the town’s financial situation.
Two large vacant buildings — the former Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Franconia and the former Souderton Area High School in Souderton — are expected to be demolished in 2015 and the sites redeveloped.
Work to raze Pilgrim’s Pride has already begun. Bergey’s Auto Dealerships has bought the site and plans to move its Volvo-Mack truck center across the street to a portion of the Pilgrim’s Pride site.
Plans for the next phase in the planned redevelopment of the former high school are currently being reviewed by Souderton Borough. The total plans for the Souderton portion of the property include about 200 homes, along with a hotel, stores and restaurants. The only portion approved thus far is for the section of the site in what was a school parking lot at East Broad Street and School Lane. Construction of townhouses has already taken place in that section.
Work on a $1.7 million restoration project at the former Souderton train station is slated to start soon. Freight Train Brewing Co. plans to open a brew pub in one of the buildings.
Keystone Opportunity Center in Souderton got Christmas in July from gift-bearing masked “mysterious elf superheroes” whose identity was not revealed.
In September, the Baghurst Drive area of Upper Salford was placed on the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list. As many as 42 homes in the area could have contaminated wells, the EPA said.
In November, the re-done and improved intersection of Cowpath Road, Godshall Road and West Broad Street in Franconia reopened.
Newer, safer playground equipment, designed for use by all kinds of children, including those with special needs, was added to Chestnut Street Playground in Souderton. Community support and fundraising, along with a Community Development Block Grant, helped fund the work.
Throughout the year, the Indian Valley Public Library continued its efforts to recoup funding lost when Souderton Area School District ended its library tax. The library asked for an increase in library tax rates by the towns in the district and received some, but not all, of the requested increase.
In November, former Montgomery County Republican Party leader Robert Kerns pleaded no contest to indecent assault charges and was sentenced to two years probation. He must also register as a sex offender for 15 years.
In January, a three-part series on human trafficking opened the year for the Souderton Independent. In October, the print version of the publication got a new look.
Following are the Souderton Independent’s front page headlines of 2014:
Man jailed for sex trade business … Stover retires from local government … Clearing a path: Former corner store demolished … Playground bid approved … Human trafficking not just a global problem … Ministerium funds case manager position … Church may buy school building … Examining the social impact of human trafficking … Let the games begin: Peter Becker hosts Senior Winter Olympics … Borough beats budget projections … Awareness, legislation to combat trafficking … ‘The Last Romance’: DCP Theatre to portray life, love in the autumn years
Telford restaurant robbed … Enrichment program finds success … Marking a milestone: MCCC kicks off anniversary … Corbett lays out budget plan … Money coming down the tracks … Blaze destroys barn … Playground construction to begin … Prison guard heads to trial … The write stuff: Souderton author pens military fiction novel … Theater project remains stalled … Districts weigh in on budget proposal … Spreading goodwill: James Hange takes over as Goodwill Service chief
Fire destroys Souderton home … Man to face trial for assault by vehicle … Sweet business: Asher’s continues local chocolate legacy … Library funding once again on the agenda … Lower Salford patches up … Hybrid powered: Service station adds hybrid repairs … Township allows billboard … Playground renovations to begin … Conquering cancer: Survivor to be honored for efforts to fight cancer … Fire destroys home … Plans for former school site to be reviewed … Salford postpones vote on community park design … Development plans opposed … Houser joins Souderton council … Celebrations: Generations celebrates history with gala event
Official: Library in jeopardy … Mensch addresses education funding … Groundbreaking: Chestnut Street Playground project begins construction … Fair to begin with a bang … Council aims to update maintenance regulations … Going once: Farm auction recalls earlier time … School evacuated due to threat … Mensch talks social, economic priorities … Taste of something new: Leddy’s Pub sees changes with new menu, management … Council seeks answers on SAHS site … Franconia reviews police scheduling … Moving in: Secant Medical to move to Telford
SAHS ranked among best in PA … Fire destroys Telford home … Raising awareness: Brothers display comic book series about autism … Former school site plans revised … District brings down proposed tax increase … Play ball!: Team raises $1,000 for veterans organization … Site suggested for Superfund … Salford to hold meeting on park … Final challenge: Students to compete in finals of national economics competition … Township manager resigns … Strouse defeats Naughton … Old school is sold: Developer to buy former Lower Salford Elementary
Dropping in: Amputee parachutist visits Memorial Day event … Credit/debit card fraud continuing … Scavenger hunt to highlight towns … Demolition raises concerns … Fireworks set for Telford, Souderton … House of history: House brings history full circle … Station project gains interest … Former manager to receive half-year severance … Detour to begin: Detours to start at intersection of Cowpath, Godshall, West Broad … SAHS seniors shine at graduation … Library funding discussion continues … Fire destroys home … Board approves budget increase … Fireworks light up sky in Souderton … Monitoring well OK’d for Superfund site
Proposed Superfund site reviewed … Route 63 resurfacing set to begin … Making music: Summer education programs begin … Train station assessment planned … Rezoning approved for former Pilgrim’s Pride … Governor visits local businesses … Council, residents praise fireworks … Nigerian church leader visits … Clemens picked as 2014 Pillar of the Community … Potential tenant on tap … Jury acquits man of rape … Fundraising for freezers underway
Man arraigned in shooting case … Slime time comes to library … Making a mark: Camp draws up support for Alex’s Lemonade Stand … Township plans additional trail … Final Night Out: Franconia holds final National Night Out; Car show to continue … Surveillance systems considered … Residents question development plans … Making connections: SAHS faculty, staff visit homes of incoming students … Library funding discussed … Night Out: Souderton holds annual community event … Coffee shop to close … Community fair distributes $22K … Robbery, aggravated assault charges dropped … County report projects $1.5 million deficit
Judge denies new trial … Library to host series on World War I … Coming together: Block party brings neighborhood together after July shooting … Hammer hired as Franconia manager … Souderton approves apartment plans … History fair to focus on Montco during Civil War … Baghurst Drive put on Superfund list … New builders in the offing for former SAHS site … Arts and enter’train’ment … Ex-bookkeeper jailed for theft … Radar to control traffic light … Health and Wellness: Peter Becker Community hosts annual Health & Wellness Fair
Man jailed for standoff with police … Business expo to link up community … Remembering a friend: Candlelight vigil held in memory of Souderton Area High School senior … Franconia looks to fill budget gap … ‘He was our Superman’: Students remember late classmate at candlelight vigil … Donations for holidays behind schedule … Franconia grapples with budget … Townhouse plans submitted for next part of former SAHS property … New look coming to Souderton Independent … Layoffs include police … Fitzpatrick, Strouse debate on radio show … Independent’s new look reaches readers
Officers file grievance … Borough proposes 2 percent tax hike … Main Streets holds ribbon-cutting … Fitzpatrick wins in 8th District race … Judge denies cops’ request to delay layoffs … Mensch claims victory over Hansen for state Senate seat … Godshall defeats Miller … Military father surprises son … Franconia proposes 19 percent tax hike … Borough continues trash talk … SAHS hosts During the Day 5K … Residents protest layoffs … Telford OKs tax increase … Investigation continues into ICMS bomb threat … Lower Salford budgets for 3 percent tax hike … No tax hike proposed in Salford Township … Future plans revealed for two schools
Souderton OKs tax hike … U. Salford to hold the line on taxes … Univest funds Chromebooks for district … Franconia OKs tax hike … L. Salford OKs budget, tax hike … SASB leadership remains unchanged … Stone found dead … Intensive manhunt ends in muddy, murky woods … Surviving victim’s friends launch fundraising campaign
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