Sharpless started volunteering at young age|
Saturday, July 10, 2010
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
SANDY RIDGE - Since he was 12 years, old Sheldon Sharpless has been a member of the Mountain Top Fire Co. in Sandy Ridge and today, at 74, he is still an active part of the fire company.
But Sharpless has done more than just run with the company. In the early 1960s he helped form the Mountain Top Fire Co. Ambulance Service and acted as its chief for about 20 years. His son Tim took over from about 1984 to 1999, and today the ambulance chief is Shelly Tormey.
Today the fire company has two ambulances and covers Osceola Mills Borough and Sandy Ridge along with portions of Rush and Decatur townships. There are two stations and two new ambulances that are staffed with a paid crew during the day and volunteers at night. They run a couple of hundred calls a year.
In 1974 Sharpless, through his connections with the radio station where he worked, was able to set up several country music concerts in the area, including a benefit concert to raise money to purchase a new Cadillac ambulance.
He recalls that country music ledged Freddy Hart came from California to Sandy Ridge and performed a benefit concert to raise enough money for the fire company to purchase that ambulance. Hart refused payment for the show.
"All Freddy wanted was a plaque," Sharpless said. "So we put one in the ambulance."
The vehicle was purchased in 1974 and the plaque was placed in it to recognize Hart for his efforts to help raise the money. Today that plaque is located at the fire station.
According to Tormey, the plaque will be framed and placed in the Osceola Mills Station. The service has two stations, one in Sandy Ridge and one in Osceola Mills.
Sharpless said he still runs calls with the fire company, but he doesn't usually fight fires any more. When there are fundraising dinners held at the station, he'll be there helping out. He's always maintained his CPR certification, too, according to Tormey.
Sharpless was in the Navy for eight years and while there he said he got the best fire training in the world at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
He's also a fire warden for the Department of Forest and Waters and he has been since 1962. While it's now called the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, Sharpless is still a smoke chaser. He also painted all of the fire towers in the area.
"I love to volunteer," Sharpless said. "I've done it all my life." And he volunteers not only with the fire company but also gives his time to the Philipsburg Kiwanis Club, the Masons in Osceola Mills and the Shriners in Altoona.
Aside from his volunteering he's worked at Triangle Shoe Store in Philipsburg and he managed the Tyrone store.
His brother, Dean Sharpless, worked for WPHB Radio as its chief engineer in 1956 and one day in 1960 Dean called him and told him he needed a morning radio announcer from 6-10 a.m. and that's what he did, every weekday for the next 50 years. While there he and his brother started the FM side of the radio station and together they bought the station in 1982 and owned and operated it until 1996.
Sharpless held that job until June, when he was let go.
"I was asked to retire and didn't have any plans to do that, so I was told I was done anyway," Sharpless said. "Right now I can truthfully say I'm enjoying my ‘refirement.'"
"I now have time to do other things," he said. "For the Kiwanis, hunting, fishing, the computer and the fire company, but I sure do miss radio, it's in my blood."
Sharpless is always there when people need help at the fire station, too.
"He's really good-hearted and a lot of fun," Tormey said. "I just love him to death."