Friday, July 11, 2014

Lightning-struck steeple will rise again

February 16. 2013 5:25PM

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WILKES-BARRE – Lightning does strike twice.

Academy Street from South River to South Franklin streets was closed Friday as crews removed stones from the steeple at St. John's Lutheran Church damaged by a lightning strike.

Ralph Isely, financial secretary at St. John's Church, said lightning struck the steeple and pinnacle during a thunderstorm on Aug. 9.

There are four pinnacles atop the steeple of the 94-year-old church at Academy and South River streets.

Isely said it is the second time lightning has struck the same pinnacle, although he could not remember when it was first hit.

"Lightning has hit it before," Isely said. "It was damaged before and it was fixed."

Crews used a crane and a telescopic boom lift to reach the pinnacle that stands 82 feet high from the sidewalk below. A metal bucket attached to the crane was used to lower stones removed by hand to the ground.

"There were chips and stone on the sidewalk. We couldn't leave it the way it was up there," Isely said.

Isely said three or four engineers inspected the damage. There was a concern, Isely said, that the pinnacle could collapse, compelling urgent repairs.

"They're taking it down so it can be restored and we have to go through the whole process again of putting it up there," Isely said.

Edward Lewis, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7196.

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