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Amid Squabbling Over Natural Gas, Local Couple Sets Perfect Example

Becky and Kevin Smith of Herrick Township this month established a foundation that will use the proceeds from their natural gas leases to create scholarships for deserving people in the area who want to advance their formal education.

The wrangling over natural gas prospecting in Bradford County has pitted faction against faction and included anger, frustration, barbed and uncivil observations as well as thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary.The haggling has turned into a messy, discouraging scrap. Caught somewhere in between are farmers and other landowners struggling to make legitimate use of their property in a worsening economy with rising taxes.

But, now comes an unexpected, uplifting development. Becky and Kevin Smith of Herrick Township this month established a foundation that will use the proceeds from their natural gas leases to create scholarships for deserving people in the area who want to advance their formal education. Their endeavor is called The Learning Forward Project.When gas companies started coming through the area talking about gas leasing opportunities, the Smiths told Review staff writer Tiffany Peden, they thought about the money they could get by leasing their land. “He said, ‘Let’s just give it away,’” Becky Smith said of her husband. She said they decided that there were kids in the local area who may need financial aid to get to college.

Oh, my! Imagine that!

With the offers the Smiths had originally received from gas companies for their two parcels of land, Kevin Smith said they could receive around $450,000 for leasing their land, though they have not yet signed with the gas companies. Mr. Smith, who described himself as a successful businessman, said that when they do sign, if the companies hit gas, the amount for the scholarship fund “could be substantial.”

In the meantime, to jump-start the project, the Smiths have contributed $12,500 to Wyalusing High School. “We have decided to donate $12,500 for scholarships this year to get the project started for 2009 Wyalusing Valley High School (WVHS) seniors and previous graduates of WVHS,” Becky Smith told our reporter.

What a selfless act of generosity. If only the world had more conscientious, generous folks like the Smiths, dedicated to advancing the greater good over their own well-being.

We salute them and their inspirational efforts and hope others are moved to undertake similar humanitarian gestures. The Smiths have set the perfect example.

Published in The Daily Review: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 3:15 AM EST