pres589 UltraDork
2/13/14 2:16 p.m.

I've a phone interview with a company in Williamsport, PA on Monday. I thought I would ask the GRM hive what the general consensus is on the town. I spent a month in Erie one summer and about six months in Philly and that's all of my PA experience. The town doesn't look very big on paper so I'm concerned about the amount of good times to be had there. Houses don't look very expensive, though, even to these Kansas eyes of mine.

And go!

Hal SuperDork
2/13/14 2:44 p.m.

I grew up in the SW corner of the state. But from what little I know if you are the outdoor type you will probably like it. Up in the mountains and surrounded by state parks and forests.

ScreaminE Reader
2/13/14 2:46 p.m.

My wife's cousin lives there. He's somewhat of a local celebrity (blues musician). Seems to be a ton of new bars and restaurants popping up downtown based on his gigs (he posts of facebook).

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
2/13/14 7:33 p.m.

there is a paper plant.. I think.. Near there....

I spent a week at Lycoming Colllege with as a high school kid.

It was umm.. small?

confuZion3 SuperDork
2/13/14 8:07 p.m.

I go there all the time to visit an old friend. Interstate 180 runs right through the town, and it's a valley surrounded by some beautiful mountains. It's the country and you have no real cities anywhere near you that I'm aware of. It's also turning into quite a college town with Penn College (or Penn Tech... I can't remember what it's called) and Lycoming in town. I used to frequent the Cell Block all the time until I realized that I was too old to go there (when I was 25). But there are a number of other nice bars in Willy-po and the surrounding towns. Including a microbrewery.

The town also hosts the Little League World Series.

The economy seems to be based on small business, the natural gas industry, and... um... the adult specialty industry...

Everybody up there drives diesel trucks with smoke stacks. Nobody drives a Ford, or a Chevy, or a Dodge either. They drive Powerstrokes, Duramaxes, and Cummins.

Oh, the important part! You're within two hours or less of Pocono Raceway. Four or five from Summit Point Raceway. Maybe four or five from NJ Motorsports Park. Probably the same from Lime Rock... You will be at the heart of the North Easy for motorsports! (I almost corrected my typo there with East, but I like North Easy.) There are tons of sweet mountain roads to drive on too. I may have taken the Viper out pretty hard once (or four) times last time I was up there and it was the most fun I've had in the car. I've ridden my Buell around the town and on some of the back roads a few times too, so it's Moto friendly if that's your thing.

I've been making trips up there several times per year for neigh 10 years now. If you have questions, please PM me. I'd move there myself if I could keep my job but I can't, so I won't.

Donebrokeit HalfDork
2/13/14 8:27 p.m.

I have stopped in a few times over the year while attending the Rose Valley Hill climb in Trout Run (20 min up the road). Overall a small town with a OK bar/club scene and they host the Little League Baseball world series.

That is all I have.

Paul B

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
2/13/14 8:43 p.m.

The surrounding country is nice (beautiful even) but it's a lot of crime and drugs downtown. See Allentown, Reading, Scranton and Wilkes Barre for similar blight stories. they all have an upside too... but live outside town.

edit: The shale fracking has brought every roughneck with an AL thru TX tag to the hotels, trailer parks and RV lots so there is new coin spending money on vices.

curtis73 UltraDork
2/13/14 9:31 p.m.

IMHO, armpit.

I grew up in Carlisle and its about an hour away. My sister lived there for a while. Isolated, small, and some parts of it are pretty trashy.

It seems to be a town that lacks pride.

confuZion3 SuperDork
2/13/14 11:02 p.m.
Giant Purple Snorklewacker wrote: The surrounding country is nice (beautiful even) but it's a lot of crime and drugs downtown. See Allentown, Reading, Scranton and Wilkes Barre for similar blight stories. they all have an upside too... but live outside town. edit: The shale fracking has brought every roughneck with an AL thru TX tag to the hotels, trailer parks and RV lots so there is new coin spending money on vices.

I knew about the drugs and heard about the crime, but I never saw it. I'm sure it's there, but it didn't jump out and try to grab you. And since I never lived there, it's possible that I just wasn't there long enough to notice.

You're right about the shale fracking industry I suppose. But those five-dollar-bill-dispensing-ATM-type sex shops have been around that whole region for years. I went to college about an hour East of there for a while and I think I counted six or seven shops on the drive up. My friend started in the town of Williamsport for school and then migrated a few miles at a time out of Willy-Po and into the neighboring Montoursville. That might be a nice place to live for an easy commute to Williamsport.

If you're into 4X4ing, there's a park that used to be a coal strip mine that is pretty fun. It's probably an hour away, but it's worth the drive. I'm pretty sure it's legal to go there too.

What kind of work are you looking at our there?

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
2/13/14 11:05 p.m.

In reply to Fueled by Caffeine:

the paper plant is in Mahoopany. it's near. like... within an hour near.

pres589 UltraDork
2/13/14 11:38 p.m.

In reply to confuZion3:

Engineering. Boingers for bug smashers.

ddavidv PowerDork
2/14/14 6:22 a.m.

Williamsport itself is kind of dumpy. I wouldn't live in the city, though you can buy houses uber-cheap there. Hop on any of the major highways and drive a short commute and you'll be in the mountains. Lots of great roads, lots of dirt roads (practice your rally driving skills, y0!). For real 'culture' you'll probably have to run down to Harrisburg, which is probably about an hour drive but no longer the nightmare it once was now that 11/15 has been widened. They get a lot of snow in the winter. I had actually toyed with the idea of moving there many, many years ago when I was a young pup because it is such a pretty, mountainous area but there weren't any jobs for guys like me at the time. It's been a few years since I was through there since I stopped going to STPR and hill climbs. I have no idea what the SCCA scene is like (or if there is one).

Ian F
Ian F UltimaDork
2/14/14 8:27 a.m.

If you're into E30's, I believe a few R3v/E30tech guys live around there, so there is some sort of car culture.

Other than that, there's a saying about Pennsylvania: "Philly on one end, Pittsburgh on the other, Alabama in the middle." Williamsport is in the heart of the "middle"...

PHeller UberDork
2/14/14 8:42 a.m.

Williamsport has also experience some urban renewal, IE the Bullfrog Brewery and a few other places of similar character.

I like the area because it was always a placed I passed through on the way to my family cabin.

I'd rather live in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre though.

Will you be working in natural gas utility side or upstream? I know of a cool engineering place on 3rd street in Williamsport but the name escapes me.

If its with a civil engineer that starts with R, I've got a buddy who works for them.

HeavyDuty Reader
2/14/14 8:43 a.m.

What do you like to do and what kind of place do you want to live in? That would probably help with some input.

My parents lived there for a while before my dad retired, could see the Little League fields from their porch. Pretty much what everyone has said I agree with. People have skipped over what Central PA is kind of famous for - sprint car racing. Some good options if you like dirt tracks.
"Downtown" is indeed kind of sad if you are looking for an urban area. Generally the people were nice enough though not exactly diverse. As mentioned, being in the middle of no where means you are kind of close to lots of places that are an hour or 2 drive. Surrounding area is nice if you are in to outdoors. Fracking is changing things, perhaps not for the better. Still some old money around. I didn't move with my parents, they didn't stay there when my dad retired so that should tell you a little bit. I can certainly see Curtis's viewpoint as well.

ScreaminE Reader
2/14/14 8:44 a.m.

pres589 UltraDork
2/14/14 10:26 a.m.

I kind of figured "boinger" in the automotive world would give part of the answer away, "bug smasher" giving away the other part. I'll let you all figure it out, but it has nothing to do with civil engineering or natural gas.

This isn't sounding like a great fit. I know it's not going to be like living in Fishtown again, five miles from an IKEA and four miles from the Italian Market in Philly. And that's fine. But honestly, it sounds less together and urban than Wichita, and that's not really a direction I want to take things. I had also forgotten about fracking in the area. I had not forgotten the label Pennsyltucky.

So as much as I miss being able to order a cheesesteak and knowing it won't show up with swiss or tomatoes and green peppers all through what amounts to dry roast beef, this may not be a great fit. Will see how the phone interview goes.

Thanks for all the feedback!

WonkoTheSane Reader
2/14/14 10:51 a.m.

I'm from the area (grew up in a town about 15 minutes west), and I wouldn't want to live there.. I moved out of central PA because there's no good paying jobs outside of State College (where I lived before I moved up to CT two years ago). It's a wonderful area (geographically), but I'm not a huge fan of people's attitudes. I would never live in the town of Williamsport, but it's gotten much better since the downtown has come back alive. I go there about once a month to visit family, still. The aforementioned breweries & pubs give some great restaurants, but you will be driving for anything other than that or movies.

Every racetrack is a haul except for roundy-round, even autocrosses you need to plan for at least an hour except for once or twice a year when NEPA SCCA runs an event in Willy. There's not much better hill climbs or rally, though! And you really can't beat the thousands of miles of mountain roads.

It's great for the outdoors, though. I miss the mountain roads I used to drive to work, but I'd never move back anywhere in central PA except for State College area. I couldn't find a job to support my "lifestyle" (i.e.: Decent house, <10 year old sports car and some track days/chump car).

curtis73 UltraDork
2/14/14 10:55 a.m.

Also, Re: drugs in small towns...

Its not a huge deal. Most of the time it shows up as the occasional murder in a double wide, or a skinny guy with no teeth walking down the street. White trash stuff. Not like big city organized crime/gang stuff. In big cities, (extreme generalization) you have more bad people. In little towns you have good people caught up with bad drugs.

pres589 UltraDork
2/24/14 9:21 a.m.

Figured I'd update this; I'll be there interviewing Friday morning. I figure that if the town presents decently and the job is as interesting to me as I think it will be, it's worth a look. It's nice looking for new work while I've still got current work and I'm not in a screaming rush. I'll have a rental car at my disposal while there and will try to cover a lot of ground and see what I think. Thanks for the feedback.

T.J. PowerDork
2/24/14 10:00 a.m.

Lycoming engines?

pres589 UltraDork
2/24/14 10:30 a.m.

In reply to T.J.:

I can neither confirm nor deny such information.

WonkoTheSane Reader
2/24/14 11:11 a.m.

Pres - Make sure you stop by the Bullfrog for some wings & beer while you're there. If I still lived in state, I'd have loved to meet up.

Klayfish SuperDork
2/24/14 11:26 a.m.
T.J. wrote: Lycoming engines?

My guess is he's interviewing at one of the adult entertainment establishments that the town is known for.

I haven't spent a ton of time in Williamsburg, but live about 90 minutes from it, so I know the general area. It's small town America, sort of backwoods style. It's not total redneck, but mountain country. If you're OK with being in the country, with no major metro city within a few hours, you'll like it.

pres589 UltraDork
3/3/14 8:08 p.m.

Conclusion: It's kind of an armpit. The job would have been amazing, I didn't encounter anyone there that didn't seem keyed in and in agreement with what I had to say about the products, engineering, et cetera. But the town... it looks like a good place to work on a real case of functional alcoholism.

I was told to expect an offer letter this week. I think this means that, if I could find similar work elsewhere, there should be traction at that next possible gig. So the search continues.

Thanks again everyone for their feedback.

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