‘Endless Mountains’ draw Robert Martucci Jr. and his wife, Sue
“I was up in the mountains. I left at 6:15 a.m. It was 48 degrees. It felt good,” Robert Martucci Jr., recently-retired Salisbury Township Ward One Commissioner, said Aug. 25, after his two-and-one-half-hour drive back to the Lehigh Valley.
The mountains are in Hillsgrove, Sullivan County, where Martucci and his wife Sue have a home. Martucci built the house 17 years ago.
The home will become their main residence when the Martuccis depart their Salisbury Township home, Martucci sells his longtime Lehigh Valley business and he concludes his commissioner duties.
The Martuccis are relocating to a region in Pennsylvania known as “The Endless Mountains.”
“We are six miles west of World’s End State Park and about 20 miles east of Williamsport,” Martucci said.
The weekend of Aug. 23, Martucci filled up his pickup truck with furniture, clothing and cooking utensils from their New York Avenue, Salisbury Township home and drove the approximate 139 miles to Hillsgrove. Closing for the house sale is Aug. 30. Only a small amount of remaining items needs to be taken to the mountain home, which was furnished.
“My wife organized three yard sales. This Saturday [Aug. 24] was the last one,” Martucci said.
Martucci, 66, has been on the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners for 13 years and eight months, including the past two years as board president and six years as board vice president.
Deb Brinton, Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners vice president, is likely to become board president as of Sept. 1. Martucci’s resignation is effective Aug. 31.
Martucci has been a Salisbury Township resident for 58 years. He moved to Salisbury with his parents, Robert Sr., 88 and Nancy, 85, at age eight from south Allentown. His parents moved back to Allentown where they now live. Sue’s father, Paul Sr., is deceased. Her mother, Dolores, 85, lives in Egypt, Whitehall Towmship.
Martucci, a Salisbury High School, Class of 1971 graduate, recalls growing up in the late 1960s: “We were chugging along in the mode of our parents. And then, all of a sudden, it all changed. In 1964 and 1965, the music began to change. It was an exhilarating time.”
Martucci and his wife, Sue have been married for 24 years. She retired three weeks ago from Muhlenberg College, where she was a secretary for the dean of academic life.
They have a daughter, Megan, 21. Martucci has two sons, Mark, 47, who lives in Australia, and Brett, 44, of Vera Cruz, Upper Milford Township, from a previous marriage.
Martucci is closing on the sale of his business, Framework Technologies, Inc., to his partner Aug. 29. “He and I have owned that for 29 years,” Martucci said of Rick Reppert Sr. The firm does commercial rough and finished carpentry.
Before that, Martucci was owner-operator of Ram Builders, Inc., which did home repairs, renovation and construction.
Framework Technologies’ clients have included general contractors such as Boyle Construction and entities, including St. Luke’s University Hospital Network, Lehigh University and Mack Trucks, Inc. The Allentown and Hanover Township-Lehigh County based firm has 28 employees.
“My goal was to retire at 66,” Martucci said. “The house [in Salisbury] sold quicker than anticipated. I was going to try to serve out my term.”
Martucci’s Ward 1 term would have expired Dec. 31. The township manager is taking applications for an interim replacement, who would need to be approved by a vote of the board of commissioners. The interim will serve on the board until Dec. 31.
A woman was a write-in candidate in the May 2019 primary, but the Lehigh County Elections Board didn’t receive required papework from her by the Aug. 12 deadline. The First Ward commissioner slot will appear as a write-in on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.
In his farewell speech at the Aug. 22 township commissioners’ meeting, Martucci said of his tenure on the board, “It was a very rewarding experience.
“One of the things I learned is that those who hold higher political offices should take a lesson from Salisbury Township and ignore party lines and work together to achieve common goals.
“Thank you to all who have made Salisbury Township such an awesome place to live and affording me the ability to become a better person.”
Among his memorable accomplishments as officer-holder, Martucci said, “Well, obviously, the geese. If somebody said, ‘Well, what did he do? He got rid of the geese at the park.’”
Martucci spearheaded the Canada geese eradication program at eastern Salisbury’s Laubach Park through the United States Department of Agriculture. Because of their droppings, the geese were viewed as a health hazard for youth sports team players, coaches, parents and fans and others using Laubach.
“I worked on committees to renovate and preserve our parks,” Martucci said. This includes the recently-concluded Lindberg Park improvements and planned-for improvements to Laubach Park and Franko Farm Park.
“I also worked to have a stronger township administration by adding key personnel,” Martucci said, noting that would include Salisbury Township Manager Cathy Bonaskiewich, Salisbury Township Assistant Manager Sandy Nicolo and Salisbury Township Director of Finance Paul Ziegenfus, as well as working with the police and public works departments.
“What we’re working on, and I am on the committee, is that we will be hiring a new chief of police,” Martucci said. Interviews and deliberations on the new police chief were to be held Aug. 27. Salisbury Township Chief of Police Allen W. Stiles recently retired.
“I’m confident that the township is in incredibly good hands. The board, the administration and employees really care about the township,” Martucci said.
Of Sullivan Township, Martucci said, “I’ve been going up there since 1970 and I fell in love with the area the first time I went there.
“One of my friends, Randy Neff, said, ‘Why do you even want to move to the mountains? You’re living in the mountains. But it’s not the same. The mountains are much bigger in the Sullivan County region. They’re called ‘The Endless Mountains.’
“The Loyalsock Creek is on the border of our property. We go tubing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and swimming in the Loyalsock.
“We do intend to do some traveling,” Martucci said of his and his wife’s plans.
“I built myself a wood shop on the property. I make furniture. I make custom-made long bows [for bow and arrow hunting or target shooting] and small items. Whenever Sue needs a shelf, I make her a shelf.”
The house that Martucci built is a ranch-style home, built on piers. Part of the more than one-acre property is wooded.
“We did get flooded in 2011. There was a tropical storm and it dumped 18 inches of rain north of us. We had double-wides and boats floating through our yard. And ours is the only one that survived it.
“Sue and I like the shore, but we love the mountains.
“There were three deer there when I left this morning. I have a pear tree. I went to get a pear and there was only one left.”
Martucci said he and Sue plan to make the drive from Sullivan County to the Lehigh Valley frequently to visit family.
“I will miss the valley, but I was ready for a change of scenery,” Martucci said.
The pace of life is much slower in “The Endless Mountains” area.
“That’s kind of what I was looking for, to slow down a bit,” Martucci said.
“In Sullivan County, there’s only 6,000 people. There’s only one traffic light in the entire county,” Martucci said.