A Facebook group is creating friendships and enhancing community spirit, thanks to the work of its creator.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” said Mike Cooney of Wellsboro. “Born here, and I’ll probably die here.”
Cooney is the founder and administrator of “Wellsboro Today,” a popular local Facebook page that boasts almost 7,000 members. Founded in 2016, Wellsboro Today is a discussion page for local news, photos, recommendations and neighborly chatter. Member posts range from photos of backyard wildlife and nature, to memories of past Laurel Parades, to queries about which local businesses can provide a needed service.
Before starting “Wellsboro Today,” Cooney founded the page “If You Were From Wellsboro PA You’d Remember” in 2011; this page focuses on history and reminiscences from Wellsboro’s past. Cooney says that he’s always been interested in history — he is the co-author of the book “Images of America: Wellsboro,” published in 2015 by Arcadia Publishing.
“We had the history page,” Cooney said, “and people started saying that we needed something for things that are going on in Wellsboro today. I always said I’d stop running it when we got to 7,000 members, but I don’t know about that.”
The purpose of “Wellsboro Today,” Cooney said, is for local residents, but he considers it to be just as valuable for people who grew up here and moved away.
“They like to see the pictures,” Cooney notes. “It reminds them of home.”
The membership is far-reaching: a quick perusal of member locations includes Wellsboro and the surrounding region, as well as California, Texas and Costa Rica.
Social media can, at times, be the perfect forum for disagreement, but Cooney says he’s had no such problems.
“The one thing people get upset about, sometimes, is when posters enhance pictures to make them look better but that’s about it,” he said. “For such a big page, it pretty much maintains itself.”
Cooney allows no discussion of religion or politics, and is quick to remove any comments that generate bickering. “Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required” is the foremost rule of the page. Cooney also bans hate speech or bullying, shared photos, and does not post or accept advertising.
Cooney may have influenced tourism to Wellsboro, even if that wasn’t his initial intention.
“There have been a lot of people who have visited Wellsboro just because they saw the page,” Cooney said. “I’ve heard from so many – they see pictures of the Canyon, of the gaslights, of Main Street – they want to come and see it in person. It makes you feel good to see that.”
For more, visit “Wellsboro Today” on Facebook.