Inferno Drops Pin on Local Bowling Alley

By Alex Geli –

2 a.m:  Columbia Bowl closes down for the night. Pins, balls, shoes, roof all in tact.

5 a.m:  Lights appear to be back on. Rather bright, aren’t they?

6 a.m:  Pins, balls, shoes, roof no longer in tact.

With a red, yellow and orange tint reflecting in their eyes, multiple witnesses made phone calls to 9-1-1 about the devastating fire that occurred Sunday morning at a Lancaster County bowling alley.

When fire crews arrived, nothing was left to be salvaged. The alley, which illuminated the night sky, was quoted as a “fireball.”

“That was a big chunk of my childhood,” he said. “I bowled there every Saturday morning,” said Alex Mercer, a senior and former employee alongside his mother at Columbia Bowl.

His former place of work was described by West Township fire Chief Barry Carter to be “a complete loss.”

The decision to fix the damages is still up in the air, leaving the people of Columbia with only hopes to see their local hot spot in the future.

An “unknown source,” as Mercer put it, told him that depending how much the insurance company gives the alley, they’re planning to rebuild.

Hinting at who that “unknown source” was, Mercer added, “We were real close to the owners.”

“They’re just totally devastated,” owner Nathan Jameson said. “It’s been two days and just a constant stream of people through here that come up and hug you, shake your hand.”

This instance is all-too-familiar for the family-owned business.

In 1971, the building had its first run-in with fire, with fire being the victor, just like on Sunday.

40 years later, the flowing, scorching hot blue, red and yellow gas returned to bite Columbia Bowl and Pinchaser’s Lounge in the rear-end a second time, and Jameson is left with not only a roofless structure, but a question as to who or what exactly sparked this catastrophe.

According to Mercer, right as the firemen got there, they ruled out the chance that an arsonist started the blaze. Also, they figured out that the fire started out in the center and spread.

The probable cause of the fire is due to recent electrical work.

“New games, new lanes…” he said, noting the new additions to the archaic building.

“Same old monitors though,” Mercer said sarcastically.

Currently, Mercer describes himself as “happily unemployed.” Not only has he not worked there for around a year, following his mother’s footsteps, but they both left off on a bad note.

“(The management) would pin everyone else’s ‘stuff’ on everyone else instead of work(ing on it themselves),” he said.

After a combined seven years working for Columbia Bowl, they figured it was time for a change.

The change? Well…

“We kind of quit,” Mercer said.

A video from CBS 21 local news is below. Pictures can also be seen by joining ulocal on

David Mohimani also contributed to this story.

Motorommel Rumblin’

By Eric Gerlach –

Fumes, grease and motors. This would be Tyler Dommel’s life.

The Penn Manor High School senior is considered a racing superstar in some students’ eyes. Dommel competes in races all over the country and still manages to maintain good grades in school. He wowed them at his most recent and local race, Motorama, held in Harrisburg Saturday.

“Keep your mind focused on winning, that’s my secret,” Dommel said before the race.

Dommel’s success also comes from his experience. He has been racing competitively for more than five years. He made over $2,000 racing this past year and hopes to increase his winnings.

“I’ve competed in um… too many races to count. I’ve been racing since I was 13,” Dommel said.

Dommel is very committed to his racing and plans to race after high school. Dommel’s father owns his own plumbing business, and Dommel hopes to work and then run the family business.

“Racing is my life,” Dommel said, “the only thing else I do is hangout with Paige (girlfriend) and work on my quads and truck.”

Dommel has two race quads, one for racing, and one for practicing. He has a lot of aftermarket parts on his quads. His  seven sponsors help him get the parts he needs either by giving him discounts, or giving it to him for free. Dommel’s fastest quad has 60 horsepower and the top speed is 75 mph. Even if that seems slow to some, racing quads are geared for acceleration not just top speed.

Double click on the picture to view the video:

Dommel had some high points and low points in his racing career. During a race in 2008, he broke his ankle and tore his shoulder in 2009.

“My biggest race was National A Class, and I finished third out of sixty-five,” Dommel said.

Last Saturday Dommel raced in two races at Motorama, placing third and fifth. Racing against pros like Jason Dunkelberger, featured on the popular video game MX vs. ATV, was a challenge for Dommel.

Motorama is not just quad racing, it consists of go-kart, dirt bike and RC car racing, as well as a car show and, of course, a bikini contest. It also features a robot conflict, a battle between competing makeshift robots.