County Government Can Be Puzzling
The longer I live in Susquehanna County (31 years so far) the more convinced I become that elected officials and, more specifically, county commissioners, have little or no concern for their constituents.
Consider this: Last Wednesday, we had the worst snowstorm recorded at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport on a Christmas Day since 1955. Television stations were reporting 24 inches of snow in Harford Township and the front page of The Tribune showed 20 inches in Forest City. A friend in Brooklyn Twp. measured 25 inches there and I measured over two-feet in Forest City.
From what I gathered, Montrose only (only?) received 12 inches of the white stuff which is still nothing to sneeze at, but not as severe as most of the county.
Anyhow, because the county commissioners regular meeting fell on Christmas Day, they decided to hold the meeting the day after the holiday. Nothing wrong with that, unless there is a severe snowstorm on Christmas Day. And there was. Between the snowfall and the drifting wind, my car was buried in snow up to the hood. So were a lot of other cars all over the county.
My friends, I would have bet the ranch that the commissioners would postpone their meeting and give those of us who are regular attendees an opportunity to dig ourselves out of the snow. How much difference would there have been if the meeting was held on Friday instead of Thursday? I talked to a number of county employees who were up at the crack of dawn shoveling snow so they would get to work on time.
I have seen important meetings of the Board of Commissioners postponed for lack of a quorum on one of the nicest days of the year and nobody was hurt by it. I don't have to repeat the number of meetings Commissioner Gary Marcho missed or the feeble excuses he offered for his absence.
Under normal conditions, the meetings are attended by taxpayers from such far away places as Forest City, Susquehanna, Great Bend, Oakland and Brooklyn townships. But apparently the safety of county taxpayers is of no concern whatever to the county commissioners. On Christmas night, the television stations reported that all Interstates (80, 81, 84 and the Turnpike) were closed. If PENNDOT could not keep up with the Interstates because of the heavy snowfall, imagine what the secondary roads were like. With school already closed for the holiday season, there was no need to rush to open them.
My first thought when I heard that Commissioner Marcho was at the meeting was that he may have arrived via snowmobile and was ready to take some of the office girls for a holiday ride. Having dismissed that thought because there just isn't enough room on a snowmobile, I figured he might be taking them skiing at Elk Mountain. But alas! The girls worked all day, so I had to toss that brick out the window.
But there had to be a reason that brought Marcho Man to the courthouse on the worst driving day of the year. Hate to bring up old wounds, but this is the guy who walked away from a recessed county commissioners' meeting to take his grandchildren trick or treating. Why this sudden commitment to duty?
By the time I telephoned the courthouse, Mr. Marcho had already left. Lee Smith was the only commissioner in the courthouse so I spoke with him. Lee is friendly toward the press and believes that the taxpayers should know what is going on inside the courthouse.
Lee told me the commissioners, meeting as the county Retirement Board along with County Treasurer Cathy Benedict, reopened the 2003 budget after having passed it earlier during the commissioners' meeting, and inserted enough money to pay an additional $55 a month toward the health insurance of the county's 78 pensioned employees. The money will come from interest savings on one of the county's bonded indebtedness that will be refinanced in January. For the commissioners' to insert this unexpected windfall into the budget, it had to be done by Dec. 31. The budget can only be reopened in January following any municipal election. By the way, there was no Retirement Board meeting on the agenda so this action was somewhat concealed until the very last moment.
(Editor's note: For additional coverage on this issue, see commissioners' meeting elsewhere in today's Transcript.)
All That Ends Well
All is well that ends well, or so they say. But my Christmas jaunt did have a few bumps in the middle. I went to spend Christmas with my daughter and her Chicago family. It was a bright, crisp morning when my son picked me up for the jaunt to the Scranton airport. All went well. We got there with plenty of time to spare, just like I like it. After having breakfast at the airport coffee shop, I opened the new novel I had brought along just for this purpose. The flight was on time, I had an empty seat beside me, I drank coffee, read, ate cheese doodles lots of fun.
Heading to downtown Chicago with my daughter to meet her husband for dinner, I started to sneeze. I sneezed steady for blocks. She said, "Maybe youre allergic to something in the car."
"I dont think so," I answered. "Sometimes I just get sneezing fits like this." But there was a reason for the sneezing. By the time I headed for bed that night, my head was full of cotton, my nose was plugged up, and I realized that I, who rarely catch a cold, had a real dandy. So for the first two nights I slept very little and my energy level reflected it during the day. My daughters lovely Christmas dinner was pretty tasteless to me. News from home told of a snowstorm in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The next day, we were to find that the airport was a zoo. I checked bags at curbside while my daughter waited with the car. "Theyre screaming at me and trying to tow me away," she said in disbelief. I jumped back in the car for the ride to my terminal. Garbage trucks are wedged in at curbside, cars are trying to get to the curb; others are jockeying to get away from the curb and back into traffic. What a mess!
Its now well past lunch time and my cereal has worn off. I had sworn I wouldnt eat McDonalds before flying, but guess what. Lines are everywhere and McDonalds was the closest to my gate. I gulped my cheeseburger and boarded the plane. With this lump in my stomach, I participate in a conversation with my young, eager, talkative seat-mate. But when my neck begins to get contorted from turning my head so I can look at him and hear him above the racket, I pull out my book. The time went quickly, but soon the lump of cheeseburger plus the airline orange juice and cheese crackers are making my stomach queasy. Fortunately we are nearly ready to land. The cold air feels wonderful as I descend the outside staircase from this small jet. Inside my chauffeur is waiting patiently. But Im soon to realize that my luggage is not. Round and round goes the conveyor, but my black suitcase that looks like hundreds of other suitcases is not there. I finally report that mine is missing. The attendant says they will deliver it to my house when it arrives.
As we head for Montrose the validity of the weather report is obvious; snow everywhere and my back steps are completely covered. My answering machine holds a message. My bag has been found. Do I want it delivered at my expense? I call the number. Apparently someone picked it up by mistake and then returned it to the area of the conveyor after I had left. Therefore the airline is saying this was not their mistake and I will have to pick it up or pay to have it delivered.
"How much?" I ask. He checks. "$77!" We have another conversation and eventually the airline assumes responsibility. Do I want it tonight or tomorrow? I really dont care, just so I get it because it contains my whole wardrobe. All six pieces. The delivery service calls. They need directions to my house. I-81 is now closed again.
"Wait until morning," I say. "You dont want to be on Route 11 tonight."
So I expect a wake up call early in the morning. Lets hope, after all this excitement that all does end well.
GLENWOOD, Lenox Twp.: Hon. Galusha A. Grow, who was the war speaker of the House of Representatives, will write "Lincoln Life in the White House" in the February "Success." AND: At the home of P.H. Hunt, our genial blacksmith, all was Christmas jollity. Those from out of town were Perry Hunt, wife and daughter, of Mill City and Mrs. Cora Cole, of Carbondale. All enjoyed a family sleigh-ride to Clifford. Mrs. P.H. Hunt was made glad by the gift of a fine new cooking range, Miss Martha Hunt, a gold watch and Mrs. Susie Sprague, a beautiful fur cape. There was scarcely any one slighted.
MONTROSE: Editor Taylor celebrated the holidays by removing the whiskers, which have long been a part of his facial expression, and joined the bare-faced brigade, which gives him a distinguished appearance. It is getting to be the fashion among statesmen, diplomats, and other distinguished people. Perhaps the fact that brother Taylor is now a grandpa for the second time has something to do with his casting aside such frivolous adornment as chin whiskers. AND: Elliot and Thomas Davies, two young men of this place, have constructed a telegraph line between their homes, the distance traveled being about two blocks. It works to perfection.
LITTLE MEADOWS: Two men engaged in cutting trees from the woods picked out a magnificent oak of apparent health. During the time they were engaged in sawing the tree they noticed nothing peculiar, until they got to the point where the tree toppled over. It was then discovered that the center of the tree was hollow and when the top fell over a peculiar hissing was heard coming form the cavity. The men stopped to express their wonder at the phenomenon and one of them lighted his pipe. He then held the burning match over the hollow stump to see if possible what was in the tree to make the noise. Imagine his astonishment when a stream of fire shot up into the air. The hole in the stump of the tree evidently tapped a subterranean vein of natural gas and that in escaping from the hole it made the hissing sound. The gas continued to burn until the stump of the tree was nearly consumed. The discovery has again caused much excitement in Little Meadows and may result in further attempts to locate gas wells in the vicinity. Two years ago, local capitalists were unsuccessful in finding gas.
NEW MILFORD: About six o'clock last night, while the guests at the Jay House were eating supper, the gas plant which is at the rear end of the hotel, blew up, causing a loud report and completely breaking out all the windows in the house. Fortunately, no one was hurt and no fire occurred.
GREAT BEND: The gold watch given by the Great Bend Pleasure Club, as a prize for the best lady waltzer at the Christmas night dance, was awarded to Miss Joe Kilrow.
SUSQUEHANNA: A committee from Susquehanna Town Council will confer with a committee from Lanesboro in regard to lighting the road between the two boroughs. This is a dark and dangerous road and needs lighting badly. AND: John McMahon opened a shoe store in the Lannon block and Lloyd Knise opened a tonsorial establishment in the Pope building.
LAWSVILLE: A very pleasant affair was the surprise party given on Christmas night to Mr. and Mrs. D.W. Bailey, it being the occasion of their 39th wedding anniversary. Their friends (95) assembled to help them celebrate and to wish them many happy returns of the day. We were very pleasantly entertained with both vocal and instrumental music, and last but not least by a recitation, "The Judgment Day," by Miss Mary Wheaton, which deserves great praise. Just before 12 o'clock we were invited to partake of ice cream and cake; also bananas, to which we all did ample justice and each one departed declaring it as being a very pleasant occasion.
BIRCHARDVILLE: Frank Fessenden took a load from here over to Mr. Beebe's, near Montrose, where they tripped the light fantastic until the wee small hours, one night last week.
SPRINGVILLE: Howard Taylor, a young ministerial student of Wyoming Seminary, is spending his vacation with his parents at Lynn. Owing to the pastor, Rev. J.W. Price, being engaged in revival work at Lymanville, Mr. Taylor preached at East Lynn, last Tuesday evening.
LAKESIDE: J.R. Barrett's people have added to the comfort of their home, a telephone.
AUBURN CENTRE: As a rule, gentlemen are not pleased when they "get the mitten," but when B.B. Lowe received a nice pair of double mittens as a Christmas present from his wife and learned that they were knit by her grandmother, who is known through Auburn as Aunt Lovisa Carlin, a lady who celebrated her 90th birthday, Nov. 26, 1902, he was more than pleased. The yarn was taken to her Friday evening, Dec. 19, and the following Monday her daughter, Mrs. J.C. Tyler, who lives with her, went away and was gone until Tuesday, so the old lady had to go ahead with the housework for two days, but by Wednesday night she had them finished and nicely washed and dried ready for wear. The wrists are knit what is called fox and geese and are striped. What is more remarkable, she knit them without the aid of spectacles, and she has also knit several pairs for her great-grandsons and she also sews and reads without glasses. In her younger days Aunt Lovisa used to spin wool to make kersey blankets and sheets, also weave cloth for the girls dresses and spin flax and weave her own towels, beside caring for a family of seven or eight little ones, all of whom grew to man and womanhood and are now all numbered with the dead except one daughter. Now in the summer season it is no unusual thing to see Aunt Lovisa out hoeing and weeding in the garden, and when in the house she peels potatoes and apples, washes dishes and is more active than lots of young girls.
NEWS BRIEFS: In Wilkes-Barre, police attended a Christmas night dance in that city and sent home 45 girls they considered too young to frequent such affairs. AND: The old home of Horace Greeley, on the New York State line, six miles from Correy, Pa., burned last Friday. In this dwelling Horace and Barnes, his brother, spent many years of their life. Burt Greeley, a nephew, occupied the house and barely escaped with his family.
TO MY READERS: A great big thank you to all those that helped me compile news for my NewsBeat column. To all those that invited me to their functions so that I could report it to our readers. To those that called offering me tips on stories. No doubt some liked what I wrote, and no doubt, some did not like what I wrote. That is their prerogative.
I may offend some of my readers, because I do not see things their way. No one is perfect. Thus, when something comes up that I do not favor, I will say so. I will also agree with those I believe to me are right.
I have already received flak on my stand not to merge Susquehanna and Blue Ridge sports activities. And, yes, I have also received several phone calls, and personal visits, agreeing with me.
Yes, as a columnist, I must write what I believe is right (and Im not always right), and you, the readers, have as much right to criticize, but you may not always be right, either.
So, again, a big thank you to all that contributed to NewsBeat over the past year, and my wish is "that you continue to contribute during the coming year." Happy New Year to all.
NEW YEARS Resolutions: Every year, around this time people begin to prepare a list of New Years resolutions. Usually they make these resolutions to overcome faults or to improve good qualities.
And yet these good intentions never seem to last very long. Sometimes it appears that we have the idea they are made to be broken. Oh, we take great pains in making them, preparing long lists of them, but more or less from habit or custom, rather than backed by a real motive. There isnt a point to all our trouble if we dont have any intention of keeping the resolutions we made.
If we plan on trying this year, lets just take a couple that will do us the most good; then make a special resolution to keep the New Years resolutions. There isnt one perfect one among us, so it stands to reason that theres plenty of room for improvement in all of us. (Borrowed.)
YOUR LAST CHANCE: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 will be your last chance to be part of history. Come next July, Susquehanna will be celebrating their 150th anniversary as a borough. A program of week-long activities is planned and a memorabilia book is in the making. Will your name be in it for posterity? You still have a few days to be included. Business places can submit a "congratulatory ad" by calling Lou Parrillo, at 853-3835 or FAX it to 853-5080. Others who wish to be included for DONOR ads, MEMORIAL, or business PATRON can do so by calling either Mary Jo Glover 853-3657 or Pam Hennessey 853-4538. Remember, December 31 will absolutely be the last day that we can accept an ad.
TRANSCRIPT OF 1951 "News": The Susquehanna Transcript of June 12, 1951 carried the names of the four Little League team players:
Sons of Italy team, managed by T. W. Schreckengost: Gerald Grausgruber, Eugene Grausgruber, Ernest Grausgruber, Richard Vaccaro, William Leonard, Eugene Westbrook, Elmer Houghton, Gerry Sullivan, Ray Davis, Robert Swanson, R. Thomas Lee, Arthur Thomas, Leon Cook, Edward Shanley, Tom Shanley, William Kelly and Joe Skelly.
Loyal Order of Moose, Lou Parrillo, manager: James Plutino, Scott Gow, Jerry Gow, John Stackowitz, Jay Deakin, Jon Deakin, Sally Ficarro, Daniel Schurbusch, Jack Schurbusch, Joe McAndrew, John McAndrew, Richard Ryder, Sanford Reed, John Maas, Carl Burdick, Philip Seaman and Clair Hall.
American Legion, manager, Albert Mauro: Richard Zenobia, Johnny Williams, John Burnard, Tommy Hurley, Tommy White, Robert Passetti, Eugene (U. G.) Baker, Jimmy Barnes, Walter Butts, Johnny Mulkulcok, Anthony Fritzie, Jerry Lawrence, Charles Arthur, Francis Troup, Lewis Balmer, Earle Miller and Robert Langford.
Stone Bridge Lions, manager, Stan Beautz: Kenneth Stanford, A. J. Williams, Ronnie McIntosh, Alan Kenyon, Horace Sellers, Richard Lannon, Kenneth Carpenter, Edward Collins, John Crowley, Richard Anthony, Robert Rogers, Alex Plutino, Lawson Fox, Bruce ODell, Carlton Lamb, Robert Haley, David Slater and Carl Tross.
(NOTE: After a hectic season, with teams evenly matched, the Moose team and Lions team played for the championship, with the Moose team winning a close game.) The years schedule committee were Pat Parrillo and Peter Moran. Mr. Moran was also chief umpire along with Peter Harding, Charles Aliano, John Parrillo and Charlton Williams. John (Carps) Sellitto was the leagues official scorekeeper. Transcript sports writer was Paul S. Baker.
JUST A LAUGH: Out in west Texas, an old rancher went to town to get some supplies. While in town, he decided to buy his wife a present. He told the clerk to wrap it beautifully because he did not often do this.
On his way home he stopped and picked up an old Indian. The Indian looked at the package and then at the old rancher. Finally, the old rancher said, "I got that for my wife." The old Indian looked at him and said, "Good trade."
Getting into the Christmas spirit, the quilters for the homeless joined the senior citizens for their monthly meeting, Thursday, December 19 at the Baptist social rooms. Eighteen people enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the accompaniments. At the business meeting, it was decided the workers would get together at DAgatis on Monday night the 23rd and assemble the luminaries to be placed Christmas Eve.
The lucky winner of the quilt raffle was Jennifer Mroz of Susquehanna. Fourteen plates of cookies were made up for the shut-ins and all in all everyone had a good time.
Not many deer were taken. Eleanor Buchanan told me her fourteen-year old great-granddaughter brought down her first buck an eight-pointer. Ashley Smith was a very proud and happy girl.
The Downton family en masse attended the wedding of Shawn Hadden, son of Barb and Ralph Hadden, Hancock, to Sue Koziol, daughter of Shirley and Stanley Koziol of Susquehanna, at the Thompson Methodist Church, Saturday, December 14, with Pastor Brian Lucas officiating.
Reception was held in the Starrucca Baptist Church social rooms. The couple returned to Siler City, NC where they will make their home.
Sorry to report that Gary Williams is home under hospice care. Heartfelt concern goes out to the family.
Not too much news to report. Everyone is trying to beat the 25th deadline. Neighbor meets neighbor in the stores, wishing each a happy holiday.
The town looks very festive. Every home on the square has candles in the window and elsewhere lovely outdoor and window decorations. The nuns even have candles in their attic windows. How much nicer it will look with the luminaries on Christmas Eve.
Hope you all have a joyous holiday and it extends over into a New Year filled with many blessings.
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