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Issue Home February 25, 2003 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

What Could Be

The elections are with us again, and I read P. Jay's weekly column with continued interest. A few years ago I read an article, and I think P. Jay might have written it. If so, it might be worthwhile revisiting.

The article had to do with the local yokels who run for office and how their campaign ads tell us nothing about what they plan to do if elected, why we should vote for them other than they were born here, live here and promise to do a good job and be responsive to our needs, yada, yada, yada. Oh yea, they frequently list all the fraternal and political organizations they are involved in to make sure we know how civic minded they are.

Just once I'd like to have a potential county commissioner tell us why they are qualified to be a county commissioner. How about listing the experience they have managing a staff of hundreds, and how they plan to make it more efficient? What experience do they have managing a budget of many millions, and how do they plan to get more state funds or grants into this area? What have they achieved in the private sector that qualifies them to run our county as a seasoned, experienced executive? How about their experience in planning, establishing goals and objectives, and managing results? Have they ever 'lived and worked and survived' in any place other than Susquehanna County so they know how the rest of the world lives? Now, that would really be something! Hey, some of these folks think that things are just fine the way they are and they are doing a good job. I suppose if that's all you you've ever known...

It seems to me that every candidate for public office ought to list the things they plan to do if elected and why it's important to our county. Then, maybe they could be held accountable for the success or failure of their achievements at re-election time. County commissioner candidates should spell out how they plan to lead the effort to attract industry, create jobs, and improve the economic conditions in our county. It also seems to me that the sitting county commissioners should spend more time working and less time getting their pictures taken for the local papers, going to spaghetti dinners and ice cream socials, and standing around at the Harford Fair smiling and shaking hands in an effort to get re-elected. But then again, they only work part time for a paltry $42,000 plus perks, so they don't have the time I guess.

Of course it's our fault as citizens that we elect these people in the first place. It's our responsibility to set the standard of what we will accept from our leaders by using the power of the vote to get rid of the office holders who don't produce. It's not a pleasant thought when I recall that 20 years ago we bought our house and property and relocated with hopes of retiring here, only to know our property is worth less in actual dollars than what we bought it for. Imagine, no growth in over 20 years! I only wish I could say the same for the town, county and school taxes I pay each year.

Just one example of what could be if we if we only had qualified, experienced and committed leadership willing to find new ways to proceed into the third millennium. Many, many national companies are willing to out-source their telecommunications, data processing, accounting and payment processing functions to remote U.S. processing sites and also to Northern Ireland and other international sites. Just look at the addresses where you get your credit card and some mortgage bills, and then where you mail your checks. Why not Susquehanna County? We all can list the reasons why not. Why not find a reason why we can? And the will to proceed.

Help! Don't we have a few recently retired or semi-retired corporate executives or marketing executives with fresh ideas and the energy to succeed who are willing to commit to a "one term only" county commissioner and run for office?


Colin Connolly

New Milford, PA

It Is Not FDA Approved

I am writing in response to Mr. Cerveris' letter of 2-19-03 praising fluoride. I thought Lauretta Clowes Smith's article (Food For Thought 01-29-03)) hit the nail on the head and brought the misconceptions of fluoride to light.

As Mr. Cerveris states, "small amounts of fluoride are present naturally in all water sources and in all foods and beverages in varying amounts". In fluoridated communities, an adult weighing 110 pounds can take in over 605% of the "optimal" dosage due to overexposure (this was published by the Dept. of Health and Human Services in 1991).

Mr. Cerseris also mentions the 1999 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and where they proclaim fluoridated water is one of 10 great public health achievements. What he didn't say is that in the same report they go on to say that the effects are topical, not systemic. In other words, the effects of fluoride are NOT obtained from drinking it. Yes, even the CDC is second guessing itself!

Yes, according to the CDC there has been a large decline in cavities in the US and fluoride proponents like to claim that it is because of water fluoridation, but in 1999 and August, 2001 the CDC reported that this same decline has occurred in virtually every industrialized country, most of which do not fluoridate.

Many people do not realize how much fluoride they can consume. For example, grapes can contain high levels of fluoride due to pesticide applications. Tea is high in fluoride due to pollution of soil and air. Fluoride compounds are emitted into the air by industry, which is later deposited in the form of rain, thereby mixing with water supplies or absorbed by the soil. People ingest fluoride everyday and don't even realize it. Depending on where bottled water comes from, it may contain fluoride as well.

The health risks due to overexposure are still being evaluated. Look at it this way - for decades scientists working for cigarette companies said that cigarettes posed no harm to individuals. Is this going to be the case with fluoride?

The American Dental Assoc. and the PA Dental Assoc. can support fluoridating water all they want, but shouldn't that be an individual choice? Why should it be added to a town's water supply? Since the adverse effects of fluoride have become more publicly available many cities are filtering their water systems to get rid of fluoride. I hope that any town considering fluoridating the water looks very carefully into the matter.

The bottom line: (sodium) fluoride is not FDA approved. It is not an essential nutrient and is listed as an "unapproved new drug" by the FDA and listed as a "contaminant" by the EPA.


Nancy Norton

Susquehanna, PA

Employees Are Entitled

Regarding the county pension plan, the point I keep making, which Mr. Amadio hasn't published, is that the "County Pension Plan" is an act of Pennsylvania State Legislation, Act 96 of 1971. That legislation states, specifically that county employees (for the purpose of this legislation county employees are both elected and appointed) are entitled to a "voluntary" retirement pension after 20 years of service and age 55, or age 60 regardless of length of service.

The legislation also states that if you are an elected official (and here is where the term "elected official" is used) and separate from county service INVOLUNTARILY after 8 years (all employees are entitled to vest after 8 years) that elected official is entitled to an actuarially reduced pension. All county employees are also entitled to this same involuntary, reduced pension if they have 8 years of credited service and are terminated from county employment.

It was unclear to me at the meeting which various sources Mr. Jennings was trying to piece together to ask his questions. He referred to minutes which did not specify "elected." However different terms are used at different meetings according to the law that pertains to that particular meeting.

I will be pleased to supply the particular statutes that apply and the source of decisions made for anyone who would like that information, especially "Citizens for Smaller Government" who don't seem to be able to find the documentation for the claims they are publishing–and I will even supply it to P.J.

Also, the legislature has already passed a 5 year vesting provision for the state employee retirement system. They have been contemplating that same reduction in years for the county pension plan. I am spearheading the move against the change in legislation with other county treasurers across the state and with the help of our county commissioners.


Cathy Benedict,

Susquehanna County Treasurer

Tax Claim Bureau Director

Stephen J. Placko Elementary School?

The Montrose Area School Board is soliciting suggestions on honoring the achievements of Stephen J. Placko, the beloved late principal of Choconut Valley Elementary School. I would ask your readers to please support the rededication of the Choconut Valley Elementary School to Mr. Placko.

This suggestion is not made lightly. On February 1, 2003, the day of his memorial service, several groups representing the faculty, staff, PTO, CVYAA and school board spoke highly of Mr. Placko’s dedication to the school district. Those who spoke all expressed a similar view of the man who had such passion for his work. His commitment to the school was evidenced by the long hours he put in and his active participation in all activities, both during and after school. As a leader, he received the respect and affection of the community; people who knew him well would still call him "Mr. Placko," instead of by his first name because they held him in such high regard.

His dedication to his work was outstanding and proved he loved and cared for the school children. His goal was not only to educate their minds, but to also educate their spirit by teaching them to reach out and help others. Mr. Placko set an example for them. As an involved administrator, he would not just attend activities but devote his time to them. And, he did this by willingly working many evenings and weekends for over 17 years; giving up his own free time to lend a hand. Whether it was athletics or the spring fair, Mr. Placko was involved not only as a caring principal, but also as a friend.

The rededication of Choconut Valley would not only be a great tribute to his achievements, but would be a reminder of his devotion to the children -the children Steve Placko loved so much. Sadly, future generations of children will never benefit from that precious gift of devotion, but they can be aware of how a community honors it, every day, at Stephen J. Placko Elementary School.


Gayle M. Stevens

Little Meadows, PA

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