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Issue Home April 15, 2003 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Guest Editorial Susquehanna Politics Has Reached a New Low

With apologies to the reptile world, there is a snake or two in the county's political woodpile. Convincing evidence appeared this past week via the post office, when a letter full of lies and innuendoes, arrived at selected mailboxes throughout the county. It went to many: press, some leaders of both parties, and those who signed petitions to get a particular candidate on the ballot for the upcoming primary election.

If you weren't among the many who received this vitriolic piece of garbage, ask your neighbor, or anyone who works at the court house. People of all political persuasions are quite willing to share, most with disgust over the letter's content.

Someone must be running scared in this county commissioners' race to have stooped to that level. I've seen dirty politics in the ten years I've been here, but this takes the (booby) prize.

snake apparently can't come up with anything positive to say in his/her campaign (although it could be someone other than a candidate who wrote this), so this reptile is apparently trying to win the contest by means of dirty politics. If that's the case, the target of the letter must be a viable threat in this person's eyes. Yikes, he might possibly have to sit at the same table come January 1.

Is this great communicator, a good ole boy, or someone new to the county scene? Hard to tell, and even harder to know for sure if it is a competing candidate, although there are definite signs that may be the case. The Lehigh Valley postmark, with no return address, or any identifying signature were signs that this person was not very proud of his product! Or was this part of a "whisper campaign" that some locals have told me about... this being an anonymous "whisper" on paper.

The writer of the already infamous letter is likely a madman, or at least someone who doesn't think rationally. By trying to "cloud" people's minds by saying this candidate looks and acts like an internationally known despised man, the writer makes himself look silly, because no one in his right mind would vote for or against someone because this person's letter says the candidate looks like someone else.

In the same letter, denigrating the candidate's service as a policeman and fireman at this time in history is a real blunder. I'd dare say there are NO people in the world who think that paid firemen and policemen in metropolitan areas are "living off the public."

Several people that I've spoken with say they wish they knew who wrote the letter. If they did, they would NOT vote for the writer or a candidate he represents.

I guess the writer is really threatened by this candidate. Maybe he can't stand someone who has shown interest in the workings of the county for years and who has a better attendance record than some commissioners. Or maybe he doesn't like the pointed questions regarding proper use of commissioners' powers, since the writer or his candidate expects to misuse them? Or is it someone with a past or present grudge? Is there a real potential that this wronged person might win a commissioner position? If so he'll want things done the right way, the way that will benefit the county in general and not just the commissioner. Does this go against the letter writer's lack of standards? Perhaps he can't stand the idea that if this person wins, he would expect all sessions to be open, following the Sunshine (Open Meeting) Law and the Open Records Law as the norm, rather than the exception, so that citizens can be part of government and not excluded from it.

Susquehanna County has a lot right with it, but also a lot wrong. The letter writer is at the top of the wrong list, and backing this kind of thinking puts each of the backers in the same category as that person who so easily calls other people jerks. Possibly he was looking in the mirror?

Primary Election Day is May 20. We need to get to know the candidates for their beliefs. How will they make the county better? Not how will they make their personal life and that of their friends better. Start learning about county candidates on April 23 when there will be a meet-the-candidates night at 7:30 p.m. in the large court room at the court house in Montrose, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. The League will present questions to each candidate, with no opportunity for audience participation, but you can catch each candidate after the program and ask your own questions.

Also, get to know your local candidates in township and borough contests. Many don't have opponents, but some do. Selection of school board members is perhaps the most important in the life of your tax bill as well as in the life of young people. Since each school district spends about as much as the whole county government spends annually, make sure school board members do it wisely.

Get informed and then vote, so our county can be a better place and rise above the snake pit some want it to be.

Let’s Get Them Excited

This letter is in response to Mary Wescott’s letter to the editor concerning her reasons for her vote of "NO" for the Susquehanna football co-sponsorship with Blue Ridge.

I’m confused! Mrs. Wescott stated that some people have called her a puppet of the "nay-sayers" and she wonders what meetings that these people were at – well, I have to ask what meetings she has been attending? Her letter was full of misinformation on the subject matter of the merger, which shows her lack of knowledge on this issue and her obvious disapproval of the Blue Ridge students teaming up with Susquehanna. She is part of the Susquehanna School Board, which invited Blue Ridge to team up with Susquehanna in the first place. She voted "NO" on this issue from the beginning. She is now making it sound like she is voting "NO" just because the merger for all sports and activities did not pass at this time and only football did. The band, cheerleading and soccer programs are all issues that will be resolved in the months ahead. I will explain these issues later in this letter.

Misinformation or lack of knowledge seems to be Mrs. Wescott’s forte or at least in this letter. Let’s start with the beginning of her letter. There is one fact there that is correct. The original proposal did include band, cheerleading and soccer, along with football. However, when discussing this proposal, a problem came to light with the dismissal times. The problem being that Blue Ridge dismisses at 2:40 PM and Susquehanna at 3:00 PM. Susquehanna students cannot get to Blue Ridge until approximately 3:30 and then they would need time to change into practice uniforms and get to their respective practice facilities. This would mean a minimum of a 50-minute gap, not a 20-30 minute gap, as Mrs. Wescott stated. This makes for a huge logistical problem for Susquehanna students going to Blue Ridge, for Blue Ridge Coaches, for the Blue Ridge activities bus and so on. Conversely, it makes a perfect fit for Blue Ridge students coming to Susquehanna for practice. Blue Ridge students have 35 minutes to get to football practice that usually starts at 3:15 PM in Susquehanna.

Football needed to be voted on by April 1, 2003, due to PIAA sanctioning. The Blue Ridge activities committee and School Board knew that the logistical problems with Susquehanna coming to Blue Ridge would take months to resolve. So they passed football singularly to make the April 1 deadline for the PIAA and because football would not cost either District additional money. If/when band, cheerleading and soccer pass, they will cost both Districts additional moneys. Neither District has funding available for these programs. This football co-sponsorship is a three-year deal that both Districts are locked into unless both Districts decide it is not working and they dissolve the contract.

You are probably asking yourself, "How does he know all this?" It is simple – I spoke with school officials and school board members and attended the Blue Ridge meetings. Mrs. Wescott needs to realize that many parents and children have been told that we may lose our football program because it is the truth. There seems to be a total lack of school spirit. Also, Susquehanna has less and less student participation and enrollment is down. At the elementary levels, enrollment looks very bleak.

Let me give you some real statistics. At the beginning of the 2002 Sabers Football Season, they had over 30 players. At the end, they had 18 injured, bruised, battered and tired players. Over 60 students signed up for the Jr. High Sabers Football team, but only four showed up to play. Those are real numbers. Mrs. Wescott stated that she cares about the students. But does she really? Does she understand how much more likely the players are to get injured (or worse), with only 18 players playing both offense and defense and also special teams? Susquehanna’s team would be more competitive with 30 to 40 players, not to mention it would also be safer with 11 players for offense, 11 players for defense and extra players for special teams. The football team would have fresh players, instead of tired and battered players. Also, do you think they might win some games if they had more players? With only 18 players, you cannot even practice with a full offense and defense because you are four players short. Mrs. Wescott stated that Susquehanna has 30 students signed up for football. She must have a crystal ball. I am writing this letter on April 4, her letter was in the transcript on April 2 and the Sabers still have not had football sign-ups for the 2003 season. So she is contributing to the misinformation that is circulating to the public.

Mrs. Wescott also stated that Susquehanna would have to bear all the expenses for football. What expenses? There are no additional expenses! Susquehanna already has the uniforms and equipment. Any broken equipment would have to be replaced anyway for Susquehanna’s own student safety. Susquehanna has to have helmets reconditioned and certified every two years, whether they use them or not. Susquehanna already has insurance and a bus that goes to the football games. Whether there are 18 or 40 players, these costs are the same. I would love to see a full fall sport schedule including cross-country, soccer, tennis, football, etc., however, this would cost money. A new six-lane track would cost $250,000. Mrs. Wescott is willing to spend money to build a new track, but not support a football program, which has no additional cost. Let’s start by fixing the Saber football program.

The proposed co-sponsorship with Blue Ridge is a three-year contract. Blue Ridge parents are responsible for getting their kids to practice and for meeting the bus for games at the Susquehanna High School. Blue Ridge parents have already arranged their carpool system and are awaiting a vote of "YES" from the Susquehanna School Board. The scare tactics that Mrs. Wescott tried to use with the busing costs are a true political ploy (or maybe just plain ignorance.) With this proposed contract, nothing can change for three years. After that time, the entire contract will be reviewed and re-voted by both Districts.

According to her letter, Mrs. Wescott wants to start a peewee soccer program. Apparently, she does not understand the process. Why Mrs. Wescott would contact the school board, which she is a member of, about peewee soccer is a mystery to me. The School Board has nothing to do with peewee soccer, peewee football, little league or any of these junior sports programs. These types of junior programs are run independently of the Susq. Community School District. They have their own funding and board of directors. Again, Mrs. Wescott is confused and misinformed. You do not need the Susq. School Board’s permission to start one of these junior sport programs. You need to spend a lot of time, effort and money to start a league of your own. You have a field in Oakland that is vacant in the fall. So if anyone is interested in starting a junior soccer program simply contact Mrs. Wescott (she posted her phone number in her letter last week) and get busy generating your own funding for the program and go for it.

Mrs. Wescott stated that money raised from football does not fund any other sports. Once again, Mrs. Wescott was misinformed. All money raised by parking and admission fees for football games goes into a general fund just as basketball receipts, wrestling receipts, etc. This money is used to fund all Susquehanna sport programs.

I am quoting Mrs. Wescott: "As a parent who has a child on the team, are you still going to support this while your child is sitting the bench and you are paying for a Blue Ridge student to play is his place?" This statement is part and parcel of the same old tired rhetoric that we hear from a few parents. Some people have said that if this passes then they will move. Well, I say, "then move!" These people are not concerned about what is best for all the students in the District, but for their child only. Without the merger, there is a possibility that football and other programs will fold at Susquehanna. If that happens you will not have to worry about your child "sitting the bench" because there will be no bench to sit on. Parents must realize that if their son or daughter is of a lesser caliber than another player is, then the more qualified player should play. That is the essence of sports - competition! If you only have one player vying for a position, then there is no competition and the player’s level of achievement is stagnate. It is only when you have two or more players competing for the same position that you have competition. Competition leads to excellence instead of mediocrity. Does Mrs. Wescott sound like she is for excellence or mediocrity? The examples in this letter plainly show that Mrs. Wescott’s letter was filled with confusion and misinformation.

Some of the things I like most about sports, in general, and more specifically, football, is that it teaches, builds and molds teamwork, character, integrity and courage. All of these attributes are needed in life. There are over two hundred signatures from students of the Susq. High School who want Blue Ridge to join their team. Take note that when Blue Ridge students come to Susquehanna, they become Sabers – one team. For my money, these students are showing more character, integrity and courage than the people who voted "no" on the Susq. School Board are. Those students can be on my team any day!

Let’s recap the facts. The reasons that this co-sponsorship was enacted in this format by Blue Ridge were: 1) there are no additional costs to either District; 2) we need to walk before we run – let’s start with the football program; 3) the football program will produce a viable blueprint that will show us how to more rapidly introduce more sports and activities to Blue Ridge and Susquehanna. Susquehanna needs to save a football program that is on the edge of extinction.

In the future, when Mr. "I-vote-NO-for-everything" Downton, Mrs. Wescott and Mrs. Barnes are voting to kill the football program in Susquehanna due to lack of interest by the students, remember that you had a chance to save it. Once football is gone from Susquehanna, it will be gone forever. Just ask Blue Ridge. How long can Susquehanna play with 18 players? How many seasons can they go 0 and 11? How long can players and students be humiliated before everyone quits? This entire football issue is very simple. It’s bodies for uniforms. Blue Ridge has the bodies and Susquehanna has the uniforms. If we can field a team with 30 to 40 players, then we can give our coaching staff something to work with and we can all look forward to a competitive program. Blue Ridge has 39 players signed-up, ready to come and play. If we get even half that amount, that gives us 20 more players. If we win some games, the school spirit will return. There is nothing like winning a few games to lift one’s school pride and spirit. Folks, we already know how to lose. Let’s learn how to win again. I tell my players this all the time, "A bad attitude is like a cancer. It will take a healthy team and eat it up until it devours it."

Show your support for the co-sponsorship by attending the School Board meeting at 7:30 PM on April 16, at the Susq. Elementary School Gym. I am excited. The players are excited. Susquehanna and Blue Ridge parents are excited. (The Blue Ridge School Board voted 9 to 0 in favor of the co-sponsorship.) Let’s get the Susq. Community School Board excited. Vote "yes."

Sincerely,

Bob Scepaniak

Susquehanna, PA

Maintaining What Roads

I am writing to encourage the people of New Milford Township to speak out against the way township supervisors and road crews are "maintaining the roads."

As a concerned citizen of New Milford Township, I attended the last meeting on Wednesday, April 9. At this meeting I discussed the poor condition of roads throughout the township. I was able to get the supervisors to agree that the roads were in a poor state of repair, but I was unable to encourage them to make any repairs besides applying stone to holes, washouts, mounds, and mud bogs. According to Mr. Gulick, who lives on a hard road, Mr. Hunter, who lives on Stump Pond Road, which is in perfect condition, and Mr. King, who lives on another township road, which he, himself says is in great shape, this is the only maintenance that can be performed at this time. When questioned about the roads falling to this state year after year, Mr. Gulick said that it is impossible to maintain roads in New Milford Township because of the soil conditions, and that everyone thinks they are experts in road repairs, but they have no idea how to fix the problems. I feel that the supervisors need to try some of the ideas of the public, which include adding ditches to the roads, creating a base by adding liquid calcium and stone, and performing only minor repairs every year instead of ripping up the entire road, since they have been doing the same thing since 1988, and still have not fixed any problems.

Maybe, New Milford Township does not receive as much tax money as the supervisors would like to see, or maybe the job does not pay as much as they would like, but they were voted by majority to hold a government position, which requires these individuals to perform the general consciences of the people. According to Second Class Township Code, Section 2308, "All public roads shall be kept in repair and reasonably clear of all impediments to ease and convenient traveling at the expense of the township." New Milford Township, in my opinion, is in violation of this code. What do you think? Are you willing to stand for your rights? I urge you to contact your supervisors, their solicitor Michael Giangrieco, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I also urge you to be in attendance at the next meeting on the second Wednesday in May, 7:30 p.m.

Sincerely,

Jeremy R. Lewis

New Milford Township

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