Main News
County Living
Church Announcements
Dated Events
Military News
Subscribe to the Transcript

Watch This space for information on upcoming events in Susquehanna County.

Issue Home May 18, 2004 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago
Along the Way...With P. Jay

From the Desk of the DA
Straight From Starrucca
Earth Talk

Slices of Life

Who’s In Charge Here

What a beautiful evening. After a day of eighty-plus degree weather, the darkness has dropped the temperature to a comfortable seventy degrees, and Mrs. Morris and I are enjoying the front porch.

All day she lay asleep in the upstairs hall. This was so unlike her that I was getting worried that she might be sick. Her day had started early as she pushed open the door of the guest room and got my friends out of bed to feed her breakfast at about 5:00 a.m. At six-thirty I woke up and saw her sitting in the screened window by my bed. When I stirred and spoke to her, she jumped up on the bed and lay in the circle of my legs, so I couldn’t move without disturbing her. I was surprised that she wasn’t fussing for her breakfast. I should have known she’d hoodwinked Gail into feeding her. I meandered downstairs and there sat Gail and Paul at the kitchen table having tea. Mrs. Morris was now sleeping soundly on the bed!

As the day warmed up she moved to the hall where there was a bit of a cross breeze, and there she stayed. I’m so accustomed to having her underfoot, pestering me for food that I was sure she was sick. This evening I finally picked her up and carried her downstairs. Then she was ready to eat a snack. OK, we’re back to normal now.

Since coming out on the porch, two neighbors and their dogs have come to visit her. She tolerates them, but hisses a lot and doesn’t give up any ground.

She’s hunched down on the porch rail, keeping an eye on everything that’s going on around her.

A few nights ago, I let her out for her final stroll at ten o’clock. Usually she goes out, sits on the edge of the porch near the step awhile, then goes under the porch for a few minutes and wanders back to the door to wait patiently until I let her in. Not that night. She literally disappeared. I’m out with a flashlight hunting for her, calling her – even looking under my neighbor’s car thinking maybe she ran over her when she drove in her driveway. No sign of her anywhere. The rain, lightning and thunder are threatening, and I’m sure she’s going to be out in a downpour all night. I kept going to the door and looking. Finally at eleven o’clock , when I was ready to give up on her and go to bed, I took one more look, and there she was sitting by the door ready to come in.

From time to time, I envision this house without Mrs. Morris. She’s been around so many years now that she seems like a permanent fixture. But we all know that nothing is permanent and the day will come when she’s no longer here. That will be one sad day.

But in the meantime she’ll keep entertaining me, filling my life with warmth, companionship, frustration and a lot of laughs. She’s also a great icebreaker because she’s so personable. It was my luck day when she wandered up on our porch, curled up on my lap on the porch swing and never left again.

Back to Top

100 Years Ago

LANESBORO: Fireman McNally, of Carbondale, was killed and Conductor Honey and a brakeman badly injured early yesterday morning at Lanesboro, in a head-on collision between two D. & H. freight trains. The first car of the northbound freight train caught fire and the local fire department was called out and handled the flames in a prompt manner. It is supposed that the wreck was caused by conflicting train orders at the chief dispatcher's office at Carbondale. Fireman McNally was pinned under his locomotive and killed. The injured men were taken to the home of J. E. Donovan, where they were cared for. The wreck occurred about 100 ft. from the local depot.

MONTROSE: The roller to be used in macadamizing our streets arrived the first of the week over the D.L. & W. and now rests on its private flat car near the coal pockets. It is not noticeable for its beauty, but so far as solidity of construction and bulk is concerned it certainly meets every requirement. The machine is fully 30 ft. in length with a roller surface of 10 to 12 ft. A large roller is pushed along in front, while the huge driving wheels in the rear, besides acting as propellers, increase materially the rolling powers of the machine. A curtained cab is located in the back part for the engineer and, as is generally understood, the roller will be run by steam. The stone crusher is also en route and it is likely that both will be in use within a short time.

FOREST CITY: The Forest House at Forest City has been sold by John M. Cunningham to Taylor M. Sharpe, of Scranton, for $27,000. The hotel changed owners the first of the week. Mr. Cunningham and family will go to Buffalo to reside.

SUSQUEHANNA: A handsome new brick building is about to be erected by John Springsteen, near the Langford Hotel. AND: A large number of men have been laid off indefinitely in the Erie shops here.

NEW MILFORD: Commissioner Vailes' broken stone road, which was put in last fall, stands the test, notwithstanding the predictions of some of our chronic croakers, and he is now engaged in laying another piece just above the Main street bridge. AND: Five cans of wall-eyed pike were on Tuesday placed in East Lake. East Lake is one of the finest bodies of water in the county. It is fed by springs of pure water and its surroundings picturesque, appealing directly to those who wish to enjoy a quiet summer's outing.

FRIENDSVILLE: Plans are being made for extensive improvements on the streets of our village; among them is the much-needed repair of sidewalks. A large quantity of the old wooden walk has been torn up, and is soon to be replaced by flags.

BRANDT: Robert Shirlaw, who has charge of the splitting machine in the chamois factory, had the misfortune Saturday, to crush one finger. AND: Kessler & Co., on Thursday last, erected a 60-ft. smokestack over their new boiler.

LOOMIS LAKE: Twenty campfires of fishermen were seen around the lake one night last week.

UPSONVILLE: Many tons of elegant stone is being quarried in the Moses Shields quarry this spring.

BROOKLYN:The traction engine makes regular trips to Hopbottom now-a-days. It seems none the worse for going off the stone bridge a short time ago. AND: George Gere, with two teams, has begun the much-needed job of building roads. AND: Charles Tiffany has a gang of masons and men at work laying the foundation of the new creamery at Alford.

MIDDLETOWN TWP.: Lena Jones, of Jackson Valley, has been dressmaking at Mrs. James Keenan's. AND: In Flynn, P. T. McManus, representing the A.& P. Tea Co., passed through here last week, enroute to Binghamton, delivering a fine line of goods as ever was sold in this section.

HARFORD: Harford Grange has purchased the Dormitory of [the] Soldiers Orphans' School buildings and will make of it an ideal meeting place for their thrifty organization. Their efficient Secretary E. M. Tingley was here Friday transacting business connected therewith. This grange is in a very prosperous condition, paying up in full for this nice property, which includes three-fourths of an acre of land.

KINGSLEY: The Kingsley band will give an outdoor concert, Saturday evening, May 21. Ice cream and cake will be served. The boys are making good progress and are preparing to buy suits.

GREAT BEND: The Keystone race track has been remodeled and thoroughly worked and is now pronounced to be the finest track in Pennsylvania. A number of the stables are already occupied by horses to be trained for the circuit. The first race meet here will be held on July 4th. AND: The new pews for St. Lawrence Catholic church have arrived and are being placed in the edifice, which has been thoroughly remodeled and is very pretty, within and without.

EAST RUSH: Ten years ago Vinal Roberts found a land turtle and cut the date 1894 and initials on it; it was found by Glen quick, about a mile from where first found, one day while fishing.

SPRINGVILLE: The subscription papers circulated for the benefit of U.D. Barber, who met with so serious an accident at the Hawk quarry, injuring his eyes, have met a ready response and a nice sum of money has been raised.

GLENWOOD: Memorial Day will be celebrated with its quiet, solemn and patriotic services. All members of Post 85 are requested to attend services at the M.E. Church, Sunday. Members of the Post and other old veterans will meet at G.A.R. Hall at 2 and march to the church. The Decorating committee will receive marking flags at the close of service for Carpenters Cemetery, Edgar E. Smith and W.W. Hardy; Bell Cemetery, W. J. Bell; Rynearson Cemetery, Thomas Cameron. On Monday, May 30, comrades will report at Tower church at 11 o'clock, form and march to the Cemetery and perform the G.A.R. Memorial services as required by the ritual, and then dismiss for dinner. The Ladies Aid will furnish dinner. Ralph B. Little, Esq., of Montrose, will speak at 1:30.

NEWS BRIEF: It is reported that the blue stone business is on the boom. The market for flagging, curb and building stone was never better and prices for some of the curbing are double what they were a few years ago.

Back to Top

Along the Way...With P. Jay

What’s good for the goose...

The Susquehanna County Commissioners have taken an excellent idea and are on the verge of botching it up. The concept of installing time clocks in strategic places and making it mandatory for county workers to punch in and out daily is great. In fact, it is long overdue.

There is, however, a very big "but" overshadowing the plan. As currently being discussed, it appears that salaried employees will be exempt from the time card rule. In a memo to department heads, Jeff Loomis said, "regular hourly employees will be required to punch in when they arrive and punch out when they leave work." I can only imagine that Mr. Loomis views not being made to punch a time card as another perk for salaried workers.

As a former supervisor of salaried and hourly employees, experience has taught me that salaried employees take unfair advantage of the freedom of not having to punch a time card. For some reason, and perhaps it is a display of gratitude for the job, workers who punch time cards are much more conscientious than those who do not.

There are a lot of unhappy hourly employees in the courthouse because of the preferential treatment being accorded the salaried workers. However, a majority of those that I talked with believe in time cards and simply feel that all workers, except elected officials, should punch a clock. I agree.

So there can be no misunderstanding, I have worked at places where salaried employees did not have to punch a clock. And in most instances, when they arrived late in the morning, they were observed working later at the end of the day. There is not much of that in the courthouse. On the contrary, many salaried county employees are out the door well ahead of the hourly. The lone exception is the chief clerk who is often there long after everyone else has left the courthouse.

Many times I get the feeling that Mr. Loomis is the force behind most of what the commissioners have accomplished. (Kind of like the Bush-Cheney Administration.) And, in all due respect, the present commissioners have done a lot in a few short months. BUT – there’s the big but – they could erase a lot of the goodwill they established with their employees if they remain on course and let the salaried employees off the hook.

Bargain Basement

There are a number of items stored in the basement of the county courthouse that the commissioners expect to sell in the near future. No date has been set for the sale, or the method of disposing of the items. Last time, the commissioners accepted bids on the stuff. The current administration is thinking of having an auction.

The feeling here is that accepting bids on the merchandise is much more fair than an auction. Look at it this way. An auction in Montrose would probably attract residents from that immediate area. What about the taxpayers in far away areas such as Ararat, Forest City, Little Meadows and Susquehanna Depot?

Commissioners will tell you they welcome comments at meetings and suggestions or recommendations. But view the history of Susquehanna County and you will find that the commissioners are notoriously stubborn and, in most instances, will do as they darn well please. Remember Colonial Hall?

But, let us try them again. After all, this is a different administration. Want some advice? (1) assign a number to each item; (2) advertise the numbered list of items to be sold in the three county newspapers; (3) set a date and time when the items could be inspected; (4) set a final date for sealed bids to be received; and, (5) sell the items to the highest price offered for each numbered item.

And, last but far from least...

You’ve got to give credit to the Clifford Township Supervisors for their continuous effort to help the taxpayers in their community. Unlike some municipal governing bodies that frown when people attend their meeting, in Clifford there is always a nice representation of taxpayers all of whom are afforded an opportunity to speak.

Last week, the supervisors decided to expand the welcome mat by having township employees set some evening time for the residents. On the second and fourth Mondays of each month from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Rene Reynolds, the township’s secretary/treasurer; Paul Fortuner, chief enforcement officer; and, Tom Andzulis, sewer enforcement officer, will be at the township hall to offer any assistance they can to township residents.

"This gives us another avenue to serve the people," said John Regan, chair of the Board of Supervisors.

Back to Top


The Heights of Journalism

(NewsBeat note: The following was taken from the Mountain View School’s student newspaper, "The Eagle’s Eye." We believe it’s worth re-printing.)

Journalism must be easy, right? You know, just throw some mumble-jumble together, add some quotes and just call it done. Well, you’re wrong.

Journalism deals with deadlines, intense research, and a lot of stress. About seven articles are pulled out of us for each issue and only the best (one or two) are actually used in the paper.

"I think that it (journalism) should be a very easy class," said freshman Aaron White. "All you have to do is write stuff down, and call it an article, right?"

Senior Mike Hancock of The Eagle’s Eye staff disagrees. "Journalism is actually a really difficult course to take, and it can be hard for a student because it puts them in a stressful, get-it-done-now environment that can seem intimidating."

There are four different levels that you can take in journalism. As a freshman, I am only in Journalism 1 and some of our seniors are in Journalism 2, because journalism is a new class and has been introduced last year. Each level is more intense and more in depth as you go along, but articles from both levels are used in the paper.

Journalism is a good course to take, and it’s very hands-on. You’re always on your feet getting things done. There are also different areas of the paper you can work on.

For the past couple of papers I have been mostly reporting about sports, because to me they are interesting and very fun to write about, but not everyone in my class agrees. That’s why I think it’s nice that you can choose what you want to write about and why. This course is very versatile and I highly recommend it.

(P.S. – So all you readers "out there" think it’s easy to compile news and put it together. We’ll as you read, "It’s not easy.")

BOB CASEY at Dem Rally – Robert (Bob) Casey, Pennsylvania Attorney General, son of the late and former governor, Bob Casey, Sr., will be the main speaker at the County Democrat rally at the Hallstead Rod & Gun Club on Saturday, May 22. The event, featuring several other state and county officials, will start at 1 p.m. Democrats – and others – are welcome to attend the rally.

GAS PRICES "Keep Climbing" – Recently, in just two weeks, we saw gas climb at least 8 cents, to a high of $1.80. Are any of our elected officials doing anything about it? If they are, I haven’t heard about it. We have two prominent men campaigning for the presidency – not a single word from either of them concerning the ridiculous high gas prices. They keep talking how they are going to run our country – how they are go to get our country back on the "plus" side. How they are going get the economy back "on its feet." They are going to get employment back and give work to hundreds out of work. But not one word about the weekly increase in gas prices. Not only is gas going up, but other businesses are increasing their prices, such as businesses that have to make deliveries, to offset the gas prices. But our two candidates seem to think - or believe- that the high cost of gas is none of their business. (I wouldn’t care, either, if I had their bank balances!)

VFW ELECTS NEW OFFICERS - The Vets of Foreign Wars, Musa-Stiles Post 6223, of Great Bend, PA, at their April, 2004 meeting elected the following officers for the ensuing year: Commander, Eddie Arnold; Senior Vice Commander, Gerry Bishop; Junior Commander, David Hughes; Quartermaster, Robert Franks; Chaplain, James Seller; Judge Advocate, John Humprey; Surgeon, Ed Elbrecht; Trustee for three years, J. Margets.

The post needs volunteers to help on Memorial Day. Parade times will be 9 a.m. at Hallstead; 10 a.m. at New Milford; 11 a.m. at Great Bend. VFW vets are asked to participate.

INTERESTED in the Past 151 years? - If so you are welcome to attend and listen to history buffs on May 22 at O’hare’s Irish Pub, Riverside Drive, Susquehanna. Slides of the past "so many years" will also be shown, all starting at 6 p.m.


VIRGINIA - Hundreds of truckers protesting the high fuel costs recently held a two-day boycott at one of the busiest cargo ports on the East Coast. (We should have more motorists protesting.)

WASHINGTON- The US Veterans Affairs Dept. will maintain inpatient care at two western Pennsylvania Vet Hospitals that were slated to be closed in Erie and Altoona.

NIGERIA - "When will it stop?" Militants from a Christian tribe killed at least 500 people in attacks on a Muslim town in Nigeria, a Red Cross official said.

WEST BANK - Fearing Israel will seize him, Yasser Ararfat fortified his West Bank Headquarters with hundreds of concrete-filled barrels and wrecked cars, saying he will go down fighting.

SUNBURY, PA - Northumberland County Prison warden, Ralph Reish, Jr., has been suspended from his job, accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate. Reish denied the accusations.

ATHENS, Greece - With the Olympics about a 100 days away (if it takes place), bombs are ripping the town, roads and highways are a mess. Security preparations are slowly being organized.


WILKES-BARRE Score Beaten - Limo Exchange, bowling in the New Castle County Commercial League at Bowlerama in New Castle, Del., shattered the ABC five-man team series record with a 3,934 series on April 1. Wayne Romano (878), Mark Willis (836), Tony Cassetta Sr. (792), Tony Cassetta Jr. (716) and Greg Zalano (712) recorded 1,371, 1,281 and 1,282 games to beat the ABC record of 3,905 by Print Mark Industries of Wilkes-Barre, PA, in 2001 by 29 pins. The five players averaged 262-plus. Romano and Willis each had a 300 in their series.

DICK WEBER "Keeps Bowling" - Hall of Famer Dick Weber bowled in his 57th consecutive ABC tourney. He had totals of 604-547-577 for a total of 1728. He is second in total pins, with 109,745. The last Joe Norris is first with 123,770 pins. Dick said, "To be honest, I don’t want to break Mr. Norris’ pin total, but if I get a chance I will try."

SENIOR All American Bowlers - The 2003 Senior All American Bowling team is Bob Chamberlain, George Pappas, Bob Glass, Dave Soutar, and Dale Eagle. All received awards at the Masters tourney.

ABC TOURNEY Dates - Awarded future tourneys are: 2005 Baton Rouge, LA; 2006 Corpus Christi, Texas; 2007 and 2010 at Reno, NV; 2008 Albuquerque; 2009 at Las Vegas; 2011 at Wichita, KS.

OLDEST To Bowl an 800-plus - Fran Lasee, age 83 of DePere, WI tossed games of 279, 290 and 265 for a 834 series. The performance made him the oldest ABC member ever to record a 800 series. Lasee had two previous 800s, still bowls in four leagues and averages 200-plus. The previous 800 record - 802 was bowled by 77-year old Roger St. Cyr of Texas.


A SURGEON, AN ARCHITECT and a politician were considering the question of whose profession was the oldest.

"I think my line of work would win this one hands down," the surgeon said. "After all, Eve was created from Adams’ rib, and that sounds like surgery to me."

"Maybe," the architect said, "but before Adam, order was created out of chaos. That was an architectural accomplishment."

"Sure," the politician said. "But before that, someone had to create the chaos."

THEY SAY when you die there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. When my father dies, he’ll see the light, make his way toward it and then flip it off to save electricity.

"I hear your uncle went to jail for stealing." That’s not quite right. "He went to jail because he got caught stealing."

"He was arrested for doing his Christmas shopping early." There’s no crime against that. "He was doing it before the store opened."

"You look like my fifth husband." "Your fifth husband? How many husbands have you had?" "Four."

Patient: "I’m very nervous doctor, this is my first trip to the operating room." Doctor: "I know what you mean. It’s mine, too."

The 90-year old man told the doctor he was concerned about his love life slowing down. "When did you first notice it?" the doctor asked. "Well, Doc," the old man answered, "twice last night and again this morning."

An old man told his doctor that the druggist said for you to change my prescription, and to check Mrs. Wilcox’s prescription. "When does a druggist tell a doctor what to do?" "Since he found out I’ve been on birth control pills since February."

Back to Top

From the Desk Of The DA

As the school year ends, local school districts will be performing graduation ceremonies and other end of the year activities on school property. Given recent tragedies involving violence at school facilities, such events always raise potential security concerns. Although many school districts have posted signs warning that it is unlawful to possess a weapon on school property, there appears to be a general misunderstanding as to what encompasses a weapon. Under the relevant section of the Crimes Code, a weapon is defined as "any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchuck stick, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury."

Under this definition, certain household items are considered weapons, such as scissors, box cutters, penknives, jack knives, and other similar instruments. Further, school property includes the buildings, surrounding real property, and the school buses and other transportation. The possession of a weapon on school property is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable up to five years in prison, and a potential fine of up to $10,000.

The statute contains a defense to the possession of a weapon on school property provided that the weapon was possessed for a "lawful purpose." Unfortunately, the statute gives no additional guidance as to the meaning of "lawful purpose," and there is no case law defining this term. Certain examples of "lawful purposes" are clear, such as a police officer or law enforcement officer carrying a weapon as part of his or her employment. Another example would be a parent who works as a carpenter who routinely has tools in his vehicle and parking the vehicle on school property to watch his child’s school event. Even if there were cutting instruments in the carpentry tools, it would appear that they would be possessed lawfully as part of the parent’s employment. On the other hand, the possession of firearms, knives, and similar weapons by any person, aside from law enforcement, upon school property would not fall within any "lawful purpose" under the statute.

As to students, there is no lawful reason for a student to possess any weapon whatsoever upon school property, unless it is possessed in connection with a supervised school activity. We have prosecuted numerous juveniles for violation of this section for possession of various items on school property, including jackknives, penknives, box cutters, paint guns, and firearms. For the parents of school age children, we would encourage you to check your child’s book bag, duffle bag and/or backpack to make sure that no such items are present prior to your child attending school. With respect to the juvenile offenders, we routinely see children taking an item to school to "showoff" to their friends. One of the friends will tell a teacher or adult, the item will be seized, and the school district will turn it over to law enforcement for prosecution. A simple and short daily check of your child and his or her bag will go a long way in avoiding any contact with the juvenile justice system. Such routine checks will also help to promote the intent of the statute, namely protecting children, including your child, from being hurt by a weapon while on school property.

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.

Back to Top

Straight From Starrucca

About forty people attended the Victorian tea held in the Baptist Church social rooms last Saturday, May 8. Most everyone wore hat and gloves. Folks were asked to bring a teacup or teapot that had a history or meant something special. All were very interesting. The highlight of the tea was testimony given by Mary Pat Upright, how she came to love the Lord and dedicate her life’s work to Him after her daughter, Erika survived from a tumor on the spine. She felt the prayers of many and her own had great impact on Erika’s healing.

Relatives from far and wide came to have a part in the surprise celebration of Charlie Levchak’s seventy-fifth birthday at P.J.’s Saturday night, May 8. The farthest relative came from Ohio and of course all his daughters and families, and son and family, and friends. I add my best wishes, Charlie for many more happy occasions.

On May 12, the funeral of David Dix, Pleasant Mount, was held from the funeral home in Hancock and the burial was in Starrucca Cemetery. A dinner was served in the Baptist Church social rooms following the interment. He was the father of Linda Dix Lee, Coxton Lake, wife of Lewis Lee and my sympathy is extended to them.

Visitors at the Carl Upright home over the weekend were Brett from Modena, NY, Billy Reddon, Susquehanna, Mary Pat, Brent Upright and Johnny, Windsor, NY.

Tom and Tracey Swartz took mom, Marie out for dinner for Mother’s Day. Joy Mead went to her daughter, Karen’s, Johnson City, to have dinner with them, and Roger and Barb Glover drove to Chenango Bridge for dinner with daughter, Andrea and family. My son, Nelson and wife, Phyllis took me out for a pleasurable dinner on Saturday night before Mother’s Day. Doris Davidson was honored by daughters and son with dinner at P.J.’s.

Mayor Frank Mroczka conducted his first wedding ceremony, May 8, for friends Peggy and Timothy Bean. Following the wedding, Frank and Ruth welcomed his sister, Marie and husband, Marty. They all attended an all-school reunion in Mahanoy City, PA. Frank and Ruth also hosted friends from Levittown recently.

Shane Getter, Carollton, Ohio is spending some time with Roger and Naomi Getter.

Judy Fairchild, a niece and Janet Hoaman called on me last Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 11 was the last day for the Bag Ladies. They will start again in September. Marie Swartz wishes to thank all who contributed to the needs of the project. After all, if they can’t get the goods they can’t do the work.


Back to Top


Dear EarthTalk: Why are environmentalists trying to get snowmobiles banned from national parks?

Deborah Beck, Ketchum, ID

According to the San Francisco, California-based Bluewater Network, which wants to ban snowmobile use in national parks, 250,000 snowmobiles are operated in America’s park system each year, with some 60,000 snowmobiles zooming through Yellowstone National Park alone. Counting all snowmobile usage nationally, in and out of national parks, about 2.3 million take to the powder every year.

The main issue is the vehicle’s two-stroke engine, which is a major polluter. According to Bluewater, the air pollution from these dirty machines is so bad that some Yellowstone Park Rangers now wear respirators to protect themselves. Further, these engines dump 25-30 percent of their fuel unburned out the tailpipe onto vegetation and soil and into the water and air. According to Katy Rexford, Public Lands Associate for Bluewater, snowmobiles dump more than 100,000 gallons of fuel and 2,500 gallons of oil into Yellowstone’s ecosystem every year. Banning two-stroke engines in favor of four-stroke engines would make snowmobiles 80 percent cleaner, says Rexford.

But switching to four-stroke engines will not greatly affect the noise pollution. The piercing noise of snowmobiles is also at issue; studies have shown that snowmobiles can be heard 90 percent of the time in Yellowstone, thus destroying natural soundscapes and diminishing opportunities for more contemplative forms of recreation.

Another issue is their impact on wildlife: Canadian scientists found that the noise from snowmobiles disturbs animals up to 1,250 feet away. Even when restricted to approved and maintained trails, snowmobiles can push bison, wolves, elk, moose and bald eagles out of their preferred habitats.

CONTACT: Bluewater Network, (415) 544-0790,

Dear EarthTalk: Does eye mascara contain toxic ingredients?

Amber Galt, Madison, WI

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified many modern skin care, hair care and cosmetics ingredients as hazardous. Such ingredients can be absorbed into the body through the skin, and may be loaded with potential irritants, carcinogens, neurotoxins or hormone disrupters. The potential health problems associated with brand-name cosmetics are many and varied.

Some cosmetics companies throw petroleum distillates, shellac and other preservatives into the pot when stewing up a batch of lash thickener, says Kim Erickson in her book Drop-Dead Gorgeous: Protecting Yourself from the Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics. Ingredients like shellac and quaternium-22 can induce allergies; others, such as phenylmercuric acetate, may cause skin irritation and blisters. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricts the use of phenylmercuric acetate, a mercury derivative, cosmetic manufacturers are not required to register with the FDA.

Eye products sometimes contain kohl, which is made of heavy metals such as antimony and lead. Also called al-kahl, kajal or surma, this color additive has been linked to lead poisoning in children and is not approved for cosmetic use in the U.S. However, the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) warns it can be found in imported mascaras.

Perhaps the most dangerous ingredient found in mascara is not meant to be included – bacteria. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, author of Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, airborne bacteria rush into the bottle every time you open it. Preservatives break down over time, losing their ability to prevent bacterial growth that can cause infection and, in rare cases, temporary or even permanent blindness. Doctors and beauty experts recommend replacing mascara every three months, no matter how much is left. Throw it out sooner if it develops an unusual texture or odor.

CONTACT: CFSAN Cosmetics Program,; Dr. Andrew Weil,


c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881;

or submit your question at:, or e-mail us at:

Back to Top

News  |  Living  |  Sports  |  Schools  |  Churches  |  Ads  |  Events
Military  |  Columns  |  Ed/Op  |  Obits  | Archive  |  Subscribe