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6TH ISSUE Of The County Transcript

Issue Home September 28, 2004 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the DA

Slices of Life

Enjoying The Darkness

Well, Mrs. Morris won. Every night she goes from front door to back door as soon as it gets dark outside. She loves to get out under the cover of darkness – to do what? I’m not sure what goes on. I only know that it’s nearly impossible to get her back inside. I’ll be outdoors at eleven o’clock some nights hunting for her. Which is one reason I try not to let her out after dark. The other reason is that I fear for her safety now that people have documented that there are mountain lions in town. It used to be roaming dogs I was concerned about, but I think most town dogs are pretty much under control now. Only occasionally will we see one running loose. Now skunks are a different story. They are everywhere this year.

Like I said, she won tonight. But it isn’t always that way. And when she sees that she isn’t going to get outside, she will eventually give up and find something else to do. I have to smile at the way she just goes with the flow. She sizes up every situation and then takes control.

When my daughter and her husband brought their two dogs from Chicago for three days at the time of the family reunion, Mrs. Morris just disappeared from the scene. She stayed upstairs in my bedroom or on the top of the attic stairs. After the door to their bedroom was closed at night, she came downstairs and had a bite to eat. Then she’d wander around a bit, keeping a wary eye out for the interlopers. Eventually she’d go back to my bedroom. No big deal. She was not traumatized at all, but in control of the situation. When they left, she went back to her regular routine.

But one part of that routine did not return to normal yet. She loves to follow the sun during the day. In the morning she naps on the bed in the room that faces the east. The sun spills on to the bed and she luxuriates in it. After lunch she moves to my room which gets the afternoon sun and naps on my bed.

Well, the dogs slept on the bed with the morning sun, and to my knowledge, she has not been on that bed since they left. I’ve seen her walk in there and sniff around, but then she turns and haughtily walks out again.

Unfortunately, the bed cover is not a washable spread. It’s an old handmade heirloom quilt. So either I’ve got to substitute something else, or the dog smell has got to wear off. Maybe if I hang it on the line in the sun and wind, the smell will leave. But it’s heavy to get through the window of my back room where I hang the clothes on a pulley line.

One evening this summer "her majesty" disappeared. It got dark and I kept going out on the front porch and calling her, but to no avail. At bedtime I tried one last time. I wandered around the yard calling her name and looking over my shoulder because I’m not brave in the dark. I got a flashlight and shone it in all the places where she might be hiding. Nothing. It was like she had just disappeared from the earth. Finally I reluctantly went to bed and left her outside. The next morning she was sleeping on the cushion on the front porch glider. When she saw me at the door she hurried in for breakfast.

I have every reason to believe that this is going to be another one of those nights when I won’t find her. She slept all day and now she’s ready to roam. One would think that once you get your children reared you could quit worrying about late nights, but I’ve decided that pets just take up where the kids left off. Life is never dull.

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100 Years Ago

FRANKLIN TWP.: A.C. Lowe was in Montrose on Saturday; and, by the way, Mr. Lowe has a baby pretty enough to capture the first prize, a $5 gold piece, offered by the Dr. Clements Prescription Co., for the picture of the handsomest baby.

NEW MILFORD: The Susquehanna County Medical Society will hold a quarterly meeting at the Jay House, Oct. 4, at 10 a.m. Dr. Wilson, of Montrose, will give a demonstration of the analysis of the gastric contents and of Fluorescent Trans-illumination of the stomach by means of the Diaphane. The report of [the] committee on revision of [the] constitution and by-laws will be disposed of. All regular practitioners are cordially invited to attend.

GIBSON: Fire broke out in the barn of James Gow destroying it and all surrounding buildings excepting house. All of Mr. Gow's summer crops were stored in the barn.

SILVER LAKE: Elizabeth M. Ward, of Silver Lake, and Cornelius Donovan, Hoboken, have applied for a marriage license.

SPRINGVILLE: The Hawke Stone company has opened a new quarry at Springville, which promises to yield a large profit. The company has made arrangements to build a switch, which will be over a mile in length and go direct to the new opening. With this convenience the company expects to be able to take out 400 carloads of stone next year.

FOREST CITY: John Yeager, the liveryman, has purchased the opera house and will conduct it. AND: John Bregar [Brager?] and Ana Korasec have applied for a marriage license.

CLIFFORD: John Miller, son of Andrew Miller, was married to a highly respected Belle of and in Carbondale, Sept. 21. John is a nice boy and now has a fine wife. We think we cannot too highly congratulate them.

HOPBOTTOM: A temperance lecture was given in the M.E. church, Monday evening, by Mrs. Roe, of Factoryville. A Women's Christian Temperance Union was organized.

LATHROP TWP.: All are invited to attend a pumpkin pie social at Arch Smith's on the evening of Sept. 30th.

JESSUP TWP.: A warrant for Walter Bruglar was issued Monday morning charging him with larceny of a gun, watch and rings from the house of Byron C. Horton, in Jessup. It is said he came from Lestershire, fair day, and finding Mr. Horton and family at the Montrose fair proceeded down through the country to their home and took the articles and also articles from other houses. He was traced to Pittston this week, where all trace of him was lost.

SUSQUEHANNA: In the belief that the union boiler makers, who were recently locked out had been planning an attack on the non-union workingmen besides, perhaps, destroying the plant, the Erie railroad officials have a force of armed detectives constantly on guard and barbed wire has been strung along the fences and buildings and through the yards. The company erected bunks in the shops for the workingmen they imported. Chief of Police McMahon, of the Susquehanna force, indefinitely postponed his trip to St. Louis. A number of Susquehanna boilermakers have been offered positions at other points and will move away with their families. So far quietude has, as a rule, prevailed. Some of the "imports" had trouble among themselves, caused by drinking, fighting, etc., and two of them were arrested and brought to the Montrose jail.

HOWARD HILL, Liberty Twp.: The ladies aid society of the F.B. church met with Mrs. Mary E. Ingraham, Sept. 14. After sewing 23 lbs of rag rugs and quilting a quilt for Miss Lucy Ingraham and enjoying an unusually pleasant time, we adjourned to meet with Mrs. Henry Howard, Saturday, Oct. 8. The collection amounted to nearly $4.

AUBURN TWP.: A large force of men with teams turned out to move Mr. Hardic's saw mill for him, over near Springville. AND: Ed Lemon, our once famous horse dealer, has now just broke out anew. He let his fine bay to Mr. Chase for a fine mare and colt. He has since matched the colt, and now thinks he has the fastest span in the county.

LAUREL LAKE: Our school is progressing finely, under the management of Miss Susie Murphy, of Choconut.

GREAT BEND: A large force of men are putting in new switches between here and the Newman farm. The Erie Company has purchased a strip of land from Mr. Newman for that purpose.

HERRICK CENTRE: The stonework is finished for the new county bridge near Fletcher Stone's. AND: About 80 pupils are attending school here now. We understand there will be several more later.

UNIONDALE: George Esmay has purchased J. F. Bass' stock of hardware and will continue to do business in the Bronson building.

MONTROSE: The formal opening of the Montrose and Bridgewater Roosevelt and Fairbanks Republican Campaign Club takes place this evening. Attend and hear a stirring address by W. A. Skinner, Esq. AND: Tom Houghton should come around with his charcoal now. Send him your name if you want any.

NEWS BRIEF: Men who would dress in the newest and highest style must wear brown leather overcoats this winter. The rage for [the] automobile is responsible for these overcoats but the truly fashionable are wearing them even when they deign to walk. Leather overcoats will never wear out and so should recommend themselves to those who are not enormously rich.

Check out 100 Years Ago on our website, You can easily find names, topics, geographic locations, and etc., with our new indexing system.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

New Voting Laws

In case you have not been paying attention, there are some new election laws that you should become familiar with.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed by Congress to prevent a recurrence of difficulties experienced during the Presidential Election of 2000. HAVA, along with accompanying legislation approved in Pennsylvania, seeks to bring a level of standard to the electoral process in the Commonwealth and across the country.

There are quite a few changes in the new laws and space simply will not permit me to cover all of them. However, here are three of what I consider to be significant changes made to the federal and state election laws and important to all voters:

1- A voter who is newly registered in his/her county and recently moved to another residence within the county will be required to present an approved form of identification when he/she appears for the first time to vote in a new election district. However, if the voter is unable to present required identification, the voter is entitled to cast a provisional ballot that will be considered by the county board of elections and counted if the board determines that the voter was qualified to vote in the election.

2- An individual who goes to his/her polling place to vote and finds that his/her name is not on the list of registered voters for the election district no longer will have to go to the county court for a court order allowing him/her to vote. Instead, if the individual believes he/she is properly registered to vote at the election district and eligible to vote there in that election, he/she is entitled to cast a provisional ballot at the polling place. The county board of election will decide whether the voter was properly registered and eligible to vote in the election at that election district.

3- In Susquehanna County, where paper ballots are used, a voter education program must be established providing the voter with instructions on how to correct a ballot before it is cast. If, for example, you inadvertently vote for more than the allowed number of candidates for a particular office, ask for a new ballot before the defective ballot is cast. If you have not cast the ballot, the district election board is obligated to provide you with a replacement ballot upon request.

I am not certain whether this is new or has been in effect for a while, but it certainly is worthy of mention particularly in our county where paper ballots are used. The law provides that no person is allowed to receive assistance in voting unless his/her registration record indicates the need for assistance or the voter completes and signs a declaration of the need for assistance at the polling place prior to voting.

If you have any questions or concerns about voting, contact any member of the local League of Women Voters. They have booklets that pretty much outline changes in the laws and also provide you with other important information. If you have access to a computer, you can also get the information at:


Congratulations to a couple of great gals on their recent marriages to a couple of nice guys. I refer to Sandy Major, one of the county’s highly thought of state representatives, and Dawn Watson, capable director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency.

Sandy exchanged vows with Tony Cerasaro, an Endicott, NY, businessman, and Dawn married Bill Zalewski of Forest Lake Township. Both women will continue to serve the county in their respective positions and, of course, Sandy remains a resident of her elective district.

Large Turnover

For the life of me, I could never figure out why anyone who gets a county job would want to leave it. The money isn’t bad once you are there a while and the benefits are great, including fully paid health insurance for the employee and family and a good pension plan.

Nevertheless, the turnover rate is unbelievable. So much so, that when the county recently changed the waiting period for health insurance coverage to six months, Commissioner Jeff Loomis said the move will save the county $90, 000 a year.

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Election Day, Tuesday, November 2 – Voting is a privilege. It is our way to make a difference and to set the course for our country’s future. More than ever this year, if you are eligible to vote, please do so. You have two choices for president. Take your pick. Your vote does count. Take Florida in the last election. It was so close that the Supreme Court had to step in. Cast your vote for your favorite candidate - especially for the one you will be satisfied with. Keep "an ear" to the debates of the candidates. Your vote will decide the winner. Vote election day Tuesday, November 2, 2004.

More Oil, Let’s Hope So - OPEC said it will increase its oil production target by one million barrels a day later this year in a gesture of good will. No doubt, the oil distributors and dealers will have to bring their prices down and they won’t like that one bit. The decision was a consensus of the 11 members of the group and will take effect November 1.

Reader Resents "Dream Team" – A letter in a national magazine reads: "When softball becomes as popular around the world as basketball, then you can call them (Olympic champs) the Dream Team." Must be he didn’t read - or hear about - the US Basketball All Stars being drubbed by foreign teams and did not win a Gold.

Will It Ever End? – It seems like not too many in Washington care if the killings, abductions, etc., in Iraq ever end. Since the war was declared "over," it seems that it has gotten worse. Kidnappings, beheading people, torturing people, blowing up buildings, busses, cars, plus more and more of our military men are being killed. What for? May I ask. Why can’t the Iraq killings, kidnappings be stopped? Just recently - September 18 - an al-Quaida linked group threatened to behead two Americans and a Briton. There was a new string of car bombs, killing at least 20 more Iraqis and two Americans. The violence during the past two weeks has taken 300 lives. Nevertheless Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi insists the US and Iraqi forces are winning the fight against the militants. Let’s hope so.

Blue Cross Increase Rejected - State regulators have denied another request for an insurance rate increase by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. A spokeswoman for the state said, "The increase that was requested was excessive and not actuarially justified. This was the third request denied by the state this year. Blue Cross is asking for rates that will cost members 21.9% more for a hospital stay."

Good News - Sad News - Joe Zabielski has resigned as head coach of the Susquehanna High School Football Sabers, effectively immediately. He will be replaced by former coach Dick Bagnall, current school athletic director. This was Z’s third year as head coach without a win. He will stay on as a coach. No doubt this was tough decision for Joe to make. He and his coaches worked hard to shape up a good team, but it just didn’t happen. Good luck to Dick and his coaching staff.

New Jersey Team Champs - Brett Brach, a Junior at Freehold Township High, New Jersey, was the winning pitcher for the Freehold Township All Stars as they beat California, 10-1 in the championship game at the Senior League World Series in Bangor, Maine. The right hander had a 9-0 record, with 57 strikeouts in 52 innings.

Bowling Increasing in Schools - At least 300 schools in the country have offered bowling as a varsity sport during the past two years, making it the country’s fastest-growing high school sport.

Football Tickets Expensive - The average ticket for a pro football game is not cheap. The NFL’s most expensive ticket is $75.33, charged by the Patriots.

Don’t Forget To Tip! - A man from New York area was arrested after his party of nine failed to leave an 18% tip, the restaurant’s mandatory gratuity for parties of more than six people, which had been added to his bill. I personally don’t care how elaborate a restaurant is, I believe that no state or business has a right to add "tip" charges to your bill. The prices in resort restaurants are high enough without trying to squeeze more money out of their patrons. Let’s see, nine people at $16.00 a head equals $144.00. plus 18% tip of $25.92 making the bill $166.92. (Would you go there again to Lake George, NY?) The diner, H. A. Taveras faces a "theft of services" charge. If convicted he could get a year in jail. Where are we? Wait until "they" tax freedom of speech!

Freedom Memorial Book - On September 11, 2004 at their Freedom Memorial Park dedication, books went on sale by Post 357 containing "war stories" by hundreds of veterans. Books are available at the post. Marilyn Young and Judy Chauncey prepared the book with artwork by Corina Hadlick.

A Laugh or Two - A sailor and a pirate are telling their adventures. The seaman notices the pirate’s peg leg, hook and an eye patch. Curious, the sailor asks, "How did you end up with a peg leg?" The pirate replies, "I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Just as I was pulled out, a shark bit my leg off." The sailor was amazed by the story. "What about the hook?" he asked. "Well," the pirate said, "we were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the sailors with swords, and I got my hand cut clean off by the enemy." The sailor then inquired about the pirate’s eye patch. "A seagull dropping landed in my eye," the pirate said, clearly embarrassed. "You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?" the sailor asked. "Not exactly," the pirate said. "That was my first day with the hook."

Unhappy Home - I hear whiskey broke up their home. Sort of. The still in their kitchen exploded.

Nudist - Why did you break up with that nudist fellow you were dating? Because he wanted to start seeing too much of each other.

You Guess - Where do nudists carry their car keys? Another nudist: Will we be dressing for dinner?

Bad Names - The trouble with politicians is 90 percent of them are giving the other 10 percent a bad name.

Man to Senator: I wouldn’t vote for you if you were living with St. Peter himself. Senator: If I were living with St. Peter, you wouldn’t be in my district.

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From the Desk Of The DA

Television viewers are receiving a large dose of shows that involve forensic sciences. In particular, the CSI series has now expanded to include three separate shows. CSI stands for "Crime Scene Investigators," and the television show focuses upon the efforts of specially trained law enforcement officers conducting forensic analysis of a crime scene. For those who have never seen a CSI episode, each episode focuses upon a crime being solved based upon fingerprints, DNA samples, ballistic tests, or similar forensic evidence. For the sake of the viewing audience, the CSI investigators always find some piece of evidence at every crime scene that can be analyzed and used to solve the crime.

The CSI series are widely popular. From a prosecutor’s perspective, however, the CSI phenomenon has created large hurdles for successful prosecution of criminal cases. In a rural area, such as Susquehanna County, there are no special forensic units that are dispatched to the scene of every crime. The local municipal police departments certainly do not have the training or the resources to conduct the types of forensic techniques that are highlighted on television. Although the Pennsylvania State Police have a forensic unit, it is stationed in Dunmore and services more than one county. Thus, unless there is a very serious crime, the state police forensic unit is not called up to Susquehanna County. Unfortunately, many jurors now come to a criminal trial expecting to receive forensic evidence. The stark reality is that 99% of the time, no such evidence will exist.

Over the past five years, I have been involved in thousands of criminal prosecutions. With respect to DUI cases, we commonly have forensic evidence in the form of toxicology reports to demonstrate blood alcohol levels. Aside from that type of forensic evidence, police investigations rarely result in any forensic evidence. Out of the thousands of criminal cases I have been involved in, there were less than ten cases where fingerprints were successfully obtained and matched to a particular defendant. Forensic evidence is valuable, but rare.

Given the CSI television phenomenon, defense attorneys can now successfully attack police investigations by questioning the thoroughness of the investigation in the absence of any forensic analysis. Frustrated jurors, who expected to receive such evidence, will likely join into the defense assessment of the case – the police could have done more forensic investigative work. With CSI as a guidepost, reality and fiction may become difficult for a juror to distinguish during a criminal trial.

To combat this problem, some prosecutors have begun to question jurors during the voir dire process regarding television-viewing habits. Before a juror is selected, prosecutors now attempt to explain to all of the potential jurors that CSI, although loosely based in reality, does not accurately depict daily police work. This voir dire process serves two purposes: (1) it educates all of the jurors with respect to police procedures and allows the jurors to understand the type of evidence they will be receiving; and (2) it allows a prosecutor to identify and perhaps strike jurors with strong feelings about the accuracy of CSI or similar programs. If done properly, this voir dire process will result in a jury not expecting sensational evidence; rather, the jury will understand good police work and will hold the prosecution to a reasonable standard for the evidence presented.

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Dear EarthTalk: How do hybrid cars get better fuel efficiency than traditional cars?

David Walley, Framingham, MA

Hybrid cars get better gas mileage and pollute less because their highly efficient electric motors run on recycled waste energy generated during normal driving. These cars actually have two engines under the hood--a traditional gasoline-powered motor used for acceleration, and an electric motor that kicks in and out of service when the car is maintaining cruising speeds and when the car is idling or backing up. Excess power generated by the gasoline engine is stored in batteries and used to fuel the electric engine, so owners never need to plug the cars in.

Hybrids have two complex drive trains, so consumers can expect to pay a premium of $3,500 or more for one, depending upon extra options ordered. But, as with most new innovations, as demand for hybrids rises (there is a long waiting list for the Toyota Prius) and manufacturers increase production accordingly, prices are likely to come down. And the demand will surely rise as long as gas prices continue to soar.

Despite the price premium, owners can expect to earn back the extra investment of going hybrid within three to five years of ownership through savings at the gas pump--especially if their hybrids are replacing gas-guzzlers like big SUVs. Hybrid owners who drive the average 12,000 miles per year can expect to save anywhere between $600 and $1,000 each year on gasoline, depending upon their driving patterns. High-mileage commuters will see their savings mount even faster. Also, the federal government currently offers hybrid owners a tax credit of up to $1,500 for purchasing a ìclean fuelsî vehicle, though this incentive is set to expire after 2006. And several U.S. states--including Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Utah--offer their own incentives and tax rebates for hybrid owners.

Those ready to take the hybrid plunge have more options than ever at their disposal. The first two hybrids to hit the U.S. market in 2000 were the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius, both which claim fuel efficiencies of up to 60 miles per gallon and are available today in updated forms. In the meantime, Honda has also introduced a hybrid version of its popular Civic model, and is soon to introduce a hybrid Accord.

American automakers are slated to release new hybrid SUVs this fall, beginning with Fordís hybrid Escape, which boasts 40 miles per gallon. Lexus is also offering a hybrid SUV, and a full hybrid Saturn Vue is coming. Meanwhile, Chevrolet has a hybrid version of its full-size Silverado pick-up truck for fleet buyers, though it only gets 10 to 12 percent better fuel economy over its standard GM 1500 pickup. Given all the choices--not to mention the savings at the pump--thereís never been a better time to get behind the wheel of a fuel-efficient hybrid.

CONTACTS:,; Clean Car Campaign,;,; Electric Drive Transportation Association,

Dear EarthTalk: How much land has Congress designated as wilderness since passage of the Wilderness Act 40 years ago?

-- Maureen Langloss, New York, NY

When Congress passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, it designated 9.1 million acres across the United States permanently off limits to development. Since then, lawmakers have added an additional 96.5 million acres--including more than 50 million acres in Alaska alone--for a total of 105.6 million acres, spread over some 662 different areas and constituting roughly five percent of total U.S. land mass.

Only Congress has the power to designate lands as federally protected wilderness. Typically, parcels of land need to be 5,000 acres or larger to be included. The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service each oversee different areas of wilderness within their respective holdings.

It was a group of influential policymakers, scientists and outdoorsmen that banded together in the mid-1930s whose advocacy work ultimately led to the passage of the Wilderness act 30 years later. Calling themselves the Wilderness Society, they included: Benton Mackaye, known as ìfather of the Appalachian Trailî; Robert Sterling Yard, at the time a National Park Service publicist; visionary ecologist and author Aldo Leopold; and Robert Marshall, then chief of recreation and lands for the Forest Service. Today the Wilderness Society is thriving, with a quarter million dues-paying members and wilderness preservation campaigns running from Alaska to Florida.

Despite protections provided by the 1964 law, wilderness areas face many threats today. Excessive human recreational activity takes a toll, as do air and water pollution from sources that originate outside wilderness boundaries. Non-native plants and animals that have been introduced over time threaten the native species that have evolved over thousands of years. Wildlife habitat in adjacent ìbuffer zonesî is shrinking as development moves closer and closer to the boundaries of these wild lands. And ill-advised land management practices--such as widespread fire suppression--disrupt naturally functioning ecological systems.

This year, numerous government agencies and non-profit organizations are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act and assessing how to best work together to protect wilderness lands in perpetuity. Conferences are exploring the important role wilderness plays in the American psyche, and ìwalks for wildernessî are scheduled on weekends this fall from coast-to-coast to raise public awareness about the role wilderness plays in the quality of life and the health of our environment. To find an event near you, log on to

CONTACTS: Wilderness Act of 1964,; Bureau of Land Management,; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,; U.S. Forest Service,; National Park Service,; Wilderness Society, (800) 843-9453,;,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; or submit your question at:, or e-mail us at:

Dear EarthTalk: How can I recycle my unwanted CDs and DVDs?

Mike Wells, Oswego, IL

Compact discs (CDs) and digital videodiscs (DVDs) have become the de facto standards for media storage and playback for millions of consumers and businesses around the world. But the very popularity of these inexpensive 5" diameter discs made of metal, plastic and dye is taking a serious toll on the waste stream.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, more than 45 tons of used CDs are discarded globally every month. Ironically, CDs and DVDs are made from recyclable materials, yet the vast majority ends up in landfills or incinerators anyway. As with minimizing any waste, the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) apply:

For starters, consumers can reduce the number of disks that they purchase. Worldwatch suggests that consumers search on-line for information and media so as to avoid purchasing CDs and DVDs in the first place. For those situations where virtual media is not available or practical, Worldwatch recommends looking for used CDs and DVDs to save both materials and money. makes finding and buying used discs directly from individual sellers as easy as searching its site for the titles you want. Also, many libraries now lend out CDs and DVDs as readily as they do books.

For the discerning craftsperson or fun-loving kid, reuse means turning old discs into key components in any number of toys and decorations. Crafty end uses include turning them into disco balls by gluing them to a hanging ball, making drink coasters by attaching cork to one side, or attaching them to roadside fences or bicycle seat-posts to serve as safety reflectors. The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) offers tips on how to turn an old CD or DVD into a model of the planet Saturn. Indeed, the sky’s the limit with what can be done with old discs.

Those looking to recycle CDs and DVDs have several options. The best deal financially is to sell your unwanted discs to retail stores that sell used titles. Trading with friends or co-workers is another waste-free option. Beyond selling or trading, NESAR Systems of Darlington, PA and MRC Polymers of Chicago, IL will take and recycle old disks at no charge (you pay postage) and use the raw materials to make new discs. Likewise, GreenDisk of Redmond, WA will recycle CDs and DVDs, as well as a wide range of other technology-related refuse, for a fee of 10 cents per pound to cover labor costs (again, you pay postage).

All these options aside, the best scenario is to not have to get rid of old CDs and DVDs in the first place. Consumers should only buy CDs and DVDs which they intend to keep, and should ask to be taken off mailing lists that generate junk mail with enclosed CDs. With so many eco-responsible options available these days, sending old discs to the "circular file" surely makes no sense.

CONTACTS: Worldwatch Institute, (202) 452-1999;; NASA Space Place: Saturn Model,; NESAR Systems, 420 Ashwood Road, Darlington, PA 16115, (724) 827-8172; MRC Polymers, 3307 South Londale Ave., Chicago, IL 60623, (773) 890-9000; Greendisk, 16398 NE 85th St., Redmond, WA 98052, (425) 883-9165,

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that the prairie grasslands of the Midwest are North America’s most endangered ecosystem?

Charlie Anderson, Boston, MA

When Lewis and Clark made their epic journey across North America in 1805, they encountered far more prairie grassland (or "tallgrass prairie") than any other type of landscape. Today, just 200 years later, less than five percent of that prairie remains, due to the impacts of urban sprawl, rapid development and overgrazing by livestock--all of which were ushered in by the very westward expansion Lewis and Clark initiated. Hundreds of native species of plants and animals are on the brink of extinction today as a result.

North America’s unique tallgrass prairies evolved over millennia. The wide variety of grass species that make up the ecosystem’s foundation survived well along with modest rainfall and regular, naturally-caused fires. Sixty-five million free-roaming bison sustained themselves on the abundant grasses, in turn sustaining Native American tribes such as the Sioux.

Earlier this year, a coalition of non-profit groups under the banner of the Northern Plains Conservation Network (NPCN) released a report entitled: "Ocean of Grass: A Conservation Vision for the Northern Great Plains," documenting and describing the native biodiversity of the tallgrass prairies. The report sets forth a long-term proposal for conserving and restoring prairie habitat such that, by the year 2050, the region can support 20,000 wild bison, half a million acres of prairie dog towns, and stable populations of all grassland-dependent birds.

Congress helped spur the process along in 1996 by setting aside over 10,000 pristine prairie acres in Kansas' Flint Hills region as the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The National Park Trust, a non-profit conservation organization, purchased the land in 1994 and today co-manages the property with the National Park Service. Visitors can take self-guided tours on various nature trails and participate in "living history" programs that demonstrate the ecological importance of maintaining tallgrass prairies.

Believing that the establishment of the Tall Grass Prairie Reserve is a good step but not enough to sustain dwindling wildlife populations, the NPCN is calling for the establishment of one million additional acres of tallgrass prairie across the Midwest. The group is hard at work identifying key areas where replanting and reintroducing native grass species could help create safe havens for a variety of wildlife species.

CONTACTS: Northern Plains Conservation Network,; Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve,; National Park Trust,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; or submit your question at:, or e-mail us at:

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