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In The Holiday Spirit
"Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go." Those were good days. And for many of you that scene is still being played out. Not in a horse and sleigh, perhaps, but in a car, a bus, or maybe a plane.
We never did go to Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, but we did go to Grandfather’s when we were really young and he was still living nearby with the help of a housekeeper. What wonderful meals we had there. Then in a few years it was time for everyone to come to the farm where Dad killed and plucked the turkey which Mom roasted brown and crackling. Those good times seemed to go on for years and years.
Finally, when I was living in my own home, it was my turn to roast the bird and do the other goodies. But sometimes we would go back "home", and then we’d have to make room for two sumptuous meals in one day. One with my family and the other with my husband’s family. And we wondered why the scales kept creeping up through those years.
There is something about a holiday that brings out the best in any chef. My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook, sparing no butter, cream or sugar. Feasts were the only way to describe her holiday events. Her sister, who hosted many of our holiday dinners, also outdid herself. They both consistently had fancy Jell-O salads, because they knew I was partial to them. And Aunt Edna’s desserts were to die for – literally. She spent weeks ahead of the event making a variety of candies, sweetbreads and cookies. We would be more stuffed than the turkey when we finally left the table.
While I’m not cooking dinner this year, I could not resist the little boiling onions in the supermarket this week. Don’t creamed onions say Thanksgiving to you? And cranberry relish. A holiday just wasn’t a holiday with my husband’s family without homemade cranberry relish. In this frozen food age when we can have turkey every day if we want, there still is something very special about seeing that bird emerge from the oven. Regardless which part you are eating, it always tastes better on Thanksgiving Day. I’m a "white meat" person myself, but even the thigh tastes good when you slice it for that turkey sandwich along about bedtime. And this year when it’s time to clean up from dinner, I’ll remember not to throw away my son-in-law’s favorite part; the crisp, brown skin.
As the young people from the Catholic Church came by today with their brown grocery bags asking for donations for the hungry, I thankfully began to fill mine with foods from my over-stuffed cupboards. We never realize how fortunate we are until it is pointed out to us in some real way. It made me take a second look at my grocery list. Do I really need all those expensive ingredients, or could I make do with what’s in my cupboards, canning shelves and freezer? It’s so easy to pass by those items and buy something else when what I have would make a fine meal. I’m trying to do better. "Waste not – want not" is a commonly known saying for a very good reason. It works. So, lets enjoy our Thanksgiving dinners with friends and family, and then pledge to put every scrap of leftovers to good use.
And if you’re one of the generous souls who is working on a production line to serve the many who have nowhere else to enjoy a holiday meal, I applaud you. To those who are partaking of that meal, enjoy every mouthful. I pray that the coming days will bring you better fortune.
And to all – Happy Thanksgiving.
CHOCONUT: In the case of Com'th vs. Frank and William Regan, on trial when the Democrat went to press last week, William, the younger brother, was found not guilty and Frank Regan, who had the gun and who did the shooting, was found guilty as charged in first count of the indictment, "assault with intent to disfigure." This was the "horning case" from Choconut. Defendant was sentenced to pay fine of $25 and imprisonment in the Montrose jail for nine months.
GIBSON: Another rural free delivery mail route, starting from New Milford, is about to be established. It will go over Mott Hill via South New Milford to Gibson and Union Hill and will accommodate a large number of people in New Milford and Gibson Township.
GREAT BEND: Sheriff Brush was here on Monday and sold at sheriff's sale the property of Addison Mesick. Of the property sold, a horse, that has been at the Central House barns since April 21, and eaten itself up to a valuation of $117, was knocked down to William Newman for $5. The board bill will come out of the proceeds of the sale.
ALFORD, Brooklyn Twp.: I would respectfully announce that I have opened dining and lunch rooms at Alford, about 100 feet south of the station, and will appreciate your patronage. Also lodging furnished and horses stabled. Respectfully, Mrs. H. L. Hubbard.
LENOX: Dr. E. E. Tower lost a horse recently, as a result of falling through the barn floor at G. N. Bennett's. AND: In East Lenox, "The Old Lady aloft has been picking geese" of late. Let's hope she will not find as many to pick this winter as last.
MIDDLETOWN: Miss Rose Coleman has gone to Owego to have her eyes treated.
THOMSON: It is said that Jackson Chandler, an old resident of Thomson who has been ill a number of months, has had his grave dug and has made other preparations for the final dissolution.
UNIONDALE: George Carpenter had the misfortune to lose another cow the other day. This makes the eighth animal Mr. Carpenter has lost since early in the season. Some mysterious disease, seeming to be poisoning of some sort, as cause of death. A theory is that it is caused by the cattle feeding on land that had formerly been inundated.
FRIENDSVILLE: Word was received here yesterday of the death of John Hannon, who was killed by the [railroad] cars at Endicott. The remains were brought here for burial.
RUSH: There was good skating on the pond here on Saturday, Nov. 19th, that is earlier than usual. The youngsters think it quite a treat if they can skate on Thanksgiving day.
SOUTH NEW MILFORD: The teams are busy drawing the saw mill from North Bridgewater. AND: The turkeys are roosting high.
SPRINGVILLE: Luther Smith left a box of cigars at Avery & McMicken's store last Monday and the boys just smoked. Luther has been married, that's all. Report says Miss Mead Tiffany is the lucky bride. Anyway, we extend congratulations. AND: Dan Cokely got quite badly hurt recently, over at the Lott quarry. He was riding from the dump back to the block when a chain became unfastened, letting the scale box dump, and throwing him on his head; he has a cut on the head besides other bruises. He is improving nicely.
SUSQUEHANNA: J. Pierpont Morgan, of New York, was in town last Friday.
MONTROSE: A gang of men came up under the charge of Henry Green, of Towanda, this morning and are engaged in removing the old turntable near the Lehigh Valley station. This removes the last vestige of the "narrow gauge" in this vicinity. AND: Over 200 persons took [Thanksgiving] dinner at the Montrose House yesterday; every one of whom are voicing their praise of the manner in which it was cooked and served, and of the abundance and variety.
HERRICK CENTRE: Thomas Carlin, of Starrucca, was fatally injured here Saturday. He is supposed to have been riding on an Erie Coal train and fell off. Both legs were cut off and he was otherwise injured. He died later at the Carbondale hospital. Carlin was a section hand on the Erie and the accident occurred near his home, it being supposed that while preparing to alight from the moving train he was thrown under the wheels.
ELK LAKE: B. A. Horton has sold his personal property and on Tuesday went to Binghamton where he and his family will make their home. He has accepted a good position with the Stickley-Brandt Furniture Company.
DIMOCK: George Woodruff, the former football coach and athlete, is Pres. Roosevelt's chum on most of his rides and tours and is one of his most intimate friends, according to a recent article in a leading Philadelphia paper. Mr. Woodruff is a native of this county, formerly residing at Dimock, which makes the above-mentioned fact more interesting to citizens hereabouts. Both men are large and strong; ardent admirers of nature, and have much in common, so that the existing friendship is not to be wondered at.
SOUTH AUBURN: While pressing hay at South Auburn, Monday, Thomas Dornblazer had his feet in the press tramping the hay down, when the horses suddenly started and the young man had both feet badly squeezed. Dr. Sturdevant was called from here and found the young man suffering intense pain. Both feet were greatly swollen and the left one had burst open. The doctor could not find whether any bones were broken or not. Dornblazer wore a new pair of very heavy shoes, which saved his feet from being completely crushed. The shoes were twisted out of shape.
CLIFFORD: While S. E. Finn and son, Harry, were exercising their pacers one day last week, the horses became frightened while going down the dug road, and turned around, running to their stable. Horses and men both escaped without injury but the wagon was not so fortunate
County’s elected folks fare pretty well
For the fourth year in a row, Susquehanna County’s elected officials will get a four percent pay raise in 2005. Put the paycheck alongside the benefit package they get and it is not hard to understand why so many men and women want to be a county commissioner.
Starting in January, the commissioners will get $889.30 a week. Not bad for a county with less than 50,000 people and no airport, uh? And, of course, it is a part time position although I must say the current crop of commissioners spend considerably more time in the courthouse than any other administration that I have seen in the 15 years that I have been covering county government.
Add to the paycheck free health insurance for the elected official and his/her family and you can tack on another $150 to $200 a week for the premium payments. Then, there’s the pension that the county contributes to for each elected official, expenses including mileage and it comes out to an extremely inviting opportunity for the average county resident to take aim at. I doubt if there are many full-time positions in the county that pay in excess of $50,000 a year except, of course in our regional school systems and that’s a whole new column.
The other elected county officials who are enjoying the fruits of their positions include the treasurer, recorder of deeds, prothonotary and sheriff. Each of these fine individuals will be paid $795.69 a week, also starting in January. They, too, get the benefit package and expenses. While these positions are also classified as part time, you can usually find these folks in their offices or on the job somewhere on a full-time basis. The treasurer, prothonotary and recorder of deeds are paid an additional $84.90 a week for additional duties. The treasurer heads the tax claim bureau; the prothonotary is also the clerk of courts; and, the recorder of deeds doubles as register of wills.
While we are at it, lets take a look at some of the other salaries in county government.
The highest paid official in the courthouse is Ken Seamans our president judge. State law sets his salary and the Commonwealth pays him. Currently his annual salary is $124,135.
Judge Seamans’ salary comes into play when the county pays District Attorney Jason Legg. By law, the DA is paid one half of the salary of the judge, so Mr. Legg is paid $62,067. As is the case with our county commissioners, the present district attorney is more visible in the courthouse than any previous one during my tenure as a courthouse reporter.
Mr. Legg has two assistants, Marion O’Malley and Ray Davis. Ms. O’Malley, who is also the attorney for Children and Youth Services, receives $26,500 as first assistant district attorney. Mr. Davis is paid $9,871. On the other side of the spectrum are the county’s two public defenders, Linda LaBarbera, who is classified as full time, is paid $34,842, and her associate, Mark Darmofal who gets $17,421 in a part time role.
Other elected part time people include Tony Conarton, the county coroner, whose salary will be $27,794 in 2005; the auditors, Republicans George Starzec and Holly Bialy and Democrat Clara Jane Brown will be paid a per diem rate of $109.53 next year; the jury commissioners, Republican Gladys Bennett and Democrat Bob Chamberlain will get $7,301 in 2005; and, the county tax collectors will be paid $3.90 per tax bill next year.
Well, that brings us up to date on the salaries and should give you some insight as to where a lot of your tax dollars are going.
Between their salaries, benefits and expenses, our three county commissioners receive a total close to $200,000 a year. I cannot help but wonder why the Commonwealth doesn’t consider changing the rules and allowing for the employment of one experienced professional chief executive officer somewhere in the $100,000 bracket to run counties free of political interference.
But then, I am still trying to figure out why the Commonwealth did away with one county superintendent of schools to oversee the school districts instead of a super in each district at six times the cost.
The Story of Nutkin the Squirrel. Nutkin, a female squirrel, was born in South Carolina, living a footloose and fancy free lifestyle that many young squirrels enjoy. Life was good for Nutkin, until tragedy struck, and Nutkin fell from her tree nest. Barbara Gosselin, however, found the injured Nutkin, and she nursed Nutkin back to health. Nutkin and the Gosselin family quickly bounded, and Nutkin had no desire to return to the uncertainties presented by her natural habitat. Instead, Nutkin moved in with the Gosselin family, and the Gosselin family constructed Nutkin a special room, specially equipped for climbing and running activities.
There was no law in the State of South Carolina prohibiting such captivity. In 1994, the Gosselin family moved to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Of course, Nutkin could not be left behind and she accompanied her family to Pennsylvania. Life was still good for Nutkin. In November, 2002, the Gosselin family made a report to the Game Commission concerning their concerns that a hunter had shot a deer near an area that the Gosselins had set out food. In response to their concerns, the Game Officer refused to investigate the complaint, but, upon seeing Nutkin prancing around inside the home, he immediately informed the Gosselins that it was unlawful to allow Nutkin to remain in their home. Under Pennsylvania law, a person generally may not take or capture wildlife and hold such wildlife as a pet.
As one could imagine, the Gosselins were terrified for the safety of Nutkin. The little squirrel had been a family friend and companion for over 8 years. The Game Officer admitted that Nutkin was both too old and too tame to be released into the wild. In his benevolence, the Game Officer stated that he would not charge the Gosselins if they would relinquish Nutkin into the custody and control of the Game Officer. Faced with this Hobson’s choice, Barbara Gosselin chose to face potential prosecution rather than turn over Nutkin.
“Nutkin would then learn the shocking truth that the cheery Pennsylvania slogan ‘You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania’ did not apply to four-legged critters like Nutkin.” Commonwealth v. Gosselin, 2004 Pa. Super. 426 (2004). Thereafter, Barbara Gosselin was charged with the unlawful possession of a wild animal. Barbara Gosselin was tried and found guilty in the lower court. Barbara Gosselin then appealed the case to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Pennsylvania, however, allows one to possess a wild animal taken in another state, provided that the wild animal was taken lawfully in the other state, and the wild animal has been properly tagged and marked in accordance with the laws of the other state. South Carolina did not prohibit the possession of Nutkin, nor did South Carolina require any special tagging or marking of Nutkin. Thus, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the conviction, and allowed Nutkin to remain with the Gosselin family.
Nutkin’s story is special and unique, and does not suggest or imply in any manner that wildlife may be taken as a pet under Pennsylvania law. Although Nutkin’s story had a happy ending, residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania cannot capture wildlife for the purposes of attempting to domesticate. In the event that you are faced with the circumstances faced by Barbara Gosselin in South Carolina so many years ago, please take the little squirrel (or other animal) to either the Game Commission or to a properly licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility, where steps will be taken not to domesticate the injured animal, but to heal the injury and release the animal back into the wild.
Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.
Dear EarthTalk: What is the environmental impact of an oil spill into the sea?
Sarah, Baton Rouge, LA
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States uses approximately 250 billion gallons of petroleum products every year. With so much demand, it is not surprising that spills do occur during various stages of production, transportation and distribution. A spill’s specific environmental impact depends upon the type and amount of oil, and the local conditions.
According to Alaska Sea Grant, a marine research program at the School of Fisheries and Ocean Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, oil spills into water place an enormous variety of animals and plants at severe risk from smothering and poisoning. The group says that the infamous 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska–America’s largest oil spill to date–directly killed between 300,000 and 645,000 birds, including bald eagles and many types of ducks and other sea birds.
The Valdez spill also wreaked untold harm on the health and reproductive success of surviving birds in the surrounding area. Seals, otters, killer whales and fish were also killed and injured in alarming numbers. Sea Grant says the oil critically damaged beach ecosystems and contaminated sediments, and that the accident seriously disrupted local economies dependent upon fishing and sightseeing. Beyond the immediate effects of such a spill, oil particles can linger in the environment for decades.
According to Judith McDowell of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, less than 10 percent of the oil that makes its way into marine environments is actually due to spills like that of the Exxon Valdez. Most oil ends up in seawater from a combination of natural seeps from the ocean floor and “run-off” from both offshore drilling facilities and land-based automobiles and machinery. Indeed, a significant amount of oil eventually makes its way into both marine and freshwater environments–including underground aquifers and other sources of drinking water–from the millions of cars and trucks that routinely leak oil onto driveways, parking lots and roads. Scientists do not have enough data to assess the long-term threats that such a persistent presence of oil has on local ecosystems, but they surmise that it can have significant impact on the health of a wide range of plant and animal populations, as well as on human health.
To help mitigate damage from oil spills following the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) in 1990, establishing provisions to improve the federal government’s ability to respond to spills. Congress also created the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which provides up to $1 billion per accident to cover removal costs or damages resulting from discharge of oil. The EPA also performs inspections and requires oil storage owners to report their prevention policies.
CONTACTS: U.S. EPA Oil Program, (800) 424-9346, www.epa.gov/oilspill/index.htm; Alaska Sea Grant, (907) 474-7086, www.uaf.edu/seagrant; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, (508) 289-2252, www.whoi.edu.
Dear EarthTalk: I've heard that compact fluorescent light bulbs, known for their long life and low energy consumption, contain toxic mercury. Is this true and, if so, what precautions should I take when disposing of them?
Greg Newswanger, Freedland, MD
Compact fluorescent light bulbs do contain small amounts of mercury vapor, which, when catalyzed by voltage, give off ultraviolet energy, the key building block for generating light. When these bulbs burn out or break, they need to be discarded responsibly so as to avoid unleashing mercury into the environment and food chain.
Mercury–a toxic metal known to cause brain, spinal cord, kidney and liver damage in humans–does not break down easily and, once airborne, often finds its way into groundwater, rivers and the sea, where it can cause a host of contamination issues for wildlife and people alike.
The first thing to do when a compact fluorescent bulb breaks is to open all the windows to disperse any mercury vapor that may have escaped. Then put on gloves, sweep up the fragments, and wipe the area with a disposable paper towel. Using a vacuum is a bad idea, as it will only stir up any lingering airborne mercury. Lastly, the fragments should be sealed into a plastic bag and recycled or disposed of.
The best way to dispose of burned-out or broken compact fluorescent bulbs is to take or mail them (in the sealed plastic bag) to a mercury recycling facility. The website of the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers provides contact information for locating such facilities state by state. If mercury recycling is not an option in your area, the bulb or fragments should be placed in sealed plastic bags and disposed of at your local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection site.
Ironically, compact fluorescent bulbs are responsible for less mercury contamination than the incandescent bulbs they replaced, even though incandescents don't contain any mercury. The highest source of mercury in America’s air and water results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, at utilities that supply electricity. Since a compact fluorescent bulb uses 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, and lasts at least six times longer, it is responsible for far less mercury pollution in the long run. A coal-burning power plant will emit four times more mercury to produce the electricity for an incandescent bulb than for a compact fluorescent.
CONTACTS: Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers, www.almr.org; Earth911.org, www.earth911.org; EPA Household Hazardous Waste Page, www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/hhw.htm#options; EPA Fact Sheet: Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps, www.nema.org/lamprecycle/epafactsheet-cfl.pdf.
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