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Issue Home January 18, 2005 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the D.A.

Earth Talk
Straight From Starrucca

Slices of Life

Getting An Early Start

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they must clean the cupboards. Especially after a big holiday like Christmas where they have dug out a lot of dishes that are only used on special occasions, and they were not put back properly after dinner was over. Things no longer fit as they push and prod to get the counter cleared. So, two days ago I started the cleaning process at my house.

I have two deep, heavy drawers in my built-in kitchen cupboard. They are always disasters because they are so convenient for dumping items that don’t really have homes. Pull out the drawer; drop in coupons, plastic bags, miscellaneous electrical cords, deli containers too cute to be thrown away – you get the picture.

The first thing to surface was dozens of book matches. I found a plastic bag full of them, several books scattered throughout the drawer, and then a whole new box of book matches. I vaguely remember the day when I couldn’t find any matches, went to the store and bought this box of them. Guess I planned never to be caught short again. Had I only looked harder before I bought, I would have found plenty of them. And how many times do I use matches, being that I don’t smoke or start fires? Sometimes I light candles, but a friend gave me a lighter for that job. But, did I throw the matches away? You guess.

I plugged away at those two drawers, at least finding out what was in them. Some of my bottles of baking decorations were so old I thought I might offer them to an antique store. Three ashtrays materialized, when I thought the only one in the house was a little fancy one that appeared from somewhere. That ashtray gets stuck away when my one friend who does smoke, gives it up temporarily. When she is smoking, it stays on the table next to where her coffee cup will go.

While I didn’t dispose of much, I did reorganize so I can find things for awhile anyway.

The next day I tackled the shelves where I keep dishes. They were in such disarray that I could barely shut the doors. (Thank heaven for doors!) Shelf by shelf I removed every dish, scrubbed the wood and began the re-assembling.

I have read in my much-used self-help books, that one can not move forward if she is unwilling to give up the past. Well, they are writing for me. Mis-matched dishes of all kinds take up my limited cupboard space. Each has a history from my years as wife and mother, and I can’t let them go. Three plates of one design, three from another, and two from yet a third gift. China cupboards are full of complete sets of dishes, but these mismatched pieces are my treasures.

Today is a day off from cleaning cupboards as I write my story and prepare for choir practice tonight. But tomorrow will find me on my knees, pulling out cooking dishes from the lower shelves, and from my small appliance cupboard that also has collected a lot more objects than should be there.

I am determined to get the "spring" housecleaning done, bit by bit, through these winter months when there is little incentive to go outside. That way when nice weather actually comes, I will be allowed to enjoy the season and not be feeling guilty for jobs left undone. We’ll see how that goes. You will probably read all about it when spring arrives.

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100 Years Ago

BRANDT: W. R. Wheeler, charged with larceny of a horse, at a hearing before Justice Williams, of Susquehanna, in default of bail, was committed to the jail in Montrose to await the action of the Grand Jury. Wheeler was arrested in Binghamton several weeks ago and has since been confined to the jail there awaiting the requisition from the governor of New York. Wheeler and another man’s wife eloped to Lestershire, taking the horse along and now he is in all kinds of trouble, and has neither the woman nor the horse.

BRACKNEY: A reception was held, Dec. 29, 1904, at Villa Maria, West Chester, Pa., at which 19 novices were received into the order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Among those received was Miss Mary Donovan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. F. Donovan, of Brackney, who will be known in religion as Sister Mary Lawrence.

UNIONDALE: Mr. Guard, while watering his horse at the big watering trough, which is a big kettle, it [the horse] got frightened at the cars and jumped in, breaking the supply pipe and causing lots of trouble. No lives lost but rather chilly for the poor horse. AND: The rural free delivery from Uniondale to Elkdale, etc., was let to John Bolter to accommodate the good people on that route. Please treat him kindly and tip your hat and no doubt [you] will be responded to most courteously by friend Bolter, who will deliver the fresh and newsy Democrat paper right to your door.

LANESBORO: Clothes-line thieves are operating here.

BRIDGEWATER TWP.: Ice, 14” thick, is being harvested on Jones’ Lake [Lake Montrose]. It is of good quality and the dairymen are busily engaged in filling their icehouses.

MONTROSE: Phones were installed last week by the Montrose Telephone and Telegraph Co. on the West Auburn line: H. Bertholf, Rushboro; F. E. Carter and Mrs. G. Carter, Retta; and A. F. Lacey & Son, West Auburn. Also in Montrose, J. P. Taylor, Residence; E. W. Rogers, Residence; Rev. H. B. Benedict, M. E. Parsonage; Becker & Wilson, glass factory; W. W. Reynolds, egg shop.

NORTH JACKSON: Thomas C. Lister died Jan. 18, aged 88 years. Mr. Lister was a native of England, and came to this country many years ago, locating in Carbondale, moving to North Jackson a few years ago. In his youth Mr. Lister gained quite a reputation as a long distance walker in England. After coming to Carbondale he won widespread renown for his vigor by taking an overland tramp of 50 miles on each succeeding birthday. This practice he kept up until his 80th year. His only near survivor is his wife.

HALLSTEAD: What might have been a serious accident, and perhaps loss of life, happened in the yard here Friday when William Austin, a switchman, slipped off from his engine in front of another engine. He was drawn underneath the engine, but had the presence of mind to cling to the journal, which saved him from being run over by the wheels. When rescued it was necessary to pry up some part of the engine to release him. He luckily escaped with a broken ankle bone and some other slight injuries.

HOPBOTTOM: The Phoebe birds have made their appearance here several times this winter. AND: The men of the Universalist church and their friends will serve a six o’clock dinner at the church for 25 cts. a plate. It is expected that something in the way of an entertainment will be thrown in. Everyone come and see how handy the men are at doing things.

LATHROP: Mrs. E. M. Fowler had pansies picked from her pansy bed on New Year’s Day. Who can beat that?

HARFORD: Our creamery here has changed hands and is now called the Harford Dairy Co., under the firm name of Watson, Jones and Richardson. AND: While coasting down Fair Ground Hill, last Tuesday evening, Harry Shannon was quite badly hurt.

SPRINGVILLE: Stuart Riley has purchased a large Edison photograph of Charles Lake. AND: Dayton Tuttle has been appointed deputy constable of this town.

MIDDLETOWN CENTER: Joseph Murphy has gone to Denver for the winter.

BIRCHARDVILLE: Prof. Warner is giving Fanny Boyd and Pansy Babcock music lessons.

FOREST CITY: In regard to the proposed bridge at Forest City, between the counties of Susquehanna and Wayne, the jury for the county of Susquehanna reported as follows: There were 23 grand jurors present and voting. Four voted that the bridge was necessary for the benefit of the traveling public and too expensive and burdensome for the boro of Forest City and township of Clinton to bear and in favor of making a county bridge. Nineteen voted against making it a county bridge. The reason so many voted against it was because of its great length and heavy costs.

ELK LAKE: We have seen several items lately about the enterprise of the Montrose Postmaster establishing a mail box at the depot, but our P.O. is one ahead of that. Each morning the genial and obliging clerk goes out and collects the mail around the neighborhood. We have no railroad at present, but our P.O. is up-to-date. Call us up by phone. Both phones.

APOLACON: On Sunday, January 15th, Thomas McVinnie, a resident of Apolacon, near St. Thomas’ Church, Little Meadows, received injuries, which caused his death the evening following. Usually he preferred to walk to church rather than ride and following his usual habit he started out ahead of the family. On his way he was overtaken by teams going the same way and also to church, and as the foremost team came near him he stepped aside for the team to pass and directly in front of another team that was attempting to pass the first team. In another instant he was struck by the horse, was knocked down, and beneath the horse and then under the wheels, receiving injuries, which caused his death. He was picked up unconscious, removed to his home and a physician summoned, who dressed his wounds, but gave no assurance of his recovery. He did not regain consciousness. He had been a resident of Apolacon twp. for years.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

More on the PC tab

I received a lot of feedback from a recent column concerning the Susquehanna County Planning Commission and most of it was from taxpayers and elected officials who were shocked when they learned that commission members were dining on the county at work sessions that preceded their monthly meetings.

While the most recent exposure of this practice was uncovered by Minority Commissioner Mary Ann Warren, I must tell you that this is not the first time commission members were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Back in 1995, the county auditors sent a letter to the commission advising it that “bar tabs from meetings are being paid.”

“Expenses for a Christmas party included a $216 bar bill,” the letter said. “Total bar bill for 1994 exceeds $300.”

On Feb. 23, 1995, the county auditors met with some members of the Planning Commission to discuss the financial and ethical practices of the commission. The auditors also cited chapter and verse of laws relating to reimbursement for personal expenses and advised commission members that they must file a financial interest statement with the county regardless of whether or not they receive any compensation.

Underlined in the letter was an excerpt from the planning code that reads, “All members of the commission shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for necessary and reasonable expenses.”

The key words are “necessary and reasonable expenses.” No one will ever convince me that a cocktail or a meal can be written up as reimbursement for necessary and reasonable expenses. But, then again, this is Susquehanna County where anything goes.

I guess the bar bills stopped after the auditors’ letter was received by the Planning Commission but the dinner-meetings continued. Lee Smith had served as a commissioner from 1988 through 1991 and did not question the Planning Commission’s generosity with county money so there was no reason to believe he would question it when he returned in 1996 and served through 2003.

But I cannot help but wonder why Commissioner Jeff Loomis, who is somewhat of a financial expert, failed to catch the fact that the Planning Commission was feeding its members and had its own checking account, both of which contradict the county code. Jeff was a commissioner from 1992 through 1995 and just finished his first full year of another four-year term. Did he, like so many county commissioners before him, simply choose to condone the practice?

And what about the current county auditors. Are they still auditing the Planning Commission and, if they are, why haven’t they challenged the commission’s spending practices? If they aren’t, why aren’t they? As I understand it, the Planning Commission should be audited.

By the way, the auditor who caught the Planning Commission’s bar bills back in the mid 1990’s, went on to become the county treasurer the same year she flagged the subject. I have seen her protecting our tax dollars time and time again during my tenure as a courthouse reporter and I have not seen anyone with toes to big for her to step on when she deems it necessary.

My Mistake?

When the county commissioners passed that Opt Out motion on health insurance a few weeks back, I asked if the opt out applied to elected officials. I could have sworn the answer I heard was yes. Now it appears that myself and others who also heard the same answer I did, are wrong. Or are we?

It was pointed out to me that what the commissioners can be compensated for is spelled out in the county code and payment in lieu of health insurance is not allowed. Maybe so, but the thought occurred to me that maybe the commissioners did not find this out until after the meeting and then decided to omit elected officials.

It was also pointed out to me that I neglected to wish you all a Happy New Year. Sorry about that. Here it is: Happy New Year!

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From the Desk of the D.A.

Yesterday, someone asked me to discuss parental criminal liability for the sexual relationship between their minor child and an adult. While we have addressed this issue in the past, it remains an important and reoccurring topic. In terms of criminal liability, the essential element to any type of criminal conduct is that the person acts with intent to commit, or even assist, promote or facilitate, the criminal act. Therefore, parents generally are not criminally liable for the independent conduct of their children.

On the other hand, some parents have been arrested for assisting with the commission of the sexual acts between their minor child and an adult. Under Pennsylvania law, a statutory sexual assault occurs where the child is under 15 years of age and the perpetrator is four or more years older than the child. If a child is 14 and the perpetrator is 17, then there has been no statutory sexual assault. On the other hand, if the child is 15 and the perpetrator is 19, any sexual conduct would be considered a statutory sexual assault. As you may recall from previous articles, there is an additional criminal offense known as corruption of a minor, which generally makes criminal any act by an adult that tends to corrupt the morals of a minor. If an 18-year old were having a sexual relationship with his 16-year old girlfriend, would this constitute corruption of a minor? The law does not provide much guidance, and it would be up to a jury to determine whether such acts tended to corrupt the minor’s morals.

How does a parent potentially make himself or herself criminally liable for his or her minor child’s sexual relationships? We have seen numerous cases where the parent promotes or facilitates the sexual relationship. For instance, we prosecuted a father who allowed a 22 year old to move into his home and sleep with his 13 year old daughter. In that case, the parent was aware that a sexual relationship was occurring between his child and the adult. Rather than taking steps to stop the conduct, the parent took affirmative steps to encourage the illicit sexual relationship. Unfortunately, I have seen numerous cases of similar conduct on the part of the parent whereby the parent takes affirmative steps to enable the minor child to engage in sexual conduct with the adult.

What type of criminal liability arises from such parental assistance? Technically, the parent could be charged as an accessory or accomplice to the statutory sexual assault because the parent assisted in the facilitation of the offense. Moreover, the parent could be charged with corruption of a minor for promoting the minor’s engagement in sexual activities. Finally, and more commonly, the parent is charged with endangering the welfare of a child because the parent has engaged in conduct that places the child at risk of physical or emotional harm.

Obviously, the enforcement of “statutory rape” statutes normally raises many objections and questions. Should law enforcement be involved in policing this type of sexual activity? If the parents do not object to the conduct, why do the police get involved at all? What if a parent only assists a child in obtaining birth control with knowledge that a boyfriend or girlfriend is an adult, does such action promote or assist the sexual conduct to a degree that produces criminal liability? Should government be involved in morality?

My purpose, however, is not to answer these questions, but only enforce the law as written. As it stands, the legislature has determined, based upon its deliberations, hearings, and public comment, that minor children should not be engaged in sexual activity. The basic premise underlying the statutory rape law is that children lack the life experience, wisdom and maturity to make sound decisions concerning sexual activity, especially so when the minor child is dealing with a much older partner. Although a parent is free to have a different opinion, any affirmative actions designed to promote, assist or facilitate their minor child’s ability to conduct a sexual relationship with an adult could result in the parent being charged with a crime.

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

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Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that coastal development contributed to greater loss of life from the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster?

James McClain, New York, NY

The tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in December was a natural catastrophe triggered by a massive undersea earthquake. But rampant coastal development in recent years – which removed the mangrove forests and coral reefs that had previously been abundant along shorelines – did contribute to the damage and death toll. These natural barriers formed a so-called “coastal greenbelt” that served as both nursing grounds for fish and sea mammals and as buffers against the pounding surf and occasional tidal wave.

Thailand’s popular and extensively developed beach resorts were some of the hardest hit areas in the tsunami zone. In these especially vulnerable areas, hotels, shrimp farms, highways, housing and commercial developments have squeezed out the natural barriers that might have otherwise shielded many victims from the brunt of the deadly wave.

Edward Barbier, a University of Wyoming professor who has studied resource problems in developing countries for more than two decades, points out that explosive economic development since the 1960s has depleted half of Thailand’s coastal mangrove forests. “Even nature’s ecosystem could not have prevented the tsunami,” concedes Barbier. “With an event that huge you have to expect great loss, but the question is, could some of it have been reduced?”

According to Meena Raman of Friends of the Earth International, tens of thousands of lives were spared by December’s tsunami directly because of coastal conservation measures instituted in India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to preserve mangrove forests and coral reefs. “What we have seen in the tsunami crisis is that the areas that were protected naturally suffered less than those that were more exposed,” says Raman, adding that the protection of such natural walls may be the only long-term solution to defending coastal populations against future tidal waves.

Going forward, coastal communities in Southeast Asia and elsewhere are likely to suffer further from an even greater man-made environmental problem: global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an association of climate scientists that reviews and reports on the latest findings about climate change, sea levels have risen worldwide about six inches over the last century as a result of the industrial pollution that has warmed the globe. Many in the environmental community believe that a higher sea level overall also intensified the effect of the tsunami on the affected coastal communities.

IPCC scientists expect that we may see an additional sea level rise of a foot or more over the next several decades as polar ice caps melt in response to rising global temperatures – a trend that is certain to have much longer-term negative effects on coastal communities and their inhabitants.

CONTACTS: Friends of the Earth International,; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),; to donate to tsunami relief efforts,

Dear EarthTalk: Are metals poisonous, and what is “Toxic Metal Syndrome?”

Dan Galt, Hughson, CA

Many metals, including aluminum, mercury, lead, iron and cadmium, can have a number of disturbing effects on human beings. The phrase “Toxic Metal Syndrome” encompasses all of the health problems associated with such metals.

According to the book, Toxic Metal Syndrome, by Dr. H. Richard Casdorph and Dr. Morton Walker, exposure to metals causes cell damage as the substances collect in organs, resulting in “degenerative diseases which affect no less than 92 percent of the populations of Western industrialized nations, in particular those people living in apartment high-rises and other polluted city dwellings.” The book goes on to detail how some of the diseases linked to poisonous metals include heart and/or blood vessel deterioration, pancreatitis, gout, arthritis, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel, multiple sclerosis and several forms of cancer.

One of the most dangerous metals to human health is aluminum, a potent “neurotoxin” that can cause cognitive impairment as well as osteoporosis and kidney malfunction. Some studies show that people with Alzheimer’s disease have more aluminum than usual in their brains. But, according to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), it is unknown whether the metal causes Alzheimer’s or if the buildup happens to people who already have the disease.

Meanwhile, mercury is also very poisonous. Mercury is a by-product of many industrial emissions, and as a result can end up in rivers, streams and oceans and – by extension – the fish we eat. Mercury can also be released into the body in small amounts from so-called “silver fillings” in teeth (which contain mercury) and from some medical treatments. ATSDR reports that mercury can affect many different areas of the brain and their associated functions. It can also cause cardiovascular and immunological problems. Research indicates that some people who eat fish contaminated with large amounts of mercury can develop permanent brain or kidney damage. Casdorph and Walker caution that mercury can also cross the placenta and affect a developing fetus.

Since their bodies and brains are still developing, children are disproportionately affected by exposure to toxic metals. Many toxic metals have been documented to cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, depression and behavioral abnormalities in many otherwise normal-appearing children. Researchers have found that more than 20 percent of children in the U.S. have had their health or learning adversely affected by exposure to toxic metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium.

CONTACTS: U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (888) 422-8737,; Mercury Policy Project, (802) 223-9000,

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

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Straight From Starrucca

Christmas wasn’t celebrated on the 25th for all residents of Starrucca. January 2, Marie Swartz and her family gathered at the home of her daughter, Sandy Ostrander and family in Castle Creek, NY to celebrate the holiday. On Saturday, January 8, Alice and Kirk Rhone entertained the Buck family at their home with a Christmas party.

June Downton hosted forty at her home on Christmas Eve. Coming from North Carolina and staying a couple of days were Barb and Amanda Hadden with her daughter, Alexis and son, Tyler, Ralph Hadden with his sons, Todd and Shawn and wife, Amzi and baby daughter, Cora. Cora was baptized at the Thompson Methodist Church while here.

Paul and Loreda Everett faced the foul weather and started out for a visit with their families in Lincoln, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri over the holidays. They made it safely and returned home safely after a two-week stay in the midwest.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Weldy and children spent part of the holiday season with Robert’s parents in Maryland. Robert is still attending school, aiming for a degree in Engineering.

Julie Smith, with her sister made a business trip to Honesdale last Thursday. Julie fell in the bedroom and damaged her hand quite badly. She has a brace on her hand and is not able to drive.

The local Girl Scouts have started their annual cookie sale. I hope they have a successful year.

The Bag Ladies have made 43 quilts for the homeless since September. That’s great for so few people that turn out to help every Tuesday and Thursday.

Senior Citizens will meet the fourth Wednesday in January, having had to cancel this week’s meeting because of the weather.

There were quite a few shake-ups in the town council the latter part of the year, but as of now these are our officers: mayor - Frank Mroczka; president - Andy Bennett; vice president - Paul Everett; secretary/treasurer - Pat Schneyer. Also on council: Lou Gurske, Robert Weldy, Bridget D’Agati, Kirk Rhone, and Helen Haynes.


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