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Issue Home February 1, 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

New Is Not Necessarily Better

I was in an office supply store recently looking for Bic pens. There were lots of them; crystal, gel, Bic clicks, sure grip, but none of my old standby Bic Sticks. There was something about the way those particular pens fit my hand that was perfect. Grip, length, ink deploy, all were made just for me. But maybe there weren’t enough "me’s" out there because it looks like they have been discontinued. I used to buy them by the six-pack (or however many there were in a pack), and they could be found anywhere in my house where I needed them. I’m afraid that is a thing of the past. I found one among some eclectic stuff the other day, but the ink was nearly dried up. So much for that.

I was reminiscing with a high school friend awhile ago, and I said, "Do you remember that ball-point pens and the zipper notebook were invented while we were in high school?"

Up to that point the only pen in our house was one fountain pen, and you’d better not be caught playing with it. It was saved for important jobs only.

I remember well the day my Dad went to sign a check and realized the point on the pen had been bent. I was the immediate suspect because I was the only child so absorbed in schoolwork. I was not guilty as charged, but no one believed me. Who else would play with a pen? My brother wouldn’t let it go.

"You know you were playing with the pen," he said. I shrunk a little lower and croaked a few more denials. I hadn’t even been inside when the evidence was found. I was slamming into the side of the house on a bicycle, not having gotten the backward pedal maneuver under control yet.

He finally moved on to more interesting things and quit accusing me, but my ego was shattered for that day. How could he even think that I wouldn’t tell the truth? I couldn’t fib any better than I could ride a bike.

Through the years, as each new pen made its way to the market, I’d eventually try it out. But nothing could compare to my Bic stick. So you can understand my panic recently as I moved from store to store. I looked at more pens that day than you could imagine. And I came home with nothing. I’m using a Liquid Expresso as we speak.

Now that I’m cleaning, I expect to find at least a couple Bics in the bottom of drawers or stuffed in a box. Maybe even down under a chair cushion. That should hold me over until I can get the word out to BIC that I am going through withdrawal, and they can begin to make them again. I just can’t understand why they would give up such a great product. New and improved are not words I like to read on anything. Just this morning I solved one "new product" riddle. Couldn’t understand why my mouth felt so raw and prickly lately. Thinking it was digestion, I was rinsing my mouth with acidophilus. Then this morning as I was brushing my teeth, the answer came to me. Colgate’s new and improved whitening toothpaste. I’ve used Colgate for years, but now it appears I’m even going to have to change my toothpaste. There are just too many choices in the world today. It would be nice if we could just slow down the invention process for awhile and let some of us catch up.

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100 Years Ago

SOUTH GIBSON: Hon. William E. Maxey, a former member of the Legislature from Susquehanna county, died very suddenly at his home at South Gibson, January 28, of apoplexy. Mr. Maxey, at the age of 12, worked in the mines; he later helped his father manage a farm in Gibson Twp. Meanwhile he attended the Franklin Academy at Harford and the Wyoming Seminary at Kingston. He was twice elected to the Legislature--in 1886 and again in 1889. His age was 60 years, and he is survived by his widow, Emma Harding Maxey, and two children. He was the leading merchant of the village and was universally esteemed.

JESSUP TWP.: While in the woods on Monday, getting wood, Webber Hall, a well-known citizen of Jessup, met a serious accident, a tree falling on him. Dr. Wilson reports that his skull is fractured and it is also thought that he is injured internally. He remained unconscious most of the week and his recovery is much in doubt.

AUBURN TWP.: We were visited by a very blizzardy storm last week, which made it impossible for the mail carrier to deliver the news for two days, making the people feel very much shut in. AND: Bennie Parker met with quite a serious accident last week. He was riding a horse to water and thought to ride into the stable, but the door being low he was caught and bent double, nearly breaking his back. He is doing well at present.

SILVER LAKE TWP.: Our school [Laurel Lake] is progressing finely under the successful management of Miss May McGraw. AND: Mr. and Mrs. Leahy held a reception at their home for their daughter, Miss Nellie, who was married last week to Daniel Sullivan, of Oriskany Falls.

MIDDLETOWN TWP.: Joe Phalen reports good sleighing on [the] Friendsville road.

CLIFFORD: Our hotel ice house was filled with nice ice the past week, Nelson Spedding doing the packing, which was nicely done. Anyone in town next summer in need of ice will be sure to find it here.

LINDAVILLE, Brooklyn Twp.: The blizzard of last week in this section will long be remembered and trust it has reached the limit. The roads were blocked from all points of the compass. The stages from Brooklyn and Lindaville made their regular trips, but the hauling of milk was somewhat delayed.

UNIONDALE: The annual meeting of the Herrick Elgin Butter Co. was held Jan. 28th. The following officers were elected: Trustee, W.B. Churchill; Secretary, J.J.L. Jones; Treasurer, A.M. Williams; Auditors, J. Tonken and W.S. Lyon. The past year was a very successful one notwithstanding the low price of butter. The patrons seem to be well satisfied and that speaks well for the managing officers. Their butter has certainly listed with the best, and so let the good work go on.

HEART LAKE: The ice cutting gang have ceased operations, the big D.L.& W. ice house, as well as that of the creamery, being filled.

ARARAT: There was a wreck out of the ordinary near Ararat Summit, on the D. & H. road, Thursday of last week that endangered the lives of all the crew. A long coal train had been stalled during the night. The two pusher engines ran out of water and backed down a few miles to refill the tanks. On the return trip the forward engineer must have miscalculated where he backed away from the train, for both engines ploughed into the caboose. The caboose and two cars were demolished. In the caboose were most of the crew, who had no intimation of danger. The caboose was almost turned over, the trainmen being thrown about and squeezed, but fortunately without painful injuries. How loss of life was averted remains a mystery.

SUSQUEHANNA: The watchman at the house of William Kishpaugh, who is ill with varioloid [smallpox], has been provided by the Borough Council with a booth. AND: Mrs. Reasch, of this place, convicted at court of keeping a disorderly house, has been sentenced to 90 days imprisonment in the county jail.

SPRINGVILLE: The ladies’ aid are planning to have a supper in the basement of the church on the evening of St. Valentine’s day. One of the features of the evening will be the reproduction of the Tom Thumb wedding, received with such favor a year ago.

DIMOCK: A.S. Bailey took a sleigh load of neighbors to the home of W.A. Felter, where they enjoyed a very pleasant evening.

FOREST CITY: Frank O’Peaka, a miner at Vandling, was instantly killed by a fall of rock in his chamber Tuesday. The funeral took place today, Father Tomsic officiating and was a very large one. St. Joseph’s Society and the Workman’s Sick and Death Benefit Society, of which he was a member, attended in a body. Deceased was born in Austria. He was 35 years of age and had been a resident of this vicinity for a long time. His wife and two children survive him.

MONTROSE: “Joshua Simpkins” the great New England comedy, will be the attraction at the Colonial Theatre, Feb. 7th. The company is said to be a good one, and carry their own band and orchestra and the band parades the principal streets at noon when some good music may be looked for. Prices 25, 35 and 50 cents.

HOPBOTTOM: Several in this place and vicinity are ill with grip. Rev. Pope is on the sick list--unable to preach last Sunday evening. Mrs. Almira Brown and daughter, Permelia, are on the sick list.

NEWS BRIEF: The Carbondale branch of the W.C.T.U. has taken a stand against swearing among women, which it fears is getting to be an alarming habit among this sex. Such expressions as “Good Heavens” and “My Lord,” are cited as evidences of thoughtlessness among women. The Bible is quoted to show these expressions are improper.

VISIT our web site, for back issues of “100 Years.” Try the indexing feature for easy searching.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Some Changes in Clean & Green

House Bill 657, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susq Cty), goes into effect February 6.

The bill, known as Act 235 of 2004, amends the Pennsylvania Clean and Green Program to provide that a tract of land eligible for preferential assessment shall not be deemed ineligible because the owner permits recreational activities on the land. It also allows the county commissioners to enact an ordinance to include farmstead land in the total use value for land in agricultural or forest reserve and sets a procedure for evaluation of such land.

As with a lot of legislative bills, the language is usually unclear to the average person and often ambiguous. In itself, House Bill 657 is not all that complex. Interpreting how the amendments fair when blending them with the original bill approved in 1974 is another matter and could vary according to interpretation.

We are fortunate to have scholars like John C. Becker, professor of Agricultural Economics and Law at Penn State University, to take the time and put some guidelines together in a manner that most of us can grasp. I spoke with Professor Becker and got his permission to use some of the material from a condensed, but precise, article he wrote on Act 235 of 2004.

“The Act will make important changes to the Clean and Green Program,” Professor Becker said. “Owners of land now enrolled in the preferential assessment program and all owners who contemplate participation in the program should consider how these changes will apply to their situation.”

The following excerpts were taken from Professor Becker’s article:

“Act 235 amended the existing law by addressing two important questions that landowners ask, ‘What kind of use can I make of my land and still qualify for the preferential assessment?‚ and ‘What type of activities can I perform on my preferentially assessed land without incurring a roll back tax?’

“If a property owner ends the qualifying use of preferentially assessed land, the owner making the change faces an obligation to pay a ‘roll back tax’ that is generally equal to the tax savings applied to the land while part of the preferential assessment program.

“For landowners who are not a part of the program, the Act provides that an owner of agricultural or forest reserve land who permits or authorizes a recreational activity on the tract will not lose eligibility for the program because of the recreational use.

“For landowners who are in the preferential assessment program, the possibility of a roll back tax is always a concern. Act 235 addresses this concern by providing that no roll back tax will be due and no breach of the preferential assessment will be deemed to have occurred if the owner of the land has permitted or authorized a recreational activity to be conducted on any portion of the land, whether or not a fee is imposed to perform the activity.

“Two important conditions apply to this roll back tax exception. The first is that it applies only if the preferentially assessed land is in the agricultural or forest reserve categories. The second condition is that the recreational activity performed cannot render the land incapable of being immediately converted to agricultural use if the land qualifies in the agricultural use classification or permanently qualifies as forest reserve land.”

”Among the provisions of Act 235 that affect the Clean and Green Program are provisions that involve farmstead land on preferentially assessed land. If land is classified as agricultural land, farmstead land is to be assessed at agricultural use value. If land is classed as agricultural reserve or forest land, the farmstead land will be enrolled at agricultural use land if either 1) a majority of land in the application is enrolled as agricultural use land; or, 2) in the situation where non-contiguous tracts of land are enrolled under one application, a majority of land on the tract where the farmstead land is located is enrolled as agricultural use land.”

Closer to home, Jennifer Pisasik, chief county assessor, said the provisions of Act 235 will not kick in until 2006. She said that initially it was thought that all required paperwork and computer programming would be in place for 2005.

“The system needs a lot of tweaking,” Ms. Pisasik said, “and it could not be accomplished. Then too, it would hold up tax bills from going out on time.”

Some interesting statistics about how the Clean and Green Program impacts on Susquehanna County:

a) There are 526,547,000 acres of land in Susquehanna County and 406,047,000 acres are enrolled in Clean and Green.

b ) As of Jan. 31, 2004, there were 7,677 parcels in Clean and Green and a few have been added since then.

c) The parcels enrolled in the county’s Clean and Green Program as of Jan. 31, 2004, are paying taxes on a discounted assessment of $183,710,773. If the Clean and Green Program was not in effect, and the assessment was based on market value, the figure would be $346,620,500.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

I have received numerous questions from residents of trailer parks concerning payment of municipal fees and costs, such as sewer fees, to the landlord or trailer park owner. The residents can demonstrate that the landlord charges a monthly fee specifically identified for sewer services provided by a municipal authority. This monthly fee is in addition to the rent paid to the landlord. Thereafter, the residents have learned that the landlord has not paid the municipal authority for the sewer fees, even though the residents have already paid the landlord for those services. Does this constitute a criminal act?

In numerous articles, I have discussed a particular theft statute known as “Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition.” This statute provides: “A person who obtains property upon agreement, or subject to a known legal obligation, to make specified payments or other disposition... is guilty of theft if he intentionally deals with the property obtained as his own and fails to make the required payment or disposition. 18 Pa. C.S. § 3927(a). In the example set forth above, the important question would be whether there was an agreement or legal obligation that required the landlord to pay the municipal authority.

On one hand, it is apparent that the landlord has obtained funds from a tenant for a specific premise – sewer fees. These funds are separate and distinct from the rental payment, and are specifically itemized on the monthly bill from the landlord. The tenant has paid those sums, upon the written request of the landlord, and could reasonably expect those funds must be used to pay the municipal authority. Does this “expectation” create an “agreement” or “legal obligation” on the part of the landlord to use those earmarked funds specifically for payments to the municipal authority for the sewer services? If it does, then the landlord has committed a theft when the funds are not paid directly to the municipal authority.

Aside from the landlord’s bill, however, there are no written documents that specifically require those funds to be paid to the municipal authority. The landlord ultimately must pay the municipal authority for the sewer services. A good business practice would certainly be to forward all separately billed fees received from tenants directly to the municipal authority. If the tenants are receiving sewer services, then the tenant is getting the service for which they paid the itemized fee to the landlord. If the landlord is not immediately paying the municipal authority the fees that are collected from tenants for sewer services, the landlord has engaged in poor business practices, but remains liable to the municipal authority for the costs of the sewer services. In other words, the landlord is on the hook, not the tenant, and the tenant has received the service for which the tenant paid the separate fee.

Thus, the ultimate question would revolve around whether the separate billing for a sewer service creates an “agreement” or “legal obligation” on the part of the landlord to specifically use those funds for direct payment to the municipal authority. Certainly a sound legal argument could be made that the landlord has engaged in an unlawful theft by using such itemized fees for personal use. On the other hand, one could also argue that no such theft occurred because the landlord is personally liable to the municipal authority for the sewer services. If a landlord were arrested in these circumstances, a court or a jury would ultimately decide whether the landlord committed a theft of the specially earmarked fees that are paid by tenants for sewer services.

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Dear EarthTalk: Are there any car-free cities in the world?

Elizabeth Vales, Cleveland, OH.

Since the dawn of the automobile age, residents of urban areas worldwide have been choking on exhaust fumes and tempting fate every time they enter a crosswalk. According to J.H. Crawford, author of the book, Carfree Cities, as much as 70 percent of downtown space in most American and European urban centers today is dominated by traffic lanes, parking lots and garages, gas stations, drive-through banks and burger stands and, of course, car dealerships.

Crawford argues that the abundance of cars in cities takes a huge toll on human health and safety as well as on the environment. Specific problems, he says, include air and water quality degradation, loss of green space, noise pollution and social alienation – not to mention a wide range of human health maladies and large numbers of both pedestrian and motorist casualties.

Economically speaking, residents of sprawling cities such as Houston and Atlanta spend an average of 22 percent of their annual income on automobile and related expenses. Cars aren't so great for business, either: A recent study of 32 German cities concluded that fewer cars allowed into a city meant increased foot traffic and more retail sales., the on-line companion to Crawford’s book, offers a large listing of car-free places throughout the world, organized into three categories: those completely or predominantly car-free; those with large areas that are car-free; and those with limited automobile traffic. In the United States, essentially car-free locations (though not cities) include Mackinac Island, a resort island on Lake Huron that uses horses and buggies for its transportation, and Fire Island on Long Island in New York. Fire Island makes use of small boats for short dock-to-dock travel, and wagons for wheeling the groceries home. It also has a lengthy network of boardwalks connecting homes on the beach to one another and to the docks.

Most car-free places are in Europe, the largest being Venice, where a canal system takes the place of streets, and movement is on foot or by boat. Giethoorn, in the Netherlands, also relies on canal-boat transportation. Some alpine resorts in Switzerland, such as Zermatt and Barunwald, are car-free as well. A unique location is Louvain la Neuve, a university town in Belgium where streets for cars lie beneath separate streets for pedestrians. There are also car-free cities in Morocco where, according to, they have succeeded in preserving much of the medieval style such that streets are very narrow. They are “for practical reasons, substantially car-free, although not always motorcycle-free,” says the website.

There are car-free cities and areas in much of the developing world, too, though this is mainly due to poverty. But increasingly, the four billion inhabitants of the developing world seem eager to adopt Western patterns and automobile use is growing. In India, for example, according to the United Nations the number of cars has been doubling every seven years. This fact, combined with poor roads, poor fuel quality and lack of vehicle maintenance, says the UN, makes vehicular air pollution an alarming issue.

CONTACTS:,; World Carfree Network,; Carbusters Magazine,

Dear EarthTalk: Is there a way to wash the pesticides off fruits and vegetables before we eat them?

Michelle, Chalmette, LA

Many fruits and vegetables sold in the United States today are treated with pesticides, and residues of these potentially harmful chemicals often remain on their surfaces. Rinsing all produce thoroughly before eating is always a good idea, but many pesticides, fungicides and other agricultural chemicals are trapped under a wax coating that was added to resist water and prolong shelf life. As such, rinsing produce with just plain water is not enough to do the job. Several companies have developed products that can help.

Organiclean contains extracts from coconut, sugar cane, sugar maple, bilberry, orange and lemon, is completely biodegradable, organic, and is a registered kosher product. The manufacturer claims that the product is ideal for hard-to-clean produce like strawberries, raspberries, spinach, lettuce and broccoli. It comes in an 8-ounce plastic spray bottle.

Another option is Veggie-Wash, from Citrus Magic. Made of natural vegetable-based ingredients from citrus fruit, corn and coconut, and containing no preservatives, Veggie-Wash comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle as well as 32-ounce and gallon refills. Meanwhile, Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash spray is made from citric acid and grapefruit oil, and claims to remove 98 percent more pesticides, waxes and other contaminants versus washing with water alone. Fit comes in 12-ounce spray bottles and 32-ounce refills.

For those inclined to more homespun solutions, various combinations of common pantry items work well, too. One recipe calls for soaking produce for five minutes in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, while another calls for spraying fruits and vegetables with a combination of one tablespoon of lemon juice, two tablespoons of baking soda and one cup of water. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports says that a diluted wash of dish detergent followed by a tap water rinse eliminates pesticide residues on most fruits and vegetables. After any such treatments, all produce should be rinsed thoroughly in plain water prior to eating or cooking.

Some analysts think that washing produce is not needed given strict Food and Drug Administration regulations about pesticide residues. “In the U.S., there’s very little produce with pesticide residues anywhere near the allowed tolerance levels,” says Elizabeth Andress, a food safety specialist with the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety. “If you use a produce wash, you may be reducing the levels of pesticide residues,” she says, “but the levels were nowhere near harmful to begin with.”

Nonetheless, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the only way to ensure avoidance of pesticide residues completely is to buy certified organic produce only. The majority of supermarkets in the U.S. stock pesticide-free organic produce for those willing to spend a few more pennies per item. Consumers should note, however, that even organic produce should be washed before eaten, even if just to remove the impurities caused by human handling.

CONTACTS: Organiclean, (888) 834-9274,; Veggie-Wash, (800) 451-7096,; Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash, (800) FIT-WASH,; EPA Booklet, Pesticides and Food: What You and Your Family Need to Know,

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

While reading the County Transcript recently, I saw the names of Starrucca children who were honored for their scholastic achievement in different grades. They were: Perri and Misha Weldy, Danielle Williams, and Caitlin Piercy. Congratulations, girls.

I have been so glad to have company to relieve the monotony of these wintry days. Rosemary Cosentino came and spent the afternoon recently. The therapist from Wayne County Area Agency on Aging gets here, twice a week, despite the weather and son, Dan came down from Harpursville, NY to get my kerosene heater down and ready in case of power outage.

Another lady came yesterday, associated with the Agency on Aging, whose ancestors came from Starrucca, and she knew quite a few people around Honesdale that were mutual acquaintances and friends. She couldn’t get over the new bridge over Shadigee Creek. The etching on the stones and walkways took her eye, exclaiming, “You have such a lovely bridge and all we get are just plain old concrete.”

Sympathy is extended to June Downton in the passing of her son-in-law, Ray Thomas of Deposit, NY. He was married to June’s youngest daughter, Joanne, who survives.

I also want to extend my sympathy to the Sartell Family. Bruce was well known throughout the area and a very likable person.

Looking across the ball diamond to my neighbor’s house, I see a light on in the kitchen which hasn’t been on for about ten days and that means my neighbor, Doris Davidson has returned after a sojourn at Barnes-Kasson. Keep that light shining, Doris.

Mary Piercy brought the following news that happened while I was in the hospital. It shows how caring neighbors are, in Starrucca.

Hurricane Charley left a big watermark on Starrucca. Many residents were thankful for the firemen of the Thompson Hose Company who patiently hosed out many basements and lowered the watermarks. After lowering the level on Roger and Naomi Getter’s basement, the Hose Company came across the street to the Nethercott Inn. The Inn was trying to have a Real Estate Open House, with three feet of water in the basement. At one point as the Inn was emptying water, the level in the Getter’s basement started to rise and we thought the Inn water was flooding the Getter’s basement. But the creek hadn’t crested yet. It wasn’t the Inn’s fault after all. We all couldn’t thank the firemen enough. They had been emptying basements all day long and they were cold and tired. But they kept going until everyone was “bailed out.” The Inn’s sump pumps died under the stress. There were no sump pumps at any stores in Scranton or Binghamton, so Robert Weldy was taking them apart and trying to rebuild them. He was used to this kind of work from his service in the Navy. When (out at sea) something would break the Navy had to use what they had on hand. But he couldn’t revive them. We looked around in the garage and found a bigger sump pump set aside for the auction the Inn as going to have. The firemen lowered the level and the new sump pump finished the job. Starrucca sends a big thank you to the Firemen of the Thompson Hose Company.

On moving day for John and Charlotte Keyser, many friends were there helping them pack. But by 2:00, John said, “Charlotte, we are leaving now.” They were not done packing, but they had to go. They said quick good-byes and took off. Charlotte had left in such a hurry we found her cane in the kitchen. We took the cane to the Post Office and Joe the Postmaster found just the right box and sent it off. The cane was missing once before and Charlotte called everywhere to find it. It had fallen down the stairs during the Charley flood and floated around the basement. It was found under the stairs in the basement. After we emptied it of water we hung it up to dry and all was well. John, Charlotte and the cane all arrived safely in Georgia. Friends continued to pack up the rest of the Inn and then enjoyed a dinner together on New Years Eve reminiscing all we had experienced together, the flood and the move.

These are the good neighbors who came together in the time of need for John and Charlotte: Schuler Family, Weldy Family, Getters and Piercy Family.


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