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Issue Home April 12, 2005 Site Home

100 Years Ago
Along the Way...With P. Jay

From the Desk of the D.A.

Straight From Starrucca

100 Years Ago

UNIONDALE: Our borough council has voted to put up some new street lamps, which will be very much appreciated. New walks next! AND: Last Friday afternoon there were public exercises at the High School, which were attended by a large number of patrons. The exercises by the pupils were pleasing. The geographical collection recently received from the Philadelphia Commercial Museum was on exhibition and greatly admired by all.

RHINEY CREEK, Liberty Twp.: Quite a little excitement was created here one day last week, when Warren Fish’s team, which he had left standing near his well, went racing up the road. They ran in at the open door of A.A. Fish’s horse barn, where their owner caught them. No damage was done.

MONTROSE: Thomas L. Dolan and family have removed from Noxen to Montrose, Mr. Dolan having purchased the exchange Hotel from his brother, James, and assumed the proprietorship. He has been in the hotel business in that place for a number of years and is as near a model landlord as they make, having an excellent reputation as manager of a public house wherever known. Consideration, $8,500. AND: The ladies of St. Mary’s Catholic church took a very unique way of raising money to buy a carpet for their church by sending out a little poem, asking the recipient to give them in pennies just thrice the size of the shoe he wears. Accompanying the poem were little silken socks cut and made by the committee (Mrs. Ryan, Mrs. Becker, Mrs. Kelly and Miss Katheryn O’Neill) of different colors and sent out to all friends of the church. The returns are reported as good.

HARFORD: Our supervisors are getting ready to start the road machines or mud mixers, as they should be called. Our roads are getting worse and worse. What we need is more stones and less mud. AND: Besides additional facilities for obtaining something to eat, we are to have a store at which our lady friends can be provided with articles to wear--that is to say, Miss Lou Rogers, as already intimated, will next week open a millinery establishment at her home and we wish her every success.

SPRINGVILLE: Prof. T.C. Hinckley started out last Saturday for a drive. The horse took a notion to “do” things, and as a result the carriage was much broken and minus a top when quiet was restored.

AUBURN CENTER: Dougherty & Kellogg, who are operating the famous Burke quarry near here, have placed an order for a 25-horse power traction engine. It is guaranteed to draw 20 tons over the road from Auburn to Meshoppen. In hauling heavy loads of stone, flag, etc., they propose to use heavy wagons in trains of two or more. AND: At Auburn Four Corners, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Grow left the house one day to do the milking, leaving a small child asleep in one of the rooms. A neighbor happened to drop in and found the kitchen on fire. Prompt measures saved the house from burning. Some furniture was destroyed. But for the timely call of the neighbor the fire would doubtless have gained such headway before being discovered as to have been beyond control and the child might have perished.

RUSH: The friends of Rev. O.E. Bishop are cordially invited to meet at the parsonage on Tuesday evening, April 18th, at which time they will have an opportunity of showing their appreciation of his decision to remain with us another year by assisting him with their mite toward the purchase of a horse.

LITTLE MEADOWS: Nicholas Murphy is confined to his home suffering from a fracture of the jaw bone and other injuries caused from being thrown from his wagon against a barbed wire fence, where he was entangled when found, and but for the timely assistance of George Regan, would have been seriously, if not fatally, injured. He was conveyed to his home by M. Hate, where medical aid was summoned. Mr. Murphy has no recollection of how the accident occurred.

WEST LENOX: Mrs. Nelvin Empet is our new postmistress.

THOMPSON: The Bordon Bros., with their attorney, A.B. Smith, of Montrose, are here today and have bought of C.M. Lewis, a plot of land on which they will erect a condensary, and our business men are putting on a bold front. AND: Rev. and Mrs. P.R. Tower spent the Sabbath with relatives in Afton and attended the 40th Anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox, Va. Mr. Tower was at the surrender and he enjoyed the masterly address of Lu B. Cake, Esq., on this occasion immensely.

FOREST CITY: E. Deming, who has been Forest City’s collector for the past two years, has announced his intention to resign this coming year from the office and will not qualify for this coming year. Mr. Deming says that he has had two years of very arduous work with inadequate remuneration and he intends to give some other citizen the opportunity to enjoy the “sinecure.” Since the company refused to collect the taxes from its employees, the work of the collector in Forest City has been anything but a soft snap.

SUSQUEHANNA: M. J. Lannon has opened, in Hogan Block, one of the finest restaurants in this section of the country. The walls are covered with handsome and expensive paper, a new oaken floor has been laid and is covered with fine linoleum. The kitchen is a model in every respect and the furniture throughout is without cause for criticism. The culinary department is under the charge of experienced caterers and anyone who is in need of meals or lunch will be more than pleased with the service. The new restaurant is already patronized by the best of people and it is a rousing success. AND: The death of Sister Mary Felicitas occurred at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, Scranton. Deceased was Miss Lizzie Baxter, formerly a resident of this place. She is survived by two sisters, Mrs. John Lannon, of this place, and Mrs. W. Moffatt, of Wilkesbarre; two brothers, Peter and George Baxter, of Sayre.

NEWS BRIEFS: It was an honest doctor who defined appendicitis as a modern pain costing one hundred dollars more than an ordinary stomach-ache. AND: In many states the idea of giving names to the farm homes is growing. A name for a farm tends to fix the identity of the place, just as it does in the case of an individual. There are pretty or characteristic names of farm homes in many locations. Name your farm.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

An unbelievable achievement!

Not all the news that comes from the Susquehanna County Courthouse is bad. There are plenty of good things going on every day and, unfortunately some department heads are reluctant to tell the news media about it. Then, too, it seems the county commissioners are always steeped in controversy.

Be that as it may, we did learn something last week that is just too good to go unnoticed. It happened in the Register of Wills/Recorder of Deeds Departments and if you do not applaud this accomplishment, you are as mean as a junkyard dog.

The State Department of Revenue recently completed an audit of the accounts and dockets in the Register of Willis/Recorder of Deeds Department for the three-year period from 2001 through 2003. Primarily the auditors, who spend weeks at the courthouse going through every conceivable financial document that spells m-o-n-e-y, wants to make sure the Commonwealth is getting the money these departments must forward to the state at regular intervals. These departments, which are headed up by Mary Evans, collect money for the state on things like realty transfer taxes, inheritance taxes, writ taxes, surcharge for marriage licenses, and a somewhat ambiguous account known as the Judge’s Computer Fund. While they appear to be nothing more than nuisance taxes, they add up to a nice piece of change for the state.

After auditing three years worth of figures and any documents that add up to money for the state, here is an excerpt from the letter Mrs. Evans received:

“A review of the reports which you filed with the Department (of Revenue) and the audit of your accounts and dockets made by the Office of the Auditor General for the above period indicates monies due the Commonwealth in the amount of $8,290,292.26 and payment of $8,290,292.26.”

Wow! Can you imagine a department that collected monies on behalf of the state and forwarded the money to the state, balancing out to the exact penny in a three-year audit? I mean those girls handled more than $8.25 million and the audit comes out to the penny.

“We were real happy with that,” Mrs. Evans said, “and it just shows you what wonderful employees I have.”

Congratulations to Mary Evans and her excellent staff for one hell of an accomplishment. If there were a Financial Hall of Fame anywhere, this crew would most certainly qualify for entrance.

So much for the good news!

The new elevator in the courthouse is pretty neat. Unfortunately, the foyer in the basement leading to it isn't. While making the rounds last week, I visited the assessment office and, of course, could not help but notice the foyer. It is a small room that really should serve only one purpose and that is to provide access and egress to the elevator.

When I stepped into the foyer, I could not believe what I saw. There were three used radiators, two of them were upright, the third lay horizontal on what appeared to be a dolly; one typing table, one wet vac, one table folded and leaning against a recently painted wall, one mob bucket with mop, and a couple of cans of cleaning solvent.

And believe it or not, while I was making a note on the stuff that was in the foyer, a man on a wheel chair came in and the woman pushing him managed to make it to the elevator doors but it was a tight squeeze. I find it difficult to believe that with all the vacant space in the basement of the courthouse, stuff has to be stored in a foyer leading to the elevator.

Deep in the heart of taxes!

By this time you know your county tax rate is 12.84 mills compared with 10.255 in 2004. And, of course, your municipal rate will differ when compared with other municipalities. For example, Dimock Township has the lowest municipal tax rate in the county at 0.42 mills and Susquehanna Depot has the highest municipal tax rate at 21.20 mills.

In a few weeks, the real estate taxes for the 2005-2006 school year will be popping up in your mail boxes. And, it is almost a certainty that each school district will increase the millage. If nothing else, unfunded state mandates almost always increase.

Thought you might be interested in knowing the current real estate tax mills in the six school districts in the county so here they are: Blue Ridge, 43.00; Forest City Regional, 28.90; Montrose Area School District, 40.00; Mountain View, 29.50; Elk Lake, 29.70l; Susquehanna Community, 35.75.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

In order to obtain a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol, the Commonwealth must demonstrate that a defendant was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle upon a public roadway at a time when the defendant was incapable of safe driving because of the alcohol in his system. Conceptually, the public generally understands the crime of DUI, but there are interesting situations that inevitably arise that call into question the breadth of the statute itself.

Recently, in Commonwealth v. James, the Pennsylvania Superior Court considered an interesting case involving the question of “actual physical control” of the motor vehicle for purposes of the DUI statute. In that case, the defendant parked his vehicle in a parking lot next to his favorite tavern, but failed to pay the required parking fee necessary to obtain the privilege to park in the lot. While the defendant was enjoying a beverage with his fellow patrons, he noticed that a tow truck had arrived to remove his vehicle from the parking lot. The defendant’s vehicle’s front wheels were lifted off the ground, and secured to the tow truck through the use of various bars and straps. As the tow truck driver was getting ready to leave the parking lot, the defendant approached in a predictably “belligerent state.” The tow truck driver indicated that the defendant was “cussing and cursing,” reached into the tow truck and grabbed the tow truck driver’s hat and threw it across the parking lot. Thereafter, the defendant ran back to his car and got into the driver’s seat. As you might expect, the defendant started his vehicle and began to rev the engine repeatedly.

Because the defendant refused to get out of the vehicle, the police were called. Before the police were able to arrive, the defendant got out of his vehicle and attempted, on his own, to remove the straps and bars holding his car to the tow truck. After a brief altercation with another driver, the defendant again got into his car and began revving the engine. The defendant then put his car in reverse, accelerated the engine, and caused the car to hop across the lift area of the tow truck. As a result of the defendant’s actions, the tow truck was damaged. After the police arrived, and heard the eyewitness reports of the defendant’s behavior, the police had the defendant perform several field sobriety tests, which he failed, and it was discovered that his blood alcohol level was 0.165%. The defendant was arrested for DUI.

The defendant sought the dismissal of the charges, contending that he was not in “actual physical control” of his motor vehicle because it remained attached to the tow truck throughout the entire episode. The lower court agreed, and dismissed the charges. On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the lower court, and concluded that the defendant was in actual physical control of his motor vehicle in that he “revved the vehicle’s engine, engaged it in reverse, and moved it halfway off the tow truck’s lift.”

The defendant also argued that he did not operate his vehicle on a roadway, because defendant contended that his vehicle was “suspended in the air.” The court, however, noted that the two of the vehicle’s wheels were still on the ground, and, as a result of his conduct, those two wheels did move on a roadway, namely the parking lot area. The fact that the vehicle moved, albeit only slightly, was sufficient to support a DUI arrest.

The court concluded its evaluation as follows: “It is uncontested that [the defendant] caused property damage, and it is merely fortuitous that [the defendant’s] foolish, drunken conduct did not injure anyone. [The defendant] unquestionably created a threat to public safety by operating his car in such a manner as to cause it to be left half on, half off the tow truck in an unsafe position. Had [the defendant’s] efforts to get his car completely off of the tow truck been successful, public safety would have been further jeopardized.” In short, the James decision makes clear that both the actual physical control element as well as the operation on a roadway element can be met without substantial movement or even ability to move the vehicle itself. The moral of the story: if you are intoxicated, do not get in your vehicle, period.

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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Straight From Starrucca

Dates to be marked on your calendar are: Wednesday, April 13 is Senior Citizens day when they meet in the social rooms of the Baptist Church at noon with a covered dish dinner. New people are always welcome. April 21, the Bag Ladies and Senior Citizens will serve a luncheon to the public. April 27, Jim Delaney of D & S Flowers, Thompson, will be the speaker at Seniors meeting with a question and answer period following. This will also be a covered dish dinner at noon.

I was away when Don and Millie Haynes finished their building with colorful vinyl siding. It certainly enhances the old building that served the town as a post office and store combined, and then a general store under several different owners.

Upon inquiry I found out that Cappy Bedford’s place is owned by Rex and Katrina Rhone Colwell. Katrina is the daughter of Fred and Sharel Rhone, Starrucca.

Frank and Ruth Mroczka returned from Florida after spending January and February in the Sunshine State; I hear the weather was rather cold and rainy quite a bit of the time. Ruth brought her 94-year old mother home with her and ensconced her at Bethany Village, Bethany, PA which was the facility her mother selected when she was here last year. She is very comfortable there and enjoying her senior years.

The ordinarily quiet and gently flowing Shadigee Creek on Saturday night, April ninth, became a raging torrent that tore through town eroding away both sides of roads, collapsing part of a road above Williams’, eliminating the Billy Frye road. In the middle of town, ate away part of the front and side lawn of the former Eva Erk’s home, now owned by Renee Wander. In its wrath, took away the one hundred seventy foot long, concrete wall installed by PENNDOT in 1996 to prevent flooding of Wander’s property, sections of which lie partially submerged in the creek. I understand some parts were farther down the creek. One resident said he never saw the water flowing so fast. It came up to the deck of the new bridge, flooded about everyone’s basement, including the Baptist and Methodist Churches, which the Thompson Fire Co. took almost all day to pump out. A seventeen-foot gate, initially at the Downton farm about a quarter of a mile south of Starrucca village, sailed down the swollen creek and ended up at the tree farm, below the bridge. It tunneled under an old barn of Brownell’s. Could have burrowed into the original site of the creek bed.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the Thompson Creek, which meets the Shadigee in the village, wreaked its havoc, flooding low lying places in the road, filling basements and leaving debris everywhere.

Had a short visit with Sandra Major, who came to survey the damage – worse than Ivan. At least all Buck’s cows were in the barn.


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