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Issue Home April 19, 2005 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the D.A.

Straight From Starrucca
Software Services

100 Years Ago

BIRCHARDVILLE: We had a small-sized 4th of July celebration upon receipt of the news of Milton E. Birchard’s nomination for Register and Recorder. The church bell was rung and all were happy and joined in the racket. Milton is in every way worthy of the place.

HOP BOTTOM: The milling and feed business heretofore conducted at Foster Station, under the name of Foster Mill, M. Merithew, agent, will hereafter be conducted by Frank R. Zimmerman, to whom has been transferred the property and business. Mr. Zimmerman was for over 12 years with the Empire Mill and Elevator Co., Binghamton.

OAKLEY, Harford Twp.: W. H. Wilmarth is hired by H.W. Jeffers to take down buildings at the Orphan School and erect them on the farm of Watson Jeffers this spring.

THOMPSON: Miss Madge E. Brown, of the township, who closed a term as principal of the graded school in this borough, the 7th inst. [present month], began a term in the school at Medina, N.Y., Monday morning. She had several flattering offers from other places. AND: One can go to New York and back from here much easier and quicker than he can make the trip to Montrose.

SOUTH GIBSON: Mrs. Alvira Pickering passed her 90th birthday on April 10. She is well and in possession of all her faculties. AND: Commencing the first of May, the Department at Washington has ordered that a free rural mail service be extended between Kingsley Post office and South Gibson.

FLYNN, Middletown Twp.: Some of the people here are putting teams on the grading for the new railroad--four dollars per day.

HALLSTEAD: A temporary bridge has been erected over the Harmony creek, near Hallstead, where the bridge went out this spring, by contractor A.J. Cosgriff, of New Milford. A permanent structure will be put up as soon as possible, and the commissioners are in hopes to find the superstructure, which was washed down the creek, uninjured and capable of further use, thus incurring less expenditure of the county’s moneys. It is thought that it may be necessary to raise the bridge a number of feet higher than its present level in order to prevent a repetition of this spring’s disaster. The abutments are in good condition and were little damaged by the high water. AND: Preparations are being made to put a swift ball team in the field this season. A dancing pavilion, swings, etc., will be erected at Riverside Park to further attract the followers of the game.

BROOKLYN: Miss Alice Lee has been spending a few days at Dr. Wilson’s. Miss Lee’s literary ability is becoming pretty well known, as we often see articles from her pen in some of our leading magazines. AND: Fred P. Miller, now Corporal in the signal corps, U.S.A., visited his parents last week. Mr. Miller enlisted in the service on April 7, 1902 in Chicago. Has been at Washington, D.C., Kansas, New York, San Francisco and assisted in the laying of the ocean cable from Seattle to Valdee, Alaska, during which time they were shipwrecked, having run into an immense iceberg. Mr. Miller plans to enlist again for 3 years.

MONTROSE: There is altogether too much fast driving on the main traveled streets of the town and many narrow escapes, especially among the children, are reported. One such instance of a little girl of Maple street being very nearly run over by a young man who was out for a drive, is reported, and frequently even older, and many times feeble and aged people, have their lives endangered by these drivers of the 2:22 class. Small children playing in the street may often escape the attention of the driver, who is generally giving most of his attention to his equine’s “fine points,” and for the safety of the pedestrians, in general, they should curb their steeds and moderate their speed.

FOREST CITY: The Bell Company has put in operation its new system by the use of which they dispense with a central operator. An automatic arrangement makes connections. The system is a new invention and the Forest City plant is the fourth to be installed east of Chicago.

SUSQUEHANNA: Isaac Lauder Son & Co., of Binghamton, will conduct the marble and granite works, formerly conducted by the late E. J. Matthews. AND: Bake Sale and Rubber Donation: In Falkenbury Block, Erie Avenue, April 29th, everybody come, bring your old rubbers [boots], your husband’s rubbers, and your children’s rubbers and patronize the bake sale, for the benefit of the City Hospital.

LAWTON: Work on the New York, Pennsylvania & Southwestern Railway is now progressing rapidly. Nearly every mile of road between Williamsport and Lawton has been touched in spots by the grading contractors. The Lawton & Meryall sections are being graded by Allen, Donally & Co. While the McGowan Coon Co. is working heavy rock cuts south of the river below Wyalusing. Ten carloads of culvert pipe were received last week for use on the grade construction. It says, too, that the line down Choconut creek to St. Joseph’s will be the first section on which ties and rails will be laid.

KINGSLEY: M. J. Corbet & Son, of Conklin, has purchased the wood acid factory here, formerly owned by the Ballard-Rought Chemical Co., and are making extensive repairs; they expect to commence operations soon under the name of the Kingsley Chemical Co.

NEW MILFORD: The firm of the New Milford Hardware Company has been dissolved. Charles Phelps retiring from the firm and A.C. Risby continuing the business.

BRACKNEY: The death of Mrs. Minnie C., wife of Tracy Gage, aged 27 years, occurred at her home last Sunday evening. Besides her husband, she is survived by four children, two of whom were born on the 10th inst., her mother, five brothers and four sisters. The funeral was largely attended from St. Augustine’s Catholic church, at Silver Lake, on Wednesday morning, her pastor, Rev. Father John J. Lally, officiating.

NEWS BRIEF: Gov. Pennypacker has signed the act, which makes it unlawful for boys under 16 to visit pool rooms, billiard rooms, bowling saloons and ten-pin alleys--Good Law.


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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Let’s hear it for all volunteers

A few months ago, we wrote a column here praising the efforts of our volunteer firemen and ambulance corps members. They are worthy of every word we wrote and then some.

This week, we pay homage to another group of volunteers who seldom get anything for their efforts except complaints and an occasional phone call criticizing something someone felt they did or failed to do. These volunteers take things in stride and perform to the best of their ability while giving hour after hour of free time serving their neighborhoods, communities, counties and states.

We are referring, of course, to the guys and gals who serve on playground committees, municipal governing bodies, planning commissions, recreation boards, zoning boards, school boards, and the many, many areas of government where volunteers play key roles with seldom as much as a thank you. Just stop for a moment and consider what it would cost the taxpayers if there were no volunteers and each municipality or county had to pay individuals to serve on these all-important boards and committees that we take for granted.

Perhaps that is what bothered me about the behavior of county Commissioner Roberta Kelly at last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting. The opinion here is that Mrs. Kelly was out of line when she dressed down Rowland Sharp, chairman of the Susquehanna County Railroad Authority, at  the public meeting.

Apparently pressed for time, because this is the real-estate selling season and he  is a realtor, Mr. Sharp sent an email request to the county commissioners. In it he asked for an interest-free loan of $3,000 for the authority so it will have some operating capital until a start-up grant of $15,000 arrives, presumably from Harrisburg.

Minority Commissioner MaryAnn Warren took Mrs. Kelly off the hook by telling Mr. Sharp that she checked out the request with the county solicitor and he advised against it. That should have ended the issue then and there, but Mrs. Kelly had other thoughts.

“I would recommend, Rowland,” Mrs. Kelly said, “that if you have a request like this it should come more in a formal letter than an email and you will get a response back from us.”

I served on the Rail Committee before it became an authority and so did Mrs. Kelly. I seem to recall seeing her at one, perhaps two, of our meetings. Mr. Sharp was chairman of that committee and I don’t think he missed a meeting. And we were, of course, all volunteer members.

Mrs. Kelly was a candidate for county commissioner at the time so she was expected to miss some meetings. In fact, she finally threw in the towel and resigned from the rail committee to focus on her campaign.

During her time on the committee, I do not recall Mr. Sharp ever suggesting to  Mrs. Kelly that she skip a few of her campaign tours and attend the rail committee meetings. In fact, I don’t recall Mr. Sharp taking any member to task for missing a meeting now and then. Obviously, he was cognizant of the fact that this was a volunteer committee and whatever time they gave to it he appreciated.

The feeling here is that Mrs. Kelly should be thanking volunteers like Rowland Sharp instead of criticizing them at public meetings. A formal letter, chair of the Railroad Authority to chair of the Board of Commissioners. Seems from here like that could have been handled by a phone call but most certainly there is nothing inappropriate about an email.

Volunteers are so very, very important in small towns and small counties that cannot afford payrolls higher than what they have already. Politicians in Harrisburg and Washington proclaim special days and weeks for just about every conceivable organization and event. Perhaps it is time they recognized the thousands of volunteers across the county with a National Volunteers Day.

It does happen

If there is one drawback in writing for a weekly newspaper, it is the fact that there are seven days between each issue. A lot can happen in seven days and often the end result is we end up with the proverbial egg on the face.

Last week, we wrote about how cluttered the small foyer leading to the elevator entrance in the basement of the county courthouse had become.  And, it was a bad situation at the time we saw it the Wednesday before the paper carrying the column hit the newsstands. However, two days after we saw it and four days before the Transcript did hit the newsstands, the situation was taken care of and the foyer was clean as a whistle.


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From the Desk of the D.A.

The Michael Jackson Trial. While I have not been following all of the news reports, I have heard or read news reports of the surreal happenings in that jury trial. My first reaction is the fervent hope that any celebrities visiting Susquehanna County behave themselves! I also wonder at the length of time necessary to conduct a trial of any celebrity – as compared to the normal or average time devoted to the usual criminal case. In the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County, there are six criminal terms a year, with each lasting two weeks – or a total of 12 weeks for criminal trials. During those 12 weeks of criminal terms generally over 400 adult criminal cases are resolved, which should be compared to the amount of time devoted to the Michael Jackson trial.

On the other hand, these high-profile cases often provide the public with their only view into the operation of the criminal justice system, perverted through the looking glass of the national media. In the Jackson case, the media has been testifying to the testimony of the alleged prior abuse of other children by Michael Jackson. It is important to note that Jackson was never convicted of this conduct, but the evidence is still admitted for consideration by the jury. How does the criminal justice system deal with such prior abuse of third parties?

To answer that question, we start with the general premise that a prosecutor generally cannot admit character evidence to demonstrate that a person committed a particular offense. In other words, it would be impermissible for a prosecutor to call a witness to testify that he is familiar with Jackson’s character and that Jackson is a pedophile. Obviously, such testimony would be extremely prejudicial. Furthermore, the mere fact that a person is a pedophile does not mean, standing alone, that they committed the particular child abuse in question. The law is attempting to prevent innocent individuals from being convicted merely based upon their reputation in the community.

On the other hand, a prosecutor may present evidence of specific prior abuse to demonstrate that the defendant has engaged in a pattern of behavior that is similar to the facts of the present case. Such evidence is not presented to prove the bad character of the defendant, but rather to show, given the similarity between the prior acts and the present charge, it is more likely that this defendant did in fact commit the alleged offense. A classic example involves the “signature” crimes. Suppose that a burglar always leaves a rose in each home that he has burgled in the past. A defendant is arrested for a burglary, and, at the scene of the crime, the police find a single rose. In such a case, the prosecution could bring forth evidence demonstrating the prior burglaries to actually prove that the defendant committed the new burglary. The law allows the use of “prior bad acts” sparingly, and there is a specific evidentiary rule outlining the permissible purposes of said evidence. In the above example, some of the permissible uses would be to demonstrate that the defendant was acting in a pattern, or to demonstrate the defendant’s identity, i.e., the “rose” burglar.

In child abuse cases, prior bad acts are commonly used to demonstrate that the defendant engaged in a pattern of behavior. Courts must weigh the specific prior bad acts to determine whether they are sufficiently similar to support submission to a jury. The less the similarities between the prior bad acts and the current offense, the less likely that a jury would be allowed to consider the prior bad acts. For instance, if an alleged child abuser had a history of abusing 15 year old girls, and the current offense involved a 5-year old male, then the prior bad act evidence would likely not be allowed as evidence. In making this decision, the court must weigh the probative value of the evidence, i.e., what does the evidence tend to show, against the prejudice to the defendant. In the above example, the probative value of the evidence demonstrates that the defendant has acted consistently as a predator of adolescent females, but fails to provide any link or connection with the abuse of young males. Given the obvious prejudicial impact that such evidence would have upon the defendant’s trial, such evidence would likely be excluded.

In the Jackson trial, the court would likely consider the testimony of the alleged abusers prior to allowing their testimony, and had to consider the similarities between the prior conduct and the present charge to weigh its value. In child abuse cases, there are no bright line rules for such evidence, and generally speaking there are no “signature” abusers. Thus, courts must make difficult decisions regarding the admissibility of such evidence. While the common sense approach would say that any such prior abuse of children should be admissible, the criminal justice system is curbed to protect the defendant from unfair prejudice. Thus, unlike the Jackson case, there are often child abuse cases where juries never hear the accounts of prior victims.

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

At a meeting of the history group on Tuesday night at the home of Paul and Loreda Everett, these subjects were discussed: Christmas ornaments on a flat vinyl disc which display historic places in Starrucca. This year they would like to have ornaments picturing the three churches in Starrucca – Catholic, Baptist and Methodist. Another item of interest are the tombstone transcriptions. Members of the history group are to meet at the Protestant Cemetery, armed with notebook and pen, ready to copy down everything that is on the tombstone, beginning May 18 at 10 a.m. They will also meet at 10 a.m. Friday, May 25. After they are all transcribed, they will be put on the Internet.

Representatives were here from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess the damage done by the recent flood. The two men locally who are on that committee are Paul D’Agati and Paul Everett.

The Spirited Seniors of Starrucca met Wednesday at noon. There were fourteen who gathered, enjoyed a potluck dinner, played two rounds of bingo and made plans for their April 21 dinner at noon.

Roger and Barb Glover have returned home after spending the winter in Arizona. They were not too happy to find that two freezers, canned goods and their furnace had been underwater and left sand and mud in its wake.

Ray Kopp, brother to Art Kopp and Virginia Upright has had a book published titled, “Thunder In The Night.” It is a sailor’s perspective on the war in Vietnam. Growing up, Ray and my son, Norm were great pals. But I never imagined he would be an author. Congratulations, Ray on a dream come to fruition.

Last Sunday night I was pleased to see my grandson, Matt and three of his buddies. They all called me “Grandma.” They came to spot good fishing pools for the opening of trout season. After locating them, they came back to play “Quiddler.”



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Software Services

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is the first of a new County Transcript column that will focus on common problems and/or solutions we all encounter while making use of our confounding computers.

Viruses, Trojans, and Hijackers – Oh my!

Your PC is under attack! It seems like every time you turn around there’s a new computer villain.  Who are all these villains and what do they do? I’ll explain the terms used for the most common ones and what they do to your PC.

Malware is a generic term that describes a variety of programs that intend to do harm to the PC or report information about the PC and you to some entity.  Malware may be installed as part of free games, music/movies, or utility programs. In this case, the software is probably mentioned in the user agreement - although, not identified as malicious software. Who wants to read and try to understand all that fine print? It may also be installed without your permission, as the result of an infected e-mail, a file share, or CD. Also called scumware, subcategories include viruses, worms, spyware and others.

Spyware is software that monitors the use of a computer. This covert software can be used legitimately by a business to track the use of their PCs. More often than not, it’s used for other purposes.

Adware is software that collects information about the user to target advertisement.  This software tailors advertisements that are sent to your PC based on your web surfing history. This term is also used to refer to software that has advertisements embedded in it. For example, you might get a free game that has advertisements for other games available for purchase.

A Trojan Horse is malware that disguises itself as a useful or fun program (like a game) but that actually damages a computer or installs code that can counteract security measures. It may collect your passwords, shutdown your antivirus software or turn your pc into a spam server. Unlike a virus, a Trojan horse does not replicate itself.

A Virus is a program that replicates itself and may cause damage to a computer system by attacking or attaching itself to boot information, or another program. It can spread itself on your PC by disguising itself as valid program, attaching itself to a document or sending itself out attached to your email.

A Worm is a virus that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself. Worms use parts of Microsoft Windows that are usually invisible to you. You usually don’t notice them until their uncontrolled replication consumes system resources, slowing or halting your PC.

Browser Hijackers are malware that alters your computer's browser settings so that you are redirected to web sites that you had no intention of visiting. Most browser hijackers change your home page and search engines to get you to visit specific web sites to generate traffic. Sometimes a browser hijacker adds bookmarks for pornographic web sites to your favorites; generates pop-up windows faster than then you can close them; or redirects you to other sites when you enter a URL without the www preface.

Lori Martin is owner of Martin Works, Inc. (, Susquehanna, PA


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