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Issue Home April 26, 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

BRIDGEWATER TWP.: Lathan Mack, who lives on the D.T. Brewster farm, it now develops, is the man who holds the lucky number in the “Right of Way” cigar contest. Mr. Mack had not given the matter any particular attention but happening to run over his tickets he discovered that ticket B 1333 was in his possession. Mr. Mack had offered these same tickets to the dealer of whom he had purchased the cigars, T.F. Kelly, for $1, but Mr. Kelly didn’t want to buy. We understand the cigar manufacturers have offered him the automobile valued at $2,500 or $2,000 cash. Mr. Mack is a deserving man and we hope he will secure enough out of it to buy a good farm and live long and prosper. He went to Scranton yesterday to see about the matter.

SUSQUEHANNA: During a row in front of a lunch wagon on Front Street, yesterday morning, Thomas Moran was shot in the thigh by a man named Boynt, proprietor of the wagon. The wounded man was taken to the office of Dr. J.J. Boyle and the bullet probed for, but could not be extracted. No blame is attached to Mr. Boynt for the shooting, as Moran stated he was at the time endeavoring to protect Mr. Boynt from some intoxicated young men and the discharge of the revolver was accidental. AND: The officers of the Susquehanna’s Delaware Division have been removed from Port Jervis to Susquehanna, which means an addition to Susquehanna of about twenty-five families.

WELSH HILL, Clifford Twp.: John G. Jenkins, a native of this place, when a young man, went to Colorado as a book canvasser, going in the interest of J. W. Lyon, who was in the subscription book business. He succeeded so well that he was sent to South Australia in the same business. While there he went into the book publishing business and made a great success. Afterwards he got into politics and became a member of Parliament and later Premier; and now he has resigned that and been made Agent General for south Australia, in London. He is now on a trip to Canada and Washington on official business and will also call on friends in Montrose and Clifford. He is a cousin of T.J. and F.A. Davies and a brother of the late Sheriff Z.D. Jenkins. He is the first native American to hold such stations of importance and honor in that country.

SOUTH MONTROSE: The new station is nearing completion. This will be the most attractive station on the Montrose branch of Lackawanna Valley R.R. between Montrose and Tunkhannock.

JACKSON: Perhaps no other teacher in the United States has so long a record for teaching as has Mrs. Clarissa T. Tracy, who has been a teacher 61 years. Mrs. Tracy was born in Jackson nearly 87 years ago and is a sister of Emerson and Evander Tucker, of the township. For 45 years she has been an instructor in Ripon College, Wis. AND: Rural free delivery, route No. 3, starts from Susquehanna, May 1. It will serve the people in the vicinity of Lanesboro, Comfort’s Pond, Thompson, East Jackson and North Jackson.

ELKDALE, Clifford Twp.: S.E. Lowry is disposing of his stock, poultry, etc., and will move to Forest City in the near future. It is with the keenest regret that we see them depart from our midst, as Mr. and Mrs. Lowry as the best of neighbors and active members of the church and choir in this place.

SILVER LAKE: M.J. Hayes and three sons are kept busy in the Rose saw mill, having a large number of logs to convert into lumber. AND: Charles Eckhech and family have moved to Binghamton and M. McEnery is to take his place at Sheldon Croft.

ALFORD, Brooklyn Twp.: The water tank at this station has been raised and repaired so that the larger class of engines that the D.L.&W. is installing can take water here.

FLYNN, Middletown Twp.: Our graded school is again agitated here and we think the last act passed, granting people the privilege of sending their children to a high school and the fee to be paid by the township, will help our cause.

HOPBOTTOM: A broken rail caused a wreck just below this place Sunday evening. Four coal cars were overturned, obstructing both east and west bound tracks, so that trains were delayed for several hours. AND: Harvey Carpenter, of Lathrop, is driving a fine, new rubber-tire run-about, purchased of Elbert Tiffany. It makes a fine appearance and Harvey is justly proud of it.

RUSH: Henry Zacharias is sawing wood for B.L. Pickett, with his steamer.

MONTROSE: One of the saddest accidents that has occurred in this vicinity for a number of years took place Saturday afternoon. By it Cassius Tallon [step-son of George E. Woodruff, Cliff Street] met his death at the hands of a friend, Lawrence Arnold, a boy about the same age. The boys, in company with Clarence Riker, had been spending the afternoon along the Wyalusing creek, just below town, and had been amusing themselves with a 22-calibre rifle, the kind commonly used by boys, shooting at sparrows, trees and any object that attracted their attention. It was while crossing the Dr. Gardner farm on their return home, young Arnold carrying the rifle, that the tragedy happened. They were passing near Scott’s woods, loitering along after the carefree manner of boys. Lawrence Arnold was giving the small firearm a casual inspection when his finger in some way came in contact with the trigger and the rifle was discharged. The bullet barely grazed the left arm of the boy standing in the line of the leaden missile’s flight and penetrating his side, pierced him to the heart. He wavered unsteadily and the Riker boy, who was standing near him, attempted to keep him from falling, while young Arnold dropped the rifle and ran to his companion’s assistance. “I’m dead,” came the agonizing words from the stricken lad’s lips, and they had hardly passed his lips when he was dead in truth. [The story was related by Arnold and Riker who, overcome by grief and panic-stricken, fled from the scene of the accident. Edward White found the Tallon boy Saturday evening and notified the authorities. On Sunday afternoon Lawrence Arnold finally told his mother about the accident and he and Clarence Riker then told their story to the authorities. The shooting death was ruled an accident]. Further details may be found in the Independent Republican, April 28, 1905.

NEWS BRIEFS: Forty-eight years ago snow fell to the depth of over three feet in Susquehanna county, on April 20th and 21st, 1857. AND: Gov. Pennypacker has approved the bill which provides for a system of humane education, which includes kind treatment of birds and animals. The instruction along this line is to be given to all pupils up to and including the 4th grade. The same law prohibits experimenting with any living creature in the schoolroom.


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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Now or Never for Act 72

Are school boards across the state making a mistake by not opting into Act 72?

Gov. Ed Rendell thinks so and so do a lot of state legislators who supported the Act, albeit at the urging of the governor. I caught much of a repeat television cast of the governor’s recent forum on Act 72 and, as might be expected, he made it sound like the best thing to happen to education since report cards. Of course, on the other side of the coin, I was at a recent forum in Forest City Regional High where a representative of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association made it sound like the return of corporal punishment.

If it is so great, why is it that with the May 31 deadline drawing near, only five school districts in the Commonwealth have opted in? The answer, of course is quite simple. Because school boards don’t want taxpayers voting on school budgets even though it is done quite successfully in 36 states across the nation.

“A referendum,” one school director told the governor, “would not fly until our school system has deteriorated to a place where we do not want to go.”

The consensus among most school districts is that all school budgets will be defeated by annual referenda (that is plural for referendum isn’t it?). To quote from an old song, “It ain’t necessarily so.” I lived in New Jersey for a number of years and voted every year on school budgets. Some years the budget in our school district passed on first go around and some years it didn’t. School directors are wrong if they think their constituents would be reluctant to vote themselves a tax increase. If the need for the money is valid and the budget was explained properly to the taxpayers, they would support it rather than see an outstanding curriculum in an appropriate facility go down the tubes.

While taxpayers will be given an opportunity to vote on school budgets there are a number of provisions in Act 72 that give the school budgets some breathing room. The most important provision would not allow taxpayers the right to vote on a school budget unless it exceeds the rate of inflation by at least 5.2 percent. In many states, a budget vote is allowable if the budget exceeds the inflationary rate by 3 or 3.2 percent.

What happens if a school district does not opt in by the May 31 deadline. Well, my friends, that school district will not share in the state’s anticipated gambling revenues that are expected to reach $1 billion a year, or a proposed .01 percent increase in Earned Income Tax (EIT). If you don’t think that such a small increase in earned income taxes would produce a sizeable amount of revenue for a school district, think again. The Allentown Morning Call recently published an article that suggests an .01 percent EIT increase would net the Bethlehem School District an additional $377,000 annually at the end of five years and over $800,000 annually at the end of 10 years.

The May 31 deadline for opting into Act 72 is known as a “drop dead deadline” because after May 31, there is no tomorrow. School districts who have not opted in by the deadline will never get a second chance to jump on the bandwagon. Why? One of the governor’s financial wizards said the state needs to know how many districts are in, in order to distribute a share of the gambling revenues to these districts. If more districts are added in future years, school districts that already lowered their tax rates based upon gambling resources would have to raise the taxes because additional school districts would then be sharing in those resources.

And here’s the kicker.

If the school districts reject Act 72, there is a strong possibility that lawmakers in Harrisburg may pass legislation limiting the taxing powers of school boards. Gov. Rendell said this is not a scare tactic but an issue that has already been discussed by legislators in the State Capitol. The governor said the legislation would force all tax hikes higher than the inflation index to go before the voters for their approval.

Gov. Rendell said during the past 12 years, property taxes increased 67 percent or almost 30 points higher than the rise in inflation. He said at one time there was a law that the state must finance at least 50 percent of educational costs in the Commonwealth.

“That figure,” the governor said, “went from a high of 55 percent to a low of 34 percent and that is the reason school boards had to increase burdens and raise taxes. I do not believe school boards are to be blamed but they have to be a part of the solutions.”

The governor said when Act 72 takes effect, the percentage of state funding for education will increase from 34 percent to 44 percent. He said his goal is to get the number over 50 percent.

“So many senior citizens have their backs against the wall,” the governor said. “It’s not the fault of school boards. School boards had no choice because the state backed off dramatically in its responsibility to fund basic education.”


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From the Desk of the D.A.

I recently read a letter to the editor in a local paper attacking a local municipal police officer, and, in fact, the entire municipal police force. In this regard, the letter saddened me as I know most of the municipal police officers personally, and recognize the tremendous community service that such officers perform. In many cases, a local municipal police officer is a part-time employee, managing to protect and serve the community during those hours that he or she is not working at their primary employment. Even in Susquehanna County, these police officers face potential dangers every time they go out on a shift. For economic reasons, the local municipal police officers are required to serve their shifts “solo,” i.e., without the assistance of another police officer. If danger presents itself, the municipal police officer can call for backup, and, given the geography of Susquehanna County, such assistance could be a long time coming. From my personal perspective, I have tremendous gratitude, respect, and admiration for the tremendous and dangerous work performed by these good men and women. In short, their mere presence can, at times, save lives.

Let me share one example with you because it is a story that deserves to be told and it also demonstrates the validity of my observations and comments. There was a particular family in Montrose Borough that had a horrendous history of domestic disturbances, violence and abuse. In fact, the extended abuse of the father/husband had repeatedly led to Protection from Abuse orders against him, and periods of incarceration for violating those protective orders. In January 2004, one such incident occurred. Montrose Borough Police Officer John Walker received a call from the 911-center that there was a suspicious vehicle driving around this particular neighborhood. It was a Saturday evening, approximately 9:30 p.m., with temperatures in the upper 30s, and a steady drizzling cold rain. Officer Walker responded to the scene and found an older pickup truck seemingly abandoned on the side of the roadway. Officer Walker found no disturbance or any persons in the vehicle. Because the vehicle was in such close proximity to the victims’ home, and Officer Walker was aware of the prior problems and that the husband/father was no longer incarcerated, he decided to investigate. While he could have easily reported the abandoned vehicle, stayed in his warm patrol car, and move on, Officer Walker parked his patrol vehicle, stepped into the cold rain, and began to walk into a wooded area above the victims’ home. Officer Walker was by himself, but he set aside his own fear and replaced it with the courage necessary to make certain that there was no threat to this family.

Into the darkness and the cold rain, Officer Walker made his lonely trek into the woods, hoping that his “hunch” would prove false. Suddenly, he heard a bullet pass in close proximity to his head, and thereafter heard the retort of the rifle that fired the projectile. Coupled with the darkness, cold and rain, Officer Walker was faced with the knowledge that there was an assailant somewhere in the darkness, an assailant whose target had now shifted. Officer Walker searched for cover from the assailant – anything that might stand between him and the next bullet traveling through the dark night. After sliding behind a small tree, he found the shadowy assailant, and he exchanged shots with the assailant – who turned out to be the same abusive husband/father that Officer Walker had feared he would find. I suppose in those moments there is little satisfaction in knowing that your “hunch” proved true.

Officer Walker then watched as the assailant made his way to the home and broke into the home. Officer Walker awaited assistance from other members of the Montrose Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police.

There is much more to this story that cannot be told here. It was, however, later discovered that the assailant had hid himself under a pine tree above his former home, where he sat with his rifle, a bag of ammunition, a new 6-pack of beer, and a new pack of cigarettes. When Officer Walker startled the assailant, he was forced to abandon his stash of ammunition, and, in making his dash to break into the home to escape Officer Walker, the assailant had dropped his rifle before entering the home. Given the history of abuse, the rifle and the ammunition, there is little doubt what the assailant intended that evening. I am certain that Officer Walker saved lives that evening – but only at the cost of potentially losing his own.

Officer Walker’s acts speak for themselves, and there is little that I can say in this column to underscore the courage, selflessness, and bravery demonstrated that evening. I can only say thank you, and job well done. Next time you read an attack on any municipal police officer, I hope that you can recall this story, and reflect upon the tremendous service being offered to you and your community by these members of our law enforcement community. Better yet, next time you see your local municipal police officer, why not just simply thank them.

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

The sisters now have a Jersey heifer named Cleo, thirteen ducklings, chickens, rabbits and another black cow. They are making ready to welcome a girl from Kansas in about a week, to come and make her abode with them, making the number of nuns and postulants, thirteen. Sister Therese tells me they are planning a huge, raised flowerbed in their yard.

Gale Williams has been homebound because of bronchial pneumonia for the past week. Signs of improvement will be welcome to her.

Members of the Carl and Gina Upright family, Bradley, Jean and Erika of Williamsport, PA, along with other relatives attended the funeral of Kathryn Upright, 92, of Thompson, on Wednesday, who passed away on Monday after a long illness. She was buried in Pleasant Mount. My sympathy is extended to the family.

Helen Dickey was laid to rest Saturday, April 23, 2005 beside her husband, Arland, who passed away September 9, 1970. They are buried in Union Dale Cemetery.

Renee Wander, who bought the former Erk property, has quit her job in New Jersey and plans to live in Starrucca permanently. She still looks after her mother several days a week, but eventually hopes to convince her to come live with her in Starrucca.

George and Mary Ann Debalko just can’t keep their happiness to themselves. Her eyes glistened when she told me they are anticipating their first grandchild this summer. Kristen and Joseph McNally, daughter and son-in-law of George and Mary Ann, will be the parents of the precious little girl.

Another reason for their joy is the homecoming of their daughter, Dana who earned her Biology Conservation degree from the University of Alabama, gained work at the zoo in St. Marten’s and will return home in July.

A good crowd attended the dinner at noon put on by the seniors and Bag Ladies. It was pleasant to see all the people I hadn’t seen in ten months, including the postmaster. This coming Thursday, April 28 there will be another dinner, Baptist social rooms, served at noon.



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