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Issue Home October 18, 2005 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the D.A.
The Healthy Geezer

Straight From Starrucca
Earth Talk

100 Years Ago

FOREST CITY: St. Anthony’s Lithuanian church was dedicated the first of the month by Bishop Hoban of Scranton. The Bishop was assisted in the ceremony by Rev. Father McGourty, who spent the summer in Montrose.

SUSQUEHANNA: Mrs. Mary M. Mooney, the accomplished organist of St. John’s Catholic church, is in Montrose this week, ably discharging her duties as musical directress at the Teachers’ Institute. AND: An application will be made to Court for amendment to the charter of the City Hospital at Susquehanna from the City Hospital to The Simon H. Barnes Memorial Hospital.

SPRINGVILLE: F. A. Risley has sold his grocery and meat market to Mr. Greatsinger, a Connecticut man, who will take possession about Nov. 1. Fred has evidently made his pile. AND: James Blakeslee has advertised his farms for sale. He and his wife expect to go to Pasadena, Cal. in the early part of November.

LENOXVILLE: The new telephone line from Lenoxville to Glenwood will soon be completed. Those having phones put in their houses are B. E. Clarkson, D. B. Robinson, W. E. Ross, J. E. Severance, A. W. Chancy, E.E. Conrad, J. P. Kline, W. M. Ransom, Walter Carpenter and Harry Wilson.

THOMPSON: Born to Mr. and Mrs. John Stager, a son, Oct. 12. Mr. Stager has been sick for a long time and for the past few days has been unconscious and has not taken any nourishment. He is not expected to recover.

UPSONVILLE: A traveling salesman from Montrose put up for the night at B. Jennings’ near the Shields’ quarry last week, Tuesday night. During the night a person or persons borrowed the horse and forgot to return it.

HARFORD: Harford Grange is just booming with a membership of over two hundred.

BIRCHARDVILLE: Any one having any news that would be of interest to the public, would be helping your correspondent a lot if they would kindly leave a note of it at the postoffice.

MONTROSE: The Susquehanna County Teachers’ Institute is holding its 38th annual session in the Montrose High School building, Oct. 16-21. There are 299 teachers attending. AND: Last Friday a phenomenon was witnessed here that perhaps very few, if any, had ever before seen. A queer-shaped whitish cloud was visible floating quite near terra firma about the middle of the afternoon and persons upon being questioned reported having heard a peculiar explosion just prior to their first noticing the singularly appearing cloud. Men who are considered local authorities on astronomical questions, state that a meteor in its flight earthward undoubtedly burst over the town and the gaseous vapors escaping caused the appearance of the cloud which attracted so much attention.

RHINEY CREEK, Liberty Twp.: The meteor which fell late last Friday afternoon was seen by some of the people in this vicinity.

GLENWOOD: The sale of the old Glenwood Hotel building [was held] on the 12th inst. After selling the scattered remains, such as doors, windows, old lumber and the accumulations of years, then the old building was put on sale and spirited bidding was indulged in. It was struck off to Wm. Bell for $52.

FLYNN, Middletown Twp.: Our ball nine went to the [Middletown] Centre to play a return game of ball, Sunday, with that nine. The Centre nine had three men from Friendsville to play with them, also one of their own men for umpire. They also had all the old maids and young maids out with horns and whistles to celebrate their intended victory, but instead of a victory it turned out a defeat, as the Hill nine was victorious. It would seem as though they were better at blowing horns than playing ball.

GREAT BEND: Prof. Thorpe, vice president of the Teachers Association and principal of Great Bend high school, and Misses Lou Egleston, Edith Reckhow, Minnie Banker, Bessie Patrick, Johanna O’Neil, Daisy Egleston, Florence James, Bessie Vaughn and Flora Gunn, are the teachers from here who are in Montrose this week at the institute.

UNIONDALE: H. H. Howard, of Olyphant, born and brought up in South Gibson, this county, has recently moved here and is now occupying his own property, the Uniondale hotel. But before giving the people a general invitation to share his hospitality, he seems to turn his attention to thoroughly renovating the place by papering, painting and newly furnishing the rooms throughout. It is hoped that Mr. Howard will run his hotel so it will be an honor to himself and a credit to the place.

AUBURN: James Donlin’s barn took fire at about 3 o’clock Saturday, while they were pressing hay, and no account can be given as to how it took fire. The first they knew, while hard at work, the flame came up from underneath and the men had scarcely time to make good their escape. The pressing was done by horse power. A good barn, 40 tons of hay, 20 of which was of last years’ growing, hay press, which belonged to the Donlin family, besides grain and farming tools, all went up in smoke and not one cent of insurance, which makes a loss much more than one man should be allowed to shoulder. A vest snatched from the flames was the only thing saved and that contained $30.

LITTLE MEADOWS: Wm. Butler had very good success with his buckwheat, turned out 40 bushels to the acre. AND: A very pleasant dance was held at John Boland’s, Friday evening. Many guests were present. Music was by James Hickey and son, Michael.

ALFORD: While coupling cars at Alford Sunday, A. J. Masters got his hand between the bumpers and several fingers were badly smashed. Mr. Masters has acted in the capacity of telegraph operator in the D.L.&W. station here temporarily, and the sympathy of many friends here is extended him.

GREAT BEND: W. B. Hamlin has purchased the express business carried on between Binghamton and New Milford.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Where seldom is heard, an encouraging word

Are the Susquehanna County Commissioners falling behind in their homework. Or even more frightening, have they suddenly stopped thinking.

There has not been a fresh idea projected by any of the commissioners in months. And the meeting agendas are so light, the commissioners are completing two and sometimes three public meetings in less than an hour. And that includes audience participation.

Talk to any of the commissioners and they will tell you they are so busy they are working fulltime. Doing what? I see one of them helping out in the commissioners’ office when the regular help is out to lunch or one of the employees is out ill or on a vacation day. It is a nice gesture but are we paying the commissioners almost $50,000 per annum to answer phones?

The commissioners do attend an awful lot of meetings. But they don’t return from them – be they in the area or in Harrisburg – with any ideas beneficial to the county. And to the best of my knowledge, the only commissioner who holds office hours around the county to meet and discuss issues is Minority Commissioner Mary Ann Warren. While her willingness to sit down with the taxpayers and hear their problems and ideas is commendable, she seldom brings back an idea from those sessions.

I will say this and I have said it before, the present crop of commissioners spend more time in the courthouse than any of their predecessors. But, aside from making themselves visible, what are they doing?

When they first took office in 2004, I mentioned some bad conditions in Historical Records. The window sills are rotting away and there are a few other problems there that can use some attention. These commissioners are in office some 21 months and nothing has been done about it.

We have heard talk about improving security at the courthouse but there are still open doors all over the place. We hear the folks at 911 saying they have locks on the doors and, I suppose they do. But the big bad wolf could probably huff and puff and blow those doors down.

Nay my friends, the mold has not been broken and the pattern remains the same. The county commissioners are elected for four years but if we get two good years from them it is par for the course. The first year they are gung ho. The second and third years they are in cruise control and the final year  – the reelection year – they are back to the grind.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play

The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy translates the above saying into this little ditty: “When a person in authority is away, those under the person’s rule will enjoy their freedom.”

They may not be as bad as school kids when the teacher leaves the room, but you can bet that when the warden and his deputy are not around, the correction officers at the Susquehanna County Jail are much more at ease. And that makes them no different than any other employees’ behavior when the boss is gone.

Oh, they will continue to maintain law and order and the smoking lamp may not be lit, but no one will ever convince me that jail guards are different than any other workers who take advantage of those precious moments when the boss leaves the room. Once in a while things can get out of hand and something unexpected can happen or one of the guards can seize the opportunity and get himself into some mischief. Whatever the situation might be, those who are campaigning for a chain of commands at the jail are right on target.

As for Commissioner Jeff Loomis‚ explaining away the lack of a shift commander by pointing out that the guards police themselves, no pun intended, that is really a copout. And I find it shocking that the sheriff and the district attorney, both of whom are members of the jail board, are willing to condone such outrageous situations.

And finally, who do you point a finger at if something does go wrong when the warden and deputy warden are away? I am told the responsibility rests with the sheriff. If this be the case, it would seem like Lance Benedict would insist that there be someone in charge at all times but especially during those hours when neither the warden or the deputy are at the jail.

And as for Mr. Loomis’ concern about the union, it would seem from here that a shift commander would be considered management and not belong to the union anyhow. Or, better yet, as Jim Jennings pointed out, there are unions for management personnel.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

There have been a number of times in this column that I have highlighted the need for police coverage in Susquehanna County. There is no debate that the cost to the taxpayers for such services is a significant barrier in providing municipal police protection. There are several municipalities within Susquehanna County that currently provide police coverage, and, for the most part, the residents of those municipalities are thankful and appreciative for the added protection. Over the last several years, I have advocated the need for additional police protection in Susquehanna County – but stressed that we must address this problem in a financially responsible manner. To put it simply, the costs of creating and establishing a municipal police department are not insignificant – the costs of the equipment (training, patrol car, uniforms, handcuffs, vests, weapons, et cetera) is substantial. Thus, the best solution for everyone involved is mutual aid agreements, i.e., contracting for police services.

A contract for police services allows the contracting municipality to avoid all of the substantial start-up costs associated with a police department, as well as avoiding the administrative duties, headaches, and expenses. As to the providing municipality, the contracting of services provides another source – aside from the taxpayers of the providing municipality – to supplement the costs of the municipal police department. From this perspective, a contract to provide police services is a win-win scenario.

There are numerous municipalities in Susquehanna County that have been investigating, considering and even pursuing such arrangements. From the perspective of this office, I am encouraged and relieved that such options are being considered and discussed by the different municipalities throughout the county. If we can provide greater security to our residents in a cost-effective manner, there appears to be little impediment to contracting for such services.

Unfortunately, I have heard criticisms over the amount potentially charged by the providing municipality for the use of its police department. Obviously, there is no easy way to determine the appropriate amount to charge for the costs incurred in contracting out municipal services. For instance, if a department charges an hourly rate for services, there are unforeseeable factors that can totally destroy the initial calculations upon which the police service contract was conceived. It would appear that there is an unwritten rule involving government services – things normally cost more than anticipated.

With this in mind, a contracting municipality should factor in a cushion to assure that its citizens will not be unfairly prejudiced by the provision of police services to another municipality. In other words, a municipal official would be remiss in entering into an agreement to provide police services to another municipality where there was even the possibility that the citizens of the providing municipality would bear some of the costs of police services to the neighboring municipality. As noted earlier, contracting for police services from another municipal entity is a cost-effective means to provide police services while avoiding all of costs associated with creating a municipal police department.

How are the contractual costs of providing police protection to another municipality determined? To state it simply, the officials of each municipality need to decide upon a mutually agreeable amount. These are budgetary concerns for both municipalities – but the municipality providing the police services would be foolish to even consider a contract for police services where there is no cushion to protect the citizens of their own municipality from potential cost overruns from the joint project. On the one hand, the contracting municipality has a certainty – either a set yearly figure or an hourly figure for the services from the other municipality. The providing municipality is assuming all of the risks associated with the costs associated with the provision of such services – and needs to factor those risks into the contract itself. If the contractual price is too high, then there will never be a municipal contract for shared police services. If the contractual price is too low, then the officials of the providing municipality have placed another municipality’s police protection on the shoulders of their citizens.

I am confident that our municipal officials will make these determinations with input from their constituents. These are difficult, but important, questions. From my perspective, I simply thank all of the municipalities for considering these options – even if it is ultimately determined that the costs of such a project outweigh the potential benefits.

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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The Healthy Geezer

Q. I have a neighbor, a woman in her eighties. I think someone is hurting her. It might be her daughter. I don’t know what I should do about this.

Recently, the U.S. Administration on Aging found that more than a half-million people over the age of 60 are abused or neglected each year. About 90 percent of the abusers are related to the victims.

All 50 states have elder-abuse prevention laws and have set up reporting systems. Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies investigate reports of suspected elder abuse. To report elder abuse, contact APS through your state’s hotline.

The following are available hotline numbers:

Alabama 800-458-7214, Alaska 800-478-9996, Arizona 877-767-2385, Arkansas 800-332-4443, California 888-436-3600, Colorado 800-773-1366, Connecticut 888-385-422, Delaware 800-223-9074, District of Columbia 202-541-3950, Florida 800-962-2873, Georgia 888-774-0152, Hawaii 808-832-5115, Idaho 877-471-2777, Illinois 800-252-8966, Indiana 800-992-6978, Iowa 800-362-2178, Kansas 800-922-5330, Kentucky 800-752-6200, Louisiana 800-259-4990, Maine 800-624-8404, Maryland 800-917-7383, Massachusetts 800-922-2275, Michigan 800-996-6228, Minnesota 800-333-2433, Mississippi 800-222-8000, Missouri 800-392-0210, Montana 800-551-3191, Nebraska 800-652-1999, Nevada 800-992-5757, New Hampshire 800-949-0470, New Jersey 800-792-8820, New Mexico 800-797-3260, New York 800-342-9871, North Carolina 800-662-7030, North Dakota 800-451-8693, Ohio 866-635-3748, Oklahoma 800-522-3511, Oregon 800-232-3020, Pennsylvania 800-490-8505, Rhode Island 401-462-0550, South Carolina (None), South Dakota 605-773-3656, Tennessee 888-277-8366, Texas 800-252-5400, Utah 801-264-7669, Vermont 800-564-1612 , Virginia 888-832-3858, Washington 866-363-4276, West Virginia 800-352-6513, Wisconsin 608-266-2536, Wyoming 800-457-3659.

The APS agency keeps calls confidential. If the agency decides there may be a law violation, it assigns a caseworker to investigate. If the victim needs crisis intervention, services are available. If elder abuse is not substantiated, most APS agencies will work with other community agencies to get necessary social and health services.

The senior has the right to refuse services offered by APS. The APS agency provides services only if the senior agrees or has been declared incapacitated by the court and a guardian has been appointed.

What is elder abuse? It can take a variety of forms: physical, sexual, emotional and financial. Neglect of an older person also is within the umbrella of elder abuse.

One of the most common types of elder abuse is self-neglect. Self-neglect often occurs in older adults who have declining health, are isolated or depressed, or who abuse drugs or alcohol.

If you're concerned an older adult might need help, these are symptoms to look for:

Physical injury such as a bruise, cut, burn, rope mark, sprain or broken bone;

Refusal of the caregiver to allow you to visit the older person alone.

Indications of dehydration, malnourishment, weight loss and poor hygiene.

Negative behavior such as agitation, withdrawal, expressions of fear or apathy.

Unexplained changes in finances.

If you have a question, please write to

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Straight From Starrucca

Toni Foy Vessey, Downsville, NY paid a visit to Starrucca last Friday and called on some old friends, myself included. I wasn’t here, but she left a birthday card on the porch.

No news last week because I received a call from my son on Thursday last that my niece from Waymart would be here Friday morning to pick me up early, so I didn’t have a chance to write the column. We were there three days and found son much improved.

Kenneth Gardner, Orlando, Florida was visiting his mother, brother and sister here. He left Saturday to return home.

Kimberly, daughter of Tom and Tracey Swartz has been spending some time with Grandma, Marie Swartz while her mother is in the hospital.

Church conference was held in Thompson Methodist Church, Tuesday night, October 11. The district superintendent had a great message for us and officers were elected for the next year.

A week ago Sunday, Barb and Roger Glover drove to Downsville to attend church there, but arrived too late and waited in the vestibule for the former Marcia Potter and Toni Foy Vessey to come out. They were very surprised to see the former neighbors and all went out later to dinner.

Several from here attended the Kelly-Truskolaski wedding in Thompson, Saturday, October 8.

On October 20 at noon, there will be a luncheon at the Baptist Church, served by the Senior Citizens and the Bag Ladies. Donation gratefully received for support of the Baptist Church.

If you are interested in looking at your credit report you can do one of three things. 1. Request your report by filling out a request form and mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. 2. By phone call, 1-877-322-8228. You will go through a simple verification process and your reports will be mailed to you. 3. On the web: I believe this came from an AARP publication.

By requesting this report you can tell whether or not there are any discrepancies.


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Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that converting crops like corn into ethanol actually uses more energy than is produced?

Leslie Foster, Eau Claire, WI

Recent revelations by Berkeley researcher Tad Patzek have fueled vigorous debate about the wisdom of using fuels such as ethanol to reduce our reliance on oil and our contribution to global warming. Patzek’s research concluded that producing ethanol actually uses more energy than the resulting fuel can generate.

“Ethanol production using corn grain required 29 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced,” reported Patzek in the journal Natural Resources Research last winter. He added that ethanol produced from other common sources, such as biomass (wood products and agricultural waste), requires 50 percent or more fossil fuel derived energy than the ethanol that results can produce.

“People tend to think of ethanol and see an endless cycle: Corn is used to produce ethanol, ethanol is burned and gives off carbon dioxide, and corn uses the carbon dioxide as it grows,” says Patzek. “But that isn’t the case. Fossil fuel actually drives the whole cycle.”

Ethanol is primarily in use today as an octane-boosting fuel additive, but it can also be used as a primary fuel in some engines. Most gasoline sold in North America today contains about five percent ethanol, but some vehicles – such as the Ford Explorer and Chevy Silverado – can run on blends of up to 85 percent ethanol. In order to stimulate production, the U.S. offers generous tax-based subsidies to farmers who grow crops for ethanol.

While Patzek's evidence may be compelling, his views on ethanol are not popular. Critics point out that his findings are based on farming and production practices that are fast becoming obsolete, and that newer techniques and machinery can make the ethanol production process much more energy efficient.

Hosein Shapouri, an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, estimates that ethanol fuel can actually generate 67 percent more energy than it takes to produce it. He points out that scientists are experimenting with using alternative sources like solid waste, grass and wood to make the ethanol production process that much more energy efficient.

While the jury may still be out as to whether ethanol production can generate a positive or negative “energy balance,” there are also some potential hazards with ethanol production. For instance, the nitrogen fertilizer needed to grow corn and other crops ends up in waterways, causing “algae blooms” that can choke out other life in affected areas. And while ethanol produces fewer carbon monoxide emissions than regular gasoline, it does contribute significantly to low-lying smog.

Doubts about ethanol underscore a fundamental problem in getting many types of renewable energy sources, including hydrogen, into mainstream usage: Until fuel sources like solar or wind power can provide clean ways to make clean fuel, the processes must rely on coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy. Indeed, while we may be able to see a clean energy future, we are still wrangling with how to get there.

CONTACT: U.S. Department of Energy Ethanol Facts,

Dear EarthTalk: How can I find information on toxic spills and major polluters in another part of the country where I am considering moving?

Elizabeth Primiano, via e-mail

Passage of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act in 1986 ensured that the public could access information on “chemical releases,” but did not provide a very easy way to filter through data tucked away in vast government databases. But the Internet has now changed all that.

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides free access to such data via the Envirofacts Data Warehouse on its website. You can just plug in a zip code to locate polluters, hazardous waste sites and other relevant environmental data in a specific region. Envirofacts incorporates the federal Toxic Release Inventory (a database of annual toxic spills and releases), lists hazardous waste sites on the “Superfund” list (those slated for cleanup), and tracks violations of the Clean Water and Clean Air acts.

Another good source for pollution information is Scorecard, a website operated by the non-profit advocacy group, Environmental Defense. The free online service helps users comb through more than 400 authoritative scientific and governmental databases on various forms of pollution to assess local environmental quality. Additionally, the site provides lists of toxic chemical releases and provides links to online references whenever available. Scorecard is regularly updated so that users can be sure they are getting the most current information.

The Right-to-Know Network (RTK NET), an information retrieval service launched in 1989 that predates both Envirofacts and Scorecard, provides access to numerous environmental databases that can help you identify specific factories and their environmental effects, and assess the people and communities impacted. A project of OMB Watch, a government watchdog organization based in Washington, DC, the service migrated to the Internet in the mid-1990s, and its popularity waned as government agencies began to provide data directly to those who wanted it.

While RTK NET still provides up-to-date, zip-code-based information on toxic releases, its founders focus most of their attention these days on advising organizations and professionals who work on environmental, health and safety issues. It recently merged with the Working Group on Community Right-to-Know, a clearinghouse for right-to-know laws and information. The new organization now focuses more on advocacy and seeks to “advance the public’s right to know about environmental and health threats [and] defend against attacks on public access to environmental and health information.”

CONTACTS: EPA Envirofacts Data Warehouse,; Scorecard,; The Right-to-Know Network,

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

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