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Issue Home October 25, 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
Food For Thought

100 Years Ago

JACKSON: Mr. Ford Payne met with a serious accident recently. While touching off a fuse to an old cannon the wind blew the blaze from the match to the loose powder on the cannon and it exploded. It was thought at first that his eyes were put out, but further examination revealed the fact that with skillful treatment he might not lose his sight. He can now see out of one eye very well, but a very little out of the other. Dr. Coles is attending him.

NEATH, Bradford Co. and PRATTVILLE, Midletown Twp, Susq. Co.: We believe that this section has the medal firmly anchored for the capturing of raccoons. If not then let us hear from anyone who has a better record than Guy and Albert Roberts of Neath. They are not only entitled to the medal for the total number caught but, also for the big bag of these fellows brought home on Friday, Oct. 14. Up to Saturday following they had captured a total of 29 this season and on Oct. 14 they tried their luck on a corn field near Milo Oakley’s at Prattsville. This raid on the corn eaters surprised even themselves for they returned home with nine raccoons.

BROOKLYN: Samuel Bailey has built a new shop on the site of the old condensery building. He will turn out mine rollers and other wood work. Sam is a hustler.

FAIRDALE: The spire of the M.E. Church was taken down on Oct. 19. In the afternoon they took off all but the frame, then fastening ropes to that, pulling so as to start it in the direction of the parsonage, then slacking the ropes just as the sun was setting it fell with a crash and after having stood nearly 40 years was no more. AND: Milton Roy husked 37 bushels of corn for Charles Steiger on Thursday. The question may be asked--did he pull down the shocks and the stalks? We answer--he did. Mr. Roy is in his 80th year and he says if any man in the county at his age beats that, he will try again.

GREAT BEND: William J. Flynn, a former Great Bend boy, who has for some time been employed as Track Supervisor on the Tioga division of the Erie, has been promoted to the responsible position of Track Supervisor of the Susquehanna division of the Erie.

SUSQUEHANNA: R. H. Hall brought a suit against the M.E. church of Susquehanna, before Jos. M. Williams, Esq., claiming that the church was indebted to him in the sum of $27.30 for wall paper furnished to the church. The church admitted Mr. Hall’s claim but refused to pay it, claiming that Mr. Hall was indebted to the church in the sum of $29.10 and that therefore Mr. Hall really was indebted to the church in the sum of $1.80 after allowing Hall’s claim as a set-off. Justice Williams sustained the claim of the church and rendered a judgment against Mr. Hall in favor of the church for $1.80.

HARFORD: What was perhaps the largest fish ever caught in the county was captured from the ice pond of A. E. Henderson. It was a carp three 3 feet in length, 23 inches in circumference and weighing 18 pounds. The pond was drawn and the monster fish was caught in a milk can, almost filling it. It had been seen in the pond for some 10 years, but could not be induced to take a hook. AND: A paper is being circulated to raise money to send Mrs. Frank Peck to a hospital, she being a great sufferer from cancer.

HEART LAKE: Saturday evening about 70 friends and neighbors of N. Z. Sutton gathered at his home for a surprise for Mr. Sutton on his return home from the West, and as he drove up to his door, the Alford Band was playing a fine selection, after which was hand-shaking and happy meetings. Refreshments were served and the evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all present.

FRIENDSVILLE: Hugh J. Matthews, formerly of Binghamton, recently opened a grocery store in the building opposite the Flanagan House. It is also reported that the Winters’ store will reopen in the near future with a new proprietor. AND: A fine new flag-stone sidewalk has just been laid on Lake Street.

UNIONDALE: We would like to ask for information what the law requires in this county, how much time the teachers of the various schools are to teach, during each session of the day. Years ago the time would be from 9 to 12 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m., and some times later in order to get through with all the lessons. They not having uniform books then as now. Then they would have school six days in a week, now only five days and frequently we see the scholars going home at three and half-past three in the afternoon; if this isn’t right, ought not the school directors to look after the interest of the scholars a little closer? Will not their salaries admit it? Some might say they cut their noon hour short, or deprive them of their recess, if so, would that be right? Isn’t it necessary for the children to have their recreation and exercises to assure them of good health.[?]

FOREST CITY: The criminal cases cropping out of the disturbance at the parochial residence of St. Stanlius church on Sunday, Oct 8th, have all been aired before the local Justices of the Peace and 15 or 20 people have been held for court charged with assault. The matters will come up before the grand jury on Monday next.

LAWSVILLE: Last Friday afternoon as Julia Mahana and Elle Bailey were driving to Brookdale after Miss Mahana’s brother, who teaches school there, the harness broke, letting the wagon against the horse, frightening it so that it ran away. Both girls stayed in the wagon and succeeded in stopping the horse after it had run about half a mile. It was very fortunate, as those who saw it say the horse did some fast traveling.

AUBURN CENTRE: A noticeable improvement has been made in the road between Angles’ Corners and Meshoppen by the removal of the old logs which have long made riding over that stretch of highway anything but pleasant. The initial step in this popular movement was made by one of our popular citizens, Chas. Lott, a gentleman past 85 years, whose interest and work personally made to a considerable degree this improvement possible. Mr. Lott, by the way, was the first man to ride over the road in automobile when the work on the road was finished.

MONTROSE: W. C. Cox, the silver-tongued auctioneer, is again exercising his vocal organs at the local sales. “Coxey” has the persuasive power of a drummer [traveling salesman], the shrewdness of a horse trader and the voice of a “train caller.” It is no wonder that his services are in demand.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

We are living in the 21st century aren’t we?

Someone once said America is the land of opportunity. Everyone can become a taxpayer.

It seems everything we buy or sell has some sort of tax requirement attached to it. I bought my first new car in 1957. It was a Chevy and it cost me $1,800. Today that could be the sales tax on some new vehicles.

Actually, there are only two types that complain about taxes. Men and women.

Recently, Jim Jennings has been trying to convince the county commissioners that they should eliminate the occupational tax. So far, the commissioners have listened intently and told Jim he has a good idea but the talk stops there and the subject is changed.

The Optional Occupation Tax Elimination Act (Act 24 of 2001), as amended by Act 96 of 2002, permits school districts and municipal corporations to abolish their occupational assessment tax or flat rate occupation tax and replace lost revenues with an earned income tax. However, when a municipal governing body initiates the process to eliminate the specific occupation tax, final implementation is contingent upon voter approval in a referendum.

In many parts of our Commonwealth, the occupational assessment tax is a major revenue source for school districts, but not municipalities. According to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, during fiscal year 2000-01, school districts raised a total of $110,343,558 from this tax. However, the occupational tax has not proven to be valuable in Susquehanna County. Because of the commission structure, Mr. Jennings learned that, in most instances, tax collectors make more money collecting occupational taxes than the county. Which raises another question? Does Susquehanna County need 40 tax collectors, one for each municipality?

Ann Belser, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did some research in preparing for an article on the subject. Her story appeared in the Post-Gazette on June 28, 2004, and it raised a lot of eyebrows.

Ms. Belser wrote:

“In Allegheny County, there are 600,000 pieces of property and 132 property tax collectors – one for each municipality. In Franklin County, Ohio, the home county of (the city of ) Columbus, there are 400,000 parcels and one property tax collector.

“Both tax collection systems are mandated by state law. But reformers argue that it’s a measure of how backward Pennsylvania’s government is that its law requires a tax collector army that is 88 times greater than the one just 160 miles to the west.

“Ben Fischer, a professor of public service at Carnegie Mellon University, taught a graduate class in 2002 that studied the cost of local government in this region (Allegheny County). The students concluded that the elected tax collector system in Pennsylvania was one of the areas that could benefit greatly from coming into the 21st century.”

After concluding her research, Ms Belser wrote that the countywide tax collection systems used in Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and other states are more efficient operationally than the “polyglot of municipal offices here.”

And what about costs!

In her article, Ms. Belser points out that Franklin County, Ohio spends about $3 million to collect $1.25 billion a year, or two tenths of one percent of what brings in. In Allegheny County, Treasurer John Weinstein said his office spends about $4.5 million and collects countywide property taxes of roughly $300 million. On top of that, the City of Pittsburgh tax office spends about $2.6 million to collect $293 million in municipal and school property taxes. And the Pennsylvania figures don’t take into account the collection fees earned by each of the municipal tax collectors.

Michael Foreman, a local government policy specialist in the Center for Local Services for the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, told Ms. Belser that the local tax collection in Pennsylvania is “another example of the state’s fragmented, duplicative governments.” However, Mr. Foreman said it would take a change in the state law to authorize counties to collect all real estate taxes and he doubted if such a change would ever occur in Pennsylvania.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

Technology is wonderful. But all innovations are subject to malicious uses and there seems to be no limit to the depravity that can be unleashed by the demented human mind. For instance, little cameras – the type seen in spy movies – are now available to the general consumer. Such technology raises serious privacy concerns. Does the Criminal Code provide us any protection from the misuse of such technology? Sadly, the current answer is very little.

For instance, recently in Cumberland County, Robert Sullivan was arrested for “upskirting” – which involves the use of a camera to look up an unsuspecting woman’s skirt. Sullivan was caught using his camera phone in a mall cafeteria to look up a woman’s skirt. He was arrested and spent one day in jail. As a result of the current state of the Crimes Code, there was no specific offense prohibiting the conduct in question. Sullivan pled guilty to disorderly conduct and received no additional jail time.

Generally speaking, disorderly conduct is a general criminal statute that includes a variety of different conduct that generally serves no legitimate purposes. It is a third degree misdemeanor, punishable by only up to one year incarceration and a fine of $2,500. In terms of sentencing guidelines, it has the lowest offense gravity score applicable – in other words, although criminal, disorderly conduct is considered a very minor criminal offense. Imagine having to explain to a victim of “upskirting” that such conduct is really not considered to be a serious offense for sentencing purposes. It is hard enough for a victim to suffer through the privacy violation without being told that there is little the law can do to punish the offender.

We have all seen numerous examples of such egregious conduct. What about cameras in bathrooms or dressing rooms? Such incidents could involve countless unsuspecting victims. With the technological abilities of computers and the internets, the photographs could be disseminated throughout the world – further increasing the indignity and humiliation of the victims. In conducting research on this phenomenon, one commentator noted that the internet contains numerous websites promoting this phenomenon – and marketing it for profit.

In response to the indignities suffered by victims and the rising potential for such abusive use of technical equipment, the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association has been urging the Legislature to enact a specific privacy statute that would make is a crime to use electronic equipment to view, photograph, or film the private body parts of an unsuspecting victim for personal gratification. The Legislature has responded with a specific privacy act. Recently, House Bill 761 quickly moved through the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration by the entire Senate.

If the law passes, Pennsylvania will join 19 other states that have criminalized “upskirting.” The law will provide an important tool to law enforcement and prosecutors to combat the disgusting conduct. If interested in this issue, I would encourage you to contact your local legislator to solicit their continued support.

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 know I have an enlarged prostate. Is this a sign of cancer?

Most men with enlarged prostates don't develop prostate cancer, but there’s a lot more to this question.

The prostate is a walnut-size organ that surrounds the tube (urethra) that carries urine from the bladder. The urethra also transmits semen, which is a combination of sperm plus a fluid the prostate adds.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the term used to describe an enlarged prostate, which is common in men 50 and older. An enlarged prostate may squeeze the urethra, making it hard to urinate. It may cause dribbling after you urinate or a frequent urge to urinate, especially at night.

Some men with prostate cancer also have BPH, but that doesn't mean that the two conditions are always linked. However, because the early symptoms are the same for both conditions, you should see a doctor if you have these symptoms.

The following are other symptoms of prostate problems: blood in urine or semen, burning urination, difficulty getting an erection, painful ejaculation, frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips or upper thighs.

Treatment choices for BPH include:

Observation. If your symptoms don’t bother you a lot, your doctor may suggest that you delay treatment and come in for regular checkups.

Alpha-blockers. These are medicines that can relax muscles near the prostate and ease symptoms.

Finasteride (Proscar) acts on the male hormone (testosterone) to shrink the prostate.

Surgery. An operation can relieve symptoms, but it can cause complications.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among American men. Treatment for prostate cancer works best when the disease is found early.

In a physical exam, the doctor feels the prostate through the rectal wall. Hard or lumpy areas may mean that cancer is present.

Your doctor also may suggest a blood test to check your prostate specific antigen (PSA) level. PSA levels may be high in men who have an enlarged prostate gland or prostate cancer. PSA tests are very useful for early cancer diagnosis. But PSA test results alone do not always tell whether or not cancer is present.

When doctors suspect cancer, they also may perform a biopsy. Doctors can take out a small piece of the prostate and look at it under a microscope.

There are many options for treating prostate cancer:

Observation. If the cancer is growing slowly, you may decide to wait and watch.

Hormone therapy. This stops cancer cells from growing.

Surgery. There are several surgical options. These include radical prostatectomy or removal of the entire prostate, cryosurgery that kills the cancer by freezing it, radiation therapy to shrink tumors, and implant radiation that places radioactive seeds into the prostate. Surgery can lead to impotence and incontinence. Improvements in surgery now make it possible for some men to keep their sexual function.

If you have a question, please write to

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Straight From Starrucca

To all voters in Starrucca Borough: running for the town council on a write-in ticket are Bridgette D’Agati, Robert Weldy, Paul Everett, and Tony Palonis. Mary Debalko is on the ballot running for mayor as is Gail Williams, as Frank Mroczka is resigning.

Paul and Loreda Everett recently attended a beautiful wedding for friends of theirs in New York City. During his spare time he is scraping the paint on his house in preparation for a new coat.

Todd Hadden, Boyerstown, PA and grandson of Jane Downton, spent the weekend recently and attended the wedding of Brian Kelly and Tara Truskolaski.

Vincent Matta, Jr., son of Vincent and Andrea Matta will have his first confirmation along with about twenty other confirmees at St. John’s Catholic Church in Susquehanna, with the Bishop of the Scranton Diocese presiding at four p.m. Sunday, October 23. Reception will follow at the Matta home in Starrucca at six o’clock.

Chelsea Matta, a fifth grade student in Mr. Hall’s class has an interesting project to do. She is to contact and interview older folks who went to school in Susquehanna years ago to compare and contrast that with the school today. This is a project of the Historical Society integrated with the school.

Mr. and Mrs. Harry Weldy, Rising Sun, Maryland, were recent guests of Robert and Trish Weldy and girls.

A week ago last Saturday, Joy Mead, and her daughter, Karen Beam visited her other daughter, Chris Christianson at Indiantown Gap, PA. Later they enjoyed a trip through the Hershey plant at Hershey. Accompanying them were Marie Swartz and her granddaughter, Karlene. It was a very nice drive as the foliage in the mountains was at its height.


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Dear EarthTalk: Is it bad for the environment to dump clog removers like Drano down the drain? What are some alternatives to such products?

Cindy Jones, via e-mail

The active ingredient in Drano and other conventional drain cleaners is sodium hydroxide, otherwise known as caustic soda or lye. It is a man-made chemical used for its corrosive properties. According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the substance is not considered a pollutant per se, as it separates into relatively harmless component elements once released into water or moist soil.

But sodium hydroxide is an irritant that can burn skin and aggravate nose, throat and respiratory airways, so contact with it is best avoided. If ingested outright it will likely induce vomiting, as well as cause chest or abdominal pain and make swallowing difficult – so keep it well out of the reach of children.

For those who would rather avoid such chemicals entirely, safer alternatives do exist. A plunger or mechanical drain snake – along with a little elbow grease – can often free up clogs as well or better than sodium hydroxide compounds. One home remedy with a proven track record is to pour a handful of baking soda mixed with a half cup of vinegar down the drain, and follow it quickly with boiling water.

Another option is to choose any number of enzymatic biological drain cleaners on the market today, such as Earth Friendly Products’ Enzyme Drain Cleaner or Bi-O-Kleen’s BacOut. These make use of a natural bacterial and enzyme mixture to open and keep drains clear. And unlike sodium hydroxide they are non-caustic and will not facilitate combustion.

As any plumber will tell you, a good maintenance regimen is the best way to prevent clogged drains. Flushing drains weekly with boiling water can help keep them clear. Also, installing small screens atop drains will help keep hair, lint and other clogging elements out of the pipeline in the first place.

CONTACTS: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,; Earth Friendly Products,; Bi-O-Kleen,

Dear EarthTalk: What have been the environmental consequences of the Iraq War?

Katharine Biddle Barrette, Weston, CT

According to a report by the international environmental organization Greenpeace, the ecological damage from the 1990s Gulf War was “unprecedented.” More than two-dozen chemical, biological and possibly nuclear facilities were destroyed or badly damaged, dispersing airborne toxins over hundreds of surrounding miles. Bombing and troop movements ruined hundreds of square miles of fragile desert surface, while land mines killed and maimed not only humans but also many thousands of wild animals.

A United Nations mission in March 1991 found nearly half of Kuwait’s 1,330 active oil wells ablaze, releasing acrid smoke that spread hundreds of miles, causing substantial amounts of ensuing acid rain as well as respiratory and carcinogenic effects in humans accordingly. Many other wells were gushing oil: Some eight million barrels reached coastlines, and as many as 150 million barrels spilled onto the ground.

Fast forward to the present Iraq War: The U.S. military focused on securing Iraq’s oil wells at the outset, in light of past experience, and was more concerned about the potential environmental destruction from the release of chemical and biological agents or the detonation of weapons of mass destruction.

But while such fears proved unfounded, Iraqi citizens – not to mention allied soldiers – could suffer for decades to come from the effects of the use of weapons containing depleted uranium. Depleted uranium (DU) is a waste product of uranium enrichment for the production of nuclear fuel and weapons. Its density and high melting point make DU useful in various kinds of munitions, especially because it can penetrate tank armor. For the same reasons, it is also used in tank armor itself.

But when such munitions are expended into the field, the substance sticks around and can contaminate food and water supplies and surrounding landscapes. (The actual radiation given off by DU is slight, and not likely to cause any distress.) Human health effects linked to DU exposure include kidney damage, lung cancer and leukemia, although conclusive studies have not yet been conducted

An International Commission to Ban Uranium Weapons was formed in 2003 to try to convince military leaders to stop using DU. The group is currently collecting signatures for its online petition calling for a comprehensive prohibition on the production, possession and sale of DU weaponry. Some 190,000 sympathizers have signed on so far.

In a rare bit of good news from Iraq (environmental or otherwise), the country’s ancient marshlands, which were drained by Saddam Hussein in the 1990s as punishment against their occupants (most of the area’s 450,000 Shiite inhabitants had to flee), are back to almost 40 percent of their former level, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Since Saddam Hussein’s fall from power, the marshes have recovered at what researchers term a “phenomenal” rate.

CONTACTS: Greenpeace,; International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons,

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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Food For Thought

Did you know that before you raise your arm over your head, or bring your leg up in front of you, your abdominal muscles contract? Many times low back pain, or neck and shoulder pain result from weak abdominal muscles. We call the group of muscles that stabilize the low back and trunk the “core” muscles. They actually are the core of strength and stability for everyone.

Do you have to have a “six-pack” to have a strong core? Not necessarily. The core muscles need to be strong and toned. And you need to know how to use them correctly. Most people think they need to take a deep breath in and hold it when they exert force in lifting, or pushing or pulling. This is actually the best way to ensure that you will wind up with a hernia, or a ruptured disc. The way to stabilize the low back and trunk is to exhale and hold the abdominal muscles tightly inward, as if sticking the belly button to the back bone.

This position gives the most stability to the low back, and the most freedom of movement to the arms and legs. This position automatically moves the body into better posture also.

There are many forms of abdominal exercises: sit-ups, crunches, leg-lifts, leg-raises, side-crunches, twists, criss-cross crunches, ab rollers, etc. None of these are effective or beneficial if they are not performed properly. Proper form is essential to tone and strengthen the abs without injuring or straining the low back.

An easy way to start abdominal toning to lie on your back with your knees bent. Place the finger tips of both hands lightly on the abdomen. Breathe in normally, then exhale normally, and hold the exhale while tightening the abs inward. Hold for a couple of seconds. Use the hands to gently monitor the movement, making sure that the abs are pulled inward and not pushed outward. Repeat for three sets of ten. Gradually increase the hold time to eight to ten seconds.

This is a beginning ab strengthening exercise. It is the basis for all other ab and core strengthening exercises.

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