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Look For Our Up Coming CHRISTMAS SPECIAL Featured In The Dec. 21th Issue Of The Susquehanna County Transcript

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Issue Home November 15, 2005 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the D.A.
Straight From Starrucca

Earth Talk

100 Years Ago

LANESBORO: Jasper T. Jennings proposed a local textbook for the school and home based on the geography and history of Susquehanna County. His answer for who was the first settler in Oakland? “Jonathan Bennett, who came in 1788. In 1785 a party of surveyors passed through this locality in the employ of a Pennsylvania land agent. They found six small wigwams standing on the river flat, near where the abutment of the old Lanesboro bridge was afterwards built. They were marked on the draft survey to designate an old Indian village of the Tuscaroras. A few years later the half decayed poles of those wigwams were found by Mr. Westfield, one of the early settlers. Jonathan Bennett, who was the first pioneer to locate in Oakland, remained but a short time, when he removed to another location below Great Bend. Other early settlers were Wm. Smith, John Stid, Nathaniel Lewis and Isaac Hale, the celebrated hunter, who bought Jonathan Bennett’s improvement, and in 1791 lived on the south side of the river.”

SPRINGVILLE: Mrs. Eva Woodhouse and her mother were pleasantly entertained at the home of Olin Risley last Friday. Mrs. Woodhouse is 84 years of age and this was a great privilege to go back to spend the day in what was once her old home.

MONTROSE: Rogers’ meat market is utilizing its lately purchased gasoline engine in furnishing motive power to run their sausage cutting machine and bone-grinder. The latter machine grinds the bones, which would otherwise be of little value, into small bits, so that it makes good food for poultry and sells readily to chicken raisers. AND: Now that winter is approaching those unsightly ash piles are commencing to make their appearance, not only in the center of the town but on the outskirts as well. There is a borough ordinance with a penalty prohibiting the disposition of ashes in this manner on the street. Our citizens we hope will respect the same.

ARARAT: The robbery of two weeks ago, in which the home of Eli Avery was broken in to by six masked burglars and $800 in cash stolen, is again brought into prominence by the capture of one of the alleged burglars--LeRoy Ballard. Ballard was arrested by Constable Fred Empet, upon information given by Eli Avery, who claims to recognize him as one of those who entered his dwelling on the night of Nov. 6. Ballard was working in the field when taken. Sufficient evidence was found against him to cause the justice to commit him, without bail, to the county jail, pending the action of the grand jury. It is stated that other arrests are to follow.

HOPBOTTOM: The Willing Workers will serve a chicken pie dinner in the M. E. church Thanksgiving Day, and in the evening will serve supper, after which a fine entertainment will be given for the small sum of 10 cents. The Kingsley cornet band will furnish music.

THOMPSON: We have an up-to-date meat market in town and four meat wagons from out of town coming in once or twice a week. Who wonders that consumers are paying the highest prices for meat.

UNIONDALE: We people of Uniondale, patrons of school, Sunday school and library, would like to ask a question. What is the matter with the correspondent from Uniondale? We should judge from the tenor of his news for the last three weeks, that instead of, as he says he did “in the good old times go to school six days in the week, and from daylight to dark,” it would have been an advantage to him to have gone the seventh day also.

ST. JOSEPH: Geo. Mack, of the Montrose Republican, and writer of miscellaneous matters for Catholic papers, accompanied by his sister, Miss Katherine, attended Mass here Sunday, and were guests at Matt. Griffin’s during the day. Mr. Mack also visited the old farmhouse, owned by his grandfather, the late George Griffin. He had not been there before in 25 years.

BROOKLYN: The great attraction of the season, for which people are seemingly waiting, is the Thanksgiving fair and chicken pie dinner on Thanksgiving Day. AND: The Old Folks’ Concert given by the Universalist choir was certainly a unique affair.

GREAT BEND: Bricklayers and carpenters are at work repairing the A. L. Reckhow block. P. L. Leahey, who was burned out, is now located in the Kistler block and has a neat barber shop. His regret is that he was obliged to move too fast, but likes his new quarters. Postcards of the fire at the Plaindealer’s office. AND: Great Bend needs a good drug store, F. E. Sands will not re-open but will devote his time to the one in Hallstead.

SOUTH GIBSON: On Friday afternoon, Nov. 3d, a hunter on the hills saw the chimney of H. D. Pickering’s house on fire and after shooting his gun several times as an alarm, hastened toward the house, but in the mean time, A. J. Wickwire and a friend were on the street and ran in and up the stairs where they found Mrs. Alvira Pickering lying on the floor in a state of suffocation, from which she died at 9 o’clock the next morning. Nearly everything was extinguished by the bucket brigade. Mr. Pickering was on his way to Thompson and Mrs. Pickering was at a furniture store, thus leaving Grandma Pickering alone. She recovered enough to tell how it was, saying that she smelled smoke and went up stairs to investigate. Finding the house on fire around the chimney she returned with water and on entering the room was overcome by the smoke and sank down on the floor where she was found with her feet nearly in the fire. Mrs. Pickering was formerly Miss Alvira Payne and was brought up on what is now called “Tinker Hill” in Clifford township. She was 70 years of age last April and was a school teacher and a good musician in her earlier years. She was a great reader, keeping up with the times as long as she lived. She was the mother of undertaker H. D. Pickering of this place with whom she resided and of Mrs. Wick Pope, of Gelatt. The funeral was held at the house on Monday. Interment in lower cemetery.

NEWS BRIEF: Winter pounced down upon us, like a “wolf upon the fold,” with remarkable suddenness and severity, this week. Tuesday morning the thermometer stood 10 above zero and it was reported as only 5 above in Dimock. It was a great shock to the people, many of whom were unprepared. AND: A physician long in the field of practice says that you can keep a cellar dry by opening the north window and keeping the other windows closed. The wind from any other direction of the compass will cause the cellar to remain damp.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Dedication and Education Wins Elections

One of the first assignments I covered after I was appointed political editor of the Morris County (NJ) Daily Record (Morristown Daily Record) in the early 1960s was a Democratic political rally in the county. In those days, Republicans ruled the county with an iron fist while Democrats searched annually for sacrificial lambs to fill the party’s ticket.

There were only a handful of faithful Democrats at the rally and, if my memory serves me right, not all the candidates for state and county offices showed up. But there was one candidate who didn't let the 100-1 odds against him deter his enthusiasm and his belief that he could make a difference.

His name is not important because the incumbent Republican candidate he was opposing won by a lopsided margin as did all the Republican candidates for county and state offices. Such widely known Republicans as state Senator Tom Hillery and state Assemblymen Joe Maraziti and Harry Sears were in like worn shoes.

There was one part of that Democratic candidate’s speech that impressed me and prompted me to lead with it in my column for the next day. This guy knew there was no way in hell that he could win the election. Tom Hillery’s annual clambake attracted more Republicans than the total number of Democrats that voted in the election.

I don’t remember it verbatim, but permit me to paraphrase what I do recall from that man’s outstanding dedication to his candidacy and his political party.

“I believe I have a better program for improving our state than my opponent. I further believe that the principles of our political party cater more to the average American wage earner than my opponent’s political party. And I believe the day will come when the Democratic Party will elect county and state candidates in Morris County, New Jersey. Will this be our year? Probably not! But we owe the Democratic Party in this county something better than a cheerless and depressing campaign!”

The small crowd went wild and it wasn't long before the hard work by the party faithful led to the election of the county’s first Democratic Freeholder (the equivalent of our county commissioners), and then to state offices.

By contrast, the Democratic Party in Susquehanna County is practically nonexistent. With the exception of an annual steak bake and a couple of other insignificant events, there is no effort by the party leaders to sponsor candidates for elective office on the state , county or even the municipal levels. The concept of an open primary is not working as evidenced by the fact if there are three candidates for county commissioner, invariably the Democrats split the vote three ways. Again, there is no effort by party leaders to rally rank and file Democrats behind two candidates for commissioner. As we have said so many times in the past, county Democrats are satisfied with having one minority commissioner.

A glance at some of the numbers in Tuesday’s election shows that 68 percent of the Republicans that went to the polls voted straight party while only 32 percent of the Democrats voted straight party. There’s a message in those results.

On the municipal level, crossing party lines is understandable because in our county, we all live in small towns and know most everyone so we select by our individual evaluation of the candidates as opposed to their party affiliations. But on the county and state levels, it is the responsibility of the respective political parties to make every effort to endorse qualified candidates and urge party voters to support them.

As for last Tuesday’s election results, they are not official but you will find them in this edition of The Transcript.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

A group of parents recently challenged a survey conducted by an elementary school in California that asked 7 through 10 year olds questions regarding sexual knowledge and thought. In particular, the survey asked these young children to rate how often they had the following thoughts or emotions: (1) touching my private parts too much; (2) thinking about having sex; (3) thinking about other person’s private parts; (4) thinking about sex when I don’t want to; (5) washing myself because I feel dirty on the inside; (6) not trusting people because they might want to have sex; (7) getting scared or upset when I think about sex; (8) having sex feelings in my body; and (9) can’t stop thinking about sex. Remember, these questions were aimed at children between 7 and 10 years of age! The parents informed that a survey was being conducted to evaluate the emotional health of their children, asked to consent to their child’s participation, but were never informed of the sexual nature of some of the questions. After children began to come home complaining and asking questions of their parents concerning the survey, a group of parents brought an action seeking to stop the school district from forcing their children to participate in such a survey, contending that the school district was usurping the parents’ constitutionally protected right to raise and rear their children.

There is no dispute that parents have a fundamental right, protected by the United States Constitution, to control the education and upbringing of their children. The parents argued that the decision to conduct such a sexually explicit survey of third through fifth graders undermined the ability of parents to control and monitor the exposure that their young children have to sexual references. In other words, the parents did not want their children subjected to such questioning at the tender ages of 7 to 10.

In Fields v. Palmdale School District, the Ninth Circuit had to concede that parents have a fundamental right to raise and rear their children. In considering that fundamental right, the court stated such a right did not “afford parents a right to compel public schools to follow their idiosyncratic views as to what information the schools may disperse. Parents have a right to inform their children when and as they wish on the subject of sex; they have no constitutional right, however, to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.” In considering the complaint by the parents to exposing such young children to sexual material, the Ninth Circuit stated “there is no reason to distinguish that concern from any of the countless moral, religious, or philosophical objections that parents might have to other decisions of the School District – whether those objections regard information concerning guns, violence, the military, gay marriage, racial equality, slavery, the dissection of animals, or the origins of life.”

Put aside the obvious question – what school board would approve such a ridiculous survey – and focus upon the more disturbing aspect of the opinion. The Ninth Circuit concludes that parents have no say in determining how and when their children are exposed to sexual material in the public school system. If the school district deems it appropriate, then to heck with the desire of the parents to shield their young children from such material.

You may recall that several weeks ago I did an article concerning a federal lawsuit challenging the ability of a school district to teach “intelligent design” to science students as an alternate or supplemental theory to evolution. The case itself is not concluded, and everyone is awaiting the decision of the court. The court may very well determine that “intelligent design” theory is a masked religious theory, and therefore unconstitutional in a public school science curriculum. Is it logical to prohibit the teaching of “intelligent design,” but then allow a school district to survey 7 year olds regarding their sexual thoughts?

Where will this road lead us? Remember, the Ninth Circuit is the same court that ripped “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Why does an atheist parent challenging the Pledge of Allegiance prevail under the Constitution, while a parent objecting on moral grounds for violation of their fundamental rights under the same Constitution utterly fail. I do not know where this road will lead – only one thing is certain: children in the Ninth Circuit are now saying an abbreviated Pledge of Allegiance without reference to God, which, of course, will leave the third through fifth graders with more time to fill out questionnaires concerning their sexual thoughts, emotions and desires. Perhaps this is the exact road that the Ninth Circuit wants us to travel.

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

Election results as printed in “The Weekly Almanac,” Tuesday, November 10 were: Mayor Andrew Bennett received 50 write-in votes against Mary Ann DeBalko (34). Council (4-year term): Frederick Rhone 62, Kirk Rhone 62, Donald Haynes, Jr. 59. Council (2-year term): Anthony Palonis 63, Robert Buck 61.

The Spirited Senior Citizens met Wednesday, November 9 and partially planned the Christmas cookie meeting, to be the only one in December, on the 8th. January, February and March meetings will be at the call of the president, Joy Mead. Come to the Christmas dinner, bring a plate of cookies to give to shut-ins. Also bring a dish for the buffet.

Ralph Hadden, Boyertown, PA spent the weekend with his mother-in-law, June Downton. Also Donald Kurz, Port Washington, Long Island. The Kurz family were neighbors at one time.

Some building going on Starrucca, and Marie Gurske tells me their home is finished and is very proud of it. The Gurske’s own the former Strong mansion in town.

The Martins have a new front porch.

Andy Bennett and family purchased the former Harry French home and are busy doing some remodeling.

Donnie Haynes and workmen are working night and day, it seems, to get a new house built on the site of the old one that burned down.

The former home of Mildred Kaiser has been given a new look by the present owner.

I hope they all have the work finished by the time severe cold weather rolls around.


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Dear EarthTalk: How do “affinity” credit cards work that donate a percent of your purchases to environmental organizations?

Clifford Koufman, Portland, OR

“Affinity” programs were developed by credit card companies in an effort to attract more customers by associating their cards with other businesses or organizations. While consumers may be more familiar with such programs that allow them to build up discount points with retailers and car companies or frequent flier miles with airlines, non-profit organizations are increasingly getting into the game by putting their logos on credit cards and garnering a small percentage of every sale.

Consumers like such programs because they can contribute to the charitable causes of their choice through the shopping they are already doing. Charities like them because they reap donations with hardly any effort. And credit card companies benefit by gaining access and marketing to millions of potential new customers.

Plastic-wielding environmental advocates can choose credit cards benefiting the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Humane Society of the U.S., National Audubon Society and Wilderness Society, among many others. The credit card companies usually donate one half of one percent to the non-profit for every purchase, balance transfer or cash advance. Typically, the groups also get a donation for each new cardholder they sign up and for each renewal.

Some 55,000 card-carrying members of the Sierra Club have donated more than $1 million to the group since it started its affinity program in 1986. And the Humane Society of the U.S. reports that its decade-old affinity credit card program with MBNA has accounted for donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from 37,000 account holders.

Working Assets is another affinity program worth considering for anyone who wants a portion of their consumer dollar to help environmental and other charitable causes. The company, according to its website, has generated over $47 million for nonprofits since it began in 1985, helping such organizations as Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Oxfam America and Human Rights Watch. The company's long distance and wireless phone services also donate to nonprofits and allow their customers to have a say as to which organizations receive donations and how much.

Consumer advocates warn, though, that racking up credit card debt is not economically responsible even if payments benefit charities. And customers should beware that affinity cards usually have higher interest rates than other cards. Also, savvy marketers have realized that pasting scenic photos of forests, mountains or wildlife on credit cards can attract more customers even without a specific donation-based affinity tie.

Websites such as and can help potential customers see the forest for the trees when it comes to signing up for credit cards, affinity-based or otherwise.

CONTACTS: MBNA Cause-Related Credit Cards,; Working Assets,;,;,

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that toxins in some common childhood vaccines cause autism, and if so should I not have my children vaccinated?

Peter Fox, Brewer, ME

Researchers studying neurological disorders in children have zeroed in on thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative once common in vaccines, as a potential culprit in the rise of autism cases in recent years. Preservatives like thimerosal are used to prevent infection in the event that a dose is accidentally contaminated. Due to recent heightened concerns over the potential effects of mercury on child brain development, though, most vaccines for U.S. children under the age of six no longer contain thimerosal.

The issue received considerable attention following a June 2005 Rolling Stone article entitled “Deadly Immunity,” by environmental lawyer and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Kennedy claims that federal officials covered up proven scientific links between thimerosal and a 15-fold increase in autism cases since 1991. At that time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had recommended that three additional vaccines containing thimerosal be given to infants.

“More than 500,000 kids currently suffer from autism, and pediatricians diagnose more than 40,000 new cases every year,” says Kennedy. “The disease was unknown until 1943, when it was identified and diagnosed among 11 children born in the months after thimerosal was first added to baby vaccines.”

Due to the concerns of Kennedy and thousands of like-minded parents, vaccine manufacturers have begun to phase thimerosal out of injections given to American infants. Unfortunately, though, they have continued to export their back stock of tainted vaccines to developing countries, according to Kennedy. For instance, autism was virtually unknown in China prior to the introduction of thimerosal by U.S. drug makers in 1999; today approximately 1.8 million Chinese children suffer from the disorder. Even so, industry groups complain that a direct link between autism and thimerosal has not been definitively proven.

To be safe, parents may want to ask their pediatrician if the vaccines he or she uses contain thimerosal. Some flu and tetanus shots containing thimerosal are still given to pre-teens in the U.S., although preservative-free versions are usually available upon request. The FDA provides a listing on its website of common children’s vaccines and their thimerosal content, if any, and also lists thimerosal-free alternatives.

Parents who are considering not vaccinating their children at all should know that this is a hotly debated topic – and this column is in no position to recommend a course of action. Most medical professionals argue that vaccines have saved more lives than any other kind of medical intervention and recommend their use to guard against such diseases as polio, diphtheria, rubella, hepatitis B and many others. On the other hand, critics believe that the medical benefits of vaccines are exaggerated and that negative reactions owed to toxic chemical ingredients in many vaccines have been grossly under-reported.

CONTACTS: CDC Mercury and Vaccines Page,; FDA “Thimerosal in Vaccines” Information,; “Deadly Immunity,” has-
player=true&version= Wikipedia Vaccines Page,

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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