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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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Sincere Thanks

A sincere thank you to all the sponsors, fans, parents, coaches and players who made the sixth annual Tony Aliano Tournament another success for girls’ basketball! We all look forward to next year!


The Susquehanna Lady Sabers Booster Club

Counting The Uncountable

Suppose you saw an advertisement for the exact car you wanted at an unbelievably cheap price. Intrigued but suspicious you went to the showroom. Sure enough, there it was as advertised: brand new, loaded and with a bumper-to-bumper guarantee. You gladly pay the price, but just as you are ready to drive it away the salesman says "Sorry, sir, you can't do that. This car has no engine or transmission. They're extra." The ad you read was truthful, yet it was deceptive. Two thousand, one hundred forty-two American soldiers killed in action, this too is truthful yet equally deceptive.

KIA – killed in action – is an acronym that is familiar to almost everyone. Not too long ago (10/21/05) it made nation-wide news when it topped 2,000. At this is being written (12/11/05) the count is 2,142. You can update this easily. This year the average number of American troops killed each month is 70 or 2.3/day. To calculate the next big media number subtract 2,142 from 2,500. Divide this by 2.3 to obtain 155 days. Starting from December 11, this takes us to May 12. The arithmetic of death is simple. (Approximately 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed.)

WIA – wounded in action – while not so familiar is one that can easily be deduced from the three letters, but it is seldom in the news. According to the Department of Defense (DOD) the number is 16,000 as of 11/05. Add 500/month to keep it up-to-date. (An estimated 43,000 Iraqi civilians have been wounded.)

Her Legs Blown Off

Ladda Duckworth is one of those 16,000. She was a helicopter pilot in Iraq. Ladda regained consciousness in a hospital to discover that her legs were blown off when a rocket blasted her Black Hawk helicopter. The number of WIA who have lost one or more limbs in Iraq is more than 400.

DNBI – disease and non-battle injuries – a third category remains undeciphered by the public and never reported in the media. According to the DOD it is 15,000. But some military analysts dispute this figure. They claim that the DOD is under reporting the number least the public becomes fully aware and alarmed at the true cost of war. According to the military's own definition, a casualty is anyone "lost to the organization." Using this definition the number jumps to 20-30,000.

Noncombatant injuries include crushing bone fractures, spinal injuries, heart problems and psychiatric cases. Joel Gomez was one of these 15,000. Gomez won a wrestling scholarship to college but the war interrupted his education. While on duty Gomez was run over by a truck. He is now a quadriplegic.

Started Drinking, Stopped Sleeping

Graham Alstrom is another DNBI. He was sent home for psychological reasons but is unable to leave Iraq behind. "Some of them I shot. Some of them I blew up with grenades. Some of them were stabbed," he says in a monotone, lifeless voice. When he got home he started drinking and stopped sleeping. He has tried to kill himself twice.

PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – the injuries here are emotional but no less severe than a physical wound. A few of the score of symptoms under this umbrella category are insomnia, chronic irritability, violent outbreaks, nightmares, depression and extreme physical listlessness and emotional numbness.

The number of PTSD victims is estimated to comprise 25% of Iraqi veterans, that's 175,000. Although many of these cases are mild an unknown number are severely debilitating. Obscuring this statistic even more is the fact that symptoms may not appear for years.

Violent Outburst

Daniel Cotnoir was assigned duty in a mortuary unit. His duty was to collect the scattered pieces of fallen comrades for DNA identification and reassemblage. One year after discharge he opened up on a crowd with his shotgun wounding two. He's in jail now. "Do you think I was wrong?" he wonders.
PSH – post-service hardship – is an acronym I have devised. It includes veterans whose marriages did not survived their service, families whose homes were lost because servicemen were not financially able to keep up with the mortgage payments, soldiers whose jobs were taken by others, and many more whose lives will be forever altered.

KIA is such a precise number. It is always exact, a whole number with ne'er a tagging fraction. It is even predictable reaching 2,500 by May 12, as we have calculated.

But the other causalities will go unnoticed: a young woman with half her body torn away, a champion wrestler who will live out the rest of his life on a slab, the horribly burned and facially disfigured, the emotionally traumatized, the economically destitute – they will neither be remembered nor counted. These, the unquantifiable, are the detritus of battle, the flotsam and jetsam of combat. They are but part of the human wreckage of war. They are the uncountable.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Who’s The Real Grinch?

In memory going back well over four decades, I recall the common use of phrases like “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays.” Nobody made an issue of it. It was understood to be inclusive, not only to encompass both Christmas and New Year’s, but increasingly of the many people who are not Christian.

This year we’ve been treated to the odd spectacle of very unmerry Religious Rightists denouncing these innocuous phrases, as if they’re something totally new. They’re making outlandish claims of some sinister leftist plot to stamp out Christmas. Stores that use the offending phrase “Happy Holidays” have been threatened with boycotts. Public schools are pressured to knuckle under. Even their idol, George W. Bush, has been scolded for his seasonal card. I guess even he is not allowed to lapse into being President of all the people, for once in his religiously biased tenure.

What do the Christmas crybabies think they’re accomplishing here? It looks like they want to force people to acknowledge Christmas. But would that ever be enough for them? While they’re at it, they should insist on banning all familiar seasonal songs that also fail to use the word “Christmas,” like “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” (written in Honesdale). Next, move on to banning songs that do mention Christmas, but only mention it, without explicitly referring to the Christian plan of salvation (which they tediously need to plug, incessantly). Where would it all end? At a burning stake, I’d say. Compulsory acknowledgement of Christmas is a small step away from compulsory “acceptance of Jesus.”

Despite sensationalistic titles like “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Bain [it] is Worse Than You Thought” (John Gibson, Fox News Channel), there is no such plot. I’m an unwavering secularist when it comes to public policy, and I’ll be celebrating Christmas with my family. I know of no such plot. But I do know what’s really going on here. The nonsense about a “plot against Christmas” is designed to serve two purposes:

1) To open a new front in the silly “Culture War” that they declared, and seem to be the only ones actively fighting, and

2) To raise money for far-right organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund, which they’ll use not to save endangered Christmas, but to advance the cause of Theocracy (“The worst type of government” – C.S. Lewis).

Instead of them blasting well-intentioned people for using an inclusive phrase, these politically motivated schemers deserve to be denounced for using Christmas as a weapon to attack others. It is they who insult the holiday, not secularists.

Ironically, these fanatics are the spiritual, even blood descendants of the folks who actually DID ban Christmas in the 17th century – those fun-loving Puritans. I guess it’s a sign of progress that they’re no longer bent out of shape about it being actually a borrowed, pagan celebration. Getting a token shout out to Jesus must mean that much to them. But in revealing their irresistible urge toward compulsion, present-day Puritans run true to type.

Mr. Scroggins’ letter last week not only parroted their message, but he portrayed it as emblematic of the alleged suppression of Christianity by the (evil) Supreme Court.

This is pure piffle! I ask one and all: has anyone blockaded your church to prevent you from entering? Has the Bible been banned? Have you been prevented from discussing your religious views? No? then stop whining!

Scroggins is not alone in his ignorance of the fact that Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation” was held by the Court to be an authoritative expression of original intent. This was in the Reynolds decision of 1879, so it’s not some recent miscarriage of justice.

Scroggins cited the 1961 decision that removed prayer and devotional Bible reading from the public (government) schools. This violates no one’s rights; rather, it empowers individuals to choose their own beliefs, and protects the rights of parents to raise their children according to their own tradition. Public schools are not authorized, for their captive audience, to choose beliefs for them. Despite this and subsequent decisions, children have always been free to pray anytime, privately, and it is still legal for schools to teach, objectively about the Bible, but government-selected devotionals or creeds are beyond its purview.

Free exercise of religion does not include taking over the government and using it for evangelistic purposes. That violates the equal rights of others, and preventing you from doing this does not prevent you from properly practicing your religion. But Fundamentalists expect the government to endorse and favor their persuasion, and when they haven’t gotten their way, they’ve acted like babies. We’re seeing that now. I say it’s time for a spanking, and a time out.

Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA

County Observations

Non Union county employees will be required to contribute $150 per month for health care in 2006. Whereas Union employees will continue to receive free health care. It appears that the non union employees don’t have a union to protect them so they are being unfairly treated.

Approximately three years ago a meeting was held in Wyoming County to address the Susquehanna County communications problems with Fire Departments, EMTs, and Police. Little or no progress has been made to remedy the problems. (I believe the first priority of the commissioners is public safety within the county.) The county denies money for their needs and yet we all trust the three groups with our lives and property.

Budgets normally are approved to control spending by the county. I now hear that large sums of money can be spent, even if its for non emergency use. Maybe budgets are now only a tool for raising taxes.

I was shocked to hear that the complaint of an employee about another employee was discounted because it was only cited by one person. It must be only in higher government that someone is recognized for trying to correct a problem.

It’s time to seriously think about the next commissioner election. Since they will receive lifetime health care after only eight years, I think they must be replaced after one term. I know that there is one or more individual(s) willing to do the job without health care being paid by the county. (Being a commissioner is a part time job.)


Tom Jurista

Silver Lake Township

Tax Dollars At Work?

On the 14th of December I attended the Commissioner’s meeting and was surprised by the manner with the deportment of our elected officials. I have raised two sons and four daughters who in turn have a total of sixteen children. Never have I heard such bickering as I heard that day!

The most important bone of contention was the fifty thousand dollars removed from the budget for the benefiting the county’s 911 coverage. This has been in need for many years and the commissioners have been aware of this need for at least two. Commissioner Kelly kept repeating that more time was needed. When my father died I performed CPR on him for twenty minutes waiting for an ambulance. In the twenty-five years since his death, the county’s 911 coverage still has much the same radio coverage problems. As a volunteer fireman and fire police officer, I recognize the need and am naturally in support of this funding. This petty bickering between the commissioners is now affecting the quality of life of our residents.

Secondly, the commissioners were informed that different employees of the county were afraid to bring problems to the fore. Due to the loss of so many department heads and other employees, through perceived commissioner intimidation, they fear for their jobs. Commissioner Warren referred to the problem as if it didn’t exist. I informed the commissioners that I have talked recently with two employees, and one (no longer an employee) a couple of months ago, who stated that they dared not say anything for exactly that reason. I also impressed upon them that they needed to correct the problem so that they can put their efforts to the benefit of the county, rather than fearing their employment.

Finally, having received an email, from Commissioner Loomis, that Ms. O’Malley had recommended the commissioners pay C&D Waterproofing the final funds due for the completion of the Civil War Monument, I again informed them of the work that was not completed. Commissioner Kelley made several facial expressions as if these items were news to her. On several occasions I pointed out the remaining six tablets in need of repair, the cannons not stripped, with the wrong paint and color, as well as C&D’s questionable explanation that the mottled discoloration, which hasn’t changed in over a year, will eventually fade.

The antics and bickering were laughable according to the gentleman sitting beside me. He said, “Television isn’t as good as our tax dollars at work.” I would agree if it were not for the fact that these are the people entrusted with the welfare of the folks in the county. I would also remind them that they cannot continue their attitude of “my way or the highway” and that compromise in the best interests of the county is sometimes necessary.


Fred B. Baker, II

Meshoppen, PA

Who Says The Blessing?

Barbara Shaw? No one in the area of East Lake or New Milford seems to know her or be able to verify her attack on The Camp at Eastlake and Mr. Scott Young (“Eastlake Is A Blessing”) dated September 14, 2005. Let’s get it straight!

I was there, in court, when supervisor Gulick stated under oath that SEO Fortuner’s testimony before Judge Seamans in October, 2004 was, in fact, not true. It was this testimony that the injunction of October, 2004 was based on. The same SEO changed his mind in court, from having seen raw sewage and feces to having smelled what he thought was sewage. Standing next to an open, empty septic tank, is it any wonder that he smelled something? Really! I know, I was there with him for the entire 15 minutes that he spent investigating the “7000 gallons of raw sewage,” according to Barbara Shaw! In fact, there was none, unless you consider the 6700 gallons of raw sewage anonymously reported by two key eyewitnesses for the township, Mr. Gentilquore and Ms. Rifenburgh. These two have since been identified in court by numerous witnesses as having purposely dumped their own camper sewage and provided pictures to aid the SEO in the fine art of turning crap into gold. They later were allowed use of a non permitted, illegal sewage system for their four campers, arranged by a “creative sewage repair permit” issued by Fortuner!

As to Barbara Shaw’s misinformed permitting information, I was there when Mr. Young offered to obtain yet another permit from SEO Fortuner, after Fortuner refused to recognize the previous sewage permit issued to the camp by the township. I heard the president of the East Lake Conservation Association testify that the township supervisors told him that everything was in order around the same time that the previous permit was issued. Now, eight years later, with Fortuner as SEO, the township has attempted to revoke the permit which they previously approved. If the permit is revoked, guess what? That creates yet another trumped-up violation of not having a permit. Why the property owners of this area are putting up with this is beyond me! They ought to show up and speak up to defend their rights! The Salem Sewage Witch Hunt the Young’s are fighting could happen to anyone.
I could maybe understand the Shaw lady’s confusion, leading to over 60 falsely-stated inaccuracies in her letter of September 14. I, too was deceived when the judge reinstated the injunction and shut the camp down again, on August 9, 2005 based on SEO Fortuner’s requested laboratory test results showing fecal coliform in a road sample. Oh! That’s bad, right? The judge apparently believed this was a violation, too! Come to find out, fecal coliform is naturally occurring in the environment, and in this case was coming from the rain gutter storm water. Yet, attorney Giangrieco’s office claimed that “clearly” the septic system at East Lake Camp was polluting and malfunctioning! Clever, Fortuner manipulation, or ignorance? What a hoax! Township taxpayers’ legal costs are upwards of $40,000 for this smoke and mirrors act, but payments to Fortuner are unknown as of 11/22/05, since attorney Giangrieco’s office claims, pursuant to that request, the township doesn’t have any information the public has a right to know! What? Who do they think they are? When I voted, I believed they represent “the public.” Do they not?

So you see, things aren’t always as they seem, and it ain’t over until the Fat Lady sings! What has been 15 months of a get rich ride for this guy Fortuner and the attorneys, and the ruining of a good thing in this community, has got to stop! At one point the supervisors even voted to pay themselves for their time in court. Rumor was Buzz Gulick wanted $25 per hour to sit while paying witnesses only $5 per day to attend! No more “giving the blessing” to legally extort the taxpayer dollars and the Young’s rights and livelihood. Call 'em and tell 'em, enough! The camp at Eastlake is a positive cash flow, economic asset to the area and the owners believe in supporting and contributing largely to the community. For eight years they have personally been picking up trash and garbage on the roads, including Rte. I 81, despite being verbally trashed in the community by the local Dept. of Highway officials. I was instructed to only buy materials at the local stores for the last eight years. I haven’t seen any of these merchants come forward in support, yet I’m still told to shop locally because it’s good for the community.

I was there. You see, I’m the maintenance man. I was there, too when the county required the camp to address sewage and development planning, and then chose not to uphold their own ordinance when the Flying J advertised and attracted overnight camping, which took 40% of the Young’s business. Supervisor Buzz Gulick said he wasn’t going to enforce the ordinances (sewage, public health and safety) for the sake of Scott Young and his business. Now, there’s a clear message! Selective enforcement? Scott Young didn’t sue the county then. He tried to get along by changing his business plan to attract more long-term campers and it was a lot of work and investment. I know, because I was there and now that very change is being attacked as not part of the county approvals!
Where does it end? It ends when people like Sewage Enforcement Officer Michael Fortuner (New Milford Township) stop regulating, betraying the public trust, intimidating to increase their monetary gain by increasing their “violation” game (directly proportional!) and good people like Scott Young and others stand up and say enough!

I urge every free thinking resident to go to the meetings, call the supervisors, and come to court December 21, at 1:00 p.m. Wake up! The threat to liberty isn’t just over in Iraq, it’s right here folks. Who says the blessing? God Bless, that’s who.


Dale Buck

New Milford, PA

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