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Look For Our Up Coming
Featured In Our Jan. 18th Issue Of The Susquehanna County Transcript

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Issue Home January 3, 2006 Site Home

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

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

100 Years Ago

UNIONDALE: The union Christmas tree held at the Presbyterian church was a grand success. It showed very evidently that all the children in Uniondale are of the very best, for Santa Claus fetched so many beautiful presents to them and greeted them with such a hearty hand shake. It goes to show that it pays to be good. And then those two ladies who sang a hymn and the young ladies dressed in white acting off the piece was very nice, and the other little girls and boys did so nicely with their pieces, and then little Master Johnson brought the house down with hand clapping with his master speech. It would be well enough to say that this little fellow lives in Scranton and is grand son of H. H. Lewis, of Uniondale.

GREAT BEND: The section of history written on Great Bend by Jasper T. Jennings, in his Geography and History of Susquehanna County, relates that in 1787 Ozias Strong built the first log cabin and made the first clearing near the present river bridge between Great Bend and Hallstead. He was probably the first actual settler in the County, though other settlers came about the same time to Lanesboro and Brooklyn. Binghamton was also settled the same year. This was only 9 years after the memorable Wyoming massacre, and many traces of the Indians were seen in different localities. The Tuscarora Indians inhabited Susquehanna county, and the Delawares the region about Deposit and along the Delaware river. Apple trees were found growing at Great Bend, Lanesboro, and a considerable orchard at the Windsor flats a few miles up the river in New York State. Flint arrowheads and stone sinkers, used by the Indians in fleeing were found in considerable numbers along the river at Great Bend and an Indian burying round was found here. Years afterward a stone pestle with a beautifully carved head of a squirrel upon it was found in Bridgewater.

SUSQUEHANNA: Mr. Jennings related that the first hotel in Susquehanna was built by Elliot Benson and it was called The Harmony House. The first stores were opened by James M. Ward, Smith & McKune, L. S. Page and James Bell. The first Erie passenger train passed through on its way to Binghamton in 1848. The first school, the old "Pine Tree School House" was built in 1850, near the present Methodist Church. The most serious event recorded in the history of Susquehanna is probably the great strike of 1874. Locomotives were taken from trains and all business stopped. Troops were called out and, though war was threatened, the trouble was finally settled.

ARARAT: Thieves are still at work, notwithstanding the fact that a few suspicious characters are at present rusticating at Hotel Brush, in Montrose. There seems to be a remnant left, however, to loot unguarded cellars and keep bread from spoiling. Thieves entered the cellar of Nelson Stone last week and carried away a quantity of pork. It was all cut up, ready for salting, and it was all taken but the hams and shoulders. We presume they left those to be pickled and smoked before they take them. Two houses were searched in an effort to locate it, but without results. People who are cunning enough to steal are cunning enough to be cunning, so the barren results of the search isn't altogether reassuring.

HARFORD: There seems to be an increasing demand for gasoline power, and happening on a Harford street a recent day and hearing the detonations of a gasoline engine, we thought we would investigate. We found it to be a fine Fairbands Morse engine, running as regularly as a clock, and working a cutting machine at the barn of U. J. Jackson’s. Mr. Jackson has the agency, we understand, for these machines. People interested in this form of power will enjoy seeing it.

LITTLE MEADOWS: There was a very pleasant dance held at the Little Meadow’s Hall on Tuesday evening last.

BRIDGEWATER: A rather exciting but fortunate ending accident occurred at E. Bridgewater on New Years Day. Walter Oakley, of Scranton, had been visiting his sister, Mrs. Horton Reynolds, and in the latter part of the afternoon Mr. Reynolds sent his little daughter, Arleen and a lady visitor to take him to his train at Alford. In returning they lost control of the horse, which descended a hill at a rapid pace and near the bottom of the hill the top carriage broke, upon which the horse soon freed itself from the carriage and returned home. Neither occupants were hurt except a few scratches.

OAKLAND: Maud Haynes, the missing Oakland girl, is still unfound. It is now thought she is dead.

AUBURN TWP.: O. E. Dunlap was killed by a Lehigh Valley freight train at Towanda on Wednesday afternoon of last week. He had been to Laquin trying to secure work in the lumber woods and finding none was trying to obtain rides on freight trains in order to reach home. He was attempting to board one when he fell under the wheels being badly mangled. The remains were taken to Meshoppen and prepared for burial. His aged father, who alone survives, is disconsolate over the son’s tragic death.

ELK LAKE: W. B. Lathrop has hens that lay eggs 6 1/4"x4" and weigh half a pound, or at least we suppose they do, as he left one to prove it at this office the first of the week. When eggs get to soaring around the forty cent mark again we want to buy our eggs from Mr. Lathrop, but now that eggs are getting cheap again we don’t care for them.

LYNN: The following young people have been spending their Christmas holidays with their parents here: Messrs. Ray Greenwood and Welton Sheldon, students at Keuka College; Miss Bessie Cogswell, student at Bloomsburg Normal; Howard Taylor, senior in Wyoming Seminary; Howard returned Wednesday, the 27th, to conduct revivals in Scranton; Miss Nellie Fish, teacher in Lanesboro, and Walter Fish, principal of the Jackson school; Miss Mattie Carlin, Nina Fisher and Maude Fisher, teaching in New Jersey. Is not Lynn well represented educationally?

DIMOCK: Milk is $1.24 at the Dimock milk station.

SOUTH GIBSON: John Pritchard, the Sheriff elect, and family have gone to their new home in Montrose, carrying the best wishes of their many friends with them. Mr. Pritchard has been a very obliging business man here for many years, and Mrs. Pritchard has been a willing and generous worker in the Ladies’ Aid, and the family have been identified with the Sunday school, Miss Mary having been the efficient secretary for several terms. They will be greatly missed in this community.

NEWS BRIEF: The courts have decided that if you listen to a conversation between your neighbors on a party telephone line and overhear one of them say that you are an old fool or a dishonest man you have no redress in law, because you have no right to play eavesdropper, in order to insure peace and good feeling in a community using a telephone line in common. There are a good many things which may be true and which one may think, which is not best to send over the wire.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay


Another religious holiday

Last Friday, Mormons around the universe celebrated the 200th birthday of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Two years prior to the organization of his church, Mr. Smith moved to Harmony Township and lived in the home of his father-in-law, Isaac Hale. He subsequently moved to a cabin on a nearby farm where he translated most of the Book of Mormon.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is planning a memorial on the site which is inside the industrial park that was created by the Susquehanna, Oakland, Lanesboro, Industrial Development Authority (SOLIDA). Agreements have been worked out with Susquehanna County officials and it now appears the Church would like to own the entire park site which contains some 20-plus acres.

Willing to “Scher”

Want to know more about Dr. Stephen B. Scher?

HealthGrades has an ad on the Internet that promises a detailed report on Dr. Scher or any other doctor for a fee of $12.95. The company says it gathers its information from a variety of sources including state medical boards, the American Board of Medical Specialties and the Office of the Inspector General of the United States. And it promises to tell you if any disciplinary action has been taken against the doctor.

“Don’t waste hours on the Internet or on the phone collecting data,” HealthGrades states. “The leading healthcare ratings company has researched, organized and interpreted it for you. It just takes seconds to get a report that will give you exactly the information you need.”

One case still open

State Police Troop R, which is headquartered in Dunmore, has a number of unsolved crimes including a homicide in Susquehanna County.

On October 17, 1997, State Police at Gibson received a report of a missing man named Randy Duane McConnell. A missing persons alarm went out but failed to produce any results. On November 9, 1997, the missing man’s pickup truck was found submerged in Lake Shawnee, New Milford Township. Some of his belongings were found alongside a township road.

On December 27, 1997, McConnell’s decomposed body was found in the Susquehanna River in Great Bend Township. The cause of death was ruled a homicide.

Setting the record straight

Last week, one Harry Biesecker penned a letter to the editor of this newspaper concerning an article that I wrote about county employees contributing 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance starting in 2006. At the present time, the county picks up the full premium.

Tom Jurista also wrote a letter in which he said that most of the county’s non-union employees would be contributing $150 a month toward their health insurance. I am not sure how Mr. Jurista arrived at that figure but he did. The motion that I heard passed at the commissioners’ meeting was that non-union employees pay 10 percent of their premium costs.

Mr. Biesecker then came up with the conclusion that the county is paying $1,500 a month in insurance premiums for each county worker. Not so, my friends, not so! The monthly cost varies according to the insurance plan and the number of dependents covered by the employee.

Before I get off the subject, I heard a newscast the other day and the announcer said a transit union in a large city is asking its members to start contributing toward their health insurance. In private industry, the pattern is spreading rapidly. With costs increasing annually, no county or municipal agency should be expected to continue making the taxpayers absorb these increases for the employees. It is bad enough that most taxpayers are facing health insurance increases without paying the full freight for others.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

You may recall that I have penned a few articles addressing the imposition of the death penalty where the defendant suffers from mental retardation. In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the United States Supreme Court determined that persons suffering from mental retardation could not be subjected to the death penalty. In that decision three years ago, the United States Supreme Court directed that each state set standards and procedures to determine whether a particular defendant suffers from mental retardation for purposes of imposition of the death penalty.

In Pennsylvania, the legislature still has not developed any standards to adjudicate mental retardation in a capital case. When the legislature fails to act, the courts must. Thus, in Commonwealth v. Miller, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated a death sentence and remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing to determine the extend of the defendant’s mental limitations. In Miller, the defendant was arrested for raping Clara Johnson. While in custody for the rape offense, the defendant confessed to raping and murdering two other women – Selina Franklin and Stephanie McDuffey. The defendant then led the police to where he had buried the two bodies of his victims at a local landfill. As to Clara Johnson, the defendant had picked her up to give her a ride and took her to a remote location, where he repeatedly raped her and planned on killing her until a third party intervened by happenstance. Clara Johnson testified in the trial relating to the murders of Selina Franklin and Stephanie McDuffey.

In 1993, the defendant was convicted of the murders of the two women, and, at the sentencing phase, the defense presented mitigating evidence to demonstrate, among other things, that the defendant had a low IQ and was functioning within the “borderline retarded range of intelligence.” At that time, however, the jury was not instructed that if they determined that the defendant was mentally retarded, then the death penalty could not be imposed. The jury sentenced the defendant to death. The defendant sought to reverse his death sentence to the point of exhaustion. Just as his options had run out, the Atkins decision breathed new life into his appellate challenges.

In response to Atkins, a lower court determined that the death penalty could not be imposed because the defendant was mentally retarded and, as such, pursuant to Atkins, the sentence had to be vacated. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed this determination, finding that the testimony that the defendant gave functioned within the “borderline retarded range of intelligence” and was not sufficient to conclude that he was in fact mentally retarded as required under Atkins. Because the legislature still has not provided any standards or procedures for making this determination, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted a definition of mental retardation with three components: (1) limited intellectual functioning; (2) significant adaptive limitations; and (3) age of onset of the disability. Thus, the Court concluded that mere evidence of a person’s IQ standing alone is not sufficient to determine whether a person is mentally retarded. Although the defendant had an IQ that placed him in the borderline of mental retardation, the court noted that there needed to be consideration of defendant’s behavior and abilities while living in society, i.e., there was no dispute that the defendant had a driver’s license and was employed and functioned to some degree prior to his arrest, coupled together with the cognitive functions demonstrated in the commission of the crime itself, such as disposing of the bodies in a manner to avoid detection and arrest. The case was sent back to the lower court to have additional hearings to determine the extent of the defendant’s limitations, and, if the limitations are severe enough, the death sentence will be vacated under Atkins.

Ironically, there is a perception from the public that the courts wield authority without regard or consideration of the courts position as being only one branch of government. There are many occasions, however, where the legislature fails to act, thereby creating a vacuum in which the courts have no choice but to act. Underscoring this fact, in Miller, Justice Eakin concurred in the opinion, concluding: “More than three years have passed since it was announced that each state had to set standards and procedures for adjudicating the mental retardation of a defendant in capital cases. Bills have been introduced, but no legislation has been passed to accomplish this. Meanwhile, cases languish and courts await action which has not been forthcoming. . . . However, this is inherently a legislative matter – it is hoped that the legislature would also act without further delay.” As Miller demonstrates, the courts cannot always be blamed for usurping legislative authority – if the legislature abandons its responsibility, the courts, in order to provide due process to defendants, must act.

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’m 70 and I’m starting to see a blurred area in the middle of my vision. Any ideas?

Have this checked immediately by an eye care practitioner. What you describe is a symptom of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.

The macula is at the center of the retina in the back of your eye. The retina transmits light from the eye to the brain. The macula allows us to perform tasks that require central vision such as reading and driving.

In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. It comes in two forms—wet and dry.

Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels behind the retina start to leak and raise the macula. An early symptom of wet AMD is straight lines that appear wavy. Wet AMD is considered to be advanced AMD and is more severe than the dry form. However, dry AMD can turn into wet AMD at any time.

Dry AMD occurs when macular cells break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. Central vision in the affected eye can be lost. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye.

The risk of getting AMD increases with age. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, race (whites are at higher risk), a family history of AMD, and gender (women are at higher risk).

AMD is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes a visual acuity test, a dilated eye exam, and tonometry. Visual acuity is measured with an eye chart test. In the dilated eye exam, drops are placed in your eyes to enlarge the pupils. Then, a magnifying lens is used to examine your retina. Tonometry measures the pressure inside the eye.

You may also be asked to look at an Amsler grid. With one eye, you will stare at a black dot in the center of the grid. You may notice that the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy or are missing. These may be signs of AMD.

Once dry AMD is in the advanced stage, no treatment can prevent vision loss. However, treatment can delay and possibly prevent AMD from progressing to the advanced stage. Some vitamins and minerals may reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD.

Wet AMD can be treated with surgery, therapy, and injections into the eye. None of these treatments is a cure for wet AMD. Each treatment may slow the rate of vision decline, but the disease may progress anyway.

If you have lost some sight from AMD, don't be afraid to use your eyes for reading, watching TV, and other routine activities. Normal use of your eyes will not damage your vision further.

If you have a question, please write to

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