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Letters to the Editor Policy

I Miss My Grandma Hall

I’m writing about my Grandma Hall. She passed away last week.

She used to walk down town with me and my brother. We would go to get breakfast and go to Dollar General to get toys.

We used to spend the night. Sometimes she used to baby-sit us.

She gave us a desk with a chair. And after she passed away I found Grandma’s old purses and my Mom said I could keep them.

I will miss her very much.


Briana Ferrante

First Grade Student At Susquehanna Elementary School

We Hope This Clears It Up

For many months, readers of this paper’s editorial and opinion section have read letters regarding the lawsuit that has been brought against Scott and Virginia Young, owners and operators of Camp at East Lake located in New Milford Township. To date, we, the Supervisors of New Milford Township, have refrained from trying this matter in the media. We have fervently believed that our Court system is the appropriate arena to prove our case and not through the media. Although this letter is being submitted for publication in the County Transcript, we continue to abide by our belief that the most just place to prove our case remains in the Courts.

Nevertheless, during the many months that this case has proceeded, multiple letters have been submitted to this paper that were favorable and unfavorable regarding our actions. We would like to ensure that the residents of New Milford Township and the readers of this paper fully understand the true nature of the lawsuit filed against Mr. and Mrs. Young. Although we would like to provide you, the reader, with a detailed accounting of the events that have occurred during the many years that Mr. and Mrs. Young have owned and operated Camp at East Lake, it is our belief that it is physically impossible to fit a letter of that length within the confines of this paper.

In summary, we provide you with the following: Mr. and Mrs. Young purchased a parcel of land, just over 24 acres, that was once a portion of a primitive campground known as Camp Susquehanna, which closed down in the mid to late 1970’s. The primitive Camp Susquehanna had many different facilities spread out over its hundreds of acres, including a senior and junior camp. The senior camp is located on Mr. and Mrs. Young’s property. From testimony of several individuals that were at Camp Susquehanna in its heyday, it was discovered that, at most, 200 boys occupied the entire camp at any given time and that on special occasions 275 people (children, counselors and parents) would occupy the campground. Over the years, the land comprising Camp Susquehanna was sold to various individuals, including a large parcel to Ronald and Linda Kays. Mr. and Mrs. Kays subdivided the land and one tract of land was eventually sold to Mr. and Mrs. Young in 1996. Mr. and Mrs. Young converted the primitive senior camp of Camp Susquehanna into a campground catering to people with recreational vehicles, and renting space to individuals wishing to erect tents, or occupy cabins and a two-unit bungalow. According to the testimony, Mr. and Mrs. Young have created approximately 72 full hookup sites for recreational vehicles, providing each RV owner with water, electric and sewage facilities at each site.

The events that led to the current lawsuit against the Youngs began in May, 2003, when New Milford Township’s Sewage Enforcement Officer, Michael T. Fortuner, Jr., received an inquiry regarding sewage work being performed by or on behalf of the Youngs at the campground. Mr. Fortuner investigated the situation and discovered that work was being performed on a sewage system without the proper permits and planning as required by the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act and the regulations adopted pursuant to the Act. The sewage system was being installed to service 19 recreational vehicle sites. At that time the Youngs provided Mr. Fortuner with a permit issued by former Sewage Enforcement Office, Charles Cook. Upon review of the permit, Mr. Fortner advised the Youngs that the permit did not give them the authority to construct the sewage system at issue. Despite being told by Mr. Fortuner to stop any further work, the Youngs eventually completed the sewage system and opened the recreational vehicle sites, to the public in the spring of 2004 without the knowledge of New Milford Township and in further violation of the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act.

During the weekend of September 10-13, 2004, the sewage tank that was part of the sewage system installed in May, 2003, with a capacity of approximately 7,000 gallons, emerged from its underground location. Complaints were made by neighbors to the Department of Environmental Protection, which were forwarded to Mr. Fortuner for an investigation. The investigation revealed that the tank did surface, that sewage was identified in the area, that the system that was not permitted to be installed had in fact been installed, and that other sewage systems on the property were not in compliance with the Sewage Facilities Act and its regulations.

On October 19, 2004, a two count complaint was filed against Mr. and Mrs. Young by New Milford Township alleging that a public nuisance existed with regard to the emergence of the tank and that they violated the Act and the regulations for installing and constructing sewage systems and modifying and/or connecting to existing sewage systems without the proper planning or permitting as required by law.

At the same time that the complaint was filed a Petition for  Preliminary Injunction was filed to close the campground in light of the Township’s findings. After the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County entered an Order to close the camp, the parties agreed to keep the camp closed until they could solve the problems located at the camp. Unfortunately, the parties were not able to come to a resolution of the matter. Mr. and Mrs. Young then requested that a hearing be held on the Preliminary Injunction. Since the evidence in this case has been significant and because of the court’s busy calendar, the hearings regarding the preliminary injunction continue.

From the beginning, Mr. and Mrs. Young have claimed that the permit issued by Mr. Cook in 1997 allowed them to install sewage tanks, including the one that came out of the ground, and another tank servicing 13 recreational vehicle sites. An investigation of the facts surrounding the issuance of the permit revealed to us that the permit did not allow Mr. and Mrs. Young to install the sewage tanks as they had claimed. Thus, on June 27, 2005, the Township revoked the permit issued by Mr. Cook for two reasons: (1) Information relevant to the issuance of the permit had been falsified; and (2) the Youngs violated the act, the regulations and the requirements of the permit. The Youngs, through their attorneys, appealed the decision of the Township, and a hearing was held before Attorney Marion O’Malley, who acted as an impartial hearing officer. Attorney O’Malley is an Assistant District Attorney for Susquehanna County.

On September 2, 2005, a hearing was held, at the Youngs’ request, regarding the revocation of the permits. Prior to the hearing beginning, Mr. Young came to the courtroom, provided documents to his attorney and began to leave. Our counsel, Attorney Michael Briechle, of the Law Office of Michael J. Giangrieco, asked Mr. Young to stay and testify at the hearing that he and his wife requested, but he refused and left. The Township presented its case to Attorney O’Malley. The Youngs’ counsel failed to present any evidence in response.

Thereafter, on December 20, 2005, Attorney O’Malley issued her decision. Specifically, Attorney O’Malley concluded the following: (1) “The permit does not speak to the installation of sewage lines for a new recreational vehicle site, installation of a dump station or installation of the metal 7,000 gallon tank which emerged from the ground in September of 2004”; (2) “The installation of sewage lines for the recreational vehicle site, installation of the dump site and the 7,000 gallon tank are all violations of the municipality regulations and the Sewage Enforcement Act”; (3) “The permit in question did not cover the Youngs’ activities which were discovered by the Township on May 13, 2003 and September 2004, these activities were clearly beyond the scope of the July 27, 1997 permit”; (4) “All acts by the Youngs were done without the New Milford Township’s approval; these acts include installation of sewage lines for recreational vehicle site, installation of a dump station, and the installation of a 7,000 gallon septic tank all of which are violations of the Sewage Enforcement Act”; and (5) “The Youngs’ activities, as outlined above, constitute violations of the Township’s regulations and the Sewage Enforcement Act.” Based upon these findings, Attorney O’Malley opined that the permit was properly revoked by New Milford Township.

We have earnestly hoped for the past sixteen months that the Youngs would comply with the laws of this Commonwealth. The Sewage Facilities Act was enacted to protect the safety, health and welfare of the citizens of this Commonwealth, including the fine and upstanding citizens of New Milford Township. As the party responsible for the enforcement of the Sewage Facilities Act, the Township had no choice but to seek legal action against the Youngs, as is our duty under the law.

Hopefully this letter will clarify any issues relating to New Milford Township’s necessary actions.


New Milford Township Supervisors

County Farmers’ Plight

I attended the commissioners’ meeting today and observed what I sensed was an attitude toward farmers in our county. Bear in mind that farming is still our number one industry. The situation arose from the fact that the budget for farmland preservation was reduced from $60K to $40K. In previous years the state contributed $2.5 for each county contribution of $1. This year the governor has increased the state contribution to $5 for each county $1. Thus the county could gain $100K by restoring the $20K. The Farm Bureau had requested a meeting with the commissioners on this subject before the budget deliberation began, however they were turned down. Commissioner Loomis stated that the budget carryover was $1,096,582 from 2005. Thus $20K would not break the bank.

The huge carryover appears to again confirm my suspicion that taxpayers are hit with a large tax increase early in the commissioners term, so that they build up a surplus to allow a tax reduction during an election year, which makes them look good. My way of thinking is that with very large increases in energy costs, the million + dollars carryover would have been an excellent opportunity for the commissioners to show that they care about us by reducing our county taxes. (But I‚m speaking as a business man - not a politician!)


Tom Jurista

Silver Lake Township

Who Needs It?

Everyone likes to make predictions about the coming year, so I'll make mine. I predict that we would all be better off if we just skipped 2006, it looks like it will be more trouble than it's worth. The President of Iran, Mahmoud Admadinejad, is hearing the voice of God. Generally this means trouble. In revelatory tête-à-têtes of this ilk God usually issues instructions to kill, destroy, or vanquish something or other. In President Admadinejad's case it's all three.

He sees himself wreathed in a green aura, a John the Baptist of the Islamic world, whose mission is to prepare the world for the Mahdi, their savior who will bring peace and justice to the world. Central to the blessings of peace and justice are atomic bombs. President Admadinejad has described Israel as a "tumor that must be wiped off the surface of the earth." His metaphor is mixed, but his intention is crystal clear. He would like to turn Israel into a luminescent, glassy-green parking lot.

The development of the atomic bomb during WW II, the Manhattan Project, was a mammoth undertaking. It employed 130,000 people working in two shifts for 21 hours a day. In inflation-adjusted dollars 20 billion was poured into developing the first atomic bomb. The successful culmination was an A-bomb that weighted an unwieldy five tons, about as much as an elephant.

Today, plans for nuclear weapons are readily available on-line, or in greater detail in technical libraries, and the bomb has been miniaturized to a man-portable backpack. And if a country has the bucks, warheads, missiles and off-the-shelf equipment for concentrating the fissionable uranium-235 from uranium-238 are all for sale. Iran has the bucks and has been on a ten-year shopping spree.

Tehran obtained missiles from Russia in the 1990s. Recently President Vladimir Putin has agreed to update them to today's standards. These missiles will have a range of 1,500 miles and can be launch-ready in 30 minutes. About the same time she also bought blueprints from China for a warhead designed to fit these missiles. As for uranium, Iran can mine about 40 tons a year. With high-speed centrifuges from North Korea she can concentrate about 200 pounds of Ur-235, enough for five nuclear bombs. And to put all the pieces together she can call on scientists who have defected from Pakistan as well as her own experts.

On the other side of the planet God is also whispering into the ear of another President, George Bush: God has revealed a couple of countries on His must-bomb wish list. "God said to me 'attack Afghanistan and attack Iraq.'" And so he did. But if God adds Iran to His hit list, the President should respectfully demur.

Getting to Iran will require long, overland flights from Turkey. Once over Iran there are 350 targets designated as part of that country's nuclear research, storage and missile-launch facilities. But Iran has had more than ten years to camouflage and harden these locations, many of which are located in deep, underground bunkers. Additionally, late in 2004 Iran purchased advanced weapons' system from Russia that can destroy incoming missiles and laser-guided bombs. She also has satellite capabilities that will give her early warning of an air attack.

If the possibility of a "mission completed" air attack in Iran is slim, the chance of a successful land campaign is none. We are stretched to the breaking point in Iraq, and Iran is 3.8 times the size of Iraq with 2.6 times its population.

And while we're contemplating mushrooming Iran, Saudi Arabia may have concluded a quid pro quo deal with Pakistan years ago. The Saudis, say some, bankrolled Pakistan's nuclear program in return for technical expertise for their own nuclear arsenal. Now King Abdullah Aziz may be calling in his marker. Syria's bringing up the rear.

The one bright spot among the Arab nations is Libya. She has promised to abandon her nuclear weapons' program – well, maybe that's not so bright. More like dim.

Back in the golden days of atomic energy in the mid-1950s futurists looked forward to this time. The work week was predicted to shrink to four maybe three days, energy would be too cheap to monitor, and the pundits wondered, what would man do with all his spare time? Well, the future has arrived. The work week is not only still five days but most families need two incomes to survive, energy costs are growing faster than the number of countries President Bush would like to light up, and as for the anticipated extra time, many wonder, how much time do we have left?


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

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Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. At that time you may request to withhold your name. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

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