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Letters to the Editor Policy

Puzzling Behavior

Recently some members of our community circulated a petition in an effort to seek funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the form of a Community Development Block Grant to cover possible cost overruns associated with the Starrucca Creek wall flood control project. As many of you know this wall was destroyed after of series of severe storms hit our area in 2004 and 2005, leaving the downtown area of our community vulnerable to future risks of additional personal property damage. A surprising discovery was made while soliciting signatures for the petition, and that is, many residents were puzzled as to why it has taken so long to repair the wall. Similar damage occurred from the same storms in the town of Susquehanna and they managed to get the repairs completed near the end of last summer.

As it turns out the Starrucca Borough council, and in a greater part, Mr. Paul Everett, the local FEMA coordinator for this project, spent numerous hours trying to work through the process. Unfortunately, some council members and, some members of the community engaged in an effective campaign of stonewalling the progress for this project. Specifically, Mr. Kirk Rhone, who stated several times that he wants to see this project move forward, demonstrated a different story by his actions. As an example, Mr. Rhone realized that an administrative error had occurred in the process to properly advertise the project. Instead of contacting fellow council members to fix the problem he secretly contacted the Solicitor and led a successful effort to have all bids received destroyed and start the process over. Unfortunately, this move also resulted in frustration for a local contractor, Mr. Jim Solcum, who had submitted a viable bid for the project, but did not respond to the next solicitation for bids. On another occasion when a key decision was to be made on the project, Mr. Kirk Rhone and Mrs. Helen Haynes were unexpectedly absent from the meeting. The consequences of these actions resulted in the meeting having to be re-scheduled because a quorum was not achieved. Neither council person contacted the secretary or gave any reason for their absence. (In the past, Mrs. Haynes has been very respectful towards the council and has informed the secretary ahead of time when she was going to be absent.)

Over the summer, Mr. Rhone repeatedly argued that “an engineering study should be conducted” for the replacement wall. Although the Borough has received over $120,000 to replace the wall, the cost of engineering services are not included in this money. These costs are to be paid for by the Borough. And because at least two engineered walls have previously failed in the same location, it is clear that an “engineered” wall does not guarantee success. To work around the costs of paying for engineering services the Borough used the same approach that has worked successfully in surrounding communities. That is, they advertised the FEMA work to be done and let each interested contractor supply his solution to the problem. Then the council analyzed each proposal, including any similar projects that have been accomplished by the contractor, to make their final decision. It should be noted that a contractor has been selected and his proposal has been forwarded to the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (because the work will affect the adjacent stream) and it will then be forwarded to the Army Corps of Engineers, who will essentially verify that the contractor has submitted a sound plan in terms of engineering. The plan under review will provide a concrete wall very similar to the concrete wall just upstream of the existing storm damage. This wall was built in the 1950’s and remains intact, while several walls of a different design have failed during the same time period, including the wall currently being replaced.

It should be noted that at the January 3 meeting, Mr. Rhone’s brother, Fred Rhone, made a motion to withdraw this proposal and start the process over. He appeared to be reading this motion from a script prepared prior to the start of the meeting and was unable to provide any logical reason for his motion when asked. The community needs to be extremely thankful that the Mayor, Mr. Andy Bennett, had the wisdom to realize the significant harm this would cause the community and stepped in to stop this irrational behavior. Apparently, Mr. Fred Rhone is oblivious to the consequences of breaking an existing contract without due cause, and he appears to have little concern for risks to the community resulting from further delays in repairing the Starrucca Creek wall.

Back to the original topic of the story - concerning the petition to seek CDBG funds to cover any possible cost overruns to repair the Starrucca Creek wall. Mr. Rhone refused to consider the petition (showing disrespect to the 39 signatures on the petition) even when confronted about this at a recent county commissioners meeting. This was puzzling behavior considering he was the person displaying great concern about the possible extra costs, as he impeded all efforts to have the work completed last year.


Robert Weldy

Starrucca, PA

He Was My Brother

My name is Karen Broad. I would appreciate someone that will listen, without passing judgment.

On January 4, 2006 there was an article in the Susquehanna County Transcript on page 9 relating to my brother, Randy McConnell’s homicide. On October 17, 1997 a call rang out of a missing person, Randy Duane McConnell.

I appreciate the chance to say a few things, and voice my opinion on Randy’s Homicide investigation. First of all, I do not think my brother’s case has been handled right from the very beginning. He was never even recognized by law officials and other people in important places. To them, he was nobody, but to me he was everything a baby sister could have ever wanted and more. Randy had his share of problems in life, just like you and I.

I hope and pray that some day there will be swift justice for my dearly beloved brother. He may not be here today to speak for himself, but I am. Randy had a life, lived a life, and then his life was taken from him and I want answers as to what really happened to my brother. No more games, no more lies, let’s all pull together as a society and find out the truth as to what really happened to Randy!

I would like to thank the Susquehanna County Transcript for remembering my brother, Randy, and another special thanks to the three law officials that have tried to do all they could in Randy’s homicide case. I do appreciate it.


Karen L. Broad

Silent No More

January 22 will mark the 33rd year since the 1973 Roe V Wade abortion decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. Each year I try to make people aware of the terrible injustice this decision has been for the 45 to 50 million babies who will never experience life.

This year, however I seem focused on what to me could signal the beginning of the end of this slaughter - Rachel's Vineyard - a world wide post-abortion healing ministry. I became involved in this beautiful ministry and attended one of their retreats where I saw women healed and made whole again through the process they use. Most of the women running the retreat were post-abortion. They had been healed through Rachel's and now enthusiastically minister to those still in pain. One of the retreatants that I met had her abortion 40 years ago. Her pain was, if anything, the most acute for she had endured it the longest.

The stories of self flagellation and abuse in an attempt, whether consciously or subconsciously, to punish themselves for killing their babies, seemed to be the cause of the torrential downpour beating against the windows of the retreat house. There was anger over learning that the women, Norma McCorvey - the "Jane Roe" of Roe V. Wade is now a part of the Silent No More group of women who insist that the Roe V Wade decision was all based on lies. The other key 1973 abortion case was Doe V. Bolton, which opened the floodgates for abortion on demand. Its plaintiff, Mary Doe (Sandra Cano) is now working diligently to prove Doe vs. Bolton was a terrible deception. Sandra Cano has also come forward, part of Silent No More, and insists those who pushed through this law cared not at all for her welfare but only for their own agenda.

Neither "Jane Roe" nor "Mary Doe" ever had an abortion. When a woman has accepted these deceptions as a solution and truth, allows her baby to be destroyed and only then learns it was all a lie there is much anger and pain. But Rachel's is now there for them. No one judges nor blames, for they have been there and know the pain. These courageous women will be the end of abortion on demand. The only ones gaining from the horrendous court decisions are the abortion providers and those who profit from the abortion industry. Non-judgmental help is available through Rachel's Vineyard to anyone suffering from the decision to abort at www.rachelsvineyard.com and contact can be found for Silent No More through www.silentnomore.org.


Annette Corrigan

Jackson, PA

Let Legg Be

Last week, county District Attorney Jason Legg reported that his column in the Transcript has been criticized for publicly airing his personal religious convictions. I see nothing wrong in the way he uses the column.

While Mr. Legg is an elected official, he is also a citizen, with a right to his point of view. That he is awarded space in a newspaper is a consequence of his position in county government.

That Mr. Legg affirms his religious preferences in public is not infringing anyone else's rights or privileges, nor certainly establishing a religious preference in county government. If that were true of Mr. Legg, then it would certainly be true of President Bush, former President Clinton, and especially former President Jimmy Carter.

I think we need to hear what Mr. Legg has to say. We need to know about the law, and Mr. Legg does a wonderful job explaining it to us. As citizens and voters, we need to know about Mr. Legg, the person and public official. I don't always agree with his opinions, but I appreciate the transparency he brings to his position by letting us know what they are.

Would that all of our public officials were so straightforward, honest and forthcoming.


Ted Brewster

Hallstead, PA

The Little Bomb That Could

President George Bush (senior) called them "the crazies in the basement" referring to the neocons, a coterie of war-hungry imperialist. It seems the crazies have taken the elevator upstairs and setup housekeeping in the Oval Office. Their latest playground is Iran and their latest plaything is the tactical nuclear weapon (TNW) – just what's needed, we're told, to destroy deeply-buried nuclear bomb-making facilities.

The TNW is their little bomb that could. It's said to be small, squeaky clean, and best of all usable. Not at all like the behemoth 50 megaton (100 billion pounds of TNT) Tzar Bomb the Soviet's build. Too big to be useful in Iran, unless, of course, one wanted to get rid of Iran. But with all their oil who would want to do that? No, indeed. Our TNWs weigh in between a svelte 0.1 kiloton (a paltry 200 thousand pounds of TNT) to 1.0 megaton (a hefty 2 billion pounds of TNT which is equivalent to seventy Hiroshima A-bombs).

So the first fact we learn about TNWs is that the smallest of them are unimaginable big. Maybe not quite big enough to wipe out a city, just most of it. Squeaky clean? Not unless one considers radioactivity a health food. The hardened outer casing, necessary for below-ground detonation, contains 165 pounds of depleted uranium (DU).

Upon detonation a fission temperature of 500 million degrees Fahrenheit will instantly atomized the DU casing. DU is radioactive. It is depleted only in the sense that most of the Ur-235 has been extracted leaving the Ur-238 as a radioactive waste product. Even a microscopic particle of aerosolized DU if inhaled or ingested with food or liquid can cause debilitating neurological and physical ailments, even death.

After a bunker buster explodes at 30 to 100 feet below ground – depending on how it is delivered – a torrent of radioactive debris will rain on the city, or what's left of it, with "hot" nuclear dust casting a shroud over the countryside. Marking the site of the vaporized bunker will be a caldera-sized crater. The ground-level shock wave will destroy or severely damage all structures within a radius of several hundred yards. The effects of the underground shock wave are unknown since this weapon has only been developed and tested with computer simulation.

The designation "tactical," implying a weapon capable of limited, precision targeting is, in truth, not a military term. It is a political euphemism, one meant to convince the citizenry that this is not a WMD and has a legitimate military use. You be the judge.

Not small, not squeaky clean, not useable, not tactical: Maybe this is the little bomb that couldn't. Nevertheless, President Bush thinks positively. He believes that the use and threat of TNWs can be constructive not destruction. And he even has reasons: 1) TNWs can curtail nuclear proliferation by proliferating them over, on and under Iran. 2) Minimize the threat of nuclear war by making nuclear weapons more practical to use. 3) Enforce the general consensus against WMD by threatening to nuke the uncooperative. Now if those reasons seems confused and self-contradictory it is because they are, but no more so than his policies in Iraq. So at least he's consistent.

Now where in Iran is a superpower to drop, guide or place these packaged catastrophes? Iran has 350 marked nuclear targets. Topping the list of sites to be vitrified is the city of Isfahan in central Iran. It is known as the Cultural Capital of the 57-State World of Islam. After the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, it is the most revered Islamic city. Isfahan is to be called the "Cultural Capital of the World of Islam" for one year beginning January 1, 2006. Opps! That's around bomb time.

I don't know what Isfahan will be called if we drop a few nukes around it and scatter several more around other major Iranian cities, but I have an idea what the United States will be called by the world's one billion Muslims. Basically, in a few short Arabic words, the same accusations and charges we have leveled at Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, el Qaeda and, most recently, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, will be the same accusations and charges hurled right back on us.

I wonder who's right.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

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