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BRIDAL SPECIAL Featured In Our Mar. 15th Issue Of The Susquehanna County Transcript

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Issue Home February 21, 2006 Site Home

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

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

100 Years Ago

FOREST CITY:The resignation of A.E. Foster, as agent for the Erie here, and the resignation of his brother Guy Foster as agent at Uniondale, has occasioned a number of changes in the clerical forces on the Jefferson division. C.P. Lyden, for years agent at Herrick Center, takes charge of the Forest City office and Cecil Leach, operator and lately acting agent at this station, has gone to Uniondale to assume charge. B.B. Lyden, who has been acting as operator here, has been given the Herrick station and L. F. Flynn, of Herrick, comes here as operator. A. C. Crossley has also relinquished the Starrucca station and William Reddington takes his place. The Messrs. Foster, who have for years occupied positions of trust on the Jeff have left railroading to go into business in Thompson. They are popular young men.

HERRICK: A. D. Barnes is wearing his broadest smile since the snow came and people have begun to buy sleighs.

THOMSON: The G.A.R. Post had a delightful time last Wednesday. The ladies spread a fine dinner which was enthusiastically discussed by a dozen comrades and their good wives from Myron French Post, Jackson, and their own boys and their friends. After dinner an hour was spent in speeches, songs by a quartet, and selections on a phonograph and then the affair resolved into a committee of the whole and everybody talked and joked and laughed to their heart’s content.

GLENWOOD: The old Spinsters’ convention was a success. The hall was crowded to the very doors and the fun was fast and furious from 8 to 10:30. They gave their ages anywhere from 45 to 90 years. No one of the old maids present was anywhere behind; all acted their parts like old hands at the business.

HARFORD: The death of Mrs. Melissa (Tower) Peck occurred at her home, Jan 12, aged 86 years, 8 months and 6 days. She was born in Vermont, May 7, 1919. In 1837 she was married to Daniel H. Peck. While living in Vermont four children were born to them, three daughters and one son, the son dying at the age of two moths. In 1850 they came to Susquehanna Co., Pa., living for several years in Lenox twp. In 1868 they purchased a farm in Harford twp. Here deceased has resided 42 years. After coming to Pa., five children were born to them. Oct. 8, 1872 she was bereft of a husband, he dying very suddenly, leaving her to struggle on alone. Many a one would have faltered by the way, not so with this energetic woman. By strict economy and hard work she managed to keep the home and the children together. In March 1877 her oldest son, Frank, came home from the West and took the old farm and assumed the duties of caring for mother the remainder of her days.

MIDDLETOWN: The good roads on the creek have attracted the attention of several of the Middletown boys. AND: The dance on Friday evening was a success. John McCarthy and brother, of Lawton, attended.

MONTROSE: The postoffice department has finally announced its decision that rural mail carriers can use automobiles for that purpose. Now look out for Bert White, Homer Smith and Olin Tingley, for they may come whizzing along in autos soon. However they auto wait till the blizzards are over.

SUSQUEHANNA: It is said that Susquehanna has a chance to secure a hardware manufacturing plant. W. L. Reid, of Buffalo, was there Saturday in conference with leading financial men with a view of coming. It is understood that the firm wishes to put up a plant to cost not less than $125,000 and employ anywhere from 100 to 400 men daily.

LAWTON: The firm of Kahler & Terry has been dissolved, D. W. Terry retiring. The new firm is Kahler & Son.

TUNKHANNOCK:Fred Wall, who plied a busy trade by pulling hair from horses’ tails and furnishing it to jail prisoners, who manufactured it into watch chains, was fined $25 and sent to jail.

EAST RUSH: W. V. Bedell is in very poor health at this writing, also uncle Jacob Cronk. These two old gentlemen are among our oldest inhabitants and respected by all, who regret very much their serious illness.

LAWSVILLE: Susie Downs was thrown from a sled last Friday while riding down hill, and broke her arm. AND:Mrs. Jennie Bailey has a bed quilt containing 18,018 pieces.

WEST AUBURN: The rededication of the M.E. church will be on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Dinner will be served on both days. AND: A very pleasant surprise was given to the family of A.E. Comstock on Saturday last. Their neighbors and friends, about forty in number, came with smiling faces and well filled baskets and spent a very pleasant day. They are to move to Dimock in the near future, where they expect to make their home, as he has purchased a farm there.

HALLSTEAD: A streak of good luck followed bad luck in the case of Arthur Smith, the genial clerk at Sand’s drug store. Mr. Smith, while seated in a private box in the Hallstead opera house, entertaining a jolly party of lady friends, dropped a ten dollar bill. He did not miss the money until he got to his home on this side of the great divide (Great Bend). He returned to Hallstead and informed Mr. Clune of his loss and that gentleman went with Mr. Smith to the opera house and after he had turned on the lights, a search was made, resulting in the finding of the money.

BROOKLYN: The new hall under the Odd Fellows’ building will make an excellent place for social gatherings.

LAUREL LAKE: George Kane and Will Hogan are helping Frank Shea cut wood for the Richmond Hill creamery.

BE SURE to check the Historical Society’s web site, for back issues of 100 years.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Another lesson on newspaper columnists

Judging from recent complaints about District Attorney Jason Legg injecting personal opinions in his weekly newspaper column indicates that there are still a large number of Susquehanna County residents who just do not understand the role of a newspaper columnist.

Those of you who think columnists and radio or television commentators should avoid personal opinions or write them separately in letters to the editor, contradict the purpose of column writing and commentaries.

Even Uncle Sam acknowledges the role of newspaper columnists. Here are some excerpts from the U.S. Department of Labor regarding job descriptions for professional careers in journalism:

“News analysts, reporters, and correspondents gather information, prepare stories and make broadcasts that inform us about local, state, national and international events; present points of views on current issues; and, report on the actions of public officials, corporate executives, interest groups, and others who exercise power.

“General-assignment reporters write about newsworthy occurrences – such as accidents, political rallies, visits of celebrities, or business closings – as assigned. Some journalists also interpret the news or offer opinions to readers, viewers, or listeners. In this role, they are called commentators or columnists.”

I have been writing newspaper columns for five decades and I am proud to say I am a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Here is our creed:

“As a newspaper columnist, I will strive to inform, educate and entertain my readers. I will work hard to provoke them to think – whether they agree or disagree with my efforts to depict truth as I see it.

“I will offer my opinions and the reasons I hold them as clearly and as fairly as I can. I will never take advantage of my position to achieve unwarranted personal gain not available to others or use my column to settle personal scores. I will disclose potential conflicts to readers whenever possible.

“I will never make up a quote, a source or a story when depicting true events. But I will reserve the right to engage in parody and satire.

“I will work hard to earn and keep the trust my readers and editors place in me. I will never plagiarize. Whenever possible, when I make a mistake, I will correct it.

“I will listen to my critics and, in person, treat them with dignity and respect because they pay me the high honor of reading me, even if they disagree. Similarly, I will treat with personal courtesy those whom I may criticize in writing before and after writing about them.

“I will always remember that my job is a privilege and honor because being a columnist represents the basic American rights of free speech and open discussion.”

As you can plainly see, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a columnist injecting personal opinions in his writing. In fact, doing otherwise actually goes against the grain.

My friends, if there is one fault that sticks out like a sore thumb in Susquehanna County, it is the failure of our elected officials and candidates to offer the voters a written political platform with an agenda of what they will strive to accomplish if they are elected to office. Most county candidates for local, state and national office offer political rhetoric that reveals little, if anything, about their goals and very few reasons why they deserve the support of the voters; some ride the coattails of a widely known family name; and others win by default because they belong to the political party that has controlled the county since day one.

It is refreshing to have an elected official like Jason Legg unveil the cloak of secrecy from his personal thoughts on important issues. It is even nicer to have him explain legal issues and ramifications in a weekly newspaper column. And I am sure he would be the first to say not to walk into a court of law with his column in your hand and expect miracles. If you have a legal problem, consult an attorney.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

I have done several articles concerning the United States Supreme Court decision in Atkins v. Virginia, wherein it was determined that the use of the death penalty against a mentally retarded defendant was unconstitutional. Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was forced to unilaterally create rules concerning the factors to consider in making the determination as to whether a particular person was mentally retarded, but the Justices strongly urged the legislature to act in drafting and enacting an appropriate statute to govern these cases. Many years after the initial Atkins decision, the Pennsylvania legislature is finally acting.

There are two bills floating in the Senate relative to the determination of mental retardation in a death penalty case. Senate Bill 334, supported by the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association, would leave the decision to a jury after the conclusion of a trial in a capital murder case. If the jury determines that the defendant is mentally retarded (or if the jury is unable to agree), the defendant would receive a life sentence for the murder. If the jury determines that a defendant is not mentally retarded, then the jury would continue to determine whether imposition of the death penalty would be appropriate. Significantly, Senate Bill 334 would utilize the definitions and factors used by the American Association of the Mentally Retarded to determine whether a particular defendant was suffering from mental retardation – which are the same factors that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently accepted and approved.

The other bill, Senate Bill 631, is markedly different from Senate Bill 334. Senate Bill 631, which is supported by anti-death penalty groups and the SCLU, would have the determination of mental retardation made by a judge after a pre-trial hearing without the involvement in any manner of a jury. If the judge determines that a defendant is mentally retarded, then the case proceeds to trial as a non-capital case. If the judge determines that the defendant is not mentally retarded, then the case proceeds to trial as a capital case, but the defendant can still present evidence of mental retardation to the jury as mitigating circumstances to convince the jury that the death penalty is inappropriate. Senate Bill 631 appears to use a single factor to determine mental retardation, namely the results of an IQ test.

These particular bills have stark differences and disturbing implications. For centuries, we have been trusting juries to make determinations on the quantum of evidence presented at trial, and these determinations often involve difficult factual scenarios such as insanity, entrapment, and duress. Senate Bill 631 would essentially take this role away from the jury in a capital case where a defendant asserts a mental retardation defense. Senate Bill 631 further gives a defendant two bites at the apple, if the defendant cannot convince a judge that he suffers from mental retardation, that does not end the issue because the defendant can still make the argument to the jury at the time of his sentencing hearing. Why create such a redundancy? Finally, the Pennsylvania Constitution was recently amended to allow a prosecutor the same right to request a jury trial as a defendant. Senate Bill 631 would essentially take the right to a jury trial away from the Commonwealth in death penalty cases as the ultimate decision on mental retardation would be determined by a single judge – not a jury.

I understand that these distinctions may not seem interesting or perhaps even important at first glance. From the perspective of the prosecutor, the distinctions have vital importance. Prosecutors may only seek the death penalty in limited circumstances – namely for killers who are the worst of the worst. While we need to assure that those suffering from mental retardation are protected, Senate Bill 631 creates a potential for unscrupulous murderers to use the guise of mental retardation to escape the death penalty by simply convincing a judge at a pretrial hearing to accept their claim, and, even if they are unsuccessful, the same defendant will still get to present his assertions of mental retardation to the jury at the sentencing hearing. Juries are time-tested mechanisms for deciphering the truth – and juries will approach this task with a common sense approach that best serves the interests of justice. There is no need to rob the jury of its constitutional role of making these important decisions. Hopefully, our legislators will see it the same way.

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 live with my 40-year-old son and he smokes like the proverbial chimney around the house. I’m afraid of what it’s doing to his health. What can I do to get him to quit?

Tell him he may be killing you with his secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke—also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)—is made up of the “sidestream” smoke from the end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the “mainstream” smoke that is exhaled. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke absorb the same 4,000 chemical compounds that smokers do. More than 60 of these compounds are known or suspected to cause cancer.

Each year, in the United States alone, secondhand smoke is responsible for about 40,000 deaths from heart disease, and about 3,000 lung-cancer deaths,

Secondhand smoke causes increased cardiovascular risks by damaging blood vessels, decreasing your ability to exercise and altering blood cholesterol levels.

Some research indicates that people exposed to a spouse's cigarette smoke for several decades are about 20 percent more likely to have lung cancer. Those who are exposed long-term to secondhand smoke in the workplace or social settings may increase their risk of lung cancer by about 25 percent.

Some of the components found in tobacco smoke that are known to cause cancer or are suspected to be carcinogenic include: formaldehyde, arsenic, cadmium, benzene and ethylene oxide.

Here are a few other chemicals in tobacco smoke along with their effects: ammonia (irritates lungs), carbon monoxide (hampers breathing), methanol (toxic when inhaled) and hydrogen cyanide (interferes with respiration).

On the national level, several laws restricting smoking in public places have been passed. Smoking is also banned on all domestic airline flights and nearly all flights between the United States and foreign destinations. All interstate bus travel is smoke free. Smoking is also prohibited or restricted to specially designated areas on trains traveling within the United States.

Many states and local governments have passed laws prohibiting smoking in public facilities such as schools, hospitals, airports, and bus terminals. Some states also require private employers to create policies that protect employees who do not smoke. Several local communities have enacted nonsmokers’ rights laws, most of which are stricter than state laws.

Although air-conditioning may remove the visible smoke in your home, it can't remove the particles that continue to circulate and are hazardous to your health, so don’t delude yourself that running the AC is the answer to secondhand smoke dangers.

To solve your problem, you should try to get your son to seek help in fighting his addiction to nicotine. There are many programs available. Call your doctor for some recommendations. Meanwhile, for your own health, you should insist that he not smoke in your house.

If you have a question, please write to

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Straight From Starrucca

In last week’s column I mentioned the old farmhouse on Jacob’s Hill as the former Albert Brooker home. It should have been Allen Brooker instead. Sorry about that.

Another young man celebrated his birthday last week. The son of Andrea and Vincent Matta, Vincent, Jr. observed his twelfth birthday with a family and friends party. Time flies by so fast – seems only a short time ago he was an infant, in another year, a teenager. Congratulations, Vincent.

A couple that moved to another area were back in Starrucca recently to attend a party for Roger Getter’s own seventieth birthday at the home of Gale Williams, hostess. Roger and Naomi lived in Starrucca until last year when they moved to Factoryville, PA. Naomi is Gale’s sister.

I must congratulate Virginia Upright and Arthur Kopp, brother and sister, who were born on Valentine’s Day a year apart. Gina said she was Art’s birthday present. I hope you both celebrate many more happy birthdays.

Kudos to Danielle Williams, daughter of Steve and Virginia Williams, for her unique selection of her senior project. The “bowl-a-thon” she engineered at the local bowling alley was a huge success. The money so garnered was sent to Duke University, Raleigh, NC to be used in cancer research. This special project and money received was dedicated to the memory of her grandfather, Gary Williams who received treatment there.

It was such a beautiful, unusual day a week ago Thursday (temp. 54) that Madelyn Thorne shed her winter’s cocoon and drove to Starrucca to spend the afternoon with  me playing “Quiddler.” Also out for a drive was my grandniece and husband from South Canaan, Wayne County, who stopped by for a short visit.

In Mary Piercy’s own words:

February started out very well for the Piercy family.

Harrison headed to Scranton to have his braces removed. He brought chewing gum and Skittles with him. After two years of waiting, he chewed them together on the way home.

Natalie headed off to District Chorus for a three-day festival. She auditioned Wednesday evening and was thrilled to find out that she had advanced from 20th to 8th place and this qualifies her to compete in the upcoming Regional Festival.

Mary left early in the morning to fly to Missouri to pick up a puppy that Matthew had bought for her via the Internet. The puppy received special treatment all the way home as everyone who saw the little French bulldog fell in love with her.

Mary and Caitlin headed to Montrose Thursday morning for Caitlin’s driver road test. On the way to the test they realized that the car was past for inspection and the registration card was missing.  A quick trip to several local businesses and an inspection cleared up the mess. Caitlin took her driving test and even parallel parked the vehicle perfectly. She was very happy to receive her PA junior license.

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