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What Cost To Starrucca?
A special meeting of Starrucca Borough Council was held on February 16 regarding a contract in the amount of $16,500, for design costs by Delta Engineering. The design is for the Buck Road bridge.
A Community Development Block Grant in the sum of $30,000, representing a part of the estimated $60,000 cost for repairing/replacing Buck Road Bridge had already been submitted in an effort to obtain funds from HUD. On 2/16, the Wayne County Commissioners announced the application was approved for recommendation to HUD.
If HUD approves the application, the funds will not be available until August, 2006. There is no reimbursement for engineering designs. President Kirk Rhone stated the Borough has enough funds to cover the cost.
Although President Kirk Rhone, Councilman Donald Haynes, Jr. and Darl Haynes were in attendance at the Commissioner’s meeting, along with myself and Loreda Everett, there was no report to the general public at the Council meeting. Documentation presented to Council by Robert Weldy and Loreda Everett at a previous special meeting held on 2/12 regarding this same bridge was also presented by myself and Loreda Everett at the Commissioner’s meeting. The Commissioners were not particularly interested because (again) evidence showed that Buck Road Bridge belonged to the County. In fact, certain Commissioners seemed to be “busy”. It appeared they were signing or reviewing other documents while we were speaking. The Wayne County Commissioners refuse to acknowledge that the County owns Buck Road bridge and have not presented evidence to the contrary. Starrucca Council has yet to present evidence that Buck Road Bridge belongs to Starrucca Borough. If Buck Road Bridge is a borough bridge, where is the proof? Why is Council in such a hurry to incur this expense for the Borough?
Darl Haynes presented a “financial plan”. Mike Martin asked if a copy was available for review. Mr. Haynes proceeded to write on a piece of paper and hand it to Mr. Martin. Mayor Andy Bennett referred to the document presented by Mr. Haynes as “scribble”.
During Robert Weldy’s comments, Darl Haynes’ yelling and other members of the audience trying to be recognized for comment, Councilman Donald Haynes, Jr. interrupted and proceeded to present what appeared to be a “scripted” motion to accept the contract. The motion passed and included a vote from President Kirk Rhone and Councilman Robert Buck. During previous meetings, these two council members have abstained from voting on motions concerning Buck Road bridge because of conflict of interest. Why are they voting now? Why are public comments rejected by President Kirk Rhone? Some audience members were only recognized after the vote when they were interrupted (including Mayor Bennett) by President Kirk Rhone or Darl Haynes and Councilman Robert Buck, who moved for adjournment. I was not recognized by President Kirk Rhone and, therefore, my comments are listed below:
At a special meeting held on January 12 regarding FEMA projects, Tony Palonis stated in his motion to advertise for an engineering design for the Buck Road Bridge that “the advertisement will run in accordance with Borough Code section 1402”. This Borough Code Section states, “advertisements for contracts or purchases shall also be posted in a conspicuous place within the Borough.” The Sunshine Act states, “Posting is also required” for rescheduled or special meetings. There was no posting at the Community Hall. In fact, all of the special meetings held in January and February 2006 have not been posted. The special meeting held on February 16 was posted at the Community Hall.
The advertisement for bids listed Kirk Rhone as the contact for “specifications and information”. If President Rhone previously abstained from voting on issues concerning Buck Road Bridge, why was he the only contact to speak with engineers? Why wasn’t this considered a conflict of interest? There is, after all, a “Bridge Committee” consisting of other members of Council. Why is President Rhone a member of this Committee? Why wasn’t the newly-appointed secretary used as a contact? Were there responses from engineers other than Delta Engineering? Why wasn’t the contract with Delta Engineers reviewed by the Borough Solicitor? What information was prepared for inquiries from the ad?
I am in favor of the Buck Road Bridge repair/replacement, but not at the expense of Starrucca Borough residents. The ownership of Buck Road Bridge needs to be established before Starrucca Borough residents pay for any expenses incurred, particularly in view of the fact that the preliminary study prepared by Delta Engineers was prepared for Buck Brothers Farm and privately paid for “before” it was presented to Council to be submitted with the CDBG in 2005.
It is my opinion that Starrucca Borough Council is in violation of the Borough Code and the Sunshine Act. Therefore, all actions and motions relating to Buck Road Bridge during the months of January and February, 2006 are invalid.
Enjoying Great Success
The Child Identification Program (CHIP), sponsored by the Pennsylvania Freemasons is enjoying great success in Susquehanna County. The local district has been able to perform this service on over 3000 children, most from our county. The CHIP program is a comprehensive identification process enabling the parents to immediately identify their child to law enforcement authorities should the child become missing. The child’s fingerprints are recorded on a card; a camera takes a couple of still pictures and a video of the child, which is recorded on a small CD. These are then placed in a small packet enclosed with a DNA kit complete with instructions explaining how the parents should take the DNA samples. The packet containing all the information collected is then given to the parent. The only item kept by the program, is the Parental Permission form allowing us to perform this valuable service.
The next scheduled events in Susquehanna County are: March 7-9 - Mountain View Kindergarten Registration at Kingsley; April 20 – Choconut Valley Elementary School Open House; April 27 – Lathrop Street Elementary School Open House; May 11 - Choconut Valley Elementary School Open House; May 18 - Lathrop Street Elementary School Open House.
I performed the task as coordinator for the Elk Lake School and the Community Bank & Trust in Montrose, PA. As such, I noticed the varied participation by so many who were not Freemasons and would like to express my thanks and appreciation. First, to our many volunteer partners, these are the organizations and volunteers always on the forefront, but seldom mentioned. The PTO, school staff, Rainbow Girls, and the student Key Club are just a few. The Community Bank & Trust should also be commended for their assistance. When an enterprise opens their doors, not only for business, but also for a service to the community, they earn our praise. Even Commissioner Jeff Loomis made a visit and was pleased to express his support for this worthwhile program. While the CHIP program is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Freemasons, it is important to remember that the cooperation and support by schools, businesses and volunteers have contributed to its success. Without the efforts of so many of these unsung heroes, the program would surely falter. Again, thank you.
Fred B. Baker, II
Executing Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor and a friend were taking a joy ride in a stolen car when they spied and abducted a young girl. They attacked her repeatedly, then stuffed her in the trunk of the stolen car. Taylor, being the prudent man that he is, worried that the girl would implicate them. Then, they – the two of them – took turns stabbing her. It took 10 minutes for the 15-year-old to die.
The brutality of the crime was such that the law demanded the death penalty for Taylor in 1989 – 17 years ago. Recently Justice Robert Alito stayed his execution due to concerns relating to the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which forbids "cruel and unusual punishment."
Legally it's called execution, but in a starker term it is a legalized killing. The deliberate taking of a human life is always a grisly affair. And therein lies a quandary: How do you humanely kill someone?
In September 1789, Dr. Guillotin wrote a series of six articles that argued for the abolition of torture accompanying a death sentence. Three years later his invention did just that. The guillotine was quick, painless, but gruesome. Blood continued to spurt from the headless body creating ghastly rivulets of blood. Its use was finally discontinued in 1939, but his articles had a lasting and profound effect.
Two weeks after Dr. Guillotin's articles were published, the Bill of Rights succinctly expressed his thesis and outlawed "cruel and unusual punishment." Today, five methods of execution are employed in the United States: hanging, electrocution, lethal gas, firing squad, and lethal injection.
HANGING: Today two states allow an inmate to choose between this and lethal injection. But hanging has to be done just right. The knot must be placed in back of the neck in exactly the right spot, and the length of the rope must be adjusted to the weight of the man so that the fall will break his neck killing him instantly. But if the rope is too short, the result will be a slow and agonizing death, or if the rope is too long, the condemned man's head could be torn from his body. The job was often botched.
ELECTROCUTION: In 1888, New York opted to replace hanging with a more humane method of execution: electrocution. Unfortunately, this too had its drawbacks. A quick and painless death is dependent upon several factors: the exact combination of amperes and volts, which, in turn, depends on the weight, the ratio of body water to weight, health, age, and sex of the inmate.
Miscalculating any of these factors would result in a stomach-wrenching display of thrashing, convolutions, and the smell of burning flesh. Thankfully, execution by electrocution is now all but unknown. It exists in only two states and even here the condemned man may choose lethal injection.
LETHAL GAS: In 1924, continuing the search for humane executions, the state of Nevada became the first to use lethal gas. The inmate is led into a special chamber. He is strapped to a chair and the airtight door is closed. The executioner pulls a lever releasing crystals of sodium cyanide into a pail under the inmate's chair. This produces hydrogen cyanide gas. What follows is appalling: the inmate shows signs of extreme pain, struggling for breath, he drools, the eyes bulge, the skin turns purple. Death follows after several minutes. Lethal gas or the alternative of a lethal injection is used in six states.
FIRING SQUAD: This is used in two states, although in each state the inmate may choose lethal injection. The inmate is strapped to a chair and hooded. Twenty feet away stand five men each armed with a .30 caliber rifle containing one cartridge. One rifle is secretly loaded with a blank. (This fools no one since the rifle with the blank has no recoil.). If the aim of at least one of the four shooters is accurate, the inmate will die instantly, if not, he will bleed to death.
LETHAL INJECTION: In 1982 Oklahoma became the first state to execute an inmate using a lethal injection. Presently, 37 of the 38 states that have the death penalty employ this method. In Pennsylvania it is the only method used for execution.
Death by injection begins when an inmate is strapped onto a Gurney and rolled into the execution room. Three drugs are then injected sequentially into the condemned man. First, a commonly used anesthetic, Pentothal, but fifty times the dosage administered to a patient in a hospital operating room. Second, a muscle relaxant is injected that stops breathing by paralyzing the diaphragm. Third, a toxic agent that induces cardiac arrest is sent through the injection needle. After the last drug, death, if it has not already occurred, follows in seconds.
The murdered 15-year-old girl has long since been forgotten. There is no one to tell the horrors of her last day. No one reflects that she would be about 32 by now, married and perhaps the mother of two children. Her parents would be grandparents. And the children would be in grammar school. In another ten or fifteen years they too would be proud parents. Sadly, all this is forgotten, if, indeed, it is thought of at all. Yet the murderer has his champions – the latest being Justice Alito – and millions have been spent on his defense, interminable appeals, and incarceration.
Execution will always be a somber, even repulsive event: There is no way around it. But lethal injection satisfies the constitutional requirements: It is not "cruel" – meaning that the purpose is not to inflict pain; and it is not "usual" – meaning that the means of execution is not determined by the crime nor is it an exercise in sadistic imagination. So, then, let Michael Taylor reap what he has sown 17 long years ago.
Today the sophistication of criminal forensics is such that in some cases a killer can be indisputably identified. In these cases, a speedy trail and execution would certainly prevent future tragedies. But with executions distant from the crimes by decades, the expectation of protecting society is only a faint hope. Yet, there is that hope, if only faint. There is something else. In my mind's eye I see a future scene. It is a deserted stretch of road, along it someone is taking a solitary walk home from school: It is a 15-year-old girl. Not far behind her is a car.
New Milford, PA
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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