Main News
County Living
Church Announcements
Dated Events
Military News
Subscribe to the Transcript


Look For Our Up Coming
BRIDAL SPECIAL Featured In Our Mar. 15th Issue Of The Susquehanna County Transcript

Please visit our kind sponsors

Issue Home March 7, 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

CLIFFORD: Historic Land of Clifford, 100 years ago: The first man to settle here was Adam Miller, who was born in Ireland, came to the U.S. at the close of the American revolution, in 1799, and built a log cabin northeast of the ancient barn of J.M. Calender.

About 1800 Mr. Bucklyn built a cabin where Dundaff now is. About this time William Moss built a cabin on the Moss place, afterwards called the Galbraith place, and of late called the Ezra Lewis farm. Three cabins were all the dwellings in what is now Clifford township. The first school and first religious meetings were held in Mr. Miller’s cabin. The name of this place at that time was Elkwoods, afterwards called Beechwoods. Elkwoods included Clifford, Lenox and Herrick. The name Elkwoods came from the number of elks in this vicinity at that time. Roger Orvis, of Luzerne county, is the only man that ever killed an elk in the Elkwoods, although many horns of elk have been found.

William Miller, oldest son of Adam Miller, is believed to be the first white person born in what is now Susquehanna county. In 1802 was the first preaching in Clifford; this meeting was held in the Miller cabin. In the year 1806 was the formation of Clifford township. This was the year of the total eclipse of the sun. The first school house was built in 1814. The Baptist church was organized in this school house soon after it was built. The first person buried in Clifford was Huldah Harding: this child was drowned in the spring near the present residence of William Lott. At this time but few cattle or sheep were owned in the vast wilderness.

SUSQUEHANNA: A. Schener will discontinue the flour and feed business in this place April 1st. The new postoffice block will be built on the site he now occupies and as he cannot find a suitable place, he will close out his interest here, and make Buffalo his future home. AND: The 14th anniversary of the Masonic order in this place was celebrated Friday evening in their parlors, in the Bank block. About 75 were present.

UNIONDALE: The physician that attends Fred Carpenter reports his case as hopeless. He says: “The spinal cord is loosened, several ribs are broken from the back-bone, one shoulder crushed, and bad cut in the head.” The patient is conscious of all that is going on around him, says he heard the men say when they were getting him out from under the rock, “there is no hurry he is dead,” which they said was true.

GLENWOOD: The moving picture show held in Bennett Hall would have been a creditable affair had not someone come loaded with tangle foot, which for a time was quite exciting, but was soon over and the show went on. The dance, however, that followed the show, was a disgraceful affair. A small sized riot was indulged in. In cleaning up the wreck was found one bruised arm by coming in contact with a chair, a couple of sore heads, a broken organ and organ stool. The parties who caused the riot will be called upon to settle, which will be no small amount, and perhaps it will be a lesson long to be remembered. One thing is certain, anyone looking for trouble most generally finds it.

HOP BOTTOM: A telephone line has been placed between the homes of Mrs. Ida Tiffany and Mrs. E. M. Loomis.

SPRINGVILLE: Homer Young is fitting up the building he purchased for a barber shop, and has it so near completed that he moved into it last week.

HALLSTEAD: W. G. Boerm, of Binghamton, has accepted a position in the chair factory as a wood carver. AND: The D.L.&W. R.R. Co. is distributing car loads of new steel rails which will be laid between Hallstead and Binghamton in a few days.

FAIRDALE: You are invited to the “Birthday Party” at Grange Hall, Friday evening, March 9th. Entertainment and supper. A penny for every birthday you have had is the price. Proceeds for benefit of Epworth League.

FOREST CITY: Joseph Ackerman and W. J. Maxey have purchased of W. J. Davis, of Scranton, the Forest City opera house. This is considered one of the most important real estate deals that has taken place there in many years.

HERRICK: S. H. Pope, 84 years old, is smiling over the arrival of his first grandchild.

MONTROSE: F. P. Mills has been selling a carload of 24 Western horses at the Tarbell House barn this week, yesterday afternoon only 7 remaining. N. E. Travis, of Auburn is assisting Mr. Mills in the sale and the few remaining will sell readily. AND: It is not so bad being an iceman these days if he happens to reside in Montrose. They have had to work hard through the past week cutting and storing away the blocks of congealed water, the forces of men taking advantage of the moonlight nights to work far into the early morning. Hart’s ice houses at Jones’ Lake [now Lake Montrose] are now filled and many of the local dairymen have also been supplied with ice for summer use. At Post’s pond the Lehigh Valley has recently put in a switch from the main track and a large quantity of ice has been shipped over the line as far east as Jersey City. Every morning of the past week a large trainload of ice has been shipped over the Valley road--the railroad company paying Mr. Post at the rate of $1.50 per ton for the privilege of cutting. The filling of the Heart Lake ice house on the L. & M. branch is reported to have been completed last week. Other towns can jest about our frigid atmosphere and climate if they want to, but there is some advantage in it after all.

GREAT BEND: The freshet the first of the week along the Susquehanna flooded the flats between Great Bend and Hallstead and is said to have damaged to some extent the new bridge over Harmony creek.

BRUSHVILLE: A very pretty home wedding was solemnized at the residence of Ex-Sheriff and Mrs. Richard N. Brush, on Saturday evening, March 3rd, when their eldest daughter Miss Lelia Elizabeth, pledged her vow in holy wedlock to William L. Deakin, Jr., of Susquehanna. The wedding was marked for its simplicity and only the immediate relatives of both families were in attendance. The bride was charmingly gowned in a dress of blue crepe de chine and carried a beautiful shower bouquet of pink roses. It was a most delightful evening parlor scene, which deeply impressed all, and the bridal pair was unattended. Immediately following the ceremony, performed by Rev. Alex. D. Decker, the happy couple was “encompassed about on every side,” and best wishes showered upon them for a long and prosperous journey through life. Then all repaired to the dining room, where an excellent wedding supper was served. The bride received several elegant gifts, including $40 in money.

Back to Top


Along the Way...With P. Jay

Minimum Wage Should Be Increased

There seems to be a big push on in Harrisburg to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage in two stages to $7.15 an hour. If passed, House Bill 257, a proposed amendment to the Commonwealth’s Minimum Wage Act of 1968, would make the first jump from the current $5.15 an hour to $6.25 and then add another 90 cents a year later.

The new amendment was introduced last year by State Rep. Mark Cohen and 86 co-sponsors all of whom had hoped the first increase would go into effect Jan. 1, 2006. Unfortunately, many Republicans in the House said they weren't ready to act on the bill when it was introduced last year and some of them are stalling again this year.

In Susquehanna County, Republican House members Sandra Major and Tina Pickett aren't saying much but Democrat John Wansacz, who unfortunately only represents the borough of Forest City in our county, said the increase is long overdue.

“It is clear,” Mr. Wansacz said, “that the federal government is not going to answer the call, so we must act as a state.”

Based on a 40-hour work week, the current minimum hourly rate of $5.15 provides an annual gross income of $10,712. Standard deductions and health insurance could put the net pay in or around the $9,000 mark or about $6,000 less than the projected $15,205 that is needed to keep a family of three out of the poverty level. In Susquehanna County, 12.3 percent of our people are already living below poverty level.

What bugs me is that these same state politicians who begrudge a few extra dollars a week to young folks trying to raise a family or buy a home gave themselves raises ranging from 16 percent to 34 percent last July. They did rescind the raise in response to volumes of letters and hundreds of verbal complaints from voters across the Commonwealth. But last I heard they found a loophole that still allows them to bring more cream to the top.

By the way, the Pennsylvania minimum wage law, like neighboring New Jersey, does not contain current dollar minimums. Instead, both states adopted the Federal minimum wage rate by reference. The New York minimum wage that will go to $6.75 in January, is automatically replaced with the Federal minimum wage rate if it is higher than the state minimum.

On the national level, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), put together a plan that would increase the federal minimum wage law by $1.10 in two steps of 55 cents over an 18-month period. And to keep the Mom and Pop operations happy, Mr. Santorum’s proposal includes tax and regulatory breaks for small businesses, but sources in Washington say his plan is headed for the graveyard.

And Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) came up with a package that the Democrats embraced for a while but his hope that the minimum wage would have been boosted to $7.25 more than a year ago also collapsed.

Goodbye Donna

One of the most quietest and efficient employees in the Susquehanna County Courthouse has retired. I refer to Donna Goff who served the county well during her 45 years of employment.

Donna’s last position was in the Adult Probation Department where she was responsible for collecting money owed to the county court system. On most occasions, the individuals were fined for an assortment of reasons and paid the fines on the installment plan. Last year Donna collected more than $400,000 that was turned over to the proper channels.

Donna’s friends treated her to a great retirement party and gave her an outstanding sendoff. If anyone earned a well deserved retirement it is Donna Goff, although I would bet that given her druthers, she would like to have stayed on the job a while longer. I among many others will miss you Donna. I wish you good health and a long and happy retirement.

Welcome Back Jeff

Observed Jeff Loomis back on the job last week during one of my customary Wednesday visits to the courthouse. Jeff missed the last commissioners meeting because he was stricken with pneumonia. Good to see you back on the beat, Jeff.

Back to Top


From the Desk of the D.A.

On September 24, 1982, George Banks, a 40-year old prison guard at a state correctional facility, attended a family party accompanied by Dorothy Lyons and Regina Clemens, both of whom were Banks’ girlfriends. Banks was wearing a t-shirt that read: “Kill Them All And Let God Sort Them Out.” Although Banks consumed alcohol at the party, the witnesses indicated that he was not intoxicated. After returning to his residence after the party, Banks, using a Colt semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, killed three women and five children. There were two children who were only 1 year of age, another child was 4 years of age, and the other child was only six years of age – and some of the children were Banks’ own. As Banks left his home, he encountered several pedestrians, including Raymond Hall and James Olson. Banks shot and killed Hall, and seriously wounded Olson. The witnesses who observed Banks noted that he was wearing combat fatigues with an ammunition bandolier hanging around his chest.

Banks then carjacked an automobile and drove to the residence of a former girlfriend. Once in the residence, Banks shot and killed 2 more adults and 2 children, with the children being 5 and 7 years of age. All told, Banks shot 14 people, killing 13 in the course of about one hour – 6 being children with the oldest of those being only 7 years of age.

Law enforcement officials eventually cornered Banks in a local residence where a standoff lasted for about 4 hours. Banks eventually gave himself up – turning over his weapon and asking the police not to shoot him. After being taken into custody, Banks stated that he wished he were dead because the State was going to kill him in the electric chair anyway. Commonwealth v. Banks, 513 Pa. 318, 328 (Pa. 1987.). All of the witnesses at the time of trial described Banks as acting in a calm manner despite the horrific acts he was committing.

At the time of trial, Banks asserted a defense of insanity and a diminished mental capacity, contending that Banks had been tormented by his mixed heritage, namely a black father and a white mother. Banks apparently suffered from paranoia, believing that there would be international race wars, and he prepared for those wars by purchasing guns, hording food and reading survivalist literature. At various times, he had threatened to kill his children rather than have them grow up in this world.

Banks presented three psychiatric experts at the time of trial. The experts all noted Banks’ paranoia when focused upon his perception of the race wars. On the other hand, with respect to the other aspect of Banks’ personality, he functioned normally, and had an I.Q. that placed him within the top 5% of the population. The jury rejected Banks’ insanity/diminished capacity defense in its entirety, convicted him of 12 counts of first degree murder, and sentenced him to 12 separate death sentences, one for each count. In 1987, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered the evidence, including the insanity/diminished mental capacity defenses, and affirmed Banks’ convictions and death sentences.

While many of you know the story, for those who have not heard, George Banks is still alive more than two decades after his killing rampage. Despite affirming his convictions and sentences in 1987, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in December 2004 stayed his execution and ordered a hearing to determine whether Banks was competent to be executed. You see, the United States Supreme Court has determined that it is unconstitutional to execute a legally incompetent person. Last week, Judge Michael Conahan of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County determined that Banks cannot be executed because he is no longer legally competent – in other words Banks lacks the ability to knowingly and meaningfully understand comprehend his sentence and execution. The Commonwealth is appealing this determination.

Banks has come full circle – in 1983 a jury of his peers rejected his claim of insanity/diminished mental capacity and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1987 finding that Banks could not demonstrate a viable insanity/diminished capacity defense, followed by decades of incarceration while Banks mental abilities apparently diminished to the point that his initial defense of limited mental capacities has resurfaced to save his life. The irony is striking – Banks was apparently sane and competent when he killed 13 people, including 6 small children and infants – but he now lacks sufficient mental capacity to face and understand his punishment! In response to this news, someone asked me why bother even having a death penalty when it is so ineffective against a mass murderer like George Banks. Why, indeed?

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.

Back to Top


The Healthy Geezer

(This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on back pain. The first column was about causes. This one is about prevention.)

Back pain is very common. It affects about 8 out of 10 people. But there are many steps you can take to avoid it.

One of the best things you can do to prevent back pain is to exercise regularly and keep your back and abdominal muscles strong. A program of regular low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or riding a bike—mobile or stationary—will be beneficial. Yoga can also help stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture. Ask your doctor for a list of exercises appropriate for your age and physical condition.

Here are some quick pointers to prevent back problems:

Always stretch before any strenuous physical activity.

Don’t slouch when standing or sitting. When standing, keep your weight balanced on your feet. Curvature of the spine puts stress on back muscles.

Sit in chairs or car seats with good lumbar support. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension.

Don’t bend over without supporting your back. For example, don’t lean over a low sink without bracing yourself with your hand. Also, don’t reach and lift an object out of a car trunk; first slide the object to the edge of the trunk.

Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.

Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. Always sleep on a firm surface.

Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with your legs keeping your back straight. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting.

Try to control your weight, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles.

If you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.

To keep your spine strong, as with all bones, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day. These nutrients help prevent osteoporosis, which is responsible for a lot of the bone fractures that lead to back pain.

Calcium is found in dairy products; green, leafy vegetables; and fortified products, like orange juice. Your skin makes vitamin D when you are in the sun. If you are not outside much, you can obtain vitamin D from your diet: almost all milk and some other foods are fortified with this nutrient. Most adults don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, so talk to your doctor about how much you need per day.

In most cases, it is not necessary to see a doctor for back pain because pain usually goes away with or without treatment. However, a trip to the doctor is a good idea if your pain is severe and doesn’t improve, or if you have pain after a fall or an injury.

It is important to see your doctor if you have pain along with any of the following problems: trouble urinating; weakness, pain or numbness in your legs; fever; or unintentional weight loss. Such symptoms could signal a serious problem that requires treatment soon.

If you have a question, please write to

Back to Top


News  |  Living  |  Sports  |  Schools  |  Churches  |  Ads  |  Events
Military  |  Columns  |  Ed/Op  |  Obits  | Archive  |  Subscribe