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June 18th

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Issue Home June 6, 2006 Site Home

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

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

100 Years Ago

BRUSHVILLE: Last Sunday afternoon Delos Carrington, Jr., while strolling through the woods near here, killed a blacksnake five feet long. He tied a string around its neck and dragged it about 20 rods to a large rock, on which he went to sleep. After sleeping about two hours he awoke and upon going to get the dead snake found another large black snake near the dead one, which evidently had followed the trail where the other had been dragged along. Delos cut a stick and captured the second snake alive, which measured 5’& 6”, and brought him home to Susquehanna. A large number of people saw the snakes and were astonished that we had as large snakes in this section. The snake would climb the large maple trees as easily as crawling on the ground, which was a new feature of snake life to most everyone. He [Delos] has it in a box and will keep it for a time as curiosity. Samuel Bagnall, who touched the snake’s tail, was struck in the knee, but fortunately his loose fitting trousers saved him from being bitten.

SPRINGVILLE: Bessie Coons had the misfortune to fall from a chair, striking her face against the stove and knocked out one of her eyes. The eye, however, was one which had troubled her considerably and was nearly or quite blind.

GREAT BEND-HALLSTEAD: The opening of the racing season of 1906 will occur on the fourth of July. Come and enjoy the sport, consisting of harness racing, running racing, automobile race [and] foot race. Cake walking will also be a feature of the contest. At the park a large force of laborers are cleaning up the grounds and placing the fine track in condition for the event. The management has offered the free use of its track and barns to all persons desiring to condition their horses, and for the purpose of training and practicing for this event. An excellent place to spend the fourth and have a good time. Good order will be maintained. All faking will be prohibited.

MONTROSE: While alighting from a carriage in front of her home, Mrs. D. W. Searle, wife of Judge Searle, was tripped by her dress and falling, sustained a broken arm. The other arm was also badly sprained and the ligaments torn, so that it was necessary to place both in plaster paris casts. It is expected no permanent inconvenience will result from the injuries. AND: A man with a trained bear gave exhibitions on our streets Wednesday eve.

SUSQUEHANNA: The Rail Road Y.M.C.A. organized a boat club Tuesday evening, with John Barnes as commodore. This is a good thing as it will bring a number of new boats here on the river, and give the young men practice and recreation at the same time. AND: The Erie is to build another new round house. The plans have been accepted and the work will be started as soon as possible. It will be situated near Jackson and Millane’s coal pockets. It is also currently reported that the Erie is to install a number of new and up to date machines in the shops, the cost of which will amount to $80,000.

DIMOCK: During the thundershower Tuesday afternoon, lightning struck the big barn on the Cope farm, burning it, and four other buildings close by. Lightning also struck the Ballentine barn, three quarters of a mile away, but did not burn it, but stunned a couple of men who were in it, it being an hour before one of them, Albert Avery, regained consciousness.

GLENWOOD: Decoration day was fittingly observed at the Tower cemetery. Capt. Lyons Post was assisted by the Sons of Veterans; also the Spanish American Soldiers’ dinner was served by the Ladies Aid Society--and such a dinner! Everything good and plenty, and the inner man was well satisfied. Afterwards we had another feast in the chapel. Selden Munger, of Montrose, was the speaker and his address was well rendered, and listened to with rapt attention. The day being fine, a goodly number were out, and all spent the day with good feeling and profit to themselves and to all concerned.

SOUTH GIBSON: The death angel has again visited our village and taken from us a good neighbor and a useful citizen. On the morning of May 29, A.J. Wickwire, who kept a shoe store and did repairing in leather, went to this shop to finish a pair of shoes for a Mr. Freeman, who had stopped in town over night. Mr. Freeman entered about 5 minutes after Curtis Howell had left the store and found Mr. Wickwire gasping his last breath. A physician was called but was too late. Burial at Union Hill cemetery.

HARFORD: Roll call service on Friday the 15th, the 166th anniversary of the Congregational church. Dinner at noon. Everyone welcome. AND: Geo. Tiffany has traded his house and blacksmith shop to Andrew Meade for his farm and will take possession soon.

BROOKLYN: Rev. T. L. Drury will preach to the Order of the American Boys next Sunday morning at the Universalist church. The boys will attend in a body. His subject will be: “Daniel in Babylon” or “The Value of Character.” [Does anyone know if the Order of the American Boys became the Boys Scouts of America?]

LANESBORO: The drilling for coal on the States farm near Lanesboro has been discontinued for the present and no information has been given out as to the results obtained. Some say a seven-foot vein was struck and others claim it was another bubble gone wrong.

SCRANTON: A Scranton youth was arrested the other night for prowling around a house in which his sweetheart resides, not being bold enough to enter in at the door, as he suspected pater familas was also holding sway in the parlor. At the investigation in police court the girl was loyal to her “best fellow” and saw him safely out of his predicament. But after the magistrate had finished his lecture and the couple departed, the young lady took it upon herself to tell the young man to ring the doorbell in the future. It takes some youthful admirers a long time to find out it is best to enter in by the door even with the “old man” hanging onto the door knob, than to run the risk of wet feet from the dewy lawn.

NEWS BRIEFS: In the opening of the Shoshone reservation this summer one railroad in Wyoming will organize a subsidiary automobile service over a gravel road 100 miles long. A railroad cannot be built in a day, but little time is needed to get up steam in a skidoodle annex. AND: Twenty-three veterans of the civil war are in the United States Senate, of whom 13 were confederates. In the lower house are 32 who served in the Union army and 12 were Confederates. The total of 67 civil war soldiers in Congress, 41 years after, is a striking fact. AND: The milking machine promises to become quite a factor before long. They are now in successful use.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay


More School Stuff

The new school tax bills will be in your mail boxes soon and, as usual, most of us will be unhappy when we see an increase. Not that we are against paying our fair shares to educate the children, but because of the obvious inequities in the Commonwealth’s formula for filling the school districts’ bank accounts with enough money for another year.

For example, there was a time when the state share of school costs was at or near the 50 percent level. But in the 2004-05 school year, Pennsylvania was ranked near the bottom of the 50 states with a state budget that appropriated 35.8 percent for education, while the national average remains at close to 50 percent paid by other states.

From one source I was told that the state began reducing its appropriation to school districts as far back as 1964. From a second source I was told the state started making serious cuts in educational appropriations in 1980. Actually, the year is irrelevant. What’s important is that the state keeps pushing new programs on the school districts, helps finance the programs for a year or two, and then discontinues its share of the costs but forces the school districts to continue the programs. Your local school director will tell you that procedures of this type are frequently generated in Harrisburg and subsequently become what are commonly known as “unfunded mandates.”

What puzzles me about the state budget is that I have not heard a single representative or senator from this area screaming about the unjust treatment accorded to our boards of education. And I am certain if one of them said something on the House or Senate floors, it would be worthy of some television and newspaper coverage so we would have heard about it. But it appears our representatives in Harrisburg sort of go with the flow and accept an occasional bone they can bring back here for some playground equipment, some emergency equipment or a recycling truck. But as far as fighting for increased educational appropriations, forget it.

And let me say this, it isn't only the state elected officials that are letting us down. At boards of education meeting, I hear school directors gripe about the state cuts in educational funds, but I have yet to hear about a single director raising hell with our state representatives over the financial reductions. Why do they remain so quiet? My friends, it’s because they all participate in the widely known game of politics.

Two years ago, the amount of state appropriations on a per pupil basis was $3,475. The national average for annual state support for students was $4,253. It has not gone up much since. The National Center for Education Statistics tells us Pennsylvania ranks 36 of the 50 states in support per student. And because of the state’s refusal to bring its appropriations closer to the national level, public education in the Keystone State is more dependent on local taxes than in most states. The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania tells us that in 1995-96, 73 percent of the school districts spent within $1,000 of the state average per student. In 2003-04, it had declined to only 53 percent.

Because there is no public vote on school budgets in Pennsylvania, boards of education have a free hand on spending. And there is a sizeable gap between the highest and lowest spending school districts in Pennsylvania. The highest spending district spent $16,803 per student in 2003-04; the lowest only $6,344. In the 2006-07 school year, Forest City Regional will spend about $10,000 per student.

Equality in local school taxes is also missing in Pennsylvania. In many instances, it is the poorest school districts that have the highest tax rates, yet, the Pennsylvania Department of Education tells us, the poor districts do not have the adequate levels of funding to ensure a high quality of education for all students.

And now we have preschool programs that are also adding to our tax burdens. Of the 38 states that funded preschool in the 2004-05 year, Pennsylvania ranked 30th in access for four-year-olds. The state’s spending on preschool is below average but it has made some improvements.

Another extremely large chunk of tax money is being eaten up by a nationwide trend toward class size reduction. Depending on the specific options chosen, the estimated costs vary from about $2 billion per year to over $11 billion per year. And the research team that gathered the information tells us that it could be further increased by teacher salary increases necessitated by the rapid increase in the demand for teachers caused by class size reduction.

Bottom line: If something isn't done soon, like laying all these problems on the doorsteps of the House and Senate in Harrisburg and let them pound out an affordable and amicable solution, there will be a lot of real estate tax sales and a lot of senior citizens wondering where they will live out the remaining years of their lives.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

On my way to work this morning, I saw a black bear. For some, this may not seem like a very extraordinary occurrence, but there was something magical about the encounter. I have heard other people around the county talk about seeing bears for years now, but I have never actually seen one in person myself – at least not in this county. The last time I saw a bear in person, I was a small child and I was spending a weekend with my grandparents in their cottage along the Susquehanna River near Falls, PA. I can still remember my grandmother getting my brother and I out of bed in the early morning hours so that we could see the small bear cubs (I believe there were two) that were wandering around the small cottage. I am guessing that my last bear sighting was probably 30 years ago – so today was special.

So many people have told me that they have seen bears in this area. I have seen pictures that other people have taken of bears in this area. Recently, my neighbor came over to my house to warn me that a bear had knocked down and mauled all of his bird feeders. I have read all of the reports indicating the increasing bear population. Despite all of this information, I still had not seen a bear in the wild in 30 years.

As I was driving this morning, I happened to look down over a small embankment and saw this large black bear standing at the edge of a cleared small field. The bear was very large – and it did not initially register with me what I was seeing. I traveled another five hundred feet or so, when I finally stopped the car. I wondered whether my eyes had played tricks on me. I put my car in reverse and backed up. As I was backing up, I saw the bear’s head just cresting the embankment as he/she was intending to cross the road. As the bear saw my car approaching, he (I am assuming it was a male) turned around and trotted back down the embankment toward the stand of pine trees from which he came. As I stopped the car, the bear also stopped near the edge of the trees, and looked back over his shoulder at my car. I sat there for a period of time just watching the bear and the bear just watched me. His dark hair was wet and ruffled from the rain and damp grass. There were small tendrils of steam rising from his fur where his body heat was causing the wetness to evaporate. His dark eyes never stopped watching my car, and his large body remained perfectly still. The bear won the contest of wills – I moved first, and, after I started on my way, the bear turned and started into the pine trees.

The encounter struck me for a number of reasons. First, there seems to be something magical about bears – something that draws upon our human compassion. This unexplainable attraction has led to the huge teddy bear industry along with the numerous successful cartoon characters that were bears. Second, this attraction can often place human beings in dangerous and deadly situations. Bears are wild and powerful animals – not cute and cuddly domesticated pets. Simply, an encounter with a bear can be deadly. As I sat in my car, I was thinking all of these things – and wondered how I would feel if I encountered him as I was hiking in the woods rather than sitting in the safety of my car.

The most interesting part of this morning’s encounter was that I have been searching for a way to invite people to a presentation called “The Bear Necessities,” which will be a talk on how human beings can protect themselves from conflicts with the increasing bear population. I did not know how I was going to work the invitation into my regular column, and today was the deadline for submission. So, as I was driving to work this morning, thinking about what I was going to write, I saw my first bear in the wild in 30 years! As a member of the E.L. Rose Conservancy of Susquehanna, I invite anyone interested in bears to join us on June 11, at 4:30 p.m. at the Wilkerson’s Barn located right on the shores of Silver Lake. The speaker will be Kristi Sullivan, a member of the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. Admission is free, and, if you are interested in bears, the information valuable.

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The Healthy Geezer

Q. I’ve been losing some hair, which is no surprise for an old lady, but I was wondering if there’s anything I can do to hold onto what I have.

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. Androgenetic Alopecia, or pattern baldness, is the most common type of alopecia; it affects about one-third of us. I’m in that third with you.

Men start to get pattern baldness at the hairline and crown. This can lead to complete baldness. Women’s hair loss is usually limited to thinning; they rarely go totally bald.

There are a few steps you can take to preserve your hair:

1.) Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the hair. So, forget braids, ponytails, cornrows and tight hair rollers. The pulling causes some hair loss, especially along the sides of the scalp. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. If the pulling scars the scalp, it can cause permanent hair loss.

2.) Brushing or combing too much can break hair, so keep them to a minimum. Use combs with wide teeth and brushes with smooth tips. Wet hair is more fragile than dry hair, so show care when you do your hair after a shower.

3. Shampooing too often is bad for your hair. Use a cream rinse or conditioner after shampooing to make it easier to comb. And don’t dry your hair by rubbing it with a towel.

4. Don’t use hot-oil hair treatments or chemicals in permanents. These may cause inflammation of the hair follicles, which can lead to hair loss.

There are about 100,000 hairs in the average scalp. About 100 hairs are lost from your head every day. Each individual hair survives for an average of 4 1/2 years and grows about a half inch a month. In its fifth year, the hair usually falls out and is replaced within six months by a new one.

We lose hair as we age. Pattern baldness affects many more men than women. About 25 percent of men begin to bald by the time they are 30 years old, and about two-thirds have at least a balding pattern by age 60.

Androgenetic alopecia is caused by heredity; a history of it on either side of your family increases your risk of balding.

Medicines may help slow or prevent the development of common baldness. Rogaine is available without a prescription. It is applied to the scalp. Both men and women can use it. Propecia is available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men. It may take up to six months before you can tell if one of these medicines is working.

Hair transplants and scalp reduction surgery are available to treat androgenetic alopecia when more conservative measures have failed. During transplantation a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon takes tiny plugs of skin, each containing one to several hairs, from the back or side of your scalp. The plugs are then implanted into the bald sections. Scalp reduction, as the name implies, means decreasing the area of bald skin on your head.

If you have a question, please write to

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The Family Doctor

Having written last week about the upper GI system, I was happy to receive to following question in my email: Speaking of the upper GI system, I would like any info you may have on Gastroparesis.

Having received this question, I will interrupt our Fantastic Voyage through the GI system to address this very common and distressing problem.

Gastroparesis is Latin for “stomach weakness” (or even, “paralysis”) and refers to a condition in which the muscles that line the stomach wall don’t work correctly. As you recall from last week, the stomach is the body’s food processor, where several raw materials are mixed together to create a properly balanced mixture. When the motor in your food processor breaks, it’s not much good. Similarly, when the muscles of your stomach weaken, food is not properly mixed and the stomach doesn’t properly empty.

Normally, an adult’s stomach will hold 2-3 quarts comfortably, but with gastroparesis it is not unusual to have the stomach stretched to 2-3 times its normal size. (The next time you see a gallon jug, think of how uncomfortable you’d be trying to fit that into your tummy.) Not only is the stomach stretched to uncomfortably large size, it also doesn’t empty well, so that uncomfortable mass just sits there for hours.

Gastroparesis can be the result of neurologic or muscular conditions. One of the most common causes is diabetes, which damages all of your nerves and muscles. Another common cause is thyroid disease, and people can also develop gastroparesis as part of a broader neuromuscular disorder such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. Gastroparesis can result from lupus, scleroderma, and eating disorders, but many times there is no clear explanation. The medical term for disease of unknown origin is “idiopathic” (unknown pathology) and a disturbing number of conditions have that explanation.

Symptoms of gastroparesis include bloating, abdominal discomfort, poor appetite, early fullness, nausea, and even vomiting undigested food. It’s not a pleasant condition to have, and must be thoroughly evaluated to be sure that no other conditions exist. A tumor blocking the outlet of the stomach (the pylorus) can mimic gastroparesis, so can ulcer disease, other cancers, and either gall bladder or pancreas disease. So testing to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other problems is very important. In addition to testing for diabetes, thyroid problems, lupus, MS, and so on, your doctor will order ultrasound of the abdomen and upper GI endoscopy, where a special fiberoptic scope is swallowed under sedation so the entire upper GI tract can be seen and photographed.

A barium swallow outlines the GI tract on X-ray, while a gastric emptying scan uses a special material that can be tracked on a nuclear scanner to measure exactly how fast and how well the stomach empties. One of the most specific tests to confirm the condition is gastric manometry, where the pressure inside the stomach is directly measured using a thin probe swallowed under sedation. (Since the stomach muscles are not under conscious control, you can be sedated and still get accurate measurements of stomach muscle strength.)

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment is directed at the underlying condition. Since most cases of gastroparesis are the result of poorly controlled diabetes, proper attention to blood sugar management is critical. Where gastroparesis is due to MS, Parkinson’s, thyroid disease, lupus, or other underlying disease, careful attention to those conditions is the best way to deal with gastroparesis.

Treating gastroparesis usually includes medication as well as diet and lifestyle changes. There are medications that directly stimulate stomach muscles, like metoclopramide (brand name Reglan) but this can cause sleepiness, depression, nausea and anxiety. The antibiotic erythromycin is often used in gastroparesis because it irritates the stomach and triggers muscle activity. (It’s an interesting use of an antibiotic solely to take advantage of its side effect. There are no germs to kill in gastroparesis, but the antibiotic is used because so many people who were prescribed it for infection developed stomach cramps.) Because nausea and heartburn frequently accompany the condition, patients are often prescribed anti-nausea medicines like promethazine (Phenergan) or anti-acid medication like omeprazole (Prilosec). Urocholine (Bethanechol) is another muscle stimulating drug that can be used for gastroparesis, and “domperidone” (not Dom Perignon!) is a brand-new agent that is still under investigation by the FDA and is approved for limited use in patients who have failed all other medications. Dietary and lifestyle measures that can be taken to ease the condition include frequent small meals, and avoiding over-filling and over-stretching the stomach. Fatty foods delay stomach emptying and high fiber foods can worsen feelings of bloating. Avoiding gas-producing foods is helpful, and stopping the meal before you feel “stuffed” is important. Sometimes a liquid nutritional supplement like Ensure or Osmolite is used to administer high calorie and nutrient-rich material in small volumes that pass more easily through the stomach. In severe cases of gastroparesis that have failed every other treatment, surgeons can implant a gastric pacemaker, which directly stimulates the stomach muscles. Another technique used by surgeons is the injection of botulinum toxin (Botox!) to the pylorus (the muscles that close off the end of the stomach) and as these muscles are paralyzed, the stomach’s outflow is not obstructed.

As always, if there is something you want to learn more about or have explained in general terms, write to me at “Ask the Family Doctor” c/o Susquehanna County Transcript, 212-216 Exchange Street, Susquehanna, PA 18847. You can also e-mail me at To schedule an appointment, call my office in the Barnes-Kasson Health Center, Hallstead Office, 879-5249.

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Straight From Starrucca

Memorial Day, May 29. What a beautiful day to honor our veterans! What excellent speeches! Towards the end an errant cloud drifted over us and released a few drops, but then moved on. The Memorial Park was trimly manicured and the program went off well, thanks to Gail Williams, the organizer.

The program was as follows. Invocation, Pastor Barbara Pease, Methodist Church; Pledge of Allegiance, Ruth Mroczka; song, “America the Beautiful” led by Julie Rhone Hargett; placing of the wreath at the memorial, Gina Upright; Memorial Day Message, Dave Soden; Roll Call of the Dead, Virginia Upright (substituting for Art Kopp); placing of the plant at the Memorial Board, Joy Mead; poem, “Memorial Day,” MaryAnn Debalko; Devotional, Pastor Al Rodriguez, Baptist Church; song, “America,” led by Julie Rhone Hargett; closing prayer, Pastor Al Rodriguez; Taps, Danielle Williams.

At the cemetery: opening prayer, Pastor Al Rodriguez; devotional, Pastor Barbara Pease; song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” led by Julie Hargett; closing prayer, Pastor Al Rodriguez; Taps, Danielle Williams. The observance ended with placing of flowers on graves.

At the Cemetery Association meeting at eleven a.m., two motions made and voted on and passed were as follows: letters will be sent to lot owners asking for donations to purchase land for a new road to the cemetery. Included in the letter will be a notice for all lot owners having a tree or bushes on their lot to have them removed by next Memorial Day. This was in the bylaws established in or about 1957 and will now have to be enforced.

Many familiar faces were seen of departed citizens of the community. Some of these were Lori Kopp Walker and husband, Jim, Rochester, NY; Marlene Stearns, Connecticut; the Chaffees; Phyllis Buck and husband, Russell, Sayre, PA; Dorothy Barnes and Harvey Boughner, Shamokin, PA; Joe Brownell, New York City; Ernest Carpenter and wife, Johnson City, NY; Dave and Norma Glover, Vestal, NY.

Barb and Roger Glover spent four days in Coventry, NY being entertained by a bluegrass festival.

Kevin Gardner and three buddies spent four days fishing in Verona, Canada over the holiday weekend, returning with lots of fish.

Ruth Mroczka sold three of her quilts at the Pleasant Mount quilt show.

Daughter-in-law, Phyllis was down over the weekend and planted my window and porch boxes – such energy! I wish I had an eighth of what she has. Then she had to go home and plant her garden.

I had a pleasant interlude with Dorothy and Leon Frank last Thursday.


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