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Letters to the Editor Policy

What Was Its Purpose?

My reason for writing this letter is due to the letter to the editor in this newspaper, July 19, entitled, “War Production,” by Bob Scroggins. Sir, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, one that can find its way to print just like mine, thanks to our First Amendment right (a cause we fought for and won, as you know).

As I read your letter, I found myself wondering what its purpose was, exactly. You are obviously an educated and eloquently written man. But why did we need to know the anatomical mayhem imposed by artillery on the flesh and bones of our loved ones, in Iraq or anywhere? The devastation you described is enough to make you vomit.

These combatants you describe were once the life that fluttered in their mothers’ wombs, then became the infant she cradled in her arms. She wiped tears, bandaged knees, and held their hands crossing the street. From hearing their first words, to the words that they would serve their country in a foreign land, a mother’s life is all about worry. Your letter didn’t calm any of that worry. I feel it was meant to insult our brave protectors and military in general, and who knows what possible political agenda.

Wars have been a fact of life almost since life began, fought by civilized and uncivilized people, from the Crusades to the Civil War, to the war in Iraq. Each war having been fought for what was a “good cause,” from Christianity to freeing slaves, avenging a “wrong” or making a “right,” or protecting your own property, or your own country and its people.

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, as we all know for a cause he believed in, and unwittingly gave his life. A cause that was won for the betterment of mankind – freedom for human beings. Not unlike the plight of the Iraqi people under the reign of Saddam Hussein.

In your previously written letters, you’ve insulted our current president and others. You don’t sound happy here. Maybe you would be happier homesteading elsewhere in the world. There are many wonderful countries left to choose from.

I’m not nearly as eloquent with words as yourself and it is not my intention to insult you, or to start an ongoing “paper war.” But as a mother of two sons in the military (one in Iraq), I feel offended by your comments. Standing on the Courthouse steps on the Fourth of July, watching a draped caisson climb the avenue in Montrose in tribute to fallen soldiers, was almost more than I could bear. It was a grim enough reminder of the price of sacrifice. I didn’t need it spelled out for me, “anatomically.”

War is hell. It’s an ugly fact of life. A necessary evil. I think we all knew that before your July 9 letter. Anything worthwhile is worth fighting for. Freedom is no exception. So far, no one has been able to wave a magic wand and make peace. Nor have we, as a civilized people, been able to solve our differences solely with words. I for one don’t foresee a change in that pattern, unfortunately. But we mustn’t stop trying. You, sir, seem to be a staunch advocate for peace. I commend you for that. But maybe your eloquence is wasted in a small-town newspaper. Your pearls of wisdom might be put to better use in peacekeeping missions. Say, in Iraq perhaps.

And, please, do not forget the USMC’s Toys for Tots program, etc. Our military is not trained strictly to be killing machines. They do many fine humanitarian projects for our country and others. They do not, as you put it, “deserve what they get,” Mr. Scroggins. And they never have.


Sandra Birtch

Montrose, PA

Appalling Verdict

Susquehanna County Magistrate Peter Janicelli found Linda Jones-Newman and Kevin Newman innocent of all but one animal cruelty and neglect charge, and ordered that the PSPCA return the 73 animals seized because of unsanitary conditions and a lack of proper sustenance. Despite the horrific conditions on the property and numerous animal cruelty violations, the owners of the horses and small animals were found not guilty, with the exception of four of the animals. The total fine for their neglect was $75.

This ruling comes six months after the Susquehanna County Humane Society officials raided the Newman's 44-acre property on Brownville Road in Thompson, PA. A team of PSPCA Officers and state officials assisted with the search and seizure; upon their arrival they found that most of the animals were already dead while many others had to be euthanized immediately. The majority of remaining animals needed immediate veterinary assistance.

These animals were severely undernourished and living in filthy, run-down conditions. No food, hay or water was seen anywhere near the animals. Further investigation revealed supplies that were stockpiled nearby in a huge trailer.

Most of the animals endured an unbearable existence while cruelly confined in piled-up filth and debris inside their stalls and cages. Some horses were found dead in their stalls, while three goats lay dead outside a barn. One pony had an open wound that had been left untreated for over a year; a resulting infection had spread throughout the pony's back.

All of these conditions were documented by photographs and supported by testimony from witnesses, yet the judgment was “not guilty.”

The PSPCA is a law enforcement organization vested with statewide authority to enforce anti-cruelty statutes in order to protect animals from abusive owners. This judgment reverses the protection the PSPCA is obligated to provide in this case.

We are appalled at this terrible judgment.

If you also disagree with this verdict, please

voice your opinion and write to: Magistrate Peter Janicelli, Box 295, New Milford, PA 18834.


Erik Hendricks

Executive Director, PSPCA

Ag Committee Hearing

On Thursday, July 20, I attended the dairy hearing that was held by the US Senate Agriculture Committee. While I was not on the privileged list to testify, I was able to have my testimony introduced into the record. I urged Congress to take immediate action to correct the pricing inequities facing dairy farmers. Again, we urged the following:

1. Place a $14.50 per cwt floor price under all milk.

2. Increase the Class I differential in all Federal Orders by $3.00 per cwt.

This additional $3.00 could be pooled nationally to all federal order producers, with all dairy farmers sharing equally. This would relate to the national Class I utilization.

Regarding the 2007 Farm Bill, I made several suggestions for dairy. However, our main emphasis was for a new pricing formula to be developed. This new formula has to include the dairy farmer’s cost of production. Nothing else should be acceptable by dairy farmers.

The Chairman of this Committee, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), announced there would be another hearing later in 2006. At that hearing, he would like specific recommendations for the 2007 Farm Bill.

This is the question: how does the everyday dairy farmer have his views adequately represented?

The hearing on July 20 lasted only two hours. There were two panels. The first panel consisted of three officials from the USDA. Dr. Joseph Glauber, Deputy Chief Economist, pinch hit for the ailing Dr. Keith Collins. Dr. Glauber basically reviewed existing dairy policies.

The second panel consisted of Charles Beckendorf, National Milk Producers Federation, Jim Green associated with Kemps Food, St. Paul, Minnesota, Ken Hall, Dairy Producer, Terreton, Idaho, and Leon Berthiaume, General Manager, St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Inc., St. Albans, Vermont.

Beckendorf did allude to the increased cost of producing milk. He also noted that between 2002 and 2003, “... the US dairy industry experienced a substantial imbalance between supply and demand due primarily to a surge of milk protein imports, as noted by a report from the International Trade Commission in May, 2004.”

National Milk continued to support the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, the price support program, the Milk Income Loss program, and Beckendorf strongly supported and praised the C.W.T. program as a strong instrument for “cooperatives working together.”

However, as usual, Jim Green, representing International Dairy Foods Association, appeared to be slamming the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, the milk support price program, and the Milk Income Loss payments. Green also stated that manufacturers are losing $25 million per month as a result of inadequate make allowances. According to Green, the “make allowance” must be increased (of course, this means a lower price to dairy farmers).

Ken Hall, dairy producer from Idaho, seemed to echo many of the same feelings that were expressed by Jim Green. Hall said he has gone from a 100-cow herd to 2,000 cows. He also said if dairy farmers are inefficient, they will have to leave the business.

The bright spot of the hearing came from Leon Berthiaume from St. Albans Co-op. He echoed many of the same concerns for the family dairy farms as we do. His testimony was really refreshing.

Without any reservations, in my opinion, the real remarks came from Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT). As usual, Leahy defended our family farms, the need to increase prices to all dairy farmers, and the continuation of diversified production areas of  milk. It is rewarding to have at least one Senator who realizes the needs of all of our dairy farmers.

In the near future, we are planning a meeting with several farm organizations and agriculture aides from several key Senate and House members.

We will keep you posted.


Arden Tewksbury

Meshoppen, PA

Is It True?

As a taxpayer of the county, there is a situation developing with the Barnes-Kasson Hospital that I feel requires immediate attention and drastic measures taken. Peoples National Bank has notified the commissioners that the Tri Boro Municipal Authority/Barnes Kasson Hospital Project Loan #5028238 has missed at least three months’ payments. This has caused the payments to be taken from a reserve account (county guarantee bond), of one year’s payments. Furthermore, the latest payment taken from the reserve account was to cover the June 15, 2006 payment. If Barnes-Kasson has not made the July 15, 2006 payment, the reserve will be tapped again, leaving just eight months’ reserve.

It is my understanding that Commissioner Kelly is the liaison between Barnes-Kasson and the county. Is it true that Commissioner Kelly has not notified the county of the loan default? If so, why? As the liaison between the county and Barnes Kasson, she should certainly have the information. If she doesn’t, what action has she taken to ensure it comes her way?

It would seem to me that three possibilities are left to the commissioners. First, and least desirable, allow the situation to continue and put it on the backs of the taxpayers. Second, sell the hospital. I’m sure that a larger concern, similar to Geisinger, might be interested. Third, my favorite, replace the board.

I have heard the Barnes-Kasson hospital referred to as the “Iveson piggy bank.” Is it true that Sally Iveson has, through the well-known practice of nepotism, added family members to the board? Is it true that the salaries are in the neighborhood of $600 thousand each? If so, the county is guaranteeing the prosperity of one family. Also, if true, a public trust is being violated at the detriment of three hundred hospital employees and our pocketbooks. So I pose this question that each of us should ask, “Is it true?”

Fred Baker

Meshoppen, PA

In Response To A Response

I would like to acknowledge Mr. Whitehead’s response to my Letter to the Editor. As for the definition of asinine, according to Merriam-Webster; as-i-nine: stupid, foolish. Having three polices vehicles for three part-time officers is as-i-nine: (stupid, foolish); especially if you are trying to save money and not raise taxes; as you mentioned in your response. You mention that the Jeep is mainly for the winter as well as for backup. By my count, that still leaves the Chevy and the Ford that are in-service. Two police vehicles and a backup for three part-time police officers.

You repeatedly mentioned the State of Emergency and used that as your excuse for a select few (council and the mayor) to drive the police vehicles. Were the personal vehicles of the select few out of commission?

I never said that the five thousand dollars that you moved out of the Capital Reserve Funds should not have been moved to the Parks Fund. What I did say is, "They moved five thousand dollars out of the Capital Reserve Funds to the Parks Fund to pave a walk way; but they gave no time frame as to when they are going to take care of the deplorable roads." You indicated that you moved the money to take care of a safety issue and help with handicap accessibility. I would think that the safety on our streets should take precedent over any park because you have more people (locals, out-of-towners and deliveries) that utilize the streets of Susquehanna Depot Borough than utilize the Frank J. Reddon Park. Besides, you can close off a problem area much more easily in a park than you can a significant number of streets. As I mentioned in my previous letter, "The streets take precedent over a walking path."

As for the “rumor” or “proposal” to cut the hours of the Streets department, the end results were still the same; less hours. You might find comfort in playing word games but no matter how you slice it, you lost a valuable employee when you lost Robbie Hall. Personally, I would like to see Steve Glover get a job on the state (Highway Dept.) where he would make out better as far as pay, hours and pension. I would like to point out one thing. There is nothing wrong with proposals; as long as everyone on the Council is given the same information at the same time. I was informed that this was not the case with regards to the slashing of hours of the Street Department employees.

You mentioned that several of you were helping residents of Susquehanna, Oakland Township and Lanesboro during the State of Emergency. It seemed as though you were whining because several of you lost work time, used vacation time, spent your own money, etc. Who didn't? You said you didn't see me helping out. Well, for your information, I was working with my manager to try and get Rotorcast back up and running, as quick as we could, so that our employees (from Susquehanna, Oakland and Lanesboro) could get back to work and earn a paycheck.

I get the impression that a select few of you find it to be an inconvenience if you have to do more than attend two Council meetings a month.

You mentioned that I was on Council but you failed to mention that I attended all committee meetings, I was the President of COG (Council Of Governments) as well as Susquehanna Depot Borough's representative. I spent countless hours reading ordinances and rewriting two of them. Also, I volunteered my Saturdays to supervise kids that had to do community service. I, too, used my vacation time, my money and my car to attend to business for the council/borough but I didn't think twice about it. A fellow council member asked me how I found the time to do everything and I responded, "I make the time." You see, I believe I owed it to all of the residents of Susquehanna Depot Borough even though not everyone voted for me. Also, I have been a volunteer tutor for the Susquehanna County Literacy Program out of Montrose, PA since 1995 where I have had students from New Milford, Hallstead, Great Bend, Thompson, Susquehanna, Oakland and Lanesboro who want to learn to read, do math or prepare for their GED.

So you see, I know all about serving my community, using my own car and money. I wouldn't have it any other way because I enjoy what I do.


Richard A. Fabrizi, Sr.

Susquehanna, PA

Israel Crosses The Rubicon

Everyone's agreed. The Lebanese-based terrorist organization, Hezbollah, is solely responsible for the latest turmoil in the Middle East. Everyone, that is, except the Lebanese and the Arabs.

It was supposed to have started because of the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. A convenient, albeit arbitrary, starting point since it places all the blame on Hezbollah. Overlooked is the fact that the abduction was in retaliation for scores of injustices to Palestinians on the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and in Gaza; and to obtain bargaining chips for the release of some of the 9,600 Palestinian political prisoners incarcerated in Israel without trial.

Negotiations with Hezbollah for a prisoner exchange could have easily avoided the ensuing death and destruction on both sides. But as the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert has said, "We will not hold negotiations [with] terrorists. It was true yesterday, it is true today."

But Mr. Olmert has conveniently forgotten what Israel did "yesterday." There have been three prisoner exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah: July, 1996, June, 1998, and the last and largest in January, 2004, in which thirty Lebanese and 420 Palestinians were exchanged for two Israelis. So if Israel did so then, why not now?

Israel is in a weakened position. Her big brother is tethered down in Iraq. At this time she may present a tempting target to her enemies to strike from southern Lebanon via Hezbollah. Hence, the maniacal response to the hostage taking: airfields crated, 46 bridges destroyed, main roads made impassable, its port blockaded, lighthouse destroyed.

There's more: water, power plants, telecommunications, food storage facilities, banks, and gas stations, and residential districts have also been demolished. According to a representative of the United Nations Children's Fund there are about 700,000 people displaced as of June 24. In short, every effort has been made to destroy the entire nation of Lebanon. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fuad Siniora accused Israel of "committing massacres against Lebanese civilians and working to destroy everything that allows Lebanon to stay alive."

So is Israel's show of force an effort to forestall Arab adventurism? Maybe. But there is little doubt that it will prove to be a mistake. It is similar to the blunder she made twenty-four years ago.

In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon to rid it of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The invasion cost the lives of 10,000 Lebanese resistance fighters – not terrorists or guerillas – and 675 Israeli soldiers, plus 8,000 civilians killed during Israel's 18-year occupation. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the war cost Lebanon $3 billion. It also did something else.

While it was effective in excising the PLO, it proved to be a Pyrrhic victory creating a still more formidable foe, Hezbollah. Since that time Hezbollah has grown into a popular political, social, and military force. In the last national election it and allied organizations garnered 27 percent of the vote. Its members are looked upon at home and in the Arab world as freedom fighters – the men who ousted Israel from Lebanon.

The Christian President of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, said, "For us Lebanese, and I can tell you the majority of Lebanese, Hezbollah is a national resistance movement. If it wasn't for them, we couldn't have liberated our land. And because of that, we have big esteem for the Hezbollah movement."

The Lebanese government considers Hezbollah as the Army of South Lebanon, its only defense from Israel.

So when do freedom fighters become terrorists? When they fight against Israel and those allied with her.

Excepting Hezbollah and its antiquated rockets – many of which land harmlessly in vacant fields and in the sea – Lebanon is defenseless against the Israeli onslaught of tens of billions of dollars in American-made hardware: F-16I fighter jets, attack helicopters, battle tanks, dozens of self-propelled 155 mm Howitzers, smart bombs, bunker busters, even warships. The ratio of Lebanese-to-Israeli civilian fatalities is 10 to 1. The ratio of Lebanese-to-Israeli damage to infrastructure measured in dollars is in the neighborhood of thousands to 1. Who is terrorizing whom?

But the United States remains committed to its mindless support for Israel. Every year since 1976 Israel has topped the foreign aid list. She is a country with which we have no defense treaty, yet she receives $2.3 billion a year from U.S. taxpayers.

It is this overweening support for Israel that was the motivation for Hezbollah's attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983, and the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. It is also the cause of al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack.

Predictably, President Bush has absolved Israel of all blame. It is the redefined axis of evil that is responsible: Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich supported the President, "South Lebanon is going to be cleared out. We are for Israel and the Lebanese government breaking the back of Hezbollah . . . and we will decisively stop any effort by Syria and Iran to intervene." Senator Joseph Biden (Dem.) expressed full agreement with Gingrich.

But Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah are not our enemies, they never have been. We have the opportunity to live at peace with all, including Israel. It is the Israel Lobby and American arms manufacturers (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon) and their influence – influence is the kindest word that can be used – on congressmen and the resulting bullheaded backing for Israel that is our enemy and always has been.

At day's end, the only enemies we shall face will be those that we have made.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA


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Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. At that time you may request to withhold your name. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

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