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Issue Home August 16, 2006 Site Home

Engagement Announced Newberry – Brown
Weird Things
Society Hosts Annual Picnic
Just What Are Those Flowers?
USDA Loan Program Income Limits Increase
Food Banks: A TREHAB Community Service
27th Blueberry Festival Another Record-Breaker

Engagement Announced Newberry – Brown

Heidi and Troy

Thomas and Pamela Newberry of Little Meadows, PA, announce the engagement of their daughter, Heidi Lynn Newberry, to Troy Adam Brown.

The future groom is the son of Walter and Fern Brown, Susquehanna PA.

Miss Newberry was born in Binghamton, NY. She is currently employed with Maines Paper & Food Service as a customer service representative.

Mr. Brown was born in Susquehanna, PA. He is self-employed in the logging business.

An August 19, 2006 wedding is planned.

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Weird Things

It’s the time of year when the calls start coming and jars of peculiar things start showing up at my office at Keystone College.

“Weird Things are appearing in my lake!”“What is this thing?”“Can this hurt me?Is it dangerous?”These are the usual questions.

It is in August as waters warm that often overlooked creatures grow large enough to be seen by swimmers, boaters, and fishermen.

Weird Thing #1was a jar brought to my doorstep with a quarter-sized jellyfish in it.It was one of hundreds seen swimming about in a pond in northern Lackawanna County.They’d never been seen there previously, but now the water was thick with them.

The identification was easy because there is only freshwater jellyfish in the US, Craspedecusta sowerbii, which was probably introduced from Europe in the early 1900s.Like its relatives, it feeds using stinging cells to capture microscopic prey.Can they sting people?Personally, I’ve never had a problem handling them, but I’m not sure I’d go swimming into a swarm of them! We can only guess how this rare creature made its way to this isolated pond in Covington Township.Dr. Terry Peard at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studies Craspedacusta and has a website at where you can learn more and report sightings.

Large bryozoan colonies on an underwater branch.

Weird Thing #2 required a bucket to carry it.It was a basketball-sized ball of hardened gelatin that had come from a pond in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County.My friend was amazed to learn that it was a living colony of animals known as bryozoans.They are completely harmless and having them in his pond may be seen as a sign of good water quality because these filter-feeders don’t do well in turbid water.I see them most often in fairly clear, undeveloped ponds.They are usually attached to a branch in the water close to shore.Sometimes large ones break off and float at the surface.

A field trip to a stream at Woodbourne Forest & Wildlife Preserve in Susquehanna County turned up Weird Thing #3, freshwater sponges.They were growing on the underside of many rocks in the water.Most folks don’t know that some sponges live in freshwaters in PA.This one was tan, although many are green, harboring algae in a symbiotic relationship.I always smell a suspected sponge to confirm its identity.Lacking defenses such as spines or teeth, sponges resort to chemical warfare for protection, making an array of noxious chemicals that leave it unpalatable and with a distinctive odor.

I’ve always enjoyed it when someone brings an oddity to me.One of my professors at Ohio State University told me that if I wanted to be a real aquatic biologist, I should know everything that might be found in the water.I took those words to heart.So keep them coming…I haven’t been stumped in a while.

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Society Hosts Annual Picnic

The July meeting of the Susquehanna Depot Area Historical Society was a picnic held at the summer home of Bud and Elaine Kaiser on Potter Hill Road.

Carl Tanner on the mandolin, and Shirley Beavan on the organ played sing-along music, and Bob and Carol Elliott provided door prizes for the 27 people who attended.

Bud Kaiser will give a talk on the history of bicycles at the August 17 meeting, 7 p.m. in the Susquehanna Boro building.

The Historical Society has 92 members, 31 of which are lifetime members. The membership represents a large portion of the Northeastern United States as well as Florida, Texas, and California.


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Just What Are Those Flowers?

The flowers in question are the mounds of daisy-like flowers gracing the planting in front of the Susquehanna County Court House on Public Avenue. They are in fact, argyranthemums, more commonly known as marguerite daisies. They are a tender perennial that bloom non-stop from late Spring until frost with very little care. The courthouse bed is planted every Spring by members of The Garden Club of Montrose as part of its Civic Beautification program. Club members are frequently asked about the identity of these showy flowers. Although it is too late to incorporate them into this year’s garden, keep them on your list for next Spring where they will be available at local garden centers.

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USDA Loan Program Income Limits Increase

USDA Rural Development has published new income guidelines for its Single Family Housing (502) Direct Program for qualified applicants to buy or build homes in rural areas. An applicant may be eligible for a 502 Direct Loan if the adjusted income does not exceed the applicable income limit. An applicant must have an acceptable credit history and adequate and dependable income sufficient to meet all obligations. The applicant must become the owner occupant of the property. For income and property eligibility information, visit

Loans may be made up to 100 percent of the appraised value for the purchase of a home; and in some cases, this may include closing costs. Borrowers need less up-front cash for loans made under the program. Further, the standard term for a loan is 33 years with a 38-year loan available to those who are eligible. Loans are subsidized, and interest rates may be reduced to as low a 1 percent.

For more information on programs offered by USDA Rural Development, contact the Wyoming Local Office at (570) 836–4157 ext. 4.

The AARP held Drivers Training here, a two-day affair. Many always take advantage of this service. Then we had a wonderful Strawberry Festival, homemade biscuits by Mary White, strawberries and whipped topping. It was delicious, let’s do it again, Betty!

Finally in June we had the distribution of Food Vouchers, also a good turn out for them. Our state of Pennsylvania does a lot for the senior citizens, from Pace, to transportation, and the food vouchers. Hope all appreciate the many services we receive.

Don't think July was as busy as June, we did things. First off we were closed for 4th of July. Hope all enjoyed the time with family and friends. Lorraine Colwell presented a program about Osteo Arthritis of the knee. There was a slide presentation and leaflets passed out. It was very interesting and we have a better understanding of that problem now. Our annual Rock-A-Thon was held , only four rockers, but a good bit of money was made. We had to cancel our trip to Hawkins Pond, it was after the flood of '06, and the roads were pretty bad, so we held it here at the Center. It was a covered dish, held in the evening, and it was good. Lots of great food and the fellowship of our friends. The day of our birthday party in July we were entertained by Ed Simmons on his keyboard. Lots of older music, from the 40's 50's and beyond. Some even sang along Everyone one enjoyed the "Real Music." The last event of the month was a movie and popcorn party. The movie was "The Unfinished Life."

A number attended the dedication ceremony of the memorial garden at the Great Bend Welcome Center. The garden honors the seven National Guardsmen who lost their lives last year in Iraqi. A very pleasant area with trees, perennials and benches. After the service many went to the VFW in Great Bend and enjoyed refreshments.

We continue with our cards, dominoes, and exercises. Our birthdays are celebrated with cake and ice cream The past two months we sang the birthday song for the following: Al Mahalick, Helen Randall, Helen Wagner, also Jennie Paumghartin, Alice Parrillo, Bill Wagner and Alice Smith. Oh yes, we are sharing our space with the Barnes/Kasson personnel who suffered the loss of their offices in Great Bend, during the flood.

Why not join us here, it is cool and it is interesting, and we miss you.

‘Til the next time.

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Food Banks: A TREHAB Community Service

The words that officially describe what the TREHAB food banks do are dry and bureaucratic – “Provision of food commodities to provide nutritional assistance for persons facing food shortage related emergencies.” These words hide the comforting presence that these “banks” and the personnel who work there attempt to give to those in need.

And the numbers who need that extra help provided by the food banks is high: figures for the two food banks run by the TREHAB Center in Susquehanna County over the last fiscal year show an average of 808 individuals (417 households) served each month. The TREHAB food banks are located in South Montrose and in Oakland.

In each of them, almost all available space is piled high with boxes, cans, cartons, freezers – you name it – of food that has either been sent as USDA surplus, purchased or donated. Besides agriculture department surplus items, food is also purchased with state funds through the Temporary Food Assistance Program. Donations also come in from many local sources, including food drives for the holidays organized by various groups – schools, churches, service organizations, and local post offices, to name only a few.

The variety of foods available is constantly changing, depending on what surplus is available and what kinds of foods are donated. The state food purchase moneys are used to fill in any gaps in order to provide continuity and nutritional balance for clients.

According to TREHAB’s Food Bank Coordinator Lynn Senick, distributed food always includes starches, vegetables, and meat products, supplemented by “treats” (chocolates, chips, and other snack items), as they are available. “We always have certain things on hand, like tuna fish,” Senick notes. “This is a small community, so you get to know your people and what foods they need and like.”

On staff at the food bank in Montrose in addition to Ms. Senick are Betty Ochse and Clyde Bills, an Experience Works Program worker. On duty at the food bank in Oakland are Aletha Monahan and Rich Walworth.

Ms. Senick emphasizes that the food banks are meant for emergency use, to fill in the gaps “when you want to make what you have go a little further.” It is not meant to be a main source of food for families.

Certain income guidelines determine what is available and how often. Food Bank recipients must provide ID and income information according to PA Community Services Block Grant guidelines. However, food is always made available to anyone who truly needs it.

The average number of clients served per day at South Montrose is currently 10-20. However, there are certain “busy” times, from the 5th to the 15th of the month, when “you can get up to 35 people a day,” says Ms. Senick. The winters also tend to be busier at the food bank because people have more things to pay for – school and winter clothes, heating bills, holiday expenses – during that time.

Donated food is always needed, so the food banks have a “wish list” of both food and non-food items, including peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, pasta, soup, crackers, baby food, cleaning products, detergents, diapers, and toothpaste, to name only a few.

“We supplement our regular food baskets with these items whenever they’re available,” says Ms. Senick, who adds that their biggest and most needed wish list item is an industrial-sized refrigerator.

The motto for the food banks, she adds, is, “Never let anyone go away without food. We believe we do a lot for the people.”

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27th Blueberry Festival Another Record-Breaker

On Friday and Saturday, August 4 and 5, the 2006 Blueberry Festival was held on the Village Green in Montrose. The weather was perfect – sunny but not humid – and record-breaking crowds turned out to enjoy the blueberry festivities. "The Festival is held the first Friday and Saturday in August, rain or shine," said Susan Stone, Administrator/Librarian of the Susquehanna County Historical Society & Free Library Association. "We were once again lucky with the weather, but as always, we're luckiest of all with our wonderful community support!"

The festival gets bigger and better every year, thanks to the participation of community-minded helpers, both organizations and individuals. Hundreds of volunteers not only staff the many booths and provide entertainment, but also put in literally thousands of hours ahead of time sorting books, picking berries, baking, and dozens of other tasks. Local businesses donate essentials from baskets and ice cream to advertising.

The Montrose Women's Club Muffin table, which is stocked by donations of hundreds of home-baked muffins, held the ever-popular Blueberry Muffin Contest. Judges Jerry Safko (priest at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church), Deborah Rose (United Methodist pastor), and Richard Spering (United Methodist pastor) tasted a wide range of muffins. First prize went to muffins baked by Laura Watts, second to Johanna Reed, and third to Cindy Grisafi. The winning muffins went at a higher price and quickly sold out!

Festival visitors admired the quilt (made by the Crazy Country Quilters), in a Log Cabin design. Every year a different quilt is made to be raffled off at the Festival. Gerilyn Severcool won this year's quilt.

Other raffles generated excitement as well. Claire Riemenschneider won the needlepoint pillow made by Cathy Regan, the wood portrait handcrafted by George Bryan went to Denise Brown, and David Zube won the Bear Claw afghan crocheted by Flo Whittaker. More than 30 winners at the Basket Raffle went home with lovely and original baskets. Congratulations to all!

The Silent Auction featured many unique items donated by members of the community, from works by local artists to goods and services from county businesses. Excitement ran high in the last few minutes before the auction closed, as eager bidders competed to raise the prices.

While parents bought Blueberry Festival pottery and clothing, admired the handcrafts, and browsed for books at the used book and record sale, children played games on the Green, lined up to bounce in the Price Chopper Bounce Castle, and had their faces painted. Race-against-time games were popular, including an obstacle course, basketball, jump-rope, and block/cookie stacking. On Saturday, activities for older kids and teens were very popular. "Tweens" participated in pie-eating, bubble-gum blowing, and water balloon contests. Four teen bands played live at the Gazebo while the teen Dodgeball Contest drew teams of eager contestants.

Food and beverages were available all day, from blueberry pizza to blueberry shortcake. Cotton candy was new this year, served up by the Knights of Columbus. Volunteers picked hundreds of pounds of fresh blueberries which were snapped up by berry lovers. Festival mascot Newberry the Blueberry made many appearances, shaking hands and posing for pictures, and character entertainer Manny Tikitz roamed the Green. Saturday's White Elephant Sale filled the middle of the green with people finding treasures that others no longer wanted.

The Susquehanna County 911 booth, in its second year at the Festival, brought many visitors to the Green. Ambulance and fire truck crews from across the county showed kids their vehicles. Sparky the Fire Dog, McGruff the Crime Dog, and Smokey the Bear roamed the green, and the booth provided services like child fingerprinting and free gunlocks. They also sold snow cones to benefit the Library and Historical Society. Close by, the Family Readiness Group (PA National Guard/Charlie Company) had cards for the troops abroad. The End of Day program provided brainteasers and a ring toss game.

On Friday, friends of the Farmer's Market played sets of music all day. Noelani's Hula School filled the green in front of the Post Office with the colors and sounds of the Pacific on Saturday morning, followed by guitar and vocals from Thesis Statement and Silent Echo/Track 5. The afternoon's entertainment peaked with the 12th annual Massed Band Concert, with classic American favorites played by dozens of musicians of all ages. Suzanne Bennici conducted the largest group of musicians since the Massed Band Concert's debut. Civil War re-enactor Brian Swartz (Poor Boys/Living History Guild) camped in front of the Monument overnight. He talked to visitors and demonstrated his authentic equipment. All entertainment is volunteer and deeply appreciated!

The Chairpersons for this year's Festival – Marianne Meyer and Flo Whittaker – were very pleased with the Festival. The gross receipts were the highest ever! All figures are not yet in, but Mrs. Stone estimates that the totals should easily pass $40,000. All the funds go to the Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association and are used to help operate the county library system and the county's local history museum and genealogical center. "We count on the festival proceeds to reach our annual budget," she said. "It's the effort and time selflessly donated by so many community people and businesses that make the festival successful. From the service clubs to the banks to the hospital, from the smallest to largest businesses, the probation officers and inmates who tirelessly set up and took down, and the hundreds of individuals who helped – it would take pages to list them all! We are enormously grateful."

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