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Issue Home August 30, 2006 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Stop the Bickering

Until a few years ago, I was a lifelong resident of Susquehanna. I was born there and raised my family there. I presently live in Dundee, NY. I have the Transcript sent to me so that I may keep up on the happenings in my home town.

I must say, recently I have been very disturbed with some of the things I have been reading in the paper. One thing I read this week though written by a young man of 20 years old makes a lot of sense to me, “Why don’t you all stop pointing fingers and laying blame over ridiculous things and make something of the town?“

I see the same problems there now that were there all the while I was growing up and as I raised my children. There is nothing for young people to do there, and no one to my knowledge is doing anything about it to change that. No movie theater, no skating rink. Nothing, except what the school offers during the year for kids to get involved in. Oh, yes there are a few sports like Little League, Soccer things of this nature for kids in the summer and fall. But, the kids don’t have anything they can do on their own, a place to hang out so to say. Like the ”Old Sugar Bowl.” Now I am aging myself. But when I was young we could go there listen to the juke box, drink soda and have fun.

So, why don’t all you people who spend effortless hours on end slurring each other put your efforts into doing something constructive for the children in town. Who cares if you have a pretty little park that the kids are not allowed to sit in. Like the Drinker Creek Park. Tell me how many seniors do you see setting there?

As for Barnes-Kasson Hospital and the doctors, give me a break. I know personally what those people can and do for the residents of town and other places, too. Stop condemning them and start thanking them for what they do. For instance, I had an aunt from another state that I had to move from a Binghamton Hospital; they had done all they could for her and she was not able to care for herself, and I had no place to turn to.

I called Sara Iverson and explained my situation. She had her moved from that hospital and brought to Barnes-Kasson and placed in a swing bed until there was a bed available for her in the SNF Unit. All of this was done in the very same day, with no questions asked. The care my aunt received was second to none. Even when I had to move, Sara continued to see that my aunt received the best of care. Every week I traveled two hours, once a week to see my aunt and never, ever did I find her not being cared for.

The doctors, oh yes some of you would say they are overpaid. You should try to buy their insurance just one time. Plus, there have been occasions when I didn’t have the money to pay for my visit and never, ever was I turned away. I was treated, regardless of my situation.

One time I recall having to have emergency surgery. I had no insurance, and Doctor Purkay did the surgery and all my follow up office visits and never billed me for the money. He gave freely of his time and his efforts to see that I was cared for.

I think there are a lot of people in that town that have received the very same good care I did. I would ask you people to write the paper a letter and let the town know that they have not only great doctors, but a great hospital as well. Support your hospital, because if you ever loose it you will be in dire straits. Believe me, I know. For where I am, I am only a dollar sign to these people up here in New York state.

In my estimation Barnes Kasson Hospital is a great asset to the community. Be thankful you have it. I think Sara Iverson and her entire staff are to be congratulated for doing an outstanding job. They all care for the patients.

As for missing some of their payments and not having them on time, how many of you have ever had to make a late payment? But, I bet you never saw any reduction in the care you received because of it.


Jean Lowden

Dundee, NY

Hats Off!

On Sunday night, August 20, at approximately 10:15 p.m., a friend and I came upon an accident on State Street in Oakland. This is the second time I had the experience of helping out the Susquehanna Fire Department.

I’d like to say that the Susquehanna Fire Department has a great group of men and women working for Susquehanna, and to remind everyone that these people are all volunteers who left their homes to help out in a time of need.

I got firsthand experience working with these folks – my hat’s off to you all.


Shirley Decker

Susquehanna, PA

ATVs Are Not Allowed

The Rail–Trail Council of NE PA would like to remind trail users that the D & H and O & W Rail–Trails are closed to ATV and dirt bike use. The trail is signed, indicating that no ATVs are allowed. The council has a security firm which patrols on a regular basis. This summer, over 20 criminal trespass violations have been issued and upheld in district court. These violations will cost at least $150 and can now include costs associated with trail surface damage. The council has decided that ATV patrols will increase over the next few weeks. Please keep off the trails with motorized vehicles.


Lynn M. Conrad

Rail–Trail Council of NE PA

Could It Be?

The accusation that Barnes-Kasson Hospital is in default of payments to the county for its debt has not been denied. By terms of the B-K agreement with Susquehanna County, a commissioner is to be a member of the Board of Directors of B-K.

In a letter to the editor of the County Transcript, signed by Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Warren, B-K Hospital is presently experiencing issues. May we assume that one of these ladies attends the B-K board meetings? Should she not publicly address these issues in the proper forum, i.e. commissioners’ meetings? Could one of these issues be the management of B-K, and specifically, longtime hospital administrator Sarah Iveson?

Could it be disclosed how many members of her direct family are on her payroll? Her personal salary is listed in the public record, on the tax return Form 990. I wonder if she works 22 hours a day to earn her six figures?

Fact – hospital administrators are not licensed in PA. No special education is required.

Fact – nursing home administrators are licensed in PA. This requires training, passing the exam and specific continuing education courses on a regular basis.

Who is writing this letter?

I am a founder of the Montrose Hospital (1956), today Endless Mountains Health Systems (EMHS). For most of its years it was my family business, and not a charity, able to receive tax-deductible donations or public moneys and grants. Why did we do this? Because we needed a place to work, or else move away. But we liked Montrose.

At one time I served as our hospital administrator; at another time as our licensed nursing home administrator. I never had a salary from either. Did we have regular board of directors’ meetings? Yes. Was this public record? No. Who did oversee? The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. Were we accredited? Yes indeed, for most of our years.

The hospital went into debt for two million dollars, due to failure of a pension plan funded entirely by life insurance, causing both plan and hospital to fail. The hospital was responsible to pay the life insurance premiums. Our family had medical training but not business training. For years, Ms. Eudora Bennett served as administrator with only medical training, but no business training. Our family did not know that pension plans funded only by life insurance were doomed from inception.

The community and the county commissioners bailed us out by creating the nonprofit EMHS, now alive and well and making the debt payments on time. Basically the bailout loaned the two million dollars. By the settlement my family got nothing; I accepted a giveaway of a half-million dollars of my personal doctor earnings as a permanent loss.

It took my family seven years to sue Mutual of New York (MONY) and certain pension plan creators, to recover funds for 53 employee-pensioners. We funded this by hiring big-time lawyers ($300+ per hour) and paid them up front by cashing all our personal life insurance policies. I am no longer worth more dead than alive.


Paul B. Kerr, MD

Montrose, PA

The Lebanese Earthquake

The war between Israel, the fourth most powerful military force on earth, and Hezbollah, an irregular band of fundamentalist Muslims, was a 10 on the Richter scale of political upheaval. From its epicenter in southern Lebanon, shock waves radiated throughout the Middle East.

Shock No. 1. The winner. Lebanon's skies were alight with fireworks. There was cheering and celebratory gunfire for Hezbollah and in the midst of rubble, dancing. Hezbollah had ousted the Israel Defense Force (IDF) for a second time. If there were any doubt who won the war, it wasn't to be found here. In Israel, a sober Ehud Olmert acknowledged "the overall responsibility for this operation lies with me, the Prime Minister."

Still not sure who won? Look at it this way. Suppose the world's fourth-ranked heavyweight went toe-to-toe with an unranked lightweight. At the end of 12 rounds – or, in this case, 32 days of fighting – the heavyweight never scored a decisive blow, and the lightweight never hit the canvas and was still slugging away at the bell. Who won the fight?

Shock No. 2. The devastation. Camera crews are now allowed into Lebanon. The destruction is all encompassing. Block after block of apartment houses, demolished – those standing are blasted-out, fire-gutted skeletons; whole neighborhoods razed, villages by the score annihilated. Roads, bridges, power plants, fuel depots, airports, seaports, communication facilities all ruined; in short, anything that was built up was laid waste.

In the ruins lie unexploded bomblets from M-26 rockets. These unguided munitions were Israel's counterpart to Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets, only far deadlier. Technically they are called cluster bombs (CB); each bomb contains hundreds of smaller bombs. CBs explode above ground, scattering its payload of bomblets. Each M-26 contains 644 bomblets. On average, ten to 20 percent of these little bombs fail to explode. They become unintended mines which can be detonated by a slight vibration.

M-26s are fired from multiple launchers, each loaded with six rockets. Israel usually employed a battery of several launchers, firing dozens of M-26s at a time. Thousands of cluster bombs were fired into Lebanese cities and villages, which means there are tens of thousands of unexploded munitions amidst Lebanon's ruins. Add to this the thousands of unexploded artillery shells and bombs.

This is what will greet the hundreds of thousands of returning refugees (TV calls them evacuees). Aside from concerns of safety, how they are to receive supplies of food, water, shelter, and sanitation needs with the roads cratered and the bridges destroyed remains an ongoing challenge.

Shock No. 3. Cowboy politics. The fingerprints of the Crawford Cowboy are all over this. There was a fateful confluence of interests. The United States wanted a testing ground to assess the effectiveness of new bombing strategies to knock out underground fortifications – a dry run of sorts against Iran. For its part, Israel wanted to degrade the military capabilities of Hezbollah. In effect, Israel was to conduct its version of Shock and Awe. The U.S. and Israel were convinced that a bombing campaign would turn the Christian and Sunni population against the tattered remains of Hezbollah. Instead it was Iraq redux.

Shock No. 4. The intransigency. In an August 14 news conference, the President pronounced the war a "huge victory" for Israel. This is a sobering assessment. Either President Bush is unable to learn from his experiences in Iraq and now Lebanon, or he lives in his own reality (I'm sure psychiatrists have a name for this. Perhaps delusional disorder?), or the President is irrevocably committed, in spite of all, to a war with Syria and Iran. (It could be all three.)

Shock No. 5. The double-dealing. The hypocrisy in the White House is as high as an elephant's eye. Israel is given $2.3 billion in aid from the U. S. every year, plus billions more in direct and indirect aid. Additionally, Israel "buys" – with the money we give them – all their military equipment, spare parts, and munitions from the U.S. President Bush had the clout to have stopped this war in its tracks with a phone call to Prime Minister Olmert. He did not. What he did do was stall a U.N. truce resolution for weeks and speed shipments of smart bombs, 2,000-pound bunker busters, and CBs to the IDF.

Giving bombs to the Jews and blankets to the Arabs is a fact not lost on the Muslim world. Neither is the duplicity of the White House saying it wanted to stop the war, while silently allowing it to proceed.

Shock No. 6. The new Middle East. Israel cum United States thought it would be an "easy war." The Israeli Air Force would pulverize "the terrorists" from the air. Hezbollah's military would be humiliated and its political power of being a state within a state eliminated. Well, Hezbollah is no longer a state within a state – it is now the de facto state. After the next national elections, it will in fact be the state. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese leader of Hezbollah, is now the heir apparent prime minister.

And it was Israel that was humiliated, not Hezbollah. Three thousand "terrorists" destroyed 30, 70-ton Israeli-made Merkava tanks, the pride of the Israeli army, and killed more than four times that many Israeli soldiers. What Israel wanted to do to Hezbollah, Hezbollah did to Israel.

Shock No. 7. The status quo. Drs. John Mearshimer (U. of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard) coauthored a scholarly white paper entitled, “The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” They wrote:

"The unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history."

This policy is now not only entrenched; it is enshrined.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

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