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Issue Home September 13, 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 Starrucc

100 Years Ago

GLENWOOD: Now the Glenwood school is a thing of the past. The directors seemed to hold a grudge against the tax payers in this school district, or on the plea that money was too scarce; anyhow, they closed the school and opened two others about one half of a mile apart, each school having three scholars each, or there about, while the Glenwood school has from 13 to 18 during the winter months. This getting into office by making promises is a bad precedent. Now the point wise and penny foolish would pay $50 per month to hire a team to carry these little ones to and from the school. Our children need an education as well as the other school district and we as voters and tax payers should have a voice in this matter, which perhaps will, if these same parties ever come up for office again. I don’t wish to say that there are no good directors, for there are, but they should not be nosed around by the minority.

UNIONDALE: Lewis Lake is fast becoming a camping resort for city people. There have been tents there the entire season. Wm Bronson and wife, of Carbondale, occupied two tents on Warren Crandall’s lot, close to Wm. Beach. They had a cozy nook and while there the family of both their parents visited them, 14 in all, none missing but Prof. Thomas and wife, of Carbondale. Last Friday 3 wagon-loads of friends from Carbondale came to visit them, but unfortunately they were away fishing at another lake.

NEW MILFORD: New Milford has taken on a gala day appearance. The stores and business places and other buildings are being decorated in honor of the “home coming,” the work being done by a New York firm. J. F. Hibbard, the first “home comer,” arrived on the half-past-six train this morning from Kansas City.

SPRINGVILLE: Rev. Howard Taylor, an aspiring young minister, of Lynn, went to Los Angeles, Cal., the early part of last week. Mr. Taylor graduated at Wyoming Seminary last June, and will continue his studies in the University of Southern California.

FLYNN: Our school started off smoothly Monday last, with Miss Margaret Gillin and Mrs. Nettie Curley as teachers. AND: If corn and buckwheat proves a little short, what is the difference, so long as the cider crop is going to be fine here, we will make the winter in good rig.

LAWTON: Bert Abbot has a new harness and wagon for his high stepper. Who is the girl, Bert?

OWL HOLLOW (where is this??): Large fishing parties are making daily trips to Bixby pond.

MONTROSE: A new and conspicuous feature at W. C. Cox’s livery is a real donkey and suitable wagon. It sprung into tremendous popularity at once with the youngsters, who think it great and keep it very busy. AND: Lieut. James P. Gay, Sergt. M. H. VanScoten and Geo. E. Woodruff, leave Sept. 15th for the Antietam Battlefield to assist in the dedication of a monument to their fallen comrades of Sept. 17, 1862.

JERSEY HILL, Auburn Twp.: The corner stone laying at the site of the new M. E. church at Jersey Hill is Sept. 19, 1906. Former pastor, Rev. F. L. Taylor, editor of [the] New Albany Mirror will do the forenoon address. At noon the ladies will serve dinner on the grounds at the usual price, 25 cents. At 2 p.m., Rev. Thos. E Hooper, of Berwick, will speak. Rev. S. D. Fiske, father of the present pastor, will lay the corner stone. Dear friends, we have no fortune wheels to spin nor animals to exhibit, but we have a worthy cause, so come and help us. Rev. A. R. Fiske.

HOP BOTTOM: The Apple factory opened last Monday, in this place. AND: There was an error in the items of last week. There are over a hundred pupils in the school. Twenty-five in the high grades, thirty-one in the intermediate and fifty-two in the primary dept.

CLIFFORD: Mr. W. Hasbrock met with an accident last Monday, in moving some telephone poles, when his horse started quickly, causing a pole to fall upon him, breaking his leg. At this writing he is doing well. Dr. Hagar is in attendance.

FOREST CITY: The Delaware & Hudson company, having experienced considerable difficulty of late at several points in the valley, owing to the sinking of their tracks over abandoned mines, endangering both lives and property, are now engaged in flushing the mines with culm, which effectually prevents all further settling. AND: Rev. R. H. Walsh, on a recent morning, counted 27 cows in St. Agnes cemetery. The reverend gentleman is having a fence built about the burial ground and is having it otherwise improved and will make an effort to have petty acts of vandalism and cow pasturing stopped.

JACKSON: Here’s a snap for party looking for an 86 acre farm in Jackson twp., on road between Susquehanna and Lakeview; medium size house, 2 barns, large orchard, 20 acres woodland; present owner was forced to purchase and will dispose of it within $300 of actual value; clear title. Price only $1000. Terms $300 cash; balance on easy terms.

NEWS BRIEF: A thought for to-day: “Strange to say, whenever I see two young men start out in the morning to live another day, one armed with an ax--the implement of labor and the other with tennis racquets and golf sticks--the implements of pleasure, how easy to tell whose day will be the greatest in fruit bearing. Labor is the only prayer that is ever answered. AND: A word to you, sonny--you little twelve or thirteen year old boy who is smoking cigarettes on the sly. What do you want to be when you grow up--a stalwart, healthy, vigorous, broad-shouldered man, or a little, puny, measly, no ‘count, weak-minded dude? If you want to be a man, strong like a man, with hair on your face, brains in head and muscles in limbs, you just let those cigarettes alone. If you want to be a thing, pitied by your folks, despised by the girls, and held in contempt by the fellows, keep right on smoking and end your days in the insane asylum. AND: With but few exceptions in every diocese in this country, women were on Sunday last banished from the Catholic church choirs, following the orders of His Holiness, Pius X, in his encyclical on sacred music, issued in 1903. The plain old Gregorian chant will probably dominate the character of the compositions to be rendered hereafter, and male choruses are being rapidly pushed to the front. No doubt the laity view the matter differently, and in some parishes special dispensations may be requested for the retention of mixed choirs.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay


Blue Ridge Board Should Change

If members of the Blue Ridge Board of Education are lucky, they will call for an emergency meeting, ram through a motion putting their tax collection system back to the way it was before they came up with that 80 percent pay cut, and pray that the six district tax collectors will return to work at the pay rate they requested prior to the general election of 2005.

If the school directors don’t do this, then it is time for district taxpayers to stop the board from wasting more good money on a totally ridiculous idea and demand that it be done.

In the early 1960’s, I covered a meeting of the Randolph Township (NJ) Board of Education when the directors wasted more than an hour trying to decide if the steam table in the cafeteria of their new multi-million-dollar school should have round or square pans in it. I always thought that was the most outlandish occurrence I could ever imagine from a Board of Education. Until now!

When the president of a Board of Education admits that he would not stay on the job if his pay was cut 80 percent and then has the audacity to vote for exactly that amount of a pay reduction for the six district tax collectors, there’s something radically wrong. And when a county judge orders two of the collectors to collect the taxes without hearing testimony against such an outrageous fiasco we had better find us a “Music Man,” my friends, because we've got trouble right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Without a doubt, the school district has already spent enough money in legal fees to cover the increment the tax collectors were seeking. And if the school board maintains its position to defend such a preposterous motion, the worse has yet to come.

I had a conversation with county Treasurer Cathy Benedict, who also heads up the county’s Tax Claim Bureau, and she believes someone has been giving the school directors the wrong advice. By the way, Mrs. Benedict is also a taxpayer in the Blue Ridge School District.

“In speaking with one board member,” Mrs. Benedict said, “I found the belief was that the Blue Ridge collectors were among the highest paid in the state. Considering they are the lowest paid in the county, I believe the board is being misinformed.

“The decisions that are being made by the board,” Mrs. Benedict added, “that our school taxes will not be delinquent until March, 2007 are ill conceived and not in conformance with law. Our taxes will be delinquent in January, 2007 depending on the postmarked date the bills are actually mailed out. By law, the return date – the date delinquent taxes are due to the tax claim bureau – is January 15, 2007.”

Mrs. Benedict also pointed out that the reason the bills were not printed or mailed has absolutely nothing to do with the flood of June 27-28.

“It had everything to do with the litigation over the reduction in pay,” she said, “and the fact that it is illegal for the school to fire our elected tax collectors in order to collect their own taxes.”

As things now stand, commissions to tax collectors for 2006 in five of the six school districts in Susquehanna County look like this: Blue Ridge: real estate, 60 cents per bill; occupation/per capita, 60 cents per bill; Elk Lake, real estate, $3.65 per bill collected; $1.60 per uncollected bill; occupation/per capita, 95 cents per bill collected, 45 cents per bill uncollected; additional compensation for work payable in July of each year, $500; $7.50 for each new per capita added to duplicate, not previously listed; Montrose Area, real estate, $2.82 per bill in duplicate; occupation/per capita, $2.82 per bill in duplicate; Mountain View, real estate, 1.4% of amount collected; occupation/per capita, 1.4% of amount collected; Susquehanna Community, real estate, 3 % of amount collected; occupation/per capita, 3% of amount collected.

I do not have exact figures available at the present time, but I am told that the six tax collectors in the Blue Ridge School District collect about $6 million in taxes for the district and the combined money made by the six of them is about $21,000 or 3.5 percent of the total amount of tax dollars collected.

I would like to remind my readers that the deadline for this column is Friday. September 8 and the Blue Ridge Board of Education meets on Monday, September 11. So the board could take affirmative action regarding the tax collection issue before the Transcript hits the newsstands.

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From the Desk of the D.A.
By District Attorney Jason J. Legg

On December 27, 1991, defendant Michael Rainey was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the robbery and murder of a 74 year-old woman. The jury then sentenced the defendant to death. Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence, but the state appellate courts denied his appeals. Thereafter, the defendant began a collateral proceeding to attack his conviction and sentence. In the course of these collateral proceedings, the Defender Association of Philadelphia, a publicly funded group that defends capital defendants, became involved in the case.

The defendant again lost his collateral challenges at the lower court level and lost the direct appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The Defender Association then appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and, in connection with that appeal, the attorney for the Defender Association filed a motion seeking the recusal of Justice Castille. A party may seek the recusal of a judge where there are grounds to suggest that the judge would be unfair or biased, or that there is a public perception that the judge cannot be impartial. The defense attorney contended that Justice Castille could not be partial because he had been the elected Philadelphia District Attorney when the initial charges were filed against Rainey and the decision to seek the death penalty was made by the chief prosecutor and ultimately approved by Justice Castille. The defense attorney also contended that Justice Castille participated or approved a policy in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to use racially discriminatory practices in the capital jury selection process. Thus, the defense attorney contended that there would be a public perception that Justice Castille could not act impartially in this case.

When a recusal motion is made, the challenged jurist, after internally considering the allegations, actually makes the decision whether to grant the motion. Justice Castille refused the request in a lengthy written opinion. First, Justice Castille noted that he had already sat as a jurist on some of the earlier appeals in this case without objection from other defense counsel and it was not until the Defender Association became involved that this issue was raised. Justice Castille also noted that he was never personally involved in the case while he was the Philadelphia District Attorney, and that the case actually went to trial after he had left the position of District Attorney. In short, Justice Castille candidly stated that he had no knowledge of the case from his time as District Attorney, and that his knowledge came solely from reviewing the record in the case. As such, Justice Castille was confident that he could preside as an impartial jurist.

Justice Castille then addressed the contention that he had authorized and/or participated in the formulation and implementation of a racially discriminatory policy to be used in capital jury selection. Justice Castille noted that there was absolutely nothing in the record to support the serious accusations asserted by the defense attorney. Justice Castille forcefully denied the allegations of improper conduct, and took the defense attorney to task for leveling such accusations against him. Justice Castille noted that the allegations were “reckless,” and “bereft of factual support,” as well as “distressingly unmindful of [the defense attorney’s] sworn duties.”

Justice Castille noted that he supervised over 225 assistant district attorneys while he was the District Attorney, and they handled over 30,000 cases a year. The mere suggestion that one public employee in a large public agency may have acted in an improper manner does not automatically equate to misconduct by the elected official in charge of the agency. In underscoring this point, Justice Castille opined that he “hoped that the Chief Defender [of the Defender’s Association] did not personally review and approve as a ‘policy’ matter the falsehoods that are the basis for [the defense attorney’s motion for recusal].”

The language used by Justice Castille was particularly harsh, and necessarily so in response to the blatant attack upon his integrity and impartiality. There is the clear suggestion, made by a Justice of the highest court in Pennsylvania, which oversees the discipline and punishment of rogue lawyers, that the defense attorney had violated his ethical duties by knowingly making false accusations against a public official. The Defender Association should seriously consider the qualifications of this particular attorney who baldly, and without any factual support whatsoever, would publicly attack the integrity of a sitting justice on the highest court of this Commonwealth. As if the baseless attack alone was not egregious enough, this nincompoop made the attack before Justice Castille and the rest of the Court had even considered the underlying merits of his client’s claims. It is one thing to kick a hornet’s nest and run, and another altogether to kick it and simply stand there waiting for the hornets!

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

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The Healthy Geezer
By Fred Cicetti

This is the second installment of a three-part series on breast cancer.

The most common breast cancer symptom is a lump. Other symptoms include swelling, skin irritation, nipple pain or retraction, and an unusual discharge.

Early diagnosis saves lives. The combination of a mammogram, a clinical breast exam and self-exams is recommended by healthcare experts to reduce breast-cancer deaths.

A mammogram is a breast x-ray. If mammography finds an abnormality, confirmation by biopsy is required. In a biopsy, a tissue sample is taken for analysis.

About 2/10 percent of mammograms lead to a cancer diagnosis. About 10 percent of women examined will need another mammogram. Only about 10 percent of those women will need a biopsy. Out of those biopsies, 80 percent will come back negative for cancer.

Women 40 and older should have an annual mammogram and breast exam by a healthcare professional. As long as a woman is in good health and would be a candidate for treatment, she should continue to get mammograms and exams.

Research has shown that self exams help find breast cancer. Self examination teaches women how their breasts feel normally and to notice changes.

Ultrasound and MRI are other diagnostic tools.

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to outline a part of the body. Breast ultrasound can focus upon something picked up by a mammogram.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. They can be used to examine cancers found by mammogram.

Most women with breast cancer have some type of surgery. Surgeries include lumpectomy to remove only the breast lump and surrounding tissue, a mastectomy that removes part or all of the breast or can be more extensive to include lymph nodes and muscle tissue.

Radiation therapy is another form of treatment. It uses high-energy rays or particles that destroy cancer cells. This treatment may be used to destroy cancer cells that remain in the breast, chest wall, or underarm area after surgery.

Medicines are also used to treat breast cancer. Chemotherapy employs intravenous and oral drugs that can kill cancer cells in most parts of the body. The anti-estrogen drug tamoxifen is the only drug approved for reducing breast cancer risk in high-risk women.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat menopause symptoms and its relationship to breast cancer has become a controversial issue. Unfortunately, many women experience menopausal symptoms after treatment for breast cancer.

In the past, doctors had offered HRT after breast-cancer treatment to women suffering from severe symptoms. However, two years ago, a study found that breast cancer survivors taking HRT were much more likely to develop a new or recurrent breast cancer than women who were not taking the drugs. This study discouraged doctors from recommending HRT to breast-cancer patients.

Phytoestrogens, estrogen-like substances, may be safer than the estrogens used in HRT. However, there is insufficient data on phytoestrogens to evaluate their safety for breast cancer survivors.

If you have a question, please write to

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ASK The Family Doctor
By Dr. Richard Hacker

One subject that always seems to come up a lot is Thyroid Disease. I received a letter just last week describing the case of an unfortunate woman who was committed to a mental hospital for profound depression, then later found to have low thyroid activity which, when corrected, resulted in resolution of her depression and release from the institution. The tragedy is that such a common cause of depression was overlooked and left untreated.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, and it is responsible for controlling the body’s use of energy and its metabolism. A convenient analogy is to think of the thyroid gland as “the accelerator pedal of the body”.

The thyroid gland produces a hormone that circulates throughout the body and controls metabolism. Thus, when there isn’t enough hormone, everything slows down, and when there is too much, everything speeds up. And it really does affect everything: from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet, from mental health to foot circulation, and every organ or system in between. That’s important to remember, because as frequently as thyroid disease is NOT recognized, it is equally often blamed for things when only one symptom is present. I don’t think I have ever treated an overweight person who was convinced (or secretly hoping) that it was “just an underactive thyroid.”

Thyroid hormone circulates in extremely small quantities, as if you put a teaspoon of it into a swimming pool. Nevertheless, it is a very potent hormone, and extremely important. Thyroid levels can fluctuate over the course of the day, most thyroid hormone circulates in an inactive form and it is bound to proteins in the blood. That being the case, it is tough to measure thyroid levels directly, and so we measure the pituitary hormone that controls the thyroid. When the thyroid is underactive, the pituitary gland in the brain tries to stimulate it by producing “thyroid stimulating hormone” (TSH). When the thyroid gland is overactive, the pituitary stops making TSH to reduce thyroid stimulation. Measuring TSH turns out to be a much more sensitive and accurate indicator of thyroid function. If TSH is high, we know the thyroid is underactive, while an overactive thyroid gland can lead to TSH levels so low as to be undetectable. We often measure levels of thyroid hormone as well, but the key indicator of thyroid function is the TSH.

So: you go to your doctor and have your TSH level measured, and it comes back “high.” That means your pituitary gland is flogging the thyroid to try and get it going because the gland is underactive. An underactive thyroid gland (“hypothyroidism”) might explain why you are feeling depressed, lethargic, weak and run down. It could explain the constipation, slow heart rate, dry skin, nausea, decreased appetite, loss of libido, sexual dysfunction, muscle weakness and skin dryness, brittle hair and hair loss that you have been experiencing. It might explain why you can’t lose weight, why you’re cold all the time, and why your menstrual cycles are so off. And the more of those symptoms you have, the more likely that they are due to an underactive thyroid.

Meanwhile, if your TSH level is low or undetectable, your pituitary gland is trying NOT to stimulate your thyroid, meaning that your thyroid levels are more than high enough and may be too high. This might explain the restlessness and agitation you have been feeling, along with the distractibility and irritability, your unexplained weight loss, rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure, and your diarrhea. High thyroid activity (hyperthyroidism) makes everything run faster, so you’re often hot and flushed when everybody else is cold, and your heartbeat pounds in your head as you feel jittery and anxious. Everything runs faster when your thyroid level is high, just as everything runs slower when it’s low.

I think the most important piece of information to communicate on the subject is that you should never ignore the thyroid as the possible case of metabolic symptoms, and you should never jump to conclusions that the thyroid is the cause. Like everything else in medicine, the symptoms and lab tests must be analyzed in the context of the whole person, to be placed in proper perspective. There is no doubt that thyroid disease is extremely common, both overactive (hyperthyroidism) and underactive (hypothyroidism) and should be routinely considered and tested. Unfortunately it is also true that people assume the problem is in the thyroid, when in fact other things are off, and prematurely attributing symptoms to the thyroid gland might result in neglect of the real problem.

One good thing in all of this is that both conditions can be very easily treated with medications, once the diagnosis is made and the condition properly recognized. Remember that we test thyroid indirectly via TSH, so “high” TSH means LOW thyroid, and vice versa. Not really as confusing as it sounds once you understand the biology.

As always, if there is something you want to learn more about or have explained, 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, 853-3135 or 879-5249.

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Straight From Starrucca
By Margaret M. Dickey

How the wind did blow last Saturday! I can’t imagine what it would be like blowing at 85-90 miles an hour! It did blow a tree down at Weldy’s. Thankfully, it didn’t hit porch or house. Lots of trees down on the hills surrounding the town, but no human  casualties.

The memorial service for Raymond Sampson was held in the Baptist Church on Sunday, not at graveside because of weather and the fact that his ashes were buried on Saturday. Many attended, Julie Hargett sang two beautiful songs and the two sons of Evelyn and Raymond Sampson took part in the service. The pastor from their home church gave the thoughtful homily. Afterward a lovely luncheon buffet was catered by Chuck Welch of Thompson.

September 17, Sunday School will open again at the Baptist Church after being closed during these past few weeks.

The women who make quilts for the homeless began the quilts last Thursday. They welcome all who come and join their activities on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

Another couple I know has made it together for fifty years, although neither look it. Leo and Marlene Klym Washburn celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary last Saturday at the VFW in Kirkwood, NY. Among the many people who attended were Roger and Barbara Glover. Barbara was one of the new bride’s attendants. Congratulations, Leo and Marlene. I hop you make it to your 75th.

A proud young man is Joshua Fisher. He attained the age of eighteen last week and has earned his first driver’s license.

The town council met last Tuesday night and discussion concerned the damage to the Community Hall floor. They said they were waiting for FEMA to assess the problem.

Seventy-two people came together at the home of Charles Levchak for his annual Labor Day picnic on Sunday. Coming the farthest were (from west to east): Joanne Scoville, Stockton, California; Christel and Duke Willey, Illinois; Andrew and Jennifer Barnes, Ohio; Joe and Melissa Levchak, South Carolina; Howard and Mary Nausbaum, New York City; John and Denise Levchak, Allentown, PA (George Levchak’s son); John and Mary Levchak, Conklin, NY (Charlie’s brother); Michael and Nancy Levchak, Centerville, PA; Marlene and Leo Washburn and their son, Joe and Melissa, Mechanicsburg, PA; Betty McLean and family, Windsor, NY; Bob and Helen Carpenter, Johnson City, NY; Mary Klym, Kirkwood, NY; Kenneth and Sushi, Forest City and of course, all of Charlie’s family, friends and neighbors. What a blast! Memories to last a lifetime.


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