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Letters to the Editor Policy

I Worked There

It just came to my attention that you were looking for stories about working at the Transcript. I worked at the Susquehanna Evening Transcript and Weekly Ledger for my grandfather, Editor U. G. Baker, when I was a student at Laurel Hill Academy. Grandpa "volunteered" me when Dorothy Springsteen died. I was in charge of the paper carriers, counted out their papers to match their routes, answered the phone, took the papers out of the press, addressed the Weekly Ledger for mailing, helped write headlines, and edited copy for my father, Paul Baker, as it came off the linotype. I also did reports for my uncle, Donald Baker, on the old adding machine. During the quiet times, which were very few and far between, Guy Horton would give me lessons on how to run the job press and how to set the forms for printing. It was also part of my "job description" to wait on the customers as they came in for a paper. I was also the one who was to pacify the customers who didn't get their paper on time when a web would break. My hours were the same as everyone else in the press room, from after school until the last paper went out the door. It was sometimes very late at night and I loved the whole thing: the dirt from the ink, the noise, the excitement and working with the men of my family.

My first job with the Transcript was delivering the paper to the Susquehanna Depot at the age of seven. No one would do that route because of where it was. This was the first time Grandpa "volunteered" me. I bet I was the fastest carrier that route ever had. It was run to the door, throw it open, shout "Transcript" and run as fast as I could to the next door. When I was finished I would run back to Main Street as fast as my legs would carry me and if I was very, very lucky and all had gone smoothly, my father would be waiting for me to give me a ride home. When my brother, U. G., was old enough he took over the route.

I think back on those days with great fondness. It was so exciting to be part, even a little bit, of my grandfather's great adventure. He started on this adventure when he was about nine years old and started his own paper near Towanda, PA, where he was born. He was the youngest of twelve children, 11 boys and one girl. His father was a minister and a cooper, and they lived in Rundells Mills, near Towanda. He ran away from home to go to Towanda. He was almost completely self-taught, as were a lot of people in those days. He loved 10-gallon hats, motorcycles, railroad caboose cars and politics. He was considered a historian by the Mormons, as he did a lot of research in the Susquehanna – Oakland area and was honored by them as such. He wrote as a correspondent for many papers, including the New York Times.

I am very proud of my grandfather and all he accomplished.


Kathleen A. Baker Bundy

Adams, NY

How Well Informed?

I take exception to the characterization of Alan Hall made by reporter Ted Brewster in his biased reporting of the Blue Ridge School District meeting. In his rendition of the tax study commission meeting of September 25, Mr. Brewster states, “Mr. Hall will clearly lead this new panel with the same well-informed hand that he uses as president of the school board.” As a reporter, Mr. Brewster should not be injecting his personal opinions into his reporting of events.

How well informed is anyone who operates as an entity unto themselves? When the issue of reducing tax collectors’ remuneration was introduced, the tax collectors were not given even the courtesy of an opportunity to address the board. These tax collectors are elected officials in their respective municipalities. No tax collector was asked the specifics of their job, nor was the tax claim bureau contacted as to the ramifications of the school changing the date of delinquencies. The tax claim bureau had to contact the school to inform them of the law. (Act 542 of 1947, section 306C , P.L.351, no. 81)

Now comes the question of where to return the delinquent tax bills. The public was informed that the penalty period would begin January 1, 2007 and the taxes would be delinquent in March of 2007. Because the law (cited above) states that the date of delinquencies must be uniform in the county, if Blue Ridge intends to keep March 1 as the delinquent date the tax claim bureau will not be able to accept their delinquencies. Should that be the case, the county stands to lose the bureau costs and commission associated with that school district’s delinquencies. As we all know, if you lose revenue in one place you need to make it up in another.

Remember, this action was supposedly taken to save the school district approximately $21,000 annually. What has been the cost of the lawsuit alone? What has been the cost of the extra people used to stuff the envelopes for the three municipalities for whom the school district is collecting? What is the cost of the extra person used to collect taxes between noon and 2 p.m. daily? Who is doing her work? How secure are our students? I’ve seen some disgruntled taxpayers in my ten years as delinquent collector. I wouldn’t want them in my school.

As of this date the tax claim bureau has still not been informed of the intention of the school district. Don’t any of you wonder where you should send your delinquent payments? Shouldn’t the school district be making that information public? Budgets are being prepared without necessary information from the school district, and the tax bills do not state to whom the delinquencies should be returned, as required by law. This is because the school board is not well informed and for some reason they seem to be afraid to ask questions. This issue has nothing to do with any lawsuit. Since not one other school board member, with the exception of Joel Whitehead, has responded to my e-mails nor has any board member called me to ask what the ramifications of their decisions might be, I do not consider any of them well informed.

The tax claim bureau is legislated to collect delinquencies and, after due process, to sell properties to recoup the taxing districts’ monies. There are remedies in the law to allow the bureau to extend relief to delinquent taxpayers in distress. Should this agency be sidestepped, that due process disappears. Should this agency be sidestepped, the county will lose revenue. But most of all, should this agency be sidestepped, Blue Ridge residents will not have the dedicated and experienced service of the tax claim bureau staff to help our constituents through their most difficult and confusing problems.

I extend an invitation to any and all Blue Ridge Board members to call, email or visit my office or home to discuss this most serious situation. To be well informed you should hear more than one opinion.


Cathy Benedict

Susquehanna County

Tax Claim Bureau Director

A New Pricing Formula?

For the past month, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been accepting proposals concerning new methods to price Class III and Class IV milk (milk to be used for cheese, butter, and powdered milk). The date to submit proposals ended at midnight on September 30.

The Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro Ag) put on a real effort to have dairy farmers send their ideas to the USDA. I want to thank those who submitted their recommendations to Washington concerning pricing milk by using a different method.

Enough proposals were sent to the USDA to warrant a call from an agency official to inform me that our group had submitted many suggestions. Again, thanks to those who submitted proposals, and also, a big thank you to those of you who urged other farmers to participate.

However, to you dairy farmers who sent no proposals to help yourselves, oh well, what can I say but the same old story!

The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), located in Washington, D.C., represents thirty farm organizations across the United States, including Pro Ag. This coalition is an example of farmers working together. Under the guidelines of the NFCC, Gerald Carlin, a well-known dairy farmer from Meshoppen, PA, and I drafted the following proposals for the coalition.

1. The proposal prices Class III and Class IV milk together with both classes determined by using the USDA’s national average cost of producing milk. These figures are determined by the Economic Research Service (ERS), a division of the USDA.

2. To determine the value of raw milk at the farm level, we subtracted from the average cost of production the category of “Opportunity cost of unpaid labor” which represents $3.78 per cwt. This category will be picked up in the differential for Class I milk.

3. With our formula, the value of Class III and Class IV milk would be $16.05 per cwt in all federal and state markets.

4. Proposals are not being accepted for Class II milk. However, under the present methodology of establishing the Class II price, this price will rise along with other prices.

5. The Class III price will also be identified as the “Basic Formula Price” which will be used to determine the Class I price (fluid).

6. The Class I price will be determined by adding the existing Class I differential in each milk market onto the Basic Formula Price. In Federal Order #1, this means the Class I price in Boston would be $19.30 (Class I differential plus the Basic Formula Price). In Order #1, this would mean a statistical price of over $17.00 per cwt.

7. On November 1 of each year, the Secretary of Agriculture shall announce the Class III and Class IV price based on the most current national average cost of production as determined by the Economic Research Service of USDA.

8. The Secretary of Agriculture will adjust the Class III and IV price on April 1, July 1, and October 1 of each calendar year. Again, the Secretary must use the most current national average cost of production figures as provided by the Economic Research Service of USDA.

Next, we will discuss the supply management provision of the coalition’s proposal.

Pro Ag can be reached at (570) 833–5776.


Arden Tewksbury

Meshoppen, PA

You Have The Power

The American dairy farmers are hurting bad. The price that they receive for their milk is at an all-time low.

To understand this better, the farmers’ price is based on manufactured milk and is divided into four classes. Thousands of dairy farmers from across our country are selling out because of the low prices.

We consumers are the determining factor of how milk is priced. I bet you did not know that, huh?

All the hearings held in Washington about how milk is priced are determined by how many consumers attend and testify. I understand we are all busy and there is always milk on the shelves in your stores, for now.

The American dairy farms need your help. They need thousands of consumers to be at the hearings and stick up for the farmers.

Our children’s books revolve around, cows, chickens, ducks, sheep, pigs and on and on, yet that is where it ends. America’s children have no clue about the farm, yet some of their grandparents do.

Anyone who cares enough to have safe, healthy, wholesome milk to drink or ice cream to eat, who reads these kinds of books to their children or grandchildren, needs to take the time to attend the meetings and ask why. Why are the hard working farmers getting the least for their milk? Their livelihood is used to teach our children, why can't an adequate pay scale be established to keep the farmers happy and prosperous? Like in the books?

You, the consumers still have the power here, and the more of you who care need to attend any meeting concerning milk prices.


Peter A. Seman

Thompson, PA

They Reconsidered

With the election one month away, I questioned (out loud) why the Harford Fire Department wouldn’t consider holding the November election in their beautiful new building. My question was heard and it was suggested I attend their monthly meeting and ask the membership. So, I did just that. I listened to their concerns and asked them to reconsider, at least for the November 2006 election. After a considerable amount of discussion and pertinent questions being answered or at least promised to be looked into, a vote was taken and the result was in favor of holding the November 7, 2006 election in their building.

At this time, I would like to thank them for their reconsideration on the matter and ask the community to continue to support those volunteers (your family, friends and neighbors) that have once again stepped up to the plate when needed.


MaryAnn Warren

County Commissioner

Safest Form Of Transportation

October 15 through October 21 is National School Bus Safety Week. Most people do not realize that school bus transportation continues to be one of the safest forms of ground transportation. In fact, a school bus is 28 times safer than a passenger car. This is no accident. It is through the efforts of hard working and dedicated professionals, particularly the drivers, that makes this so.

Our tremendous safety record is due to tough federal and state regulations, extensive school bus driver training and review and our commitment to safety. School busing is a much more complex and demanding job than most people realize or appreciate. It is supported by an extensive network of personnel including mechanics, dispatchers and driver safety trainers. The vehicles are designed, built and equipped for the safety of the children they are used to transport. They are operated during the busiest travel periods of the day and in all types of road and weather conditions.

The problem is that our best efforts can only deliver a part of the results. An awareness of the law and the behavior of the driving public remain a critical element in the safety of the children we transport to and from school. Too many times school bus drivers report motorists passing stopped school buses when they are picking up or discharging students. School buses are equipped with an 8-way lighting system. The amber (yellow) lights will begin flashing between 300 feet and 150 feet before the school bus stops. During this time, the motorist must prepare to stop. When the school bus stops, the red lights will begin flashing and the side-stop arm will be extended. All motorists meeting or following the bus must be stopped at least ten feet from the bus and are not to proceed until the red lights are no longer activated and students have reached a place of safety. Pennsylvania law is quite simple to remember; a motorist must always stop for a school bus when the red lights are flashing. There are no exceptions. This includes fire engines, ambulances, police cars and funeral processions. If a motorist fails to stop for a school bus, it is an automatic 60-day suspension of their driver’s license, five points on their record and a $100 fine.

School bus safety is also influenced by activity on the bus. The driver has to contend with weather and road conditions and maintain an awareness of all activity around the bus, driveways, intersections, people, pets and wildlife. While a driver has all this to consider outside the bus, he need not be distracted by misbehavior inside the bus. Rules are provided for students to follow while riding the bus and are there to maintain a safe and orderly environment. Parents/guardians should serve as role models and instruct their children in appropriate and socially acceptable behavior on a school bus as well as everywhere else. The driver should be accorded the respect he has earned and deserves.

Observe School Bus Safety Week, every week. It could save a life.


Montrose Area School District

Contractors and Drivers

In Response To "Proud"

"Proud To Be A Jew" was the title of a letter printed in the September 28 edition of the Transcript. Proud? Well, Jews have reasons to be. Though there are only 14 million Jews in the world, yet they have been the recipient of almost 25% of the total number of Nobel Prizes. An astounding accomplishment for an ethnic group that comprises just 1/500 of the earth's population.

Though not as easily quantifiable, their accomplishments in the arts and business are equally disproportionate to their numbers. So, to be sure, there is much to be proud of. But like every other nation, race, religious and ethnic group there is much to their discredit.

Your letter, Mr. Aronowitz, lacks balance. Your missive is so rhapsodic that it tap-dances over that which should cause Israel to hang her head in shame. There were many distortions and factual errors in your letter. Space will permit me to correct only the most egregious.

l) "Jews don't kidnap."

But they do, and by the hundreds. There are about nine thousand Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israeli detention who were captured – or is it kidnapped?

The most recent abductions include dozens of Palestinian ministers and lawmakers. Israel says they were "arrested," or "captured." But reverse the situation. Suppose that the Palestinians committed a similar act against Israel, what would it be called?

Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, explained that the capture of the two Israeli soldiers that precipitated Israel's most recent invasion of Lebanon was to force a prisoner exchange for three Lebanese citizens that Israel had refused to release in a previous prisoner exchange.

Tragically, both sides are guilty of tit-for-tat kidnapping.

2) "[T]he Israeli Army is so, so good, that... it takes more than four weeks to wipe out a sophisticated enemy who has prepared six years."

This distortion, Mr. Aronowitz, leaves the fringe of reality and enters the realm of fantasy. The Hezbollah resistance fighters numbered about 3,000. They were confronted by the fourth most powerful and sophisticated army in the world. But with strategic bunker emplacement, crossfire positions, and laser-guided, anti-tank missiles they fought the vaunted Israeli Army to a standstill and forced them to withdraw to their own borders.

Several dozen 70-ton Merkava tanks were destroyed or disabled. And about 75 Israeli soldiers were killed. Destruction and killing is something that neither side can be proud of. But in the dispassionate language of victory and defeat, then for Israel it was decidedly the latter.

3) "I'm proud... because the Israeli army drops leaflets... to warn them to evacuate before bombing begins."

How considerate. The Lebanese are told to leave before their neighborhoods are reduced to piles of rubble and flee over roads that are impassable, bridges that are downed, and gas stations that are in ruins. And then, if choosing to evacuate, they must pass through a gauntlet of Israeli attack helicopters and strafing jets.

In the closing days of the war, Prime Minister Olmert was gracious enough to warn everyone in southern Lebanon to leave or risk being bombed. A sort of one-size-fits-all warning.

4) "Israel is left alone to bear the burden of eradicating Hezbollah."

That dog won't hunt, either. Hezbollah is an Israeli creation that resulted from the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and its 20-year occupation. The first invasion of Lebanon, as did the second, succeeded only in strengthening Hezbollah. Perhaps if instead of talking about "eradicating Hezbollah," Israel was willing to negotiate with them as fellow human beings – which is what they are – they might have some success. As things stand, Israel could not do worse.

As for being "left alone to bear the burden," the U.S. sends billions in aid and military equipment to Israel every year. Were it not for handouts from American taxpayers, Israel's existence would be problematic.

5) "Jews still demonstrate and protest to protect the rights of the Arab-Israeli minority."

Protect the rights of the Arabs? Let's see. In the 1948 war that immediately followed the creation of the state of Israel, the Jews ethnically cleaned 700 thousand Arabs from Palestine and confiscated their land. Later, following the 1967 war, an additional 300 thousand Arabs were dispossessed of their homes and property.

Israel's recent crimes include the bombing of the only power plant in the Gaza Strip. The Arabs in this ghetto are forced to live in squalor. And in Lebanon the entire lower quarter of that country was maliciously and methodically razed. Tens of billions of dollars in damage were gratuitously inflicted upon this nation with billions more lost in future income.

Israel's wanton acts of confiscation, humiliation, and destruction are bread thrown on Arab waters. In time, it will return. In the language of the prophets, "For they [Israel] have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind."

Israel is an ethnocentric state devoted exclusively to the culture, heritage, and religion of the Jewish people. Immigration is based on being Jewish. Moreover, in Israel there is a peculiar distinction between citizenship and nationality. Citizenship may be held by both Arabs and Jews. Nationality, however, bestows the right to vote. Three-and-one-half million Arabs living in Israel and in occupied territories are denied the right to vote.

Social divides between the two peoples are also sharply defined. Marriages between Jews and Palestinians are not recognized by the state.

The Human Rights Watch Report of 2001 identified endemic discrimination in Israel's educational system. Though Arab pupils comprise a third of the student enrollment, they receive only 7% of the educational budget.

6) "I am proud to be a Jew because . . . God is on our side."

During WW II, the Warhmach wore belt buckles inscribed with, "Gott Mit Uns." The truth is, Mr. Aronowitz, that everyone believes God is on his side.

But if you believe God is on the side of the Jews, then consider this: the last 2,000 years have been nothing but a sea of troubles and heartbreaks for the Jews. Their trials began in 70 A.D. In that year three Roman legions crushed the Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem, killed one million defenders, and destroyed their temple. Ninety-five thousand were taken away captive. This was but the beginning of centuries of forced exiles that have plagued the Jews.

By their own records, the Jews have been expelled from eighty-one nations and cities. This includes England, Spain, Portugal, most of western Europe; and they were subject to bitter waves of pogroms in Poland and Russia. Add to all this the atrocities of the Inquisition, the Holocaust, on up to present-day Israel which is in constant skirmishers and wars with her neighbors. One wonders: If God is with the Jews, is He trying to tell them something?


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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