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Letters to the Editor Policy

She Will Be Missed

I always read the Transcript with much enthusiasm, when I get it that is. Having it mailed to me has been quite a hassle, as sometimes I don't get it until the new news is very old. But, I do enjoy reading it when ever it does get here. I am not always happy with some of the letters to the editor, for it seems that some people have nothing better to do then bash the Barnes-Kasson Hospital. How very sad.

But, one of the most enjoyable sections of the paper to me is the "Straight From Starrucca" column written by Margaret M. Dickey. Though I wish her nothing but happiness with what ever she chooses to do, I am so going to miss the column she wrote with such feeling and dedication.

I have never lived in Starrucca, I was a Susquehanna resident for most of my life. But, I have many friends that do live there, and living so far away from not only my home town, but also being able to read about the happenings in Starrucca has been very enjoyable.

I will deeply miss the column. Margaret is to be complemented on doing such a good job all these years. I know she will be missed by all who enjoyed her column as much as I have.

She has kept us all abreast of not only the comings and goings of the folks living there, but also of the beauty of the community, the events being held in the various churches, the dances, and I could go on and on about the things she writes about with never a whimper or a bad thing to say about anyone.

Though I don't know her personally, and she has no idea who I am, all I can say is "Congratulations," Margaret for a job well done; you have served all your readers well over the years, and we will miss you very much.

Sorry to see you go.


Jean Lowden

Dundee, NY

Not A Good Idea

In view of the horrible events happening across the country in our schools, we all need to carefully examine the safety of our children. Our children – our future – spend more time at school than with us. We used to feel pretty safe knowing where they were and who they were with, and knowing that our campus was a place for learning – hopefully a safe place.

The long-running dispute between Blue Ridge and the elected tax collectors seems to put the safety of our children in a spot they shouldn’t ever be in. That campus is for learning. That campus is for sports, dances, music, plays and all the other activities our little towns can’t provide. Club houses, dance halls and big sports fields are unaffordable and thus the school is very busy all the time and we are very lucky to have it.

But, it should not be used as a tax collection office. It isn’t properly set up and wasn’t built for that. In the beginning, the school board members were presented with the probability that the collections would be in the high school entrance hall and only at specified hours. Well, that isn’t happening – check it out for yourself. You ring the bell and once inside you should go past the steps up to the high school and go right to an office being used for tax collection – checks only. Cash payments must go to the business office – upstairs. It’s not a short climb either – it’s a lot of stairs. Once inside, someone with issues could go to the left, right or straight ahead. There are not enough people to watch every hallway and teach the children.

It is time for the school board to back out of a bad arrangement. You don’t have to admit anything more than a strong concern for our children’s safety. Don’t bury your head in the sand, folks. These small schools in these small towns are a very  likely target for some sick person looking for an unprotected spot to cause trouble. You certainly don’t want that on your heads. You all have a hard job, and the hardest part seems to be finding out the whole truth about things you have to vote on. Be sure you know the truth, and then insist on making other arrangements for tax collecting. This is not a good idea, at all.


Mary Jane Darrow

New Milford, PA

You Should Be Proud

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Steamtown Marathon, a 26-mile run from the Borough of Forest City in Susquehanna County to the city of Scranton in Lackawanna County, has blossomed into one of the most successful annual events in NE PA. It has drawn participants from all over the nation, and many of them send kind words of praise about the treatment they are accorded by area officials and the public in general. Following is a letter Dr. Robert Vadella, superintendent of Forest City Regional School District, received from one of the runners. Dr. Vadella read it at last week’s board of education meeting and suggested that it be published.

Dr. Vadella,

This past weekend, I took part in the Steamtown Marathon that started at your school. I was overcome with emotions to see all of the young children – from the cheerleaders freezing in the morning chill to the children inside directing those of us who were wandering your halls looking for a place to sit and stretch.

The kindness your school children showed was nothing short of amazing. We hear so much today of how poorly children act these days; well, I can assure you that those people  never visited your school. You and the rest of the teaching staff should be commended for raising such fine young children – children who every parent can be proud of. Congratulations on a job well done!

I also cannot thank your students enough for the purple ribbon they gave me when I got off the bus at your school. I proudly wore it the entire race and every time I felt like quitting, I would catch a glimpse of the ribbon on my shirt and think of how hard your children worked on them and passed them out, and all of the work they did for the race, that it gave me the push I needed to make it up the next hill and all the way to the finish. I have attached the ribbon to my medal and I will always have fond memories of your school and the great job your students did helping out runners like myself.

Thank you again for an excellent job, not only on the race, but in what appears to be raising some outstanding young adults.


Tim Swintek

Brunswick, OH

My “To Do” List

Well, now that chores have slowed considerably in the garden, I figured it was a good time to sit down and make a “To Do List” of things to try to accomplish in the next month or so. Here goes:

1) Hire the Super Nanny to spend some time with the current commissioners, perhaps teaching them how to act like the grownups they’re supposed to be, responsible for the operation of a county in dire need of some leadership and direction, not like a bunch of petulant preschoolers.

2) Discover why every four years a whole new set of commissioners must be elected, instead of staggering the election of one commissioner each over three years. How much sense does it make to replace the whole administration at once, resulting in a large gap in procedural, operational, and personnel knowledge every four years? By staggering the election/replacement of a commissioner, some experienced personnel still remain and the county doesn’t suffer from having to wait for the new kids in town to learn their job.

3) Put want ad in paper to find a replacement for the Chief Imbecile and his Band of Morons in Washington before they actually succeed in getting us all killed. Shouldn’t be too hard to replace. Qualifications must include an intelligence level higher than third grade; the ability to understand complex issues such as right and wrong, poverty, war, graft, greed, collusion, civil rights, and “police state”; honesty; integrity; a strong work ethic; courage (not to be confused with arrogance); the willingness to see, listen to, and understand all sides of an issue before acting; humility; and finally, no continuing need to prostitute themselves to any industry, organization, or lobbyist group in return for money or a vote. Hmm. Guess this might be asking a lot after all.

4) Buy mop and bucket to wash off all the mud being slung back and forth from the election gaggle. It’s amazing that they can spend millions of dollars to appear on TV and elsewhere and not say one thing worth listening to. How about what they’ve done or plan to do for us, not to us? Oh, that reminds me….

5) Vote myself a pay raise. Just because I want one. Heck; the incumbents all did it, not to mention the judges, and our governor. Note to self: remember that next month.

6) Remind all my farmer friends not to register their farms with PA Dept. of Agriculture. Despite what they say (“it’s to make our food supplies ‘safer’, etc.”), it is the first step in the National Animal Identification System plan being pushed by the USDA. It will not make food safer, it will not prevent terrorism, it will not make it easier to identify disease outbreaks, etc. but it will make it easier for the government to find you, follow you and your animals, and eliminate your livelihood on a whim. And shame on Penn State for using their position to push this scary and infinitely expensive program on unsuspecting growers and producers.

7) Find a way to block all the drug ads on TV that tell us how great they are, except for the possibility of liver, kidney, heart, or total body failure (that means “death” to you non-doctors). If this stuff is so great, why do they need to hawk it on TV?

8) Start saving my nickels and dimes, cuz as sure as God made little green acres, the oil prices will bounce back to their punishingly high rates the day after Election 2006.

9) Learn to speak Chinese. They own us. They’ll be here someday. Might as well be able to communicate intelligently with them.

10) Count my blessings. Until the government tracks them also, they are still mine.


Sue Abbott

New Milford, PA

Bomb Today, Kill Tomorrow

Their shapes are strangely familiar: a toy rocket ship lying pristine amidst piles of rubble (a boy's toy?), silvery spikes stuck upright in the ground (lawn darts?), squat cylinders like kitchen pots without handles, soda cans, and tennis balls complete the incongruous assortment. Their colors are Christmas red and green, cheery yellow, jet black, and some with fuchsia green stripes. They beckon the curious, especially children. But pick one up and it will be your last act on earth.

They are bomblets, scattered by cluster bombs (CB), a particular insidious way of killing.

A CB looks like an ordinary gravity bomb, but there the similarity ends. The CB spins rapidly as it falls. At a certain altitude a proximity fuse blows away the outer cover of the parent bomb, allowing centrifugal force to throw out hundreds of fist-sized bombs – bomblets – over a wide area. They come in a variety of shapes depending on their purpose: antitank, incendiary, nerve gas dispensers, defoliants, tear gas, and, of course, antipersonnel.

The antipersonnel bomblets – the toy rocket ship – are especially devilish. Inside this four-pound device is a coil of explosive embedded with hundreds of tiny barbed darts, or BB's, or large ball bearings – anything that will become effective shrapnel.

A single 1,000-pound CB with its cargo of thousands of bomblets can shred everything in an area the size of eight football fields. CBs have no precise aim point. They are what military calls "area munitions," obscuring their scattershot reality and their indiscriminate lethality.

CBs are intricate devices, difficult to manufacture and prone to failure. Paradoxically, it is the duds that have a higher kill rate than the exploded bomblets. The failure rate (duds) is estimated at somewhere between 5% and 30%.

An estimated 285 million bomblet duds pepper the lands of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia; a legacy of the Vietnam War. In Laos alone, 10,000 people have been killed by land mines and bomblets since that war ended thirty years ago.

Unexploded ordinance (UXO) will go on killing for another thirty years in Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, and now Lebanon. Landmine Action estimates that worldwide 20,000 persons are injured every year by UXO.

In Iraq, there are an estimated 1.2 million unexploded bomblets. Thus far, eight American servicemen have been killed by our own UXO.

During the last days of the Israel-Lebanon war, Israel fired thousands of CBs into southern Lebanon. The only purpose of this last-minute barrage would be to capitalize upon the failure rate of this munition to transform large areas of southern Lebanon into an antipersonnel minefield. The U.N. estimates that this aerial onslaught left one million unexploded bomblets.

In Lebanon, deadly duds could be anywhere: exposed and beckoning the curious, buried under rubble, hidden in bushes or in tree tops, underwater in irrigation ditches, or beneath the soil. A disturbance as insignificant as the temperature difference caused by a person's shadow passing over a bomblet could cause one to detonate.

Farmers are not able to harvest their crops of olives and wheat because the bomblets have effectively booby-trapped their orchards and fields. Since the war ended in August, twenty-six people have been killed and injured by these mines.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese returning to what remains of their neighborhoods will live for years under the shadow of an unexpected explosion and made to bear yet another tragedy.

The international Mine Ban Treaty states in its preamble that it is "Determined to put an end to the suffering... caused by anti-personnel mines, that kill or maim hundreds of people every week... especially children." The treaty has 151 member nations.

Unfortunately, the United States and its ward state, Israel, have refused to sign this treaty and have made liberal use of this dreadful weapon. While both nations are free from the restrictions of this treaty and the legal charge of war crimes that would stem from their use, they cannot escape the guilt of a morally equivalent violation: crimes against humanity.

In Iraq, Rashid Majid stepped on one. The explosion tore his legs off. His two sons ran to help but were killed before they reached him. He saw it all. His last words were "My sons! My sons!" Dr. Mohammed Khaled, a surgeon in Kuwait City Hospital recalls, "When you see a five-year-old boy come to the hospital without any limbs how can you forget the sight?" And so it goes.

The nature of war is to kill and destroy. Whether forced into conflict by self-defense or propelled by propaganda, one must accept this brutal reality. But CBs are by the U.S. military's own guidelines unacceptable. The failure rate is so high that while it may result in a short-term success, its long-term presence poses a danger both to civilians and U.S. troops. Yet the irrationality of war is such that they are used.

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless," asked Mahatma Gandhi, "whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

Indeed, what difference does it make to Iraqis like Abdul Jewad al-Timimi; his six children were killed by a CB. "I wished that the person who started this war, whether Iraqi or American, could be brought before me so I could kill him six times."

Abdul, if that would bring back your six children, I would say fair enough.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA


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