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Happy 4th Of July From All Of Us At The Suseuahanna County Transcript

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Issue Home July 4, 2007 Site Home

100 Years Ago
Along the Way...With P. Jay

From the Desk of the D.A.
The Healthy Geezer
Straight From Starrucca
Veterans’ Corner

100 Years Ago

EAST LENOX: E. A. Snyder, the florist, made a business trip to Montrose last week with a consignment of beautiful flowers, plants and palms. Mr. Snyder is not only a large grower himself, but has the agency of one or two of the largest firms in the country.

LATHROP TWP.: William Welch, who was found guilty of dynamiting the Card fish pond, was sentenced this week by Justice VanScoten to six months in the county jail and pay a fine of $100.

BUNNELL HILL, Auburn Twp.: John Bacon and wife went over to Grant Hill, Friday, and used six sticks of dynamite, in small springs, with good success, on his father’s farm. AND: Pleasant Valley, Auburn Twp.: Bruce Green has had his carriage repainted and varnished adding much to its beauty. Now, girls, look out.

MONTROSE: The opening of the Country Club’s handsome new clubhouse took place on Friday and was a most pleasurable event. In the afternoon a delightful musical program was rendered and refreshments served, and the guests were shown the beauties of the house and grounds. In the evening a large crowd was present and listened to a concert by the Odd fellows Band, regaled themselves with ice cream and cake on the broad piazzas, or enjoyed the dancing in the main room on a floor which is unsurpassed anywhere. The exterior was lighted with Japanese lanterns and illumination within was from flickering candelabra. The building has cost already about $2,500 and parts of it are to be finished when the necessary funds are secured. With the golf links, double tennis court and fine clubhouse, containing modern conveniences, the prospects for a steady and rapid growth in membership and interest and increased value of the property may well be expected.

ST. JOSEPH: M. J. Sweeney, proprietor of the “Indian Crystal Spring,” commenced last week to deliver his celebrated and absolutely pure water to customers, put up in cases of 6 gallon bottles for 50 cents a case. Goods will be delivered at once by addressing Mr. Sweeney at St. Joseph, Pa.

SOUTH GIBSON: Mrs. Lawrence Manzer was very much surprised recently on the evening of her 65th birthday, when, after retiring for the night, she was aroused from her slumbers and the house was invaded by 22 of her children and grandchildren. Ice cream and cake were served and a joyous evening spent. AND: Silas Howell had a cow killed by lightening last week and Will Davis, of Welsh Hill, had six killed.

BROOKLYN: Our Glorious Fourth was gloriously quiet--the small boys celebrated. AND: The I.O.O.F. hall was the scene of a very pleasant gathering last Saturday evening, it being the annual reunion of the alumni of the township high school. President Ernest Tiffany presided. There were over 50 seated at the banquet tables and all did justice to the sumptuous repast furnished by Mine Host Tewksbury. E. Bruce Goodrich, class of ’89, acted as toastmaster and introduced the speakers with witty remarks. Louis Gere gave a short talk on recollections of school days. Mrs. Smith favored the company with a brilliant piano solo; Miss Bessie Chamberlain recited the pleasing selection, “The Countersign Was Mary;” Miss Lillian Byram, of Hopbottom, sang two very fine alto solos, which were followed by remarks by Levi Stephens and Clare Whitman, now of State College. A piano solo by Mrs. George Terry; a few remarks by F. H. Kent and a stirring speech by Rev. T. L. Drury closed the evening’s program.

SUSQUEHANNA: Prof. Winifred Decker, son of Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Decker, has accepted an appointment as assistant professor of languages at the State Normal School in Albany. AND: It is estimated that 5,000 people will be attracted to Susquehanna by the machinists Fourth of July celebration.

FOREST LAKE: Some of the roads have been worked and they are all right. If they were all put up as the one is from Stone’s Corners to the Choconut line, we would be well pleased with a money tax, and willing to give a team $3.50 a day and men, $1.50.

HOP BOTTOM: A severe shower passed over this place last Wednesday forenoon. Five of W. A Jeffers’ cows were killed by lightning when it struck a tree on his farm.

GLENWOOD: The tax collector was around Saturday gathering up the loose change.

GREAT BEND TWP.: The outlying school districts find that it was more economical to hire their pupils carried to one or two central points for instruction than to sustain the small schools. The pupils of Red Rock and vicinity are carried to Hickory Grove and those of the Ives District will be carried each day to and from Hallstead. Bids are now being received for the work of carrying pupils.

FOREST CITY: If the borough council is to be taken seriously, there is to be a war on dogs in this burg. Owners of pet canines who would save them from the ignominy of the dog catcher’s net and pen should see that they are muzzled and collared with an inscription, “I’m John Smith’s dog; whose dog are you,” or something to that effect, or they are liable to fall in the net. Once caught it will cost more than the majority of dogs are worth to get them back. If they are not redeemed they will be shot. The dog question sounds like a joke, but the councilmen are serious over it. They consumed a full hour in considering ways and means to begin the campaign.

FOLLOW UP to Ernest Plew, the 15 year old horse thief: The Historical Society received the following letter from a reader, who wanted us to know more about Ernest. “The article on 15 year-old Ernest Plew stealing a horse caught my attention. I found it to be very interesting, since Ernest Plew went on to do bigger things when he became a bit older. My Great Grandfather, whose name was George Washington Hinkley, lived on a farm on the road to Gibson, now known as the April Valley Campsites. Ernest Plew worked as a hired hand for him. He thought my Great Grandfather had money so one day he made him a cup of tea….and put poison in it. He then proceeded to go outside, watch through a window and wait for my Great Grandfather to become violently ill, thrashing around the house. My Great Grandfather then died. Plew took the body and dragged it down into the woods behind the house. He then searched the house for money and drove off with my Great Grandfather’s team of horses. Plew was later convicted of murder and spent years in prison, but was finally released.” [G. W. Hinkley died 28 Sept. 1926]

NEWS BRIEFS: There are said to be only six women in the State who are daughters of veterans of the Revolution. Bradford county claims one of them. AND: By modern process a piece of leather is converted into a completed pair of shoes in 14 minutes and during this time it passes through the hands of 63 persons and 15 machines.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay


More on last week’s personnel matter

Last week’s column on the Ellen O'Malley issue generated mixed feelings from our readers.

About half of the calls I received sympathized with Ms. O'Malley for her 10-day suspension without pay. I agree with them because I do not believe any employee should be hit with a 10-day suspension without pay on a first offense. Athletes who earn millions of dollars a year are not suspended for 10 days for a first offense.

Some who called criticized my opinion and one guy chewed me out for what he called my effort to elevate Ms. O'Malley to sainthood.

One of the most critical opinions came from county Commissioner Mary Ann Warren. She took me to task for stating that she and Commissioner Jeff Loomis decided on the punishment for Ms. O'Malley and did not discuss it with Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners.

“That was her option not to meet with Jeff and I to discuss it,” Mary Ann said. “She said, 'The two of you can take care of it.’”

Regarding my belief that none of the commissioners made an attempt to meet and discuss the issue with Ms. O'Malley, Mrs. Warren said she left a message on Ms. O'Malley's phone suggesting that Ellen contact her at her earliest convenience. She said Ms. O'Malley did not contact her.

Mrs. Warren further stated that she did not have any written communication with Ms. O'Malley but they did have a telephone conversation.

As for Ms. O'Malley's letter of reprimand and 10-day suspension, Mrs. Warren said she and Commissioner Loomis read the letter to Mrs. Kelly and she refused to sign it. By the way, Mrs. Warren said the letter she and Jeff Loomis signed was written by the Scott Blissman, the county’s special attorney on union matters.

Mrs. Warren and Mr. Loomis can think or do whatever they want and the belief here will continue to be that a 10-day suspension without pay on a first offense is extremely unfair. And I cannot help but wonder if the county employees’ handbook spells out the punishment for a first offense or if the county’s attorney on union matters came up with such a lengthy suspension.

One more thing before we bury this issue. I have been advised that letters of reprimand sent to an employee in the assessment office by Ms. O'Malley have been removed from that person’s personnel file. From here, it would seem that while Ms. O'Malley is on suspension, any letters she writes to employees should remain in the employees’ file as long as she remains the department head.

Legal fees climbing!

As we mentioned earlier, Scott Blissman of the Philadelphia law firm of Reed Smith, handles the majority of the union problems encountered by the county. What we forgot to mention is that Mr. Blissman’s fee is slightly over $200 an hour.

For the first six months of 2007, Mr. Blissman was paid $32,150. There is a strong likelihood that $2,000 of that amount was actually a December, 2006 bill, but $30,000 is not a bad piece of change for a part-time attorney.

I am told the fee includes his participation in contract negotiations and that so far, three of the county’s six union contracts have been settled. With three more contracts to be negotiated and our commissioners engaging Blissman to write letters for them, we could be looking at a year-end fee over the $60,000 mark.

Jail Contract Approved!

Employees at the Susquehanna County Jail have a new four-year contract and, for the first time, the contract calls for the workers to pay a portion of their health insurance. It is not a very big bite but it is a step in the right direction.

Jack McGrail, recording secretary and business agent for the Teamsters Union, said pay raises for the union employees will be as follows: three percent, January 1, 2008 and three percent January 1, 2009; four percent January 1, 2010 and four percent January 1, 2011. Health insurance deductions will be two percent in 2008 and 2009, and five percent in 2010 and 2011.

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

Back in March, I wrote a column about Joe Frederick and his civil rights suit against the school administration that suspended him for displaying a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner at a school-sponsored event. At the trial court level, the judge sided with the school administration and ordered the dismissal of Joe’s case. An appeal followed, and the Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that the school administration may have violated Joe’s rights in disciplining him for his “speech.” The United States Supreme Court granted an appeal, and, as commonly occurs with 9th Circuit decisions, the United States Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-4, reversed the 9th Circuit and reinstated the trial court’s dismissal of Joe’s lawsuit. In other words, Joe got his suspension and he won’t be able to get any money out of it.

Chief Justice Roberts delivered the majority opinion that sided with the school administration. The Chief Justice quickly noted that the sign had an “undeniable reference to illegal drugs” with the reference to “bong hits.” In concluding that the school acted appropriately, Roberts concluded: “School principals have a difficult job, and a vitally important one. When Frederick suddenly and unexpectedly unfurled his banner, [the principal] had to decide to act – or not act – on the spot. It was reasonable for her to conclude that the banner promoted illegal drug use – in violation of established school policy – and that failing to act would send a powerful message to the students in her charge, including Frederick, about how serious the school was about the dangers of illegal drug use. The First Amendment does not require schools to tolerate at school events student expression that contributes to those dangers.”

In a concurring opinion, Justice Thomas boldly went even further stating that “the history of public education suggests that the First Amendment, as originally understood, does not protect student speech in public schools.” Justice Thomas then followed with a detailed historical analysis of public education in the 19th Century, which was noted for its strict discipline and a teacher empowered to punish students for any behavior that was viewed as disrespectful or wrong. According to Thomas, a 19th Century school demanded obedience, respect, and good behavior – and the teacher assumed the role of the parent and had all of the same powers and duties of the parent while the child was under their care. This tradition of strict discipline carried into the 20th Century, with the courts granting teachers wide latitude in the discipline of children for disrespectful and disruptive conduct. This climate changed in 1969 when the Supreme Court decided the Tinker case, and declared that students suddenly did have a right to free speech in public schools. Ever since Tinker, school administrators, parents, students and whole communities have struggled to determine the proper scope of a school’s authority to limit the content of student speech that it deems inappropriate. As a result, Thomas noted that the federal courts now have to deal with kids like Joe Frederick who claim they have a right to utter gibberish and nonsense at school functions without consequence, reprimand or discipline from school administrators. According to Thomas, there is nothing in the Constitution or the history of public education (prior to 1969) that supports a student’s right to engage in such conduct.

Justice Stevens wrote for the four dissenting justices and strongly stated school administrators may not limit student speech unless the speech “expressly advocates conduct that is illegal and harmful to students.” In the view of the dissenting justices, Frederick was just having a good time at the event, and his “nonsense banner” did not violate the school’s anti-drug policy, nor did it promote illegal drug behavior. The dissenting justices apparently believed that the banner’s reference to a “bong hit” was too ambiguous to attribute any drug message to it, and the school principal was wrong to conclude that the banner was related to illegal drug activity. The dissenting justices blasted the majority, and accused the majority of inflicting “serious violence to the First Amendment in upholding – indeed, lauding – a school's decision to punish Frederick for expressing a view with which it disagreed.”

In the end, the majority upheld the ability of a school administrator to limit certain speech in a public school, and to discipline students for certain inappropriate speech. The dissenting justices also agreed that school administrators have such power, but simply believed that no legitimate reason for limiting Frederick’s speech existed in this case. Finally, Justice Thomas undertook a lengthy scholarly opinion on the history of public education and the well-recognized right of teachers and administrators to discipline disrespectful and disruptive students. If the founding fathers did not believe that a student had a right to free speech in a public classroom, Thomas asked, why was such a right judicially created in 1969? None of his brethren chose to answer his question. In any event, it is a safe bet that Joe Frederick would not have fared any better in a 19th Century classroom than he did in a 21st Century courtroom.

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

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The Healthy Geezer
By Fred Cicetti

Q. I’m a 61-year-old woman and I’ve been experiencing some incontinence lately. A friend told me there are exercises I can do to help the situation. Do you know what she’s talking about?

First, talk to your doctor about the incontinence. Don’t begin any exercise program without a check-up.

Your friend is probably referring to “Kegel exercises,” which were developed 60 years ago by Dr. Arnold Kegel to control incontinence in women after childbirth. These exercises are now recommended for both women and men who experience urinary or fecal incontinence.

Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. The exercises improve the functioning of both the urethral and rectal sphincters.

The muscles that are developed through the Kegel program are the ones you feel when you try to stop the flow of urine. After about eight weeks of exercising, you usually see results, such as less frequent urine leakage.

Urinary and fecal incontinence are examples of “pelvic-floor disorders.” Others include constipation, rectal pain, vaginal prolapse, rectal prolapse, pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction. In medicine, prolapse means that an organ has slipped out of place.

The pelvic floor is a network of muscles, ligaments and other tissues that hold up the pelvic organs – the vagina, rectum, uterus and bladder. When this network – often described as a hammock – weakens, the organs can shift and create disorders.

Women who delivered several children vaginally and suffered tissue damage during childbirth, are at higher risk for pelvic-floor disorders. Another risk factor is obesity, because added weight strains the pelvic floor. A predisposition to have weak connective tissue can add to the problem.

Aging and menopause contribute to disorders. More than half of women age 55 and older suffer a pelvic-floor dysfunction.

About one in three women in the U.S. will have one of these dysfunctions in her lifetime. One in nine women will have corrective surgery for one of these problems. Because women are embarrassed by pelvic-floor disorders, they underreport them.

It should be noted that men can suffer from pelvic-floor disorders, but they are much more common in women.

In severe cases of pelvic dysfunction, women feel pressure or a pull in the vagina or lower back. The opening of the uterus may stick out from the vagina.

There are many ways to treat pelvic-floor problems.

Some women relieve their symptoms with Kegel exercises. Eliminating caffeine, a diuretic, can help. Eating more fiber can improve bowel function. Pessaries, plastic devices that come in many sizes and shapes, can be inserted into the vagina to support pelvic organs.

And then there is surgery, which can be done vaginally or through the abdomen. The surgical method is determined by the type of problem. More than 200,000 American women have corrective surgery annually.

If you have a question, please write to

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Straight From Starrucca
By Danielle Williams


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Veterans’ Corner

No Veterans Corner This Week

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