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Issue Home December 26, 2007 Site Home

100 Years Ago
From the Desk of the D.A.
The Healthy Geezer
Straight From Starrucca
Veterans’ Corner
The Road Less Traveled
A Day In My Shoe
Food For Thought
Earth Talk

100 Years Ago

SUSQUEHANNA: Susquehanna was the scene of a murder which caused great excitement yesterday, Dec. 26th. The murdered man, John L. Sullivan, was a switchman in the Erie yards, while the alleged murderer is an Italian strikebreaker, Joseph Frank. The murder took place about noon near the Susquehanna end of the Susquehanna-Oakland bridge, not far from the new roundhouse. Frank, after a short altercation, drew a revolver and shot Sullivan through the head below the ears. Although there were several witnesses within sound of the shot, Frank succeeded in eluding the searchers. He mixed with the men at the roundhouse and watching his opportunity, told a couple of men who were going in the direction of Great Bend that he would accompany them, and they, having no suspicions, made no effort to capture him. The trio walked down the tracks as far as Red Rock, where Chief of Police McMahon and Tony Hogan, who had a description of Frank, caught up with them. The prisoner was taken to Susquehanna and placed in the lockup. When it became known that he was captured a large and excited crowd gathered around the building and it was feared an effort might be made to lynch the prisoner. Father P. F. Brodrick reasoned with the crowd, calming them to such a degree that finally, at about 7:30 in the evening, the culprit was escorted to a vehicle and accompanied by three armed men, “Jack” P. Palmer, A. P. Griffin and J. Zegler, brought to Montrose and placed in jail. Sullivan was about 24 years of age and employed nights as a switchman and was a popular young man. His father died a short time ago and he is survived by his mother and two sisters. Frank is a man somewhat older than Sullivan and little is known of him, although he speaks English intelligibly.

DIMOCK: In the good old days, when the Searle’s operated their stage line, Dimock was one of the principal stopping places. Since then the passing days have wrought changes in the country, but the memory of those old and sturdy pioneers still lingers in the hearts of Dimock’s good people. They remember when two hotels were necessary for the accommodation of guests. They know that but one is necessary now, and the good thinking people, who consider that Dimock is four miles from Springville, six miles from Montrose, six miles from Auburn and about five miles from Brooklyn, cannot help but realize that a hotel for such accommodation is a necessity. It is a fact which cannot be disputed that Mr. Cope, who resides in Dimock, has never by act or deed made a remonstrance against the hotel. He is a practical man and well understands the need of a place where the weary traveler can be entertained; and while he may not, as the poet has said, feel “Of all the places I have been, The one most welcome was the inn,” he probably, as a man of affairs, knows that an inn is necessary for Dimock. He undoubtedly knows that at the last election but five Prohibition votes were cast in the township. He is well aware of the existing conditions in the Dimock free library and the speech of the people in good old Dimock township shows that they have not forgotten the Dolan family, nor have they neglected to remember the methods they have always employed in the operation of a public house, and it would be well and for the benefit of mankind if more such public houses were maintained.

MONTROSE: Jones’ Lake was frozen over, following the rains of the first of the week, making good skating for Christmas. A large number thronged the lake Wednesday afternoon and have since been enjoying, during the week, this popular winter sport. AND: R. B. Little was appointed President Judge of this, the 34th judicial district, by Gov. Stuart, to fill the unexpired term, about one year, of Judge Searle. Mr. Little was born in 1865 and educated at the Montrose Academy and Keystone Academy. He studied law in the office of his father, George P. Little.

DUNDAFF: Our stage driver has had bad luck during the past week. While driving home last Thursday one of his horses dropped dead; while last Saturday he was compelled to leave his wagon in a big snow drift and continue on his way afoot.

HOPBOTTOM: A. J. Greene has equipped his house with hot and cold water.

FRANKLIN TWP.: The storm that prevailed here Saturday was the worst that has been known in years. The mail carriers did not succeed in going around, they only went a short distance when obliged to return. This was the first trip they have missed. Archie Summers was in Binghamton and had to drive all the way in that storm of hail and wind to get to home, sweet home.

GLENWOOD: We hear that the next aid will be for the benefit of Mrs. Sprague, who was so badly burned. Dr. Decker says she may get well. Her daughter, Eloise, was burned about the face and neck. Mr. Sprague was burned about the head. Mr. Lynch, the son-in-law, arose at about 2 o’clock to take a load of produce to Scranton, built a fire, called his wife, then went to the barn. She, hearing a noise in the kitchen, opened the door when the flames burst out. A few moments later the house was in flames with the above results.

BROOKLYN: A large number of young people, who are attending the various schools and colleges, are spending their vacations with friends here. Among them are: Misses Edna Eldridge and Edna Ely, West Chester Normal; Miss Bertha Savige, Messrs. Chas. and Geo. Savige, and Guy Corson, of Wyoming Seminary; Messrs. Leon, Levi and Tracy Stephens and Clare Whitman, of State College.

HALLSTEAD: John E. Hamer, one of the oldest residents here and a familiar figure around the Mitchell house, where he resided, died at his room in the hotel, Dec. 12. He was about 77 years of age, and as far as can be learned, had no living relatives in this country. He was familiarly known as “Happy.” He has been taken care of by the Clune family, with whom he has lived for the past 42 years. He was an Englishman by birth and was held in high esteem and reverence by the members of the family, and his demise is very deeply regretted. He was a veteran of the Civil War and fought with great distinction in many battles on land and sea and was severely wounded in several engagements. The way Mr. Hamer came to live in the Clune family, where he had a nice home without expense, only such chores as he chose to do, is worthy of note. During the Civil War, Mr. Clune’s father was a member of the same regiment with Mr. Hamer and during one of the great battles Mr. Clune was so badly injured that he was left on the battlefield for three days with the dead. When the dead were being picked up and buried, Mr. Hamer discovered that his comrade, Mr. Clune, was still alive and it was by his prompt and heroic care that he was taken at once to the hospital and given the necessary medical attention which saved his life. When Mr. Clune’s time of service was up and he came to his home, he left word that as soon as Mr. Hamer’s time in the army expired, he should come to Mr. Clune’s home, which he did at the close of the war and where he continued to make his home with the family until his death.

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

Zero tolerance is a concept that is currently fashionable in our society and especially in our schools. Simply, zero tolerance means that any violation of a rule, regulation, ordinance, or statute will be taken with the same level of intensity and seriousness regardless of the particular facts underlying the alleged violation. In the school setting, zero tolerance has become the catch phrase for weapons on school property, i.e., there will be no quarter for those found to possess a weapon at a school. Zero tolerance is a comforting concept for administrators who have no desire (or ability) to make difficult decisions on the proper course of action in response to a perceived violation of a rule. In other words, there is no need to think when you apply a zero tolerance policy – you simply treat every scenario with the same level of intensity and seriousness, regardless of the underlying facts.

A zero tolerance policy effectively announces that we cannot trust administrators to make good decisions. Zero tolerance takes discretion away from the administrators, which turns administrators into little more than monitors who simply relay information that they observe to some separate entity, usually law enforcement personnel. When it comes to weapons on school property, an administrator will immediately turn the matter over to law enforcement for their investigation.

In terms of weapons on school property, we all agree that there should be a strict stance taken to prevent children from being harmed. The tragedies over the last decade have demonstrated the horrific consequences that may occur if our schools do not provide a secure environment. It is easy to understand how school boards across the country have adopted zero tolerance policies in reference to the possession of weapons on school property. But when we draw such bright line rules and take all discretion away from administrators, there is a true danger that we are paving the way for injustice. Zero tolerance destroys common sense simply by prohibiting it to be exercised.

The recent case in Ocala, Florida starkly demonstrates the dangers created by a zero tolerance policy. In the Florida incident, a 10-year old fifth grade girl brought her lunch to school. It was a leftover piece of steak, and, in order to cut the steak, she also brought a kitchen knife to cut her lunch. Apparently, school officials observed her utilizing her cutlery in the cafeteria as she ate her lunch – and the school’s zero tolerance policy was activated. The knife was seized and the “crime” was reported to law enforcement. The child was then charged as a juvenile for possession of a weapon on school property (a felony), and, because the parents could not immediately be reached, she was taken into custody and briefly placed at a juvenile detention center. Just for good measure, the school district suspended her for 10 days from school. The steak knife was never brandished or used in any inappropriate manner – it was simply used to cut her lunch. The school administrators are defending their action (reaction) to this incident with a school spokesman explaining the situation as follows: “Any time there’s a weapon on campus, yes, we have to report it and we aggressively report it because we don’t want to take any chances, regardless.”

Ah, zero tolerance in its finest form. What chance would the school administrators have been taking if they had simply taken the steak knife from the 10-year old girl and discussed the matter later with her parents? The chances are that the parents packed her lunch and included the steak knife in her lunch sack. This is a case that needs to be pursued aggressively with arrest, detention and suspension? From the facts, the only thing in any danger was the leftover slab of beef that the little girl was going to carve up for her lunch. On the other hand, the school administrators were simply following the school’s zero tolerance policy – there was no room for the exercise of common sense and independent judgment.

Over the course of the last eight years, I know that school administrators in Susquehanna County have encountered similar situations. In this county, our school administrators and law enforcement have generally worked together to address these situations with common sense and discretion in order to take an appropriate response as warranted by the facts – not a knee-jerk reaction devoid of thought.

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. Are hiccups dangerous?

Hiccups – sometimes called hiccoughs – are not dangerous themselves, and are rarely a sign of a health problem.

However, if hiccups persist for more than 48 hours, you should see a doctor. Hiccups can be a sign of kidney failure, pneumonia, lung tumors, digestion problems and heart attack.

If hiccups are so severe that they interfere with your life, see your doctor. If your hiccups last for more than three hours and you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, or you spit up blood, you should get emergency medical attention.

A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary spasm of the diaphragm, the muscle at the base of the lungs that helps you breathe. The spasm is followed by the vocal cords closing. This combined action produces a recognizable sound.

The term hiccup is an example of onomatopoeia, the formation of words that imitate sounds. The medical term for hiccup is “singultus.” The Latin word “singult” means “the act of catching one’s breath while sobbing.”

Almost all cases of hiccups last only a few minutes. If hiccups last longer than two days, they are considered “persistent.” Hiccups lasting longer than one month are termed “intractable.”

Charles Osborne, an Iowa man, hiccupped continuously for 68 years (1922-1990). Osborne was entered in Guinness World Records as the man with the Longest Attack of Hiccups.

The exact cause of hiccups is an ancient mystery. Hippocrates, the Greek “Father of Medicine,” thought liver inflammation was responsible for hiccups.

Here are some possible causes that have been proposed:

* Stomach expansion from a big meal or swallowing air by gobbling food, drinking carbonated beverages or chewing gum. The expanded stomach presses on the diaphragm.

* Eating spicy food, which may irritate the nerves controlling diaphragm contractions.

* Drinking alcohol, which can relax your diaphragm and vocal cords.

* Stress or sudden excitement.

* Smoking, which may irritate the nerves that control the diaphragm.

* A sudden internal or external temperature change.

* Noxious fumes

There are many remedies to transient hiccups. Some are believed to work because they build up carbon dioxide in your blood. These include breathing into a paper bag. If you stimulate the nerve between your brain and stomach, you can relieve hiccups. Drinking water stimulates the nerve.

Here are some popular techniques:

* Hold your breath.

* Breathe repeatedly into a paper bag.

* Drink a glass of water quickly.

* Use smelling salts.

* Pull hard on your tongue.

* Eat a teaspoon of sugar.

* Have someone frighten you.

* Sit down, lean forward and compress the diaphragm against the knees.

Massage of your carotid sinus may help eliminate hiccups. This sinus is located in your neck, just below your jaw. This hiccups treatment should be performed only by a healthcare professional. Never try carotid massage yourself; it can be dangerous.

For more severe, persistent hiccups, your doctor may try medications. Surgery to disable the nerve that controls the diaphragm is often the treatment of last resort.

Here are some interesting facts about hiccups:

Hiccups appear to serve no purpose.

Hiccups occur 4-60 times per minute.

Hiccups are more common in the evening.

There’s no difference between the genders when it comes to everyday hiccups. However, eight out of ten cases of persistent and intractable hiccups occur in men.

Hiccups strike at any age and in utero.

Hiccups occur less frequently as we get older. However, intractable hiccups are more common in adults.

If you have a question, write to

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Straight From Starrucca
By Danielle Williams

No Straight From Starrucca This Week

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Veterans’ Corner

No Veterans' Corner This Week

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The Road Less Traveled
By Bob Scroggins

The Medievalization Of America

Nine months after the Twin Towers collapsed, something else was destroyed – our sense of humanity. Five years ago, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote a memo to President Bush. So began our "long day's journey into night."

In the memorandum, Gonzales established a legal basis for torture by first defining it out of existence. For torture to be illegal it must cause pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying... organ failure... or even death." In other words, do what you will, it is not torture. Under this definition the thumbscrew, the rack, even the iron maiden were legal, if not politically expedient.

Further, if a victim were to die during questioning, the memo exonerated the inquisitor from facing murder charges: "[I]f causing such harm [death] is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent to be convicted." If any act was legal in the extraction of information, then any result was acceptable.

From its inception, the US had an honored history of standing firmly against torture. The United States Constitution, Amendment VII, prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." Over time, this prohibition was established in law and treaty. The US Anti-Torture Act, Section 2340A, carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment. And if the victim were to die under questioning, the torturer could receive the death sentence.

Further, the US is a signatory of the Geneva Convention, which states in Article 3, that civilians as well as captured members of armed forces "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely." The US also signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture. This document offers protection to "all persons from being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, or punishment."

All this was swept away by the current administration. A compliant congress – both stripes – and a complaisant public were all equally culpable. It was the medievalization of America, a moral revolution that swept silently over the land as imperceptible as a shadow.

The Justice Department even excused murder: "intentional homicide [is acceptable] so long as the harm avoided is greater." This is merely a rewording of the political philosophy of communism and fascism, the rationale of tyrants: the end justifies the means.

By what means, then, are "enhanced interrogation techniques" employed?

Waterboarding. The victim is strapped to an inclined board, head down. A wet cloth is placed over his face and water is sprinkled on the cloth. The agony produced by gasping for air is so intense that bones may be broken as the victim struggles against his restraints. This torture technique was used during the Inquisition in the 12th century and revived by the President in the 21st century.

Stress positions. This technique can be as simple as standing in one spot for hours. The blood pools in the lower legs. The pain can be excruciating. Another method is to tie the victim's arms behind his back, then hoist him up by the wrists so that his feet are above the floor. This, too, was employed during the Inquisition.

Electric shock. The victim's body is doused with salt water. Electrodes are attached to the most sensitive parts of his body. A powerful jolt of electricity is sent surging through him. The electrodes may be placed distant from each other to cause as many muscular convolutions as possible. Injuries may include severe burns, permanent tissue and nerve damage, broken bones, and death.

Humiliation. This encompasses anything that degrades the victim. It may be smearing him with human waste or forcing him to perform abhorrent sexual acts. The impact of torture – psychological or physical – may be permanent. To varying degrees, the victim may no longer be able to form close personal relationships. In effect, he becomes estranged from people, permanently encapsulated in the shame or pain of his experience.

Temperature stressing. A victim is stripped naked and forced to stay outdoors in freezing temperatures. SS guards in Nazi concentration camps used hypothermia on inmates to make what they called "snowmen."

Other methods of "enhanced interrogation" are strangulation, sodomy, sleep deprivation, continuous subjection to blaring music and glaring lights, and beatings.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, the successor to Alberto Gonzales, White House appointee Michael Mukasey was asked if he thought waterboarding was torture. Mukasey tap danced around the question, refusing to give a direct answer. Nevertheless, he was confirmed as US Attorney General. His confirmation and the administration's policy debar any fundamental change in the US' inhumane treatment of detainees.

All indications are that we will continue to mistreat those under our charge. Tragically, torture has become the official unofficial policy of the United States.

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A Day In My Shoes

No A Day In My Shoes This Week

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Food For Thought
By Lauretta L. Clowes DC

The other day, driving down the road here in Susquehanna County, it suddenly struck me that "Proud to Be an American" has no real meaning to the average person anymore. If it did, we would take care of this land of ours much better than we do.

So listen up all you "proud Americans" who wear red, white, and blue magnets on your vehicles, then throw your garbage out the windows as you speed by, stop and think of the message you are truly sending out.

If you are so "proud," then why do you treat your countryside like a big trash dump? It doesn’t matter if you drive in the town, in the city, or down a country road, everywhere you look you will see garbage. Good old American garbage! From sea to shining sea.


I don’t think that anyone can equate pride with trash (now "junk" is another story). But here is an idea. If you think your garbage is so attractive and you are so proud to display it for the whole world to see, take it home with you and put it on your mantel. Or your curio shelf. Or on your front porch. Hang it from your flag pole if you want people to see it so badly. Just please, stop decorating our countryside with it. Or the parking lot at the shopping center. Or the side of the river or lake. Or any other place that you throw your garbage.

Take a moment to look around, and see how far you can look without seeing someone’s garbage staring back at you. Probably no more than a car length. Something to be proud of!

Remember all the gum wrapper braids you made as a kid? Now there was a "proud" way to use garbage.

So next time you hear that song on the radio, or see one of those car magnets, or an American Flag, stop and think about what being "proud of America" truly means. Then act on it.



From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: We just started an environmental club at our high school. What issues and activities do you recommend we get involved with to make the most difference?

Kurt Perry, Cedar Park, TX

Participating in an environmental club is an excellent way for high school students to learn about environmental issues while providing measurable benefit to their community.

Given their local focus, most clubs focus on issues close to home. Many undertake hands-on activities like cleaning up local riverbanks and beaches strewn with litter, restoring degraded wildlife habitat and planting and managing a community organic garden. Other worthy ideas include starting a recycling program (or setting up a compost bin) on school grounds, involving the school or community in measuring and lowering their “carbon footprint,” organizing energy- and emissions-saving carpools for students who drive, and asking school officials to print all documents double-sided (to save paper).

Another way for an environmental club to get involved is to offer assistance to a local green group already working on a project, be it an effort to preserve a threatened parcel of open space, promote bus ridership, get a wind turbine installed in town or pressure a local polluter to clean up its act. Polling club members on what issues matter most to them is a good way to get started on picking projects and activities.

Several national nonprofits also help environmental clubs find focus areas and accomplish their goals. One of the leaders is EarthTeam, formed in 2000 with the mission of “creating a new generation of environmental leaders” by introducing teens to inspiring environmental experiences. The group’s website offers up extensive resources for starting an environmental club, finding resources and getting going on various environmental projects. The group also helps facilitate collaboration among clubs.

Some popular events among EarthTeam clubs include tree plantings, river and beach clean-ups, visits to local wetlands and nature preserves, and holding environmental awareness days at schools. Movie nights are also popular. Showing a relevant environmental documentary on the big screen in a school auditorium or some other venue is a sure way to get a larger membership base and stir up student interest. Some recent releases that might stimulate discussion and ideas include: The Cost of Cool, an in-depth look at the environmental consequences of excessive consumerism, hosted by former Baywatch star Alexandra Paul; A Crude Awakening, about the impact of global oil dependency; and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Another great resource is Earth Tomorrow, a national network of high school environmental clubs administered by the National Wildlife Federation. Through the network, clubs gain access to a wide range of resources on which they can base projects. Examples include the Schoolyard Habitats How-to Guide, which walks high schoolers through the steps involved in enhancing wildlife habitat and ecological health on school grounds, and the Science and Civics program, which shows students how to use science, economics, the law and politics to address a local conservation issue and implement an action plan. Beyond these pre-packaged resources, Earth Tomorrow members can tap each other for project ideas, help and general guidance to help make their club experience as productive and rewarding as possible.

CONTACTS: EarthTeam,; Earth Tomorrow,

Dear EarthTalk: My condo kitchen floor is vinyl, installed back in 1979. I am told the vinyl contains asbestos. Now it needs replacing. How do I safely remove the vinyl and what are some green choices for a new floor?

Green Dreamer, via e-mail

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be used in a variety of industrial applications due to its strong flexible fibers, its resilience to heat and chemicals, and the fact that it does not conduct electricity. From the late 1800s through the 1970s, asbestos was used extensively in the U.S. and elsewhere in everything from pipes and insulation to siding and flooring, including vinyl tiles.

The problem with asbestos is that its microscopic fibers can become airborne when materials containing it get worn out, damaged or disturbed. Inhaling these airborne fibers can lead to a variety of health problems such as asbestosis (a chronic lung ailment that can produce shortness of breath and permanent lung damage) and a variety of cancers, including those of the lung, larynx and gastrointestinal tract.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively banned asbestos in 1989. (The ban was later overturned in federal court as a result of pressure from mining and construction interests, but the damage to the substance’s reputation was too formidable for industry to start using it widely again.) Today, the only money to be made from asbestos is by those in the business of getting rid of it, and an entire industry has sprung up specializing in safely removing asbestos from both commercial and residential buildings.

The EPA recommends that homeowners who want to remove asbestos-containing materials from their residences hire a licensed contractor to do the dirty work, so as not to compromise family or personal health. The EPA maintains an online listing of asbestos removal specialists across the country, and homeowners can also look in their local Yellow Pages under “asbestos abatement” or “asbestos removal” to find local contractors qualified to remove and dispose of the stuff safely and completely.

Hiring such a firm can cost thousands of dollars; so many do-it-yourselfers still take it upon themselves to remove worn asbestos-containing materials (tiles, siding, etc.) from their own homes. Anyone willing to undertake such risks should make sure to get a respirator and other safety equipment to protect against inhaling airborne asbestos particles, and should seal off work areas so the carcinogenic dust does not spread into other areas of the building. The Flooring Lady website is chock full of details on how to minimize risks and includes strong reminders that such a task is not for the risk-averse.

As for what to replace those worn vinyl tiles with, many greener choices abound. Bamboo, cork, linoleum, and sustainably harvested or reclaimed wood are all environmentally sound and widely available flooring options. Some of these products are available at the big box home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, but better selections can be found at online green building supply stores like Ecohaus, Green Building Supply and GreenFloors, among others.

CONTACTS: U.S. EPA Asbestos Information,; The Flooring Lady,; Ecohaus,; Green Building Supply,; GreenFloors,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at:, or e-mail: Read past columns at:

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