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Issue Home March 5, 2008 Site Home

100 Years Ago
From the Desk of the D.A.
The Healthy Geezer
Straight From Starrucca
Veterans’ Corner
What’s Bugging You?
Food For Thought
Earth Talk

100 Years Ago

FAIRDALE: H. S. Parks, who was accidentally injured some weeks ago, is not able to work much, but some of his neighbors went to his home on Saturday and cut a nice pile of wood.

GREAT BEND: The members of St. Lawrence Catholic church are making preparations to build a fine up-to-date rectory for their priest, Rev. Father Fagan, who has worked faithfully to bring the church up to its present beauty. AND: Henry G. More, a son of Editor More, has relinquished his position on the Binghamton Republican to become general manager of the Altoona Times. He is a first class newspaperman.

GIBSON: W. Whittington, of Susquehanna, was in town the past week in the interest of the Fellboelin kerosene mantle lamp. Several of our businessmen have purchased one.

PLEASANT VALLEY, Auburn Twp.: Sam and Harry Reimel are busy tearing down the Laurel Grove school house and hauling the lumber to this place. S. B. Pierson has begun tearing down the school house at this place. AND: In South Auburn: Nearly every farmer in this section has received orders from the New York Department of Health to improve the sanitary conditions around their premises, as a result of the milk inspector’s visits.

HARFORD: The old mill of T. M. Maynard, which went up in smoke, was built in 1842 by Freeman Peck, father of our former townsman, Levi R. Peck. An older mill, on the same site, was built in 1820, Cyril Carpenter being the first miller. AND: The Christie St. Mission, in New York, which received barrels of good things and clothing from the Congregational church of this place for Christmas, has sent gratitude in warmest thanks for the same.

FLYNN: Our town election passed off very quietly. Some were disappointed while others were more fortunate. The offices should be passed around, not one to hold continuously because he has got the pull.

DIMOCK: F. P. Mills, of Gordon, Nebraska, came in the first of the week with a carload of horses, which he sold readily. Mr. Mills was formerly a Dimock boy, and went some years ago with his brother, where they operate two stores, also a big ranch, where they own over 5000 acres of land, with much more government grazing land adjoining, that their stock runs over. They have two or three hundred horses and over 1,000 cattle. Mr. Mills says that all the vacations he gets are his annual trips to Montrose with a load of horses.

MONTROSE: The “boys” have been guying Comrade “Marsh” VanScoten this week because [of] a Hallstead party who got up a business and political directory [and] had him down as a Democratic candidate for county treasurer. To a staunch Republican veteran that comes pretty near being one of the “most unkindest” of errors.

FAIR HILL: The “ski” craze has struck this place, and all the girls and boys are trying to “skate” on them.

FOREST CITY: A broken harness caused a horse of Heller & Company to run away down Dundaff street, Friday. At the Main street turn the animal broke from the sleigh and a team standing in front of the Allen block was scared into a run. The team wound its way in and out, around probably thirty teams in the two blocks it traveled before being stopped, without any damage being done. AND: Harry Price, who had charge of the poor farm last year has again taken up his residence here. Clarence Fives has been appointed farmer for the coming year and moved to the [poor] farm this week.

LITTLE MEADOWS: Wm. D. Minkler, a popular candidate for the Republican nomination for county commissioner, was a caller in Montrose on Friday. “Will” is a former Montrose young man, but has resided in Little Meadows for a number of years, and has many warm friends here who would like to see him one of the successful candidates in the primaries.

ELK LAKE: According to the Wilkes-Barre Record, Reese Morgan of that city will conduct a boarding house here the coming summer.

GELATT: While Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Dowd have been staying with their children in New Milford and Binghamton for two months, it was recently discovered that a tramp had taken possession of the house and supplied himself with clothes and money. Other things were also taken. The house is a long way from neighbors.

WELSH HILL, Clifford Twp.: Patterson’s sawmill, on the Bronson tract, burned to the ground last Saturday night, when about 20 lbs. of dynamite exploded, causing an explosion which was felt by those residing in the near vicinity. Origin of the fire unknown.

HALLSTEAD: On Tuesday evening Earl Tiffany, proprietor of the Hallstead Excelsior Works, took his employees and their families for a sleighride from this place to Franklin Forks, where he treated them and other invited guests to the number of 36, to an oyster supper and a right good time.

TUNKHANNOCK: The story is going the rounds of the newspapers that “Libby Prison in Richmond was built of Yankee logs, cut in Wyoming county, Pa., and floated down the Susquehanna river.” One trouble with that story is the fact that Libby Prison was built of bricks.--Port Jervis Union. That’s just the way with some people; always spoiling a good story with pesky facts. Wyoming county doesn’t get a chance at fame very often, and whenever it does, somebody comes along and unhooks the thing and lets it fall in a heap upon the floor. Anyway, that was a good story while it lasted. Tunkhannock Republican.

NEWS BRIEF: It is about time the old ground hog was dug out and destroyed. It seems as though his limit was about up. We have already had about six weeks of grippy weather, and the end is not yet.

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

Recently, my wife and I were watching a rerun of a Law & Order episode involving an investigation of a serial killer. The suspect had allowed himself to be captured and disclosed to the police that his last victim was still alive. Apparently, the suspect had buried the victim in an old refrigerator with a small tank of oxygen, and the police only had a few hours to locate the victim before the oxygen ran out. The suspect clearly enjoyed the game of playing with the police and holding the victim’s life in his hands. Given the number of prior killings, it was also apparent to the police that the suspect did not care whether his last victim lived or died. The game was all that mattered to him. At one point during the interrogation process, the detective grabbed the suspect by the neck and slammed him against the wall. With evident frustration and desperation, the detective demanded that the suspect provide the necessary information so that the police could save the victim’s life. At this point, another detective intervened and pulled the frustrated detective off of the suspect – much to the suspect’s relief and satisfaction.

This scene was powerful. First, there is the detective. As with most police officers, he is likely overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. The detective does not personally know the victim, and the detective will receive his paycheck regardless of whether the victim survives or not. The detective also knows that he cannot use force to elicit a confession or a statement from the suspect. To do so may save an innocent life, but it would also put the detective at risk, i.e., his own arrest and prosecution, termination from employment and loss of his benefits and pension. Despite knowing that the rules prohibited his use of force, as well as the lack of any personal connection with the victim, the detective is overcome by the urgency of the situation and the need to save this innocent life. There was only one way to save the victim’s life – the detective needed to get the information from the suspect. The detective was personally willing to risk everything in return for saving the victim.

On the opposite side, the suspect was a serial killer with no conscience to stop him. He was driven by the need to feed his own egotistical desires. He was playing a game with the police to demonstrate his superiority. He wanted the media notoriety and infamy associated with being a natural born killer. He was the cat, and the detective was the mouse. The darkness and evil of the suspect was a sharp contrast to the nobleness of the police officer.

Thus, the viewer was left with a sharp contrast between good and evil, and the unsettling moral question of what tools the detective could use in eliciting the necessary information to save a single life. I suspect that there were very few viewers who were offended when the detective launched himself across the table and used force on the serial killer. The scene was so well constructed that the viewer understood the detective’s desperation, and the viewer wanted the detective to prevail. It had become real and personal – the stakes had been raised and there was a life at stake. The rights of the killer seemed secondary when compared with the knowledge of the impending death of the last victim suffocating in the buried refrigerator.

While this may have been a television program, it managed to address the question of the use of torture during interrogations. What limits do we put on a law enforcement officer during the course of an interrogation? Are there lines that cannot be crossed? Do we create a bright line rule, or does the totality of the circumstances come into play in assessing the interrogation techniques? How do we weigh the suspect’s individual rights against the rights (or lives) of potential victims? As a society, we are struggling to answer these questions.

Recently, Justice Antonin Scalia gave an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wherein he indicated that the Constitution does not have an explicit ban on torture. As an example, he indicated that it would be “absurd” to suggest that a police officer was not permitted to “smack someone in the face” if the officer knew that the defendant had “hidden a bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles.” In other words, Justice Scalia suggested that it becomes a proportionality question – was the force utilized reasonable in light of the imminent threat presented? Justice Scalia has been widely attacked for these comments and his refusal to accept a bright line rule. The critics dismiss his “ticking bomb” analogy as being absurd and unrealistic.

When I read Justice Scalia’s comments, I found myself thinking back to that Law & Order episode. In the end, I wonder how many viewers were truly upset over the detective’s attempt to physically coerce information from the suspect in order to save the victim’s life. For those who have not seen the episode, it had a happy ending. The police psychologist realized that the serial killer was motivated by childhood abuse suffered at the hands of his mother. So they got the mother and put her in the same room as the killer – much to the killer’s dismay. It was then disclosed that the mother used to lock the suspect in the closet so that she could go by herself to see a movie. When the attempts to use the mother failed, the police then locked the defendant in a closet (as the mother used to do), which obviously caused the killer psychological trauma, and he finally broke down and gave the police the necessary information and the victim was saved. The killer could withstand the physical attacks, but not the emotional pain inflicted by the psychological coercion. I wonder which techniques would be considered the greater torture – and I wonder how many viewers really cared.

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’ve been told that hand washing is highly effective way to prevent the spread of infections. But what is the best way to wash your hands?

Hand washing is the best and simplest way to prevent infection and illness, but it must be done properly and often to be effective. Below are some tips I’ve collected from several reliable sources.

Washing your hands with soap and water works well. Here are the correct techniques: wet your hands with warm, running water; rub on soap and make a thick lather; scrub vigorously over every surface of your hands and wrists for about 20 seconds; use a scrub brush to get under your fingernails; rinse completely; dry your hands with a disposable paper towel or air dryer; use the paper towel to shut the faucet.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels are better than soap-and-water in killing bacteria and viruses that cause disease. If you clean your hands with one of these sanitizers, apply the gel to one palm. Then rub your hands together and spread the sanitizer on all surfaces until dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands. Not all hand sanitizers are the same. You should use only sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.

Antibacterial soaps, which are different from alcohol-based sanitizers, are no better at killing germs than regular soap. The combination of scrubbing your hands with soap – antibacterial or not – and rinsing them with water loosens and removes bacteria from your hands.

When should you wash your hands? Here’s a list of some important befores and afters: before and after preparing food; before eating; after going to the bathroom; after changing a diaper; after touching animals; before and after treating wounds; after blowing your nose; after coughing or sneezing into your hands; before and after touching a sick or injured person; after handling garbage; before inserting or removing contact lenses.

It’s important to wash frequently, because we collect germs on our hands during the entire day from most objects we touch. We can infect ourselves by touching our eyes, noses or mouths with infected hands. We can infect others by touching them, or objects they touch.

Infectious diseases that are commonly spread by our hands include colds, flu and gastrointestinal disorders.

If you have a question, please 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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What’s Bugging You?
By Stuart W. Slocum

Paper Wasps: A caterpillar’s worst enemy

Stemming from some unfortunate encounter, probably during our childhood, most of us have the utmost respect and fear of wasps. Wasps are members of the Vespidae family, a group of highly social, stinging insects that also includes hornets and yellow jackets. While all three of these insect names are commonly used interchangeably, there are a few characteristics that some entomologists use to distinguish between each.

A paper wasp’s nest.

Paper wasps (Polistes sp.), the subject of today’s column, make small, unenclosed, hanging nests with a single-layered comb. They maintain the colony with only a dozen or so workers. In flight, paper wasps can be recognized by the extended pair of hind legs trailing behind their abdomens. Hornets create much larger, spherical nests with the colony members numbering in the hundreds. Hornet nests are enclosed by a gray paper “envelope” and contain multiple combs in layers. In contrast, the much-feared yellow jackets, which also live in large colonies, construct their combs either underground or hidden inside closed wall spaces.

A paper wasp in its adult stage.

Paper wasps are slender, hard-bodied insects which vary in color, ranging from dark shades of brown, to rust or even black. Some may have yellow or other light stripes across their abdomen. With more than 20 species of paper wasps indigenous to North America, there are some differences in their appearance and temperament. Previously, the northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) has been the most common species found in Pennsylvania. However, the European paper wasp (Polistes dominulus), accidentally introduced into the United States in the late 1970’s, is fast becoming the more prevalent species. Smaller than the native northern, the European wasp is often mistaken for a yellowjacket because of the prevalent yellow and black markings on its abdomen. Although the yellow markings on some are similar, paper wasps can be distinguished from yellowjackets by the wasps’ longer, reddish legs and thinner abdomens. The wasp is very “narrow-waisted” and about three-quarters to one inch in length. The European wasp is more active in cooler temperatures, establishes its nests earlier and is more aggressive than the native species.

While most of us know the pain of a wasp’s sting, few of us realize that they are also one of the most effective natural controls of many household and agricultural insect pests. Actually, most wasps generally are quite sedate and will only sting if they or their nests are directly disturbed. While their sting is very painful, paper wasps rarely sting away from their nests unless directly provoked. People often pass over a nest under their deck or exterior steps without ever realizing its presence. What we commonly refer to as a stinger is actually an ovipositor. It is the hollow tube at the end of the female wasp’s abdomen (tail end). The real function of the ovipositor is for the depositing of eggs.

         The wasp’s nests are small and simple, usually hanging from a short, thin stem (called a pedicel) attached to the top middle of the single, open comb. Most often these nests are constructed in a sheltered area under shed roofs, beneath house eaves, under porch roofs, behind shutters, or inside crevices leading to attics or house walls. The wasp secretes an ant-repelling chemical at the base of the stem to protect its larvae from being eaten.

The relatively short life cycle of the paper wasp begins in early spring when a mated female (the only survivor of the previous year’s generation) emerges from her protected hibernation spot. These hibernation places include house attics, basements and loose boards. Weakened from the long hibernation, the female wasps must find some type of flower nectar to feed upon. If the strong sun of early spring draws her out from her hibernation point too soon, she will die. Once she selects a nesting spot, the female begins stripping small slivers of wood from old boards, fence posts and dead trees. She proceeds to chew the wood, mixing it with her saliva to form a crude paper pellet. Upon returning to her nesting site, she spreads out the pellet to create a thin, gray paper layer. This action is continued until a small comb of several cells is formed. The nest looks like an upside down umbrella, with a singular comb of hexagonal cells visible on the bottom. A single egg is deposited in each cell. The cells in the center contain the older larvae, which will develop into infertile female workers. The early larvae are fed and attended to by the queen. When the larvae are ready to pupate, they spin a silk cap over their cell. By mid-June, the first generation of infertile adults have emerged and assumed the jobs of expanding the nest size, caring for the queen, feeding the new larvae and protecting the colony. Unlike worker honeybees, these wasp workers look identical to the queen in size and coloration. Under favorable conditions the larvae can develop into adult wasps in about 40 days. The founding queen stops foraging and begins to rule over the offspring. She dominates the workers by aggressive actions. If this queen dies or disappears, the most aggressive worker assumes the throne. However, since this worker has never mated, due to the lack of males, she can only lay unfertilized eggs, which will develop into male wasps. The males, lacking ovipositors, cannot sting! Late in the summer, the final broods develop into both males and queens. Since both male and female wasps have wings, mating rituals usually occur around tall trees, towers and other high locations, where dozens of males impatiently wait for a female to fly past. By late fall only the new, mated queens will survive, all the workers, males and old queens die.

Nectar, fruit juices, honeydew (aphid secretions) and other natural sweets are the primary food of the adult wasps. However, they feed their larvae chewed-up caterpillars. While native species of paper wasps only prey on caterpillars, the European paper wasp also feeds on beetle larvae, flies and other small insects. Because of this, paper wasps are considered valuable biological controls of many insect pests. The larvae solicit food from the workers by secreting a droplet of liquid, which contains certain enzymes and carbohydrates. Both the workers and the queen ingest this liquid. The queen requires this “soup” in order to produce more eggs.

There are several interesting interactions that occur in paper wasp society. In some cases, two queens will co-establish a colony, with the alpha female laying the majority of the eggs. This has the advantage of providing multiple nest defenders in the early stages of a colony. There are also queens that “take over” others’ nests. While scientists originally thought that these were individuals who had lost their own nests to predators or weather, researchers have since determined that some are opportunists, who find it easier and more productive to simply take over an already established nest. Those usurping queens destroy the former queen’s eggs and young larvae and replace them with her own. She allows the older larvae to complete development to provide a ready-made caste of workers to care for her and her brood.

Paper wasps are well adapted to people and their buildings. They become accustomed to our comings and goings, paying little heed to us unless we accidentally stumble on to them or their nests. In most cases, we can approach their nests within a foot or so without stinging consequences. However, their sting is extremely painful and unpleasant. While bees have many angled barbs on their stingers, causing it to stick in the wound, wasp stingers have fewer, unangled barbs, thus allowing them to sting repeatedly. If a wasp’s stinger is accidentally broken off, it should be carefully removed so as to not squeeze any venom sac that might be attached. The area around the sting site should be washed with soap and water to prevent secondary infection. Application of a paste of baking soda and water helps sooth the pain by neutralizing the acid components of the venom. Meat tenderizer, another good home remedy, generally contains an enzyme that will break down the venom proteins. Application of ice will help reduce the swelling. Oral antihistamines such as Benadryl can reduce itching at the sting site. People have varying reactions to the wasp venom. Normal reactions to a sting can last several hours and include pain, swelling, redness and itching at the site. People with moderate allergic reactions develop such symptoms as hives, wheezing, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Extreme reactions include all the previous symptoms plus weakness, confusion, hoarseness, and difficulty in swallowing. Such extreme allergic reactions can result in shock, loss of blood pressure and unconsciousness. For those experiencing moderate to severe reactions, a second exposure to the wasp venom could result in anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening hypersensitivity. Wasp venom is considered to be more toxic than that of bees. Those with serious reactions should immediately contact a physician. Prompt injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) is usually the primary step to stop a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. People who are hypersensitive to wasp stings should contact an allergist and consider undergoing desensitization therapy. This involves receiving small doses of weakened venom over an extended period of time. This gradually builds up the individual’s tolerance to the venom and lessens the severity of the reaction to a sting.

Despite their benefits it is sometimes intolerable to have a wasp nest near an area frequented by children or adults. The best time for control is in the early spring when the drowsy queens are first appearing. At this point they are easy to eradicate by the simple stomp of a foot or swipe of a flyswatter. The early stages of a nest can easily be knocked down and destroyed. Once the nest is fully constructed and eggs deposited, the queen and her workers are much more difficult to discourage. They often will return, more determined and much more aggressive than before. Sometimes hanging an old-fashioned sticky fly strip near the nest site can be effective in removing the undesirables. If you choose to use a chemical control, there are many choices available at the local hardware store. Most of these are labeled specifically for control of wasps and hornets. They come in pressurized containers and can emit a directional spray up to 20 feet. These insecticide compounds, containing volatile solvents mixed with pyrethins, carbamates or pyrethroids, are highly effective in instantly “freezing” and killing the wasps when properly used. It is best to carry out this operation at dusk or later, when the wasps are least active and most will have returned to the nest.

Although most of us have had adverse encounters with these paper wasps, such negative experiences are actually few and far between, considering the total amount of exposure that we have. The memory of that painful sting comes to mind each time a wasp buzzes past us. Unfortunately, it is our initial reaction to swat at it, to jerk back or run away that actually antagonizes the wasp into a defensive maneuver. If we could only discipline ourselves to tolerate the presence of this voracious pest consumer, everyone would benefit.

Questions, comments and suggestions regarding this article or any other insect related matters, including identifications are welcome. Please email them to

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Food For Thought
By Lauretta L. Clowes DC

No Food For Thought This Week

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

No Earth Talk This Week


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