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Issue Home January 7, 2009 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
Barnes-Kasson Corner

100 Years Ago

GIBSON: The business section of the town was destroyed by fire last Sunday morning, entailing a loss of from $10,000 to $12,000. The fire was discovered at about three o’clock in the store of W. J. Lamb & Son and was well under way before the citizens were aroused. The fire seemed to be burning fiercest under the roof and a number of men went into the garret to put out the flames. Unknown to the firefighters the fire was eating into the timbers under the box cornice and the roof suddenly dropped in, and several had narrow escapes from death and injury. All hope of saving the store was given up and attention turned to saving the goods and adjoining buildings. As their only means to fight the flames was with buckets of water and wet blankets, the Lamb dwelling house was soon in a blaze, it standing near the store. His barn was next in the course of the fire and was completely destroyed. While the fires mentioned were raging, the C. H. VanGorder store caught fire, and was soon beyond control, communicating to the paint shop. A. C. VanGorder’s blacksmith and wagon shop was the last to go, and other buildings were saved only by desperate efforts. Mr. Lamb’s loss is placed at about $7,000, C. H. VanGorder’s at about $3,000 and A. C. VanGorder’s at about $2,000. All carried a partial insurance and leaves but one store in the town and it is doubtful if the buildings burned will be rebuilt.

FLOWERY VALLEY, Liberty Twp.: An overcoat was exchanged at Tom Ward’s hotel Monday night, Dec. 20. The coat was black and the pockets contained a white silk muffler, a handkerchief and a pair of gloves. The coat belonged to Earle Conklin. Will the person who exchanged please return same and get his own coat?

HARFORD: Hallie Lewis, one of Harford’s rising young business men, has opened a meat market in the Osborne block and has a fine line of meats. AND: In Oakley, O. J. Ashley has been confined to the house by illness the past month. His neighbors made a wood bee for him the past week. William Robinson, while doing chores for Mr. Ashley on Christmas day, was kicked by a horse. The bone of the leg was not broken, as was at first supposed, but he has not been able to work since.

SUSQUEHANNA: His numerous friends in this county will be glad to hear of the continued success of Artist Robert E. Lea, in his profession. Mr. Lea formerly lived in Susquehanna, but with his mother a couple of years ago, removed to New York city. Mr. Lea is praised by the press as being a true born artist, and does not swing the brush in an amateurish way. Five of his choice paintings are in Montrose homes.

FOREST LAKE: Booths’ mill, now having water, will resume grinding feed, etc.

LAUREL LAKE, Silver Lake Twp.: A sleighride party of about fifteen young people from Forest Lake came over to John O’Days last Wednesday evening. Dancing was indulged in and a dainty lunch was served.

FOREST CITY: L. J. Wells on Saturday disposed of his restaurant and confectionary business in the Osgood building to Henry and David William Davis. Mr. Wells enjoyed a large trade and the new proprietors, who are two of the town’s most popular young men, should do a flourishing business.

HALLSTEAD: On Friday evening, at the Hogan opera house in Susquehanna, the Hallstead basketball team was defeated by the Laurel Athletic Society of that place by a score of 22 to 15. AND: Wallace Simrell died at his home in Brooklyn, New York, Jan. 5, 1909, aged 79 years. About 25 years ago he was master mechanic in the Hallstead shops and later was Prothonotary of Susq. Co. Funeral will be held in Hallstead Thursday.

SPRINGVILLE: Ziba Lott’s youngest daughter has been sick for several days with appendicitis, but her condition was somewhat improved the first of the week.

HOPBOTTOM: We were never blessed with a finer run of sleighing during the holidays than we had the present winter. The rain early this week spoiled it.

MONTROSE: T. W. Tinker has reopened the Jeffers mill, opposite the D. L. & W. station, and is putting in a full assortment of all kinds of flour and feed, which he proposes to keep constantly on hand for sale at the lowest cash prices, and is also arranging to do custom grinding. Call and see him.

JESSUP TWP.: Annual meeting of the Prospect Hill Telephone Co. will be held at Fairdale, January 9th, 1909. AND: Butcher Roy went to his hen house to gather eggs and raising a cover of one of the nests instead of a hen a skunk was there. B. S. Risley came down with his rifle and dispatched the intruder.

NEW MILFORD: Fred Whitney starts for Texas this week, where he will engage in buying fruits and vegetables for shipping to northern and eastern markets.

GLENWOOD: A birthday party for P. H. Hunt was held on New Years’ day, it being his 51st birthday. His children and grand children to the number of 18 being present, a good time was reported. The table groaned beneath its load of good things and all was merry as a marriage bell.

THOMPSON: The peal of the school house bell called the pupils to their studies after the holiday vacation this morning.

ST. JOSEPH: William Goggin has purchased a new cutter. Joseph Jeffers is breaking his colt.

NEWS BRIEF: A Pennsylvania pastor who wished the mammoth hats of the feminine part of this congregation removed, and who believed more in the exercise of tact than of authority, announced that he would not expect the elderly ladies to take off their hats in church, but would request it of the younger ones. Every woman had to take off her headgear or stamp herself as elderly. There was no further obstruction of view. AND: It is very annoying to the telephone subscribers to find during the very busy hour in the evening, when they want to use the phone, that some young couple is sparking over the wire, or somebody else is holding a long, gossipy conversation. Some people use the telephone almost any time for almost anything.

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

I received a request from the Endless Mountain Builders Association to write a column on the risks that homeowners take when hiring a building contractor. In particular, the Association sought comment as to the civil liability that a homeowner may incur as a result of hiring an uninsured, unlicensed building contractor. The issue is a serious one that unfortunately many homeowners never consider when contracting for home improvement projects.

Every year, this office receives complaints from county residents concerning the actions of unscrupulous or simply incompetent home contractors. There are times when criminal charges can be pursued against the contractor for some type of theft offense. But, in the majority of cases, these disputes end up being civil matters to be pursued in private lawsuits. In those cases, the homeowner faces the prospect of additional costs for legal fees, court costs, and other associated expenses coupled with a dim potential for any actual recovery from the wrongdoer.

A few cases may serve as good examples of the types of cases that cross my desk. Several years ago, a disabled couple came into the office not sure what to do. They had hired a contractor who sold them a modular home and paid him over $100,000, which represented all of their collective savings. They never received anything for all the money they invested. After we investigated the matter, it was discovered that the contractor had purchased the modular home with some of the monies, but the contractor could not account for the bulk of the remaining money that was intended for excavation, a foundation, a septic system and the other items necessary for a residence. As a result, the modular home was never placed on the foundation. The modular home had been dropped off in a local field, where it had sat for several years, slowly being damaged by the elements because the contractor had not taken the appropriate steps to protect it. In the end, the contractor was charged, convicted and incarcerated. The court ordered that the modular home be auctioned, but it only managed to get a small portion of the monies owed to the victims. As a result of the stress surrounding the events, the victims separated and are still waiting for the rest of their money.

In another case, a couple hired a contractor to build a retirement home for them for approximately $230,000. As they were not from the area, they trusted the contractor and, as he requested additional monies, they forwarded the monies to him to the extent that nearly the full amount of the construction contract was paid to the contractor. Given that they had paid most of the money to the contractor, the couple made the trip to see their retirement home. Rather than finding their dream home, the couple discovered that little more than the frame of the house had been completed. Upon pressing the contractor for specifics, he contended that expenses had gone up and he would need more money to finish the project. The couple objected, as they had a written contract and the contractor had to finish it for that amount. The couple did not budget any additional monies for the project and simply did not have the funds. In the end, they hired a different contractor to review the work and give them an estimate of the value for the materials and labor that had been performed on their home. After discovering that they only had around $100,000 worth of labor and materials on the project, they filed a private criminal complaint with this office for theft by the contractor. Given the disparity between the amount received by the contractor and the value of the labor and materials actually put into the job itself, criminal charges were filed against the contractor.

These are simply two examples of cases where home contractors were prosecuted for theft. As I stated earlier, we see many cases involving poor workmanship and glaring incompetence by bad contractors. Generally, it is only the extreme cases that can be prosecuted, i.e., those where it is apparent that the contractor was not simply incompetent, but a thief as well. For a homeowner, however, the financial loss is the same whether or not the contractor stole the money from the job, or simply messed the job up. In the end, you should choose a home contractor very carefully, check the contractor’s references and reputation, and never give large sums of money without inspecting the premises personally.

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801 or at our website or discuss this and all articles at

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The Healthy Geezer
By Fred Cicetti

Q. What is mold, and why does it make me sick?

There are many types of molds, which are fungi that thrive where it is damp and warm. They reproduce by spreading spores, asexual reproductive bodies. Spores are invisible to our eyes. They float through outdoor and indoor air. Molds that cause allergies include alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium.

If you are allergic to molds, your immune system overreacts when you inhale spores. Mold allergy symptoms can include sinusitis, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, cough, postnasal drip, itchy and watery eyes. If you want to know if you are allergic to molds, see an allergist who can test you for your reaction to molds.

[Personal note: I’m allergic to several molds, I learned recently after seeing an allergist. One damp evening years ago, I had our whole-house fan on. I sat in front of a window that was letting in a heavy stream of night air. Within a half-hour, I had to go to bed with what felt like the flu.]

Reducing exposure to spores is the best way to avoid symptoms. Here are some ways to keep mold spores away:

When doing yard work – especially raking leaves – wear a dust mask over your nose and mouth. Mold is abundant where leaves or other vegetation are decomposing.

When the mold count is high, do not drive with your car windows open. Use the air-conditioning with the windows closed.

When the nights are wet, sleep with your windows closed. This is when the concentration of spores is the highest.

Reduce your outdoor time when the weather is wet. The last thing you should do if you have an allergic reaction to molds is go out for a run or bike ride on a damp day.

Put a dehumidifier anywhere in your home that is musty.

Air-conditioning in your home is a must if you have allergies. Clean the AC filters often.

Ventilate bathrooms, especially after bathing or showering.

Clean bathroom and basement wall surfaces regularly with a bleach solution.

Remove leaves and vegetation from around the foundation of your home. Clean gutters often.

You can’t avoid mold spores completely. There are medications to help you deal with your allergies.

Antihistamines can reduce itching, sneezing and runny nose. Non-drowsy over-the-counter antihistamines for itching, sneezing and runny nose include Alavert, Claritin and Zyrtec. There are prescription drugs available, too, such as Allegra.

Over-the-counter decongestants include Actifed, Drixoral and Sudafed.

Nasal sprays for temporary relief include Afrin and Neo-Synephrine. Don't use decongestant nasal sprays for more than a few days because they can create “rebound” congestion.

For many allergy sufferers – including me – nasal corticosteroid sprays are highly effective treatments. These medications include Beconase, Flonase, Nasonex and Veramyst.

There are other allergy medications that work a bit differently. They include NasalCrom and Singulair.

Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots or vaccinations, can alleviate allergy symptoms. However, shots don’t work on all allergies or all people. The shots are only moderately effective against mold allergy.

Rinsing your nose with salt water can help with nasal symptoms brought on by a mold allergy. There are convenient saline nasal sprays available at drug stores.

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

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What’s Bugging You?
By Stuart W. Slocum

Cockroaches: inevitable tenants

In my previous article, I stated that there are five common species of cockroaches found in Pennsylvania. They are the American, Oriental, German, brown-banded and Pennsylvania wood cockroaches. While the first four species are usually found in association with people and their homes, the wood cockroach is seldom a serious household pest.

An adult German cockroach.

Ranging from l to 2 inches in length, the American cockroach is the largest species commonly found in Pennsylvania. One of the most widespread pests of mankind, it is believed that the American cockroaches were brought to North America from Africa on slave-trading ships. American cockroaches are usually found around the dumpsters, trash receptacles and basements of restaurants, bakeries and other commercial food preparation/processing facilities. They also infest landfills, storm drains and steam tunnels. American cockroaches are reddish-brown with tinges of yellow along the edges of their thoraxes. They possess large, fully developed wings that extend the full length of their bodies. The male’s wings extend slightly past their abdomens. The nymphs look similar, but do not have wings. American cockroaches are capable of flying, but rarely do so. Normally, these cockroaches are restricted to large, institutional buildings. However, when occupying homes, the American cockroaches are generally found in warm, dark, moist areas such as basements or crawl spaces near bathrooms, laundry areas, floor drains and sewers. American cockroaches feed on a large variety of foods, but prefer decaying organic matter. They show a fondness for beer and other fermenting foods. These cockroaches are capable of going without food for several months, but cannot survive without water for more than one month. It isn’t what cockroaches eat that is so damaging; it’s where they eat and what they contaminate. Their habit of feeding in such damp and unsanitary locations as sewers and garbage cans, prior to crawling over our food and eating utensils, creates the problem. The germs and filth from these locations are spread onto surfaces with which we have direct contact. It is this contamination and dissemination of potential pathogens that makes the presence of cockroaches so disgusting and undesirable.

German cockroaches are only about one-half inch in length. They vary from light brown to tan, and have 2 dark streaks running parallel on the shield (prothorax) behind their head. The German cockroach is the most prevalent species found in households and apartment complexes. This species requires a warm, moist area with temperatures in the seventy-degree F range. Although German cockroaches prefer cracks and crevices in locations near food, such as kitchens and pantries, they will also take up residence in other household locations when overpopulated. Despite the fact that it is nocturnal, individual German cockroaches can be seen moving about during the daytime if the populations are high. Their wings are non-functional and they cannot fly, except to glide downward. The female produces 30 to 50 eggs every 20 to 25 days. She carries the egg case about until just a few hours before the eggs hatch. This high reproductive rate creates the potential for large, localized populations.

The black Oriental cockroach is about an inch in length. Often called a “water bug,” the Oriental cockroach prefers a cooler temperature than the German variety. Although the males have complete wings, which are slightly shorter than the body, they do not fly. The females’ wings are small and non-functional. Oriental cockroaches like wet or moist locations, and are found in damp basements and under rotting wood, leaking pipes, washing machines, refrigerators and sinks. They feed on garbage and organic matter. Oriental cockroaches are not usually seen during the day. Producing a strong disagreeable odor, the Oriental cockroach is considered to be one of the dirtiest of all the cockroach species. Because of their slow development and low reproduction rate, the control of Oriental cockroaches is easier than that of other cockroach species.

Brownbanded cockroaches prefer warmer temperatures and drier areas than the German cockroach. The brownbanded species prefers higher and warmer areas, such as under or inside televisions, radios or refrigerators. Brownbanded cockroaches are more likely to occur in such nonfood areas as bedrooms, closets or living rooms. The adults are only about one-half inch in length. The males are golden brown in color, while the females are dark brown. Both have two horizontal yellow bands across their wings. The nymphs can be recognized by the two pale bands that horizontally cross their abdomen. Male brownbanded cockroaches can fly and are sometimes attracted to lights. The female usually attaches its egg case (ootheca) to furniture or appliances, thus resulting in the relocation of the insects to a new location by unsuspecting movers.

Living under loose bark, rotten logs and stones, the Pennsylvania wood cockroach is normally not a pest in homes or buildings. However, it sometimes becomes a minor pest in summer cottages. It is the only species of cockroach native to this area. The wood cockroach is occasionally brought inside on firewood or other objects that have been stored outside. The males are strong flyers. Attracted to lights, they will sometimes fly inside through an open door or window. Male wood cockroaches are 1 inch in length and dark brown, with light-colored streaks along the body edge near the head. The females are about 1/2 inch long. They look similar to the males, but have much shorter wings. The females and nymphs are sometimes mistaken for Oriental cockroaches.

Cockroaches are inevitable tenants that no one wants. Next time I will discuss ways of controlling their populations.

Questions, comments and suggestions regarding this article, identifications or any other insect-related matters 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

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that some baby bottles contain chemicals that can cause health problems for babies? If so, how can I find alternatives that are safer?

Amy Gorman, Berkeley, CA

No links connecting specific human illnesses to chemicals oozing out of baby bottles have been proven definitively. Nonetheless, many parents are heeding the call of scientists to switch to products with less risk. A 2008 report by American and Canadian environmental researchers entitled “Baby’s Toxic Bottle” found that plastic polycarbonate baby bottles leach dangerous levels of Bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic chemical that mimics natural hormones and can send bodily processes into disarray, when heated.

All six of the leading brands of baby bottles tested – Avent, Disney/The First Years, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber and Playtex – leaked what researchers considered dangerous amounts of BPA. The report calls on major retailers selling these bottles – including Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, CVS, Target, Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart – to switch to safer products.

According to the report, BPA is a “developmental, neural and reproductive toxicant that mimics estrogen and can interfere with healthy growth and body function.” Researchers cite numerous animal studies demonstrating that the chemical can damage reproductive, neurological and immune systems during critical stages of development. It has also been linked to breast cancer and to the early onset of puberty.

So what’s a concerned parent to do? Glass bottles are a tried-and-true chemical-free solution, and they are widely available, though very breakable. To the rescue are several companies making BPA-free plastic bottles (out of either PES/polyamide or polypropylene instead of polycarbonate). Some of the leaders are BornFree, thinkbaby, Green to Grow, Nuby, Momo Baby, Mother’s Milkmate and Medela’s. These brands are available at natural food stores, directly from manufacturers, or from online vendors.

Most of the major brands selling BPA-containing bottles are now also offering or planning to offer BPA-free versions of their products. Consumers should read labels and packaging carefully to make sure that any product they are considering buying says unequivocally that it does not contain the chemical.

Unfortunately, switching to a BPA-free bottle is no guarantee the chemical won’t make its way into your baby’s bloodstream anyway. BPA is one of the 50 most-produced chemicals in the world. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), it is used in everything from plastic water jugs labeled #7 to plastic take-out containers, baby bottles and canned food liners. It is so omnipresent that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has found that 95 percent of Americans have the chemical in their urine.

Also, nursing mothers – especially those who haven’t discarded their old BPA-containing Nalgene water bottles – may be passing the chemical along through their breast milk. And if that weren’t enough, BPA is also used in the lining of many metal liquid baby formula cans. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) has posted email links to the consumer affairs offices of the major formula manufacturers so concerned parents can ask them to remove BPA from their product offerings and packaging.

CONTACTS: Baby’s Toxic Bottle Report,; NRDC,; CDC,; EWG,

Dear EarthTalk: How much “old growth” forest is left in the United States and is it all protected from logging at this point?         

John Foye, via e-mail

As crazy as it sounds, no one really knows how much old growth is left in America’s forested regions, mainly because various agencies and scientists have different ideas about how to define the term. Generally speaking, “old growth” refers to forests containing trees often hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years old. But even when there is agreement on a specific definition, differences in the methods used to inventory remaining stands of old growth forest can produce major discrepancies. Or so complains the National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry (NCSSF) in its recent report, “Beyond Old Growth: Older Forests in a Changing World.”

In 1991, for example, the U.S. Forest Service and the nonprofit Wilderness Society each released its own inventory of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest and northern California. They both used the Forest Service’s definition based on the number, age and density of large trees per acre, the characteristics of the forest canopy, the number of dead standing trees and fallen logs and other criteria. However, because each agency used different remote sensing techniques to glean data, the Forest Service came up with 4.3 million acres of old-growth and the Wilderness Society found only two million acres.

The NCSSF also studied the data, and they concluded that 3.5 million acres (or six percent) of the region’s 56.8 million acres of forest qualified as old growth – that is, largely trees over 30 inches in diameter with complex forest canopies. By broadening the definition to include older forest with medium-diameter trees and both simple and complex canopies, NCSSF said their figure would go up substantially.

In other parts of the country, less than one percent of Northeast forest is old growth, though mature forests that will become old growth in a few decades are more abundant. The Southeast has even less acreage – a 1993 inventory found about 425 old growth sites across the region, equaling only a half a percent of total forest area. The Southwest has only a few scattered pockets of old-growth (mostly Ponderosa Pine), but for the most part is not known for its age-old trees. Old-growth is even scarcer in the Great Lakes.

It is hard to say whether the remaining pockets of scattered old-growth in areas besides the Pacific Northwest will remain protected, but environmentalists are working hard to save what they can in northern California, Oregon and Washington. The outgoing Bush administration recently announced plans to increase logging across Oregon’s remaining old-growth reserves by some 700 percent, in effect overturning the landmark Northwest Forest Plan of 1994 that set aside most of the region’s remaining old growth as habitat for the endangered spotted owl.

Protecting remaining old-growth is important for many reasons. “These areas provide some of the cleanest drinking water in the world, critical salmon and wildlife habitat, world-class recreational opportunities and critical carbon storage in our fight against global warming,” says Jonathan Jelen of the nonprofit Oregon Wild, adding that as much as 20 percent of the emissions related to global warming can be attributed to deforestation and poor forest management. “A growing body of evidence is showing the critical role that forests – and old-growth forests in particular – can play in mitigating climate change.”

CONTACTS: NCSSF,; Oregon Wild,

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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Barnes-Kasson Corner
By Cara Sepcoski

Barnes-Kasson Hospital is observing National Birth Defects Prevention Week, January 4 through 10.

By definition, a birth defect is an abnormality or malfunction of the body’s structure or function that is present at birth and results in physical or mental disabilities, and sometimes death. According to the March of Dimes organization, about one in every thirty-three children born in the United States is born with a birth defect, which would make birth defects the leading cause of death within the first year of life.

There are several thousand types of defects that can be present at birth, of these approximately 70 percent have unknown causes. This is because not much is known about the causes of birth defects. From what is known though, it has been concluded that most are caused by either genetic and environmental factors, or a combination of both. These include single gene defects and chromosomal birth defects.

Single gene defects occur when one parent passes along a single faulty gene. Each human has approximately 20,000 to 25,000 genes, which control growth and determine things such as hair and eye color. When a faulty gene is passed along, a defect is caused. This can bring about many various conditions, such as Marfan Syndrome, which is a connective tissue disease, or some forms of dwarfism.

Chromosomal birth defects usually occur in the very beginning stages of life, usually from an error that occurred when an egg or sperm cell was developing. As a result of this error, a child has the chance of being born with rearranged or broken chromosomes, or with too many or too few chromosomes.

Preventive measures can be taken by a mother to help ensure that a healthy baby is born. Talking to your doctor or having a preconception visit is one of the first steps. Your doctor may tell you to try to quit smoking, or to avoid alcohol. It is important to remember to keep up to date on all of your doctor visits, especially when pregnant. Your doctor can also make sure that any medications a woman takes are safe during pregnancy. All of these steps are proven to help prevent birth defects. For any other questions concerning birth defects, visit

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