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Issue Home January 7, 2009 Site Home

GSign Up For Wildlife Habitat Incentives
Explore PA 2009 Guide Released
Plan A Week Of Good Health
Saving Early Can Help College Saving Success
Winter Heating Help Available
Turnpike Senior Center Update
National Radon Action Month
Bryan Buffington Is Teacher of the Year

Sign Up For Wildlife Habitat Incentives

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Pennsylvania State Conservationist, Craig Derickson announced a continuous sign-up for the Fiscal Year 2009 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). "Even though program rules are still being finalized in Washington, we are urging local farmers to apply as early as possible. By accepting WHIP applications now, we can develop conservation plans and be well positioned to provide contracts to producers when the rules are disseminated," said Derickson.

The WHIP program, administered by NRCS, provides both technical and financial assistance to individuals interested in establishing and improving wildlife habitat on private agricultural lands and non-industrial forestland. The financial assistance can include incentive payments for management activities and cost-share for the installation of certain conservation practices.

“Many Pennsylvania landowners are interested in managing their lands for wildlife, but need technical advice and financial assistance to help cover the costs of habitat enhancement,” said Derickson. “WHIP may be able to provide the help they need.” NRCS will work with participants to develop a wildlife habitat development plan which becomes the basis of the financial assistance agreement. Conservation-minded landowners are encouraged to participate.

NRCS has identified four priorities for the 2009 Pennsylvania WHIP sign-up: promote the restoration of declining or important native wildlife habitats; protect, restore, develop or enhance wildlife habitat of at-risk and threatened and endangered species; reduce the impacts of invasive species on wildlife habitats; protect, restore, develop or enhance declining or important aquatic wildlife species’ habitats.

Practices that can be funded through WHIP include native grass and meadow plantings; tree and shrub plantings; successional habitat management; and stream and stream corridor improvement practices such as stream fencing, fish habitat structures, and riparian forest buffers. NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Bob Wagner, who works out of the NRCS Field Office in Montrose, Susquehanna County, said, "Over $62,000 has been contracted for WHIP wildlife habitat improvement in Susquehanna County over the past two years. Our NRCS team in Northeast Pennsylvania has also written WHIP contracts in Wayne, Pike and Wyoming counties. These contracts, with the specified wildlife habitat improvement practices have helped to improve, develop and restore habitat for grassland birds such as bobolinks, eastern meadowlark, grasshopper sparrows and Henslow's sparrow; for woodland and edge habitat species such as woodcock, grouse, northern harrier, and whippoorwill. The habitat improvement projects also benefit other wildlife, such as rabbits, turkeys, white tailed deer, woodland songbirds, woodchucks, squirrels, songbirds and many small mammals."

The first step for producers should be to contact your NRCS office in Susquehanna County at RR 7 Box 7112, Montrose, 278-1011, ext. 3 (Bob Wagner or Bruce Baessler).

Applications are accepted by NRCS on a continuous basis throughout the year to evaluate, rank, prioritize and select applicants. There is no due date to apply, but people are encouraged to apply early to increase the likelihood of being offered a contract. Applications that cannot be funded can be retained for up to two years, after which time the producer will need to re-file a new application.

The application and information about WHIP for fiscal year 2009 are available on the Pennsylvania NRCS Web site at

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Explore PA 2009 Guide Released

Camp Hill, PA – The Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) announced the release of the 2009 edition of Explore Pennsylvania. This edition features the nation’s most friendly RV show, RVs of the future, 10 RV hot spots, green RV adventures and much more.

The guide contains a PRVCA membership directory connecting readers to campgrounds, dealers, suppliers, manufacturers and other services. The five districts in the directory are Southeastern, Northeastern, Central, Southwestern and Northwestern Pennsylvania.

110,000 copies of Explore Pennsylvania will be distributed at over 40 RV shows throughout the East Coast. The magazine will also be on PRVCA’s website, at member locations, at welcome centers along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, through Pennsylvania visitor’s bureaus, and the RV Hall of Fame.

Directories have been shipped to various PRVCA members for distribution. If you would like to receive a free copy, call the PRVCA office at 888-303-2887.

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Plan A Week Of Good Health

(NewsUSA) – Many Americans tell themselves the same thing – their health goals will have to wait because the timing "isn't right."

But some clichés do ring true – there really is no time like the present. Don't know where to begin? First, decide what goal you would like to accomplish: running a marathon, losing 20 pounds, eating healthier. Then, decide what steps you will need to take to reach that goal. Determine what you can start doing today. For example, if you want to run a marathon, you shouldn't plan to run 10k on your first outing. Instead, set out to run ten to fifteen minutes. If you can't do that, try a brisk walk instead.

SUCCESS Magazine, a publication that seeks to inspire and inform entrepreneurs and small-business owners, offers these tips for Americans looking to improve their health in one week.

Day One: Buy a pedometer. The American Heart Association recommends taking 3,000 steps every day. Wearing a pedometer lets you count every step, so figure out where you can fit in more walking while working, shopping or running errands.

Day Two: Start taking those stairs. Have you noticed that you quickly become out of breath when you walk up steps? Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator will solve that problem in a matter of weeks, not to mention improve your heart's health. Whether you walk up one flight of stairs or ten, you will still enjoy benefits.

Day Three: Do calf raises at your desk. Lift your toes, then return to a flat foot, then lift your heels and squeeze your calf muscles. You will pump blood back up your legs, improving circulation.

Day Four: Give up your parking space. Park farther away from the office, store or gym. The extra walking will quickly add up.

Day Five. Plan to eat all-natural foods for a day. Instead of processed cereal, make a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Hummus and cut-up vegetables, or unsalted nuts with fruit make good snacks. For lunch and dinner, choose healthy, whole foods like hearty salads or vegetable-based soups or stews. Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store when you shop.

Day Six: Take time to relax. Sit down with a good book, take a bath, listen to some favorite music or go out for a relaxing walk. Taking time to decompress and enjoy yourself will reduce your overall stress levels.

Day Seven: Confuse your dog. When you take your dog out, go for a walk. Alternate between walking for 10 minutes and jogging for two minutes. Slowly increase the amount of time you spend jogging until both you and your pup become runners. No pet? Take a friend instead.

For more tips, visit

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Saving Early Can Help College Saving Success

(NewsUSA) – During these difficult economic times, many parents are worried about meeting their children's future college expenses. In a recent Fidelity Investments survey, parents nationwide said that economic conditions have hindered their college savings efforts, with 60 percent reporting day-to-day expenses as a barrier. And as a result, 34 percent of these parents have scaled back or completely stopped saving for college altogether.

Most parents would like to send their child to college, recognizing that a degree may lead to more job opportunities and potentially a higher salary. But with increasing tuition costs and the strain of day-to-day expenses, parents are struggling to meet their college savings goals.

To supplement these expenses, many parents are looking for additional sources of funding. In fact, despite their limited availability, higher interest rates and less favorable terms, 62 percent of parents plan to rely on student loans to help cover college costs.

What can parents do? Plan ahead. "During the market's continued volatility, we recognize how difficult it is to save for future expenses," said Joe Ciccariello, vice president of college planning at Fidelity Personal and Workplace Investing. "However, with college costs continuing to rise, it's critical for families to set a college savings goal early when their child is young, and save regularly in a dedicated college account, such as a 529 plan, to help meet expenses," said Ciccariello.

529 plans are tax-advantaged accounts designed specifically for college savings. Any earnings in a 529 grow tax-deferred, and distributions are federal income tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, room and board, at most accredited colleges and universities across the country. Some 529 plans can be opened with a minimum initial investment of just $50, or as little as $15 per month with an automatic investment plan.

Many 529 college savings plans, including the Fidelity-managed 529s, offer a wide range of investment options including age-based and custom portfolios. For those investors who are worried about market volatility, 529 plans also offer more conservative choices.

It's important for every family to develop and stay committed to a college savings plan that reflects their goals, risk tolerance and investing time horizon to meet future college costs.

For more information, visit

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Winter Heating Help Available

The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for the counties of Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga encourages seniors to seek help in covering the high costs of heating. Home heating costs combined with increasing food and living expenses could make staying warm this winter very difficult. PA has an educational program geared toward helping consumers lower their energy costs. “Turn Down, Seal Off and Save Up” provides tips to help consumers lower energy costs and save money with a little planning and a little knowledge, older persons will be protected from the cold and their heat can last all winter.

Turn Down: Setting your thermostat at 65 degrees during the day while dressing warmly and lowering it to 60 degrees when you’re not at home can save you as much as $500 a year.  Close draperies at night and on cloudy days.  Turn off electric appliances when not in use. 

Seal Off: Wasted heat costs everyone. Keep your heat where it’s needed by closing heating vents in unused rooms. Closed vents in unused rooms can save up to $100/year. Make sure any open vents are clean and that furniture isn’t blocking them. Adding insulation also lowers your energy bills and provides a lifetime of savings.  Cleaning the dryer lint filter each time after use can save up to $66/year.  Caulk, seal, and weather strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside.  You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home.

Save Up: When you act, you save – as much as $740 a year. Doing these small steps can save you more money, help your heating budget go a lot further and help you stay warm all winter.

For more information about programs and services available to assist older persons and their caregivers, contact your local Area Agency on Aging located at 35 Spruce Street, Montrose at (570) 278-3751 locally, or toll-free at 1-800-634-3746.

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Turnpike Senior Center Update
By Mary Heesh

Happy New Year!

We are all pretty Christmassy up here. The lobby trees are up and decorated. We have four, one on each floor, plus one in the dining room. This month is going by fast. We had our volunteer Christmas party. The doors are all prettied up.

Marion Glover spent a day in Binghamton. Her daughter had surgery. We wish her well.

We’ve been busy, there is always something going on. We had a group of children here last week, singing carols. It was nice. We had the pre-kindergarten here to sing Christmas and other songs. What a group of great kids, they did really well and made us all a Christmas card. Thanks to all of them and their teachers.

We have another group coming later in the week. We really enjoy the music from all of these groups. Thank you to all the groups that came to see us.

Also, a big thank you to the Masons for the dinner we all had at the Methodist Church in Susquehanna. They did a great job, as usual.

We had our tenants’ Christmas dinner, and it was very good. Everyone helped with it. We would like to thank the local merchants that helped us out in any way. People are great and helpful.

My family was all here for Christmas, all four of the Heesh girls together. A lot of laughing and especially giggling going on, it was a great Christmas.

We look forward to the new year.

Take care.

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National Radon Action Month

EPA has designated January as National Radon Action Month, a time when state radon programs and other partners conduct special radon outreach activities and events across the country. The aim of National Radon Action Month is to increase the public's awareness of radon, promote radon testing and mitigation, and advance the use of radon-resistant new construction practices.

In 2005, The U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona warned the American public about the risks of breathing indoor radon by issuing a national health advisory. The advisory is meant to urge Americans to prevent this silent radioactive gas from seeping into their homes and building up to dangerous levels. Dr. Carmona issued the advisory during a two-day Surgeon General's Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment.

"Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the county," Dr. Carmona said. "It's important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques."

Radon is an invisible, odorless and tasteless gas, with no immediate health symptoms, that comes from the breakdown of uranium inside the earth. Simple test kits can reveal the amount of radon in any building. Those with high levels can be fixed with simple and affordable venting techniques. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, one in every 15 homes nationwide have a high radon level at or above the recommended radon action level of 4 picoCuries (pCi/L) per liter of air.

Radon gas in the indoor air of America's homes poses a serious health risk. More than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer every year. Millions of homes have an elevated radon level. If you also smoke, your risk of lung cancer is much higher. Test your home for radon every two years, and retest any time you move, make structural changes to your home, or occupy a previously unused level of a house. If you have a radon level of 4 pCi/L or more, take steps to remedy the problem as soon as possible.

"Americans need to know about the risks of indoor radon and have the information and tools they need to take action. That's why EPA is actively promoting the Surgeon General's advice urging all Americans to get their homes tested for radon. If families do find elevated levels in their homes, they can take inexpensive steps that will reduce exposure to this risk," said Jeffrey R. Holmstead, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

"Based on national averages, we can expect that many of the homes owned or financed by federal government programs would have potentially elevated radon levels. The federal government has an opportunity to lead by example on this public health risk. We can accomplish this by using the outreach and awareness avenues we have, such as EPA's website, to share information and encourage action on radon to reduce risks," said Edwin Piñero, Federal Environmental Executive, Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE).

A national Public Service Announcement (PSA) that was released to television stations across America is reinforcing this recently updated health advisory. In the television spot, the camera scans a neighborhood with rooftop banners that remind the occupants of the importance to test their homes for radon. The television PSA can be viewed at

Breathing home indoor radon causes nearly one hundred times more deaths each year than carbon monoxide poisoning.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.

Some 20,000 people will die this year due to breathing too much radon without even knowing it.

Responding to this danger, EPA is joining state, local, and tribal governments, community groups, public health organizations, and industry in designating January as National Radon Action Month, to raise public awareness and promote actions reducing these risks.

"In our national drive to reduce greenhouse gases by making our homes greener, we shouldn't forget that they can't truly be green without being safe places for people to live," said Marcus Peacock, EPA's deputy administrator. "It's remarkably easy to protect our loved ones by testing for radon and building new homes with radon-resistant features that allow everyone to breathe freely and safely."

As part of Radon Action Month, EPA has released a public service announcements featuring Fuad Reveiz, a member of the National Association of Home Builders and former NFL Pro Bowl place-kicker.

"It's simple and cost-effective to build new homes with radon-resistant features," said Reveiz. "It makes sense to do it right from the start."

Radon is an invisible radioactive gas that seeps into homes undetected through foundation cracks, and can reach harmful levels if trapped indoors. It travels up from underground sources of uranium in the earth's crust. EPA estimates that one in 15 homes will have a radon level of four PicoCuries per liter (pCi/L) of air or more, a level the agency considers high.

The radon threat is preventable with some simple steps. In existing homes, families can begin protecting themselves by buying an easy-to-use radon test kit to determine if a high level exists; if so, a high level might be lowered simply with a straight-forward radon venting system installed by a contractor. In new homes, builders can easily and economically include radon-resistant features during construction, and home buyers should ask for these. EPA also recommends that home buyers ask their builder to test for radon gas before they move in.

Radon preventive actions have saved an estimated 6,000 lives in the last 20 years. EPA has a goal to double that number, to 12,000 lives saved, in the next five years. All Americans can contribute to saving someone's life by testing and reducing high levels in existing homes or testing and building radon-resistant new homes.

As part of an effort called Radon Leaders Saving Lives, EPA is working with state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and radon professionals across the country to educate consumers about ways to reduce radon in existing and new homes. Moreover, everyone can be a radon leader and help save a life by telling a friend or neighbor about preventing lung cancer from breathing radon.

For more information about radon, visit or call 1-800-SOS-RADON (767-7236).

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Bryan Buffington Is Teacher of the Year

Bryan Buffington, a 1995 graduate of Susquehanna Community High School, was very surprised to learn that he was chosen as the 2008 Lehighton Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year. Bryan is the Lehighton High School Band Director.

Pictured (l-r) are Sara Withers – Community Involvement Coordinator at Lehighton Wal-Mart, Bryan Buffington – award recipient, Girvin Janicki – store manager, James Kraky – Superintendent Lehighton Area School District.

Bryan always tries to inspire his students, and that inspiration was evident when representatives from Wal-Mart arrived at the school to present him with the award. Along with the award, the school received a check for $1,000, and Bryan was given a $100 gift card.

Superintendent of Lehighton Area School District, Mr. James Kraky, was notified of the selection of Bryan for the award. He, along with Sara Withers, Community Involvement Coordinator at the Lehighton Wal-Mart and Girvin Janicki, store manager were present to bestow the award. Withers explained that the award is given to a teacher who has been nominated by someone whose life he touched.

Janicki announced, “Bryan was selected out of hundreds of applications that were submitted.” Janicki had the privilege of reading each application, and stated that it came across loud and clear that Bryan’s involvement with the students, both inside the classroom and outside the classroom, was something very special.

Bryan was unaware of the award until he was called out of class. He was both surprised and amazed. He stated, “I don’t know what to say. I just want to thank all of my students, the administration, and the faculty for this honor.”

Congratulations were given to Bryan by Mr. Kraky for this achievement.

Bryan graduated from Mansfield University and now teaches marching band, concert band, jazz band, pit orchestra, pep band, music theory and topics of music. He enjoys all, but states the best reward is the gift of his students.

The Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year award was established 13 years ago as a way to honor local teachers who have given of themselves and have gone above and beyond expectations in education. The recipient is selected not by the number of votes received, but by the comments and qualities described in letters from those who nominated the teacher.

Bryan is now eligible to apply for the State Teacher of the Year award.

Bryan resides in Lehighton with his wife, Brenda and their daughters, Abigail and Elizabeth. His parents are Charles and Linda Buffington of Susquehanna. All are very proud of this award, and of all of his accomplishments.

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